Life is not a problem. Rather, it is a mystery to be lived not a problem to be solved. But it becomes a problem; and it becomes a problem because you go on postponing things, postponing them for tomorrow. That which can be done today, that which should be done today, cannot be done tomorrow. That which would have been a beautiful phenomenon today, a mystery to be lived, tomorrow will become a very very hard and cold problem to be solved. Life in itself, if lived here and now, is not a problem. Postponement creates problems, and then you go on piling up. Then so much gathers around you that it becomes almost impossible to live - you are paralyzed, crippled, in a straitjacket, imprisoned....
I was saying, just a few days before, that even a genius, a
very talented person - he may be a Nobel Prize winner, a great
intellectual, world-known - still may behave in a childish way. If
he finds in the morning when he wakes that his slippers are not in
the right place, he is angry, irritated. If he could pay attention
to his anger that very moment he would laugh, because this is so
foolish! ridiculous! But he does not pay attention to it.
He goes to the bathroom, irritated, in a bad mood, starts shaving his beard, but he is almost unconscious that a problem has not been dealt with, that a problem is there, poking its nose again and again into his being. And it is growing all the time, because in life nothing is non-growing. Everything alive is growing, and when you are alive your anger is alive, it grows! It never remains the same. Moment to moment it is gathering more momentum and force.
He goes on shaving but irritated, he is not enjoying the act, the freshness of it, the beautiful moment when one feels unburdened, no, he is not in an enjoying mood. Unconscious, he lets the razor slip from his hand, fall to the floor. Now he is even more angry. If he can deal with it right now he will laugh. It is foolish to be angry because a razor is not a being; a razor is never responsible for anything; how can you be angry at a razor? But now he is more irritated. His hands are moving now more foolishly, unconsciously; it again slips, strikes the old ancient antique mirror which he loves so much; the mirror is broken.
Now he is sane no more. He comes out, bumps against the furniture, slams the door, slaps the child because he has not done his homework, starts arguing, becomes quarrelsome with his wife - and only for a small thing which was nothing! Because the slippers were not found in the right place.
Now our so-called genius takes his car and goes to the office, but never reaches it because there is an accident. It was always going to be so. And just because of the slippers, because they were not found in the right place.
Now he drives like a maniac, his whole anger moves to his feet, he goes on pressing the accelerator; he is a drunkard! Drunk with his anger. There is an accident. After twelve hours or fifteen hours, when he opens his eyes, he is in hospital. And he will never be able to connect the whole thing.
And the story can go on and on - he falls in love with the nurse - and you can go on! Just because the slippers were not found in the right place! The whole family disturbed; divorce; and the whole world will not be the same again - just because his slippers were not found in the right place.
Deal with things moment to moment, don′t let them pile up within you. Don′t accumulate. Life is really beautiful. It becomes ugly. It is not a problem. Every problem is so small that it is foolish to call life a problem. It is not a problem for the trees, it is not a problem for the birds, it is not a problem for the earth, for the sky, it is only a problem for man, because only man has learned a trick - the trick of postponement. Then small things become bigger. Then a moment comes when you cannot cope with them. Then you become so small and the problem is so big, it is almost impossible to cope with it, then you always carry its burden on your head. And with that much burden, how can you enjoy? how can you delight? how can you celebrate? how can you dance?
And then somebody says, There is a God. You hear the words but you cannot believe. Maybe there is a devil who is running the whole world, but not a God. Your whole life has become so crippled, so paralyzed, so burdensome, you would like to commit suicide. It is rare to find a man who has not contemplated some time or other committing suicide.
That means life has become so unlivable that rather than being
dragged more and more into it, you would like to drop it; you would
like to become a drop out.
How can you love God? How can you pray? Because prayer comes out of great gratitude; prayer comes out of gratefulness. A life lived well becomes a life of prayer. It has nothing to do with churches and temples and mosques, it has something to do with the quality of your life. A life lived well, moment to moment, aware, alert, not postponed, becomes a prayerful life; and prayer by and by turns into meditation. Then you don′t even pray, because the words disturb. Then your prayer becomes silent. When prayer is silent it is meditation.
So to understand that existence is beautiful, sacred, that existence is a benediction, a blessing, you will have to live a different type of life, a life which is not one of postponement. This is the meaning of living moment to moment.
Unburden yourself from the past. It is there no more, it has already flown away, it exists not; you are unnecessarily burdened by ghosts - they are no more. And don′t burden yourself with the future - it is not yet. When it comes, you will be there to meet it. Why plan about it right now? Because the way you are going to plan it, it is never going to happen. Your planning is bound to create a greater problem, because when you plan beforehand you want to impose your plan on existence.
