Krishna said to Arjuna, “Surrender and I promise you moksha.” Jesus also said to his disciples, “Come follow me and I will take you to the kingdom, to God.” But you say to us that you can only show the facts. Why don’t you promise us nirvana?
All promises are poisons because they are political not religious. The people who have promised you that you have only to surrender to them and they will take you to the ultimate goal of light; you have just to follow them and they will take you to the kingdom of God… these promises have created a spiritually slave humanity. These promises have not helped anyone.
Do you have a single witness who can say, “Following Jesus I have reached the kingdom of God”? In two thousand years the promise remains there, and you remain in your misery, in your anguish, in your utter spiritual poverty.
It is very significant to understand that no one can take you to the ultimate goal of light except yourself. That is your prerogative, your privilege. That is your freedom, your individuality and its beauty.
Nobody can interfere with your spiritual growth. You are not cattle that somebody can take you somewhere. But you have been insulted, humiliated so continuously, that you have become almost accustomed to it and you don’t feel the insult of it. Somebody saying to you, “Surrender to me” – and you don’t see the humiliation…? To whom did Krishna surrender? He never surrendered to anybody. To whom did Jesus surrender? He never surrendered to anybody.
And if these people had some beauty, the beauty was their individuality, their freedom, their absolute uniqueness. A surrendered human being has almost fallen below humanity.
Jesus said to the people, “I am your shepherd, and you are the sheep.” And nobody even raised any objection that this was very insulting. On what grounds do you become the shepherd and reduce other human beings who are just like you into animals, into sheep? But any lie repeated again and again starts appearing to be a truth.
These words have been repeated so often by the so-called spiritual masters that you have forgotten what they are doing to your being. They are destroying you. There is no need for any surrender – the very word is ugly. There is no need to follow anybody, because if you follow somebody you will always remain a blind follower, you will never attain in your own eyes. And the most wonderful thing is: the people who are telling you these things have never themselves done those acts. They have never surrendered, they have never followed – and that’s what gives them grandeur, makes them pinnacles of consciousness.
You should try to understand Jesus, not to follow him. You should try to understand Krishna, not to surrender to him. It is your understanding that is going to lead you to higher levels of being. Do not depend on anybody else to help. There have been so many saviors in the world and the world is not saved yet – so many prophets, so many incarnations of God, so many tirthankaras… and what is the result? And they have all claimed that they have come to redeem the world from pain, from misery, from ignorance. They come and go – the world remains the same. In fact, it becomes darker and darker every day. It becomes more and more miserable every day.
Jainas have twenty-four tirthankaras – their quota is finished; they cannot have twenty-five. For one creation, from the beginning of this universe to the end of this universe, they can have only twenty-four tirthankaras. Now, what is the hope? And what have these twenty-four tirthankaras done? How many people have been redeemed? How many people have become enlightened? How many steps has humanity grown towards maturity?
It is strange. Hindu avataras have been here, Gautam Buddha has been here, Moses and Jesus have been here, Mohammed and many others. And this small earth and all these prophets, saviors… and the strange thing is that the world goes on becoming worse and worse. Man goes on becoming lower and lower; he has not become a spiritual being. He has not become more aware, more alert, more meditative, more compassionate. Otherwise there would not have been so many wars. In three thousand years there have been five thousand wars. This is the man that has been created by all your so-called spiritual founders. Just within this century we have already had two great world wars, and now we are preparing for the third.
What spiritual heritage, what spiritual insight is there that makes us destructive rather than being creative, makes us hate each other rather than being loving and compassionate? Even in the name of religion, for centuries there has been bloodshed continuously. In the name of peace, love, and all great qualities, we have done everything that even an animal would be ashamed to do.
It is time to have a look backwards and see that surrender and the idea of following has not helped; in fact, it has degraded you. And you are asking me also to insult you, to humiliate you. Please forgive me, I cannot do that. I can help you as a friend, I can hold your hand as a friend and companion, I can show you the way, but I cannot walk for you. You will have to walk for yourself; otherwise truth will be too cheap. If others can achieve it for you then it won’t have any value. And if others can achieve it for you, they can take it away also.
If, following Jesus, you reach the kingdom of God, remember – if you do something against him, he can kick you out of the kingdom of God because it is not your achievement.
You are living on borrowed spirituality. At least leave something which cannot be borrowed. Leave truth – it can be achieved. Those who have achieved can certainly help, but their help can only be that of a friend not of a master. The very idea of somebody being a master is the idea of spiritual slavery.
You have been asked for centuries to surrender, to trust, and do whatever the master says. And you don’t know whether he is a master or not. Do you have any criteria? Do you have any way to judge that this man is a master?
