A disciple asked, "Why are you not afraid of death?"
Death was certain, within minutes he would die. The poison to kill him was
being prepared. But Socrates said, "How can I be afraid of something which is
unknown? I will have to see. When I die, only then can I see. Two
possibilities are there. One is that I will die completely, no trace of me
will be left. So there will be nobody left to know it, nobody to suffer it. So
there is no question about my being worried about it -- if this first
alternative is going to happen. And the second possibility is that I may
continue, only the body will die but the soul will remain. Then too I don't
see any point in being worried. If I am to continue, then death is irrelevant.
And only these two possibilities exist. I cannot say anything right now about
what will happen. I don't know. I don't know yet. "
Socrates was a wise man, not a man of knowledge. A man of knowledge would
have given a certain answer. Men of knowledge have certain answers, absolute
certainty -- that is part of their stupidity. In fact, only stupid minds can
be certain. Life is such a vast mystery, unfathomable, unknowable; if you are
wise you cannot be certain.
Wisdom is cautious. Wisdom hesitates. Wisdom is never certain. That's why
wisdom can never be confined to a theory. All theories are less than life, all
theories are narrow, and life cannot enter into them -- life is so vast, so
tremendously vast and infinite. A wise man only knows one thing: that he does
not know. A man of knowledge knows a thousand and one things and knows that he
knows -- and therein lies the foolishness of the man of knowledge. He goes on
accumulating facts unlived by himself: theories, words, philosophies --
untouched by his own being. He goes on accumulating them in his memory. He
becomes a vast reservoir of knowledge, he becomes an Encyclopedia Britannica
-- but a dead thing.
The more his memory becomes filled with knowledge the less and less he lives
in his being. The more and more he moves into the head, becomes a part, a
fragment, the less and less he is joined to the vast being and the universe
and existence. He becomes in a way non-existential. He is no more a part of
this existence, alive, radiant, vibrating. He is a frozen phenomenon; he no
more flows with life. He is like an iceberg, frozen and stuck somewhere --
stuck in the head.
Consciousness, when it becomes knowledge, becomes frozen; when consciousness
becomes wisdom it becomes a flow. A wise man lives, lives totally, but knows
only one thing -- that he doesn't know. To learn from a wise man is very
difficult, to learn from a man of knowledge is very easy. He can give you all
that he knows, he can transfer it very easily, language is enough of a
vehicle. All that he has gathered he has gathered through the mind, through
language; it can be communicated easily. A man of knowledge becomes a teacher.
He can teach you, and he can teach beautifully, things which he has not known
at all. Maybe that's why he is not as hesitant as a man who knows. Because
when a man knows, he also knows the opposite polarity of life. When a man
really understands and knows, he also knows that everything is joined with its
opposite, everything is meeting and melting into its opposite. Nothing can be
said definitely because the moment you say anything definitely you have
stopped its flow, you have made it a frozen fact. It is no more part of the
river, it is an iceberg. Now you can accumulate it in the storehouse of the
A man who is wise is not a teacher -- he can be a Master but not a teacher.
What is the difference between the two? A teacher is ready to teach -- a
Master is never ready to teach. A teacher is aggressive, active -- a Master is
non-aggressive, inactive. A teacher will go and follow you and force you, so
that you can carry his knowledge on your shoulders. A Master waits. You have
to snatch from him, you have to partake of him. He will not follow you, he
will not force you. He will not even knock at your doors -- he will simply
wait. You can partake of his being. You can enter his inner emptiness, the
inner palace of his being, his inner kingdom, but that is up to you. You will
have to do all the work. The Master is only a presence. If you are attracted,
you fall into the presence.
A teacher calls, a teacher tries, a teacher makes all the effort so that you
can understand. A Master simply is there -- open of course, not closed,
absolutely open for you to come in. But he doesn't make even a gesture,
because that gesture may be aggressive, that gesture may force you to come in
without your own will. And then it will be bad, then you have been put on a
A Master is silent presence. You can learn from him, but he will not teach.
With a teacher you will be a student. There exists a relationship, a two-way
relationship. With the Master you can be only a disciple, it is one-way -- you
have to learn. If you don't learn you don't learn, if you learn you learn. A
Master is so happy with his own being he does not bother. If you learn he
blesses you; if you don't learn he also blesses you -- he is a blessing, a
There are no examinations near a Master because for life, examinations are
not possible. It is foolish to think in terms of examinations. That's why
universities go on producing stupid people. There is a reason for it --
because intelligence cannot be examined. There can be no criterion to judge
it. At the most you can judge the memory, at the most you can judge the
capacity to remember but not the capacity to know. A Master has no
examinations. You come in, you learn, you partake. He is an opening unto the
vast and the infinite.
A man of knowledge becomes a teacher and millions of people are attracted
towards him, because when you learn something your ego feels strengthened.
Very few rare souls are attracted towards a Master because in fact with a
Master you will have to unlearn, with a Master you will have to die. Your ego
will be shattered completely -- because only then can you enter into the
temple, into the innermost shrine of the Master's being.
A Master is a wise man but his understanding is so profound that you cannot
understand it. You can only live it. A Master knows, but he knows in such
depth -- where opposites meet, where life and death become synonymous, where
existence and nonexistence don't mean opposites, where all rivers fall into
the ocean -- in that depth a Master exists.
