Buddha was saying again and again to his disciples that meditation and compassion should grow side by side. These days I have been feeling your compassion as never before, and I have also been feeling the urge to start learning from it, at least the ABC. For now, the only thing that makes me feel close to it are those warm tears that flow down my cheeks as I look at you.
Beloved, can you please talk about compassion and how to go into it from the stage I’m at.
Chidananda, Gautam Buddha’s emphasis on compassion was a very new phenomenon as far as the mystics of old were concerned. Gautam Buddha makes a historical dividing line from the past; before him meditation was enough, nobody had emphasized compassion together with meditation. And the reason was that meditation brings enlightenment, your blossoming, your ultimate expression of being. What more do you need? As far as the individual is concerned, meditation is enough. Gautam Buddha’s greatness consists in introducing compassion even before you start meditating. You should be more loving, more kind, more compassionate.
There is a hidden science behind it. Before a man becomes enlightened, if he has a heart full of compassion there is a possibility that after meditation he will help others to achieve the same beatitude, to the same height, to the same celebration as he has achieved. Gautam Buddha makes it possible for enlightenment to be infectious. But if the person feels that he has come back home, why bother about anybody else?
Buddha makes enlightenment for the first time unselfish; he makes it a social responsibility. It is a great change. But compassion should be learned before enlightenment happens. If it is not learned before, then after enlightenment there is nothing to learn. When one becomes so ecstatic in himself then even compassion seems to be preventing his own joy – a kind of disturbance in his ecstasy… That’s why there have been hundreds of enlightened people, but very few masters.
To be enlightened does not mean necessarily that you will become a master. Becoming a master means you have tremendous compassion, and you feel ashamed to go alone into those beautiful spaces that enlightenment makes available. You want to help the people who are blind, in darkness, groping their way. It becomes a joy to help them, it is not a disturbance.
In fact, it becomes a richer ecstasy when you see so many people flowering around you; you are not a solitary tree who has blossomed in a forest where no other tree is blossoming. When the whole forest blossoms with you, the joy becomes a thousand fold; you have used your enlightenment to bring a revolution in the world. Gautam Buddha is not only enlightened, but an enlightened revolutionary.
His concern with the world, with people, is immense. He was teaching his disciples that when you meditate and you feel silence, serenity, a deep joy bubbling inside your being, don’t hold onto it; give it to the whole world. And don’t be worried, because the more you give it, the more you will become capable of getting it. The gesture of giving is of tremendous importance once you know that giving does not take anything from you; on the contrary, it multiplies your experiences. But the man who has never been compassionate does not know the secret of giving, does not know the secret of sharing.
It happened that one of his disciples, a layman – he was not a sannyasin, but he was very much devoted to Gautam Buddha – said, “I will do it … but I want just to make one exception. I will give all my joy and all my meditation and all my inner treasures to the whole world – except my neighbor, because that fellow is really nasty.”
Neighbors are always enemies. Gautam Buddha said to him, “You forget the world, you simply give to your neighbor.”
He said, “What are you saying?”
Buddha said, “If you can give to your neighbor, only then will you be freed from this antagonistic attitude towards a human being.”
Compassion basically means accepting people’s frailties, their weaknesses, not expecting them to behave like gods. That is cruelty, because they will not be able to behave like gods and then they will fall in your estimation, and they will also fall in their own self-respect. You have dangerously crippled them, you have damaged their dignity. One of the fundamentals of compassion is to make everybody dignified, everybody aware that what has happened to you can happen to him; that he is not a hopeless case, that he is not unworthy, that enlightenment is not to be deserved, it is your very self-nature.
But these words should come from the enlightened man, only then can they create trust. If they come from unenlightened scholars, they cannot create trust. The word, through the enlightened man, starts breathing, starts having a heartbeat of its own. It becomes living, it goes directly into your heart – it is not an intellectual gymnastics. But with the scholar it is a different thing. He himself is not certain of what he is talking about, what he is writing about. He is in the same uncertainty as you are.
Gautam Buddha is one of the landmarks in the evolution of consciousness; his contribution is great, immeasurable. And in his contribution, the idea of compassion is the most essential. But you have to remember that by being compassionate you don’t become higher; otherwise you spoil the whole thing. It becomes an ego trip. Remember not to humiliate the other person by being compassionate; otherwise you are not being compassionate, behind the words you are enjoying their humiliation.
