It is your freedom to be a Buddha or not to be a Buddha….
I HAVE WORN THE MALA FOR LESS THAN A MONTH, BUT I UNDERSTAND HOW FEELING YOU IS IMPORTANT. BUT THESE FEELINGS ARE MIXED UP. I RESPECT AND LOVE YOU, BUT I DON’T LOOK AT YOU AS HIS HOLINESS. STRANGE, BUT I LOOK AT YOU AS A BUDDHA. ONLY THAT, WITHOUT ANYTHING ADDED OR TAKEN AWAY FROM YOUR BEING. AND WHAT A BUDDHA IS I DON’T KNOW. HOW COME I LOVE YOU, RESPECT YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MY MASTER. BUT…LOVE? ALSO I SEE THAT I CAN PLAY WITH YOU WITH JOY AND YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY. OR SO CLOSE? RESPECT, LOVE, JOY — ARE THEY THE SAME?
IT IS GOOD THAT YOU CANNOT THINK OF ME AS HIS Holiness, because I am neither His Holiness nor His Unholiness. It is good and beautiful that you think of me as a Buddha, because that’s exactly what I am — simply a Buddha.
A Buddha means one who is awake. It has nothing to do with holiness, nothing to do with unholiness. Holiness, unholiness, both are dreams; for dreams you have to be asleep. A Buddha is awake; all dreams have disappeared. A Buddha is not a saint, is not a sinner either. A Buddha is not God and is not a devil either. All dualities are irrelevant as far as Buddha is concerned. Buddha is simply a witness of all the mystery that surrounds you within and without.
It is absolutely right, you are moving in the right direction. If you start looking at me as a Buddha, that is a fundamental step to understanding me. If you think of me as a saint you have misunderstood me.
That’s one of the fundamental problems with Indians who come here: they start thinking about me as a saint. Then a thousand and one problems arise because they have certain ideas about how a saint should be They have a thousand and one expectations: how I should live, what I should eat, how I should talk, what I should say and what I should not say.
I am not a saint, hence I cannot fulfill any of their expectations. Then they feel very frustrated and out of frustration they become enraged. It has nothing to do with me; it is their own minds, their own expectations. I am not here to fulfill anybody’s expectations; I am here to be myself, simply to be myself. I am not here to be somebody else’s carbon copy.
It is good that a great clarity is coming to you. But still somewhere deep down in the unconscious there are hangovers, hence you are puzzled. You are puzzled because you cannot understand: “How come I love you?” Because saints are to be respected, not loved. They are so high, there in the heavens, and you are so low, how can you love them? Love means equality. Love means we are standing on the same plane. Saints are so holy and you are so unholy! Yes, respect is okay, but love? — seems to be impossible. These are hangovers.
But I would like to say to you: ‘respect’ is an ugly word; it has more letters than four, but actually it is a four-letter word. Respect is bound to be ugly in two ways: if you respect somebody you degrade yourself into inferiority; unless you start feeling inferior to somebody you cannot respect them. Hence all your saints go on condemning you; unless you are condemned they cannot be respected. The respect from your side is dependent on the condemnation from their side. They call you sinners, only then can you call them saints. They condemn everything that you do: your eating, your drinking, your living…. Your whole life, in every minute detail, has to be condemned. All that is natural has to be condemned; then their unnatural lives become very respectable.
I am not a saint. I am simply a man just like you, with only one small difference — and that difference does not make me superior to you, remember it. It does not make you inferior to me, remember it. Never for a single moment forget that you may be asleep and I may be awake, but one day 1 was asleep just like you and one day you can be awake just like me. Sleep and waking are as much YOUR potential as they are MY potential. Sleep and waking are two sides of the same coin, and how can one side be superior to the other side? Both sides are of the same coin. You are asleep, I am awake, but this does not make me superior in any way.
In fact, Buddha has said that the day he became a Buddha, the day he became enlightened, the whole universe became enlightened with him. What does he mean? He means the day he became enlightened he became aware that EVERYBODY can become enlightened. This is nothing special; it is an ordinary quality of every being. You may not use it — that is YOUR choice; you may not actualize your potential — that is YOUR decision and you are free to decide that way. You may choose to remain asleep, but you are not committing any sin. You are not doomed just because you are asleep. Any moment you can decide to wake up.
It is your freedom to be a Buddha or not to be a Buddha — and if you like sleep and the dreams it’s perfectly okay with me. I respect your freedom.
You can love me. You cannot love your saints; they are too far away. I am standing just by your side! I am not sitting on a golden throne somewhere high in the heavens; I am walking on the earth with you, I am as earthly as you are. Just a little difference — I say difference, not superiority — and the difference is that I am no more asleep, no more dreaming.
And you can come out of your dreams THIS VERY MOMENT, because dreams cannot hold you; they cannot keep you imprisoned in themselves. You can burst forth from them. You are an imprisoned splendor, but you are imprisoned through your own choice. You have gone into the prison through your own choice — this is your decision.
You have imprisoned yourself. This simply proves your freedom. Any day, if you want to get out of it, you can get out of it. I go on hammering only one thing on your head again and again: that there is another choice also, please don’t forget. You have chosen to be in sleep, you can choose to be awake. You have lived in sleep for many many lives, you have seen all that sleep makes possible, now please see what awakening can give to you.
I have seen both and I tell you that sleep cannot give you anything; it only promises but never delivers any goods. Sleep can give you only dreams, hallucinations; sleep cannot fulfill you. I have known both, you have known only one. Those who have known both, listen to what they are saying. And if you come close to them you are BOUND to fall in love with them.
