The scriptures do not say that the body is real for the knower, but they say so for the ignorant. In reality, there is only the non-dual supreme, which is one without a second, and nothing else exists except it.
And the supreme is known as something without beginning and without end – immeasurable, pure, innocent, existential, conscious, eternal, blissful, imperishable, all-pervading, non-dual, established always in oneness.
With a face in every direction, one is unable to renounce it or accept it, existing without any foundation or support, attributeless, actionless, subtle, artless, self-evident, pure, enlightened and incomparable.
Thus you enjoy most blissfully the undifferentiated self which you have known by your own experience as indivisible, thus be a siddha, a fulfilled one.
The scriptures do not say that the body is real for the knower, but they say so for the ignorant.
This has to be understood clearly. Particularly for the Western mind, this is very confusing. The Western mind has its own tradition. The Western mind is really the developed tradition of the Greek attitude, Socrates, Aristotle, Plato – they have built the foundations of the Western mind.
The Western mind insists on the fact, objective fact, objective proof, objective reality. Objective reality means it is not dependent on anyone. The objective statement of a fact is for all; it is not said for some, it is not true for some, it is universally true.
If I say that this tree is green, this is a factual statement. If I make certain conditions that this tree is green only for Hindus, and not green for Mohammedans . . . or if I say my statement is true only for Christians and not true for Buddhists, then the Western mind will say that this statement is subjective, not objective – imaginary, not real. If the statement is real that this tree is green, then it is true for everyone forever – it is unconditionally true, universally true.
Because of this insistence on objective truth, the West was able to develop a scientific mind. Objectivity must be determined; the individual, subjective knower must be put aside. The mind must not get involved, the reality must be looked at with a neutral mind, and whatsoever you say must be true for all. Because of this Greek insistence the West could develop science. Science is the search for an objective reality.
The Eastern attitude is totally different. They say, “We are not concerned with facts.” Really the Eastern mind says that there are no facts which are unaffected by the individual looking at those facts. Every fact is in a certain way affected. Every statement is an interpretation. Every knowledge is personal knowledge; no knowledge is impersonal.
Now in the West there is one thinker, Michael Polanyi, who has written one of the greatest books of this century – Personal Knowledge. Polanyi says that he is now the representative of the Eastern mind in the West. He says, “Every knowledge is personal.” When you say something, you are involved in it, you cannot say anything impersonal. Even a fact is just an interpretation. When I say this tree is green, What am I saying? I am saying only this, that when I look at this tree I feel greenness in me. My mind interprets this tree as green. A different mind – a mind from some other planet – may not see this tree as green, because green is not a fact but an interpretation. There is nothing as green in the tree. Rays reflected from the tree reach my eyes, then those rays penetrate, are translated, and my inside feels greenness. That greenness is not in the tree.
You may wonder – if we all close our eyes, then these trees are not green; they cannot be green without our eyes. They are green through our eyes; otherwise, they are not green.
When there is no light, all colors disappear.
In your room you may have many colors. But when the light is put off there is no color, because color is just reflected rays. If there are no rays then there are no colors. But even if there are colors and there is no one to see in the room, there are no colors. This is now a scientific knowledge, scientific observation. When you move out of your room, all the colors move with you. The room becomes colorless, because color needs three things: rays, objects to be reflected upon, and eyes – three things. Then there are colors; otherwise, there is no color.
So when I say that this tree is green, it is a personal statement. And if it looks green to you also, that only shows that you just have eyes like me, nothing else. If the tree looks green to you also, it only means we have similar instruments, nothing else – and then too it is not really so. When I see the tree as green, my greenness and your greenness may not be the same. They cannot be really, because however similar are the eyes we have, they differ. So my greenness may have a different shade, your greenness may have a different shade, and there is no way to compare that my greenness is your greenness. I cannot put my greenness, my feeling of greenness out on a table. You cannot put your greenness out on a table so that we can compare what we have been calling green is the same thing – that’s impossible. So it is just compromise, just a compromise.
