OUR ILLUSION ABOUT OTHERS
So if you stop to think, you would see that there's nothing to be very proud of after all. What does this do to your relationship with people? What are you complaining about? A young man came to complain that his girlfriend had let him down, that she had played false. What are you complaining about? Did you expect any better? Expect the worst, you're dealing with selfish people. You're the idiot - you glorified her, didn't you?
You thought she was a princess, you thought people were nice. They're not! They're not nice. They're as bad as you are - bad, you understand? They're asleep like you. And what do you think they are going to seek? Their own self-interest, exactly like you. No difference. Can you imagine how liberating it is that you'll never be disillusioned again, never be disappointed again? You'll never feel let down again. Never feel rejected. Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideas. See through people. If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will love them. Otherwise you spend the whole time grappling with your wrong notions of them, with your illusions that are constantly crashing against reality.
It's probably too startling for many of you to understand that everyone except the very rare awakened person can be expected to be selfish and to seek his or her own self-interest whether in coarse or in refined ways. This leads you to see that there's nothing to be disappointed about, nothing to be disillusioned about. If you had been in touch with reality all along, you would never have been disappointed. But you chose to paint people in glowing colors; you chose not to see through human beings because you chose not to see through yourself. So you're paying the price now.
Before we discuss this, let me tell you a story. Somebody once asked, "What is enlightenment like? What is awakening like"? It's like the tramp in London who was settling in for the night. He'd hardly been able to get a crust of bread to eat. Then he reaches this embankment on the river Thames. There was a slight drizzle, so he huddled in his old tattered cloak. He was about to go to sleep when suddenly a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce pulls up. Out of the car steps a beautiful young lady who says to him, "My poor man, are you planning on spending the night here on this embankment"?
And the tramp says, "Yes". She says, "I won't have it. You're coming to my house and you're going to spend a comfortable night and you're going to get a good dinner". She insists on his getting into the car. Well, they ride out of London and get to a place where she has a sprawling mansion with large grounds. They are ushered in by the butler, to whom she says, "James, please make sure he's put in the servants' quarters and treated well". Which is what James does. The young lady had undressed and was about to go to bed when she suddenly remembers her guest for the night.
So she slips something on and pads along the corridor to the servants' quarters. She sees a little chink of light from the room where the tramp was put up. She taps lightly at the door, opens it, and finds the man awake. She says, "What's the trouble, my good man, didn't you get a good meal"? He said, "Never had a better meal in my life, lady". "Are you warm enough"? He says, "Yes, lovely warm bed". Then she says, "Maybe you need a little company. Why don't you move over a bit". And she comes closer to him and he moves over and falls right into the Thames.
Ha! You didn't expect that one! Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Wake up. When you're ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you're ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that's the way you find it all. That's where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful. There's a story about Ramirez. He is old and living up there in his castle on a hill. He looks out the window (he's in bed and paralyzed) and he sees his enemy. Old as he is, leaning on a cane, his enemy is climbing up the hill - slowly, painfully. It takes him about two and a half hours to get up the hill.
There's nothing Ramirez can do because the servants have the day off. So his enemy opens the door, comes straight to the bedroom, puts his hand inside his cloak, and pulls out a gun. He says, "At last, Ramirez, we're going to settle scores!" Ramirez tries his level best to talk him out of it. He says, "Come on, Borgia, you can't do that. You know I'm no longer the man who ill-treated you as that youngster years ago, and you're no longer that youngster. Come off it!" "Oh no", says his enemy, ''your sweet words aren't going to deter me from this divine mission of mine.
It's revenge I want and there's nothing you can do about it". And Ramirez says, "But there is!" "What"? asks his enemy. "I can wake up", says Ramirez. And he did; he woke up! That's what enlightenment is like. When someone tells you, "There is nothing you can do about it", you say, "There is, I can wake up!" All of a sudden, life is no longer the nightmare that it has seemed. Wake up!
Somebody came up to me with a question. What do you think the question was? He asked me, "Are you enlightened"? What do you think my answer was? What does it matter! You want a better answer? My answer would be: "How would I know? How would you know? What does it matter"? You know something? If you want anything too badly, you're in big trouble. You know something else? If I were enlightened and you listened to me because I was enlightened, then you're in big trouble.
Are you ready to be brainwashed by someone who's enlightened? You can be brainwashed by anybody, you know. What does it matter whether someone's enlightened or not? But see, we want to lean on someone, don't we? We want to lean on anybody we think has arrived. We love to hear that people have arrived. It gives us hope, doesn't it? What do you want to hope for? Isn't that another form of desire? You want to hope for something better than what you have right now, don't you? Otherwise you wouldn't be hoping. But then, you forget that you have it all right now anyway, and you don't know it. Why not concentrate on the now instead of hoping for better times in the future? Why not understand the now instead of forgetting it and hoping for the future? Isn't the future just another trap?