It is not a question of respect; respect is a formality. You respect the Christian priest, you respect the Hindu mahatma, you respect the Jaina MUNI, YOU respect the Catholic monk, you respect the Pope. You don’t respect Christ or Buddha or Krishna — you love them.
Respect is very ordinary; it brings no revolution in your life. It is a trick of the mind. The mind says, “Look how much I respect the holy people!” and there it is finished. Now what more can you do? You can respect them, sometimes you can go and touch their feet — it becomes a formality.
It is good, that you love me. Forget the word ‘respect’; love is absolutely right. And don’t be puzzled.
You say: HOW COME I LOVE YOU? I RESPECT YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MY MASTER.
Yes, respect always has a ‘because’; love has no ‘because’. Love is simply there for no reason at all. Respect is logical; you can say why you respect a person: he eats only once a day; he has renounced the world, his wife, children, family, everything; he sleeps for only three hours or maybe he remains awake the whole night; he is continuously chanting the name of God…things like this. Or he serves the poor, or he goes to the ill people and serves them.
What will happen if poverty disappears? It will be a great loss to your saints! In fact, you will not believe it — one of the very respected Hindu saints, Karpatri, has written a book AGAINST socialism, and the reasons that he has given against socialism are all so stupid. The MOST stupid reason of all of them is that socialism will destroy poverty; it will create equal distribution of property and possessions. And if there are no more poor people, whom will you serve? And without service, how can you be a saint? Without service there will be no virtue.
This is a great argument! This means poverty is needed, very essentially needed – needed for the existence of the saints. Ill people are needed, lepers and blind and lame and deaf people are needed, otherwise whom will the missionaries serve? And without serving you cannot reach heaven; service is the ladder. So let people be poor!
And when these people serve poor people, you respect them. In fact they are the causes of poverty in the world. The poverty can be removed any day; now science has made all the technology available that can remove poverty from the earth absolutely. But then how will Christian missionaries be able to convert poor people to Christianity?
In India, not even a single rich person has been converted to Christianity, only poor people, very poor people. And they are converted to Christianity not because they love Christ but because they love bread and butter. The Christian missionaries can supply them with a little food, clothes, shelter, a school, a hospital. Now Christian missionaries will not like it at all if poverty disappears from the world, neither will the Hindu saints like it.
If you become a little bit alert and start looking around you will be surprised: your saints need psychoanalysis, your saints need psychological treatment. They are utterly ill! And because they are repressing all their desires, sooner or later they start living a double life. They start living two lives together: one on the surface, the saintly, and the real underground, from the back door. And you go on respecting the masks.
I don’t expect your respect for me, no, not at all. Love is enough, love is right, because love gives you equality with me. And as far as I am concerned I see you as equals — not only you, but the trees and the birds and the animals and the rocks. The whole existence is a brotherhood. Nobody is higher and nobody is lower; there is no hierarchy. It is only ONE God expressing itself in millions of forms. How can there be any hierarchy? There is no BRAHMIN and no SUDRA.
You say: I RESPECT YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE MY MASTER.
Forget the respect! Love me because I am your Master — and not for any formal reason, because to be a disciple can never be formal; it can only be of the heart.
You say: ALSO I FEEL THAT I CAN PLAY WITH YOU WITH JOY AND YOU ARE SO FAR AWAY. OR SO CLOSE?
Both are true; simultaneously I am far away and very close — very close because the awakening is just the other side of the coin, and very far because awakening takes you into a totally different world from sleep. Sleep takes you into dreams, awakening into reality. To be awake is the door to God. Yes, I am far away and yet very close by.
You also ask: RESPECT, JOY, LOVE — ARE THEY THE SAME?
No, they are not the same — certainly respect and love are not the same. Respect is a poor substitute for love, a plastic substitute for the real rose. It may appear like the rose but it is not. It has no roots in the earth, no juices flow through it. It has no contact with the sun and the wind and the rain. It is disconnected from existence. It is simply a plastic flower, looks like a rose — it is an imitation. Respect is a plastic flower, love is a real rose.
And joy never arises out of respect. In fact, out of respect a little sadness arises. If you have observed closely, whenever you respect somebody you feel humiliated. You may not look at your humiliation because it hurts, but whenever you respect somebody there is humiliation — because if somebody is superior you ARE inferior, and the inferiority hurts. You can avoid it, you may not see it, you may keep it at the back, you may forget all about it, but it is there. If you search for it you will always find it lurking in the darkness of your unconscious.
Respect cannot give you joy, but love certainly gives you joy. Joy is a by-product of love, the aura of love. Wherever love is there is joy, there is silence, there is benediction.
Anybody can see it here. You are sitting in such silence! You may be the only commune on the whole of the earth sitting in such silence, in such love — engulfed, encompassed, by something of the beyond.
Others who don’t know about love, may misunderstand your love as respect because they know only respect. Those who have never seen any real rose may think that the plastic flower is the real rose.
Those who don’t know real roses and have always known the plastic, if you bring them to a rosebush they will think that these are plastic flowers attached to the bush.
People who come from the outside, seeing you sitting with me in deep communion, in deep love, your hearts beating with my heartbeat, will think that you are in deep respect. It is not respect at all! It is the real thing, not the synthetic flower. It is happening — it is a rare opportunity.
When there is somebody awake, many people who are groping in their sleep to be awake, longing in their sleep to be awake, start moving towards the source wherever awakening has happened. That’s how you have arrived here from faraway countries. You may not even be aware of how you have reached here; you may think it is just accidental. It is not. Many many lives of longing to find a Buddha, to find a Christ, have brought you here. You are ancient pilgrims. Now you have found the opportunity.
You are fortunate to love, fortunate to feel the joy of love, fortunate because this love is going to become a door to the divine.
From : Be Still and Know ch. 4