It is difficult to understand him because understanding will be superficial
and all understanding will be more or less misunderstanding. With a Master
don't try to understand him. How can you understand him? How can you
understand an infinite phenomenon? You can live it, you can dissolve into it,
you can allow it to dissolve into you, that's possible. It is like love: you
cannot understand love, mysterious are its ways. You cannot understand it, you
cannot pin down what it is. Thousands of definitions exist but love has not
been defined yet and it will never be defined. Whenever you define,
immediately you feel something is missing. And that something will always
miss, because that something is the depth. A definition cannot carry depth, it
can only be on the surface.
A wise man lives in the depth. A man of knowledge lives on the circumference;
a wise man lives at the center. There is only one way to reach a wise man --
you will have to come to your own center. Center to center there is communion
with a wise man. Head to head, mind to mind, there is communion with a
teacher, the man of knowledge.
The wise man has by and by disappeared from the world. In the West you don't
find philosophers, you find only professors of philosophy. This is something
absurd. A professor of philosophy is not a philosopher; a professor of
philosophy is just a teacher -- a man of knowledge but not a wise man -- not
like Socrates, not like Lao Tzu, not like Buddha. They are not professors.
They are not professing anything, they are not teaching anything to anybody.
They are just there -- like the sun is there, you open your eyes and the
darkness disappears; like the flower by the side of the path, you just be with
it for a few seconds and the fragrance fills you to your very depth; like a
river flowing, you come to it thirsty and your thirst is quenched. They are
not professors, they are alive people. They are more alive than anybody else,
and then they become more and more mysterious.
A few things more before we enter these sutras of Lao Tzu. In the East the
past has been always revered; with deep respect we remember the past. In the
West respect for the past has completely disappeared; rather, on the contrary,
a certain respect for the future has come into being. Parallel to it, old
people are not respected in the West -- if the past is not respected how can
you respect old people? You just anyhow tolerate them; even parents are only
tolerated. When they are old, deep down a desire arises in you: if they were
dead it would be better. Because now what is the use of them? The West thinks
If you think of utility, a young man is more useful than an old man. An old
man has lost his energy, his body is crippled, he is ill, he is going to die
any day. He is not useful -- he is just a burden. All respect for old people
has disappeared. It is a corollary: when you don't respect the past you cannot
respect your father, your grandfather, and you don't remember even the name of
your great-grandfather. It is as if he never existed. You start thinking and
feeling more for your children -- they are the future. And they will think of
their children, remember. They will not think about you. So don't suffer and
don't feel the pain and the hurt of it. In the West the future has become
significant; in the East it has always been the past.
There are many things to be understood. Why in the West has the future become
more significant? The West is dominated by men of knowledge: professors,
scientists, novelists, theologians, political demagogues. The West is
dominated by men of knowledge -- and of course there is a possibility for a
young man to know more than the old man, because he is always standing on the
shoulders of the old man -- he can look a little farther away.
Your father was studying in the university thirty or forty years ago. In
these forty years everything has changed. Whatsoever your father knows is
almost out of date. The copyright on the books that he was reading at
university is no more there. Nobody bothers about those books, you can find
them only in secondhand bookstalls. They are useless. Whatsoever he has
accumulated in forty years is useless, because in forty years an explosion of
knowledge has happened. And it is going on and on and on. Your children will
know more than you -- in fact, already they know more.
I was reading a small anecdote. Two small children went to a zoo with their
old grandmother. The old grandmother was explaining what was what to them.
Then they came to the word "stork" and the old woman said, "This is the bird
which brings children from heaven, which brought you, which always brings
These two small children started giggling, and they whispered into each
other's ears, "Should we tell this old thing the truth?"
But one of them said, "Why disturb her? Let her remain in her belief."
Mulla Nasruddin called his boy because now the time was ripe and things about
life had to be told to him. So he told him, "You come with me to my room, I
would like to discuss a few facts about life with you. Now you are mature and
a few things have to be told to you." Mulla was feeling a little nervous -- as
every father feels when facts of life have to be told to children. As old,
out-dated minds do, he was feeling a little nervous.
When they went into the room and he closed the door the boy said, "You don't
be nervous. Now, what do you want to know? I can tell you, don't be so
Children can now tell you many more things -- and children feel that you are
somehow a little ignorant, illiterate. Every child in the West feels that the
parents are illiterate. The respect has disappeared. If men of knowledge
dominate the society this is going to be so, because knowledge grows every
day, changes every day, accumulates more and more -- of course children are
more up to date than their parents. It has to be so. They know the latest.
In the East the man of wisdom has been the center of life, not the man of
knowledge. Knowledge grows, changes, moves -- wisdom is eternal, it is always
the same. Whenever you attain it, it is always the same. It is like the sky
which remains eternally the same. Seasons come and go: now it is winter, now
it is summer, now it is raining, now the rains have disappeared. Trees come
and die, generations come and go and the drama of life goes on moving, but the
sky remains as it is, eternally the same, eternally new, ever fresh and always
old. Wisdom is like the sky.
Of course knowledge can be taught in the universities, colleges, schools.
Wisdom can never be taught. Nowhere can it be taught. Wisdom has to be imbibed
through life, there is no other way. So only an old man can be a wise man. In
wisdom the young man can never defeat the old man, but in knowledge he can
always defeat him.
