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Walking the Tightrope - To Be Yourself
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OSHO : The Art of Dying, Chapter 3

Once, when the Hasidim were seated together in all brotherliness, pipe in hand, Rabbi Israel joined them. Because he was so friendly they asked him: "Tell us, dear Rabbi, how should we serve God?"

He was surprised at the question, and replied: "How should I know?" but then he went on to tell them this story:

There were two friends of the king, and both were proved guilty of a crime. Since he loved them the king wanted to show them mercy, but he could not acquit them because even a king's word cannot prevail over the law. So he gave this verdict: A rope was to be stretched over a deep chasm and, one after another, the two were to walk across it. Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life.
It was done as the king ordered, and the first of the friends got safely across.
The other, still standing on the same spot, cried to him: "Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?"
The first called back: "I don't know anything but this: whenever I felt myself toppling over to one side, I leaned to the other."

Existence is paradoxical; paradox is its very core. It exists through opposites, it is a balance in the opposites. And one who learns how to balance becomes capable of knowing what life is, what existence is, what God is. The secret key is balance.

A few things before we enter into this story.... First, we have been trained in Aristotelian logic -- which is linear, one-dimensional. Life is not Aristotelian at all, it is Hegelian. Logic is not linear, logic is dialectical. The very process of life is dialectic, a meeting of the opposites -- a conflict between the opposites and yet a meeting of the opposites. And life goes through this dialectical process: from thesis to antithesis, from antithesis to synthesis -- and then again the synthesis becomes a thesis. The whole process starts again.

If Aristotle is true then there will be only men and no women, or, only women and no men. If the world was made according to Aristotle then there will be only light and no darkness, or, only darkness and no light. That would be logical. There would be either life or death but not both.

But life is not based on Aristotle's logic, life has both. And life is really possible only because of both, because of the opposites: man and woman, yin and yang, day and night, birth and death, love and hate. Life consists of both.

This is the first thing you have to allow to sink deep into your heart -- because Aristotle is in everybody's head.

The whole education system of the world believes in Aristotle -- although for the very advanced scientific minds Aristotle is out of date. He no longer applies. Science has gone beyond Aristotle because science has come closer to existence. And now science understands that life is dialectical, not logical.

I have heard....

Do you know that on Noah's ark, making love was forbidden while on board?
When the couples filed out of the ark after the flood, Noah watched them leave. Finally the tomcat and the she-cat left, followed by a number of very young kittens. Noah raised his eyebrows questioningly, and the tom-cat said to him: "You thought we were fighting!"
Noah must have been Aristotelian; the tomcat knew better.

Love is a sort of fight, love is a fight. Without fight love cannot exist. They look opposite -- because we think lovers should never fight. It is logical: if you love somebody how can you fight? It is absolutely clear, obvious to the intellect, that lovers should never fight -- but they do. In fact, they are intimate enemies; they are continuously fighting. In that very fight the energy that is called love is released. Love is not only fight, love is not only struggle, that's true -- it is more than that. It is fight too, but love transcends. The fight cannot destroy it. Love survives fight but it cannot exist without it.

Look into life: life is non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean.

If you don't force your concepts on life, if you simply look at things as they are, then you will be suddenly surprised to see that opposites are complementaries. And the tension between the opposites is the very basis on which life exists -- otherwise it would disappear. Think of a world where death does not exist.... Your mind may say: "Then life will be there eternally," but you are wrong. If death does not exist life will simply disappear. It cannot exist without death; death gives it the background, death gives it color and richness, death gives it passion and intensity.

So death is not against life -- the first thing -- death is involved in life. And if you want to live authentically you have to learn how to continuously die authentically. You have to keep a balance between birth and death and you have to remain just in the middle. That remaining in the middle cannot be a static thing: it is not that once you have attained to a thing -- finished, then there is nothing to be done. That is nonsense. One never achieves balance forever, one has to achieve it again and again and again.

This is very difficult to understand because our minds have been cultivated in concepts which are not applicable to real life. You think that once you have attained meditation then there is no need of anything more, then you will be in meditation. You are wrong. Meditation is not a static thing. It is a balance. You will have to attain it again and again and again. You will become more and more capable of attaining it, but it is not going to remain forever, like a possession in your hands. It has to be claimed each moment -- only then is it yours. You cannot rest, you cannot say: "I have meditated and I have realized that now there is no need for me to do anything more. I can rest."

Life does not believe in rest; it is a constant movement from perfection to more perfection.

Listen to me: from perfection to more perfection. It is never imperfect, it is always perfect, but always more perfection is possible. Logically these statements are absurd.

I was reading an anecdote....

