The belief in the myth of change is the most dangerous kind of belief. Man has suffered much from it – much more than from any other kind of belief. The myth of change – that something better is possible, that man can improve upon himself, that there is some place to go to, that there is somebody to be, and that there is some kind of utopia – has corrupted human mind infinitely down the centuries. It has been a constant poisoning.
Man is already there. Man has been all along that which he wants to be. Man need not change in order to be. All that is needed is an understanding, an awareness – not a change. Becoming is never going to give you being. Through becoming you will remain constantly in anguish, in tension – because becoming means that the goal is somewhere else, that the goal is never here, never now, that the goal is far away. You have to strive for it and your whole life is wasted in striving. And you can go on striving and you will not find it because the goal is here and now, and you are looking then and there.
Your being is in the present, and all ideas of becoming are projections into the future. By projecting into the future, you go on missing the present. That is a way of escaping from the reality. The idea that you have to become something is the idea that takes you away from your real being, from your authentic being. You are already that – that’s why I say the myth of change is one of the most dangerous myths.
It has two dimensions to it. One is political, the other is religious.
The political dimension is that the society can be improved, that revolution can help, that there is a utopia that can be realized. Because of this, politicians have been able to torture, to murder, to exploit, to oppress. And people have suffered in the hope that revolution is going to happen. That revolution never happens. Revolutions come and go and society remains as it has always been.
Hitlers, Stalins, Maos, can exploit people for their own sake. And if you want to get to the utopia, to the wonderland, to paradise, you obviously have to pay for it. This is the secular dimension of the myth – that something better is possible. Right now it is not there, but some day it can be – you have to sacrifice for it. Millions of people were killed in Soviet Russia, tortured inhumanly, for their own good. And logic says that if you want to have a better society, who is going to pay for it? You are going to pay for it, naturally. So the people cannot even revolt, they cannot even resist. If they resist, they look like enemies of the revolution. And the myth is so deep-rooted in the mind that they accept all kinds of humiliations in the hope that maybe if they cannot live in a golden age, their children will. This is the secular direction of the same neurosis.
The religious dimension is that you can have a better future – if not in this life, then in the next. Of course, you have to sacrifice. If you sacrifice the present, you will have the future.
That future never comes. The future in itself cannot come. The tomorrow is not possible, it is always today. It is always the present that is there. The future is just in the mind, in the imagination. It is a dream; it is not part of reality.
The political myth has been taken up by the sadists – those who want to torture others; and the religious myth has been taken up by the masochists – those who want to torture themselves. Torture yourself. Fast. Don’t sleep. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. This is the whole secret of the so-called ascetic attitude towards life: torture yourself. And naturally, your body is helpless, your body is defenseless. It cannot protest. It cannot go against you.
There is a possibility that people may revolt against the politicians, but what is the possibility that your body may revolt against you? There is no possibility. The body is very innocent, helpless. You can go on torturing it and you can go on feeling that you have immense power because you can torture it. You can go on killing it, and feel powerful. And you can attain to a great ego.
There are two kinds of people in the world: the sadists and the masochists. Sadists are those whose enjoyment consists of torturing others, and masochists are those whose enjoyment consists of torturing themselves – but it is the same violence, it is the same aggression. The sadist throws it on somebody else; the masochist turns it upon himself. Because the sadist throws it on others, sooner or later they will revolt. But when the masochist throws it upon himself there is nobody to revolt.
In fact, all revolutionaries; once they are in power, by and by lose respect. Sooner or later they are dethroned; sooner or later their power is destroyed; sooner or later they are thought to be criminals. Your whole history consists of these criminals. Your history is not the history of humanity because it is not the history of humanness. How can it be the history of humanity? It is not the history of humanity; it is only the history of politics, political conflicts, struggles, wars.
It is as if you write the history of robbers and murderers and you call it the history of humanity. The revolutionaries are great murderers, they are no ordinary murderers – otherwise they would have been in the jail or sentenced to death. They are powerful people. They possess power. Until their power goes, they are worshipped like God. But their power goes sooner or later. A day comes when Hitler is no longer honored; he becomes an ugly dirty name. A day comes when Stalin is no longer honored. Just the reverse happens.
