GUIDA SPIRITAULE - MAX EHRMANN AND THE DESIDERATA
HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE: "GO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE AND THE HASTE, AND REMEMBER WHAT PEACE THERE MAY BE IN SILENCE.
"AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT SURRENDER, BE ON GOOD TERMS WITH ALL PERSONS.
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH QUIETLY AND CLEARLY; AND LISTEN TO OTHERS, EVEN TO THE DULL AND THE IGNORANT; THEY TOO HAVE THEIR STORY."
WE ENTER TODAY into one of the most beautiful worlds, that of a small document called the DESIDERATA. It is strange because it has appeared many times and disappeared many times; hence nobody exactly knows who wrote it. Truth has the capacity to appear again and again; because of human stupidity it is lost again and again too.
The Desiderata seems to be one of the most ancient documents available today, but it is copyrighted by a poet, Max Ehrmann. In his book of poems it is also given as a poem authored by him, copyrighted in 1927 in America, although in the first edition he talks about the legend that this small document was discovered on a plaque installed in St. Paul's Church in Baltimore when built in 1692, but it was lost. There is no proof any more whether it was installed as a plaque in St. Paul's Church or not. The legend is there; it has persisted. It seems Max Ehrmann again had the vision of it. It came to him as a vision. He is not really its author but only a receptacle, a medium.
This has happened to many other documents too. It happened in the case of Blavatsky's THE VOICE OF SILENCE: she is known as the authoress of the book, but the book is very ancient. She discovered it in her meditations; it appeared to her.
Many parts of Friedrich Nietzsche's THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA are also very ancient, and the same is the case with Omar Khayyam's RUBAIYAT. Mabel Collins' Light on THE PATH IS of the same category, Kahlil Gibran's THE PROPHET also.
I have looked into all Max Ehrmann's poems but no other poem has the same quality, not even a single poem. If the Desiderata was written by him then many more poems of the same quality would have flowed. It has not happened. In fact, the DESIDERATA seems to be so different from all his poems that it is impossible to believe that it has come from the same person.
The same is true about Mabel Collins' LIGHT ON THE PATH. These are strange documents. The possibility is that they have always existed -- again and again lost visibly, but truth manifests itself.... Whenever there is a vulnerable soul, a receptive person, truth again starts flowing through him. And of course the person will think, "I am writing it."
It is because of this fact that the Upanishads have no names of authors; nobody knows who wrote them, because the people who received them were very alert and aware. There were mystics, not only poets.
This is the difference between the poet and the mystic: when something happens to the mystic he is perfectly aware that it is from the beyond, it is not from him. He is immensely glad; he rejoices that he has been chosen as a vehicle, as a medium, but his ego cannot claim it. In fact, you become a mystic only when you have dropped the ego. But the poet is full of the ego -- not always but ALMOST always. Once in a while, when he forgets his ego, he touches the same world that is the mystic's world. But the mystic lives there; the poet once in a while gets a glimpse of it. And because his ego is not dead he immediately claims it as creation. But all the ancient seers were aware of it.
The Vedas, the Bible, the Koran, the three greatest scriptures of the world, are known not to have been written by anyone. The Vedas are known as APAURUSHEYA -- not written by any person. Certainly somebody wrote them, but they are from God, from the beyond, from some unknown source. The mystic becomes possessed by it, he dances to its tune. He is no more himself -- he is it. The poet once in a while gets a glimpse of it, a faraway glimpse.
In Sanskrit we have two words for the poet; in no other language is it so, because no other part of the world became alert, very alert about this fact. In Sanskrit one word IS KAVI; KAVI EXActly means the poet. The other word is rishi, rishi means a mystic poet. The difference is great. The poet has a deep aesthetic sense, he is very sensitive; he can penetrate into the very core of things. He has a way of knowing which is not that of the scientist. He does not analyze, he loves; his love is great, but his ego is alive. So when he looks at a roseflower he comes closer than the scientist, because the scientist immediately starts dissecting the flower, and to dissect something is to kin it. The very effort of knowing is an effort to kill.
Hence whatsoever science knows is about dead things. Now even scientists are becoming aware of the fact. When blood is taken out of your body and is examined, analyzed, it is no more the same blood as it was when it was circulating in your body. Then it was alive; then it was an organic part of your life. Now it is not the same. It is like your hand, or your eye; when it is part of the organic unity of your body it can see, but take the eye out -- it is dead, it cannot see. It is no more alive, it is something else: it is a corpse.
The greatest scientists are becoming aware of the fact that whatsoever we have known up to now is basically, fundamentally wrong. We know about dead things only; the alive things we miss. That's why science cannot say there is something in you which is beyond the body, more than the body. Science cannot say that you are more than the sum total of your parts, and unless you are something more than the sum total of your parts you are not. Then you are only a machine -- maybe very sophisticated but that does not matter. You are a computer, you don't have a soul; you are just a by-product, an epiphenomenon. You don't have any awareness; you are only behavior.
