Chidagni swaroopam dhoopah.
To create the fire of awareness in oneself is dhoop – the incense.
For philosophy, many are the problems – infinite. But for religion there is only one problem, and that problem is man himself. It is not that man has problems, but man is the problem. And why is man the problem?
Animals are not problems. They are so unconscious, blissfully unconscious, ignorant that there is no possibility of there being any awareness of problems. Problems are there, but animals are not aware. There are no problems for gods because they are totally conscious. When the mind is a total consciousness, problems simply disappear like darkness. But for man there is anguish. The very being of man, the very existence of man, is a problem, because man exists between these two realms: the realm of the animals and the realm of the gods.
Man exists as a bridge between two infinities: the infinity of ignorance and the infinity of knowledge. Man is neither animal nor Divine. Or, man is both – animal and Divine; that is the problem. Man is a suspended existence – something incomplete, something which is still to be – a becoming, not a being.
Animals have beings. Man is a becoming. He is not; he is only becoming. Man is a process. The process is incomplete. It has left the world of ignorance and it has not reached the world of knowledge. Man is in between. That creates the problem, the tension, the anguish and the constant conflict.
There are only two ways to be at peace, to be without problems: one is to fall back, to regress, to fall back to the world of animals; the other is to transcend, to go forward and to be a part of the Divine Being. To be either animals or gods: these are the two alternatives.
To fall back is easy, but it is going to be a temporary thing – because once you have grown you cannot fall back permanently. You can regress for a moment, but then you are again thrown forward, because there really is no way to go back. There is really no possibility of falling back. You cannot be a child again if you have become a young adult, and you cannot become young again if you have become old. If you know something, then you cannot fall back to the state when you were ignorant. You cannot go back, but for a moment you can forget the present and relive the past in your memory, in your mind.
So man can regress to the animal level. It is blissful, but temporary. That is the reason why intoxicants, drugs, alcohol, have such an appeal. When you become unconscious through some chemical, you have fallen back for a moment. For the time being you are not a man, you are not a problem. You are again part of the world of animals, the unconscious existence. Then you are not a man; that is why there are no problems.
Humanity has been constantly finding things from soma rasa to LSD in order to forget, to regress, to be just childlike, to regain the animal innocence, to be without problems: that is, to be without humanity, because to me humanity means to be a problem. This falling back, this regression, is possible, but only temporarily. You will come back again, you will be a man again, and the same problems will be standing and waiting for you. Rather, they will be more acute. Your absence is not going to dissolve them. They will become more complicated and complex. Then a vicious circle is created.
When you are again back and conscious, you have to face problems which have become more complicated because of your absence. They have grown. Then you have to forget yourself again and again, and every time you forget and regress, your problems are growing: you will have to face your humanity again and again. One cannot escape that way. One can deceive oneself, but one cannot escape that way.
The other alternative is arduous: that is, to grow to be a being. When I say “regress,” I mean to become unconscious – to lose the small consciousness that we have. When I say “to be a Being,” I mean to lose unconsciousness and to be totally conscious.
As we are, only a part is conscious – only a very small fragment of the Being is conscious – and the remaining whole continent is just dark. A small island is conscious, and the whole continent, the mainland, is under darkness. When this small island also becomes dark, you have regressed, you have fallen back. This ignorance is blissful because now you are not aware of the problems. Problems are there, but you are not aware. So at least for you it appears there are no problems.
This is the ostrich method: close your eyes, and your enemy is not there because when you cannot see – this childish, juvenile logic says that when you cannot see something – it is not: unless you see something it is not. So if you cannot feel problems they are not there!
When I say “to be a Being,” to transcend humanity, to become Divine, I mean to be totally conscious – to be not only an island, but the whole continent. This awareness will also lead you beyond problems because problems are there basically because of you. Problems are not objective realities: they are subjective phenomena. You create your problems! And unless you are transformed, you will go on creating problems. You solve one, and really, in solving that one, you will create many because you remain the same. Problems are not objective things. They are part of you. Because you are such, you create such problems.
Science tries to solve problems objectively, and science thinks that if there are no problems man will be at ease. Problems can be solved objectively, but man will not be at ease – because man himself is the problem. If he solves some problem, he will create others. He is their creator. If you give a better society, the problems will change, but problems will remain. If you give better health, better medicine, the problems will change, but problems will remain.
Quantitatively, there will be as many problems as ever because man remains the same; only the situation changes. You change the situation: old problems will not be there, but there will be new problems. And new problems are more problematic than any old problems because you have become accustomed to old problems. With new problems you feel more inconvenience. That is why, in our times, we have changed our whole situation, but problems are there – more fatal, more anxiety creating.