But with the other dimension, the religious dimension, of the myth – the ascetic, the self-torturer, the masochist – people never come to know their reality because they never torture anybody else. They torture only themselves. And people go on respecting them. People respect them very much because they are not harmful to anybody except to themselves. That is their business. The ascetics have always been worshipped. But ascetism is a kind of neurosis; it is not normal.
To eat too much is abnormal; to fast is also abnormal. The right amount of food is normality. To be in the middle is to be normal. To be exactly in the middle is to be healthy and whole and holy.
If you go to one extreme, you become a politician. If you go to the other extreme, you become a religious fanatic, an ascetic. Both have missed balance.
So the first thing to be understood is that the religion that we are creating here – and it has to be created again and again because it becomes corrupted again and again – the religion that we are invoking here is not political and is not in the ordinary sense even religious. It is neither sadistic nor masochistic. It is normal. It is to be in the middle.
And what is the way to be in the middle? The way to be in the middle is to be in the world but not to be of it. To be in the middle means to live in the world but not to allow the world to live in you. To be exactly in the middle and to be balanced means you are a witness to all that happens to you. Witnessing is the only foundation for a real authentic religion. Whatsoever is, has to be witnessed – joyfully, ecstatically. Nothing has to be denied and rejected. All denial, all rejection, will keep you in limits and you will remain in conflict. Everything has to be accepted as it is.
And you have to be a watcher. Pleasure comes – watch. Pain comes – watch. Neither be disturbed by pleasure nor be disturbed by pain. Let your calm remain unperturbed. Let your silence, your tranquility, remain undisturbed. Pain will come and go and pleasure will come and go. Success will come and go and failure will come and go. And soon you will come to understand the point that it is only you who remains. That is eternal. This witnessing is eternal.
The contents that flow in the consciousness are temporary. One moment they are there, another moment they are gone. Don’t be worried about them; don’t be either in favor of them or against them. Don’t try to possess them; don’t hold onto them, because they are going to go. They have to go. It is the very nature of things that they cannot be permanent.
Something pleasant is happening. It cannot be permanent. It will have to go. And following it, something unpleasant is already getting ready to happen. It is the rhythm of life – day and night, life and death, summer and winter. The wheel goes on moving.
Don’t hold on and don’t try to make something very, very permanent. It is not possible. The more you try, the more frustrated you will become, because it cannot be done. And when it cannot be done, you feel defeated. You feel defeated because you have not understood one simple thing: nothing can be static. Life is a flux. Only one thing is eternally there and that is your consciousness, that innermost watcher.
Sufis call it ’the watcher on the hills’. The valleys go on changing but the watcher remains on the top of the hill. Sometimes the valley is dark and sometimes the valley is light and sometimes there is dancing and singing and sometimes there is weeping and crying – and the watcher sits on the hill-top and just goes on watching.
By and by the content of consciousness does not matter only consciousness becomes significant. That is the essential foundation of all true religion. And this is the understanding of the Sufis.
Before we enter into this small parable today; let me tell you that there are four ways to approach truth, to be connected with truth.
The first is known in the East as karma yoga – the way of action. Man has three dimensions in him: action, knowing, feeling; so three ways use these three directions: action, knowing feeling.
You can act, and you can act with total absorption, and you can offer your act to God. You can act without becoming a doer. That is the first way – karma yoga: being in action without being a doer. You let God do. You let God be in you. You efface yourself.
In this, the path of action, consciousness changes the content. These two things have to be understood: consciousness and content. This is all that your life consists of. There is something which is the knower in you and something which is the known. For example, you are listening to me. Now two things are there: whatsoever I am saying will be the content, and whatsoever you are inside, listening, watching, that is the consciousness. You are looking at me. Then my figure in your eyes is the content and you, who are looking at that figure in the eye, are consciousness – the object and the subject.
