December 26, 2010
Enlightenment is a very simple understanding.
There is a beautiful story in Gautam Buddha's life. Again and again he has told it.... In one of his past lives he met an enlightened being. Out of respect he touched his feet. But he was surprised -- in return the enlightened man touched his feet. Buddha could not believe his eyes. He said, "What are you doing? I am an unenlightened man, ignorant. I have not experienced truth. I have not yet been able to love, to be compassionate. My laughter is still phony, my heart is full of discontent. Why have you touched my feet?" And the enlightened being laughed. He said, "Don't be worried. As far as I am concerned, you are as enlightened as I am." From your side, that is your problem -- I don't see any of you here as unenlightened, it is impossible. Enlightenment is your very center, your very being. But you have been conditioned, programmed to remain unenlightened.
All your religions are responsible for it. They don't want you to become enlightened, because an enlightened man cannot be a Christian, a Hindu, a Mohammedan. From his state of consciousness, all these theologies, religions, are sheer nonsense -- fictions created by ignorant people for other ignorant people. Never ask how to be enlightened. You can ask how to remain unenlightened, that is relevant. If you want to be enlightened, you are this very moment. Nobody is preventing you except yourself. And you are making so much hard, arduous effort to become enlightened. That is one of the ways to remain unenlightened. The very effort keeps you troubled; and each effort is going to fail, because what you are already you cannot become. Just see the difference between these two simple words: being and becoming. Enlightenment is being -- you cannot become it. Becoming is a process somewhere in the future after long journeys, doing all kinds of stupid things -- yoga postures, Christian prayers, fasts, remaining celibate, entering into a monastery forever, you will not come out of it....
There are monasteries where you enter but unless you are thrown out you cannot get out; only your dead body comes out some day. I have heard about such a monastery. It was famous for two things: one, for one thousand years no woman had entered into the monastery -- it was prohibited. Even a six-month-old baby girl was not allowed. When I heard about it I thought, were monks living in the monastery, or monsters? A six-month-old baby is not allowed in! You can conceive the mind of those people who are living inside. And second, it was famous in that silence was the rule. Only after seven years -- once, after seven years -- if you wanted to say something to the abbot, you could say it, and then for seven years again silence. One man became a monk. For seven years he suffered, because the mattress was missing, he was sleeping on a bare floor. It was hard, it was cold, but he had to wait for seven years to say, "I need a mattress." Seven years, by and by, passed -- they must have looked to that man almost like seven centuries. And he was so happy when he went to the abbot and said, "Master, I have a complaint to make. In the room you have allotted me, there is no mattress. And for seven years I have been prohibited from speaking." The abbot said, "Okay, a mattress will be provided immediately. You go back." A mattress was provided. But the cell in which the monk was living was very small, and the door was very small, and the mattress was big. So while they were bringing the mattress in, the door fell out and the window's glass was broken. Somehow they forced that big mattress into the small room. For seven years the poor man again suffered -- from rain, wind, snow, because there was no door and the window was broken. In fact, he started thinking that the first seven years were far more beautiful: "I was an idiot to make that complaint!" Again after seven years he went to the abbot. And the abbot said, "Again?" The man said, "I have to say something, I am compelled to say it: the mattress that was provided was bigger than my cell, and the people, the other monks who brought it, somehow forced it in. I could not say no -- I could not speak. They broke the door, they broke the window, and you can conceive -- for seven years I have been living in wind, in rain, in snow. I was not thinking that I would be able to survive, but somehow by God's grace I am here again. Please put the door back and mend the window." This was too much. The abbot became angry, and he said, "In all these fourteen years you have done nothing but complain, complain, complain! This is not a way to be religious. You simply get lost!" Enlightenment is not something to be achieved. It is not an achievement; it is not a goal far away that you have to journey to. It is not a pilgrimage at all. The more you seek and search for enlightenment, the more you will miss it, and the more miserable you will be. Enlightenment is a very simple understanding. So once you stop all efforts to be enlightened and just remain at ease with yourself, totally accepting yourself as you are.... That's how existence meant you to be. Don't try to improve upon existence, you cannot do that. Relax, be existential, not religious. And suddenly you are amazed, "My God! I have always been enlightened."