The person who is a seeker will not really be interested in getting only philosophical answers from others; he will be interested in knowing on his own. He will not be interested in philosophy; he will be interested in religion. That is the difference between philosophy and religion. Philosophy is juggling with words, the art of hairsplitting, arguing endlessly about abstract ideas, arriving nowhere. Religion is more like science: it experiments, it emphasizes experience. Science is the religion of the objective world, and religion is the science of the subjective world.
Philosophy is going to die one day; it is already on its deathbed. You can go to the universities and see: every year less and less people are turning to the departments of philosophy. Many philosophy departments are empty, deserted. People are going to science or to religion. Those who are interested in knowing the truth about the world are going to scientific inquiries, to physics, to chemistry, to mathematics, to biology. Or, people who are interested in their own interiority, in their own subjectivity, in their own consciousness, are moving towards religion, more and more towards religion.
Religion is the science of the inner. Philosophy is neither: it is neither the science of the outer nor the science of the inner; it is just in between. It only thinks; it thinks about everything — about science, about religion — but it only thinks. And just by thinking, nothing ever happens. You can make very clever answers, but they are not going to solve your real problems; the problems are real and the answers are just abstract. Real problems can be solved only by real answers.
Hence Buddha says: The seeker can be persuaded to meditate — only the seeker can be persuaded to meditate. Meditation means you start changing your inner world. You start removing dust from the inner world, you start removing all that is unnecessary in the inner world. You remove all that clutter, all the rubbish you are full of. Meditation means emptying yourself of all that the society has put inside you so that you can have a clean, clear vision, so that you can have a mirror-like quality. When a mirror is without any dust it reflects reality; so is the case with meditation.
Meditation means making your consciousness a mirror. Thoughts are like dust, they have to be removed. And thoughts contain everything belonging to the mind: desires, ambitions, memories, fantasies, dreams… all mindstuff is different forms of thoughts, different kinds, different layers of dust. And the dust is so thick that the mirror is not functioning at all — hence you have to ask others. Once the dust is removed you need not ask anyone, you yourself can see. Existence has given you the magic mirror — it is within you.
I have heard a beautiful parable; it must be a parable, it cannot be an historical phenomenon:
When Alexander the Great came to India he collected many valuable treasures. And when he was leaving he came across a fakir, a naked fakir. He asked him, “Do you see my treasures? Have you ever seen anybody with so many treasures?”
The fakir said, “All your treasures are nothing, but I can give you one thing that will really make you rich!”
Alexander could not imagine what this naked fakir could give him. In his begging bowl he had a small mirror. He gave the mirror to Alexander.
Alexander said, “This mirror will make me the richest man in the world? You must be mad!”
The fakir said, “First look in the mirror.”
And Alexander looked into the mirror: it did not show his face — it showed his inner being, it showed his interiority, it showed his subjectivity. His being was reflected in the mirror. He touched the feet of the fakir and said, “You are right — all my treasures are nothing before this mirror.”
And it is said he kept that mirror continuously with him.
The parable is beautiful. That mirror represents meditation. The fakir must have given him some meditation because only meditation can make you aware of who you are.
But Buddha says meditation has to become something constant. Buddha brings a totally new vision of meditation to the world. Before Buddha, meditation was something that you had to do once or twice a day, one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, and that was all. Buddha gave a totally new interpretation to the whole process of meditation. He said: This kind of meditation that you do one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, you may do five times or four times a day, is not of much value. Meditation cannot be something that you can do apart from life just for one hour or fifteen minutes. Meditation has to become something synonymous with your life; it has to be like breathing. You cannot breathe one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, otherwise the evening will never come. It has to be something like breathing: even while you are asleep the breathing continues. You may fall into a coma, but the breathing continues.
Buddha says meditation should become such a constant phenomenon; only then can it transform you. And he evolved a new technique of meditation. His greatest contribution to the world is vipassana; no other teacher has given such a great gift to the world. Jesus is beautiful, Mahavira is beautiful, Lao Tzu is beautiful, Zarathustra is beautiful, but their contribution, compared to Buddha, is nothing. Even if they are all put together, then too Buddha’s contribution is greater because he gave such a scientific method — simple, yet so penetrating that once you are in tune with it, it becomes a constant factor in your life.
Then you need not do it; you have to do it only in the beginning. Once you have learned the knack of it, it remains with you; you need not do it. Then whatsoever you are doing, it is there. It becomes a backdrop to your life, a background to your life. You are walking, but you walk meditatively. You are eating, but you eat meditatively. You are sleeping, but you sleep meditatively. Remember, even the quality of sleep of a meditator is totally different from the quality of the sleep of a non-meditator. Everything becomes different because a new factor has entered which changes the whole gestalt.
Vipassana simply means watching your breath, looking at your breath. It is not like Yoga Pranayama: it is not changing your breath to a certain rhythm — deep breathing, fast breathing. No, it does not change your breathing at all; it has nothing to do with the breathing. Breathing has only to be used as a device to watch because it is a constant phenomenon in you. You can simply watch it, and it is the most subtle phenomenon. If you can watch your breath then it will be easy for you to watch your thoughts.
One thing immensely great that Buddha contributed was the discovery of the relationship between breath and thought. He was the first man in the whole history of humanity who made it absolutely clear that breathing and thinking are deeply related. Breathing is the bodily part of thinking and thinking is the psychological part of breathing. They are not separate; they are two aspects of the same coin. He is the first man who talks of body-mind as one unity. He talks for the first time about man as a psychosomatic phenomenon. He does not talk about body and mind; he talks about body-mind. They are not two; hence no ‘and’ is needed to join them. They are already one – body-mind — not even a hyphen is needed; bodymind is one phenomenon. And each body process has its counterpart in your psychology and vice versa.