On the path of action, consciousness changes the content. That is what action is. You see a rock. Somebody may stumble upon it – because it is getting dark, night is falling. So you remove the rock from the path. This is action. What have you done? Consciousness has changed the content. On the path of action, content is important and has to be changed. If somebody is ill and you go and serve him and you give him medicine, you are changing the content. If somebody has fallen in the river and is drowning, you jump in and you save him from drowning. You have changed the content.
Action is content-directed. Action is will – something has to be done. Of course, if the will remains ego-oriented, then you will not be religious. You will be a great doer, but not religious. And your path will be of action but not towards God. When you allow God to become your will, when you say, ‘Let thy will be mine,’ when you surrender your will to the feet of god and his will starts flowing through you, then it is the path of action – karma yoga.
The goal of karma yoga is freedom, moksha – to change the contents so much that nothing antagonistic is left there; nothing harmful is left there; to change the content according to your heart’s desire, so that you can be free of limitations. This is the path of Jainism, yoga, and all action-oriented philosophies.
The second path is the path of knowledge, knowing – gyana yoga. On the second path consciousness is changed by the content. On the first, content is changed by consciousness; on the second it is just the reverse – consciousness is changed by the content.
On the path of knowledge you simply try to see what is the case – whatsoever it is. That’s what Krishnamurti goes on teaching. That is the purest path of knowing. There is nothing to be done.
You have just to attain to clarity, to see what is the case. You have just to see that which is. You are not to do anything. You have simply to drop your prejudices and you have to drop your concepts, notions, which can interfere with reality, which can interpret reality, which can color reality. You have to drop all that you carry in your mind as a priori notions – and then let the reality be there. Whatsoever it is, you just see it. And that changes you.
To know the real is to be transformed. Knowing the real as the real, you cannot act in any other way than the way of reality. Once you have known the reality, reality starts changing you. Consciousness is changed by the content.
The goal of the path of knowledge is truth. The goal of karma yoga, the path of action or will, was freedom. The goal of the path of knowing – Vedanta, Hinduism, Sankhya, and other paths of knowing, Ashtavakra, Krishnamurti – is truth, Brahman. Thou art that. Let that be revealed, then you become that. Once you know that, you become that. By knowing God, one becomes God. Thou art that – that is the most essential phenomenon on the second path.
The third is bhakti yoga – the way of feeling. Love is the goal. Consciousness changes the content and the content changes consciousness. The change is mutual. The lover changes the beloved, the beloved changes the lover. On the path of will, consciousness changes content, on the path of knowing, content changes consciousness; on the path of feeling, both interact, both affect each other. The change is mutual. That’s why the path of feeling is more whole. The first path is half, the second path also half, but the path of love is more round, more whole, because it has both in it.
Vaishnavas, Christianity, Islam, and other paths; Ramanuja, Vallabha, and other devotees – they say that subject and object are not separate. So if one changes the other, then something will remain unbalanced. Let both change each other. Let both meet and merge into each other, let there be a unity. As man and woman meet and merge into each other, let there be a unity. As man and woman meet and there is great joy, let there be an orgasm between consciousness and content, between you and reality, between that and thou. Let it not be only a knowing, let it not be only partial – let it be total.
These are the three ordinary paths. Sufism is the fourth. One of the greatest Sufis of this age was George Gurdjieff. His disciple, P. D. Ouspensky, has written a book called The Fourth Way. It is very symbolic.
What is this fourth way? If it is neither of action, nor of knowing, nor of feeling – because these are the three faculties – then what is this fourth way? The fourth way is the way of transcendence. In India this is called raja yoga – the royal path, the fourth way. Neither consciousness changes the content, nor the content changes consciousness. Nothing changes nothing. All is as it is with no change. Content is there, consciousness is here, and no change is happening. No effort to change is there.
This is what I mean by being. With all the three paths something remains in the mind that has to be done. With the fourth, all becoming disappears. You simply accept whatsoever is. In that acceptance is transcendence. In that very acceptance you go beyond. You remain just a witness.
You are no longer doing anything here, you are just-being here.
