Isn’t it true that all meditation techniques are really doings which lead the seeker to his being?
In a way, yes; and in a deeper way, no. Meditation techniques are doings, because you are advised to do something. Even to meditate is to do something, even to sit silently is to do something, even to not do anything is a sort of doing. So in a superficial way, all meditation techniques are doings.
But in a deeper way they are not, because if you succeed in them, the doing disappears.
Only in the beginning it appears like an effort. If you succeed in it, the effort disappears and the whole thing becomes spontaneous and effortless. If you succeed in it, it is not a doing. No effort on your part is needed then. It becomes just like breathing – it is there. But in the beginning the effort is bound to be, because the mind cannot do anything which is not an effort. If you tell it to be effortless, the whole thing seems absurd.
In Zen, where much emphasis is paid to effortlessness, the masters say to the disciples, ‘Just sit. Don’t do anything.’ And the disciple tries. Of course, what can you do other than trying? The disciple tries to just sit, and he tries to just sit, and he tries to not do anything, and then the master hits him on his head with his staff and he says, ‘Don’t do this! I have not told you to try to sit, because that becomes an effort. And don’t try not to do anything, because that is a sort of doing. Simply sit!’
If I tell you to simply sit, what will you do? You will do something, which will make it not a simple sitting; an effort will enter. You will be sitting with an effort; a strain will be there. You cannot simply sit. It looks strange, but the moment you try to sit simply, it has become complex. The very effort to simply sit makes it complex. So what to do?
Years pass, and the disciple goes on sitting and being blamed, condemned by the master that he is missing the point. But he simply goes on, goes on, goes on, and every day he is a failure, because the effort is there. And he cannot deceive the master. But one day, just patiently sitting, even this consciousness to sit simply disappears. One day suddenly he is sitting – like a tree or like a rock – not doing anything. And then the master says, ‘This is the right posture. Now you have attained it. Now remember this. This is the way to sit.’ But it takes patience and long effort to achieve effortlessness.
In the beginning, effort will be there, doing will be there, but only in the beginning as a necessary evil. But you have to remember constantly that you have to go beyond it. A moment must come when you are not doing anything about meditation – just being there and it happens; just sitting or standing and it happens; not doing anything, just being aware, it happens.
All these techniques are just to help you to come to an effortless moment. The inner transformation, the inner realization, cannot happen through effort, because effort is a sort of tension. With effort you cannot be relaxed totally; the effort will become a barrier. With this background in mind, if you make effort, by and by you will become capable of leaving it also.
It is just like swimming. If you know about swimming, you know that in the beginning you have to make effort – but only in the beginning. Once you know the feel of it, once you know what it is, the effort has gone; you can swim effortlessly. And even a good swimmer cannot say what swimming is, what exactly he is doing. He cannot explain to you what he is doing. Really, he is not doing anything.
He is simply allowing himself to be in a deep responsive relationship with the water, with the river. He is not doing anything really. And if he is still doing, he is still not an expert swimmer – he is still amateur, still learning.
I will tell you one anecdote. In Burma, one Buddhist monk was ordered to make a design for the new temple, particularly for the gate. So he was making many designs. He had one very talented disciple, so he told that disciple to be near him. While he made the design the disciple was simply to watch, and if he liked it he had to say that it was okay, it was right. If he didn’t like it then he had to say no. And the master said, ‘When you say yes, only then will I send the design. If you go on saying no, I will discard the design and will create a new one.’
Hundreds of designs were discarded in this way. Three months passed. Even the master became afraid, but he had given his word so he had to keep it. The disciple was there, the master would make the design, and then the disciple would say no. The master would start another one.
One day the ink was just about to be finished, so the master said, ‘Go out and find more ink.’ The disciple went out. The master forgot him, his presence, and became effortless. His presence was the problem. The idea was constantly in his mind that the disciple was there, judging. He was constantly wondering whether he was going to like it or not, whether he would discard it again. This created an inner anxiety and the master could not be spontaneous. The disciple went out. The design was completed. The disciple came in and he said ‘Wonderful! But why couldn’t you do it before?’
The master said, ‘Now I understand why – because you were here. Because of you – I was making an effort to get your approval. The effort destroyed the whole thing. I couldn’t be natural, I couldn’t flow, I couldn’t forget myself because of you.’
Whenever you are doing meditation, the very effort that you are doing it, the very idea of succeeding in it, is the barrier. Be conscious of it. Go on doing, and be conscious of it. A day will come… just through patience a day comes when effort is not there. Really, you are not there, only meditation is. It may take a long time. It cannot be predicted, no one can say when it will happen. Because if something is to be achieved by effort, it can be predicted – that if you do this much effort you will succeed – but meditation is going to succeed only when you become effortless. That’s why nothing can be predicted. Nothing can be said about when you will succeed. You may succeed this very moment, and you may not succeed for lives. The whole thing hinges on one thing – when your effort drops and you become spontaneous, when your meditation is not an act but becomes your being, when your meditation is just like love…. You cannot do anything about love, or can you? If you do anything, you falsify it. It will become artificial. It will not go deep. You will not be in it. It will become an acting. Love is– you cannot do anything about it.
You cannot do anything about meditation also. But I don’t mean don’t do anything, because then you will remain whatsoever you are. You have to do something, perfectly conscious that by only doing you will not achieve. Doing will be needed in the beginning. One cannot leave it; one has to go through it. But one has to go through it, one has to transcend it, and an effortless floating has to be achieved.