That is the difference between religion and science. Science thinks problems are objective, from outside somewhere – that they can be changed without changing you. Religion thinks problems are here inside, in me – rather, that I am the problem. Unless I change, nothing is going to be different. Shapes will be different, names will be different, but the substance will remain the same. I will create another world of problems; I will go on projecting new problems.
This man, unconscious to his own being, unaware of himself, is the creator of problems. Not knowing who he is, what he is, without any acquaintance with himself, he goes on creating problems – because unless you know yourself you cannot know for what you are existing and living, you cannot know where you have to move, you cannot feel what your destiny is, and you can never feel any meaning. You will go on doing many things, but everything will ultimately lead you to frustration – because if you do anything without knowing why you are, for what you are, it is not going to give you a deep contentment. It is irrelevant. The very point is missed, your effort is wasted.
And, ultimately, everyone is frustrated. Those who succeed are more frustrated than those who are not successful because those who are not successful can still hope. But those who are successful cannot even hope. Their case becomes hopeless. So I say nothing fails like success.
Religion thinks in terms of subjectivity, science in terms of objectivity: “Change the situation; do not touch the man.” Religion says, “Change the man; the situation is irrelevant.” Whatsoever the situation, a different mind, a transformed being, will be beyond problems. That is why a Buddha can exist in absolute peace as a beggar, and a Midas cannot live at peace even when he has the alchemical miracle with him: whatsoever he touches becomes gold. The situation with Midas has become golden; everything he touches becomes gold. But this doesn’t change anything. Rather, Midas is in a more complicated problematic situation.
Now our world has created, through science, a Midas situation. Now we can touch anything and it becomes gold. A Buddha living as a beggar lives, in such a deep peace and silence that emperors become jealous of him. What is the secret? The emphasis on man – the inside of man – is significant, not the situation. So you must change the inside of man. And there is only one change: if you grow in your awareness, you change, you mutate. If you fall down in your awareness, again you change, you mutate. But if your awareness is lessened, you fall down toward animals. If your awareness is increased, you move up toward the gods.
This is the only problem for religion: how to increase awareness. That is why religions have always been against drugs. The reason is not moral or ethical – no! And the so-called moralist puritans have given a very wrong color to the whole thing. For religions, it is not a question of morality that someone takes drugs. It is not a question of morality at all because morality only begins when I come in contact with someone else.
If I take alcohol and become unconscious, it is no one else’s affair. I am doing something with myself. Violence is a question for morality, not alcohol. Even if I give you a promise to meet you at a particular time and I miss it, it is immoral because somebody else is involved. Alcohol can become a moral question only if someone else is involved, otherwise it is not a moral question at all. It is something you do with yourself. For religions it is not a question of morality at all. For religions it is a deeper question: it is a question of increasing or decreasing awareness.
Once you have the habit of falling down into unconsciousness, it will be more and more difficult to increase your awareness. It will become more and more difficult because your body will not support you in increasing awareness. It will support you in decreasing it. The very metabolism of your body will help you to be unconscious. It will not help you to be conscious. And anything that becomes a barrier in being more aware is a religious problem, not a moral problem.
So sometimes it happens that you may find an alcoholic to be a more moral person than a nonalcoholic, but never a more religious person. An alcoholic may be more compassionate than a nonalcoholic; he may be more loving than a non-alcoholic, he may be more honest, but never more religious. And when I say “never more religious,” I mean never a more aware and conscious person.
This growth into awareness creates anguish. […]
You can feel more life, you can be more blissful, but you will become aware of death. You will be more blissful, but in the same proportion you will have to suffer anguish.
This is the problem, this is what man is – a deep anguish, a deep division between two polarities. You can feel life, but when death is there everything is poisoned. When death is there, every moment everything is poisoned. How can you be alive when death is there? How can you feel blissful when suffering is there?
And even if a moment of happiness comes to you, it is fleeting. And when the moment is there, even then you are aware that somewhere behind the unhappiness is there, misery is there, hiding. It will come up soon – sooner or later. So even a moment of happiness is poisoned by your consciousness that somewhere unhappiness is hidden, is coming near. It is just by the corner, and you will have to meet it.