How can you defeat the old man in wisdom? Wisdom comes through experience;
knowledge comes not through experience but through learning. You can cram it
in, and if you are a little intelligent, more intelligent than the average,
you can know more than your teacher. You can know more than your father, there
is no problem about it. Just a little effort on your part is needed. But
wisdom -- there is no way. It comes by and by through life. If you live and if
you live totally, if you live and you live with awareness, only then, drop by
drop, does wisdom come into being. It is such a subtle phenomenon! There is no
direct way to reach it. Only old people can be wise. That's why whenever there
is somebody who is wise and young, in the East we know that he is old, he is
There is a beautiful story about Lao Tzu that he was born old; when he was
born he was eighty-four years of age -- he had remained in his mother's womb
for eighty-four years. Absurd, unbelievable, but a beautiful story -- says
something, says something very significant. It says that from his very
childhood he was like an old man, so wise he could not be a child. It says
something. It is symbolic. It says that when he was a child he had as much
wisdom as ordinarily a man of eighty-four would have. He must have been
If you are very very alert then a single experience can give you much. If you
are not alert you will go on repeating the same experience and nothing will be
A wise man falls in love only once, then he knows everything about it. He
penetrates the whole mystery, he lives the whole mystery of it, he moves into
its world, but so totally that not even a corner is left unlived. Then he
comes out of it. Then there is no question of falling in love again -- he has
lived and he has known. He has become wise through experience.
A foolish man will repeat the same thing again and again and again, and will
never be able to learn anything from it. Awareness and a courage to live have
to be there, so it will happen only rarely that a child or a young man will be
wise. Ordinarily a man will become wise when he is old, when he has lived all
the seasons of life, when he is seasoned, when he has known all the climates,
all the moods -- when he has known the river of life in summer, when it is
just a dry bed and nothing is left except a thirst, a hunger, a dry bed, a
burning desire, and nothing else; and he has known the river of life in flood
when it becomes vast, dangerously vast and it pretends to be an ocean.
He has known all the moods, he has moved in all the ways that life allows. He
has lived as a sinner, he has lived as a saint, he is enriched by all
experiences. When all the hairs of the head are white, a beauty comes to the
face which can come only to an old man, never to a young man. Young men can be
beautiful as far as physique is concerned. Shape, proportion, strength -- yes,
young men can be very beautiful. But as far as the soul is concerned, which
evolves, grows only through much experience, only an old man can be beautiful.
Rarely it happens, because rarely are people aware; rarely do people live
through life with meditation. Otherwise no young man can compete with the
beauty of an old man. The beauty of an old man has a grace to it, a depth; a
young man's beauty is shallow, on the surface, just skin deep. An old man's
beauty has a depth in it -- you go in and in and in and you never come to the
bottom of it.
An old man is like a snowcapped peak of the Himalayas, silent. The storm has
passed. All that was needed to know he has known, nothing more is left to
know. The ego has been dropped on the way somewhere because it was a burden,
and with the ego and that burden you cannot reach to such a peak. When one
moves towards the peak one has to leave everything by and by, by and by; the
final peak is when you have to leave yourself also. You reach the peak as a
non-being because even being becomes a burden in the final stages of life.
The East respects the old. And if you respect the old you respect the past.
And the East has a nostalgia for the past.
Now this sutra:
THE WISE ONES OF OLD HAD SUBTLE WISDOM
AND DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING.
THE WISE ONES OF OLD...
IN THE EAST it is always the old, the ancient who are wise. There is a
humbleness about oneself and the present. How can you be more wise than your
father? How can you be more wise than your grandfather, great-grandfather? No,
you can know more. You can know more than Buddha -- you may already know more
than Buddha -- but you cannot be more wise. In fact, in wisdom more doesn't
exist. One is wise or not -- there is no more to it, no less to it. In
knowledge more and less exist. Knowledge is relative, wisdom is absolute. You
cannot be more wise, and in fact if you are wise you will feel very very
Lao Tzu feels so humble about himself and about his own age that he always
talks about the wise ones of old. And if you go to the wise ones of old you
will find them talking about the wise ones of older days again.
If you try to understand Eastern scriptures they always say that whatsoever
they are saying is not new, it was told to them, they have heard it. That's
why Hindus have two names for their scriptures: shruti and smriti. shruti
means "We have heard it, we have heard those who knew." smriti means "We have
stored it from those who know." There is no claim on anyone's part that they
have known, because the very claim "I have known" is the claim of ignorance,
the "I" is the condensed ignorance. They go back and back and back. In the
Upanishads, if you go back, they will say: I learned from my teacher. My
teacher learned from his teacher, he learned from his teacher.... And they go
on and on, and in the beginning: brahma, the creator of the world, learned
from the cosmic existence itself, from brahman.
He learned from brahman; brahman is the invisible divinity and brahma is the
visible divinity. The visible divinity learned it from the invisible divinity,
and from brahma starts the Ganges. And then teacher and teacher and teacher, a
long procession -- and "I have just heard it."
This is a beautiful phenomenon. It simply says that no man is an island, and
there is interdependence. The whole past is involved in you -- this is the
meaning of it. You are not alone here, you have not suddenly bubbled up. The
whole past is carried by you -- your consciousness is in a chain, related with
the whole past. From the very beginning up to now everything that has happened
has happened to you and you are the carrier of the whole past. In this way, in
time, a relationship, the feeling of a relationship, arises.