A man was charged with using counterfeit money to pay a bill. At his hearing, the defendant pleaded that he didn't know the money was phony. Pressed for proof, he admitted: "Because I stole it. Would I be stealing money that I knew was counterfeit?"
After thinking it over, the Judge decided that made good sense, so he then tossed out the counterfeit charge. But he substituted a new charge -- theft. "Sure, I stole it," the defendant conceded amiably. "But counterfeit money has no legal value. Since when is it a crime to steal nothing?"
No one could find any flaw in his logic, so the man went free.

But logic won t do in life. You cannot go free so easily.

You can come out of a legal trap legally and logically because the trap consists of Aristotelian logic -- you can use the same logic to come out of it. But in life you will not be able to come out because of logic, because of theology, because of philosophy, because you are very clever -- clever in inventing theories. You can come out of life or you can go beyond life only through actual experience.

There are two types of people who are religious.

The first type is childish; it is searching for a father-figure. The first type is immature; it cannot rely upon itself, hence it needs a God somewhere or other. The God may exist or not -- that is not the point -- but a God is needed. Even if the God is not there the immature mind will invent him, because the immature mind has a psychological need -- it is not a question of truth whether God is there or not, it is a psychological need.

In the Bible it is said God made man in his own image, but the reverse is more true: man made God in his own image. Whatsoever is your need you create that sort of God, that's why the concept of God goes on changing in every age. Every country has its own concept because every country has its own need. In fact, every single person has a different concept of God because his own needs are there and they have to be fulfilled.

So the first type of religious person -- the so-called religious person -- is simply immature. His religion is not religion but psychology. And when religion is psychology it is just a dream, a wish-fulfillment, a desire. It has nothing to do with reality.

I was reading....

A small boy was saying his prayers and concluded with this remark: "Dear God, take care of Mommy, take care of Daddy, take care of baby sister and Aunt Emma and Uncle John and Grandma and Grandpa -- and, please God, take care of yourself, or else we're all sunk!"

This is the God of the majority. Ninety per cent of the so-called religious people are immature people. They believe because they cannot live without belief; they believe because belief gives a sort of security; they believe because belief helps them to feel protected. It is their dream, but it helps. In the dark night of life, in the deep struggle of existence, without such a belief they will feel left alone. But their God is their God, not the God of reality. And once they get rid of their immaturity, their God will disappear.

That's what has happened to many people. In this century many people have become irreligious -- not that they have come to know that God does not exist but only because this age has made man a little more mature.

Man has come of age; man has become a little more mature.

So the God of the childhood, the God of the immature mind, has simply become irrelevant.

That is the meaning when Friedrich Nietzsche declares that "God is dead." It is not God that is dead, it is the God of the immature mind that is dead. In fact to say that God is dead is not right because that God was never alive. The only right expression will be to say that "God is no more relevant" Man can rely more upon himself -- he does not need belief, he does not need the crutches of belief.

Hence people have become less and less interested in religion. They have become indifferent to what goes on in the church. They have become so indifferent to it that they will not even argue against it. If you say: "Do you believe in God?" they will say: "It's okay whether he is or not, it doesn't make any difference, it doesn't matter." Just to be polite, if you believe, they will say: "Yes, he is." If you don't believe, they will say: "No, he is not." But it is no more a passionate concern.

This is the first type of religion; it has existed for centuries, down the centuries, down the ages, and it is becoming more and more outmoded, out of date. Its time is finished. A new God is needed -- who is not psychological; a new God is needed -- who is existential, the God of reality, the God as reality. We can even drop the word "God" -- "the real" will do, "the existential" will do.

Then there is a second type of religious people for whom religion is not out of fear. The first type of religion is out of fear, the second type -- also bogus, also pseudo, also so-called -- is not out of fear, it is only out of cleverness. There are very clever people who go on inventing theories, who are very trained in logic, in metaphysics, in philosophy. They create a religion which is just an abstraction: a beautiful piece of art work, of intelligence, of intellectuality, of philosophizing. But it never penetrates life, it never touches life anywhere, it simply remains an abstract conceptualization.

Once Mulla Nasrudin was saying to me: "I have never been what I oughta been. I stole chickens and watermelons, got drunk and got in fights with my fists and my razor, but there is one thing I ain't never done: in spite of all my meanness I ain't never lost my religion."

Now what kind of religion is that? It has no impact on life.

You believe, but that belief never penetrates your life, never transforms it.

It never becomes an intrinsic part of you, it never circulates in your blood, you never breath it in or breathe it out, it never beats in your heart -- it is simply something useless. Ornamental maybe, at the most, but of no utility to you. Some day you go to the church; it is a formality, a social need. And you can pay lip service to God, to the Bible, to the Koran, to the Vedas, but you don't mean it, you are not sincere about it. Your life goes on without it, your life goes on in a totally different way -- it has nothing to do with religion.

