It is a very significant question, but very delicate also. The first thing to be understood is that life is very paradoxical, and because of that many things happen. These are the two alternatives: either man can be in heaven or hell. And there is no third possibility. Either you can be in deep suffering, or you can be without suffering and in deep bliss. These are the only two possibilities, two openings, two doors, two modes of being.
Then the question necessarily arises why man chooses to be in suffering. Man never chooses to be in suffering, man always chooses to be in bliss - and there comes the paradox. If you choose to be in bliss, you will be in suffering, because to be in bliss means to be choiceless. This is the problem. If you choose to be in bliss you will be in suffering. If you don′t choose, if you simply remain a witness, non-choosing, you will be in bliss. So it is not a question of choosing between bliss and suffering; deep down it is a question of choosing between choosing and non-choosing.
Why does it happen that whenever you choose you are in suffering? - because choice divides life: something has to be cut and thrown away. You don′t accept the total. You accept something in it and you deny something, that′s what choice means. And life is a totality. If you choose something and deny something, that which you deny will come to you, because life cannot be divided. And that which you deny, just because you deny it, becomes a powerful thing over you. You really become afraid of it.
Nothing can be denied. You can only close your eyes to it. You can only escape. You can become inattentive towards it, but it is always there hidden, waiting for the moment to assert. So if you deny suffering - if you say you are not going to choose suffering - then in a subtle way you have chosen it. Now it will always be around you. One thing.
Life is totality - the first thing; and life is change - the second thing. These are basic truths. You cannot divide life. Secondly: nothing is stagnant, and nothing can be. So when you say, ′I am not going to suffer. I am going to choose a blissful mode of living,′ you will cling to happiness. And whenever you cling to something, you want it, you hope it to be permanent. And nothing can be permanent in life. Life is a flux.
So when you cling to happiness, you are again creating suffering, because this happiness will pass away; nothing can remain. It is a river, and the moment you cling to a river, you are creating a situation in which you will be frustrated, because the river will move. Sooner or later you will find that the river has gone far away. It is not now with you: your hands are empty and your heart is frustrated.
If you cling to bliss, there will be moments of bliss, but they are going to pass away. Life is a flux. Nothing can be permanent here except you. Except you, nothing is eternal here, and if you cling to a changing thing, when it is gone you will suffer. And it is not only that when it is gone you will suffer; if you have the mind of clinging, while it is there you will not be able to enjoy it, because you will be constantly afraid that it is going to be lost.
If you cling you will miss the opportunity also. Later on you will suffer and right now you will not enjoy, because the fear is just around the corner - sooner or later it has to go. The guest has come to your house, and you know he is a guest and tomorrow morning he will leave. You start suffering for the future - tomorrow morning he will leave - and that pain, that suffering, that anguish, comes upon you right now. You cannot be happy while the guest is in your home. While the guest is with you, you cannot be happy because you are already in anxiety and anguish that tomorrow morning he will leave. So while he is there you will not be happy, and when he is gone you will be unhappy. This is what is happening.
The first thing: life cannot be divided. If you divide, only then can you choose. And that which you choose is flux-like - sooner or later it will be gone - and that which you have denied will fall over you; you cannot escape it. You cannot say, ′I will live only in the days and I will escape the nights.′ You cannot say, ′I will live only with the ingoing breath and I will not allow the outgoing breaths.′
Life is a rhythm of opposites. The breath comes in and goes out: between these two opposites - ingoing and outgoing - you exist. Suffering is there, happiness is there. Happiness is just like the ingoing breath, suffering is just like the outgoing breath; or day and night - the rhythm of opposites. You cannot say, ′I will live only if I am happy. When I am not happy, I will not live.′ You can take this attitude, but this attitude will make you suffer more.
No one chooses suffering, remember. You ask why man has chosen to suffer. No one has chosen to suffer. You have chosen not to suffer, you have chosen to be happy, and you have chosen strongly. You are doing everything to be happy and that′s why you are in suffering, why you are not happy.
So what is to be done? Remember that life is total. You cannot choose - the whole life has to be lived. There will be moments of happiness and there will be moments of suffering, and both have to be lived; you cannot choose. Because life is both - otherwise the rhythm will be lost, and without rhythm there will be no life.