There can be two types of interdependence. One is special -- you are related
to this tree, this tree is related to TODAY'S sun, the sun is related to
bigger stars, everything related in space -- this is one type of
interdependence. There is another type of interdependence which moves in time:
the whole past is involved in you. You have come as an outcome of the whole
past, and the whole future will come out of you. You are the fruit of the
whole past and you will become the seed of the whole future. Then time and
space both are interdependent, in both dimensions you are interrelated.
THE WISE ONES OF OLD HAD SUBTLE WISDOM
AND DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING.
What is subtle wisdom? They knew directly, they knew immediately. They knew
the truth face to face, it was not borrowed knowledge. And when wisdom is
direct, only then is it wisdom. Otherwise it is nothing but a mask to
ignorance, you go on hiding your ignorance by your knowledge. And why call
wisdom subtle? Why not just call it wisdom? What is the point of calling it
There is a point. Wisdom is direct but subtle. It is direct in the sense that
one faces life immediately, but it is subtle in the sense that in life you
never attain anything directly. You have to move in indirect ways.
Try to understand. In the first place, wisdom is direct in the sense that it
is not borrowed. It is not that you are simply borrowing somebody else's
know-how, and accumulating it in the mind. No, you yourself have come to
encounter it. In this sense it is direct, more direct than knowledge. But
still it is subtle, because it has its own indirect way. What is that indirect
If you want to be happy you cannot move directly like an arrow towards the
target of happiness. If you do you will miss. For example, somebody says to
you, "When I go swimming in the river, it is so beautiful and I feel so happy
and relaxed just floating on the water under the sun. I forget every worry, I
forget every tension and I am so relaxed the world doesn't exist. And I feel
so happy, such a deep bliss comes to me through it." And your greed arises,
and you say, "Then I will also try." Then you go, but you go very directly.
Your mind is not in swimming, your mind is not with the river, your mind is
not with the sun, your mind is not with the wind. Your mind is like an arrow
moving directly towards the target of happiness -- you will miss it.
Because life is very shy, it hides from people who are aggressive. It reveals
itself only to those who persuade it in a very subtle and indirect way. Life
has to be persuaded and seduced. Life is a woman. Don't be aggressive about
it. You cannot rape it. And if you try to rape it you will be empty-handed,
you will not gain anything out of it. You can rape it. That is what almost all
people are doing -- trying to rape life. Because to fall in love seems to be
risky, to rape seems to be less risky -- there is no commitment in it. But
without commitment you cannot learn anything. Unless you are involved you will
not be transformed.
You go to the river but your mind is continuously thinking and hankering for
happiness. You don't look at the river. You are not sensitive, you are just
greedy. You move into the river but you simply feel tired and not relaxed. You
swim, but you are constantly asking, "Where is that happiness you were talking
about? I see the sun, I see the river, I see the winds moving but where is
that happiness you were talking about? "
This is a direct attack. Nobody can attain happiness that way. You have to
forget yourself in the swimming and forget that you are here to attain
happiness. Forget yourself and forget your greed and forget the goals -- and
when the goal is forgotten the target is attained. I may appear paradoxical
but I cannot be anything else; I'm helpless, because this is how life is.
Forget the target and the arrow hits it; look at the target, look at it too
much -- and the arrow misses. You cannot attain. You will come home and you
will say, "It is useless, I tried."
Somebody meditates and feels ecstatic and you feel infected. Whenever he
comes around you, you feel he has something that you don't have. And you ask,
"What is happening?" He says he is meditating and it is such a blissful
phenomenon -- you come and try. You go and try but you fail, because you are
always direct. You don't understand that life is feminine, it is really a
woman. You will have to persuade it, you will have to play many games with it,
Don't go and ask the woman directly, "Would you like to come to bed with me?"
She will call a policeman. Be a little more poetic. Write beautiful love
letters to life. That's what meditation is all about -- writing love letters
to life, sending loaded messages but very indirect. As life leans more and
more towards you, you take more and more courage -- but move very cautiously;
you can miss it. A little aggression and you will miss it. Love, happiness,
meditation, truth -- or you name it -- whatsoever that is beautiful can be
attained only in a subtle way. That's why Lao Tzu says:
THE WISE ONES OF OLD HAD SUBTLE WISDOM
AND DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING.
What is depth of understanding? Depth of understanding is when you can stand
in others' shoes, when you can see from others' eyes, when you can feel from
others' hands, when you can stand in the other's being, at the other's center,
and look through him -- how he feels, what he feels, what he says.
A man of knowledge is always blind, argumentative; he is always right and the
other is always wrong. He is always discussing; his discussions become
disgusting. He is always arrogant and always on the defensive. He cannot
understand anybody. Whatsoever you say he will deny -- he will say no because
in no he knows there is power. Remember this: a man who has not learned the
power of saying yes is not yet wise. He goes on saying no because whenever he
says no he feels powerful. Have you felt it? Just say no and you feel
powerful. Say yes and you feel surrendered. Yes becomes difficult, so you go
on contradicting whosoever is saying anything. You are always right.
How can this be possible? This whole world -- so many consciousnesses, so
many ways of looking at life -- all wrong, only you are right? This seems to
be a very very arrogant and violent outlook. A man of understanding
understands that somehow everybody has to be right in some sense or other.