A goal is not possible with the fourth way. There is no goal. With the first, the goal is freedom; with the second, truth; with the third, love. With the fourth there is no goal. Zen and Sufism belong to the fourth. That’s why Zen people say ’the pathless path, the gateless gate’ – because there is no goal. The goal-less goal. We are not going anywhere. We are not striving for anything. All that is needed is already here. It has been here all along. You have just to be silent and see. There is no need to change anything. With the fourth, the myth of change disappears.
And when there is no need to change, joy explodes – because the energy that gets involved in changing things is no longer involved anywhere; it is released. That released energy is what is called joy.
Sometimes it happens to you too, unknowingly. Sometimes sitting alone, doing nothing, you feel something happen. You cannot believe what it is. You cannot even trust what it is. It is so incredibly new, so unknown. It happens to everybody – in rare moments, for no reason at all. You cannot figure it out; you cannot reckon why it has happened.
You have been lying in your bathtub and suddenly something happens. The mind is not rushing in its usual way; the body is relaxed in the hot water. You are not doing anything; you are just being there. Suddenly it comes – the silence of the house, the birds singing outside, the children playing in the street. All is there as it has been, but with a new quality. There is great restfulness, a relaxation. Something in you is no longer striving for anything. You are not goal-oriented, you are just herenow.
If you start thinking about what it is, you miss it immediately. If you start trying to get hold of it again, you will never get hold of it again. It comes when it comes. It comes when the right situation is there. But you cannot create that right situation. If you try to create it, you will fall into one of the first three ways. If you try to change the content, you will become a follower of the path of action. If you try to change your consciousness through the content, you will become a follower of the second path – the path of knowledge. If you try to make both meet and mingle and merge, then you will become a follower of the third path.
But if you don’t do anything – not willing, not knowing, not feeling – if you just relax, then there is witnessing. Witnessing is not knowing; witnessing is totally different. In fact, it cannot be said that you are witnessing. You are not doing anything – not even witnessing. You are just there. Things are happening. Suddenly a bird starts singing outside and you hear it – because you are there, you hear it. There is no effort to hear it, there is no deliberate concentration for it.
Just the other day I came across a Shankhya sutra of immense beauty: Dhyanam Nirvishayam Manah – that’s how Shankhya sutras define dhyana. Meditation is mind without thoughts, without feelings, without will. Meditation is consciousness without any striving. Dhyanam Nirvishayam Manah. There is no longing for any object. You are not striving for anything. Then you are in dhyana, then you are in meditation. You are not doing anything; on no plane are you doing anything. All doing has simply disappeared. There is utter silence inside you, and absolute rest.
Let this word ‘rest’ be remembered by you; relaxation. You cannot do it, remember. How can you do it? If you do it you cannot relax, because then relaxation becomes a goal and you become a doer. You can only understand it. You can only allow it to happen; you cannot do it, you cannot force it. It has nothing to do with your doing. You can only understand how it happens and you can remain in that understanding. And it comes.
Dhyanam Nirvishayam Manah. When the mind is, with no desire, no object, no goal, not going anywhere, then how can it be tense? It is not a state of concentration. It is not concentration at all because concentration will need striving; concentration is a kind of tension. It is not even attention, because attention is also a kind of tension.
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the word ’meditation’ as concentration. That is absolutely wrong. Meditation is not concentration. Concentration means mind striving, forcing, willing, trying to do something. Putting one’s whole energy into one direction – that’s what concentration means. Meditation means you are not putting your energy into any direction; it is simply overflowing. It is not going in any particular direction; it is simply overflowing like a fragrance, a fragrance overflowing from a flower, unaddressed – neither to the north nor to the south. It is not going anywhere, or, it is going everywhere. Wherever the winds will take it, it is ready to go. It is utterly relaxed.
This moment happens sometimes to you. I would like you to remember that it is not something rare that happens only to religious people. It happens in ordinary life too but you don’t take note of it. You are afraid of it.
Just a few days ago, I received a letter from a woman. She had been here, and then she went home. For six months she was trying and trying to meditate and it did not happen according to her idea of meditation. She must have had some desire about what it should be like. She must have had some expectations, and it was not happening.