Man becomes conscious of the future, conscious of the past, conscious of life, conscious of death. Kierkegaard has called this consciousness “anguish.” You can fall back, but that is a temporary measure. Again you will come up. So the only possibility is to grow – to grow in knowledge to a point from where you can jump out of it, because the jump is possible only from the extremes. One extreme we have: to fall back. We can do it, but it is impossible because we cannot remain in it. We are thrown forward again and again. The other possibility is that if we grow in awareness, there is a point when you are totally aware, where you transcend. […]
This sutra is concerned with awareness: “To create the fire of awareness in oneself is the incense” – to create the fire of awareness in oneself! First it must be understood what is meant by awareness. You are walking; you are aware of many things: of the shops, of people passing by you, of the traffic, of everything. You are aware of many things, only unaware of one thing: yourself. You are walking on the street: you are aware of many things; you are only not aware of yourself! This awareness of the self, Gurdjieff has called “self-remembering.” Gurdjieff says, “Constantly, wherever you are, remember yourself.”
For example, you are here. You are listening to me, but you are not aware of the listener. You may be aware of the speaker, but you are not aware of the listener. Be aware of the listener. Feel yourself here; you are here. For a moment a glimpse comes, and again you forget. Try!
Whatsoever you are doing, go on doing one thing inside continuously: be aware of yourself doing it. You are eating: be aware of yourself. You are walking: be aware of yourself. You are listening, you are speaking: be aware of yourself. When you are angry, be aware that you are angry. In the very moment that anger is there, be aware that you are angry. This constant remembering of the self creates a subtle energy – a very subtle energy in you. You begin to be a crystallized being.
Ordinarily, you are just a loose bag. No crystallization, no center really – just a liquidity, just a loose combination of many things without any center – a crowd, constantly shifting and changing, with no master inside. By awareness is meant be a master! And when I say, “Be a master,” I do not mean to be a controller. When I say, “Be a master,” I mean be a presence – a continuous presence. Whatsoever you are doing or not doing, one thing must be constantly in your consciousness: that you are.
This simple feeling of oneself, that one is, creates a center – a center of stillness, a center of silence, a center of inner mastery – an inner power. And when I say, “an inner power,” I mean it literally. That is why this sutra says, “the fire of awareness.” It is a fire. It is a fire! If you begin to be aware, you begin to feel a new energy in you – a new fire, a new life. And because of this new life, new power, new energy, many things which were dominating you just dissolve. You have not to fight with them.
You have to fight with your anger, your greed, your sex, because you are weak. So, really, greed, anger and sex are not the problems. Weakness is the problem. Once you begin to be stronger inside, with a feeling of inner presence that you are, your energies become concentrated, crystallized on a single point, and a Self is born. Remember, not an ego but a Self is born. Ego is a false sense of Self. Without having any Self, you go on believing that you have a Self. That is ego. Ego means a false self. You are not a Self, and still you believe that you are a Self. […]
Ego is a false notion of something which is not there at all.
“Self” means a center.
This center is created by being continuously aware, constantly aware. Be aware that you are doing something – that you are sitting, that now you are going to sleep, that now sleep is coming to you, that you are falling. Try to be conscious in every moment, and then you will begin to feel that a center is born within you, things have begun to crystallize, a centering is there. Everything now is related to a center.
We are without centers. Sometimes we feel centered, but those are moments when a situation makes you aware. If there is suddenly a situation, a very dangerous situation, you will begin to feel a center in you because in danger you become aware. If someone is going to kill you, you cannot think in that moment, you cannot be unconscious in that moment. Your whole energy is centered, and that moment becomes solid. You cannot move to the past; you cannot move to the future. This very moment becomes everything. And then you are not only aware of the killer: you become aware of yourself – the one who is being killed.
In that subtle moment you begin to feel a center in yourself. That is why dangerous games have their appeal. Ask someone going to the top of Gourishanker, of Mount Everest. When for the first time Hillary was there, he must have felt a sudden center. And when for the first time someone was on the moon, a sudden feeling of a center must have come. That is why danger has appeal. You are driving a car and you go on to more and more speed, and then the speed becomes dangerous. Then you cannot think; thoughts cease. Then you cannot dream. Then you cannot imagine. Then the present becomes solid. In that dangerous moment, when any instant death is possible, you are suddenly aware of a center in yourself. Danger has appeal only because in danger you sometimes feel centered.
Nietzsche somewhere says that war must continue because only in war is a Self sometimes felt – a center is felt – because war is danger. And when death becomes a reality, life becomes intense. When death is just near, life becomes intense, and you are centered. But in any moment when you become aware of yourself, there is a centering. But if it is situational, then when the situation is over it will disappear.
