One of the most important things to be understood about man is that man is asleep. Even while he thinks he is awake, he is not. His wakefulness is very fragile; his wakefulness is so tiny it doesn’t matter at all. His wakefulness is only a beautiful name, but utterly empty.
You sleep in the night, you sleep in the day; from birth to death you go on changing your patterns of sleep, but you never really awake. Just by opening the eyes don’t befool yourself that you are awake. Unless the inner eyes open, unless your inside becomes full of light, unless you can see yourself, who you are, don’t think that you are awake.
That is the greatest illusion man lives in. And once you accept that you are already awake, then there is no question of making any effort to be awake.
The first thing to sink deep in your heart is that you are asleep, utterly asleep. You are dreaming, day in, day out. You are dreaming sometimes with open eyes and sometimes with closed eyes, but you are dreaming, you are a dream. You are not yet a reality.
And, of course, in a dream whatsoever you do is meaningless, whatsoever you think is pointless, whatsoever you project remains part of your dreams and never allows you to see that which is. Hence Buddha’s insistence… and not only Gautama the Buddha but all the buddhas have insisted on only one thing: Awake! Continuously, for centuries, their whole teaching can be contained in a single word: Be awake!
And they have been devising methods, strategies, they have been creating contexts and spaces, and energy fields in which you can be shocked into awareness. Yes, unless you are shocked, shaken to your very foundations, you will not awaken. The sleep has been so long, it has reached to the very core of your being; you are soaked in it. Each cell of your body and each fiber of your mind has become full of sleep. It is not a small phenomenon. Hence great effort is needed to be alert, to be attentive, to be watchful, to become a witness.
If on any one single theme all the buddhas of the world agree, this is the theme: that man as he is is asleep, and man as he should be should be awake. Wakefulness is the goal, and wakefulness is the taste of all their teachings. Zarathustra, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Buddha, Bahauddin, Kabir, Nanak — all the awakened ones have been teaching one single theme, in different languages, in different metaphors, but their song is the same. Just as the sea tastes of salt whether the sea is tasted from the north or from the east or from the west, the sea always tastes of salt — the taste of buddhahood is wakefulness.
But you will not make any effort if you go on believing that you are already awake; then there is no question of making any effort. Why bother? And you have created religions, gods, prayers, rituals, out of your dreams — your gods are as much part of your dreams as anything else. Your politics is part of your dreams, your religions are part of your dreams, your poetry, your painting, your art — whatsoever you do, because you are asleep, you make it according to your own state of mind.
The Bible says God created man in his own image — the truth seems to be just the opposite: man has created God in his own image. Your gods are false because you are false. Your religion is pseudo because you are pseudo. Your scriptures cannot have any significance because you don’t have any significance.
Two priests are playing golf. The younger one misses an easy putt and says, “Shit!” The older one berates him for this, saying that if he continues to use profanity like that God will certainly blast him with a thunderbolt. They keep playing and the younger priest misses another putt, and again says, “Shit!”
The skies suddenly open: a thunderbolt flashes out, and strikes the older priest dead. There is a pause, and the heavenly voice is heard saying in accents of thunder, “Shit!”
Your gods cannot be different from you. Who will create them? Who will give them shape and color and form? You create them, you sculpt them; they have eyes like you, noses like you — and minds like you! The Old Testament God says, “I am a very jealous God!” Now who has created this God who is jealous? God cannot be jealous. And if God is jealous, then what is wrong in being jealous? If even God is jealous, why should you be thought to be doing something wrong when you are jealous? Then jealousy is divine.
The Old Testament God says, “I am a very angry God! If you don’t follow my commandments, I will destroy you. You will be thrown into hellfire for eternity. And because I am very jealous,” the God says, “don’t worship anybody else. I cannot tolerate it.”
Who created such a God? It must be out of our own jealousy, out of our own anger, that we have created this image.
A Jew who has a long run of bad luck goes out into the woods and lifts his voice in prayer and recrimination. “Oh, God,” he asks heaven tearfully, “haven’t I always been a good Jew? Haven’t I always given charity, even to those damn goyim? Didn’t I bring up my family decent? Never drink, swear, gamble; no bad women, nothing! Why do you do this to me God? Why? Why?”
A dark cloud suddenly appears overhead, and a tremendous voice replies, “You piss me off!”
The God certainly cannot be different from you. It is your projection, it is your shadow. It echoes you and nobody else. That’s why there are so many gods in the world. The Hindus have a certain idea about God — the Hindu idea — it reflects the Hindu mind.
If you go back into Hindu scriptures you will be surprised. You will not be able to believe what kind of gods Hindus have created — very sexual. Adultery is very common amongst Hindu gods, and not only do they play their games of adultery in the Hindu paradise, they can’t even leave the earth alone; they come to the earth too, to rape women, to seduce simple women. They don’t even leave the wives of the great seers alone. And because they have infinite power they can even appear as the husbands, they can look like the husbands. And the women have no idea who is hiding behind the facade.
Who has created these gods? — it must have been deep down a very sexual mind.
