|From Misery to Enlightenment
Answers to the Seekers on the Path
Talks given from 29/01/85 pm to 27/02/85 pm
English Discourse series
Year published: 1985
Originally published as "The Rajneesh Bible Volume 4". Title changed 1991.
From Misery to Enlightenment
Chapter title: Your birthright: to take flight
29 January 1985 pm in Lao Tzu Grove
Archive code: 8501295
Length: 155 mins
SEEING AND HEARING YOU SPEAK, ONE THING CONTINUES TO STRIKE ME: FROM YOUR EARLIEST CHILDHOOD, UP UNTIL THE LATEST SPLIT SECOND, YOU HAVE ALWAYS HAD SO MUCH SELF-RESPECT AND SO MUCH SELF-DELIGHT. ARE WE ALL CAPABLE OF SO MUCH?
MAN is not aware of what he is capable unless he comes to realize it.
It is just like a small young bird. The bird, sitting in the shelter the mother and the father have made, watches them fly, can see the delight of their flight. He himself would also like to fly in the same way, be on the wing in the infinite sky, under the sun. Seeing them going higher, moving with the winds, a great urge arises in him also. But he is not aware that he is capable of the same flight, the same delight, the same dance. He is not even aware that he has wings.
It takes a little time for the mother and the father to persuade him. And they have a certain methodology to persuade him. The mother may sit just a little higher on another branch and give a call to the child. The child tries to fly but is afraid he may fall. But the mother goes on calling him; that gives him confidence. Sometimes it is needed for the father to actually push him out of the shelter. There is fear, he is nervous, but one thing is certain: for the first time he knows he has wings.
He flutters his wings. He does not know how to fly, but the mother is not far away; he manages to reach her -- the miracle has happened. Now the mother's call will be coming from a second tree, and then the call will be coming from a far-off forest. But once he knows that he has wings, then distances don't matter. Slowly there is no need for the mother to call or the father to push him.
One day comes when he simply says goodbye to his father and mother and flies and never comes back. He has become an individual on his own.
Whatever you see in me, feel in me, is there in you, but only as a potential.
Nobody has called you from a distance and given you the confidence that you have wings. Nobody has pushed you and of course in the beginning it will look as if he is your enemy, pushing you to your death: you will fall! But unless you are pushed, and you see that by fluttering your wings you remain in the air and you don't fall.... Then a great potential has become actual: the first vision of your own flying. Now it is no longer a dream, you can realize it.
This is the problem -- that man is not as alert as the birds are, that the child has to be made aware of his potentiality.
Man's misfortune is this -- that the father is not interested in the child's potentiality. He is interested in his own investment. He would like the child to be part of his business, of his religion, of his politics, of his ideology. The mother is not interested in the child's development because that's an unknown factor. It is not as simple as a bird's; man is a complex being, multi dimensional. The child is capable of becoming so many things, but the mother has her own investment -- she would like the child to become someone in particular. I
Man's parents, because of their own investment -- business, politics, religion, philosophy -- are less interested in the potential of the child. They are more interested in how to mold the child so that he fits in their world, becomes respectable in their world, is not an outcast, is not a misfit.
All this arises out of good intentions, but the result is not good. It is almost slaughtering the child, destroying, killing him. Most of his potential will always remain only potential. He will never be even aware what treasures he has brought with his life. He wi!l die, and those treasures will remain unopened.
He lived his whole life according to somebody else's dictates: he lived a borrowed life. He smiled because it was expected; he paid respect to people because that was what he was taught. He went to the church, to the synagogue, to the temple because his parents were going there, everybody else was going there. This was the thing to do, this was the in thing.
With me something went wrong from the very beginning.
The reason was that for seven years I was not with my parents, I lived with my maternal grandfather and grandmother. Those two old persons had no investment -- they simply loved me. They knew perfectly well that sooner or later I would be gone, I was only a guest. You don't start investing in a guest -- tomorrow morning he will be gone. They acted out of a space which parents cannot. That's where things went wrong with me.
They allowed me total freedom to be myself because they had no desire to mold me. In fact, they wanted me to go back to my parents, so whatsoever my parents wanted me to become I would be available. My maternal grandfather actually said to me many times, "Our whole effort is to return you to your parents the same clean slate as they gave us. We don't want to write anything on you. Who knows? -- it may be against your parents' wishes. You belong to them, to us you are a guest: all that we can do is give you freedom, our love, space to grow."
But the first seven years are the most important in life; never again will you have that much opportunity. Those seven years decide your seventy years, all the foundation stones are laid in those seven years. So by a strange coincidence I was saved from my parents -- and by the time I reached them, I was almost on my own, I was already flying. I knew I had wings. I knew that I didn't need anybody's help to make me fly. I knew that the whole sky is mine.