Watch...somebody says he is a Mohammedan, somebody says he is a Hindu, somebody says he is a Christian, somebody says he is a Jew -- their beliefs are different but watch their life and you will not find any difference. The Mohammedan, the Jew, the Christian, the Hindu -- they all live the same life. Their life is not at all touched by their belief. In fact, beliefs cannot touch your life, beliefs are devices. Beliefs are cunning devices through which you say: "I know what life is" -- and you can rest at ease, you are not troubled by life. You hold a concept and that concept helps you to rationalize. Then life does not bother you much because you have all the answers to all the questions.

But remember...unless religion is personal, unless religion is not abstract but real, deep in your roots, deep in your guts, unless it is like blood and bone and marrow, it is futile, it is of no use. It is the religion of the philosophers not the religion of the sages.

When the third type comes in...and that is the real type.

These other two are the falsifications of religion, pseudo-dimensions -- cheap, very easy, because they don't challenge you. The third is very difficult, arduous; it is a great challenge; it will create a turmoil in your life -- because the third, the real religion says God has to be addressed in a personal way. You have to provoke him and you have to allow him to provoke you and you have to come to terms with him; in fact, you have to struggle with him, you have to clash against him. You have to love him, and you have to hate him; you have to be a friend and you have to be an enemy; you have to make your experience of God a living experience.

I have heard about a small child -- and I would like you to be like this small child. He was really smart....
A little boy was lost at a Sunday school picnic. His mother began a frantic search for him, and soon she heard loud sounds in a childish voice calling: "Estelle, Estelle!"
She quickly spotted the youngster and rushed up to grab him in her arms. "Why did you keep calling me by my name, Estelle, instead of Mother?" she asked him, as he had never called her by her first name before. "Well," the youngster answered, "it was no use calling out 'Mother' -- the place is full of them."

If you call "mother" there are so many mothers -- the place is full of them. You have to call in a personal way, you have to call the first name.

Unless God is also called in a personal way, addressed with the first name, it will never become a reality in your life.

You can go on calling "father" but whose father are you talking about? When Jesus called him "father" it was a personal address, when you call, it is absolutely impersonal. It is Christian but impersonal. When Jesus called him "father" it was-meaningful; when you call "father" it is meaningless -- you have made no contact, no real contact with him. Only experience of life -- neither belief nor philosophy -- only experience of life will make you able to address him in a personal way. Then you can encounter him.

And unless God is encountered you are simply deceiving yourself with words...with words which are empty, hollow, with words which have no content.

There was a very famous Sufi mystic, Shaqiq was his name. He trusted God so deeply, so tremendously, that he lived only out of that trust.

Jesus says to his disciples: "Look at those lilies in the field -- they Labour not and yet they are so beautiful and so alive that not even Solomon was so beautiful in all his glory." Shaqiq lived the life of a lily. There have been very few mystics who have lived that way but there have been people who have lived that way. The trust is so infinite, the trust is so absolute that there is no need to do anything -- God goes on doing things for you: In fact, even when you are doing them he is doing them; it is only that you think you are doing them.

One day a man came to Shaqiq accusing him of idleness, laziness, and asked him to work for him. "I will pay you according to your services," the man added.

Shaqiq replied: "I would accept your offer if it weren't for five drawbacks. First, you might go broke. Second, thieves might steal your wealth. Third, whatever you give me you will do so grudgingly. Fourth, if you find faults with my work, you'll probably fire me. Fifth, should death come to you, I'll lose the source of my sustenance. Now," Shaqiq concluded, "it happens that I have a Master who is totally devoid of such imperfections."

This is what trust is. Trust in life then you cannot lose anything.

But that trust cannot come by doctrination, that trust cannot come by education, preaching, studying, thinking -- that trust can only come by experiencing life in all its opposites, in all its contradictions, in all its paradoxes. When with in all the paradoxes you come to the point of balance, there is trust. Trust is a perfume of balance, the fragrance of balance.

If you really want to attain to trust, drop all your beliefs. They will not help. A believing mind is a stupid mind; a trusting mind has pure intelligence in it. A believing mind is a mediocre mind; a trusting mind becomes perfect. Trust makes perfect.

And the difference between belief and trust is simple. I am not talking about the dictionary meaning of the words -- in the dictionary it may be so: belief means trust, trust means faith, faith means belief -- I am talking about existence. In an existential way belief is borrowed, trust is yours. Belief you believe in but doubt exists just underneath. Trust has no doubt element in it; it is simply devoid of doubt. Belief creates a division in you: a part of your mind believes, a part of your mind denies. Trust is a unity in your being, your totality.

