I have heard one beautiful story. Once there was a great sculptor, a painter, a great artist. His art was so perfect that when he would make a statue of a man, it was difficult to say who was the man and who was the statue. It was so lifelike, so alive, so similar. An astrologer told him that his death is approaching; he is going to die soon. Of course, he became very much afraid and frightened, and as every man wants to avoid death, he also wanted to avoid. He thought about it, meditated, and he found a clue. He made his own statues, eleven in number, and when Death knocked on his door and the Angel of Death entered, he stood hidden among his own eleven statues. He stopped his breathing.
The Angel of Death was puzzled, could not believe his own eyes. It had never happened; it was so irregular. God has never been known to create two persons alike; he always creates the unique. He has never believed in any routine. He is not like an assembly line. He is absolutely against carbons; he creates only originals. What has happened? Twelve persons in all, absolutely alike? Now, whom to take away? Only one has to be taken away. Death, the Angel of Death, could not decide. Puzzled, worried, nervous, he went back. He asked God, “What have you done? There are twelve persons exactly alike, and I am only supposed to bring one. How should I choose?”
God laughed. He called the Angel of Death close to him, and he uttered in his ears the formula, the clue how to find the real from the unreal. He gave him a mantra and told him, “Just go, and utter it in that room where that artist is hiding himself among his own statues.”
The Angel of Death asked, “How is it going to work?”
God said, “Don’t be worried. Just go and try.”
The Angel of Death came, not yet believing how it is going to work, but when God had said, he had to do it. He came in the room, looked around, and not addressing anybody in particular, he said, “Sir, everything is perfect except one thing. You have done well, but you have missed at one point. One error is there.”
The man completely forgot that he is hiding. He jumped; he said, “What error?”
And Death laughed. And Death said, “You are caught. This is the only error: you cannot forget yourself. Come on, follow me.”
Death is of the ego. If the ego exists, death exists. The moment the ego disappears, death disappears. You are not going to die, remember; but if you think that you are, you are going to die. If you think that you are a being, then you are going to die. This false entity of the ego is going to die, but if you think of yourself in terms of nonbeing, in terms of non-ego, then there is no death – already you have become deathless. You have always been deathless; now you have recognized the fact.
The artist was caught because he could not disappear into nonbeing.
Buddha says in his Dhammapada: If you can see death, death cannot see you. If you can die before death comes, then death cannot come to you; and there is no need to make statues. That is not going to help. Deep down you have to destroy one statue, not to create eleven more. You have to destroy the image of the ego. There is no need to create more statues and more images. Religion, in a way, is destructive. In a way, it is negative. It annihilates you – annihilates you completely and utterly.
You come to me with some ideas to attain some fulfillment, and I am here to destroy you completely. You have your ideas; I have my own. You would like to be fulfilled – fulfilled in your ego – and I would like you to drop the ego, to dissolve, to disappear, because only then is there fulfillment. The ego knows only emptiness; it is always unfulfilled. By the very nature, by its very intrinsic nature, it cannot attain to fulfillment. When you are not, fulfillment is. Call it God, or give it a name Patanjali would like – samadhi – the attainment of the ultimate, but it comes when you disappear.
These sutras of Patanjali are scientific methods how to dissolve, how to die, how to commit real suicide. I call it real because if you kill your body that is unreal suicide. If you kill your self that is authentic suicide.
And that is the paradox: that if you die, you attain to eternal life. If you cling to life, you will die a thousand and one times. You will go on… you will go on being born and dying again and again and again. It is a wheel. If you cling, you move with the wheel.
Drop out of the wheel of life and death. How to drop out of it? It seems so impossible because you have never thought of yourself as a nonbeing, you have never thought of yourself as just space, pure space, with nobody there inside.
These are the sutras. Each sutra has to be understood very deeply. A sutra is a very condensed thing. A sutra is like a seed. You have to accept it deep down in your heart; your heart has to become a soil for it. Then it sprouts, and then the meaning.
I can only persuade you to be open so that the seed can fall right in place within you, so that the seed can move into the deep darkness of your non-being. In that darkness of your non-being, it will start being alive. A sutra is a seed. Intellectually, it is very easy to understand it. Existentially, to attain to its meaning is arduous. But that’s what Patanjali would like, that’s what I would like.
So don’t just be intellectuals here. Get en rapport with me, get in tune with me. Don’t just listen to me; rather, be with me. Listening is secondary; being with me is primary, basic – just to be in my company. Allow yourself to be totally here-now with me, in my presence, because that death has happened to me. It can become infectious. I have committed that suicide. If you come close to me, if you are in tune with me even for a single moment, you will have a glimpse of death.
And, Buddha is right when he says, “If you can see death, death will not be able to see you,” because the moment you see death you have transcended death. Then there is no death for you.
Excerpt from Secrets of Yoga, Discourse #1 (Originally published as Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, V.8).
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