With deepening meditation, one becomes more and more sensitive to objects, events and persons. But due to this heightened sensitivity one feels a sort of deep intimacy with everything, and this usually becomes a cause of subtle attachments. How to be sensitive and yet detached?
How to be sensitive and yet detached? These two things are not contraries, they are not opposites. If you are more sensitive, you will be detached; or, if you are detached, you will become more and more sensitive. Sensitivity is not attachment, sensitivity is awareness. Only an aware person can be sensitive. If you are not aware you will be insensitive. When you are unconscious you are totally insensitive – the more consciousness, the more sensitivity. A Buddha is totally sensitive, he has optimum sensitivity, because he will feel and he will be aware to his total capacity. But when you are sensitive and aware you will not be attached. You will be detached, because the very phenomenon of awareness breaks the bridge, destroys the bridge, between you and things, between you and persons, between you and the world. Unconsciousness, unawareness, is the cause of attachment.
If you are alert, the bridge suddenly disappears. When you are alert there is nothing to relate you to the world. The world is there, you are there, but between the two the bridge has disappeared. The bridge is made of your unconsciousness. So don’t think and feel that you become attached because you are more sensitive. No. If you are more sensitive you will not be attached. Attachment is a very gross quality; it is not subtle.
For attachment you need not be aware and alert. There is no need. Even animals can be attached very easily, rather, more easily. A dog is more attached to his master than any man can be. The dog is completely unconscious so attachment happens. That is why in the countries where human relationship has become poor, such as in the West, man goes on seeking relationship with animals, with dogs, with other animals, because the human relationship is no longer there. Human society is disappearing and every man feels isolated, alienated, alone. The crowd is there but you are not related to it. You are alone in the crowd and this aloneness scares. One becomes afraid and fearful.
When you are related, attached to someone, and someone is attached to you, you feel you are not alone in this world, in this strange world. Someone is with you. That feeling of belonging gives you a sort of security. When human relationship becomes impossible then men and women try to make relationships with animals. In the West they are very deeply related to dogs and other animals, but here in the East, although you may be worshipping cows you are not related to them. You may go on saying that you worship the cow as a divine animal, but your cruelty has no end.
In the East you are so cruel with your animals that the West cannot even conceive of how you can go on thinking that you are non-violent. All over the world, particularly in the West, there are many societies to protect animals from the cruelty of men. You cannot beat a dog in the West. If you beat it, it will be a criminal act and you will be punished for it. What is happening really, is that human relationship is dissolving – but man cannot live alone. He must have a relationship, a belonging, a feeling that someone is with him. Animals can be very good friends because they get so attached; no one, no man, can get that attached.
For attachment, awareness is not necessary; rather, awareness is the barrier. The more aware you become the less you will be attached, because the need for attachment disappears. Why do you want to be attached to someone? Because alone you feel you are not enough. You lack something. Something is incomplete in you. You are not a whole. You need someone to complete you. Hence, attachment. If you are aware, you are complete, you are a whole; the circle is now complete, nothing is lacking in you – you don’t need anyone. You, alone, feel a total independence, a feeling of wholeness.
That doesn’t mean that you will not love persons; rather, on the contrary, only you can love. A person who is dependent on you cannot love you: he will hate you. A person who needs you cannot love you. He will hate you because you become the bondage. He feels that without you he cannot live, without you he cannot be happy, so you are the cause of both his happiness and unhappiness. He cannot afford to lose you. This will give a feeling of imprisonment: he is imprisoned by you and he will resent it, he will fight against it. Persons hate and love together, but this love cannot be very deep. Only a person who is aware can love, because he doesn’t need you. But then love has a totally different dimension: it is not attachment; it is not dependence. He is not dependent on you and he will not make you dependent on him; he will remain a freedom and he will allow you to remain a freedom. You will be two free agents, two total, whole beings, meeting. That meeting will be a festivity, a celebration – not a dependence. That meeting will be a fun, a play.