But how can your totality trust unless you have experienced it? The God of Jesus won't do, the God of my experience won't do for you, the God of Buddha's experience won't do -- it has to be your experience. And if you carry beliefs you will come again and again to experiences which don't fit the belief, and then there is the tendency of the mind not to see those experiences, not to take note of them because they are very disturbing. They destroy your belief and you want to cling to your belief. Then you become more and more blind to life -- belief becomes a blindfold on the eyes.

Trust opens the eyes; trust has nothing to lose.

Trust means whatsoever is real is real -- "I can put my desires and wishes aside, they don't make any difference to reality. They can only distract my mind from reality."

If you have a belief and you come against an experience which the belief says is not possible, or, the experience is such that you have to drop the belief, what are you going to choose -- the belief or the experience? The tendency of the mind is to choose the belief, to forget about the experience. That's how you have been missing many opportunities when God has knocked at your door.

Remember -- it is not only you who are seeking truth -- truth is also seeking you. Many times the hand has come very close to you, it has almost touched you, but you shrugged yourself away. It was not fitting with your belief and you chose to choose your belief.

I have heard a very beautiful Jewish joke.

There is a joke about a vampire who flew into Patrick O'Rourke's bedroom one night for the purpose of drinking his blood. Remembering the stories his mother told him, O'Rourke grabbed a crucifix and brandished it frantically in the vampire's face. The vampire paused for a moment, shook his head condolingly, clucked his tongue, and commented genially in the purest Yiddish: "Oy vey, bubbula! Have you ever got the wrong vampire!"

Now, if the vampire is Christian, good! You can show the cross. But if the vampire is Jewish, then what? Then: "Oy vey, bubbula! Have you ever got the wrong vampire!"

If you have a certain belief and life does not fit with it, what are you going to do? You can go on showing your crucifix -- but the vampire is a Jew. Then he is not going to take any note of your cross. Then what are you going to do?

Life is so vast and beliefs are so small; life is so infinite and beliefs are so tiny. Life never fits with any belief and if you try to force life into your beliefs you are trying to do the impossible. It has never happened; it cannot happen in the nature of things. Drop all beliefs and start learning how to experience.

Now this story.

Once when the Hasidim were seated together in all brotherliness, pipe in hand, Rabbi Israel joined them. Because he was so friendly they asked him: "Tell us, dear Rabbi, how should we serve God?"

A few things about Hasidism. First, the word "hasid" comes from a Hebrew word which means pious, pure. It is derived from the noun "hased" which means grace.

This word "hasid" is very beautiful. The whole standpoint of Hasidism is based on grace. It is not that you do something -- life is already happening, you just be silent, passive, alert, receiving. God comes through his grace, not through your effort. So Hasidism has no austerities prescribed for you. Hasidism believes in life, in joy. Hasidism is one of the religions in the world which is life-affirmative. It has no renunciation in it; you are not to renounce anything. Rather, you have to celebrate.

The founder of Hasidism, Baal-Shem, is reported to have said: "I have come to teach you a new way. It is not fasting and penance, and it is not indulgence, but joy in God."

The Hasid loves life, tries to experience life. That very experience starts giving you a balance. And in that state of balance, some day, when you are really balanced, neither leaning on this side nor leaning on that side, when you are exactly in the middle, you transcend. The middle is the beyond, the middle is the door from where one goes beyond.

If you really want to know what existence is, it is neither in life nor in death. Life is one extreme, death is another extreme. It is just exactly in the middle where neither death is nor life is, where one is simply unborn, deathless. In that moment of balance, equilibrium, grace descends.

I would like you all to become Hasids, receivers of grace. I would like you to learn this science, this art of balance.

The mind very easily chooses the extreme. There are people who indulge: they indulge in sensuality, sexuality, food, clothes, houses, this and that. There are people who indulge -- they lean too much towards life, they fall down, they topple. Then there are people, who, seeing people toppling down from the tightrope of existence into indulgence, falling into the abyss of indulgence, become afraid; they start leaning towards the other extreme. They renounce the world, they escape to the Himalayas. They escape from the wife, the children, the home, the world, the marketplace and they go and hide themselves in monasteries. They have chosen another extreme. Indulgence is the extreme life; renunciation is the extreme death.

So there is some truth in Friedrich Nietzsche's comment upon Hinduism -- that Hinduism is a religion of death. There is some truth when Nietzsche says that Buddha seems to be suicidal. The truth is this: you can move from one extreme to another.

The whole Hasidic approach is not to choose any extreme, just to remain in the middle, available to both and yet beyond both, not getting identified with either, not getting obsessed and fixated with either -- just remaining free and joyously enjoying both. If life comes, enjoy life; if death comes, enjoy death. If out of his grace God gives love, life -- good; if he sends death, it must be good -- it is his gift.