It is just like music. You hear some music: there are notes, sounds, and after each sound there is silence, a gap. Because of that gap, that interval of silence, and the sound - because of both the opposites - music is created. If you say, ′I will choose only sounds and I am not going to take the gaps,′ there will be no music. It will be a monotonous thing, it will be dead. Those gaps give life to sound. This is the beauty of life - that through opposites it exists. Sound and silence, sound and silence - that creates music, the rhythm. The same is with life. Suffering and happiness are two opposites. You cannot choose.
If you choose you have become a victim; you will suffer. If you become aware of this totality of the opposites and the way that life functions, you don′t choose - the first thing. And when you don′t choose there is no need to cling, there is no meaning in clinging. When suffering comes you enjoy the suffering, and when happiness comes you enjoy the happiness. When the guest is at home you enjoy him, when he has gone you enjoy the suffering, the absence, the pain. I say enjoy both. This is the path of wisdom: enjoy both, don′t choose. Whatsoever falls upon you, accept it. It is your fate, it is how life is, and nothing can be done about it.
If you take this attitude, there is no choosing. You have become choiceless. And when you are choiceless, you will become aware of yourself, because now you are not worried about what happens, so you are not outgoing. You are not worried about what is happening around you. Whatsoever happens you will enjoy it, you will live it, you will go through it, you will experience it, and you will gain something out of it, because every experience is an expansion of consciousness.
If there is really no suffering you will be poor for it, because suffering gives you depth. A man who has not suffered will always remain on the surface. Suffering gives you depth. Really, if there is no suffering you will be saltless. You will be nothing, just a boring phenomenon. Suffering gives you tone, a keenness. A quality comes to you which only suffering can give, which no happiness can give. A man who has remained always in happiness, in comfort, who has not suffered, will not have any tone. He will be just a lump of being. There cannot be any depth. Really, there cannot be any heart. The heart is created through suffering; through pain you evolve.
If a man has only suffered and he has not known any happiness, then too he will not be rich, because richness comes through opposites. The more you move in opposites, the higher, the deeper you evolve. A man who has simply suffered will become a slave. He who has not known any moments of happiness will not be really alive. He will become an animal; he will just exist anyhow. There will be no poetry, no song in the heart, no hope in the eyes. He will settle down to his pessimistic existence. There will be no struggle, no adventure. He will not move. He will be simply a stagnant pool of consciousness, and a stagnant pool of consciousness is not conscious - by and by he will become unconscious. That′s why if there is too much pain you fall unconscious.
So just happiness will not be of much help, because there will be no challenge. Just pain will not be of much growth, because there will be nothing to struggle, to hope, to dream; there will be no fantasy. Both are needed, and life exists between both as a very delicate tension, a subtle tension.
If you understand this, then you don′t choose. Then you know how life functions, how life is. This is the way, this is the way of life - it moves through happiness, it moves through suffering and gives you tone, and gives you meaning, and gives you depth. So both are good.
I say both are good. I don′t say choose between the two - I say both are good, don′t choose. Rather, enjoy both; rather, allow both to happen. Be open without any resistance. Don′t cling to one and don′t resist the other. Let no-resistance be your motto: I will not resist life. Whatsoever life gives to me, I will be ready to take it, available, and I will enjoy it. The nights are also good and beautiful, and suffering has a beauty of its own. No happiness can have that beauty. Darkness has its own beauty; day has its own beauty. There is no comparison and there is no choice. Both have their own dimensions to work in.
The moment this consciousness arises in you, you will not choose. You will be just a witness, and you will enjoy - this choicelessness will become bliss. This choicelessness will become bliss. Bliss is not contrary to suffering; bliss is a quality which you can bring to anything whatsoever - even to suffering.
A Buddha cannot suffer, but that doesn′t mean that suffering doesn′t happen to him. Remember, suffering happens as much to Buddha as it happens to you, but he cannot suffer because he knows the art of enjoying it. He cannot suffer because he remains blissful. Even in suffering he remains festive, meditative, alive, enjoying, open, non-resistant. Suffering happens to him, but he is not touched. Suffering comes and goes, just like a breath coming in and going out. He remains himself. The suffering cannot push him aside. The suffering cannot push him off his feet. Nothing can push him - neither suffering nor happiness. You exist like a pendulum: everything pushes you - everything. You cannot even be really happy, because happiness will also kill you. You get so involved in it.