Science reduces man to a machine -- not only to an animal, remember. Those days are gone when science used to think, like Charles Darwin and others, that man is nothing but another animal. Now Skinner, Delgado, Pavlov, don't say that, that man is another animal -- because there is no anima, no life, no consciousness -- they say man is another machine.
Religion says man is more than the body, more than the mind, but science cannot believe it because of its very methodology. The way it tries to know things prohibits it from going deeper than the material, than the dead.
Hence the poet reached closer than the scientist. The poet does not dissect the flower, he fails in love. He is immensely glad, he rejoices in the flower, ant out of that rejoicing a song is born. But he is still far away from the mystic, the rishi. The mystic becomes one with the flower. The observer becomes the observed; there is no distinction left.
It happened once:
Ramakrishna was crossing the Ganges in a small boat with a few of his disciples. Suddenly in the middle of the river he started shouting, "Why are you beating me?"
The disciples were puzzled. They said, "Paramahansa Deva, what are you saying? We, and beating you?!"
And Ramakrishna said, "Look!" He uncovered his back and there were marks on it as if somebody had beaten him badly with a stick. Blood was oozing out.
The disciples were puzzled what had happened? And then Ramakrishna pointed to the other shore: a few people were beating a person. When they reached the other shore they went to the person, they uncovered his back -- and the marks were exactly the same as on Ramarishna's back! Without any difference, exactly the same! Ramakrishna became one with the person who was being beaten. He was not an observer, he was not separate; he became one with the observed.
This is the meaning of the English word "empathy." Sympathy the poet Knows, empathy the mystic knows. When the mystic sings it is a totally different flavor, a different beauty, because it is not a faraway glimpse of the truth -- he is inside the truth, at the very core of it.
But there are many things to be understood. The mystic may not be able to sing at all, because he becomes so one with the truth that he may forget to sing the song. It has happened to many mystics -- they have never said anything. It is like if you ask sugar: the sugar may not be able to know that it is sweet; a little difference is needed to know the sweetness of the sugar. The mystic becomes the sugar.
Once in a while the mystic is also a poet; that is a coincidence. Whenever it happens -- as in the case of Lao Tzu, Zarathustra, Mohammed -- then we have something of the beyond available to us. But a mystic is not necessarily a poet; to be a poet is a different talent. One can be a mystic without being a poet, one can be a poet without being a mystic.
When a mystic is a poet an Upanishad is born, a Srimad Bhagavad Gita is born, a Koran comes to the earth. But it is not always so. So many times it happens that the truth has to find the way through the poet because the mystic is not available.
That's what happened with this small document, the DESIDERATA. No mystic seems to be available who can sing this song; hence Max Ehrmann is chosen to be a vehicle -- but he is an unconscious person. He thinks he is writing a poem of his own; it is not his own, it has nobody's signature on it. And as you enter into this small document you will understand: it cannot be from a poet. It has the same quality as the Koran, the same quality as the Upanishads.
It is also a strange document because in such a small space it says so much. It is really made of sutras -- just a few hints. Nothing is said very solidly: just a few hints, fingers pointing to the moon. It is so small that after Adlai Stevenson's death in 1965 it was discovered that he had intended to send out the DESIDERATA as a Christmas card to his friends. It can be printed on a small card, a postcard, but it contains infinity -- a dewdrop that contains all the oceans.
It can be of immense help to you on the path; hence I call it GUIDA SPIRITUALE. It begins:
HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE...
Jesus used to say to his disciples again and again: If you have ears, hear. If you have eyes, see. He says it so many times, as if he was not seeing people as having ears and eyes. And that's my experience too: you ALL have eyes, but very few people are capable of seeing; you ALL have ears, but it is rare, very rare, to come across a person who is capable of hearing -- because just to hear the words is not hearing and just to see figures is not seeing. Unless you see the meaning, the content, unless you hear the silence which is the soul of the words, you have not heard.
One has to listen in deep silence, in deep AGNOSIA. Remember Dionysius' word AGNOSIA: a state of not-knowing. If you know, your very knowledge is a disturbance; you cannot hear. That's why pundits, scholars, are incapable of hearing: they are too full of rubbish. Their minds are continuously chattering inside; Maybe they are reciting SHASTRAS, scriptures, but that makes no difference; what is going on inside is of no-value.
Unless you are absolutely silent, not even a thought stirring inside, not even a small ripple in the lake of consciousness, you will not be able to hear. And if you cannot hear, then whatsoever you think you hear is going to be wrong.
That's how Jesus was misunderstood, Socrates was misunderstood, Buddha was misunderstood. They were speaking very clearly. It is impossible to improve upon the statements on Socrates; his statements are very clear, almost perfect, as near perfect as language can be. Buddha's statements are very simple; there is no complexity in them, but still misunderstanding arises.