Baal-Shem is right when he says: "I have come to teach you joy in God." Hasidism is a celebrating religion. It is the purest flowering of the whole Judaic culture. Hasidism is the fragrance of the whole Jewish race. It is one of the most beautiful phenomena on the earth.

Once when the Hasidim were sitting together in all brotherliness...

Hasidism teaches life in community. It is a very communal approach. It says that man is not an island, man is not an ego -- should not be an ego, should not be an island. Man should live a life of community.

We are growing a Hasidic community here. To live in a community is to live in love; to live in a community is to live in commitment, caring for others.

There are many religions which are very, very self-oriented: they only think of the self, they never think of the community. They only think of how I am going to become liberated, how I am going to become free, how I should attain moksha -- my moksha, my freedom, my liberation, my salvation. But everything is preceded by my, by the self. And these religions try hard to drop the ego but their whole effort is based on the ego. Hasidism says if you want to drop the ego, the best way is to live in a community, live with people, be concerned with people -- with their joy, with their sadness, with their happiness, with their life, with their death. Create a concern for the others, be involved, and then the ego will disappear on its own accord. And when the ego is not, one is free. There is no freedom of the ego, there is only freedom from the ego.

Hasidism uses community life as a device. Hasids have lived in small communities and they have created beautiful communities, very celebrating, dancing, enjoying the small things of life. They make the small things of life holy -- eating, drinking. Everything takes the quality of prayer. The ordinariness of life is no longer ordinary, it is suffused with divine grace.

Once when the Hasidim were sitting together in all brotherliness...

This is the difference. If you see Jaina monks sitting, you never see any brotherliness -- it is not possible. The very approach is different. Each Jaina monk is an island, but the Hasids are not islands. They are a continent, a deep brotherliness.

Remember it. The community I would like to grow here should be more like the Hasidim, less like Jaina monks, because a man alone, confined to himself, is ugly. Life is in love, life is in flow, in give and take and sharing.

You can go to a Jaina monastery or a Jaina temple where Jaina monks are sitting -- you can just watch. You will see exactly how everybody is confined to himself; there is no relationship. That is the whole effort: how not to be related. The whole effort is how to disconnect all relationship. But the more you are disconnected with community and life, the more dead you are. It is very difficult to find a Jaina monk who is still alive. And I know it very deeply because I was born a Jaina and I have watched them from my very childhood. I was simply surprised! What calamity has happened to these people? What has gone wrong? They are dead. They are corpses. If you don't go near them already prejudiced, thinking that they are great saints. if you simply go, observing without any prejudice, you will be simply puzzled, confused. What illness, what disease has happened to these people? They are neurotic. Their concern about themselves has become their neurosis.

Community has completely lost meaning for them -- but all meaning is in community. Remember...when you love somebody, it is not only that you give love to them -- in giving, you grow. When love starts flowing between you and the other, you both are benefited. And in that exchange of love your potentialities start becoming actualities. That's how self-actualization happens. Love more and you will be more; love less and you will be less. You are always in proportion to your love. The proportion of your love is the proportion of your being.

Once when the Hasidim were seated together in all brotherliness, pipe in hand...

Can you think of any saint, pipe in hand?

...pipe in hand, Rabbi Israel joined them.

Ordinary life has to be hallowed, has to be made holy, even a pipe. You can smoke in a very prayerful way. Or, you can pray in a very unprayerful way. It is not a question of what you do...you can go into the temple, you can go into the mosque, but still you can pray in a very unprayerful way. It depends on you; it depends on the quality you bring to your prayer. You can eat, you can smoke, you can drink, and you can do all these small things, mundane things, in such gratitude that they become prayers.

Just the other night a man came. He bowed down and touched my feet. The way he was doing it was, I could see, very unprayerful. He was an Indian so he was doing it just out of duty it seemed. Or he was not even conscious of what he was doing -- he must have been taught. But I could feel, I could see his energy was absolutely unprayerful. And I was wondering why he had come. He wanted to become a sannyasin. I never refuse but I wanted to refuse him. I thought for a moment what to do. If I refuse, it doesn't look good -- but the man was absolutely wrong. Finally I said: "Okay, I will give you sannyas," -- because I cannot refuse, I cannot say no. I find that word very difficult to use.

So I gave him sannyas, and then everything became clear. Immediately after sannyas he said: "I have come to your feet, now help me. I am posted" -- he is in the army -- "I have been posted somewhere in Palanpur. Now, Osho, with your spiritual power, help me to be transferred to Ranchi." My spiritual power has to be used for his transfer to Ranchi. Now what type of concept does he have of spiritual power? Now everything was clear. He was not interested in sannyas -- that taking sannyas was just a bribery. He must have thought that if he asks for the transfer without sannyas it won't look good. So first become a sannyasin and then ask.