That is why we have called Krishna’s life Krishna-leela, the play of Krishna. He loves so many persons but there is no attachment. The same is not true on the part of the gopis and the gopals, the friends and the girl friends of Krishna. The same is not true. They have become attached, so when Krishna moves from Vrindavan to Dwaraka, they weep and cry and suffer. Their anguish is great because they think that Krishna has forgotten them. He has not forgotten, but there is no pain because there was no dependence; he is as whole and happy in Dwaraka as he was in Vrindavan and his love is flowing as much in Dwaraka as it was in Vrindavan. The objects of love have changed but the source of love remains the same. So whosoever comes near him receives the gift. And this gift is unconditional: nothing is required as a return, nothing is asked as a return.
When love comes through an aware consciousness it is just a pure gift with no condition, and the person who is giving it is happy because he is giving it. The very act of giving is his bliss, his ecstasy.
So remember that if you feel that through meditation you have become more sensitive, then automatically you will become less attached, more detached. Because you will be more grounded in yourself, you will be more centered in yourself, you will not use somebody else as your center. What does attachment mean? Attachment means that you are using someone else as your center of being, Majanu is attached to Laila: he says he cannot live without Laila. That means the center of being has been transferred. If you say that you cannot live without this or that, then your soul is not within you. Then you are not existing as an independent unit, your center has moved somewhere else.
This movement of the center from yourself to something else, to the other, is attachment. If you are sensitive, you will feel the other, but the other will not become the center of your life. You will remain the center and out of this centering the other will receive many gifts from you. But they will be gifts, they will not be bargains. You will simply give because you have too much, you are an overflowing. And you will be thankful that the other has received it. That will be enough and that will be the end.
That is why I go on saying that the mind is a great deceiver. You think that you are meditating and that that is why you have become sensitive. Then the question of why you get attached arises. If you get attached, that is a clear symptom that the sensitivity is not because of awareness. Really, it is not sensitivity at all. It may be sentimentalism: that is a totally different thing. You can be sentimental: you can cry and weep over small things, you can be touched, and a storm can be created very easily within you – but that is sentimentalism, not sensitivity.
Let me tell you a story. Buddha was staying in a village. A woman came to him, weeping and crying and screaming. Her child, her only child, had suddenly died. Because Buddha was in the village, people said, “Don’t weep. Go to this man. People say he is infinite compassion. If he wills it, the child can revive. So don’t weep. Go to this Buddha.” The woman came with the dead child, crying, weeping, and the whole village followed her – the whole village was affected. Buddha’s disciples were also affected; they started praying in their minds that Buddha would have compassion. He must bless the child so that he will be revived, resurrected.
Many disciples of Buddha started weeping. The scene was so touching, deeply moving. Everybody was still. Buddha remained silent. He looked at the dead child, then he looked at the weeping, crying mother and he said to the mother, “Don’t weep, just do one thing and your child will be alive again. Leave this dead child here, go back to the town, go to every house and ask every family if someone has ever died in their family, in their house. And if you can find a house where no one has ever died, then from them beg something to be eaten, some bread, some rice, or anything – but from the house where no one has ever died. And that bread or that rice will revive the child immediately. You go. Don’t waste time.”
The woman became happy. She felt that now the miracle was going to happen. She touched Buddha’s feet and ran to the village which was not a very big one, very few cottages, a few families. She moved from one family to another, asking. But every family said, “This is impossible. There is not a single house – not only in this village but all over the earth – there is not a single house where no one has ever died, where people have not suffered death and the misery and the pain and the anguish that comes out of it.”
By and by the woman realized that Buddha had been playing a trick. This was impossible. But still the hope was there. She went on asking until she had gone around the whole village. Her tears dried, her hope died, but suddenly she felt a new tranquility, a serenity, coming to her. Now she realized that whosoever is born will have to die. It is only a question of years. Someone will die sooner, someone later, but death is inevitable. She came back and touched Buddha’s feet again and said to him, “As people say, you really do have a deep compassion for people.” No one could understand what had happened. Buddha initiated her into sannyas, she became a bhikkhuni, a sannyasin. She was initiated.
Anand asked Buddha, “You could have revived the boy. He was such a beautiful child and the mother was in such anguish.” But Buddha said, “Even if the child was resurrected, he would have had to die. Death is inevitable.” Anand said, “But you don’t seem to be very sensitive to people, to their misery and anguish.” Buddha replied, “I am sensitive; you are sentimental. Just because you start weeping, do you think you are sensitive? You are childish. You don’t understand life. You are not aware of the phenomenon.”