It must not be just situational. It must be inner. So try to be aware in every ordinary activity. When sitting on your chair, try it: be aware of the sitter. Not only of the chair, not only of the room, of the surrounding atmosphere, be aware of the sitter. Close your eyes and feel yourself; dig deep and feel yourself. […]
Lin-chi was lecturing one morning, and someone suddenly asked, “Just answer me one question: Who am I?”
Lin-chi got down and went to the man. The whole hall became silent. What was he going to do? It was a simple question. He should have answered from his seat. He reached the man. The whole hall was silent. Lin-chi stood before the questioner looking into his eyes. It was a very penetrating moment. Everything stopped. The questioner began to perspire. Lin-chi was just staring into his eyes.
And then Lin-chi said, “Do not ask me. Go inside and find out who is asking. Close your eyes. Do not ask, ‘Who am I?’ Go inside and find out who is asking, who is this questioner inside. Forget me. Find out the source of the question. Go deep inside!”
And it is reported that the man closed his eyes, became silent and suddenly he was an Enlightened One. He opened his eyes, laughed, touched the feet of Lin-chi and said, “You have answered me. I have been asking everyone this question and many answers were given to me, but nothing proved to be an answer. But you have answered me.”
“Who am I?” How can anyone answer it?
But in that particular situation – a thousand persons silent, a pin-drop silence – Lin-chi came down with strained eyes and then just ordered the man, “Close your eyes, go inside and find out who the questioner is. Do not wait for my answer. Find out who has asked.”
And the man closed his eyes. What happened in that situation? He became centered. Suddenly he was centered, suddenly he became aware of the innermost core.
This has to be discovered, and awareness means the method to discover this innermost core. The more unconscious you are, the further away you are from yourself. The more conscious, the nearer you reach to yourself. If the consciousness is total, you are at the center. If the consciousness is less, you are near the periphery. When you are unconscious, you are on the periphery where the center is completely forgotten.
So these are the two possible ways to move. You can move to the periphery; then you move to unconsciousness. Sitting at a film, sitting somewhere listening to music, you can forget yourself; then you are on the periphery. Even listening to me, you can forget yourself. Then again you are on the periphery. Reading the Gita or the Bible or the Koran, you can forget yourself. Then you are on the periphery. Whatsoever you do, if you can remember yourself then you are nearer to the center. Then someday, suddenly you are centered. Then you have energy.
That energy, this sutra says, is the fire. The whole life, the whole existence, is energy, is fire. Fire is the old name; now they call it electricity. Man has been labelling it with many, many names, but fire is good. Electricity seems a little bit dead; fire looks more alive.
This inner fire, the sutra says, is the incense. When someone is going to worship, you take some incense, dhoop, with you. That dhoop, that incense, is useless unless you have come with your inner fire as the incense.
This Upanishad is trying to give inner meanings to outer symbols. Every symbol has an inner counterpart. The outer is good in itself, but it is not enough. And it is only symbolic; it is not the substance. It shows something, but it is not the real. You must have seen incense. It is burning everywhere in temples. It is good in itself, but it is only an outer symbol. An inner fire is needed. And just as incense gives a perfume, the inner fire also gives it.
It is said that wherever Mahavir moved, everyone would feel his presence as a subtle perfume. That has been said about many persons. It is possible! The more you are centered inside, the more your whole presence becomes a perfume. And those who have the receptivity, they will feel it.
So enter a temple, not with outer incense, but with inner incense. And this inner incense can be achieved only through awareness. There is no other way. Act mindfully. It is a long, arduous journey and it is difficult to be aware even for a single moment. The mind is constantly flickering. But it is not impossible. It is arduous, it is difficult, but it is not impossible. It is possible! For everyone it is possible. Only effort is needed – and a wholehearted effort. Nothing should be left: nothing should be left inside untouched. Everything should be sacrificed for awareness. Only then is the inner flame discovered. It is there.
If one goes to find out the essential unity between all the religions that have existed or that may exist ever, then this single word “awareness” can be found.
Jesus tells a story:
A master of a big house has gone out, and he has told his servants to be constantly alert – because any moment he can come back. So for twenty-four hours they have to be alert. Any moment the master can come – any moment! There is no fixed moment, no fixed day, no fixed date. If there is a fixed date, then you can sleep, then you can do whatsoever you like, and you can be alert only on that particular date because then the master is coming. But the master has said, “I will come at any moment. Day and night you have to be alert to receive me.”
This is the parable of life. You cannot postpone. Any moment the Divine may just come; any moment the master may come. One has to be alert continuously. No date is fixed; nothing is known about when that sudden happening will be there. One can do only one thing: be alert and wait!
Rabindranath has written a poem, “The King of the Night.” It is a very deep parable.