Just to think in these terms is unprayerful, unspiritual. And that man thinks he is very spiritual. He says he is a follower of Paramahansa Yogananda and the way he said it was so egoistic, he felt so good, so superior: "I am a follower of Paramahansa Yogananda; I am a disciple. And I have been working on myself for many years...and that's why I want to go to Ranchi." Ranchi is the centre of Paramahansa Yogananda's disciples.

Now this man is absolutely unspiritual. His whole approach is unspiritual, unprayerful.

The point that I want to make clear to you is this: that it does not depend on what you do. You can touch my feet in a very unprayerful way -- then it is meaningless; but you can smoke and you can do it in a prayerful way and your prayer will reach to God.

It is very difficult for people who have very fixed concepts about religion, spirituality, but I would like you to become more liquid. Don't have fixed concepts. Watch.

...pipe in hand, Rabbi Israel joined them. Because he was so friendly they asked him: "Tell us dear Rabbi, how should we serve God?"

Yes, only in deep friendliness can something be asked. And only in deep friendliness can something be answered. Between the Master and the disciple there is a deep friendship. It is a love affair. And the disciple has to wait for the right moment and the Master has also to wait for the right moment; when the friendship is flowing, when there is no hindrance, then things can be answered. Or even, sometimes, without answering them, they can be answered; even without using verbalization the message can be delivered.

He was surprised at the question, and replied: "How should I know?"

In fact, that is the answer of all those who know: "How should I know?"

"How to serve God? You are asking such a great question, I am not worthy to answer it," said the Master. "How should I know?"

Nothing can be known about love; nothing can be known about how to serve God -- it is very difficult.

...but then he went on to tell them this story....

First he says: "How should I know?" First he says that knowledge is not possible about such things. First he says that he cannot give you any knowledge about such things. First he says that he cannot make you more knowledgeable about these things -- there is no way. But then he tells his story.

A story is totally different to talking in terms of theories. A story is more alive, more indicative. It does not say much but it shows much. And all the great Masters have used stories, parables, anecdotes. The reason is that if you say something directly, it kills much. A direct expression is too crude primitive, gross, ugly. The parable is saying the thing in a very indirect way. It makes things very smooth; it makes things more poetic, less logical, closer to life, more paradoxical. You cannot use a syllogism for God, you cannot use any argument, but you can tell stories.

And the Jewish race is one of the richest races on the earth for parables. Jesus was a Jew and he has told a few of the most beautiful parables ever uttered. Jews have learned how to tell stories. In fact, Jews don't have much philosophy but they have beautiful philosophical parables. They say much; without saying, without hinting anything directly, they create an atmosphere. In that atmosphere something can be understood. That is the whole device of a parable.

...but then he went on to tell them this story....

First he said: "How should I know?" First he simply denies knowledge of any possibility of knowing about it. A philosopher says: "Yes, I know!", and a philosopher proposes a theory in clear-cut statements, logical, mathematical, syllogistic, argumentative. He tries to convince. He may not convince but he can force you into silence.

A parable never tries to convince you. It takes you unawares, it persuades you, it tickles you deep inside.

The moment the Master says: "How should I know?" he is saying to them: "Relax, I am not going to give any argument for it, any theory for it. And you need not be worried that I am going to convince you about something. Just enjoy a little parable, a little story." When you start listening to a story, you relax; when you start listening to a theory, you become tense. And that which creates tension in you cannot be of much help. It is destructive.

...but then he went on to tell them this story:

There were two friends of the king, and both were proved guilty of a crime. Since he loved them the king wanted to show them mercy, but he could not acquit them because even a king's word cannot prevail over the law. So he gave this verdict: a rope was to be stretched over a deep chasm, and, one after another, the two were to walk across it. Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life.

A parable has an atmosphere, a very homely atmosphere -- as if your grandmother is telling you a story when you are falling asleep. Children ask: "Tell us stories." It helps them relax and go into sleep. A story is very relaxing and does not create any pressure on your mind; rather, it starts playing with your heart. When you listen to a story, you don't listen from the head -- you cannot listen to a story from the head -- if you listen from the head you will miss. If you listen from the head there is no possibility of understanding a story; a story has to be understood from the heart. That's why races and countries which are very "heady" cannot understand beautiful jokes. For example, Germans! They cannot understand. They are one of the most intelligent races of the world but they don't have any good stock of jokes.

A man was telling a German -- I have just overheard this in the ashram -- a man was telling a German that he had heard a very beautiful German joke.
The German said: "But remember, I am a German."
So the man said: "Okay, then I will tell it very, very slowly."

It is very difficult. Germany is the country of the professors, logicians -- Kant, Hegel, and Feuerbach -- and they have always been thinking through the head. They have cultivated the head, they have created great scientists, logicians, philosophers, but they have missed something.