Existence is not to follow you, you can follow existence and feel grateful. But existence cannot follow you, you don′t know the whole. You don′t know the desire of the whole, the destiny of the whole. And you make private plans; they are bound to be against the whole, and they are bound to be broken. Then your heart is broken.
Drop the past. And don′t bring the future in. This moment is all. If you live this moment alert, then things, small things, will be dealt with, and, those small things dealt with, you will grow, and there will be no great problems.
Lao Tzu says there are no great problems for a great man because he never allows the problems to become great; he always deals with them when they are small, within his hands; then something can be done. And when you deal with problems moment to moment you are always fresh, unburdened; dust never collects on your being. Next moment you slip, fresh, young and virgin you slip into the next moment as a snake slips out of its old skin; the old left behind - the fresh and younger skin comes. Then life is a mystery, it is not a problem to be solved. It has to be lived and lived totally. Then you feel grateful. Then it has been a blessing....
Let me give you a few examples. You must have heard the name of
Archimedes; his story is famous. He was trying to solve a scientific
problem. He tried hard, tried his best, couldn′t sleep, couldn′t do
anything else. The king had given him a problem to be solved and it
had to be solved immediately. And he was the first man to tackle
that problem, so there was no precedent, no history, nothing in the
past which could be of any help. The problem had never before been
raised, that was the first time.
He worked hard, became tense, as tense as one can be. Then what can you do? If you cannot solve you cannot solve! One feels helpless, he felt the helplessness.
One day, while he was taking his bath, lying in the bathtub, relaxed - he had dropped the idea of solving the problem, it could not be solved - suddenly, it was solved! And he became so ecstatic that he forgot that he was naked in the bath, he ran into the streets crying loud, Eureka! Eureka! which means ′I have found it! I have found it!′
The king thought that he had gone mad, the whole town thought that he had gone mad. He had not gone mad, he had found the solution. And when the king asked, How? He said: By non-doing. I was not doing anything, I was not even trying to solve it, in fact I had dropped it. I had stopped completely all activity about it, I was relaxing.
What happened then? When you relax you become one with the whole. When you relax you are no more the ego. When you relax you are no more the individual. When you relax you become the whole. When you are tense you become individual. The more you are tense, the more you are a concentrated ego. Ego is very small, how can it solve anything? It can fuss around, but it cannot solve anything. When the ego is not there, you are relaxing in a tub bath - suddenly the problem is solved!
It happened to Buddha. For six years he was doing - and doing really too much; nobody has been in search of the innermost meaning of life as deeply as Gautam Buddha. For six years he did whatsoever could be done, whatsoever is humanly possible. He went to teachers, all the known teachers of those days, and the teachers became helpless because whatsoever they said, Buddha did - and did so perfectly that they couldn′t say: You are not doing enough, that′s why you are not achieving. He was doing so well, better than his own Masters, that they said: Now, forgive us, you go somewhere else. It is not happening, and we cannot help you in any way any more. You find some other teacher. Then he became fed up with all teachers, fed up with all systems, philosophies, fed up with all techniques, methods; he started doing things on his own - but then too nothing happened.
Six years passed, six years of a nightmarish existence; he lived in deepest anguish. Then one day while passing the River Niranjana near Bodh-Gaya, he had become so weak, because of a long fast - somebody had suggested that he go on a long fast, that would help - he had become so weak he couldn′t cross the river.
The River Niranjana is not a very big river, but he was really weak. He remained clinging to the roots of a tree, otherwise the current would have taken him. There, clinging to the roots of a tree, he started thinking, What have I been doing? I have simply destroyed myself, I have reached nowhere. The world is finished, that I have left behind; now this moksha, salvation, God, truth, whatsoever you call it, that too is finished, I don′t care. I drop that too. That moment he became unburdened.
When you search and seek there is a tension. That very tension becomes the barrier. When there was no search, no seeking, everything relaxed - the same happened to Buddha in the River Niranjana as had happened to Archimedes in his tub bath. He was relaxed, and when he was relaxed he felt an upsurge of energy.
Now this energy is not his, this energy is of the whole. He is no more there. You exist because of your seeking, greed, desire. When there is no greed, no desire, nothing to be attained, this moment is enough, an end unto itself - then you are not. The ego disappears.
Then Buddha got out, relaxed under the Bodhi tree. For years he had not relaxed. That night he slept perfectly. For the first time really he slept without dreams - because dreams are part of desires. In the day you dream, inside in your thinking; in daydreaming desires continue - a thousand and one desires, unfulfilled.