A poor schoolmaster - very old, poor, retired - won a lottery. The wife was afraid and she thought,
′This is going to be too much for the old man. Five thousand dollars is too much for him. Even a five dollar note gives him so much
happiness, so five thousand dollars may kill him.′
She ran to the church, to the nearby church, and went to the priest and told him what had happened. She said, ′The old man is out, but he is just coming back, this is his time to return, so do something. Five thousand dollars - just the news will kill him!′
The priest said, ′Don′t be afraid. I know the human mind and the way it functions. I know the psychology. I will come.′
So the priest came to the house. The moment they arrived the old man also arrived, so the priest started. He said, ′Suppose you won a lottery of five thousand dollars - what would you do?′
The old man thought about it, pondered over it, and he said, ′I would give half of the money to the church.′
The priest fell down dead. It was too much.
Even happiness will kill you, because you get so involved. You cannot remain out of anything. Suffering or happiness, whatsoever comes
to your door, you get so involved in it you are just pushed off your feet. You are no more there. Just a breeze comes in the house and you
are no more there.
What I am saying is that if you don′t choose, if you remain alert and aware that this is how life is - days and nights come and go, suffering and happiness - you just witness. There is no clinging to happiness, no hankering for happiness, and no escape from suffering. You remain in yourself - centered, rooted. This is what bliss is.
So remember, bliss is not something opposite to suffering. Don′t think that when you become blissful there will be no
suffering - nonsense. Suffering is part of life. It ceases only when you are not. When you completely disappear from the body, suffering
ceases. When there is no birth, suffering ceases. But then you are lost in the totality, then you are no more - just a drop has fallen into
the ocean and is no more.
While you are, suffering will continue. It is part of life. But you can become aware: then suffering happens somewhere around you, but it never happens to you. But then happiness also never happens to you. Don′t think that happiness will go on happening to you and suffering will not happen - both will not happen to you. They will just happen around, just on the periphery, and you will be centered in yourself. You will see them happening, you will enjoy them happening, but they will happen around you; they will not happen to you.
This becomes possible if you don′t choose. That′s why I said this is delicate, subtle. Because of the paradoxical life, you choose happiness and you fall in suffering. You try to escape from suffering, and more and more suffering is invited. So you can take it as an ultimate law: whatsoever you choose, the opposite will be your fate. See it as an ultimate law: whatsoever you choose, the opposite will be your fate.
So whatsoever is your fate, remember, you have chosen it by choosing the opposite. If you are suffering, you have chosen your
suffering by choosing happiness. Don′t choose happiness and suffering disappears. Don′t choose at all. Then nothing can happen to
you, and everything is a flux except you. That has to be understood very deeply.
Only you are the constant factor in existence, nothing else. Only you are the eternity, nothing else. Your awareness is never a flux. Suffering comes, you witness it. Then happiness comes, you witness it. Then nothing comes, you witness it. Only one thing remains constant - witnessing - and witnessing is you.
You were a child.... Or, if you move even further backwards, once you were just an atomic cell. You cannot even imagine it - just an atomic cell in your mother′s womb, not even visible to the naked eyes. If that cell comes before you and you encounter it, you will not be able to recognize that once you were that. Then you were a child, then you became young, and now you are old, or lying on your deathbed. Many things happened. Your whole life has been a flux; nothing remained the same for even two moments.
Heraclitus says you cannot step twice in the same river - and this he says for the river of life. You cannot have two similar moments.
The moment that has gone cannot be repeated. It is gone forever; you cannot have it again. The same cannot exist. In such a great flux, only
one thing within you remains the same - the witnessing.
If you could have witnessed in your mother′s womb, the quality of consciousness would have been the same. If you could have witnessed when you were a child, the quality of witnessing would have been the same. Young or dying, while just dying on your bed, if you can witness, the quality of consciousness will be the same.
The only one thing deep down within you is your witnessing self, your consciousness - that remains the same; everything else changes. And if you cling to any object of the world of change, you will suffer. Nothing can be done about it. You are trying to do the impossible, that′s why you suffer. I know you never choose, but that is not the point. If you suffer, you have chosen it indirectly.
Once you become aware of this indirectness of life, this paradoxical quality of life, you will stop choosing. When choice falls, the
world has disappeared. When choosing falls, you have entered the absolute.
But that is possible only when the choosing mind disappears completely. A choiceless awareness is needed and then you will be in bliss. Rather, you will be the bliss. And I will repeat again: suffering will continue to happen, but now nothing can make you suffer. Even if you are suddenly thrown into hell, just by your presence there, for you it will be a hell no more.