The only way someone can be of help to you is in challenging your ideas. If you're ready to listen and if you're ready to be challenged, there's one thing that you can do, but NO ONE CAN HELP YOU. What is this most important thing of all? It's called self-observation. No one can help you there. No one can give you a method. No one can show you a technique. The moment you pick up a technique, you're programmed again. But self-observation - watching yourself - is important. It is not the same as self-absorption.
Self-absorption is self-preoccupation, where you're concerned about yourself, worried about yourself. I'm talking about self-OBSERVATION. What's that? It means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else. What does that last sentence mean? It means that you do not personalize what is happening to you. It means that you look at things as if you have no connection with them whatsoever.
The reason you suffer from your depression and your anxieties is that you identify with them. You say, "I'm depressed". But that is false. You are not depressed. If you want to be accurate, you might say, "I am experiencing a depression right now". But you can hardly say, "I am depressed". You are not your depression. That is but a strange kind of tuck of the mind, a strange kind of illusion.
You have deluded yourself into thinking - though you are not aware of it - that you ARE your depression, that you ARE your anxiety, that you ARE your joy or the thrills that you have. "I am delighted!" You certainly are not delighted. Delight may be IN you right now, but wait around, it will change. It won't last: it never lasts; it keeps changing; it's always changing.
Clouds come and go: some of them are black and some white, some of them are large, others small. If we want to follow the analogy, you would be the sky, observing the clouds. You are a passive, detached observer. That's shocking, particularly to someone in the Western culture. You're not interfering. Don't interfere. Don't ''fix'' anything. Watch! Observe!
The trouble with people is that they're busy fixing things they don't even understand. We're always fixing things, aren't we? It never strikes us that things don't need to be fixed. They really don't. This is a great illumination. They need to be understood. If you understood them, they'd change.
AWARENESS WITHOUT EVALUATING EVERYTHING
Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgment on your part. Because what you judge you cannot understand. When you say of someone, "He's a communist", understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on him. "She's a capitalist". Understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on her, and if the label carries undertones of approval or disapproval, so much the worse! How are you going to understand what you disapprove of, or what you approve of, for that matter? All of this sounds like a new world, doesn't it?
No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because if you desire to change what is into what you think SHOULD be, you no longer understand. A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other aim. He's not attempting to train them or get anything out of them. He's interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle. You will change effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for yourself.
But this calls for a disciplined mind. And when I say disciplined, I'm not talking about effort. I'm talking about something else. Have you ever studied an athlete. His or her whole life is sports, but what a disciplined life he or she leads. And look at a river as it moves toward the sea. It creates its own banks that contain it. When there's something within you that moves in the right direction, it creates its own discipline. The moment you get bitten by the bug of awareness. Oh, it's so delightful! It's the most delightful thing in the world; the most important, the most delightful. There's nothing so important in the world as awakening. Nothing! And, of course, it is also discipline in its own way.
There's nothing so delightful as being aware. Would you rather live in darkness? Would you rather act and not be aware of your actions, talk and not be aware of your words? Would you rather listen to people and not be aware of what you're hearing, or see things and not be aware of what you're looking at? The great Socrates said, "The unaware life is not worth living". That's a self-evident truth. Most people don't live aware lives. They live mechanical lives, mechanical thoughts - generally somebody else's - mechanical emotions, mechanical actions, mechanical reactions.
Do you want to see how mechanical you really are? "My, that's a lovely shirt you're wearing". You feel good hearing that. For a shirt, for heaven's sake! You feel proud of yourself when you hear that. People come over to my center in India and they say, "What a lovely place, these lovely trees" (for which I'm not responsible at all), "this lovely climate". And already I'm feeling good, until I catch myself feeling good, and I say, "Hey, can you imagine anything as stupid as that"? I'm not responsible for those trees; I wasn't responsible for choosing the location. I didn't order the weather; it just happened.
But "me" got in there, so I'm feeling good. I'm feeling good about "my" culture and "my" nation. How stupid can you get? I mean that. I'm told my great Indian culture has produced all these mystics. I didn't produce them. I'm not responsible for them. Or they tell me, "That country of yours and its poverty - it's disgusting". I feel ashamed. But I didn't create it. What's going on? Did you ever stop to think? People tell you, "I think you're very charming", so I feel wonderful. I get a positive stroke (that's why they call it I'm O.K., you're O.K.). I'm going to write a book someday and the title will be I'M AN ASS, YOU’RE AN ASS. That's the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you're an ass. It's wonderful. When people tell me, "You're wrong". I say, "What can you expect of an ass"?