The path is arduous and very contradictory. You cannot find anything more contradictory than meditation. Contradictory because it has to be started as an effort and it has to end as effortlessness. But it happens. You may not be able to conceive logically hot it happens, but in experience it happens. A day comes when you just get fed up with your effort. It falls.
It happened to Buddha this way. For six years he was making every effort possible. No human being has been so obsessed with becoming enlightened. He did everything that he could do. He moved from one teacher to another, and whatsoever he was taught, he did it perfectly. That was the problem, because no teacher could say to him, ‘You are not doing well, that’s why you are not achieving.’ That was impossible. He was doing better than any master, so the masters had to confess. They said, ‘This much we have to teach. Beyond this we don’t know, so you go somewhere else.’
He was a dangerous disciple – and only dangerous disciples achieve. He studied everything that was possible. Whatsoever he was told, he would do it – absolutely as it was told. And then he would come to the master and say, ‘I have done it, but nothing has happened. So what next?’
The teachers would say, ‘You go somewhere else. There is one teacher in the Himalayas – go there.’ Or, ‘There is one teacher in some forest – go there. We don’t know more than this.’
He went around and around for six years. He did all that can be done, all that is humanly possible, and then he got fed up. The whole thing appeared futile, fruitless, meaningless. One night he relaxed all efforts. He was sitting under the Bodhi tree, and he said, ‘Now everything is finished. In the world there is nothing, and in this spiritual search also there is nothing. Now there is nothing for me to do. Everything is finished. Not only this world, but the other world also. Suddenly all efforts dropped. He was empty. Because when there is nothing to do, the mind cannot move. The mind moves only because there is something to do – some motivation, some goal. The mind moves because something is possible, something can be achieved, the future. If not today then tomorrow, but the possibility is there that one can achieve it – the mind moves.
That night Buddha came to a dead point. Really, he died that very moment, because there was no future. Nothing was to be achieved, and nothing could be achieved – ‘I have done everything. The whole world is futile and this whole existence is a nightmare.’ Not only the material world became futile, but the spiritual also. He relaxed. Not that he did something to relax. This is the point to understand: there was nothing to be tense, therefore he relaxed. There was no effort on his part to relax.
Under the Bodhi tree he was not trying relaxation. There was nothing to do, nothing to be tense, nothing to desire, no future, no hope. He was absolutely hopeless that night – relaxed. Relaxation happened. You cannot relax, because something or other is still there to be achieved. That goes on stirring your mind; you go on spinning and spinning around and around. Suddenly the spinning stopped, the wheel stopped – Buddha relaxed and fell asleep.
In the morning when he awoke, the last star was setting. He looked at the last star disappear, and with that last star disappearing, he disappeared completely, he became an enlightened one. Then people started asking, ‘How did you achieve this? How? What was the method?’
Now you can understand Buddha’s difficulty. If he said that he had achieved through some methods, then he was wrong, because he achieved only when there was no method. If he said that he had achieved through effort, then he was wrong, because he achieved only when there was no effort. But if he said, ‘Don’t make any effort and you will achieve,’ then too he was wrong, because to his no-effort those six years of effort were the background. Without that effort, that six years’ arduous effort, this state of no-effort could not have been achieved. Only because of that mad effort he came to a peak and there was nowhere further to go; he relaxed and fell down in the valley.
This has to be remembered for many reasons. Spiritual effort is the most contradictory phenomenon.
Effort has to be made, with full consciousness that nothing can be achieved through effort. Effort has to be made only to achieve no-effort, only to achieve effortlessness. But don’t relax your effort, because if you relax you will never achieve that relaxation which came to Buddha. You go on doing every effort, so automatically a moment comes when just by sheer effort you reach a point where relaxation happens to you.
For example, you may take it in a different way. As I see it, in the west, ego has been the central point: the fulfillment of the ego, the development of the ego, the achievement of a strong ego, has been the whole western effort. In the east, it has been how to achieve egolessness, how to be a non-ego, how to forget, surrender, dissolve yourself completely so that you are not. The east has been trying for egolessness. The west has been trying for the perfect ego.
But this is the contradictoriness of things: if you don’t have a very developed ego, you cannot surrender. You can surrender only if you have a perfectly clear-cut ego. Otherwise you cannot surrender, because who will surrender? So to me, both are half and both are in misery – east and west both. Because the east has taken egolessness, which is the end part, and the beginning part is missing.
Who will surrender the ego? The peak is not there, so who will create the valley? The valley is created only around a peak. The greater the peak, the deeper the valley. If you don’t have an ego, or a very lukewarm one, surrender is not possible. Or, your surrender will be a lukewarm surrender, just so-so. Nothing will happen out of it; there will be no explosion.
In the west, the beginning part has been emphasized. So you can go on growing with your ego. It will create more and more anxiety. And when you have really created it, you don’t know what to do with it, because the end part is not there.
To me, the spiritual search is both. Create a very great peak, create a perfect ego, just to dissolve it.
That seems absurd – just to dissolve it, just to achieve a deep surrender, just to lose it somewhere. And you cannot lose something which you don’t have. So in my view, humanity has to be trained for these two things together: help everyone to create a perfect ego, a fulfilled ego – but this is only half the journey – and then, help them to surrender it.
The greater the peak, the deeper will be the valley. The higher the ego, the deeper you will move in your surrender. And this is for everything. On the spiritual path, remember this continuous contradictoriness. Don’t forget it even for a single moment. Become perfect egoists so that you can surrender, so that you can dissolve, melt. Do every effort that you can do, just to reach a point where effort leaves you and you are totally effortless.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #50
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