Compassion has to be understood, because it is love come of age. Ordinary love is very childish, it is a good game for teenagers. The faster you grow out of it the better, because your love is a blind biological force. It has nothing to do with your spiritual growth; that’s why all love affairs turn in a strange way, become very bitter.
That which was so alluring, so exciting, so challenging, for which you could have died … now you could still die – but not for it, you could die to get rid of it.
A great psychologist, Alfred Adler, went to a madhouse to see in what condition the mad people were, what their problems were, and if he and his understanding about man’s psychology could be of any help.
The superintendent knew he was a world famous figure… but there happened to be a very strange case. He saw a man behind bars, in a cell, who was keeping a photograph on his chest – and tears were coming from his eyes. Alfred Adler knew the man, because the man was a professor in the university where Alfred Adler had addressed the professors many times. He was a very learned man. What had happened to this poor guy?
The superintendent said, “It is a very complicated and strange story. When you know the whole of it, you will not be able to believe it. He loved a woman – the picture is of that woman. He still loves her; he cannot forget her for a moment. He never loses hold of the picture; even in the night he sleeps with the picture. And these tears … one cannot believe how many tears he has. They seem to be inexhaustible, they go on flowing. Because the woman refused to marry him, that triggered something in him and he went mad.
“Now he does not talk to anyone. We have tried in every possible way to break the ice and somehow bring him back to normality, but he does not talk, he does not want to see anybody. If you go in front of him, he closes his eyes. He wants to see only his beloved. That picture is more real to him than anything else in the world. And that ‘no’ is hurting him so deeply… he eats well but he goes on losing weight. He has become almost a skeleton.”
Alfred Adler said, “I knew the man before; he was a perfectly healthy, a robust person. He has aged as if he had skipped at least twenty years. He was young when I knew him, just a year ago.”
The superintendent said, “He is simply committing slow suicide. That ‘no’ has been too heavy; he really loved the woman.”
They moved on, and in the second cell there was a man rolling around like a maniac, hitting the walls, beating the bars, shouting as loudly as he could, “Just leave me! I want to do one thing only – to kill that woman!”
And the superintendent said to Alfred Adler, “You will be surprised now, really surprised. The woman who refused the first man – and he has gone mad because he could not conceive of his life without her – is the same woman this man married. And just within six months of marriage things have gone so poisonous that he wants to murder her. He has made efforts to murder her; he was caught by the police and forced into the madhouse.”
Alfred Adler, in his autobiography, remembers the incident, and he said, “What kind of love is this? They both loved, but the first one, to whom she said no, still loves her; and the second one, to whom she said yes, wants to kill the woman. That is his only goal in life. He said, ‘Any day, someday you will let me out. My only project is to kill that woman and surrender myself to the police. You can shoot me, you can hang me, whatever you want to do – I am no longer interested. But let me do at least one thing first – kill that woman. She destroyed my peace, my life, my joy, everything.’”
Love is a blind force. The only successful lovers have been those who never succeeded in getting their beloveds. All the great stories of lovers: Laila and Majnu, Shiri and Farhad, Soni and Mahival… these are the three Eastern stories of great love. But all the three never could get together; society, parents, everything became a barrier. And I think perhaps it was good. Once lovers get married, then there is no love story left.
Majnu was fortunate that he never got hold of Laila. What happens when two blind forces come together? Because both are blind and unconscious, the outcome cannot be a great harmony. The outcome can only be a battlefield of domination, of humiliation, of all kinds of conflicts.
The very word ‘compassion’ will remind you about passion. When passion becomes alert and aware, the whole energy of love comes to a refinement; it becomes compassion.
Love is always addressed to one person, and its deepest desire is to possess that person. But the same is the case from the other side – and that becomes the cause of creating a hell.
Compassion is not addressed to anybody. It is not a relationship; it is simply your very being. You enjoy being compassionate to the trees, to the birds, to the animals, to human beings, to everybody – unconditionally, not asking for anything in return. Compassion is a freedom from blind biology. Before you become enlightened, you should keep alert that your love energy is not repressed. That’s what old religions have been doing: they teach you condemnation of your love. So you repress your love energy, and that is the energy which can be transformed into compassion. But by condemnation there is no possibility of transformation.
So your saints are absolutely without any compassion; in their eyes you will not see any compassion. They are absolutely dry bones, with no juice at all. To live with a saint for twenty-four hours is enough to experience what hell is like. Perhaps people are aware of this fact, so they immediately touch the feet of the saint and run away.