Disarmed, everybody has to be disarmed. In the final liberation, I'm an ass, you're an ass. Normally the way it goes, I press a button and you're up; I press another button and you're down. And you like that. How many people do you know who are unaffected by praise or blame? That isn't human, we say. Human means that you have to be a little monkey, so everybody can twist your tail, and you do whatever you OUGHT to be doing. But is that human? If you find me charming, it means that right now you're in a good mood, nothing more. It also means that I fit your shopping list. We all carry a shopping list around, and it's as though you've got to measure up to this list - tall, um, dark, um, handsome, according to MY tastes. "I like the sound of his voice". You say, "I'm in love". You're not in love, you silly ass. Any time you're in love - I hesitate to say this - you're being particularly asinine. Sit down and watch what's happening to you.
You're running away from yourself. You want to escape. Somebody once said, "Thank God for reality, AND for the means to escape from it". So that's what's going on. We are so mechanical, so controlled. We write books about being controlled and how wonderful it is to be controlled and how necessary it is that people tell you you're O.K. Then you'll have a good feeling about yourself. How wonderful it is to be in prison! Or as somebody said to me yesterday, to be in your cage. Do you like being in prison? Do you like being controlled? Let me tell you something: If you ever let yourself feel good when people tell you that you're O.K., you are preparing yourself to feel bad when they tell you - you're not good. As long as you live to fulfill other people's expectations, you better watch what you wear, how you comb your hair, whether your shoes are polished - in short, whether you live up to every damned expectation of theirs. Do you call that human?
This is what you'll discover when you observe yourself! You'll be horrified! The fact of the matter is that you're neither O.K. nor not O.K. You may fit the current mood or trend or fashion! Does that mean you've become O.K.? Does your O.K.-ness depend on that? Does it depend on what people think of you? Jesus Christ must have been pretty "not O.K". by those standards. You're not O.K. and you're not not O.K., you're you.
I hope that is going to be the big discovery, at least for some of you. If three or four of you make this discovery during these days we spend together, my, what a wonderful thing! Extraordinary! Cut out all the O.K. stuff and the not-O.K. stuff; cut out all the judgments and simply observe, watch. You'll make great discoveries. These discoveries will change you. You won't have to make the slightest effort, believe me.
This reminds me of this fellow in London after the war. He's sitting with a parcel wrapped in brown paper in his lap; it's a big, heavy object. The bus conductor comes up to him and says, "What do you have on your lap there"? And the man says, "This is an unexploded bomb. We dug it out of the garden and I'm taking it to the police station". The conductor says, "You don't want to carry that on your lap. Put it under the seat". Psychology and spirituality (as we generally understand it) transfer the bomb from your lap to under your seat. They don't really solve your problems. They exchange your problems for other problems. Has that ever struck you? You had a problem, now you exchange it for another one. It's always going to be that way until we solve the problem called "you".
THE ILLUSION OF REWARDS
Until then, we're going to get nowhere. The great mystics and masters in the East will say, "Who are YOU"? Many think the most important question in the world is: "Who is Jesus Christ"? Wrong! Many think it is: "Does God exist"? Wrong! Many think it is: "Is there a life after death"? Wrong! Nobody seems to be grappling with the problem of: Is there a life BEFORE death?
Yet my experience is that it's precisely the ones who don't know what to do with THIS life who are all hot and bothered about what they are going to do with ANOTHER life. One sign that you're awakened is that you don't give a damn about what's going to happen in the next life. You're not bothered about it; you don't care. You are not interested, period.
Do you know what eternal life is? You think it's everlasting life. But your own theologians will tell you that that is crazy, because everlasting is still within time. It is time perduring forever. Eternal means timeless no time. The human mind cannot understand that. The human mind can understand time and can deny time. What is timeless is beyond our comprehension. Yet the mystics tell us that eternity is right now.
How's that for good news? It is right now. People are so distressed when I tell them to forget their past. They are so proud of their past. Or they are so ashamed of their past. They're crazy! Just drop it! When you hear "Repent for your past", realize it's a great religious distraction from waking up. Wake up! That's what repent means. Not "weep for your sins". Wake up! Understand, stop all the crying. Understand! Wake up!