Dreams create some consolation for the mind: that which has not been fulfilled in the life is fulfilled in the dream. Dreams are consolations. But when you are not desiring, dreams disappear. And when dreams disappear, for the first time you sleep. For the first time you are so relaxed you disappear into the whole.
He slept well; for the first time he really slept. Early in the morning, when the last star was going to disappear he opened his eyes; fresh, as fresh as a newly born child, with no attitude, no mind to look through, no desire - what Buddha calls no Trishna, no desire.
That moment was eternity, because when you desire you are always moving into the future. That moment was eternity, no movement in the future, that moment was all. At that time Buddha became like a flower. A flower flowers here and now. A bird sings here and now. A man thinks always somewhere else, goes moving in the mind somewhere else. A man is never where he is. You can find him anywhere else, but you cannot find him where he is. Never!
Buddha that time was really in that moment - under the Bodhi tree. Physically he was there, mentally he was there, spiritually he was there, that′s why that tree became the tree of enlightenment.
Not a single thought, not a ripple in the lake of his consciousness, everything silent, no desire disturbing, no turmoil. He looked at the last disappearing star and he became enlightened. And when people used to ask later on, How did you attain? he said, When I stopped searching, seeking. When I stopped being active - then, in deep inaction it happened. It always happens so.
Sometimes you also may have observed - not Buddha-like, not like Archimedes - but sometimes you try to remember a name, it is just on the tip of the tongue, you say, It is just on the tip of my tongue, and it is not coming; and you feel suffocated and very tense, but what can you do? If it is not coming it is not coming! The more you try, the more it seems impossible. Then you drop it! Then you take a cigarette and you smoke, or you go outside in the garden for a small walk; you just engage yourself somewhere else; you put on the radio, or you sip tea, or do something else and forget about it - and suddenly it pops up, it is there.
A very small enlightenment, but it is of the same quality. A very very small satori, very tiny, nothing much to brag about - but of the same nature. If you can understand the process you have understood what Lao Tzu means by inaction. There are things you cannot attain by action.
This is the criterion: If there is something which you can attain by action, that belongs to this world; anything that can be attained by action belongs to the world of matter, and anything that belongs to the world of spirit cannot be attained by action. That can be attained only through inaction.
In the world of being doing is not needed. That is the meaning
of being - where doing is not needed. There you flower in your
profoundest depth; there you flower in your greatest height. But no
effort is needed.
Says a Zen Master: Sitting quietly, doing nothing, the grass grows by itself. He is talking about the innermost core of your being where doing nothing, sitting quietly, is the only way to do something. The grass grows by itself. There is no need to pull the grass, there is no need to pull the plants up, they grow by themselves. You simply wait by the side. While you are waiting the grass is growing.
Once you understand that no effort is needed for the innermost being, suddenly, a new dimension has opened for you.
Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy; deal with the big while yet it
is small. And everything is small and easy in the present. If you don′t postpone
everything is easy and small. You are powerful enough to change it, to transform
it. But if you say: I will see to it tomorrow; if you say: There is no hurry; if
you take it easy and you say: Some day when I have enough time I will see to the
problem; then the problem will meanwhile grow and take root.
Don′t postpone it, because then you will not be able to do much about it. That′s what you have been doing up to now. You have been postponing for lives. And then you come to me and you say: We would like to be silent. We would like to be peaceful -- and for many lives you have been postponing problems which are boiling within you. They have to be tackled. A great surgery is needed.
But you are in such a hurry again. A few days people meditate, four or five days, and then they come to me and they say: Nothing is happening yet. Can′t you see the ridiculousness of it? What are you asking? For many lives you postpone. Then your being becomes like a ruin. Your garden is there no more. Everything is destroyed, only weeds subsist. And suddenly one day you want to have a beautiful lawn. It will take time. The weeds have to be thrown out. Their roots and seeds have to be thrown out. The soil has to be changed. It is not easy now.
But you can do at least one thing: you can start living moment to moment, so at least you are not gathering more nonsense around you, more rubbish around you; at least you can clean one part of the garden and start working moment to moment. And once you know how problems have become difficult, and once you come to understand that they are easy if you tackle them in the beginning, everything will become easy again. But that feeling, that nuance, that knack, has to be learnt.
Just start being alert. Whenever you see some problem is arising, drop all
activity. Look to it, pay attention to it; just look within, at what it is.
Sometimes just a smile will be enough to change it, just laughter will do, and
you will be out of the vicious circle. Sometimes nothing will be needed, not
even a smile and a laugh, just the very attention, that you looked into it, and
it will disappear, as dewdrops disappear in the morning when the sun rises.
Just look. Bring the sun of consciousness to it, it will disappear - it is so small and you are so big and so vast! Just the very encounter, that you look at it - and it changes its quality. It is no more a problem . You can delight in it, you can enjoy it. Then life becomes a drama.