From where does all this misunderstanding come? Why have all the great prophets, TEERTHANKARAS, all the great enlightened Masters been misunderstood down the ages? -- for the simple reason that people cannot hear. They have ears, hence they believe they are capable of hearing. They are not deaf, they have the instrument to hear, but behind their ears there is so much noise and their minds are standing behind their ears to interpret what is being said, to compare, to analyze, to argue, to doubt -- they get lost in all the processes.
Just a small word, and watch your mind, what happens -- not even a word, just a sound. This airplane passing by... and watch your mind. You cannot hear it simply; you start thinking of many things. Maybe you are reminded of your own journeys, some friend who died in a plane crash. somebody you loved very much, and all the memories associated with the person... and you have gone far away into the memories. And one thing leads to another -- you are no more herenow. You have not heard THE plane passing by. This plane simply triggered a process in you -- of thought, of memories, of desires. Maybe suddenly you thought, "It would be nice if I had a plane of my own!" Or maybe you simply thought, "What a distraction! This noise is a disturbance. I was listening so silently, and here comes this stupid airplane!"
It is not the airplane that is disturbing you; it is your own mind which is calling it stupid, a distraction, a disturbance. If you don't call it anything, nothing is disturbed. If you simply hear the noise you will be surprised: it deepens your silence; it is not a distraction at all. When it passes by you fall into a deeper valley of silence than you were in before.
Hence the first word of the DESIDERATA:
HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE...
A strange beginning, particularly from a Western poet, from an American poet. This is how all the Eastern sutras begin. Just a little difference is there, and that seems to be because of the Western medium. He has not been able to relate exactly what was happening in his innermost being.
All the great Eastern sutras begin with NOW. "ATHATO brahma jigyasa" -- the Brahma Sutras begin this way: "Now the enquiry into the ultimate" -- not THEN but NOW. The Bhakti Sutras of Narada begin: "ATHATO BHAKTIJIGYASA -- now the enquiry into the universe of devotion." It is never then, it is always now. In fact THEN does not exist, only NOW exists.
THERE does not exist, only only here exists. You will never find THERE and THEN anywhere. Wherever you go you will always .find NOW and HERE. If it had come through a mystic there would have been no THEN, there would have been NOW.
HEAR NOW THE WISDOM OF THE WISE....
And that makes more sense. But the logical mind functions in a different way, and when you use a logical mind as a vehicle it interpolates something of its own: THEN, THEREFORE..... NOW is is never part of the logical mind, now is part of the meditative mind. And Ehrmann is not a meditator, is not a mystic, hence he has missed with that word. He says:
HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE....
Just change THEN to NOW and see how the quality becomes totally different: HEAR now the wisdom OF THE WISE.. . because except now there is no time and except here there is no space. THEN and THERE are part of our noisy mind. When the noise ceases and the mind is put aside, what is left? -- just herenow.
Swami Ramtirtha used to ten a beautiful story:
There was a very great atheist and he was continuously talking against God. He had written on the wall of his drawing-room in big golden letters: "God is nowhere." And then a child was born to him, and one day he was playing with the child and the child was learning language. He was not capable OF reading such a big word -- "no-where" -- so he divided it in two. The child read the sentence: "God is now-here." "Nowhere" was too big a word; he divided it in two: "now-here."
It must have been a rare moment for the atheist. In fact, when you are playing with a child you forget your seriousness, you forget your ideologies, you forget your religion, you forget your philosophy, you forget your theology. When you are playing with a child, something of meditativeness happens to you, hence playing with children is of great value. Playing with a child, for a moment you become a child. And remember Jesus' saying again and again: Unless you are like small children you will not enter into my kingdom of God.
In that moment something happened. The child said, "God is now-here," and the father was taken unawares. He heard it and he was in a playful mood with the child. And you cannot argue with a small child by saying, "There is no God." And because he was playful, silent, enjoying, the statement from the child became something of tremendous importance, became very pregnant, as if God had spoken through him.
He looked at the wall for the first time. His whole life he had been looking at that sentence. It was never: "God is now-here." It was always: "God is nowhere." He had never conceived that "nowhere" could be divided into "now-here," that "nowhere" consists of "now-here." He was transformed. It became almost a satori. He was no more an atheist.
People were puzzled. They could not believe what had happened because he had been so argumentative and he had had so many proofs against God. "What has happened?" And when they asked him he would shrug his shoulders. He would say, "I can also understand why you look so puzzled. I myself am puzzled. Ask this child -- he has done something. Hearing this sentence from him, something has changed in me. Looking into the eyes of the child, something has been transformed in me. And it is not only that logically I am a different person, I am existentially different too. Since then I have been seeing God now-here: in the wind passing through the trees, in the rain falling on the roof, I hear his footsteps, I hear his song. The birds sing, and I am reminded God is now-here. The sun rises, and I am reminded God is now-here. Now it is no more question of argumentation, it has become something of my experience.
But mind is always going somewhere else. It is never now-here; it is always then-there. Mind exists only in THEN and there. That's why Max Ehrmann has missed. He says: HEAR THEN... THEN looks more logical, but it is not existential. Now is existential, although very illogical -- because you cannot catch hold of NOW with logic. The moment you think you have caught hold OF it, it is already gone, it is already past. You can be in the now, but you cannot try to understand, to know NOW. By the time you try to continuously.
