I love the Gautam Buddha as I have loved nobody else. I have been speaking on him throughout my whole life. Even speaking on others I have been speaking on him. Take note of it, it is a confession. I cannot speak on Jesus without bringing Buddha in; I cannot speak on Mohammed without bringing Buddha in. Whether I mention him directly or not that's another matter. It is really impossible for me to speak without bringing Buddha in. He is my very blood, my bones, my very marrow. He is my silence, also my song. book06
Ordinarily religions like Christianity or Mohammedanism are afraid that if they allow somebody to come too close, they may lose their own identity. Buddhism was never afraid, and it never lost its identity.
I have been to Buddhist conferences where people from Tibet and Japan and Sri Lanka and China and Burma and other countries were present, and that has been my one experience—that they all differed with each other, but they were still connected with a single devotion towards Gautam Buddha. About that there was no problem, no conflict.
And this was the only conference—I have attended many conferences of other different religions, but this had something unique about it, because I was using my own experience in interpreting the teachings of Buddha. They were all different, and I was bringing still another different interpretation.
But they listened silently, lovingly, patiently, and thanked me, "We have not been aware that this interpretation is also possible. You have made us aware of a certain aspect of Buddha, and for twenty-five centuries thousands of people have interpreted it, but have never pointed this out."
One of the Buddhist leaders, Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan, told me, "Whatever you say sounds right. The stories that you tell about Gautam Buddha look absolutely true, but I have been searching into scriptures—my whole life I have devoted to the scriptures—and a few of your stories are not described anywhere."
I asked him, "For example?"
And he said, "One story I have loved. I looked again and again in every possible source—for three years I have been looking into it. It is not described anywhere; you must have invented it."
The story I have told many times. Gautam Buddha is walking on the road. A fly sits on his head, and he goes on talking with Ananda, his disciple, and mechanically moves his hand and the fly goes away. Then he stops, suddenly—because he has done that movement of the hand without awareness. And to him that is the only wrong thing in life—to do anything without awareness, even moving your hand, although you have not harmed anybody.
So he stands and again takes his hand through the same posture of waving away the fly—although there is no fly any more. Ananda is just surprised at what he is doing, and he says, "The fly you have brushed away from your face long before. What are you doing now? There is no fly."
Buddha said, "What I am doing now is…that time I moved my hand mechanically, like a robot. It was a mistake. Now I am doing it as I should have done, just to teach me a lesson so that never again anything like this happens. Now I am moving my hand with full awareness. The fly is not the point. The point is, whether in my hand there is awareness and grace and love and compassion, or not. Now it is right. It should have been this way."
I had told that story in Nagpur at a Buddhist conference. Anand Kausalyayan heard it there, and three years later in Bodhgaya—where there was an international conference of the Buddhists—he said, "The story was so beautiful, so essentially Buddhist, that I wanted to believe that it was true. But in the scriptures it is not there."
I said, "Forget the scriptures. The question is whether the story is essentially characteristic of Gautam Buddha or not, whether it carries some message of Gautam Buddha or not."
He said, "It does, certainly. This is his essential teaching: awareness in every action. But it is not historical."
I said, "Who cares about history?"
And in that conference I told them, "You should remember it, that history is a Western concept. In the East we have never cared about history because history only collects facts. In the East there is no word equivalent to history, and in the East there was no tradition of writing history. In the East, instead of history we have been writing mythology.
"Mythology may not be factual, but it has the truth in it. A myth may have never happened. It is not a photograph of a fact; it is a painting. And there is a difference between a photograph and a painting. A painting brings out something of you which no photograph can bring out. The photograph can only bring out your outlines.
"A great painter can bring you out in it—your sadness, your blissfulness, your silence. The photograph cannot catch hold of it because they are not physical things. But a great painter or a great sculptor can manage to catch hold of them. He's not much concerned about the outlines, he is much more concerned about the inner reality."
And I told the conference, "I would like this story to be added to the scriptures because all the scriptures were written after Gautam Buddha's death—three hundred years afterwards. So what difference does it make if I add few more stories after twenty-five centuries, not three centuries. The whole question is that it should represent the essential reality, the basic taste."
And you will be surprised that people agreed with me; even Bhadant Anand Kausalyayan agreed with me. This kind of understanding and agreement is a Buddhist phenomenon, it is a speciality which has happened in different branches of Buddhism.
And I am not even a Buddhist. And they went on inviting me to their conferences. And I told them, "I am not a Buddhist."
They said, "That does not matter. What you say is closer to Gautam Buddha than what we say—although we are Buddhists."
You cannot expect that from Christians or Mohammedans or Hindus. They are fanatics.
Buddhism is a non-fanatic religion. transm21
There exists now in Sarnath a great institution teaching the philosophy of Buddha and his language, Pali. The director of the institute, Bhikkshu Jagdish Kashyap, invited me to his institute to speak on Gautam the Buddha, but I had to leave after one day. He had come to take me to the station. He said, "This is strange; why are you leaving after one day?"
