He is Brahma, he is Shiva, he is Indra. He is indestructible, the supreme, the self-luminous.
He alone is Vishnu, he is prana, his is sun, fire, he is moon. He alone is all that was and all that will be, the eternal.
Knowing him one goes beyond the sting of death; there is no other way to reach complete freedom.
Experiencing one’s own self in all beings and all beings in the self, one attains the highest brahman, and not by any other means.
The reality is unknown; the reality is unnamed. The reality is, but indefinable. It is; it is felt. We are part of it; we encounter it everywhere. Wheresoever you move, you move in reality; you live every moment in it; you participate in it every moment. It is not something different from you, you are not something different from it, but still you cannot name it, you cannot pinpoint it, you cannot give it a label. What is it?
This is a problem for a religious mind. It is not a problem for a philosophical mind; the philosopher can say it is existence, naked, pure – it is absolute. For a Heidegger it is not a problem; he can call it simple “is-ness,” being. For a Shankara it is not a problem; he can call it the supreme, the absolute, the brahman. But these are not basically religious types.
For a religious person it becomes a problem, because unless he can name it, he cannot be related to it; unless he can personify it, he cannot feel the relatedness. The intimacy is impossible with a pure “is-ness.” An intimate relationship is not possible with something absolute, with something just like a concept. Being, brahman – how can you feel related with being, with brahman, with “is-ness,” with existence? Relationship is only possible when you personify it. That is the basic difference between philosophical speculation and religious search.
Religion is in search of an intimate relationship with existence; it is not only speculation. For a religious man it is going to be life itself. Philosophy seeks in terms of knowledge, religion in terms of love. When you are seeking in terms of knowledge, you can be an observer, an onlooker. But you are not a participant, you are not deep in it – you are just an outsider. A philosopher is basically an outsider; he goes on thinking, but from without. He will not enter into a deep relationship. He will not get involved; he will not be committed. But religion is nothing if it is not a commitment; religion is nothing if it is not an intimate love relationship. So how to change existence into a love object? This sutra is concerned with this.
This sutra says that he is nameless, but we cannot deal with a nameless. He is nameless, obviously, but we must give a name to it; otherwise, we cannot feel related. And to feel related is a great transformation. Not only is the divine nameless, everything is nameless. A child is born a nameless phenomenon, with no name – but if you don’t give a name to him, he will be unable even to live. If no name is given to him, it will be impossible for him to move. Not only that, but others will not be able to understand him; he himself will not be able to understand himself. Even to understand oneself, one has to be addressed, given a name; otherwise, one cannot even think about oneself – who he is. Of course, this name is just a false label, but it helps.
This is one of the mysteries of life: even falsities help, even untruths help, even dreams help, even illusions help. So a person who is bent upon destroying every illusion, every falsity, every untruth, may prove harmful. One has to remember: something may be false, but don’t destroy it. Let it be there, it has a utility. But the utility should not become the truth. Utility must remain a utility, it must not become the truth.
Man cannot feel in deep relationship with the divine, with existence, unless he names it. Many names are possible – it will depend on the man who is naming. Thousands and thousands of names have been given to him. In India we have a book, Vishnu Sahastranam – a thousand names of Vishnu. The whole book consists only of names – nothing else, just names. It is a very beautiful book, consisting only of names, but in its own way showing that the phenomenon is nameless. Only because of that, thousands of names are possible.
So you can name the divine any way. Call him whatsoever you like, but call him. The emphasis should be on the call, not on the name. Call him Rama, call him Hari, call him Krishna, call him Christ; call him any name – but call! Let there be a deep invocation. Use any name. That name is just artificial, but it will help.