The great masters tell us that the most important question in the world is: "Who am I"? Or rather: "What is 'I'"? What is this thing I call "I"? What is this thing I call self? You mean you understood everything else in the world and you didn't understand this? You mean you under-stood astronomy and black holes and quasars and you picked up computer science, and you don't know who you are? My, you are still asleep. You are a sleeping scientist. You mean you understood what Jesus Christ is and you don't know who you are? How do you know that you have understood Jesus Christ? Who is the person doing the understanding?
Find that out first. That's the foundation of everything, isn't it? It's because we haven't understood this that we've got all these stupid religious people involved in all these stupid religious wars -- Muslims fighting against Jews, Protestants fighting Catholics, and all the rest of that rubbish. They don't know who they are, because if they did, there wouldn't be wars. Like the little girl who says to a little boy, "Are you a Presbyterian"? And he says, "No, we belong to another abomination!"
But what I'd like to stress right now is self-observation. You are listening to me, but are you picking up any other sounds besides the sound of my voice as you listen to me? Are you aware of YOUR reactions as you listen to me? If you aren't, you're going to be brainwashed. Or else you are going to be influenced by forces within you of which you have no awareness at all. And even if you're aware of how you react to me, are you simultaneously aware of where your reaction is coming from? Maybe you are not listening to me at all; maybe your daddy is listening to me. Do you think that's possible? Of course it is.
Again and again in my therapy groups I come across people who aren't there at all. Their daddy is there, their mummy is there, but they're not there. They never were there. "I live now, not I, but my daddy lives in me". Well, that's absolutely, literally true. I could take you apart piece by piece and ask, "Now, this sentence, does it come from Daddy, Mummy, Grandma, Grandpa, whom"? Who's living in you? It's pretty horrifying when you come to know that. You think you are free, but there probably isn't a gesture, a thought, an emotion, an attitude, a belief in you that isn't coming from someone else. Isn't that horrible? And you don't know it. Talk about a mechanical life that was stamped into you. You feel pretty strongly about certain things, and you think it is you who are feeling strongly about them, but are you really? It's going to take a lot of awareness for you to understand that perhaps this thing you call "I" is simply a conglomeration of your past experiences, of your conditioning and programming.
That's painful. In fact, when you're beginning to awaken, you experience a great deal of pain. It's painful to see your illusions being shattered. Everything that you thought you had built up crumbles and that's painful. That's what repentance is all about; that's what waking up is all about. So how about taking a minute, right where you're sitting now, to be aware, even as I talk, of what you're feeling in your body, and what's going on in your mind, and what your emotional state is like? How about being aware of the blackboard, if your eyes are open, and the color of these walls and the material they're made of? How about being aware of my face and the reaction you have to this face of mine? Because you have a reaction whether you're aware of it or not. And it probably isn't your reaction, but one you were conditioned to have. And how about being aware of some of the things I just said, although that wouldn't be awareness, because that's just memory now.
Be aware of your presence in this room. Say to yourself, "I'm in this room". It's as if you were outside yourself looking at yourself. Notice a slightly different feeling than if you were looking at things in the room. Later we'll ask, "Who is this person who is doing the looking"? I am looking at me. What's an "I"? What's "me"? For the time being it's enough that I watch me, but if you find yourself condemning yourself or approving yourself, don't stop the condemnation and don't stop the judgment or approval, just watch it. I'm condemning me; I'm disapproving of me; I'm approving of me. Just look at it, period. Don't try to change it! Don't say, "Oh, we were told not to do this". Just observe what's going on. As I said to you before, self-observation means watching -- observing whatever is going on in you and around you as if it were happening to someone else.
STRIPPING DOWN TO THE "I"
I suggest another exercise now. Would you write down on a piece of paper any brief way you would describe yourself - for example, businessman, priest, human being, Catholic, Jew, anything. Some write, I notice, things like, fruitful, searching pilgrim, competent, alive, impatient, centered, flexible, reconciler, lover, member of the human race, overly structured. This is the fruit, I trust, of observing yourself. As if you were watching another person.
But notice, you've got "I" observing "me". This is an interesting phenomenon that has never ceased to cause wonder to philosophers, mystics, scientists, psychologists, that the "I" can observe "me". It would seem that animals are not able to do this at all. It would seem that one needs a certain amount of intelligence to be able to do this. What I'm going to give you now is not metaphysics; it is not philosophy.
