Man is not an island; nothing is. All is interrelated, all is interdependent. Independence – the very word – is false, so is dependence. The reality is interdependence.
Everything is so deeply connected with everything else that nothing can exist apart. If you can understand a small rose flower in its totality, root and all, you will have understood the whole cosmos, because the whole cosmos is involved in that small rose flower. In the smallest leaf of grass all is contained.
But remember, as Fa Tsang said to the Empress: All illustrations, all descriptions are static, and existence is a dynamic flux. It is a river. Each thing goes on moving into each other thing. It is impossible to draw lines where one thing ends and another begins; there are no demarcating lines – there cannot be. So all distinctions are only for practical purposes, they have no existential value.
This is the first thing to be understood. This is very fundamental to the Taoist alchemy. Once this is understood, then the whole alchemy of Taoism becomes comprehensible. Then the lower can be transformed into the higher, because the lower contains the higher already. The baser metal can be transformed into gold because nothing is separate – the baser contains the gold already. As above, so below; as below, so above.
The very idea that all is interconnected makes transformation possible. If things are not interconnected then there is no possibility of any transformation. If the world consists of the philosopher Liebnitz’s monads – windowless, separate, atomic individuals, not connecting with each other at all because they are windowless – then there is no possibility of any transformation.
Transformation is conceivable only because you are me, I am you; we interpenetrate. Can you think of yourself as separate even for a single moment? You cannot even imagine yourself as separate. The flower cannot be separated from the tree; the moment it is separated it dies. The tree cannot be separated from the earth. The earth cannot be separated from the sun. The sun cannot be separated from other stars, and so on and so forth. You separate the leaf, and the leaf dies. You separate the flower, the flower dies. You separate the tree from the earth, the tree dies. You separate the earth from the sun, and the earth dies.
Death means separation. Life means no separation. Hence the ego is bound to die because that is your idea of separation. To think of one’s self in terms of ego is the only cause of death – because the ego is already dead. You can go on flogging the dead horse, but for how long? It is going to die; it is already dead, that’s why it is going to die. That which is alive in you cannot die; life is eternal. But life is not yours, you cannot possess it. Life belongs to all. Life has a vastness, infinity. Death is tiny, death is individual; life is universal. So when you live, you are part of the universe, and when you die you die only because you think you are separate.
The more you feel part of the whole, the more life you will have.
Jesus says, ‘Come to me and I will give you life abundant.’ What is the secret of life abundant?
The secret is: die as the ego, disappear as a separate entity, and the whole universe and all that it contains is yours. Stop possessing, and all is yours. Possess, and you are tiny and limited, and you are going to die. The secret of becoming more alive consists of a single phenomenon of dropping the idea of separation. And whenever it happens, you feel life becoming aflame in you.
Even if it happens in small measures… If you fall in love with somebody, life is aflame in you. And it is not that much has happened, just two persons are feeling one. Learn the lesson from love. Just two persons feeling one, and what joy, and what ecstasy! Think. If you fall in love with the whole then how much ecstasy and how much joy is going to happen! That is life abundant, life infinite.
Separate yourself… There are a few people who live so egoistically that they cannot love; they are the most miserable people in the world. My definition of hell is; to live in separation is hell. To live in non-separation is heaven. To disappear completely, utterly into the whole, is moksha, nirvana. It is ultimate freedom.
The second thing to be understood: that life is polar. That is also very fundamental to the Taoist approach. But the polarity is not that of opposition. The polarity means that the opposites are complementary to each other, they support each other. Life cannot exist without death, hence death is not the enemy. How can death be the enemy of life if life cannot exist without it? It has to be the friend. It prepares the ground for life: it helps life, it provokes life, it challenges life.
Just think. If your body were going to live for eternity, you would not live at all, you would have an infinity to postpone everything. ’Why love today if there is tomorrow? And if tomorrow is infinite, then why bother? Why dance today? We will see tomorrow.’ Just imagine. If your bodily life were going to be eternal, your postponement would become eternal.
You cannot postpone because you are not certain whether there is going to be any tomorrow or not. Nobody knows whether the next breath will come in or not, hence only foolish people postpone. The wise man lives, and the wise man lives here-now. He cannot afford postponement because he knows ‘Only this moment is mine, only this very moment is mine. The next moment may be, may not be. How can I postpone? How can I say “tomorrow”?’