Heraclitus says: You cannot step in the same river twice. And I say to you: You cannot step in the same river even once because when your foot touches the surface of the river, the water underneath is rushing by. By the moment you touch a little deeper it is different water: the surface is rushing by. By the time you reach to the rock bottom of the river so much water has flowed by, you have not touched the same water even once!
And such is life: except change, nothing is permanent. Only change is eternal. It looks paradoxical, that's why I say it is illogical.
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HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE...
A STRANGE STATEMENT. in fact: THE WISDOM OF THE WISE...? Seems to be tautological. Of course, wisdom can be only of the wise. What is the point of repeating it? Why say "wisdom of the wise"? Can wisdom be of the unwise too? But there is a very subtle point to be understood: because there are so many knowledgeable people in the world and the knowledgeable person appears almost as if he is wise, and he is not. He speaks in the same way. The scholar who has studied the Srimad Bhagavad Gita his whole life speaks the same language as Krishna, but when Krishna speaks it, it is the wisdom of the wise, and when the scholar, the pundit speaks, it is not the wisdom of the wise, it is the wisdom of the unwise. It is mere knowledge; it is not even wisdom. How can it be wisdom?
Remember the distinction between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is a pseudo coin. Knowledge is easy; it can be borrowed from anybody. You can go to the university, to the library, you can ask the knowledgeable people, and you can accumulate it. It is very cheap. You need not go through any transformation, you need not be reborn for it. You will remain as you are, and knowledge can be accumulated. It will be added to you, but it will not be of any value because you will remain the same. In fact, it can even be dangerous. It will deceive others; they will think you know. And if many people think you know, you can fall into a self-deception. You can also start thinking, "How can so many people be wrong? If they think I know, I must know."
I have heard a story:
A journalist died and reached heaven. St. Peter opened the door and told the journalist, "Please, our quota for journalists is fun. We have only twelve journalists in heaven, not more than that. Even those twelve are almost always unemployed, because there is no news. Nothing happens!"
What will happen in heaven? No riot, no rape, no politicians, no toppling of governments, no divorces, no murder. Nothing happens there! George Bernard Shaw has defined news as: If a dog bites a man it is not news, but if a man bites the dog then it is news. Now in heaven who is going to bite the dog and for what? In the first place where will you find a dog in heaven? And to find the person who will bite the dog will be almost impossible. So there is no newspaper there, or maybe just empty sheets distributed early in the morning, and saints sit and look at the empty paper and feel very happy that nothing has happened -- good. Nothing is always better than something.
So St. Peter said, "You please go to hell. There are thousands of journalists and hundreds of newspapers, and there is so much news!"
But the journalist was adamant, as journalists tend to be. He said, "No. You give me at least twenty-four hours' time, please. And if I can convince one journalist to go to hell then one place will be vacant, that you can give to me. Just twenty-four hours' time, otherwise I will go to hell."
St. Peter saw the logic of it and he said, "Okay, you can try."
And the journalist tried. And journalists are experts in lying. Truth is not their business, truth cannot be their business, because truth is so simple and so plain. You cannot make any story out of it; there is nothing much in it. It is simply so. Lies are very complicated and you can make many stories out of them, and you can go on making stones from one story to another. But in the foundation you need a lie, not truth.
The whole art of journalism is the art of Lying in such a way that people think it is true. So he was an expert. He started spreading a rumor. The moment he entered he started saying to people, "Have you heard that a new newspaper, a very big project, is being started in hell? The chief editor is needed with a great salary and all facilities. Assistant editors are needed, news reporters are needed." And he spread so much rumor around in twenty-four hours' time that when he came back to the door to ask St. Peter, "Has any journalist left for hell?" St. Peter closed the door and said, "You get in! Now you cannot get out. All the twelve have escaped! Ant we should have at least one journalist in case something some time happens. So now I cannot allow you out."
The journalist was mad. He said, "This is not right! This is not according to our contract; I had asked only for twenty-four hours. I want to go to hell!"
St. Peter said, "Why? For what? -- because you spread the rumor. It was all Lying! You invented it!"
He said, "Yes, I invented it -- but there must be something in it when twelve journalists have believed it. There must be something in it! It may be a coincidence that I invented it and there really is going to be the beginning of a big newspaper. I cannot stay here! When twelve people have believed it... a great doubt has arisen in me. Maybe it was not a lie at all."
This you can experience in your own life. Start telling a lie to a few people and when they start believing it you will be surprised that slowly slowly you are believing it too. Hence I say that many people live in lies knowing perfectly well that they are lies, but just because so many people believe... how can so many people be wrong?
Once George Bernard Shaw said something and then he argued against it. He was a beautiful man; in many ways his insights were great. He used to say that science is all wrong. The earth does not go around the sun -- the sun goes around the earth. And he was telling this to a friend.