And the same is the case with all other gods of all other religions. It is because of this that Buddha never talked about God. He said: What is the point of talking about God to people who are asleep? They will listen in their sleep. They will dream about whatsoever is said to them, and they will create their own gods — which will be utterly false, utterly impotent, utterly meaningless. It is better not to have such gods.
That’s why Buddha is not interested in talking about gods. His whole interest is in waking you up.
It is said about a Buddhist enlightened master who was sitting by the side of the river one evening, enjoying the sound of the water, the sound of the wind passing through the trees…. A man came and asked him, “Can you tell me in a single word the essence of your religion?”
The master remained silent, utterly silent, as if he had not heard the question. The questioner said, “Are you deaf or something?”
The master said, “I have heard your question, and I have answered it too! Silence is the answer. I remained silent —that pause, that interval, was my answer.”
The man said, “I cannot understand such a mysterious answer. Can’t you be a little more clear?”
So the master wrote on the sand “meditation,” in small letters with his finger. The man said, “I can read now. It is a little better than at first. At least I have got a word to ponder over. But can’t you make it a little more clear?”
The master wrote again “meditation.” Of course this time he wrote in bigger letters. The man was feeling a little embarrassed, puzzled, offended, angry. He said, “Again you write meditation? Can’t you be a little clear for me?”
And the master wrote in very big letters, capital letters, “MEDITATION.”
The man said, “You seem to be mad.”
The master said, “I have already come down very much. The first answer was the right answer, the second was not so right, the third even more wrong, the fourth has gone very wrong” — because when you write “MEDITATION” with capital letters you have made a god out of it.
That’s why the word ‘God’ is written with capital ‘G’. Whenever you want to make something supreme, ultimate, you write it with a capital letter.
The master said, “I have already committed a sin.” He erased all those words he had written, and he said, “Please listen to my first answer — only then I am true.”
Silence is the space in which one awakens, and the noisy mind is the space in which one remains asleep. If your mind continues chattering, you are asleep. Sitting silently, if the mind disappears and you can hear the chattering birds and no mind inside, a silence…this whistle of the bird, the chirping, and no mind functioning in your head, utter silence…then awareness wells up in you. It does not come from the outside, it arises in you, it grows in you. Otherwise remember: you are asleep.
A husband and wife were asleep. About 3 AM the wife dreamt of secretly meeting another man. Then she dreamt she saw her husband coming.
In her sleep she shrieked, “Heavens, my husband!”
Her husband, waking suddenly, leapt out of the window.
And remember, it is not a laughing matter; it is the reality, it is how you are living. It is how man exists in his ordinary state.
A wife tries to win back her husband’s love, on the advice of a woman friend, by bringing him his slippers and pipe when he comes home late one night, giving him a tall drink, cuddling up in his lap dressed only in a silk dressing gown, and ending with the murmured offer, “Let’s go upstairs, darling!”
“I might as well,” says her bemused husband, “I’ll get hell when I get home anyway!”
We go on living absolutely inattentive to what is happening around us. Yes, we have become very efficient in doing things. What we are doing, we have become so efficient in doing that we don’t need any awareness to do it. It has become mechanical, automatic. We function like robots. We are not men yet; we are machines.
That’s what George Gurdjieff used to say again and again, that man as he exists is a machine. He offended many people, because nobody likes to be called a machine. Machines like to be called gods; then they feel very happy, puffed up. Gurdjieff used to call people machines, and he was right. If you watch yourself you will know how mechanically you behave.
The Russian psychologist Pavlov, and the American psychologist Skinner, are ninety-nine point nine percent right about man: they believe that man is a beautiful machine, that’s all. There is no soul in him. I say ninety-nine point nine percent they are right; they only miss by a very small margin. In that small margin are the buddhas, the awakened ones. But they can be forgiven, because Pavlov never came across a buddha — he came across millions of people like you.
Skinner has been studying men and rats and finds no difference. Rats are simple beings, that’s all; man is a little more complicated. Man is a highly sophisticated machine, rats are simple machines. It is easier to study rats; that’s why psychologists go on studying rats. They study rats and they conclude about man — and their conclusions are almost right. I say “almost,” mind you, because that point one percent is the most important phenomenon that has happened: a Buddha, a Jesus, a Mohammed. These few awakened people are the real men, but where can B.F. Skinner find a buddha? Certainly not in America.
I have heard:
A man asked a rabbi, “Why didn’t Jesus choose to be born in twentieth-century America?”
The rabbi shrugged his shoulders and said, “In America? It would have been impossible. Where can you find a virgin, firstly? And secondly, where will you find three wise men?”
And without a virgin mother and three wise men, how can Jesus be born?
I have heard:
In a church, the priest asked the audience, “Please stand up, all the women who are virgins!”
Just one woman with a small baby girl stood up. Certainly she was a mother, and the priest said, “Do you think yourself to be a virgin? You are a mother!”
She said, “Yes, I am — but this girl is a virgin, and she cannot stand on her own.”