In India we don't have many jokes; there is a great poverty of spirit. You cannot find a specifically Hindu joke, no. All the jokes that go on in India are borrowed from the West. No Indian joke exists. I have not come across any. And you can rely on me because I have come across all the jokes of the world! No Hindu joke, as such, exists. What is the reason? Again, very intellectual people. They have been weaving and spinning theories; from Vedas to Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan they have been just weaving and spinning theories and theories and they have got into it so deeply that they have forgotten how to tell a beautiful story or how to create a joke.

The Rabbi started telling this story -- the disciples must have become relaxed, must have become relaxed and attentive. That's the beauty of a story: when a story is told you are attentive and yet not tense. You can relax and yet you are attentive. A passive attentiveness arises when you listen to a story. When you listen to a theory you become very tense because of you miss a single word you may not be able to understand it. You become more concentrated. When you listen to a story you become more meditative -- there is nothing much to be lost. Even if a few words are lost here and there, nothing will be lost because if you just have the feel of the story you will understand it, it does not depend so much on the words.

The disciples must have relaxed, and the Master told this story.

So he gave this verdict: a rope was to be stretched over a deep chasm, and, one after another, the two were to walk across it. Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life.

Now, this sentence is very pregnant: Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life.

Jesus says many times to his disciples: "Come unto me if you want life in abundance. If you want life in abundance, come to me." But life in abundance happens only to people who go beyond birth and death, who go beyond the duality, to the other shore. The other shore, the other side, is just symbolic of the transcendental. But it is just a hint. Nothing is particularly said, just a hint is given.

And then the story moves on.

It was done as the king ordered, and the first of the friends got safely across.

Now these are the two types of people. The first simply got safely across. Ordinarily we would like to inquire how to go on a rope. A tightrope stretched over a chasm -- it is dangerous. Ordinarily we would like to know the ways, the means, the method, how to go. We would like to know: how? The technique -- there must be a technique. For centuries people have walked on tightropes.

But the first one simply walked without inquiring, without even waiting for the other. This is the natural tendency: to let the other go first. At least you will be able to watch and observe and that will be helpful for you. No, the first simply walked. He must have been a man of tremendous trust; he must have been a man of undoubting confidence. He must have been a man who has learned one thing in life: that there is only one way to learn and that is to live, to experience. There is no other way.

You cannot learn tightrope-walking by watching a tightrope-walker -- no, never. Because the thing is not like a technology that you can observe from the outside, it is some inner balance that only the walker knows. And it cannot be transferred. He cannot just tell you about it; it cannot be verbalized. No tightrope-walker can tell anybody how he manages.

You ride a bicycle. Can you tell anybody how you ride it? You know the balance; it is a sort of tightrope-walking, just on two wheels straight in one line. And you go fast and you go so trustingly. If somebody asks what the secret is, can you reduce it to a formula, just like H20? Can you reduce it to a maxim? You don't say: "This is the principle, I follow this principle," you will say: "The only way is for you to come and sit on the bike and I will help you to go on it. You are bound to fall a few times and then you will know the only way to know is to know." The only way to know swimming is to swim -- with all the dangers involved in it.

The first man must have come to a deep understanding in his life -- that life is not like a textbook. You cannot be taught about it, you have to experience it. And he must have been a man of tremendous awareness. He did not hesitate, he simply walked, as if he had always been walking on a tightrope. He had never walked before; it was for the first time.

But for a man of awareness everything is for the first time, and a man of awareness can do things -- even when he is doing them for the first time -- perfectly. His efficiency does not come out of his past, his efficiency comes out of his present. Let this be remembered. You can do things in two ways. You can do something because you have done it before -- so you know how to do it, you need not be present, you can simply do it in a mechanical way. But if you have not done it before, and you are going to do it for a first time, you have to be tremendously alert because now you don't have any past experience. So you cannot rely on the memory, you have to rely on awareness.

These are the two sources of functioning: either you function out of memory, out of knowledge, out of the past, out of mind; or you function out of awareness, out of the present, out of no-mind.

The first man must have been a man of no-mind, a man who knows that you can simply be alert and go on and see what happens. And whatsoever happens is good. A great courage.

...the first of the friends got safely across. The other, still standing on the same spot, cried to him: "Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?"

The second is the majority mind, the mass mind. The second wants to know first how to cross it. Is there a method to it? Is there a technique to be learned? He is waiting for the other to say.

"Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?"

The other must be a believer in knowledge. The other must have been a believer in others' experiences.

Many people come to me. They say: "Osho, tell us. What happened to you?" But what are you going to do about it? Buddha has told it, Mahavir has told it, Jesus has told it -- what have you done about it? Unless it happens to you it is futile. I can tell you one more story and then you can join that story also in your record of memories, but that is not going to help.