The friend said, "What nonsense are you talking? What proof have you got? Now science has proved it completely and I cannot believe a man like you -- so intelligent, so contemporary -- believing in such nonsense, that the sun goes around the earth?''
Bernard Shaw said, "Yes, the sun goes around the earth. It has to, because Bernard Shaw lives on the earth! MY earth cannot go around the sun."
The man said, "But now almost the whole world, so many people, millions of people, believe that the earth goes around the sun."
Bernard Shaw said, "When so many people believe in a thing I always suspect it must be a lie. Otherwise, how can so many people believe in it?"
Truth has always been in the possession of very rare people. Only once in a while is there a person who has truth; otherwise the masses live in lies, all kinds of lies. But if they have been propagated for centuries they become truth.
Adolf Hitler says in his book MEIN KAMPF that the difference between a truth and a lie is only that of time, nothing else. The truth is a lie which has been propagated for a long time; the lie is a new truth which will become a truth finally if somebody goes on propagating it.
You believe in hell -- have you ever thought it is a lie? you believe in heaven -- have you ever thought it is a lie? You believe in a thousand and one things without ever giving it a thought that they may be lies, only lies given by others to you. Authoritative people have given them to you so you believe them -- your parents, your teachers, your priests, authoritative people, those who have power. Such people cannot lie. In fact, such people ALWAYS lie! Their whole POWER depends on lying. Truth is humble, not powerful. Lies become very powerful; very competitive they are. Lies are an politicians struggling, fighting, trying to prove that "I am the truth."
Knowledge is nothing but lies you have collected from others. Remember, unless something is of your own experience it is a lie. Truth has to be your own authentic experience.
Buddha says, "Don't believe because I say so; believe only when you know. Don't believe because it is written in the scriptures; believe it only when you know."
And I say to you, too, if you are a real seeker of truth you will not believe in knowledge. Knowledge is very superficial. One can talk about God without knowing anything of God, without ever tasting anything of God. One can talk about love without ever knowing through experience what love is. Even a blind man can talk about light and can explain to you the whole physics of light; that does not mean that he is not blind -- he is still blind. And these scholars and pundits, ayatollahs, IMAMS, popes, they are all knowledgeable people. They PRETEND to be wise -- they are not wise.
Unless one is fully awakened, unless one's whole being becomes awareness, unless all darkness, all unconsciousness disappears, you are not wise. Knowledge is information, wisdom is transformation. Hence it is meaningful:
HEAR THEN THE WISDOM OF THE WISE... not of the knowledgeable: "GO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE AND THE HASTE, AND REMEMBER WHAT PEACE THERE MAY BE IN SILENCE."
A very significant sutra. This is how the seeker of truth begins his journey. The first thing is: Go PLACIDLY... don't make much fuss. Go peacefully... don't create much dust. There is no need.
Sufis say, if you really want to pray, pray in such a way that nobody knows that you are a man of prayer. In the middle of the night when even your wife is snoring, sit silently in the bed and pray, and so silently that nobody comes to know..Don't make a fuss.
The real man of prayer hides and prays, and the pseudo makes much noise about it. In fact, his prayer is nothing but noise; he goes to the temple shouting. In India every temple has a big bell; he rings the bell so the whole neighborhood knows. And if there are many people in the temple, then his prayer becomes very long; if there is nobody he finishes quickly. What is the point? -- there is nobody to see. If there is a photographer, then see how prayerful he is, how his face becomes divine! If the news reporters are there then he will do REAL prayer. You will see his humbleness, his simplicity. He will fall down on the ground, he will roll on the ground, he will cry and weep -- and all are crocodile tears, because when nobody is there he does not care a bit.
I have heard about a man who used to say a prayer every night to God, just one word. He would look at the sky and say, "Ditto!" and cover himself under his blanket and go to sleep. What is the point of repeating the same thing again and again? Isn't God intelligent enough to understand "ditto"? Once some time he had prayed; now what is the point of repeating it again and again, the same prayer? And God knows it anyway. Just to remind him that "I am praying" he says "Ditto."
Sufis say, pray in such a way that nobody knows. Why? For the simple reason that ego is very cunning. It wants to brag; it wants to brag even about religion, about spirituality, about prayer, about meditation. It wants to brag; it does not matter what it brags about. It will brag about money, it will brag about meditation, it will brag about power, it will brag about prayer. The ego wants to brag: "I am doing something special, something great, something extraordinary. Don't think that I am nobody -- I am somebody!"
"GO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE AND THE HASTE..."
The world is fun of noise and haste. Why is the world so full of noise? -- because each mind is noisy, and the world consists of minds; hence there is so much noise. The whole world has become almost a madhouse. Everybody is shouting and nobody is hearing. Everybody is talking almost to himself; the other is only an excuse.