The foolish man postpones until tomorrow, the wise man lives now. The wise man knows no other time than now and no other space than here, and the foolish man goes into things which could have been postponed for eternity – he lives them right now. If he is angry, he lives it right now. If he is loving, he says, ‘We will see tomorrow.’ All that is stupid he goes on living, and all that is luminous he goes on postponing. The wise man also postpones, but he only postpones stupid things.
Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples, ‘When my grandfather died I was only nine years old. He called me close to his death-bed and whispered in my ear.’ He had tremendous love for this small boy. He must have seen the potential of the boy. He whispered in the ears of the boy, ’I have nothing to give to you except a simple piece of advice, and I don’t know whether you will be able to understand it right now or not. But remember it! Some day you may become capable enough, mature enough to understand it. Just remember it. And it is simple advice. If you want to do anything wrong, postpone it for twenty-four hours. And if you want to do something right, never postpone it even for a single moment. If you want to be angry, violent, aggressive, postpone it for twenty-four hours. If you want to be loving, sharing, do not postpone it even for a single moment. Just live it right now, immediately!’
And Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples, ‘That simple advice transformed my whole life.’ How can you be angry if you can postpone it for twenty-four hours? It is impossible. To be so calm and quiet as to postpone it for twenty-four hours is enough guarantee that you are not going to be angry. And who can be angry if he can postpone it for twenty-four hours? Twenty-four hours of contemplation, and the whole absurdity will be plain to you: the whole thing will look ridiculous.
And Gurdjieff was really transformed by this simple message. Sometimes very simple messages can transform you, but you have to live them.
Life exists because there is death. Death gives intensity to life. Death challenges life, it provokes you to live, and to live to the maximum, at the optimum, because – who knows – there may be no tomorrow. Death is always provoking you, goading you to live, and to live totally. Then death is not against life but a friend.
So is the case with all the polarities: the negative and the positive, love and hate, beauty and ugliness, day and night, summer and winter. And so is the case with man and woman. Man cannot be without the woman, and the woman cannot be without the man. They are part of one dialectical process. Between these two poles there is both attraction and repulsion, because attraction and repulsion cannot be separated. Hence you feel attracted towards the woman or towards the man and repulsed at the same time. A part of you wants to be with the woman, a part of you wants to be alone.
You are always hesitating. If you are with the woman or with the man, you start longing for the freedom to be on your own, to be alone. Suddenly you become very interested in being alone and free, and you don’t know where this desire to be free is coming from. The woman or the man, the other, is provoking it. The moment you have left the other, this desire, this longing, this great longing to be alone will disappear. And then you are surprised, really surprised. When you are alone you simply feel lonely. You don’t feel that joy that you had contemplated, you don’t see any freedom; you simply see loneliness surrounding you. And your whole existence becomes cold, frozen, dark. Again the desire arises to be with the other. Now you hanker for love, for togetherness.
This is the problem between man and woman. They are attracted and repulsed together, simultaneously. They want to come to be together and they want to be separate and alone, on their own. Hence the constant conflict between man and woman.
Marriage is a love-hate affair, an attraction-repulsion affair. If the marriage lasts long, it can only last if there are mini-divorces happening every day – only then can it last long. If the man and the woman have decided not to fight, then it is a plastic marriage. They will be together, they will manage to be together, but they will never be together in reality; they will never know those moments of unity. They are only pretending. They are being polite, but not true, not authentic.
Marriage is a kind of intimate enmity. It is an intimate enmity, it is a friendly fight, it is a war. Yes, between two wars there are peaceful moments too, and they are beautiful because of the two wars.
Couples go on fighting – that’s how they keep alive the flame of love. Once they fight, they go away from each other. When they are far away from each other, in their psychologies, they start hankering for the other, they start missing the other. Then they start seeking and groping for the other. Then they come close, and very close, because they have tasted something of loneliness. Now they want to be very close. Once they have tasted of closeness they want to be separate again.
So don’t be worried about it. It is a fundamental phenomenon. You cannot escape it. The only way to escape is to have a pretend marriage, which is not a true marriage. ‘Remain polite to each other.’ It is a kind of contract, that ‘I need you and you need me,’ that ‘I will scratch your back and you scratch my back’ – that’s all – ‘because I need you and you need me. You are my security, I will be your security.’ It is a legal contract but not marriage.
This is the second fundamental to be understood before you can enter into the sutras.
And the third and the most important thing: the third fundamental is that no man is only man and no woman is only woman. Man is both, woman is both; both are both. Man contains a woman within him, and so is the case with a woman: the woman contains a man within her. So it is not only a question of the outside man or outside woman, it is also an inner phenomenon, because the outer and the inner correspond. Just as I said ‘as below, so above’, I can say ‘as outer, so inner’.