One of the great philosophers of our age, Bertrand Russell, has emphatically declared, “If there is hell and heaven, I want to go to hell.” Why? Just to avoid the saints, because heaven will be full of all these dead, dull, dusty, saints. And Bertrand Russell thinks, “I could not tolerate this company even for a minute. And to think of eternity, forever, to be surrounded by these corpses, who don’t know any love, who don’t know any friendship, who never go on holidays…”
A saint always remains seven days a week a saint. It is not allowed for him that at least on one day, Sunday, he should enjoy being a human being. No, he remains stiff, and this stiffness goes on growing as time passes.
Bertrand Russell’s choice to be in hell I appreciate very much, because I can understand what he means by it. He is saying that in hell you will find all the juicy people of the world – the poets, the painters, the rebellious spirits, the scientists, the creative people, the dancers, the actors, the singers, the musicians. Hell must be really a heaven, because heaven is nothing but a hell!
Things have gone so wrong, and the basic reason for their going wrong is that love energy has been repressed. Gautam Buddha’s contribution is, “Don’t repress your love energy. Refine it, and use meditation to refine it.”
So side by side, as meditation grows it goes on refining your love energy and makes it compassion. Before your meditation reaches to its highest climax and explodes into a beautiful experience of enlightenment, compassion will be very close. It will become possible for the enlightened person to let his energies flow – and now he has all the energies of the world – through the roots of compassion, to anyone who is ready to receive. Only this type of man becomes a master.
To become enlightened is simple, but to become a master is a very complex phenomenon, because it needs meditation plus compassion. Just meditation is easy, just compassion is easy; but both together, simultaneously growing, becomes a complex affair.
But the people, who become enlightened and never share their experience because they don’t feel any compassion don’t help the evolution of consciousness on the earth; they don’t raise the level of humanity. Only the masters have been able to raise consciousness. Whatsoever small consciousness you have, the whole credit goes to the few masters who managed to remain compassionate, even after their enlightenment. It will be difficult for you to understand, because enlightenment is so absorbing that one tends to forget the whole world.
One is so utterly satisfied that he does not have any space to think of all those millions who are also groping for the same experience – knowingly, unknowingly. Rightly or wrongly, but a compassion remains present; then it is impossible to forget those people. In fact, this is the moment when you have something to give, something to share. And sharing is such a joy. You have known through compassion, slowly slowly, that the more you share, the more you have. If you can share your enlightenment too, your enlightenment will have much more richness, much more aliveness, much more celebration, many more dimensions.
Enlightenment can be one-dimensional – that’s what has happened to many people. It satisfies them, and they disappear into the universal source. But enlightenment can be multi-dimensional; it can bring so many flowers to the world. And you owe something to the world because you are sons of this earth.
I am reminded of Zarathustra’s saying, “Never betray the earth. Even in your highest glory, don’t forget the earth; it is your mother. And don’t forget the people. They may have been hindrances, they may have been enemies to you; they may have tried in every way to destroy you; they may have already crucified you, stoned you to death, or poisoned you – but don’t forget them. Whatever they have done, they have done in an unconscious state. And if you cannot forgive them, who is going to forgive them? And your forgiving them is going to enrich you immeasurably.”
Chidananda, you are asking, “Gautam Buddha was saying again and again to his disciples that meditation and compassion should grow side by side.” That’s his uniqueness amongst all other mystics.
“These days I have been feeling your compassion as never before, and I have also been feeling the urge to start learning from it, at least the ABC. For now, the only thing that makes me feel close to it are those warm tears that flow down my cheeks as I look at you. Beloved, can you please talk about compassion, and how to grow into it from the stage I am at?”
You simply allow it to grow on its own. You are in a right space; those tears are indications. If you start doing something to make the process of growth faster, you may damage the whole thing. It is almost like a gardener – he cannot pull up his plants to make them grow faster. The pulling may destroy the whole plant. It may come out of the earth with the roots, and you may not be able to give it life again. The gardener has to take care; he has to water, he has to give nourishment, he has to give all kinds of manure, but he has not to touch the plant. The plant will grow on its own, it is a spontaneous growth.
You are feeling that the seed has broken, and perhaps just two green leaves have sprouted out of the earth. Rejoice, and in every way support it, but don’t try to hurry up the process. There are processes which cannot be hurried – you can kill them. They are so delicate that they grow only on their own. You can support them, you can put around them everything that they need, but leave them absolutely to themselves.