One psychologist was observing two of his patients; both were professors of philosophy. And because they were both friends and hat gone mad they were put in a single cell in the madhouse, and the psychologist was watching them. He was very much puzzled. The most puzzling thing was that although they were absolutely insane, about one thing they were very sane: when one was talking the other would remain silent; when the other would start speaking the first would be silent. This is strange -- two madmen! Why should they bother whether the other is silent or not, whether he is talking or not? So he enquired.
He said, "I am very much puzzled. Why when one talks does the other become silent?"
They said, "We know how to converse. That's how we used to do it when we were thought to be sane -- just old habit." "It is not really that I am silent," one man said. "Just on the surface I have to be silent because I know the rules and regulations of conversation. Inside I am chattering, talking, waiting for the right opportunity when this fool stops, waiting for the right moment when he says something which I can use as an excuse and start on what I want to say to him."
In fact, that's what you all are doing. Just look at your conversations: when the other is talking you are simply pretending to listen, just pretending to listen. Inside you are working on your own. And then you will find a word, a sentence, a statement that you can use as a jumping-board, and then you start talking. Your talking is nothing to do with what he has said; it has a connection with what was going on inside you, it is a continuum inside you; he is just an excuse.
That's why people never agree, because they never HEAR. Husbands never hear what the wife is saying, wives never hear what the husband is saying, children never hear what the parents are saying. Nobody hears! Everybody at the most pretends. The world is full of noise because the world is full of insane minds.
The world can be really silent only when there are many many meditators. Only when the world consists of a great majority of meditators will there be a profound silence, an almost tangible silence. You can touch it, you can taste it, you can smell its perfume.
We are living out of noise and everybody is in a hurry. There is great haste, everybody is rushing. Nobody knows where, nobody knows why -- just a deep restlessness. You can't sit; if you sit, others won't allow you. They will say, "Don't just sit there, do something!" And I say to you, "Don't just do something, sit there!" Nothing is better than something. But people say just the opposite; they say, "Something is better than nothing. Do something!"
One woman was saying to another woman, "I have heard that your son has become a Rajneeshee. He meditates?"
The other woman said, "It's better than doing nothing."
Now the poor woman does not know what meditation is. Meditation means doing nothing! That's what I teach here: doing nothing, just sitting there, just being.
Why is there this hurry? Are you really trying to reach somewhere? Are you conscious about the goal, the target?
One pilot said to the passengers, "All our engines are okay, the plane is functioning perfectly well. There is only one bad piece of news, otherwise everything is good. The bad news is that we have lost contact with the earth so we don't know where we are and we don't know where we are going. The good news is that we are going with full speed!"
Everybody is going with full speed; that is the good news. Who cares? Who has time to think about where he is going? When you see the whole world rushing, you start rushing. We force children to run. That's what our whole educational system is meant for, from the primary school to the university. Twenty-five years we waste on every person -- almost one-third of the life to teach him to rush. Then twenty-four hours in his day it is rush hour! He is never anywhere for a single moment. He cannot see the beauty of the trees because he cannot sit underneath the trees -- Buddha must have known the beauty of the trees -- he cannot see the beauty of the stars, he cannot see the beauty of people. In fact, when he is in Kabul he is rushing to Katmandu, when he is in Katmandu he is rushing to Poona, when he is in Poona he is rushing to Goa! He is never where he is; his mind is always ahead of him, planning how to reach there. And if you ask him, "For what?" he will say, "We will enjoy!" And he is not enjoying this moment -- how can he enjoy any other moment? He has lost all capacity to enjoy herenow; his only enjoyment is planning, always planning, planning to enjoy.
There are people who are working their whole lives just waiting for their retirement; then they will relax and enjoy. And they know perfectly well: six days they work in the office and wait for the seventh day, the holiday, and hop, "Soon Sunday will come and we will relax and enjoy." And they cannot relax and they cannot enjoy. In fact, the holiday seems to be so long and so boring; they have to fill it with something.
They go for a picnic. The same things that they would have eaten at home, relaxedly, now they rush towards a picnic spot miles away to eat. And they are sitting in the grass, and ants are very clever; they know perfectly well where the picnic spots are. Their astrologers tell them, "Go ahead, that is the place!" And the mosquitoes, they are always there waiting for you. They say, "Hello, so you have come!" And then quickly people finish because they have to reach home, and they rush. And cars are going there bumper to bumper. And many more accidents happen on Sunday than on any other day, many more deaths on the road than on any other day. Strange! Some holiday!
And the whole city is going towards the same picnic spot, the same beach! I have seen pictures of beaches and I cannot believe what is happening. There is not even space to walk! They are packed -- no marketplace is so packed! And all kinds of fools are there. Six hours it takes them to reach the beach, then for one hour they lie down amidst this whole mass of fools under the sun, and then back home... And the whole way they were quarrelling with the wife and the wife is quarrelling with... This you can do at home more at ease, relaxed in an armchair -- nag each other, do whatsoever you want! What is the point of going to the beach? Nobody is seeing the sea, nobody is seeing the sun. Nobody has time.