Where is B.F. Skinner going to find a buddha? And even if he can find a buddha, his preconceived prejudices, ideas, will not allow him to see. He will go on seeing his rats. He cannot understand anything that rats cannot do. Now, rats don’t meditate, rats don’t become enlightened. And his conception of man is only a magnified form of a rat. And still I say that he is right about the greater majority of people; his conclusions are not wrong. And buddhas will agree with him about the so-called normal humanity: the normal humanity is utterly asleep. Even animals are not so asleep.
Have you seen a deer in the jungle — how alert he looks, how watchfully he walks? Have you seen a bird sitting on the tree — how intelligently he goes on watching what is happening all around? You move towards the bird — there is a certain space he allows; beyond that, one step more, and he flies away. He has a certain alertness about his territory. If somebody enters into that territory then it is dangerous.
If you look around you will be surprised: man seems to be the most asleep animal on the earth.
A woman buys a parrot at an auction of the furnishings of a fancy whorehouse, and keeps the parrot’s cage covered for two weeks to make it forget its profane vocabulary. When the cage is finally uncovered, the parrot looks around and remarks, “Awrrk! New house. New madam.” When the woman’s daughters come in, he adds, “Awrrk! New girls.”
When her husband comes home that night, the parrot says, “Awrrk! Awrrk! Same old customers. Hello, Joe!”
Man is in a very fallen state. In fact, that is the meaning of the Christian parable of the fall of Adam, his expulsion. But why were Adam and Eve expelled from paradise? They were expelled because they had eaten the fruit of knowledge. They were expelled because they had become minds, and they had lost their consciousness. If you become a mind you lose consciousness — mind means sleep, mind means noise, mind means mechanicalness.
If you become a mind you lose consciousness. Hence, the whole work that has to be done is: how to become consciousness again and lose the mind. You have to throw out of your system all that you have gathered as knowledge. It is knowledge that keeps you asleep; hence, the more knowledgeable a person is, the more asleep.
That has been my own observation too. Innocent villagers are far more alert and awake than the professors in the universities and the pundits in the temples. The pundits are nothing but parrots; the academicians in the universities are full of nothing but holy cow dung, full of absolutely meaningless noise — just minds and no consciousness.
People who work with nature , farmers, gardeners, woodcutters, carpenters, painters — they are far more alert than the people that function in the universities as deans and vice-chancellors and chancellors. Because when you work with nature, nature is alert, trees are alert; their form of alertness is certainly different, but they are very alert.
Now there are scientific proofs of their alertness. If the woodcutter comes with an axe in his hand and with the deliberate desire to cut the tree, all the trees that see him coming tremble. Now there are scientific proofs about it; I am not talking poetry, I am talking science when I say this. Now there are instruments to measure whether the tree is happy or unhappy, afraid or unafraid, sad or ecstatic. When the woodcutter comes, all the trees that see him start trembling. They become aware that death is close by. And the woodcutter has not cut any tree yet — just his coming….
And one thing more, far more strange: if the woodcutter is simply passing by there with no deliberate idea to cut a tree, then no tree becomes afraid. It is the same woodcutter, with the same axe. It seems that his intention to cut a tree affects the trees. It means that his intention is being understood; it means the very vibe is being decoded by the trees.
And one more significant fact has been observed scientifically: that if you go into the forest and kill an animal, it is not only the animal kingdom around that becomes shaken, but trees also. If you kill a deer, all the deer that are around feel the vibe of murder, become sad; a great trembling arises in them. Suddenly they are afraid for no particular reason at all. They may not have seen the deer being killed, but somehow, in a subtle way, they are affected — instinctively, intuitively. But it is not only the deer which are affected — the trees are affected, the parrots are affected, the tigers are affected, the eagles are affected, the grass leaves are affected. Murder has happened, destruction has happened, death has happened — everything that is around is affected.
Man seems to be the most asleep….
These sutras of Buddha have to be meditated on deeply, imbibed, followed.
Wakefulness is the way to life.
You are alive only in the proportion that you are aware. Awareness is the difference between death and life. You are not alive just because you are breathing, you are not alive just because your heart is beating. Physiologically you can be kept alive in a hospital, without any consciousness. Your heart will go on beating and you will be able to breathe. You can be kept in such a mechanical arrangement that you will remain alive for years — in the sense of breathing and the heart beating and the blood circulating. There are now many people around the world in advanced countries who are just vegetating in the hospitals, because advanced technology has made it possible for your death to be postponed indefinitely — for years, for centuries, you can be kept alive. If this is life, then you can be kept alive. But this is not life at all. Just to vegetate is not life.
Buddhas have a different definition. Their definition consists of awareness. They don’t say you are alive because you can breathe, they don’t say you are alive because your blood circulates; they say you are alive if you are awake. So except for the awakened ones nobody is really alive. You are corpses — walking, talking, doing things — you are robots.
Wakefulness is the way to life, says Buddha. Become more wakeful and you will become more alive. And life is God — there is no other God. Hence Buddha talks about life and awareness. Life is the goal and awareness is the methodology, the technique to attain it.
Excerpt from Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, V.1, Discourse #5
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