I never asked for their guidance, and if any guidance was given to me I always retorted, "This is insulting. Do you think I cannot manage it myself? I do understand that there is no bad intention in giving guidance -- for that I am thankful -- but you do not understand one thing, that I am capable of doing it on my own. Just give me a chance to prove my mettle. Don't interfere."
In those seven years I became really a strong individualist: hard-core. Now it was impossible to put any trip on me.
I used to pass through my father's shop, because the shop was in front -- at the back was the house where the family lived. That's how it happens in India: house and shop are together so it is easily manageable. I used to pass through my father's shop with closed eyes.
He asked me, "This is strange. Whenever you pass through the shop into the house, or from the house" -- it was just a twelve foot space to pass -- "you always keep your eyes closed. What ritual are you practising?"
I said, "I am simply practicing so that this shop does not destroy me as it has destroyed you. I don't want to see it at all; I am absolutely uninterested, totally uninterested." And it was one of the most beautiful cloth shops in that city -- the best materials were available there -- but I never looked to the side, I simply closed my eyes and passed by.I
He said, "But in opening your eyes there is no harm."
I said, "One never knows -- one can be distracted. I don't want to be distracted by anything."
Naturally, he wanted me -- I was his eldest son -- he wanted me to help him. He wanted me, after my education, to come and take charge of the shop. The shop he had managed well; it had become a big place, slowly, slowly. He said, "Of course, who else is going to look after it? I will be getting old; do you want me continually to be here?"
I said, "No, I don't, but you can retire. You have your younger brothers who are interested in the shop, in fact too interested -- even afraid that you may give the shop to me. I have told them,'Don't be afraid of me; I am no one's competitor.' Give this shop to your younger brothers."
But in India the tradition is that the eldest son inherits everything. My father was the eldest son of his father; he inherited everything. All that he had now was for me to take care of Naturally he was worried... but there was no way. He tried in every possible way, somehow to get me interested.
He would say to me, "Even if you become a doctor you cannot earn as much in the whole month as I can earn in a day. If you become an engineer, what salary are you going to get? If you become a professor -- I can hire your professors, no problem. And you know there are so many thousands of graduates, post-graduates, Ph.D.s, unemployed."
First he tried to persuade me not to go to the university because he was very much afraid that it would make me absolutely independent for six years -- going far away. Then he would not even be able to keep an eye on me. He had already been regretting that for seven years he left me with my mother's parents.
I told him, "Don't be afraid. What has to happen has happened: I am really graduated. Those seven years.... No university is needed to corrupt me; I am corrupted completely -- out of your hands. And these means of persuasion -- salaries, respect, money -- I don't give any value to them. And I am not going to become a doctor or an engineer, so don't be worried. In fact, I am going to remain a vagabond my whole life."
He said, "That is even worse! It is better you be come an engineer or you become a doctor, but vagabond? -- that is a new profession. You have got some mind to find such things. You want to become a vagabond! Even those who are vagabonds feel humiliated if you say,'You are a vagabond,' but you are telling your own father that all your life you want to be just a vagabond."
I said, "That is what is going to be."
Then he started saying, "Then why do you want to go to the university?"
I said, "I want to be an educated vagabond, not a vagabond out of weakness. I don't want to do anything in my life out of weakness: because I could not be anything, that's why I am a vagabond -- that is not my way. First I want to prove to the world that I can be anything that I want to be, Still I choose to be a vagabond -- out of strength. Then there is respectability even if you are a vagabond, because respectability has nothing to do with your vocation, your profession; respectability has something to do with you are acting out of strength, clarity, intelligence.
"So be perfectly aware that I am not going to the university to be able to find some good job; I am not born to do such stupid things. And there are so many to do those things. But a very cultured, sophisticated, educated vagabond is very much needed because you don't see any around. There are vagabonds but they are just third-grade people, they are failures. I want first to be absolutely successful and then to kick all that success and just be a vagabond."
He said, "I cannot understand your logic, but if you have decided to be a vagabond I know that there is no way to change you."
Those seven years... he reminded me again and again, That was our basic fault. That was the time we could have managed to make you something of worth. But your Nana and your Nani, those two old fellows destroyed you completely."
And after my Nana's death, my Nani never went back to the village; she was so heartbroken. I have seen thousands of couples very intimately because I have been staying with so many families, wandering around India, but I could never find anybody who could be compared with those two old people: they really loved each other.
When my Nana died, my Nani -- my maternal grandmother -- wanted to die with him. It was a difficult task to prevent her. She wanted to sit on the funeral pyre with her husband. She said, "My life is gone -- now what is the point of being alive?" Everybody tried, and by that time.... This is an ancient tradition in India called suttee.