And these same people think that when they are retired they will rest -- they cannot. Sixty years of habits, how can you drop them? Impossible. They have become so deep-rooted that people suffer more when they are retired than they have ever suffered, because nobody knows how to rest, how to relax. This is sheer madness!
And these people go on saying beautiful things. They say, "Time is money." They have beautiful proverbs to drive you crazy: "Time is money, so save time." And everybody is always looking at his watch -- as if they are missing something. They have to reach somewhere, and there too they will do the same thing. If the train is five minutes late everybody is complaining, all are angry.
I had been traveling for twenty years all over this country and I was puzzled. Just if the train is one hour late, everybody is so angry and condemning the government and the society and everything. Why can't you rest? If the train is one hour late it is a great opportunity. One hour is yours! -- you can relax. You have at least one excuse: "The train is late, what to do? So I rested, relaxed." But no, they cannot; they become more and more boiled up. They start spitting fire.
And these same people when they reach home will sit before the idiot body -- TV -- for five hours. The average American is doing that for five hours per day. There is a great danger for America through this idiot box. If you look at an idiot box for five hours it has a hypnotic effect -- you are bound to become idiotic! And only an idiot can look at a box for five hours. And they are glued to their chairs; they cannot get up. I have heard they will take their food just sitting before the TV. Not only that -- they will even make love just before the TV so they can do both the things, making love and watching the TV, because something may be missed!
Now these idiots are in the majority. And they will play cards and if you ask why they will say, "Killing time." One minute the train is late and they are angry, and then what do they do with the saved time? They kill it! Going to the movie, killing time... sometimes going to see the same picture again! Stupidity seems to be infinite. Now what are you going for? The same picture again? But the time has to be killed.
They will go to the Rotary Club, to the I,ions Club. And all these clubs exist for people to kill time, to meet the same fools, to say the same foolish things, to gossip about the same old nonsense -- to kill time. They will go to the restaurants, to the hotels, to the parties -- to kill time.
And look at their faces -- they are bored everywhere. Whatsoever they are doing they are bored, obviously, because they are not into it. They are trying somehow to finish it to save time, And then they have to kill time. Killing time, saving time, killing time, saving time.... The whole life is gone! And you come empty-handed into the world and you go empty-handed.
"GO PLACIDLY AMID THE NOISE AND THE HASTE, AND REMEMBER WHAT PEACE THERE MAY BE IN SILENCE."
The only thing worth remembering again and again is: WHAT PEACE THERE MAY BE IN SILENCE. Give a little time, energy, to silent moments, because only in silent moments will you know what peace is. And the person who has tasted something of peace is rich, is immensely rich -- all others are beggars -- because he starts knowing the inner kingdom of God. Peace is the door to the inner kingdom of God. Silence helps you to know peace and peace leads you into God.
"AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT SURRENDER, BE ON GOOD TERMS WITH ALL PERSONS."
Just to avoid unnecessary troubles.
"AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT SURRENDER..."
DON'T COMPROMISE. don t surrender to people. That s why the DESIDERATA says AS FAR AS POSSIBLE -- without any compromise -- because if you compromise with the mass mind you will never be able to become that which you ARE HERE to become. You will remain un-grownup, you will remain retarded. You will never come to a flowering, you will never know fruitfulness. Your life will be barren, uncreative.
"AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT SURRENDER..."
So two things have to be remembered. Don't surrender to the mass mind; but that does not mean continuously fight with people, that everything has to be argued about because if you do that then you will be wasting your time in that.
Be exactly in the middle. Without compromising, avoid unnecessary quarrels. BE ON GOOD TERMS WITH ALL PERSONS, AS FAR AS POSSIBLE without selling your soul, without compromising on any ground, without surrendering at all. But there are many things which can be avoided. In fact, ninety-nine percent of the problems which create fighting, argument, can be avoided.
The child asks you, "Daddy, can I go out and play?" and the immediate response of almost all daddies is "No!" Now the quarrel starts. And all children know how great your patience is. They will tramp their feet in front of you, they will go into a tantrum, they will cry, they will start throwing their toys, tearing their books. And then finally you will say, "Go OUT and play!" This you could have done before, you could have said yes, because there was nothing wrong. But somehow our whole upbringing is quarrelsome, argumentative.
The wife says, "We should go to this movie," and the husband immediately says, "No, that is not worth going to. We should go to another." And the husband knows perfectly well, the wife knows perfectly well, that when the wife has spoken she HAS spoken -- it has to be done. But now before it is to be done there will be a few hours' argumentation, nagging, and a thousand other things will come up which could have been avoided. And finally you will see the husband following the wife to the same movie, just hiding his tail between his legs, following the wife. Now you are going to the same movie, so what was the whole fuss about?
It seems we never learn anything. Just watch and you will be able to cut out many unessential things in your life. The word "desiderata" is beautiful: it means the essentials.