A Sufi mystic was made a kazi; he was made a justice, a judge. He was a wise
man, a man of understanding -- what Lao Tzu calls of deep understanding.
The first case was brought before him. The first party argued. He listened
intently, and then he said, "Right, absolutely right."
The clerk of the court was worried because he had not yet heard the other
party, and how can a judge say this without listening to the other party? So
he leaned towards the judge and whispered in his ear: "I think you are not
aware of the ways of the court. You should not say this because it is a
judgment, the case is finished. But you have not heard the other party! How
can you say to one party that they are right?"
The judge said, "You are right. Let me hear the other party."
He heard the other party, listened intently and then said, "Right, absolutely
Now the clerk thought that this man was mad. How could both be right
together? He leaned over again and said, "What are you doing? Are you drunk or
are you mad? How can both be right?"
The judge said, "Of course, you are right. How can both be right?"
This is a man of deep understanding, for whom everybody is right -- because
he can penetrate to the very depth of your being and can see your viewpoint
also. He is not enclosed in his own viewpoint, in his own philosophy, in his
own doctrine. He has none, in fact -- he is an open phenomenon. He can come
into you and look through you and can see why, why you are insisting; he can
feel why you feel you are right.
But then this type of man will be a mystery. Either you will call him mad or
you will call him a sage who is beyond the world and it is none of his affair
to interfere with our life.
This is what happened to Mahavir. He created a logic; such a logic never
existed before. He created a logic which is called syatvad, the logic of
perhaps. Whatsoever you say he would say, "Perhaps you are right." If somebody
came and said, "I believe in God," he would say, "Perhaps God is." Always
perhaps. How can you be absolutely wrong? With a life force, a God in you, how
can you be absolutely wrong? Something must be right. Maybe we cannot
understand it, maybe we cannot feel it, but something must be right in you. If
God exists in everybody, then everybody has a right to be right somehow.
Mahavir penetrates deeply. The man is sitting there, another comes and says,
"I don't believe in God, God does not exist." And Mahavir says, "Perhaps you
are also right. There is a sense in which God exists and there is a sense in
which God doesn't exist. " Then he created a new logic, a new dimension to
There are only two logics: one is that of Aristotle and the other is that of
Mahavir. Aristotle says A can only be A and A can never be B. And Mahavir says
A is A and can also be B, can also be C, can also be D -- up to Z. Just so
many angles, so many angles of seeing a thing -- he says that there are seven
standpoints. But it is difficult to understand Mahavir, that's why his
following could not grow much. It was impossible. Even those who follow him,
they follow him because they are accidentally born in his fold; otherwise it
is impossible. I have not come across a single Jain who can really follow
I was talking to a Jain muni, one of the great acharyas of Jain munis, and I
asked him, "What do you think about SYATVAD?"
He said, "It is absolutely true."
I said, "Then you are not a syatvad, you should say perhaps." Even about
Mahavir you should say, `Perhaps he is right.'"
But no Jain can say that. "Perhaps? Mahavir is absolutely right" -- there
they miss. They say that Jainism is absolutely right, and the whole point of
Jainism is that nothing is absolutely right.
Just the other day it happened: Mulla Nasruddin's wife went to see Sona --
you know Sona, the tarot card reader? -- and she came back very much
The future disturbs. Anything about the future disturbs. It is good not to
know about the future because once you know anything about the future it
starts changing your present, and disturbance arises.
She was very worried. Mulla Nasruddin asked her, "What is the matter?"
She said, "I have been to a tarot card reader, a very good woman, and she has
said a few things and I am very worried."
Mulla Nasruddin said, "Don't be worried. Nothing is certain in life so no
prediction can be made. I tell you that only fools are certain."
The wife said, "Are you really certain about that?"
He said, "Absolutely certain!"
Only fools are certain. If a man is absolutely certain about it then he
becomes an absolute fool. No Jain has the courage to say, "Perhaps Mahavir is
right. Perhaps those who deny Mahavir are also right." No Jain has the courage
-- that's why I say no Jain has the understanding of Mahavir. It is difficult.
THE WISE ONES OF OLD HAD SUBTLE WISDOM
AND DEPTH OF UNDERSTANDING,
SO PROFOUND THAT THEY COULD NOT BE UNDERSTOOD
The more profoundly you move inside yourself, the more incomprehensible you
become to others, because they live on the surface. If you live on the
surface, everything is okay -- they understand you. The surface they know. But
if you start moving downwards, deeper into your profundity, then a moment
comes when you become incomprehensible. You have gone beyond them; they cannot
Just two, three days ago a sannyasin came to me, and he said, "I cannot come
to your lectures any more, because I feel bored." I said, "You don't come!
Don't come!" He was thinking he was saying something about my lectures when he
said he felt bored. He was saying something about himself, that it goes beyond
his understanding, that he cannot move into such profundities, that it is
beyond him. Then he felt bored.
A man can feel bored in two ways. Either something is constantly repeated,
only a single note repeated continuously, a monotonous tone -- then you can
feel bored.... And that is the way a lullaby is created. The mother goes on
repeating a certain line, and the child feels bored and goes to sleep. That's
what people who suffer from insomnia should do with themselves. That's how a
mantra helps, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's TM helps people who have lost the
capacity to sleep. For them TM is perfect, because it creates boredom. You
repeat a mantra inside -- go on repeating, repeating -- the mind feels bored
because there is nothing new to know, there is no excitement, the same word
again and again and again and again.... You fall into sleep.