If you understand life you will never make promises, because a promise is a
postponement. You must either do it now or you must say, I don′t know, I will
In Mahabharata there is a beautiful anecdote. Pandavas, the five brothers, are hiding in the forest. One day a beggar comes. Udhishthir is sitting outside the hut and the beggar asks for nothing much, just some bread, a few chapattis.
Udhishthir is brooding - and as it happens always whenever there is a beggar, you would like to postpone. You say, Come tomorrow, just to avoid. He may not come again tomorrow. You don′t want to be so rude as to say, I will not give anything; also, you want to protect your image that you are a great giver. So you say, Come tomorrow. Don′t disturb me now. Udhishthir did the same; he said, Come tomorrow.
Bhima, another brother - who is not known much for his wisdom or intelligence, but sometimes it happens that people who are not very intelligent flare up - he suddenly started laughing and he ran out of the house with laughter, towards the town. Udhishthir asked: Where are you going? He said, I am going to tell the people in the town that my brother has conquered time! He has promised something to a beggar if he comes tomorrow!
Suddenly Udhishthir became aware. Because how can you say, Come tomorrow? You may not be here tomorrow. The beggar may not be here tomorrow. Udhishthir ran off, caught hold of the beggar, gave him whatsoever he could give him, and dropped the habit of promising.
Because a promise is possible only if tomorrow is certain. But who knows anything about tomorrow?
There is a great old Chinese story. A king was very angry with his prime minister. He had done something or other, so the king ordered him to be sentenced to death. It was the tradition that if somebody was to be executed by the king′s order, the king had to visit him one day before, to ask if he had some desire to be fulfilled. The last desire of the condemned man had to be fulfilled. And this man was no ordinary man - he had served the king for many years as his prime minister; he had been an intimate. But something went wrong, he did something and the king was angry so the next morning he was to be executed, hanged. The king came to see him twenty four hours before.
The prime minister was a brave man. He had been to many wars as a general. When the king came the prime minister started weeping and crying - tears rolling down. The king said: I would never have imagined that you, a man of such bravery, would be weeping and crying because you are going to be hanged tomorrow. Are you afraid of death?
The prime minister said, That is not the point. Death I have never been afraid of, it is something else but - leave it aside, now there is no time to do it.
The king became curious. He said, What is the matter? You tell me. I am here to fulfil your last desire. I promise you to fulfil it, you tell me. You have served the kingdom long, and I would like to fulfil it whatsoever it is; you just tell me.
The prime minister said, If you insist, then I will tell you. This is a long story. When I was young I was with a great Master, and he was an enlightened being, and he had many secrets with him. One secret I learnt. And that secret was that there is a rare type of horse which can be taught to fly, and my whole life I have been searching for that type of horse that can be taught to fly, but I couldn′t find one - and look at the irony of fate; the horse that you have come on is the right horse, and tomorrow morning I will be dead! And the whole science will go dead with me. The secret will be lost to humanity - that′s why I am crying.
The king said, The horse can fly? How much time will you take to teach it? - because the king became interested. If this horse can fly in the sky this will be something superb, incomparable, that no other king in the world can claim. He said, You forget about your sentence; you tell me how much time you will take.
The man said, It will take one year. The king said, Okay. There is no harm in it. For one year you try. If the horse flies, then not only will you not be hanged, but you will get married to my daughter and you will share my kingdom: half-half. But if the horse cannot fly, then you will be executed. So there is no harm in it; you come out - take the horse.
The man took the horse, went home - there his wife and children were crying and weeping because this was the last day, the next morning the husband, the father, would be dead. They could not believe their eyes - that he was coming back riding on a horse. They thought they must be dreaming. They wiped their eyes and they asked: What is the matter? How could you manage to come?
He told them the whole story. The wife again started crying and said, You are a fool, because I know very well you don′t know anything like that. You invented a lie. If you were going to lie then why say one year? You should have asked for fifty years, twenty years at least! The one year will pass so soon, and this will be a nightmare, because the whole year we will be trembling, because soon again you have to die.
The man said, Don′t be afraid, one year is too long! The king can die, I can die, at least the horse can die - you don′t be worried! Don′t you be worried, one year is long enough.
Don′t say anything certain about the future, because future itself is not certain. At the most for this moment you can be certain, that′s all. And one who lives in this moment without promising, postponing, thinking, planning about the future, who lives such a simple life, such an innocent life, that his faith grows, his trust grows, his gratefulness grows - he becomes a vehicle for the ultimate grace to flow from him. He becomes a passage for the divine, for Tao.