Mahavira has said that the most fundamental quality needed by the seeker is to know what is essential and what is non-essential. He calls it VIVEK -- discrimination -- because if you don't know what is essential and what is non-essential you may be lost into the non-essential, because the non-essential is ninety-nine percent and the essential is only one percent. The non-essential is a vast, thick jungle; once you get lost into it you may never find the essential. And people get in every way entangled with the non-essential.
Just watch how many things can be avoided without compromising, then avoid them; how many words can be avoided without any trouble, then avoid them, because each single word uttered may bring some trouble for you. In fact, except words, what brings trouble to you?
You say something and the wife jumps up, and she says, "Why did you say this?" And you go on explaining, "I didn't mean that," and now it is impossible to come to a conclusion. Soon there will be a banging of the doors and throwing of the pots and pillows. And you simply uttered a word which could have been kept inside; there was no need to utter it. Just a single word can cause so much trouble which was not essential at all. If it is essential utter it, say it; otherwise, avoid it.
"SPEAK YOUR TRUTH QUIETLY AND CLEARLY; AND LISTEN TO OTHERS, EVEN TO THE DULL AND THE IGNORANT; THEY TOO HAVE THEIR STORY."
The man who is in search of truth learns listening not only to the wise; he learns listening even to the unwise -- or the otherwise -- because everybody has a story to tell and everybody has passed through a life, and something of his life may be of tremendous help to you, may give you an insight.
It is easier to have an insight into your own life watching others because others are like mirrors. Every other person is a walking mirror around you. If you are capable of listening you will see some of your own qualities reflected in them which you were not aware of directly, but via the other you become immediately aware. You can see the stupidity of the other person more easily than your own stupidity. But seeing his stupidity you will become aware that "These are the things I have been doing myself. This is the foolishness that I go on and on doing myself."
When somebody else is angry you say he is insane. It is easy to see that he is insane; it is a momentary insanity. But how many times do you get angry? But then you are so much involved in the anger you cannot watch it. Watching others is a way of watching yourself, and it is easier because you are not involved.
That's why a very strange thing becomes possible: the psychotherapist can help his patient but he cannot help himself, because he can see the faults of the patient very easily but he cannot see his own faults. He can give good advice to the patient; he may not be able to follow that advice himself.
You can watch it. Everybody is a good adviser to others; when it comes to his own life he is as much a fool as anybody else. Much can be learned by observing, by listening, by seeing, even from those who are ignorant -- because you are also ignorant -- even from those who are dull -- because you are also not very intelligent. And this will be the beginning of intelligence, the beginning of wisdom.
The intelligent person is one who learns from every opportunity, who never misses a single opportunity to learn something, who makes his whole life a school, a learning, a discipline, a search, an enquiry.
But remember not to compromise, not to surrender. As far as the essential is concerned, beware. Even if you have to risk your life, risk it, but don't surrender as far as the essential is concerned. And as far as the non-essential is concerned, don't even waste a single moment on it -- agree.
This was one of the agreements between me and my father. When I was a very small child I told him, "Listen, I will agree to every non-essential thing. You can tell me what clothes to wear, what shoes to wear; what to eat, what not to eat, you can tell me. But as far as any essential is concerned, beware -- I am not going to agree to it."
And slowly he watched and he was convinced, because whenever it was a non-essential thing I was always ready to agree with him. He would say, "Go to this college, not to that," so, "Okay, because to me each college is like any other college -- they are all stupid so it doesn't matter. I will go to this college." "Study this subject." "Okay, because what does it matter? -- economics or politics or history or geography or philosophy or psychology, anything will do.
But as far as any essential is concerned I told him, "This is an essential point, I will not agree with you, so you better not say anything about it because that will be an unnecessary misery for you."
When, I came back from the university it was a natural thing to ask whether I wanted to get married or not. I to1d him, "This is an essential," and that was the last time he enquired about it; then he never enquired again. "If it is an essential then you have to leave it to me -- I will not compromise. I will not compromise at any cost." He never asked again; he kept his contract. "For non-essentials," I told him, "you can ten me anything -- I will do it."
Any fool would come into the house and he would say, "Touch his feet," and I would, because he was an old fool, an old relation: "Okay, it doesn't matter, it is just an exercise."
Once you become very clear about what is essential and what is non-essential, things are never so confusing as they seem. You go on fighting for non-essentials, wasting your energy and others' energy, and then when the question of the essential arises you don't have any energy to fight. And then sometimes you have to compromise on the essential.
This has been my approach:
"AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, WITHOUT SURRENDER, BE ON GOOD TERMS WITH ALL PERSONS."
But AS FAR AS POSSIBLE... That does not mean that I have to be absolutely on good terms. I am on good terms with everybody, but AS FAR AS POSSIBLE. Whenever the question of the essential arises, then it is not a question of being good or bad, it is a question of life and death. Then I can rebel, then I can fight back, then I can sacrifice everything.
And the advice of the DESIDERATA IS of great significance to all those who want to find truth, because the very finding needs great energy. If you become I reservoir of energy, only then is it possible to know, to be, to come to the ultimate realization of life's mystery.
By OSHO...Guida Spirituale
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