Make any image, but make it. The making is significant. Any image will do, but remember that this is just an artificial help; a technical use must be made of it. In this way also, India has tried many, many experiments – particularly Hindus. They make their idols of mud. Stone came only later on, with Buddhists and Jains; otherwise, Hindus were satisfied with mud images. Stone is a more substantial thing, more permanent; it gives a permanency to a thing. A mud idol is just as impermanent as anything in the world. Hindus tried to make their idols only of mud, so that they remembered: this is just an artificial phenomenon made by us. And they insisted that it must be dissolved soon after.
A Ganesha is made, worshiped, everything done – called, prayed, invoked – and then they go and throw it into the sea. This is very symbolic. This means: this image was just an artificial thing. We created it, we used it; now the use is over and we throw it. Hindus are the least idol-worshipers in the world, but everywhere they are known as the idol-worshipers. They are the least, because they are so courageous to throw away their idols so easily, and with such a celebration. They go to throw their idols into the sea with such a celebration. The throwing is as necessary as the creating.
With the stone idols things changed. No stone idol should be there. Clay idols are beautiful, because even if you are not going to destroy them, they will destroy themselves. Sooner or later, you will become aware that this was just something made for a particular purpose. The purpose is solved, now the artificial help can be dissolved with a thankfulness, with a celebration. No country, no religion, no race, has been so courageous with its idols. Really, sometimes strange things happen.
Hindus are the least idol worshipers, and Mohammedans the most – and they have not worshiped at all. They have not made any idol. Not even a picture of Mohammed is available – not even a picture. How did he look? They have persistently denied any picture, any idol, any image. Not only have they denied them for themselves, they have destroyed others’ also. Others’ images, others’ idols they have destroyed – with a very good wish. Nothing is wrong in it, because they feel idol worship is harmful – harmful to a religious man. It must not be in between; God must be faced directly, immediately. There should be nothing in between – a very good wish, but it proved dangerous!
It proved dangerous; they went on destroying; they destroyed much that was beautiful – much. They destroyed Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples, Hindu idols, Buddha’s images – they destroyed. All over Asia they destroyed, with a very good wish that nothing should remain between man and God. But they became too concerned with idols. Idol-destroying became their sole religious practice.
This is worship in a negative way – too much concentration on idols; idols became too significant for them. This is how life is strange. I call Hindus the least idol-worshipers, because they can throw away their idols any time the purpose is solved. They use them, but the idols can never use the Hindus; Hindus can use the idols. Mohammedans are so against, yet so concerned; so against but still so attached. They turn really into negative idol-worshipers. Create an image, create any name, create anything that you feel can help you move towards the divine. All names belong to him.
Old Mohammedan names – old, and still Mohammedans are orthodox and old . . . All old Mohammedan names are names of Allah. All old Hindu names – but now all names are not old – are names of Rama. Not only have we tried to give God a thousand names, we have tried to give everyone a name which really belongs to God. This is symbolic. Every name is God’s name, and every name – to whomsoever it belongs – indicates a god.
This sutra says:
He his Brahma, he is Shiva, he is Indra. He is indestructible, the supreme, the self-luminous. He alone is Vishnu, he is prana. He is sun, fire, he is the moon.
He is everything. Call him moon, call him sun, call him Vishnu – call him anything. Whatsoever you call him, remember that the call – the heartfelt call, the prayerful mood – is important. The name is just a device to help you to call him.
He alone is all that was and all that will be, the eternal.
Knowing him one goes beyond the sting of death;
Knowing him one goes beyond the sting of life and death – why? This has to be understood. Why, if you can understand him, why will you go beyond life and death? – because life and death belong to the ego. If you say he is everything that was, if you say he is everything that is, if you say he is everything that ever will be, that means you are not. That means he is and you are not; that means the ego is not – and only the ego is born and only the ego is to die. If he is everything, then he is birth, he is death, he is life. Then how can you conceive of yourself as being born, and as dying?