You can watch it, you can try an experiment. Just stop your breathing for a moment and you will be surprised: the moment you stop your breathing, your thinking stops. Or you can watch another thing: whenever your thinking is going too fast your breathing changes. For example, if you are full of sexual lust and your thinking is getting too hot, your breathing will be different: it will not be rhythmic; it will lose its rhythm. It will be more chaotic, it will be unrhythmic.
When you are angry your breathing changes because your thinking has changed. When you are loving your breathing changes because your thinking has changed. When you are peaceful, at ease, at home, relaxed, your breathing is different. When you are restless, worried, in turmoil, in anguish, your breathing is different. Just by watching your breath you can know what kind of state is happening in your mind.
Meditators come across a point: when the mind really completely ceases, breathing also ceases. And then great fear arises — don’t be afraid. Many meditators have reported to me, “We became very much afraid, very much frightened, because suddenly we became aware that the breathing has stopped.” Naturally, one thinks that when breathing stops death is close by. It is only a question of moments — you are dying. Breathing stops in death; breathing also stops in deep meditation. Hence deep meditation and death have one thing similar: in both the breathing stops. Therefore, if a man knows meditation he has also known death. That’s why the meditator becomes free of the fear of death: he knows breathing can stop and still he is.
Breathing is not life; life is a far bigger phenomenon. Breathing is only a connection with the body. The connection can be cut; that does not mean that life has ended. Life is still there; life does not end just by the disappearance of breathing.
Buddha says: Watch your breathing; let it be normal, as it is. Sitting silently, watch your breath. The sitting posture will also be helpful; the Buddha posture, the lotus posture, is very helpful. When your spine is erect and you are sitting in a lotus posture, your legs crossed, your spine is aligned with the gravitational forces, and the body is at its best relaxed state. Let the spine be erect and the body be loose, hanging on the spine — not tense. The body should be loose, relaxed, the spine erect, so gravitation has the least pull on you.
Have you watched it? If you want to go to sleep you have to lie down, for the simple reason that when you are lying down flat on the ground you are in touch with the gravitational forces at the maximum, because all over the body the gravitational pull works, it pulls you. You immediately start falling asleep. It is difficult to fall asleep standing. The most difficult posture to fall asleep in is the lotus posture. The body is so relaxed there is no need to fall asleep, and the gravitational forces are at the minimum; hence they cannot pull you downwards; they can’t make you heavy and dull and lethargic. You are bright, you are full of life. You are more intelligent in the lotus posture than you can ever be in any other posture. The body affects your mind.
Scientists now agree with this: that it is only because a few of the monkeys somehow… they have not been able to find the reason why and how it happened, and monkeys are monkeys — it may have just happened out of curiosity, a few monkeys tried to stand on two legs and these are the monkeys who became the original men; they were the originators. That was the greatest innovation; nothing else has been greater than that. A few monkeys standing erect on their two legs created a great revolution; the revolution happened in the growth of the mind. The erect posture helped the mind to come out of sleep. It became more intelligent, it became more alert, it became more conscious.
Other animals who move on their four legs have not been able to develop intelligence, although many of them have a mind of almost the same capacity as man. For example, the elephant has a mind of almost the same capacity as man, but has not been able to develop it and I don’t think it is ever going to happen. In circuses they try hard to teach the elephant to sit in a chair or to stand even for a few seconds on two feet, but the body is so heavy the elephant cannot manage to be on two feet. Hence the brain remains clouded; the gravitational pull keeps it unconscious.
Hence this lotus posture is something valuable. It is not just a body phenomenon; it affects the mind, it changes the mind. Sit in a lotus posture — the whole point is that your spine should be erect and should make a ninety-degree angle with the earth. That is the point where you are capable of being the most intelligent, the most alert, the least sleepy.
And then watch your breath, the natural breath. You need not breathe deeply, you don’t change your breathing; you simply watch it as it is. But you will be surprised by one thing: the moment you start watching, it changes — because even the fact of watching is a change and the breathing is no more the same.
Slight changes in your consciousness immediately affect your breathing. You will be able to see it; whenever you watch you will see your breathing has become a little deeper. If it becomes so of its own accord it is okay, but you are not to do it by your will. Watching your breath, slowly, slowly, you will be surprised that as your breath becomes calm and quiet your mind also becomes calm and quiet. And watching the breath will make you capable of watching the mind.
That is just the beginning, the first part of meditation, the physical part. And the second part is the psychological part. Then you can watch more subtle things in your mind — thoughts, desires, memories.
And as you go deeper into watchfulness, a miracle starts happening: as you become watchful less and less traffic happens in the mind, more and more quiet, silence; more and more silent spaces, more and more gaps and intervals. Moments pass and you don’t come across a single thought. Slowly, slowly, minutes pass, hours pass….
And there is a certain arithmetic in it: if you can remain absolutely empty for forty-eight minutes, that very day you will become enlightened, that very moment you will become enlightened. But it is not a question of your effort; don’t go on looking at the watch because each time you look, a thought has come. You have to again count from the very beginning; you are back to zero. There is no need for you to watch the time.
But this has been the experience in the East of all great meditators: that forty-eight minutes seems to be the ultimate point. If this much of a gap is possible, if for this much of a gap thinking stops and you remain alert, with no thought crossing your mind, you are capable of receiving God inside. You have become the host and the guest immediately comes.
From The Dhammapada, the Way of the Buddha, V. 11, Discourse #5
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