There are certain persons – and many will be here – who are color blind. In ten persons, one person is somehow color blind. Bernard Shaw was color blind; he couldn’t see the difference between yellow and green. Yellow and green both looked similar to him, and he did not recognize this fact until he was sixty. How could sixty years pass and he couldn’t recognize the fact? And then on his birthday someone presented a suit, a green suit, to him. But the friend had forgotten to send a tie also; the tie was not there. So Bernard Shaw went to purchase a tie, and he purchased a yellow tie – just to match. Bernard Shaw’s secretary said to him, “Why are you purchasing a yellow tie? The whole suit is green.” Bernard said, “This is green. What! – is this yellow? What do you mean by yellow?” Then for the first time he became aware that he could not see yellow. He had been always been seeing yellow and green as green; both were green for him. Blind spots in the eyes . . .
Whatsoever we know is a personal knowledge.
The Eastern attitude has always been this: that all knowledge is subjective. Not only that, but all statements are also personal. That means many things; the implication is very deep. It means that a statement made is always made to someone. It is not a pure statement made in the vacuum.
This sutra says that shruti, the scripture, the word for the knower has two planes of expression: one for the ignorant, and one for the non-ignorant. One for those who are deep in their ignorance, unaware of their inner center – the scripture speaks to them in a different language. To the knower the scripture speaks in a different language.
We have two words and two traditions of scripture. One is veda, another is vedant. The word “vedant” is very beautiful. This Upanishad belongs to vedant. Vedant means the end of the veda; vedant means beyond veda. Vedant is the statement for the knower; veda is the statement for the ignorant. Veda speaks the same truth, but for the ignorant; vedant speaks the same truth but for the knower. But then their statements become quite contrary.
For example, for a knower of oneself, one who has realized his own self, there is no body, there is no matter, there is no world, because then everything becomes just consciousness, manifestations of consciousness. Now, even physicists say there is no matter, only energy.
Just fifty years ago physics could not even conceive that there is only energy, no matter. Now there is no matter, because the more physicists penetrated into matter, the more they came nearer and nearer to energy. Now matter is completely non-existential. For science now there is no matter; science has penetrated into the immaterial energy. Now they say it is energy, and if you look and see matter, it is an illusion. It is just energy moving at such a great speed that the appearance of solidity is created. Your Earth that you are sitting on, the trees all around it, the stones, the rocks – there is nothing like matter. The rock is not matter, but just electrons moving at such a great speed. Because of their speed the rock appears to be solid. The speed is such, so great, that a solidity appears; it is not there. Just energy moving at fast speed creates matter, the appearance of matter.
Really, the language of modern physics is nearer vedant than anything. The modern physicists like Planck or Einstein or others are now talking in terms of vedant. Shankara says that the world is illusory, that it only appears to be. Now Einstein says that matter is illusory – it only appears to be. It only appears; it is false; it is in our eyes, not in reality there.
Vedant penetrated even more. Vedant says there is no energy even, only consciousness. These are the three layers: Matter, the first appearance of things. Penetrate, go deep, and you enter a second layer which is energy; matter disappears into energy, vibrant energy, vibrations, but there is nothing material, nothing substantial in it. Enter more deeply, and you reach the third layer. Then energy also disappears, and only consciousness remains.
In your body also these are the three layers. The first layer is your physical body; the second layer, your mental body, which is energy; and the third layer is your self, which is consciousness.
Everywhere these are the three layers. But when you enter a deeper layer, the first layer disappears, because then it is nothing but a manifestation. Physics says matter is nothing but energy moving, dynamic energy. Vedant says energy in nothing but consciousness moving, dynamic consciousness. It is possible that any day now even science may drop from the energy layer and may come to encounter the consciousness layer. Fifty years ago, science couldn’t conceive that matter is just an illusion. Fifty years on, it may be possible even for science to say that energy is nothing but pure consciousness condensed, moving fast.
If consciousness is reached, the whole world becomes just a manifestation of it. This is what is meant by the world being illusory, the body being illusory; everything is illusory except pure consciousness. That pure consciousness is known and named as brahman. That’s the basic reality, but to the ignorant this cannot be said directly. The ignorant person believes in matter; he lives on the first layer. He doesn’t know anything beyond it, and because he is unaware of anything beyond it, the language of the beyond will be meaningless, absurd.