There is no criterion available, so you have been surrendering to people who are cunning enough to pretend to be masters. A real master will be so humble that he cannot call himself a master. The very claim, “I am the master, and you are just a devotee, a disciple, a follower,” is nothing but pure egoistic assertion. And wherever the ego exists one thing is certain: you cannot get any help towards light, love, life.
Man is capable of spiritual growth – he has the potential. All that he needs to know is the right way. And anybody who can show you the right way – you can be grateful to him; you can be thankful to him. But what is the need to surrender?
I am reminded of a Tibetan story….
Milarepa, a great master, was searching for truth. The story is of the days when he had not found it. And people told him, “There is a certain master – all that is needed is absolute surrender.” Milarepa went to the man and surrendered totally – he must have been a unique individual – and then other disciples of that master became very jealous of Milarepa because he started doing strange things. He would walk on water; he would go through fire and not be burned… And they all asked him, “What is your secret?”
He said, “You are senior disciples of the master, you must know. I have simply surrendered myself to him, so whenever I want to cross the river, I simply remember the master and just say to him, ‘Take me to the other side,’ and I walk on the waters.”
The master heard – he could not believe it. He wanted to see. He told Milarepa to jump from a mountain peak into a thousand-foot-deep valley. Milarepa simply remembered the name of the master, and jumped.
They all were thinking, “We will not be able to find even bits and pieces of the man, the valley is so deep and so dangerous.”
But when they went there – it took hours for them to go down – Milarepa was sitting there in the lotus posture, so blissfully.
The master said, “Just my name helps you…?”
And naturally, and logically, he thought, “If my name helps him so much, I must be a great master. And he thought, “If my name helps him, then what miracles can I not do?”
He tried to walk on the water, and he started drowning and had to be saved by his disciples. That moment Milarepa saw his own master drowning, and the whole idea of surrender to a fake, to a fraud, disappeared. He said to the master, “At least you should not have done it in front of us. You have destroyed our trust, our surrender. You have destroyed us so deeply that now it will be difficult for us to trust in anyone. You have made us skeptical. I came to you in innocence, and I am going absolutely corrupted.”
There is no criterion. Surrender, if it is total – which is very difficult, almost impossible; only a very innocent man can do it – will help you, not the master. The master may not be a master at all. But surrender simply means you have dropped your ego completely. But why call it surrender? Surrender always means to someone.
I am a straightforward, simple person. I will tell you to drop the ego; I will not tell you to surrender to me. That is a roundabout way of dropping the ego, and dangerous because you may be surrendering yourself to somebody who is not right; you may be following someone who himself is lost.
There is a beautiful story by Kahlil Gibran….
A man became a very famous master, and he went from one place to another teaching his doctrine which was very simple: “Come follow me.”
Of course, people have so many things to do they cannot just come and follow you. And they always think, “Next time when you come, perhaps I will be ready; my children are small, my girl has to be married, my wife is sick. What you are saying is right, but the time is not right. I am ready, but the situation does not allow it.”
He went on telling the people, “Whoever follows me, within days, he will attain to the ultimate illumination.”
In one village, one young man stood up and said, “I am ready.”
There was great silence for a moment because this had never happened. The master was a little hesitant. Now where to take him… what to do? He had no knowledge of what it means when you attain to self-illumination, but in front of the crowd he pretended. He said, “Okay, you come with me.” He took him into the hills, into rough places… made the journey as terrible as possible. But the young man was also very stubborn – he continued to follow him. Many times, the master said, “You must be tired; it is better you go back.”
That young man said, “I will never go back. First I will attain self-illumination whatever the cost; only then can I go back.”
But trying to put the young man into hardships, the old master was himself also trying to do the same. He was also terribly tired. Finally, he had a nervous breakdown.
The young man said, “What is the matter?”
The old man said, “To be honest with you – I have to be honest, otherwise you will kill me – you are young and I am old. You can go through all this suffering and I cannot.”
But the young man said, “I have not told you to go through all this suffering. I was simply following you; you were not following me.”
The old man said, “To be honest, I don’t know what self-illumination is. My profession was going so well… my whole life. Because nobody ever followed, no problem ever arose. You are such a rascal that you really followed, and you are still bent upon following me – that means you will kill me.”
The young man said, “But what about self-illumination?”
The master said, “I have forgotten all. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what self-illumination is. I just pray to you to leave me in peace. I will never bother you again, but don’t disturb my business in other parts of the country. The only business I know is telling people, ‘I can give you salvation; you just come and follow me,’ knowing perfectly well that who is going to follow? – everybody has incomplete things to complete. But you are such a stubborn fellow that you dropped all that you were doing and simply went on following me!”