Your inner reality is also the same as your outer reality: they correspond, they balance. Now more complexity arises because each man has a woman within him, and he has to come to terms with her. It is not just a question of having a woman outside that you love; otherwise things would have been less complicated.
Whenever two persons are in love, there are really four persons – in each bed there are four persons. Complexity you can understand. Whenever two persons make love, there are four persons making love. It is always group sex, because the man has a woman inside him, and the woman has a man inside her. And it is bound to be so because each is born out of the marriage of a man and a woman. Something of the father will be in you – fifty percent; something of the mother will be in you – fifty percent. To each person the father contributes and the mother contributes. You may be biologically a man – that simply shows that physically you have the mechanism of the man – but deep in your psyche you are neither man nor woman, you are both. That’s why I say if we have to use one word for both man and woman…
Up to now we have been using ‘man’ – that means it contains both. It is only because man has been very dominant in the past. But in the future the pendulum may swing to the other pole, and that will be far more true, because the word ‘man’ does not contain woman, the word ‘woman’ contains man. It will be better to use ‘woman’ as a general word for both.
And so is the case with ‘he’ and ‘she’. ‘She’ contains ‘he’, but ‘he’ does not contain ‘she’. It will be better to use ‘she’ for both, ‘woman’ for both. It will be better to use ‘she’ for God than ‘he’. But both contain each other. Because of this there is a possibility of homosexuality – because of this fundamental duality inside. You may be a man on the outside, and you may become attuned to your inner woman inside. There is no problem in it. Your spirit remains free. Inside it can either become identified with the inner man or it can become identified with the inner woman.
If you are physically a man and you become identified with the woman inside, homosexuality will be the consequence. It can happen in many ways, it can happen for many reasons. So homosexuality is possible because of this inner duality.
And now science is even capable of changing your physical sex. That too is possible, because the Taoist finding has been found to be scientifically true, too. Now just by changing the hormones and your chemistry a little bit, the man can become a woman and the woman can become a man – even physiologically. That simply shows that you are both. Even the difference in the body is only of emphasis.
And sometimes it happens of its own accord too. It has been found that a woman becomes a man or a man becomes a woman. The difference must not have been much – may have been very, very slight: fifty-one percent man, forty-nine percent woman; the balance is just a little more on the side of being a man. It can change in the course of life – new hormones, new food, new climate, new atmosphere, new emotions, illnesses, or anything, can change the balance and the man can become a woman or the woman can become a man. And now science knows that it can be done very easily.
There is every possibility that in future people will change their sex more often, because if you can live both the polarities in one life, then why not? If you can enjoy both visions, then why not? You will have more freedom. You have lived as a man for thirty-five years, and enough is enough. And you would like to see how it is from the other side, because there is no other way to know how it is from the other side than to be on that side.
My own observation of thousands of people has been this: that if a person is a man in this life, in the next life he is born as a woman, and vice versa. And the reason is simple: he becomes tired of being a man, or becomes tired of being a woman, and starts hankering deep down for the other pole. And, naturally, in the next life, because of this great desire to be the other, he is born as the other.
These are the three fundamentals. First: everything is interdependent. Second: life is polar and the polarities are not opposites but complementaries. And third: that each is double inside, no one is single.
In India we have the concept of Ardhanarishwar. That corresponds to the Taoist approach.
Shiva has been sculpted, painted as both – half man, half woman. Half of his body is that of a man and half of his body is that of a woman. When for the first time those statues were discovered by the West, the West laughed – it looked so absurd. What is the point of it? Now they have understood what the point of it is. It is one of the most fundamental things of life.
So are you, just like Shiva, half-half.
These sutras are concerned with this inner polarity, and unless you transcend this inner polarity you will not attain to the One, you will remain two. Meditation is a way to transcend this polarity within you. Meditation takes you away from all dualisms.
In ordinary life you remain dual. And in the space of twenty-four hours you change many times from one pole to the other. Watch. You may be a man, but sometimes you are very feminine, very vulnerable. You may be a woman, but sometimes in the daytime you are very masculine. When the woman is masculine she becomes very very aggressive – more aggressive than any man can ever be, because her aggressiveness is very fresh, unused, just like unused land is very fertile. And so is the case with man. If a man is tender, he is very tender – more than the woman, because that is unused soil, that part of his being has not been used; it is fresh, very alive. So this strange phenomenon is observed again and again if you become a little watchful.