You are exactly in a right space. Enjoy your tears, enjoy your laughter – and not only when you are with me. Slowly, slowly bring the same space with other people. Perhaps they will not be able to understand you. They may start consoling you, “Chidananda, don’t cry. What has happened? Has your girlfriend left you? Or are you in some financial trouble?” Just tell them that your girlfriend has not left, that you are not in financial trouble, but thank them for their sympathy. Tell them your tears are not of sadness or failure; your tears are out of your joy.
Joy is the nourishment for your compassion … a very subtle food. Sing, dance, play on musical instruments, and all this will support the delicate phenomenon that has already been born in you. But don’t do anything to hurry up the process, because that hurrying up comes from the mind. The mind is always in a hurry, the mind is always speeding; but all great things grow very slowly, very silently, without making any noise.
Just watch that anything that goes against compassion you don’t give any support to. Jealousy, competition, an effort to dominate – all that goes against compassion. And you will know immediately because your compassion will start wavering. The moment you feel your compassion is shaky, you must be doing something that is going against it. You can poison your compassion by stupid things, which don’t give you anything except anxiety, anguish, struggle, and a sheer wastage of a tremendously precious life.
A beautiful story for you:
Paddy came home an hour earlier than usual and found his wife stark naked on the bed. When he asked why, she explained, “I am protesting because I don’t have any nice clothes to wear.”
Paddy pulled open the closet door. “That’s ridiculous,” he said, “look in here. There is a yellow dress, a red dress, a print dress, a pantsuit … Hi, Bill!” And he goes on, “A green dress…”
This is compassion!
It is compassion to his wife, it is compassion to Bill. No jealousy, no fight, just simply, “Hi, Bill! How are you?” and he goes on. He never even enquires, “What are you doing in my closet?”
Compassion is very understanding. It is the finest understanding that is possible to man.
As he was approaching an intersection, the man’s car lost its brakes and bumped into the rear of a car with “Just Married” written all over it. The damage was slight but the man sincerely offered his apologies to the newlywed couple.
“Aw, it doesn’t matter,” replied the husband. “It has been one of those days.”
An understanding, a deep understanding that now everything is possible… Once one is married, then he can expect all kinds of accidents. The greatest accident has already happened – now nothing matters.
A man of compassion should not be disturbed by small things in life, which are happening every moment. Only then, in an indirect way, are you helping your compassionate energies to accumulate, to crystallize, to become stronger, and to go on rising with your meditation.
So the day the blissful moment comes, when you are full of light, there will be at least one companion: compassion. And immediately a new style of life… because now you have so much that you can bless the whole world.
Although Gautam Buddha insisted consistently, finally he had to make a division, a categorization amongst his disciples. One category he calls arhatas; they are enlightened people, but without compassion. They have put their whole energy into meditation, but they have not listened about compassion. And the other he calls bodhisattvas; they have listened to his message of compassion. They are enlightened with compassion, so they are not in a hurry to go to the other shore; they want to linger on this shore, with all kinds of difficulties, to help people. Their boat has arrived, and perhaps the captain is saying, “Don’t waste time, the call has come from the other shore, which you have been seeking all your life.”
But they persuade the captain to wait a little, so that they can share their joy, their wisdom, their light, their love with all those people who are also searching the same. This will become a trust in them: “Yes, there is another shore, and when you are ripe a boat comes to take you to the other shore. There is a shore of immortals, there is a shore where no misery exists, there is a shore where life is simply a moment-to-moment song and a dance. Let me at least give them a little taste before. I leave the world.”
And masters have tried in every possible way to cling to something so that they are not swept away to the other shore. According to Buddha, compassion is the best, because compassion is also a desire, in the final analysis. The idea to help somebody is also a desire, and while you can keep the desire you cannot be taken to the other shore. It is a very thin thread that keeps you attached to the world. Everything is broken, all chains are broken – a thin thread of love … But Buddha’s emphasis is, keep that thin thread as long as possible; as many people that can be helped, help them.
Your enlightenment should not have a selfish motive, it should not be just yours; you should make it shared as widely, to as many people as possible. That’s the only way to raise the consciousness on the earth – which has given you life, which has given you the chance to become enlightened.
This is the moment to pay back something, although you cannot pay back everything that life has given to you. But something – just two flowers, in gratitude.
From The New Dawn, Chapter 22
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