There was a great temple with one hundred priests, and one day the chief priest dreamt that the Divine Guest was to come that night – the Divine Guest for whom they had been waiting and waiting. For centuries the temple had been waiting for the King to come, the Divine King to come. The deity of the temple was to come!
But the chief priest was in doubt: “It may be just a dream. And if it is just a dream, then everyone will laugh. But who knows? – it may be true. It may be a true intimation.”
The chief priest brooded that morning over whether to tell it to others or not. Then he became afraid. It may be time! So, then, in the afternoon, he told it. He gathered all the priests, closed all the doors of the temple, and said to them, “Do not go out and do not tell anyone! It may be just a dream; no one knows. But I have dreamt it, and the dream was so real. In the dream, the deity, the King of this temple, said, ‘I am coming tonight. Be ready!’ So we have to be alert. This night we cannot go to sleep.”
So they decorated the whole temple; they cleaned the whole temple; they made every arrangement to receive the Guest. And then they waited. Then, by and by, doubts began to arise. Then someone said, “This is nonsense. This was just a dream, and we are wasting our sleep.”
Half the night passed, then more doubts began to arise. Then someone rebelled and said, “I am going to sleep. This is nonsense. The whole day is wasted, and still we are waiting. No one is to come!” Then many supported him. Many laughed: “It is just a dream, so why pay so much attention to it!”
Then even the chief priest yielded and said, “It may have been just a dream. How can I say that it was real? We may be just stupid, foolish, just following a dream.”
So they said, “Only one person should wait at the gate and all the rest can go to sleep. If someone comes, he will inform us.”
Ninety-nine priests went to sleep, and the only priest who was appointed said, “When ninety-nine think that this is just a dream, why should I waste my sleep? And if the Divine Guest is to come, let him come. He will come in a great chariot, so there will be much noise, and everyone will be awakened.” He closed the doors, then he also fell asleep.
Then the chariot came, and the wheels of the chariot created much noise. Then someone who had been asleep said, “It seems the King is coming. It seems the wheels of the chariot are making much noise.” Someone else who was just going to sleep said, “Do not waste time; no one is coming. This is not the chariot. These are just clouds in the sky.”
And then the Guest came and knocked at the door. Someone again said, in his sleep, “It seems someone has come and is knocking at the door.”
So the chief priest himself said, “Now go to sleep. Do not go on disturbing again and again. No one is knocking at the door. It is just the wind.”
In the morning they were weeping and crying because the chariot had come in the night. There were marks on the street and the Divine Guest had come up to the door and knocked. There were footmarks on the dust, on the steps.
There are many parables. Buddha and Mahavir have told many stories with only one essential idea – that Enlightenment is at any time, at any moment, possible. It can happen any moment. One has to be alert and conscious and aware.
This parable of “The King of the Night” is not just a parable. It is real. We all are interpreting things in that way, and all our interpretations are just rationalizations of our sleep and for our sleep. We say, “It is nothing but the wind, it is nothing but the clouds.” Then we can sleep at ease. We go on denying religion, we go on denying anything that will break our sleep. We rationalize that there is no God, that there is no religion, that there is nothing – nothing but wind, nothing but clouds. Then we can sleep at ease, comfortably.
If there is a God, if there is Divinity, if there is a possibility of something higher than we are, then we cannot sleep so conveniently. Then we will have to be alert and awake and struggling, making efforts and endeavoring. Then transformation becomes our immediate concern.
Awareness is the technique for centering oneself, for achieving the inner fire. It is there hidden; it can be discovered. And once it is discovered, then only are we capable of entering the temple – not before, never before.
But we can deceive ourselves by symbols. Symbols are to show deeper realities to us, but we can use them as deceptions. We can burn an outer incense, we can worship with outer things, and then we feel at ease that we have done something. We can feel ourselves religious without becoming religious at all. That is what is happening; that is what the earth has become. Everyone thinks they are religious just because they are following outer symbols, with no inner fire.
Make efforts even if you are a failure. You will be in the beginning. You will fail again and again, but even your failure will help. When you fail to be aware for a single moment, you feel for the first time how unconscious you are.
Walk down the street, and you cannot walk a few steps without becoming unconscious. Again and again, you forget yourself. You begin to read a signboard, and you forget yourself. Someone passes, you look at him, then you forget yourself.
Your failures will be helpful. They can show you how unconscious you are. And even if you can become aware that you are unconscious, you have gained a certain awareness. If a madman becomes aware that he is mad, he is on the path toward sanity.
From The Ultimate Alchemy, V.2 #1
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