Woman is generally loving; man is not generally loving. Woman is only sometimes quarrelsome, but when she is, then she really is. Man is only sometimes loving, but when he is he really is. Those are the unused parts of their being. When they are used they have a freshness.
This inner polarity keeps you in a kind of anguish, conflict; without it you cannot exist. The One remains invisible – that’s why God is invisible. To become visible the One has to become two. You have to write with white chalk on a blackboard, only then can those words be seen.
To exist, one needs contrast. That is why in the daytime you cannot see stars, in the nighttime you can see – the darkness of the night becomes the background. The stars are there as much as in the night – they don’t go anywhere, they can’t go anywhere; they are where they are. They don’t start coming in the night, they don’t start hiding somewhere in the day. They are where they are, but in the day the contrast is missing. You cannot see them, they are invisible.
God is invisible. If he wants to become man and woman, he will have to become two, he will have to become matter and spirit, he will have to become body and soul, he will have to become this and that. Only the two are visible. The world consists of the ’two’. The world is dual. And the moment you can manage to make this duality disappear in oneness, you will become invisible. It has great significance, but it is a metaphor. It does not mean that you cannot see Lao Tzu or you cannot see me. You are seeing me already, but still you are not seeing me. That part has become invisible. The polarity has disappeared inside, the duality is no more there. Only the dual can be seen, the non-dual becomes unseen.
God has to become two, only then the game, the play, is possible. Ancient Indian scriptures say he felt very lonely. ‘He’ means God. He felt very lonely. He longed for the other, that’s why he became two. He became man and woman, cow and bull, and so on and so forth. The whole existence is sexual. By ‘sexual’ I mean dual. The whole existence is sexual. Sooner or later science is going to discover that there are planets which are male and there are planets which are female. It has to be so. Ancient astrology says so, and I perfectly agree with it – everything is dual. That’s why the sun is represented as being male and the moon as being female. It is not poetry, it is fact. Science may not yet have discovered it, but it has to be so. If everything is dual, then there cannot be any exceptions.
Your attraction for the woman or for the man keeps you in manifestation. Now you will be able to understand why the great mystics down the ages have been teaching you how to go beyond sex – because unless you go beyond sex, you will not go into God. Unless you go beyond sex, you will never go beyond the two, you will remain tethered to the duality of the world. The ‘world’ means God manifest, and ‘God’ means the world disappearing into un-manifestation again. That too is a duality: manifestation, non-manifestation.
In Christian theology things are not so deep, they are very superficial. In Christian theology you have only creation. What about de-creation? How can there be creation without de-creation? In the Eastern theology they are both together: Srushti means creation; pralaya means de-creation. There is a moment when God becomes manifest, and then there is a moment when God becomes unmanifest again – all disappears into nothingness, zero follows, just like you, as I told you in the beginning.
You are with your beloved, you become tired, you want to meditate, you want to go to the Himalayas. God also becomes tired of the world – naturally so. Then he wants to go into retirement. Then he disappears into oneness. Dissolution follows. All disappears. But again, how long can you sit in a Himalayan cave? Even God becomes tired of it. He starts seeking and searching and creating the other again.
And exactly so it happens in each individual soul. You live life, then you become tired, then you want to go beyond life. You have lived your body, and you are tired. Now you want to go beyond the body. And then you can understand my insistence, why I say don’t be afraid of the world and don’t escape from the world, because the world is the very place where renunciation happens. It is one of the poles. That’s why I don’t say escape from the woman or the man. If you escape you may remain interested. Don’t escape. Live it through and through. Indulge in the world, and the very indulgence will become renunciation. Out of that very indulgence you will start feeling that now it is time to disappear into absolute aloneness. And if you are really tired, only then can you go into that absolute aloneness.
People are bound to misunderstand me. In India I am one of the most misunderstood men. They think I am teaching people indulgence. I am teaching renunciation. They think I am teaching a worldly kind of sannyas. They don’t understand. I am teaching real sannyas, because real sannyas arises only out of worldly experience. Real sannyas is not possible in a cave in the Himalayas. It will be unreal, imposed, and deep down you will remain worldly and you will continue to hanker and dream of the world.
Live in the world. Really live in it so you get tired, wearied, finished with it – so much so that one day suddenly it loses all meaning for you, and the renunciation has happened.
To me, the real renunciation happens in the market-place and only in the market-place.
From The Secret of Secrets, V.1, Chapter Five
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