The word suttee means the woman who dies sits on the funeral pyre, alive, with her dead husband. The word suttee means truthfulness. Sut means "truth," also "being"; suttee means "who has a true being -- whose being is of truthfulness." She has loved the person so deeply that she has become identified with his life; there is no point in her living. But after the British Raj the suttee tradition was declared illegal.
To the Western eye it looked almost like committing suicide; literally it was so. And for almost ninety-nine percent of women who became suttees it was nothing but suicide. But for one percent I cannot say it was suicide. For one percent, to live without the person whom they had loved totally and from whom they had never thought for a single moment to be separated, living was suicide.
But law is blind and cannot make such fine distinctions. What Britishers saw was certainly ugly and had to be stopped. The one percent went on the funeral pyre of their own accord. But it became such a respectable thing that any woman who was not willing to do it... and it was really a very dangerous, torturous way of dying -- just entering the funeral pyre alive!
Ninety-nine percent were not willing to do it but their families, their relatives felt awkward because this meant the woman never loved the man totally. It would be a condemnation of the whole family: the honor of the family was at stake. So what these people did was they forced the woman; and a certain climate was created in which you would not be able to discover that the woman was being forced. She was of course in a terrible state, in a great shock.
She was taken to the funeral pyre and on the funeral pyre so much ghee, purified butter, was poured that there was a cloud of smoke all over the place; you could not see what is happening. Around that cloud there were hundreds of brahmins loudly chanting Sanskrit sutras, and behind the brahmins there was a big band with all kinds of instruments making as much noise as possible -- so to hear the woman screaming or crying or trying to get out of the funeral pyre was impossible. Around the funeral pyre the brahmins were standing with burning torches to push the woman back in.
When Britishers saw this -- this was certainly not only suicide but murder too. In fact, it was murder; the woman was not willing. The whole atmosphere was created so that you could not hear her screams, you could not see that she was trying to escape -- everybody else was out of the circles of brahmins.
When Britishers found out that this was something criminal and ugly, they made it illegal: if any woman tried it and was found out and caught alive, she would be sentenced for her whole life. And anybody who persuaded her -- the family, the priests, the neighbors -- they were also partners in the crime and they would also be punished according to whatsoever part they had played in it.
So the institution slowly slowly disappeared; it had to disappear. But once in a while those one percent of women were always there for whom it didn't matter, because their lives were now a sentence unto death. Why not take the chance of finishing it with your loved one?
So they all tried, everybody, to persuade my Nani not to do it, but she said, "I have nothing to live for. I cannot go back to my village because in that same house where we both lived our whole life for sixty years, I cannot live alone. He will be too much there. I have not eaten a single meal before he did; it will be impossible for me to eat. In the first place, impossible to cook because I used to cook for him; he loved delicious foods and I enjoyed cooking for him. Just to see him delighted was my delight. Now for whom am I going to cook?
"And I have never taken my meal before him. Even if it was very late if he had gone to some other village for some work, or to the court in a faraway town -- I had to wait the whole day, but it was a joy to wait for him. In sixty years of married life I have not eaten a single meal before him."
That has been a tradition in India: how can you eat unless the person you love and for whom you have cooked and prepared has eaten? Just the other day my mother was saying.... She told me that she had wanted to tell me before but could not gather courage to tell, that day she wanted to say it because it was like a heavy weight on her heart.
I said, "You should have told me before; if just by telling me that weight disappears, why should you keep it?"
She said, "l felt so ashamed to mention it to you, but I cannot bear it any more, for the simple reason that if any day I die, I will die with this heavy weight, so it is better I should tell it."
And what was the matter? The matter was nothing -- to the Western eye it is meaningless. The matter was this, that she had also never eaten before my father, but on the last day, when my father died.... She used to come from the hospital in the night and in the early morning she used to go back. She was just preparing tea before she went to the hospital, just about to take a cup of tea when the phone call came that my father's condition was serious, so without drinking the tea she went to the hospital. He was going up and down the whole day, so she completely forgot about eating.
By the evening my father was better. I went to see him nearabout three, and he was as good as one could hope -- and that was a dangerous signal because it always happens before a man dies that he becomes absolutely okay. When death is coming, somehow the whole life flame gathers together to face death as the last challenge. That's why before death people become almost cured. It is just like before a flame disappears from the candle: in that last moment before disappearing it burns really bright, and with full vigor, with intensity.
Life is almost a flame. Even scientifically too it is a flame; that's why you need constant oxygen -- oxygen is needed by every flame. If you cover a candle with a glass, soon the candle will be gone because inside the glass there is only a little bit of oxygen. Once that oxygen is burned by the flame, the flame is finished. You need constant oxygen just to keep your flame burning. So scientifically also you are a flame, not only poetically.