It is plain observation and common sense. The great mystics of the East are really referring to that "I", not to the "me". As a matter of fact, some of these mystics tell us that we begin first with things, with an awareness of things; then we move on to an awareness of thoughts (that's the "me"); and finally we get to awareness of the thinker. THINGS, THOUGHTS, THINKER. What we're really searching for is the thinker. Can the thinker know himself? Can I know what "I" is? Some of these mystics reply, "Can the knife cut itself? Can the tooth bite itself? Can the eye see itself? Can the 'I' know itself"? But I am concerned with something infinitely more practical right now, and that is with deciding what the "I" is not. I'll go as slowly as possible because the consequences are devastating. Terrific or terrifying, depending on your point of view.
Listen to this: Am I my thoughts, the thoughts that I am thinking? No. Thoughts come and go; I am not my thoughts. Am I my body? They tell us that millions of cells in our body are changed or are renewed every minute, so that by the end of seven years we don't have a single living cell in our body that was there seven years before. Cells come and go. Cells arise and die. But "I" seems to persist. So am I my body? Evidently not!
"I" is something other and more than the body. You might say the body is part of "I", but it is a changing part. It keeps moving, it keeps changing. We have the same name for it but it constantly changes. Just as we have the same name for Niagara Falls, but Niagara Falls is constituted by water that is constantly changing. We use the same name for an ever-changing reality. How about my name? Is "I" my name? Evidently not, because I can change my name without changing the "I". How about my career? How about my beliefs? I say I am a Catholic, a Jew - is that an essential part of "I"? When I move from one religion to another, has the "I" changed? Do I have a new "I" or is it the same "I" that has changed? In other words, is my name an essential part of me, of the "I"? Is my religion an essential part of the "1"?
I mentioned the little girl who says to the boy, "Are you a Presbyterian"? Well, somebody told me another story, about Paddy. Paddy was walking down the street in Belfast and he discovers a gun pressing against the back of his head and a voice says", Are you Catholic or Protestant"? Well, Paddy has to do some pretty fast thinking. He says, "I'm a Jew". And he hears a voice say, "I've got to be the luckiest Arab in the whole of Belfast". Labels are so important to us. "I am a Republican", we say. But are you really? You can't mean that when you switch parties you have a new "I". Isn't it the same old "I" with new political convictions? I remember hearing about a man who asks his friend, "Are you planning to vote Republican"? The friend says, "No, I'm planning to vote Democratic.
My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, and my great-grandfather was a Democrat". The man says, "That is crazy logic. I mean, if your father was a horse thief, and your grandfather was a horse thief, and your great-grandfather was a horse thief, what would you be"? "Ah", the friend answered, "then I'd be a Republican". We spend so much of our lives reacting to labels, our own and others'. We identify the labels with the "I". Catholic and Protestant are frequent labels. There was a man who went to the priest and said, "Father, I want you to say a Mass for my dog". The priest was indignant. "What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog"? "It's my pet dog", said the man. "I loved that dog and I'd like you to offer a Mass for him".
The priest said, "We don't offer Masses for dogs here. You might try the denomination down the street. Ask them if they might have a service for you". As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, "Too bad. I really loved that dog. I was planning to offer a million-dollar stipend for the Mass". And the priest said, "Wait a minute, you never told me your dog was Catholic". When you're caught up in labels, what value do these labels have, as far as the "I" is concerned? Could we say that "I" is none of the labels we attach to it? Labels belong to "me". What constantly changes is "me". Does "I" ever change? Does the observer ever change? The fact is that no matter what labels you think of (except perhaps human being) you should apply them to "me". "I" is none of these things. So when you step out of yourself and observe "me", you no longer identify with "me". Suffering exists in "me", so when you identify "I" with "me", suffering begins.
Say that you are afraid or desirous or anxious. When "I" does not identify with money, or name, or nationality, or persons, or friends, or any quality, the "I" is never threatened. It can be very active, but it isn't threatened. Think of anything that caused or is causing you pain or worry or anxiety. First, can you pick up the desire under that suffering, that there's something you desire very keenly or else you wouldn't be suffering. What is that desire? Second, it isn't simply a desire; there's an identification there. You have somehow said to yourself, "The well-being of 'I,' almost the existence of 'I,' is tied up with this desire". All suffering is caused by my identifying myself with something, whether that something is within me or outside of me.
NEGATIVE FEELINGS TOWARD OTHERS
At one of my conferences, someone made the following observation: "I want to share with you something wonderful that happened to me. I went to the movies and I was working shortly after that and I was really having trouble with three people in my life. So I said, 'All right, just like I learned at the movies, I'm going to come outside myself'. For a couple of hours, I got in touch with my feelings, with how badly I felt toward these three people.
I said, 'I really hate those people.' Then I said, 'Jesus, what can you do about all that?' A little while later I began to cry, because I realized that Jesus died for those very people and they couldn't help how they were, anyway. That afternoon I had to go to the office, where I spoke to those people. I told them what my problem was and they agreed with me. I wasn't mad at them and I didn't hate them anymore".
