From recognition of an internal, unwavering witness, to worship of an external God for whom people kill – Can we really make the journey back to the witness again within a split second, with just one step? Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you, remembering to witness seems such an uphill task!
Maneesha, it is not an uphill task, it is a downhill task! The ego is always ready for an uphill task; it is a question of downhill. To be just natural, simple, nobody, cannot be an uphill task. So first change the idea: it is not an uphill task, it is downhill.
And secondly you say, “Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you, remembering to witness seems such an uphill task!”
You are making it uphill. If it is possible in front of me, what prevents you when you are not sitting in front of me? If it is possible in front of me, then it is possible anywhere.
And you say, “Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you…” But how can you be certain that I am actually here? You don’t have any proof of my being here. You cannot believe your eyes – they deceive you many times. It may be simply just that the whole assembly has fallen asleep and you are all dreaming me; I am the dream of you all.
You cannot determine whether anything outside your witnessing has any reality or not.
Because of this, the great philosopher Shankara continuously insisted and proved to the whole of India that the outside world is just a dream, maya, illusion. And there are parallels in the West: Bradley and Bosanquet both tried the same idea – that you cannot say whether the outside is real or unreal, because in a dream you start believing in the dream.
Your believing is not very reliable. In a dream, do you ever doubt, “Perhaps I am in a dream”? In a dream you are so deeply involved that the dream becomes actual, so actual that if you are having a nightmare, and a lion or a dragon is just sitting on your chest, you will wake up out of fear, and you will experience a great relief that it was a dream. But even the dream has its effects: your breathing shows as if you have been running fast, your perspiration shows that your body has believed, your mind has believed, that the dragon was a reality.
There is no way to prove that the outside is not another dream – maybe a little longer, seventy years long; maybe a special dream that when you go to sleep it waits for you, and when you wake up it continues again. But there is no way to prove rationally that the outside is really there. It may be, it may not be.
So don’t be worried about my actuality. I may be just a device… in fact, I am a device. If you can become a witness in front of me, you know that you have the capacity to become a witness. Then there is no reason to make it an uphill task. Just be playful about it.
I know in the beginning you will forget many times. Just try to understand this simple thing: when you forget, don’t be bothered; otherwise, what happens is you forget witnessing, and then you remember, “My God, I forgot!” – And now you start repenting. That is also forgetting again. What you have forgotten is forgotten. Now you have remembered, continue.
Never repent for those moments which have gone. They are gone. If you start repenting, you will be destroying more moments. And man’s mind is such that it can forget. Now that I have said, “Don’t repent!” it will repent, and then it will repent that it has repented, and the witnessing will be far away.
So just make it simple: when you forget, you forget. That chapter is closed. Now you are remembering – remember, witness. Slowly, slowly the gaps of forgetting will become smaller, fewer. It needs a little time. You are not seasonal flowers which appear in a few days and disappear in a few days. You are flowers of eternity.
So there is no need to worry about it; if for a few moments you forget witnessing, it is perfectly okay.
Now, witness! Don’t give a single thought for that which is gone. It is natural, don’t feel guilty. I never want anyone who belongs to me to feel guilty for anything. Whatever has happened, so be it! Now you are aware, witness. You will fall again, many times you will forget; many times you will wake up. This is the natural process. It is nothing personal; it has to happen to everybody.
So take it easy, and just go on growing, more and more witnessing and less and less forgetting. A time comes – has to come – when even if you want to forget, you cannot. Then you will be angry with me – really angry that, “Now I want to forget and I cannot forget!” Now you are very happily trying to witness, but the day you will be a perfect witness, you will be angry at me, because there is some beauty in forgetting a few things. But you cannot forget… your witnessing has become so solid that you cannot take even a holiday. Holidays are not for saints.
From Rinzai: The Master of the Irrational, Chapter Eight
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