She has written a letter to say that one day she was just sitting in the room. There was nothing to do. The husband had gone to the office; the children had gone to school; the house was empty. She was just sitting, not doing anything; there was no desire to do. She was just sitting in the chair with closed eyes – and it happened. It was suddenly there, with all its benedictions. But she became frightened. She became frightened because when it happened suddenly a fear came to her – because it was there, meditation was there, but she was not there. That became a great fear and she simply pulled herself out of it. It felt as if she was disappearing.
Yes, it happens. Your ego cannot exist there. Your ego is not possible there. Your ego is nothing but all your tensions together. Your ego is nothing but a bundle of past tensions, of present tensions, and of future tensions. When you are non-tense, the ego simply falls to the ground in pieces.
She became afraid. For six months she had been trying to meditate and nothing was happening, and then one day it happened. It came while she was completely unaware of it. She was taken aback. It was there. And she had been provoking it and desiring and asking and praying, and it had not come. And then it came. But she missed. It was there but she became frightened. It was too much. She felt as if she might disappear into it and might not be able to come out of it. She pulled herself out of it. Now she writes that she is crying and weeping, and wants it back.
Now this wanting it back won’t help – because it came that day without any wanting. Without any idea of what was going to happen, suddenly it came. It always comes like sudden lightning.
This is the fourth way, that’s why it is called raja yoga – the royal path. The king is not supposed to do anything. Servants do. The king is not supposed to do anything. He simply sits on his throne and things happen. There are so many people to do it. That’s why it is called raja yoga – the path of the king. The other three are ordinary; the fourth is really exceptional. The king is not expected to do anything; he simply sits there relaxed. That’s what we mean by one who is a king. Doing has disappeared, knowing has disappeared, feeling has disappeared – the king is utterly relaxed. In that relaxation it happens.
Sufi and Zen are raja yogas – the royal paths. Neither consciousness changes the content nor the content changes consciousness. This is the fundamental principle: nothing changes, there is no change happening. Things are. The flower is there and you are there. You don’t change the flower and the flower does not change you. Both exist together. It is existence with no motive.
Zen people call it nirvana, the goal, the no-goal – nirvana. One simply ceases to be. The word ‘nirvana’ is beautiful. It means: as if somebody has blown out a candle. Just a few minutes before it was there, the lamp was burning bright, and then you blew it out. Now the flame has disappeared into the infinity. It has become part of the cosmos. You cannot find it. You cannot trace where it has gone, where it is. It has simply disappeared.
There is a Sufi parable.
A Sufi mystic was entering a village and he came across a small boy who was carrying a lit candle. The boy was going to the mosque. The night was coming and the boy was going to the mosque to put the candle there – as an act of worship.
The mystic saw the boy, the innocent boy, his face lighted by the light of the candle. The mystic asked the boy, ‘Have you yourself lighted the candle?’ And the boy said, ‘Yes, sir.’ The mystic jokingly asked, ‘Then you must have seen from where the flame comes. Can you tell me from where the flame comes?’ The boy laughed and blew out the candle and said, ‘Now you have seen it going. Can you tell me where it has gone?’
Nobody knows from where it comes and nobody knows to where it goes. It comes out of nothingness or out of all – which means the same – and it goes back into nothingness or into the all – which is the same. That is nirvana.
Sufis have the word for it – Fana. It means exactly the same. One is utterly lost.
There is no need to do anything on the path of will or on the path of knowledge or on the path of feeling. Nothing is needed to be done – because if you do something you will remain, you will persist a little. Something of the ego may linger on. No change, no improvement, no effort to make you better is needed – just be.
Mohammed says: ‘Be in this world as a stranger or as a passer-by.’ Be in this world but don’t be of it. Be in this world but don’t allow the world to be in you. ‘Be for this world as if thou were to live a thousand years, and for the next as if thou were to die tomorrow.’ Live this moment as if you are going to live forever and yet be mindful that the next moment may not come. So live totally, and yet remain a witness. Be involved in it, but still keep yourself like a watcher on the hill.
Excerpt from: Sufis: The People of the Path, Volume 2, #11
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