So for the ignorant the scriptures speak in a different language. They say that the body is true, the body is real, the world is true, the world is real, but you are not the body. This is the way they detach you from the body, how they allow you to move away from the body, how they destroy your identification with the body. And when that identification is destroyed, suddenly you yourself will become aware that there is no body. It existed only in the attachment; it existed only through identification. When your identification is broken, you yourself will come to know there is no body.
There is a beautiful story about Rinzai. He used to say, “There has never been a Buddha. This Shakyamuni, Gautam Siddharth is just a false story.” And he was a follower of Buddha, and he would worship in front of Buddha’s statue every day in the morning, and would weep and dance. And after that, when he would speak; he would say, “There has been no Buddha. This Shakyamuni, Gautam Siddharth is just a false story.”
So one day someone said to Rinzai, “You go on worshiping Buddha, and you go on saying that this Gautam Buddha, Shakyamuni is just a false story. How do you reconcile these two contradictory things? You appear absurd, irrational.”
So Rinzai said, “I believed in Shakyamuni – Shakyamuni, Gautam Buddha – I believed in him, that he was born; then he lived on this Earth for eighty years, then he achieved realization, then he talked. I believed, but that belief was the belief of an ignorant one. Then by and by I followed this man who has never been here. By and by I began to love this man, and became a shadow of him. Then I came to realize that the body of Rinzai is just an illusion – my body is an illusion. Then the deeper I went; I realized my mind is an illusion. Then I came to know the inner-most center of my being. The day I realized myself, my body, my mind – both became appearances. Now I know this Shakyamuni was never born, because now I know that this Rinzai was never born! Because how can a body be born which is not there – just an appearance. Now I realize that this mind of Rinzai was never born. So how can the mind of Gautam Buddha be born? This man has never been.”
The unborn center once known, the undying center once known, the whole interpretation of existence changes. But the man insisted. The questioner said, “Then why go on worshiping? I have seen you this very morning in a prayerful mood before this statue of Buddha, and you say this man was never born. So how can you make a statue of a man who was never born? Why do you go on thanking him?”
Rinzai is reported to have said, “I go on thanking him, because following him I could realize this non-dying, this deathless, this unborn consciousness. I followed him, I became a shadow to him. Only then could I realize this fact, so I am grateful to him – to him who was never born, who has never been.” But these are words for knowers.
If you say to someone that Buddha was never born, then he cannot conceive why to worship him, why to thank him. Then he cannot conceive, then everything becomes inconceivable for him, irrational.
So the Upanishads speak in two languages. They say the body is there, the world is there, you are in it, so find out who you are in your body. When you have found it, the body will disappear, then the world will disappear. That doesn’t mean that these rocks will not be there. They will be there, but then you will not see any solidity in them. That doesn’t mean that those rocks will not be there, but that you will not be able to see that those rocks are dead. They will become alive; not only alive, you will feel those rocks have a consciousness of their own. Then this whole world becomes a manifestation of consciousness, a manifestation of brahman. The world disappears as it is, but a new world arises, the world of consciousness. The world of matter becomes illusory; the world of consciousness becomes real. Why?
When you are attached to your body, you feel the world as material. When you move away from your body, centered in your consciousness, the whole world becomes consciousness. What you know about your world is really your knowledge about yourself, it is just a subjective reflection. If you think that you are a body, the world is material. If you know you are not a body, just consciousness, the world becomes consciousness.
The world is just an interpretation of your own state of mind.
Move in, and the outer layers disappear. Be rooted in your being, and this sutra says you become a siddha. A siddha means that they function as one.
Thus you enjoy most blissfully the undifferentiated self which you have known by our own experience as indivisible; thus be a siddha, a fulfilled one.
Move in, reach the third layer of consciousness. Move away from body-matter, move away from energy-mind. Go deep to the ultimate core, to the last point of your existence, the center, consciousness. You are a siddha. Why? Why a fulfilled one? – because then no desire arises, because then no suffering is possible, because then you are constantly merged into bliss, because then nothing is to be achieved.
You have achieved all that without which there is desire. You have achieved that one through which everything is achieved. One becomes fulfilled, one becomes a siddha.
From That Art Thou, Discourse #50
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