When I went to see him at three o'clock he was perfectly cured. He was laughing, sitting up, enjoying himself; and he said to me, "Now I am feeling perfectly good, and I think tomorrow I can come home." I could see what was going to happen. He was going home but he was not coming home.
So I tried to change the subject of home, because it was difficult for me to say, "Yes, tomorrow you are coming home" -- because what I was seeing was that he was going home that day. But I said, "That is perfectly okay. Why wait for tomorrow? If you are feeling good and there is no problem, and the doctor allows it, you can come today." And I tried to talk about mundane things. I told him, "We have brought a new, very big car for you. It has come, and whenever you are ready you will be coming home in your own new car."
He was almost childlike as he went deeper into meditation. And he took sannyas only when he had touched the rock bottom of meditation, not before it. People take sannyas to enter into meditation; he waited. My mother took sannyas, my uncles took sannyas, but he waited.
Everybody was asking me, "Why don't you tell your father?" My uncle was saying it, my mother was saying it. I said, "He has never told anything to me, never forced me to do anything. Now this would be absolutely unfair on my part to tell him to do something -- and particularly to take sannyas. Whenever he wants, he will say; I am not going to tell him. And I know he is waiting" -- because he was continuously reporting about his meditation to me: how he was going, what he experienced, for how many seconds his thoughts disappeared and what kind of thoughts came when they came.
Whenever he came to me he was mentioning his meditation -- and that was a clear indication that he was waiting; until he had touched rock bottom he would not say anything about sannyas. And he knew perfectly well that I was not going to say anything.
One day, in the morning... he used to meditate from three o'clock in the night up to six -- three hours. So just nearabout six, Laxmi came running and said, "Your father wants you immediately, and he also says,'Bring a mala and the sannyas form.' I don't know what has happened to him." He had been sitting for three hours; he was staying in the room where afterwards Laxmi stayed -- in Lao Tzu house in Poona, the same room. He had just come for a few days, so Laxmi had moved out and he was staying there. I went into the room. He said, "Now the time has come: give me sannyas.
After that day he became more and more childlike -- interested in any small thing, just like a child. But that day when I mentioned, "We have brought a very big car for you, perhaps the biggest available in India" -- and you can find the biggest cars in India because elsewhere, all over the world, they have disappeared -- "and now you will not feel any discomfort, any trouble," he took no notice. That was another indication to me that he was feeling something. I left him after ten minutes and I told him, "I will inquire of the doctor, and if you are cured then why wait for tomorrow? -- you come home today."
When my mother saw him he was looking perfectly well. He said that he wanted to go out and sit on the veranda and just see the outside world. After my leaving they took him out. At that time my mother realized that she had not eaten the whole day. She felt so hungry that she told Sohan, or somebody who was there, "I am feeling very hungry, my stomach is almost hurting." She told my father, "Sohan is coming soon with the food so you eat first -- my stomach is hurting."
But my father said, "I am not feeling like eating. I am feeling so good that I don't want to disturb my body by anything; I simply want to sit and look at the sky. Don't be worried -- you go and eat" -- and she was so hungry that she ate before my father.
This weight she had been carrying -- that for the whole of her life she never ate before my father, and on the last day she did. As she finished, my father came in and she brought his food: he took one bite and said, "My body doesn't feel to take anything." Within half an hour he was gone; his body came home that night -- he came home in that car that Laxmi had been trying to bring.
But my mother just said the other day, "Relieve me of this pain because this hurts. That last day I completely forgot that he has to eat first."
I said, "Perhaps he could see better, that now you will be eating alone; it will not be possible any longer to give him food first and then eat. So just out of compassion he told you,'You eat, don't be worried. There is nothing in it -- who eats first, and who eats later. It is all the same.'
"My feeling is that he was also feeling that there was not much time left, and then you would have to eat afterwards without giving food to him. He must have been happy to see that you had eaten, that you would not be in the same position as my mother's mother was."
For almost ten or twelve days my grandmother didn't eat. First it was difficult to prevent her from going on the funeral pyre. Finally they all, my whole family, told me, "Only you can persuade her; you have been with her for seven years." And certainly I succeeded. All that I had to do -- I said to her, "You are saying constantly,'For what do I have to live?' Not for me? Just tell me: you don't want to live for me? Then I will tell the whole family that we both are going on the funeral pyre."
She said, "What!"
I said, "Then why am I going to be here? For what? It is good we both go."
She said, "Stop this nonsense. Who has ever heard of a boy, seven years old...? It is not for you, it is for a woman whose husband has died."