Anytime you have a negative feeling toward anyone, you're living in an illusion. There's something seriously wrong with you. You're not seeing reality. Something inside of you has to change. But what do we generally do when we have a negative feeling? "He is to blame, she is to blame. She's got to change". No! The world's all right. The one who has to change is YOU.
One of you told of working in an institution. During a staff meeting someone would inevitably say, "The food stinks around here", and the regular dietitian would go into orbit. She has identified with the food. She is saying, "Anyone who attacks the food attacks me; I feel threatened". But the "I" is never threatened; it's only the "me" that is threatened.
But suppose you witness some out-and-out injustice, something that is obviously and objectively wrong. Would it not be a proper reaction to say this should not be happening? Should you somehow want to involve yourself in correcting a situation that's wrong? Someone's injuring a child and you see abuse going on.
How about that kind of thing? I hope you did not assume that I was saying you shouldn't do anything. I said that if you didn't have negative feelings you'd be much more effective, MUCH more effective. Because when negative feelings come in, you go blind. "Me" steps into the picture, and everything gets fouled up. Where we had one problem on our hands before, now we have two problems. Many wrongly assume that not having negative feelings like anger and resentment and hate means that you do nothing about a situation.
Oh no, oh no! You are not affected emotionally but you spring into action. You become very sensitive to things and people around you. What kills the sensitivity is what many people would call the conditioned self: when you so identify with "me" that there's too much of "me" in it for you to see things objectively, with detachment. It's very important that when you swing into action, you be able to see things with detachment. But negative emotions prevent that.
What, then, would we call the kind of passion that motivates or activates energy into doing something about objective evils? Whatever it is, it is not a REACTION; it is action.
Some of you wonder if there is a gray area before something becomes an attachment, before identification sets in. Say a friend dies. It seems right and very human to feel some sadness about that. But what reaction? Self-pity? What would you be grieving about? Think about that. What I'm saying is going to sound terrible to you, but I told you, I'm coming from another world. Your reaction is PERSONAL loss, right? Feeling sorry for "me" or for other people your friend might have brought joy to.
But that means you're feeling sorry for other people who are feeling sorry for themselves. If they're not feeling sorry for themselves, what would they be feeling sorry for? We never feel grief when we lose something that we have allowed to be free, that we have never attempted to possess. Grief is a sign that I made my happiness depend on this thing or person, at least to some extent. We're so accustomed to hear the opposite of this that what I say sounds inhuman, doesn't it?
But it's what all the mystics in the past have been telling us. I'm not saying that "me", the conditioned-self, will not sometimes fall into its usual patterns. That's the way we've been conditioned. But it raises the question whether it is conceivable to live a life in which you would be so totally alone that you would depend on no one.
We all depend on one another for all kinds of things, don't we? We depend on the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Interdependence. That's fine! We set up society this way and we allot different functions to different people for the welfare of everyone, so that we will function better and live more effectively - at least we hope so. But to depend on another psychologically - to depend on another emotionally - what does that imply? It means to depend on another human being for my happiness.
Think about that. Because if you do, the next thing you will be doing, whether you're aware of it or not, is DEMANDING that other people contribute to your happiness. Then there will be a next step - fear, fear of loss, fear of alienation, fear of rejection, mutual control. Perfect love casts out fear. Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, but I do not cling.
I enjoy it on a non-clinging basis. What I really enjoy is not you; it's something that's greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn't stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I'm alone, it continues to play. There's a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.
That's what awakening is all about. That's also why we're hypnotized, brainwashed, asleep. It seems terrifying to ask, but can you be said to love me if you cling to me and will not let me go? If you will not let me be? Can you be said to love me if you need me psychologically or emotionally for your happiness? This flies in the face of the universal teaching of all the scriptures, of all religions, of all the mystics.
"How is it that we missed it for so many years"? I say to myself repeatedly "How come I didn't see it"? When you read those radical things in the scriptures, you begin to wonder: Is this man crazy? But after a while you begin to think everybody else is crazy. "Unless you hate your father and mother, brothers and sisters, unless you renounce and give up everything you possess, you cannot be my disciple".
You must drop it all. Not physical renunciation, you understand; that's easy. When your illusions drop, you're in touch with reality at last, and believe me, you will never again be lonely, never again. Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality. Oh, I have so much to say about that. Contact with reality, dropping one's illusions, making contact with the real.