Or you feel bored when something is beyond you. You feel bored when something
is so profound that it is incomprehensible to you.
SO PROFOUND THAT THEY COULD NOT BE UNDERSTOOD.
You can understand only to the extent that you are aware. You cannot
understand more than your awareness; your understanding is bound to remain
confined to your alertness. If you want to understand wise men, you will have
to grow into awareness. The more your awareness, the more you can penetrate
them. When you are perfectly aware, only then is a Lao Tzu totally open to
you. Not that he was closed, he was always open -- but you could not enter
him. You were not yet capable of it.
AND BECAUSE THEY COULD NOT BE UNDERSTOOD,
PERFORCE MUST THEY BE SO DESCRIBED...
Because you cannot understand the really wise men you are puzzled about them.
Contradictory things, rumors are spread about them, around and around.
Somebody says Gurdjieff is a God and somebody says that he is a Satan, and
both rumors are true -- because a man who has profundity is both together.
PERFORCE MUST THEY BE SO DESCRIBED...
So people describe them in these ways: CAUTIOUS -- a wise man will look very
cautious to you. He is not cautious, he is only alert. There is a difference,
a vast difference. When a man is cautious he is afraid. For example, in a dark
night, you have lost your way in a forest; you move cautiously. At every step
there is danger, death. In that cautiousness a certain alertness comes to you
-- you may have felt it. Whenever there is danger a certain alertness comes to
you, whenever there is danger you become a little more alert -- not exactly
alert, simply cautious. But to be cautious one has to be a little alert. It
comes automatically; that alertness is an automatic shadow of cautiousness.
But we don't know what alertness is, so when we see a wise man, a Buddha,
walking, we think he is very cautious. That is our understanding about his
CAUTIOUS, LIKE CROSSING A WINTRY STREAM,
... he seems always to be cautious.
IRRESOLUTE, LIKE ONE FEARING DANGER ALL AROUND...
No, a wise man is not irresolute, but he is not certain like fools. He
carries no ready-made solutions about life, that's why he looks irresolute. He
does not live with conclusions. He lives open, open to whatsoever is going to
happen. He has no conclusions in his mind. He does not force his conclusions
on life, he remains alert and helps life to reach its own conclusion. He
cooperates, he does not impose -- there is a difference.
We live with a conclusion. For example, you have come to hear me. Somebody
told you about me. He was a friend and he talked about me. He appreciated me;
he impressed you. You have come to hear me with a conclusion: I am a good man.
Now you will listen through this conclusion and your conclusion will be
strengthened. You will go back home and say that he was right, the friend was
right. Then somebody else has come the same morning. He has met my enemy, who
told him many things about me. He convinced him that I am a wrong man, but his
curiosity was awakened -- one wants to go to see even such a wrong man. He has
also come this morning to listen to me with a conclusion, and he will go with
his conclusion strengthened.
Only those who have come to me without any conclusion, open, mirror-like,
will see my real face. Otherwise your conclusion will become my face, you will
impose it on my face.
A wise man is not irresolute but he appears irresolute because he lives
without conclusion, he moves moment to moment. He never carries any conclusion
from the past. Whatsoever life brings, he encounters it with a fresh
consciousness, not with a consciousness which is burdened by conclusions. Then
everything is dead. You look through the conclusion -- it means you look
through the past, it means you look through your experience, through your
mind. You never come directly in contact with life. There is a buffer between
you and life -- your conclusion functions as a buffer. You are afraid to touch
CAUTIOUS, LIKE CROSSING A WINTRY STREAM,
-- and he is not cautious, he is aware.
IRRESOLUTE, LIKE ONE FEARING DANGER ALL AROUND,
-- no, he is not irresolute, he is without conclusions.
GRAVE, LIKE ONE ACTING AS A GUEST...
-- no, he is not grave but he appears so because he is not shallow. He does
not laugh, his laughter is not that of a shallow man. At the most he smiles --
even that is too much. In fact he need not even smile because his whole being
is filled with so much beauty, with so much beatitude, with so much happiness,
that he need not.
You will be surprised that the people who laugh most are really sad inside;
by laughing they hide the sadness, by laughter they try to befool themselves
that they are happy. People who laugh loudly almost always have deep wounds
within them. They don't want to go into those wounds.
Somebody asked Friedrich Nietzsche why he laughed so much. Nietzsche is
reported to have said -- and he was really a very true, honest man, so honest
that he became mad. In this mad world, if you are really honest you will be in
difficulty -- he said: I go on laughing because I am afraid that if I don't
laugh I will start crying, I will start weeping. And that would be
embarrassing. I hide my tears in my laughter.
You see a wise man as grave -- it is your interpretation. He's not grave. He
is not shallow, that is right.... Watch a shallow river, it makes much noise.
A deep river moves as if it doesn't move -- no noise -- not because it is not
moving. It is moving, but it is so deep that the noise doesn't reach you. A
wise man laughs in the deepest core of his being. It doesn't reach his lips.
To know his laughter you will have to become like him.
SELF-EFFACING, LIKE ICE BEGINNING TO MELT...