The story is significant. Jesus says, “Follow me and I will take you into the kingdom of God.” But is there any kingdom of God? In Buddhism there is no kingdom of God; in Jainism there is no existence of God. It is simply a hypothesis. And the people who followed Jesus were all illiterate, uneducated, coming from the lowest strata of society – fishermen, farmers, woodcutters, carpenters… He himself was the son of a carpenter. He himself was not educated, not cultured, not civilized. Not a single rabbi of his day, not a single learned person, not a single wise man followed him. The people who followed were following him out of greed.
A fisherman cannot hope that on his own he can enter into the kingdom of God – and this man is not asking for much money, he is simply saying, “Follow me.” Just following him there is no harm, and the promise is great. They were not in love with Jesus.
Even in the last hours before Jesus was caught they were asking him, “Soon you will be reaching to the kingdom of God” – because it was known that he would be crucified. “Before you leave us, we want to know… of course your place will be exactly at the right hand of God. You are the only begotten son of God – but what will be the place of your twelve disciples? Who will be next to you?”
Do you see their mind? Do you see their greed? Do you see their ambition? And what have they done? Just hanging around Jesus, and they have become capable of entering into the kingdom of God. Now they are asking what their position will be. They must have been feeling jealous of each other – “Who will be next to Jesus?” And when Jesus was crucified all the twelve apostles had escaped – great followers – just out of fear that they may be recognized as Jesus’ followers, because they were always hanging around him wherever he was going. Those twelve fellows were always with him; everybody knew them – they may be caught. If Jesus is crucified, the same may happen to them.
They all escaped. They forgot all about the kingdom of God, they forgot all about following Jesus Christ. And those twelve cowards who left the master hanging on the cross have become the twelve great prophets of Christianity.
A whole religion is created on the words of those twelve cowards. Jesus cannot save anyone – he could not save himself. At the last moment on the cross, in deep frustration, he shouted at the sky because he was waiting for some miracle to happen, and nothing was happening. And people were laughing, joking, making a fool of him: “This is the only begotten son of God. Now call your father to save you.”
Finally, he shouted, “Father, why have you forsaken me?”
Even his trust was not total, even he was full of doubt that perhaps God had forsaken him and that’s why no miracle was happening.
Miracles don’t happen.
Nature knows no exceptions.
But on this poor man Jesus, for two thousand years, millions of people have been depending. Just a hope, but that hope is dangerous because it prevents you from changing you; it prevents you from doing something yourself; it prevents you from your own potential, from your own powers, from your own intelligence, from your own inner being that is always present there.
No Jesus, no Krishna – everybody has to be alert, aware, drop all false hopes. Nobody can save you, and nobody has ever saved anybody. Masters have only shown the way. Because they have traveled on the path, they can save you unnecessary wandering, they can show you the straight way. But nobody can walk for you. And it is good that nobody can walk for you. It would have been dangerous if somebody was capable of saving you, because then he becomes your owner, you become a slave.
Even in your kingdom of God you will be a slave. The man who has brought you there – you bribed him by surrender, you bribed him by following him, you bribed him by massaging his ego as much as you could – can kick you out of the gate at any time.
I was sitting in my village by the bank of the river. It was evening, and just getting a little dark, and one man started shouting, “Save me, save me!” He was drowning.
I don’t believe in saving anybody, so I looked all around – if somebody else saves… it is good. But there was nobody so, unwillingly, I jumped into the river, and somehow carried the man.
He said, “What have you done? I was trying to commit suicide!”
I said, “This is something! Then why were you shouting ‘save me’?”
He said, “I became afraid!”
I said, “Don’t worry.”
I pushed him back – if I can save him, I can push him back.
And again, he started shouting, “Please save me!”
I said, “No more. Now you do it yourself.”
Do not depend; every dependence is slavery. That’s why I cannot say to you, “Just follow me.” I can say to you, “Try to understand.” In trying to understand me, perhaps you may be able to see the path yourself.
I can help you to see the path, I can help you to open your eyes; I can throw cold water in your eyes – that’s what I am doing every day. And sometimes you get irritated, you get annoyed, because nobody wants cold water in the early morning to be thrown into their eyes. I can shake you; I can wake you; I can drag you out of your bed. I can make you a little alert and give you the full details of how to become more aware, more meditative – and then there is nothing else to be done. Your meditation will take you.
I cannot take you anywhere.
And you will be grateful to me that I did not ask you cheap things – surrender to me, just trust in me and everything will be okay. All that is sheer nonsense. You like it because it is cheap, you like it because you have not to do anything. I am asking you something arduous. You will have to do it; you will have to work hard at it. You will have to sharpen your intelligence, your consciousness, and as it is sharpened the way becomes more and more clear. You are nobody’s shadow, nobody’s follower.
Everybody reaches to the truth alone, not by following anybody. And it is beautiful to reach alone because then it is your earning. Then you deserve it.
From The Sword and the Lotus, Discourse #11
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