Someone asked Socrates where he would like to go, so Socrates said, ′I don′t know whether there is a hell and a heaven. I don′t know whether they are there or not, but I will not choose between them. My only prayer will be this: allow me to be alert wherever I am. Let me be fully aware wherever I am. Whether it is hell or heaven, that is irrelevant.′ Because if you are fully alert, hell disappears - hell is your being not aware. If you are fully aware, heaven appears - heaven is your being fully aware.
Really there are no such geographical places as hell or heaven. And don′t go on thinking in childish terms that someday you will
die and God will send you to heaven or hell according to your doings, according to whatsoever you have done on earth. No, you carry your hell
and heaven within you. Wherever you move, you carry your hell or heaven with you.
Even God cannot do anything. If suddenly you meet him, he will look like a hell. You carry your hell within you; you project it wherever you are. You will suffer. The encounter will be just death-like, intolerable. You may become unconscious. Whatsoever happens to you, you carry within you. The seed of consciousness is the seed of the whole existence.
So remember, if you suffer you have chosen it: consciously, unconsciously, directly, indirectly, you have chosen it. It is your choice
and you are responsible. No one else is responsible.
But in our mind, in our confused mind, everything is upside-down. If you suffer, you think you suffer because of others. You suffer because of you. No one can make you suffer. That is impossible. And even if someone makes you suffer, it is your choice to be in suffering through him. You have chosen him and you have chosen a particular type of suffering through him. No one can make you suffer - it is your choice. But you always go on thinking that if the other changes, or if the other is doing something else, you will not suffer.
Mulla Nasrudin was filling out a report because he had crashed his car into a parked car. He was filling out a report, and many things were asked. When he came to the part where it was asked what the driver of the other vehicle could have done to avoid the accident, he filled it, ′He should have parked the car somewhere else. The car was parked there; he should have parked it somewhere else - because of him the accident has happened.′
And this is what you are doing. Always the other is responsible: he should have done something or other and there would have been no
suffering. No, the other is not responsible at all. You are responsible, and unless you take this responsibility consciously upon you, you
will not change. The change will become possible, easily possible, the moment you realize that you are responsible for it.
If you have suffered, it was your choice. This is what the law of karma is, nothing else: you are wholly responsible. Whatsoever happens - suffering or happiness, hell or heaven - whatsoever happens, ultimately you are totally responsible. This is what the law of karma is: total responsibility is with you.
But don′t be afraid, don′t be scared by it, because if the total responsibility is with you, then suddenly a door of freedom opens - because if you are the cause of your suffering, you can change. If others are the cause, then you cannot change. Then how can you change? Unless the whole world changes, you will suffer. And there seems to be no way to change others - then suffering cannot end.
But we are so pessimistic that even such beautiful doctrines as the law of karma we interpret in such a way that they don′t
free and liberate us, but rather, on the contrary, they make us more burdened.
In India the law of karma has been known for at least five thousand years or even more, but what have we done? It is not that we have taken responsibility upon ourselves; we have thrown all the responsibility on the law of karma - that it is happening because of the law of karma and we cannot do anything, nothing can be done; because of the past lives this life is such.
The law of karma was to free you. It was giving you total freedom towards yourself. No one else can make any suffering for you - this was the message. If you are suffering you have created it. You are the master of your fate, and if you want to change it, immediately you can change it and the life will be different. But the attitude...
Once two friends were talking. One was a bonafide optimist, the other a bonafide pessimist. Even the optimist was not too happy about the
The optimist said, ′If this economic crisis continues and these political catastrophes continue and the world remains the same as it is, immoral, then we are going to be reduced to begging soon.′
Even he was not too hopeful about it - the optimist.
When he said, ′We are going to be reduced to begging,′ the pessimist said, ′From whom? From whom are you going to beg if this condition continues?′
You have a mind, and you go on bringing your mind to everything. Really, you transform the quality of every teaching and doctrine. You
defeat Buddhas and Krishnas so easily because you convert the whole thing; you color it in your own way.
You are totally responsible for whatsoever you are and for whatsoever world you are living in. It is your creation. If this goes deep in you, you can change everything. You need not suffer. Don′t choose, be a witness, and bliss will happen to you. Bliss is not a dead state. Suffering will go on continuing around you. So it is not a question of what happens to you; it is a question of how you are. The total ultimate meaning comes from you, not from the happening.