You think that a wise man is humble, self-effacing, like ice beginning to
melt; you think wisdom is humility -- no. A wise man is simply egoless, that's
all. I will not say that a wise man is humble, because humbleness is also a
sort of egoism. To be humble means to be a very polished ego. To be humble
means a very cultured egoism. If there is no ego how can you be humble? If you
cannot be arrogant you cannot be humble. They both go together, they are both
aspects of the same phenomenon. Go and look at humble men, servants of people,
this and that, and look into their eyes. They pretend they are humble, they
even believe they are humble but you can see their subtle egos shining in
It happened: a man came to see Socrates. The man was a fakir, a very humble
man. He was so humble that he would not use new clothes. He was so humble that
if new clothes were given to him he would first make them rotten, dirty, then
he would use them. He came to see Socrates and there were many holes in his
dress. Socrates looked into him and said, "Do you think you are humble?
Through your holes I can see your ego."
Ego can pretend to be humble. Self-effacing men are not really humble,
self-effacing men are simply very tricky and cunning. No, it appears to people
who cannot move into the profundities of the wise man that he is
self-effacing. He does not know the self, how can he be self-effacing? He
simply lives without any ego, without any arrogance and without any humility.
GENUINE, LIKE A PIECE OF UNDRESSED WOOD...
It seems to you that a wise man is raw, undressed wood, because his culture
is very very deep, his subtlety is very very profound. Only on the surface can
you touch him; that roughness is just on the surface. About Gurdjieff it is
said that he was so rough that people would escape from him. It was difficult
to stand him but those who could stand him for a few weeks would come to know
his deep compassion.
In nature you can observe one thing: wherever you see something very soft you
will always find it covered with something hard. A seed is covered by a nut,
covered by a hard shell. The seed is very soft -- has to be, because a life is
going to bubble up, sprout -- but it is covered with a hard shell. That is
In man you will find just the opposite phenomenon: on the outside soft, the
shell soft and the seed hard, inside very hard. This is a perversion. In
nature it is natural to be hard on the outside because if you are not hard on
the outside you cannot be soft on the inside. The inner softness has to be
covered by a hardness. It protects. But in man you will find just the
opposite. This is what hypocrisy means -- soft outside, soft like butter, and
inside, the more you know the man the harder he is. A perversion. This should
not be so This is what your gentleman is, your cultured man is, your so-called
civilized man is -- the moral man, the religious man: so soft on the outside
and hard inside. This should be impossible -- it is possible only because only
man can pretend, nobody else can pretend.
A man of wisdom is again part of nature; all perversions have disappeared. He
will be rough on the outside and soft inside. You will have to be patient with
a man of wisdom -- you will want to escape from him because many times you
will feel he is so hard he will kill you. Or you came to get some consolation
and he goes on shocking you. You came to get some love, you were seeking some
love, and he never looks at you, never pays much attention to you. You came
for compassion and he is so hard. You would like to escape. But a man of
wisdom is always that way because he is natural, and nature has this way, this
is the arrangement: inside soft, outside hard.
Look at the bark of the tree, it is so hard on the outside. Move inside and
softer and softer layers you will find. Just at the center is life, absolutely
soft. It has to be protected.
... LIKE A PIECE OF UNDRESSED WOOD,
OPEN-MINDED, LIKE A VALLEY,
AND MIXING FREELY, LIKE MURKY WATER.
A wise man will look open-minded to you; in fact he is without mind, not
open-minded. you can be open-minded and closed-minded; a wise man is a
no-mind. But no-mind appears to you as open-minded, at the most. It is so
profound you cannot understand. At the most you can understand that this man
is very open, his mind is not closed, but you don't know that he has no mind
to close. He is not open-minded, he is simply a no-mind. It is not that the
doors of his house are open. In fact there exists no house. He is just under
the open sky, he has no house and no doors. He is not open, rather he is
But to us, from the outside, if we try to understand a wise man, these things
will happen. That's why anything that is written about Buddha goes wrong,
anything written about Lao Tzu goes wrong, anything written about Mahavir or
Jesus goes wrong. Because people who write, write through their understanding,
and a man like Jesus or Lao Tzu is so profound that whatsoever you understand
about him... be a little alert and hesitant, there is every possibility you
will misunderstand him. Love him, but don't try to understand him. Then one
day you may understand him. Be close, near, intimate, but don't try to
understand. Then one day there is a possibility that the mystery may be
unveiled to you.
But if you try to understand you will miss. And those who try to understand
and write books and theses will become the professors of the doctrine. They
create the religions in the world -- those who have misunderstood in the very
beginning, they create religions.
OPEN-MINDED, LIKE A VALLEY...
No, because a valley is surrounded by hills. It looks open but it is closed.
He is open like the sky, not closed by anything. A valley will disappear if
the mountains around it disappear; so mountains are part of the valley. A mind
which is open... his openness will disappear if the mind disappears; his
openness is just a part in the mind. A wise man is open like a sky. He is
AND MIXING FREELY, LIKE MURKY WATER.
And it will appear to you that a wise man goes on mixing freely like murky
water. Jesus stayed in a house with a prostitute because she invited him;
stayed with people who were known to be criminals because they invited him. Of
course he must have looked like murky water, not pure water like a Brahmin, a
puritan who says, "Don't touch me because I am pure."
It is reported that Shankara, the greatest Hindu philosopher ever, was
awakened by an untouchable. The untouchable became his guru. Up to that time
he was a great teacher, a man of knowledge; he had written great treatises on
the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, Bhagavad Gita, and he had been propounding a
certain philosophy: vedanta, advait vedant -- reality is non-dual, one.