Birth and death are just two poles of your ego – the feeling that “I am.” If you drop this feeling, then birth is not the beginning and death is not the end. Then something always was, before you were born. Really, you are a continuity, a continuity of the whole past; and when you die, nothing is dying – only the continuity changes, takes a turn. Around the corner the continuity will continue. But if you begin to feel between birth and death that you are, then you will die, then you will have to feel the suffering of dying.
Remember that you are a continuity. The whole universe is involved in you; you are not alone. No man is an island, no man is alone and separate. The world exists as a net, as an interconnection, as inter-relatedness. The whole world exists as one. You are organic to it; you belong to it.
If this feeling comes to you. Knowing him one goes beyond the sting of life and death; there is no other way to reach complete freedom. And unless you are a non-ego, there is no way to attain complete freedom. Ego is the slavery, ego is the suffering, ego is the anguish. Ego is the anxiety, the tension, the disease. So unless there is egolessness . . . and egolessness and God-consciousness mean the same thing. If you become God-conscious, you will become I-unconscious. If you are I-conscious, then you cannot be God-conscious. This is focusing. If you are focused on the ego, the whole universe goes into darkness. If you are focused on the whole universe, the “I” simply disappears. “I” is a focusing of all the energy on a limited link of an unlimited continuity – one link. One link of the whole chain is the ego. Remember the whole continuity.
It will be good if we can think in this way. Could I exist if something had been different in the universe? – I could not exist. Even a millennium before, if something had been different from what it was, I would not be here, because the whole universe is a continuity. Whatsoever I am saying . . . if a Buddha had not been there in the past, or a Jesus had not been there in the past, I couldn’t say this. The whole universe is a continuity. A single event missed in the past would make the whole universe different. And when I say a Buddha, you can understand. But I say, even if a single tree had not been there in the universe, I would not be here.
The whole universe exists as a continuity; it is an intermittent phenomenon. We are here because the universe was such that we could be here. The whole past was such that this meeting becomes possible. Something missing, and the whole thing will change. This feeling of eternal continuity in the past, of eternal continuity in the future, will dissolve the ego completely. You are not; you are just a part – a part which cannot exist alone.
Then the destiny of the whole universe becomes your destiny, then you have no separate individual destiny. That is what is meant by saying one goes beyond life and death. If you have no individual destiny, the whole destiny of the universe is your destiny. Then who is going to die? And who is going to be born? And who is concerned? Then a total acceptance explodes, a total acceptance comes. A tathata, a total acceptance happens. This is freedom; this is ultimate freedom. Now you cannot feel any limitation.
The universe has never felt limitation. You feel it because you separate yourself. I will die as an individual, but I cannot die as a universe. The atoms in my hand will be there; my eyes will be there as someone else’s eyes; my heart will be there as someone else’s heart. I will exist in the trees, in the stones, in the earth, in the sky – I will be there as a universe. I will not be there as myself. My consciousness will be there as someone else’s consciousness. Or even it may not be someone else’s consciousness . . . just a cloud floating in the sky, or just a silence, or just a drop in the ocean. As myself I am going to die, but not as a universe.
This remembrance, this realization is the only freedom – the only and the ultimate. Unless this happens, you are a slave. You will go on feeling limitations, you will go on feeling boundaries, you will go on feeling that this is going to be death, this is going to be birth, this is going to be pain, this is going to be suffering. To create, or to go on believing in individual destiny, is irreligion. The beginning of the feeling that “I am not an individual destiny – destiny belongs to the universe, I belong to the universe” – is the beginning of freedom, is the beginning of religion.
Religion is the search for total freedom. And unless the freedom is total, it is not freedom at all.
Experiencing one’s own self in all beings in the self, one attains the highest brahman, and not by any other means.
This is what I mean by being aware of a universal destiny: by dissolving one’s individual, petty destiny one begins to feel then that he is everything – all. All penetrates into oneself, and one’s own existence penetrates all. Really, it is saying simply that boundaries dissolve.
The observer becomes the observed.
The knower becomes the known.
The lover becomes the beloved.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #25
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