This is the difference between Christianity and Buddhism. Christ was reported to have done many miracles of reviving people. When Lazarus was dead, Jesus touched him and he came back to life. We in the East cannot conceive of Buddha touching a dead man and bringing him back to life. To ordinary persons, to the ordinary mind, Jesus would look more loving and compassionate than Buddha. But I say to you that Buddha is more sensitive, more compassionate, because even if Lazarus was revived, it made no difference. He still had to die. Finally, Lazarus had to die. So this miracle was of no use, of no ultimate value. One cannot conceive of Buddha doing such a thing.
Jesus had to because he was bringing something new, a new message to Israel. And the message was so deep that people would not understand it so he had to create miracles around it – because people can understand miracles but they cannot understand the deep message, the esoteric message. They can understand miracles, so through miracles they might become open and able to be receptive to the message. Jesus was carrying a Buddhist message to a land which was not Buddhist; an Eastern message to a country which had no tradition of enlightenment, of many Buddhas.
We can conceive that Buddha was more sensitive than his disciples who were weeping and crying. They were sentimental.
Don’t misunderstand your sentimentality for sensitivity. Sentimentality is ordinary; sensitivity is extraordinary. It happens through effort. It is an achievement. You have to earn it. Sentimentality is not to be earned; you are born with it. It is an animal inheritance which you already have in the cells of your body and your mind. Sensitivity is a possibility. You don’t have it already. You can create it, you can work for it – then it will happen to you. And whenever it happens, you will be detached.
Buddha was totally detached. The dead child was there but he didn’t seem to be affected at all. The woman, the mother, was miserable and he was playing a trick on her. This man seems to be cruel and this playing of a trick seems to be too much for a mother whose child has died. He gave her a riddle, and he knew well that she would come back empty-handed. But I say again that he has real compassion because he was helping this woman to grow, to be mature. Unless you can understand death you are not mature; and unless you can accept death, you don’t have a center within your being. When you accept death as a reality, you have transcended it.
Buddha used the situation. He was less concerned with the dead child and more concerned with the alive mother because he knew that the dead child would come back to life again – there was no need for the miracle. But if the child was revived the mother might have lost an opportunity. For lives together she might not again have a meeting with a Buddha. So in the East only third-rate saddhus have been doing miracles; the first-rate have never done any – they work on a higher level. Buddha is also doing a miracle but the miracle is being done on a very high level. The mother is being transformed.
But it is difficult to understand because our minds are gross and we only understand sentimentality, we cannot understand sensitivity. Sensitivity means an alertness which feels everything that happens around. And you can feel only when you are not attached. Remember this: if you are attached you are no longer there to feel, you have moved out of you. So if you want to know the truth about someone don’t ask his friends. They are attached. And don’t ask his enemies. They are also attached, in the reverse order. Ask someone who is neutral, neither a friend nor an enemy. Only he can say the truth.
Friends cannot be believed, enemies cannot be believed, but we believe either the friends or the enemies. Both are bound to be wrong because they don’t have a neutral witnessing, they don’t have a detached view. They cannot stand aloof and look because they have an investment in the person. Friends have an investment and enemies have an investment. They see according to particular viewpoints, and with those viewpoints they are attached. The moment you feel you are attached; you have taken a viewpoint. The totality is lost; only a fragmentary thing is in your hands. And fragments are always lies because only the whole is true.
Meditate, become more sensitive, and take it as a criterion that you will go on becoming more and more detached. If you feel that attachment is growing, then you are erring somewhere in your meditation. These are the criteria. And to me, attachment cannot be destroyed and detachment cannot be practiced. You can only practice meditation – and detachment will follow as a consequence, as a by-product. If meditation really flowers within you, you will have a feeling of detachment. Then you can move anywhere and you will remain untouched, unafraid. Then when you leave your body; you will leave it unscratched. Your consciousness will be absolutely pure, nothing foreign has entered into it. When you are attached, impurities enter into you. This is the basic impurity: that you are losing your center and somebody else or something else is becoming your center of being.
From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #74, Q1
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