Then one day it happened that he was coming out of the Ganges one early
morning; he had taken his bath and he was on the steps going back to his hut
when a Sudra, an untouchable, touched him.
He became angry and he said, "You have destroyed my bath. I will have to go
again and purify myself."
The Sudra said, "Wait just a single minute. I would like to ask you -- if
there is only one, if the whole existence is one, how can I and you exist? How
can you become impure by my touch? Who has touched you? Who has touched whom?"
As if from a deep sleep, the sleep of the man of knowledge -- and it is one
of the greatest sleeps, it is almost a coma -- Shankara was awakened.
And the man asked again, "What do you think? Has my body touched you or has
my soul touched you? Has my body touched your body? Or has my body touched
your soul? Do you think bodies are different -- your body, the body of a
Brahmin, pure, and my body, the body of a Sudra, impure? Do you think the five
elements out of which bodies are constituted are different for Brahmins and
Sudras, the untouchables? Do you think that if my body has touched you, it has
touched your soul and made it impure? Or if my soul has touched you, can you
say that the soul can also be an untouchable, a Sudra?"
A conversion -- his whole life turned upside-down... Shankara never went
again to take his bath.
He paid his respect to the Sudra and said, "You are my guru and you awakened
me out of my sleep. I was talking about that which is one but I had not known
If a really wise man exists he will look to you like murky water mixing
freely, because for him there is nobody pure and nobody impure. A man of
wisdom never thinks that he is pure and you are impure.
It is reported of Lieh Tzu, a great follower of Lao Tzu, that he had many
disciples in his ashram. A certain disciple was found stealing again and again
and he was creating a nuisance, but he was always forgiven by the Master. But
there came a point where it became too much and all five hundred disciples
went to Lieh Tzu and said, "Now it is enough. There is a limit to everything.
You have forgiven this man so many times, but he seems to be incurable. Now it
is time enough, throw him out!"
Lieh Tzu said, "Wait, brothers. You are all good people, moral, of good
character. Anywhere you go you will be accepted by other people, respected,
loved, served. And even without me you are so moral you will reach the truth.
But where will this brother go? He has nobody other than Lieh Tzu because
nobody will accept him. So all those who think that you cannot live with this
brother, you go. But I have to be with him, because where will he go? Who will
accept him? If Lieh Tzu rejects him then he is rejected, then nobody can
This is how a man of wisdom is. He will look as if he is mixing freely like
murky water. But he mixes freely because for him purity and impurity, good and
bad -- all divisions have disappeared. For him only one oceanic consciousness
exists, that's why he mixes freely. Jesus staying at the house of a prostitute
or staying at the house of a nun -- it is the same for Jesus, he goes to
sleep. It is the same for him because the prostitute is a form of the same and
the nun is also a form of the same. And nobody is pure and nobody is impure --
all duality gone, transcended. A man of wisdom lives in oneness, that's why he
mixes freely. There is no barrier for him.
WHO CAN FIND REPOSE IN A MUDDY WORLD?
BY LYING STILL, IT BECOMES CLEAR.
Says Lao Tzu:
WHO CAN FIND REPOSE IN A MUDDY WORLD?
THE WORLD IS MUDDY. How will you find repose in it? How will you find peace
in it? By lying still. You don't do anything, don't try to purify it,
otherwise you will muddle it more. Just lie down on the bank, wait. By lying
still it becomes clear on its own accord. Don't be worried about transforming
the world; don't be worried about changing others. Who are you? And who has
sent you on this mission to change others? Everybody is directly related to
the divine. Why are you there to interfere? You just sit silently.
WHO CAN MAINTAIN HIS CALM FOR LONG?
Calmness comes, silence comes, but who can maintain it for long?
BY ACTIVITY IT COMES BACK TO LIFE.
By activity you can maintain it. If you try to maintain it by continuous
inactivity it will be impossible; one has to move into opposites to remain
always transcendental. In the day you work, in the night you sleep. If you
continuously work for twenty-four hours a day it will be death; if you
continuously sleep for twenty-four hours a day, that will also be death.
In the day work hard -- and in working hard you are gaining the capacity to
sleep. In the night sleep completely -- in sleeping completely you are
regaining, refreshing, rejuvenating your energies to work hard. Move into a
rhythm. Lean to the right, lean to the left and always keep the balance.
Repose can be maintained, calm can be maintained, only by not remaining
inactive forever and ever. That mistake has been made in India. sannyasins
remaining inactive continuously cannot remain silent. Be a householder and be
a sannyasin together; be in the world and be out of it also, together.
Remember always that life is a togetherness of opposites -- a deep harmony.
HE WHO EMBRACES THIS TAO
GUARDS AGAINST BEING OVER-FULL.
Whosoever comes to know that Tao is balance, religion is balance, God is
balance, GUARDS AGAINST BEING OVER-FULL. Don't move too much to one side,
otherwise the balance will be lost, and imbalance is the only sin for Lao Tzu.
To be balanced is to be virtuous, to be imbalanced is to be in sin.
BECAUSE HE GUARDS AGAINST BEING OVER-FULL,
HE IS BEYOND WEARING OUT AND RENEWAL
He is always fresh and young; he is never weary, he is never tired. The
balance gives him eternal life. Balance is vitality. Balance is life.
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