Waiting for others' knowledge is waiting in vain because that which can be given by the others has no worth, and that which is of any worth cannot be given and cannot be transferred.

The first called back: "I don't know anything but this..."

Even though he had crossed he still said: "I don't know anything but this...." Because, in fact, life never becomes knowledge; it remains a very suffused experience, never knowledge. You cannot verbalize it, conceptualize it, put it into a clear-cut theory.

"I don't know anything but this: Whenever I felt myself toppling over to one side, I leaned to the other."

This much only can be said: that there were two extremes, left and right, and whenever I felt that I was going too much towards the left and the balance was getting lost, I leaned towards the right. But again I had to balance because then I started going too much to the right and again I felt the balance was getting lost. Again I leaned towards the left.

So he said two things. One: "I cannot formulate it as knowledge. I can only indicate. I don't know exactly what happened but this much I can give as a hint to you. And that is not much; in fact, you need not have it. You will come across the experience yourself. But this much can be said."

Buddha was asked again and again: "What has happened to you?" And he would always say: "That cannot be said but this much I can say to you -- I can say in what circumstances it happened. That may be of some help to you. I cannot tell about the ultimate truth but I can tell how, on what path, with what method, in what situation I was when it happened, when the grace descended on me, when the benediction came to me."

The man says: "Whenever I felt myself toppling over to one side, I leaned to the other. That's all. Nothing much to it. That's how I balanced, that's how I remained in the middle." And in the middle is grace.

The Rabbi is saying to his disciples: "You ask how we should serve God?" He was indicating with this parable: remain in the middle.

Don't indulge too much and don't renounce too much. Don't be only in the world and don't escape out of it. Go on keeping a balance. When you feel that now you are falling into too much indulgence, lean towards renunciation, and when you feel that now you are going to become a renunciate, an ascetic, lean back again to indulgence. Keep in the middle.

On the road in India you will find boards saying "Keep to the Left" -- in America you will find "Keep to the Right." In the world there are only two types of people: a few keep to the left, a few keep to the right. The third type is the very pinnacle of consciousness. And there the rule is "Keep to the Middle." Don't try it on the road but on life's way keep to the middle: never to the left, never to the right. Just to the middle.

And in the middle there will be glimpses of balance. There is a point -- you can understand, you can feel it -- there is a point when you are not leaning to either extreme, you are exactly in the middle. In that split-second suddenly there is grace, everything is in equilibrium.

And that's how one can serve God. Remain in balance and it becomes a service to God; remain in balance and God is available to you and you are available to God.

Life is not a technology, not even a science; life is an art -- or it would even be better to call it a hunch. You have to feel it. It is like balancing on a tightrope.

The Rabbi has chosen a beautiful parable. He has not talked about God at all; he has not talked about service at all; he has not really answered the question at all directly. The disciples must have themselves forgotten about the question -- that's the beauty of a parable. It doesn't divide your mind into a question and an answer, it simply gives you a hunch that this is how things are.

Life has no "know-how" about it. Remember, life is not American, it is not a technology. The American mind, or to be more specific, the modern mind, tends to create technologies out of everything. Even when there is meditation the modern mind immediately tends to create a technology out of it. Then we create machines, and man is getting lost, and we are losing all contact with life.

Remember, there are things which cannot be taught but which can only be caught. I am here, you can watch me, you can look into me and you will see a balance and you will see a silence. It is almost tangible, you can touch it, you can hear it, you can see it. It is here. I cannot say what it is, I cannot specifically give you techniques how to attain to it. At the most I can tell you a few parables, a few stories. They will be just hints. Those that understand will allow those hints to fall into their hearts like seeds. In their time, in the right season, they will sprout and you will understand me really only on the day you also experience the same that I am experiencing. I have crossed to the other shore, you are shouting from the other side: "Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?"

"I can tell you only one thing, I don't know anything but this: whenever I felt myself toppling to the one side, I leaned to the other."

Keep to the middle. Keep continuously alert that you don't lose the balance, and then everything will take care of itself.

If you can remain in the middle, you remain available to God, to his grace. If you can remain in the middle you can become a Hasid; you can become a receiver of grace. And God is grace. You cannot do anything to find him, you can only do one thing: not stand in his way. And whenever you move to an extreme you become so tense that that very tension makes you too solid; whenever you are in the middle, tension disappears, you become liquid, fluid. And you are no longer in the way. When you are in the middle you are no longer in God's way. Or let me tell you it in this way: when you are in the middle you are not. Exactly in the middle that miracle happens -- that you are nobody, you are a nothingness.

This is the secret key. It can open the lock of mystery, of existence to you.

OSHO : The Art of Dying, Chapter 3
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