Whatever it is, it has no name. We can only know it by dropping what is unreal. You can only know what aloneness is when you drop your clinging, when you drop your dependency. But the first step toward that is that you see it as desirable. If you don't see it as desirable, how will you get anywhere near it?
Think of the loneliness that is yours. Would human company ever take it away? It will only serve as a distraction. There's an emptiness inside, isn't there? And when the emptiness surfaces, what do you do? You run away, turn on the television, turn on the radio, read a book, search for human company, seek entertainment, seek distraction. Everybody does that. It's big business nowadays, an organized industry to distract us and entertain us.
HOW HAPPINESS HAPPENS
Come home to yourself. Observe yourself. That's why I said earlier that self-observation is such a delightful and extraordinary thing. After a while you don't have to make any effort, because, as illusions begin to crumble, you begin to know things that cannot be described. It's called happiness. Everything changes and you become addicted to awareness.
There's the story of the disciple who went to the master and said, "Could you give me a word of wisdom? Could you tell me something that would guide me through my days"? It was the master's day of silence, so he picked up a pad. It said, "Awareness". When the disciple saw it, he said, "This is too brief. Can you expand on it a bit"? So the master took back the pad and wrote, "Awareness, awareness, awareness". The disciple said, "Yes, but what does it mean"? The master took back the pad and wrote, "Awareness, awareness, awareness means -- awareness".
That's what it is to watch yourself. No one can show you how to do it, because he would be giving you a technique, he would be programming you. But watch yourself. When you talk to someone, are you aware of it or are you simply identifying with it? When you got angry with somebody, were you aware that you were angry or were you simply identifying with your anger? Later, when you had the time, did you study your experience and attempt to understand it?
Where did it come from? What brought it on? I don't know of any other way to awareness. You only change what you understand. What you do not understand and are not aware of, you repress. You don't change. But when you understand it, it changes. I am sometimes asked, "Is this growing in awareness a gradual thing, or is it a 'whammo' kind of thing"? There are some lucky people who see this in a flash. They just become aware. There are others who keep growing into it, slowly, gradually, increasingly. They begin to see things. Illusions drop away, fantasies are peeled away, and they start to get in touch with facts. There's no general rule.
There's a famous story about the lion who came upon a flock of sheep and to his amazement found a lion among the sheep. It was a lion who had been brought up by the sheep ever since he was a cub. It would bleat like a sheep and run around like a sheep. The lion went straight for him, and when the sheep lion stood in front of the real one, he trembled in every limb. And the lion said to him, "What are you doing among the sheep"? And the sheep-lion said, "I am a sheep". And the lion said, "Oh no you're not. You're coming with me". So he took the sheep-lion to a pool and said, "Look!" And when the sheep-lion looked at his reflection in the water, he let out a mighty roar, and in that moment he was transformed. He was never the same again.
If you're lucky and the gods are gracious or if you are gifted with divine grace (use any theological expression you want), you might suddenly understand who "I" is, and you will never be the same again, never. Nothing will ever be able to touch you again and no one will ever be able to hurt you again.You will fear no one and you will fear nothing. Isn't that extraordinary? You'll live like a king, like a queen. This is what it means to live like royalty. Not rubbish like getting your picture in the newspapers or having a lot of money. That's a lot of rot. You fear no one because you're perfectly content to be nobody. You don't give a damn about success or failure. They mean nothing. Honor, disgrace, they mean nothing! If you make a fool of yourself, that means nothing either.
Isn't that a wonderful state to be in! Some people arrive at this goal painstakingly, step by step, through months and weeks of self-awareness. But I'll promise you this: I have not known a single person who gave time to being aware who didn't see a difference in a matter of weeks. The quality of their life changes, so they don't have to take it on faith anymore. They see it; they're different. They react differently. In fact, they react less and act more. You see things you've never seen before.
You're much more energetic, much more alive. People think that if they had no cravings, they'd be like deadwood. But in fact they'd lose their tension. Get rid of your fear of failure, your tensions about succeeding, you will be yourself. Relaxed. You wouldn't be driving with your brakes on. That's what would happen.
There's a lovely saying of Tranxu, a great Chinese sage, that I took the trouble to learn by heart. It goes: "When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills; when he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous; when he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares! He thinks more of winning than of shooting, and the need to win drains him of power". Isn't that an image of what most people are? When you're living for nothing, you've got all your skills, you've got all your energy, you're relaxed, you don't care, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose.
Now there's HUMAN living for you. That's what life is all about. That can only come from awareness. And in awareness you will understand that honor doesn't mean a thing. It's a social convention, that's all. That's why the mystics and the prophets didn't bother one bit about it. Honor or disgrace meant nothing to them. They were living in another world, in the world of the awakened. Success or failure meant nothing to them. They had the attitude: "I'm an ass, you're an ass, so where's the problem"?