I said, "For the same reason that Gautam Buddha left this place after one day."
He said, "It is strange, but we have been discussing…" and he was a Buddhist, "We have been discussing for all these centuries why he did not stay."
I said, "You are all idiots! Just see! I have moved around the whole country but I have never seen such big mosquitoes." And Buddha was not using mosquito nets. It would have been difficult carrying a mosquito net, he was traveling and traveling.
But I told Jagdish Kashyap, "You should at least give mosquito nets to every student and scholar and researcher in your institute, not only for the night but for the day too."
I stayed there for twenty-four hours inside a mosquito net! nomind03
I have experienced many times—because I have lived with many so-called saints—that saints are the worst company in the world. You cannot imagine: to live with a saint for twenty-four hours is enough to make you decide never to be a saint. From the morning till the night they are moving like robots, everything according to principle.
The Buddhist monk has thirty-three thousand principles. I told one Buddhist monk…he is an Englishman, converted at an early age—now he is very old. Bhikkhu Sangha Rakshita is his name, and he has lived in Kalimpong between Tibet and India, almost his whole life. He has written beautiful books on Tibetanism, and is certainly one of its authorities as far as scholarship is concerned.
Just by chance I was holding a camp in Bodh Gaya where Buddha became enlightened, and he had come to pay homage to the temple and to the tree where Buddha became enlightened. Just by coincidence I was also there sitting under the tree when he came. We became friends.
I told Sangha Rakshita, "I cannot visualize myself ever becoming a Buddhist monk because my memory is not good. Thirty-three thousand principles! Following all those principles is out of the question; I cannot even remember them. And if you are following thirty-three thousand principles in such a small life, where will you find time to live or to breathe? Those thirty-three thousand principles will kill you from all sides." dark30
I had a case sent to me from Ceylon, which is a Buddhist country, with so many Buddhist priests preaching Vipassana meditation…. The technique is so simple, but they have never done it themselves. To teach anything to anybody which you have not done—and experienced all its possibilities, consequences, difficulties, problems that it can lead you into—then you are a criminal.
This man who was sent to me was a Buddhist monk. He had lost his sleep for three years, and every treatment was done but no treatment was successful; no medicine would work. He had been told by his teacher—I cannot call him a master—to do Vipassana in the night. Even if you do Vipassana in the day, its effects will carry into the night; that's why I am suggesting the most distant point, before sunrise. Just two hours are enough; more than that…even nectar can become poison in a certain quantity.
Vipassana for ten hours a day can drive anybody mad….
Vipassana is one of the greatest meditations, but only in the hands of a master. In the hands of a technician it is the greatest danger. Either the man can become enlightened or the man can become mad; both possibilities are there, it all depends under whose guidance it is being done.
When the Ceylonese monk was sent to me I said, "I am not a Buddhist, and you have been under the guidance of Buddhist monks. What was the need for you to come to me?"
He said, "They have all failed. They have taught me, but they cannot cure me. And I am going crazy. I cannot sleep a single wink."
When he told me this…Buddhist monks are not supposed to laugh, but I told him a joke. For a moment he was shocked, because he had come very seriously. I told him that a man in England, no ordinary man but a very rich lord, was asking another lord—with the English attitude, mannerism: "Is it right that you slept with my wife last night?" And the other lord said, "My friend, not a wink."
Even the Buddhist monk laughed. He said, "You are a strange person. I have come from Ceylon and you tell me a joke! And I am a religious man."
I said, "That's why I am telling you a religious joke. If you stay with me I will tell you irreligious jokes too."
I said, "Your problem is not curable by any medicine. Your problem is created by your Vipassana."
He said, "Vipassana? But Vipassana was the meditation of Gautam Buddha; through it he became enlightened."
I said, "You are not a Gautam Buddha, and you don't understand that Vipassana done after sunset is very dangerous. If you do Vipassana for just two hours in the night, then you cannot sleep. It creates such awareness in you that that awareness continues the whole night." pilgr07
I have been searching for jokes which have their origin in India. I have not found a single one. Serious people…always talking about God and heaven and hell and reincarnation and the philosophy of karma. The joke does not fit in anywhere.
When I started talking—and I was talking about meditation—I might tell a joke. Once in a while some Jaina monk or a Buddhist monk or a Hindu preacher would come to me and say, "You were talking so beautifully about meditation, but why did you bring in that joke? It destroyed everything. People started laughing. They were getting serious. You destroyed all your effort. You did something for half an hour to make them serious, and then you told a joke and you destroyed the whole thing. Why in the world should you tell a joke? Buddha never told a joke. Krishna never told a joke."
I would say, "I am neither Buddha nor Krishna, and I am not interested in seriousness."
In fact, because they were becoming serious, I had to bring in that joke. I don't want anybody to become serious. I want everybody to be playful. And life has to become, more and more, closer to laughter than seriousness. mystic40