Someone once said, "The three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or intellectual achievements. They are, first, returning love for hate; second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong". But these are the easiest things in the world if you haven't identified with the "me". You can say things like "I'm wrong! If you knew me better, you'd see how often I'm wrong. What would you expect from an ass"?
But if I haven't identified with these aspects of "me", you can't hurt me. Initially, the old conditioning will kick in and you'll be depressed and anxious. You'll grieve, cry, and so on. "Before enlightenment, I used to be depressed: after enlightenment, 1 continue to be depressed". But there's a difference: I don't identify with it anymore. Do you know what a big difference that is?
You step outside of yourself and look at that depression, and don't identify with it. You don't do a thing to make it go away; you are perfectly willing to go on with your life while it passes through you and disappears. If you don't know what that means, you really have something to look forward to. And anxiety? There it comes and you're not troubled. How strange! You're anxious but you're not troubled.
Isn't that a paradox? And you're willing to let this cloud come in, because the more you fight it, the more power you give it. You're willing to observe it as it passes by. You can be happy in your anxiety. Isn't that crazy? You can be happy in your depression. But you can't have the wrong notion of happiness. Did you think happiness was excitement or thrills? That's what causes the depression. Didn't anyone tell you that? You're thrilled, all right, but you're just preparing the way for your next depression. You're thrilled but you pick up the anxiety behind that: How can I make it last? That's not happiness, that's addiction.
I wonder how many non-addicts there are reading this book? If you're anything like the average group, there are few, very few. Don't look down your nose at the alcoholics and the drug addicts: maybe you're just as addicted as they are. The first time I got a glimpse of this new world, it was terrifying. I understood what it meant to be alone, with nowhere to rest your head, to leave everyone free and be free yourself, to be special to no one and love everyone- because love does that. It shines on good and bad alike; it makes rain fall on saints and sinners alike.
Is it possible for the rose to say, "I will give my fragrance to the good people who smell me, but I will withhold it from the bad"? Or is it possible for the lamp to say, "I will give my light to the good people in this room, but I will withhold it from the evil people"? Or can a tree say, "I'll give my shade to the good people who rest under me, but I will withhold it from the bad"? These are images of what love is about.
It's been there all along, staring us in the face in the scriptures, though we never cared to see it because we were so drowned in what our culture calls love with its love songs and poems -- that isn't love at all, that's the opposite of love. That's desire and control and possessiveness. That's manipulation, and fear, and anxiety -- that's not love. We were told that happiness is a smooth complexion, a holiday resort. It isn't these things, but we have subtle ways of making our happiness depend on other things, both within us and outside us.
We say, "I refuse to be happy until my neurosis goes". I have good news for you: You can be happy right now, WITH the neurosis, You want even better news? There's only one reason why you're not experiencing what in India we call ANAND -- bliss, bliss. There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because you're thinking or focusing on what you don't have. Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss. You're focusing on what you don't have. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss. Jesus was talking horse sense to lay people, to starving people, to poor people. He was telling them good news: It's yours for the taking. But who listens? No one's interested, they'd rather be asleep.
FEAR - THE ROOT OF VIOLENCE
Some say that there are only two things in the world: God and Fear. Love and Fear are the only two things. There's only one evil in the world, Fear. There's only one good in the world, Love. It's sometimes called by other names. It's sometimes called happiness or freedom or peace or joy or God or whatever. But the label doesn't really matter. And there's not a single evil in the world that you cannot trace to fear. Not one.
Ignorance and fear, ignorance caused by fear, that's where all the evil comes from, that's where your violence comes from. The person who is truly nonviolent, who is incapable of violence, is the person who is fearless. It's only when you're afraid that you become angry. Think of the last time you were angry. Go ahead. Think of the last time you were angry and search for the fear behind it.
What were you afraid of losing? What were you afraid would be taken from you? That's where the anger comes from. Think of an angry person, maybe someone you're afraid of. Can you see how frightened he or she is? He's really frightened, he really is. She's really frightened or she wouldn't be angry. Ultimately, there are only two things, love and fear.
In this retreat I'd rather leave it like this, unstructured and moving from one thing to another and returning to themes again and again, because that's the way to really grasp what I'm saying. If it doesn't hit you the first time, it might the second time, and what doesn't hit one person might hit another. I've got different themes, but they are all about the same thing. Call it awareness, call it love, call it spirituality or freedom or awakening or whatever. It really is the same thing.
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