I myself could not believe that I had not included Gautama the Buddha’s DHAMMAPADA.
I love the man as I have loved nobody else. I have been speaking on him throughout my whole life. Even speaking on others I have been speaking on him.
I cannot speak on Jesus without bringing Buddha in; I cannot speak on Mohammed without bringing Buddha in. Whether I mention him directly or not that’s another matter.
It is really impossible for me to speak without bringing Buddha in. He is my very blood, my bones, my very marrow. He is my silence, also my song.
DHAMMAPADA literally means ’the footprints of truth’.
Truth is unspeakable. There are no footprints.
But buddhas always speak in contradictions.
Buddha gave the name DHAMMAPADA to his greatest book.
Buddha begins with the very name DHAMMAPADA – that’s what he is going to do: he is going to say the unsayable, to utter the unutterable.
Second: JIN SUTRAS
Jin is a beautiful word, it means conqueror: one who has conquered himself.
Nobody has been so silent as Mahavira, nor as naked. Only silence can be so naked. Remember, I am not saying nude, I am saying naked. Both words are totally different. ’Nude’ is pornographic; ’naked’ is just utterly open, vulnerable, uncovered. A child is not nude, but only naked. Mahavira in his nakedness is so beautiful.
It is said that he never spoke his sutras to anyone; only the intimate ones sitting by his side heard these sutras within themselves. They simply heard. It is one of the most miraculous things…. There was an inner circle of eleven intimate disciples around Mahavira, and when they all simultaneously heard the same word, then they thought that the word was worthy to be recorded, although Mahavira had not said anything openly, but in some subtle way, through a vibe.
The JIN SUTRAS were written in a totally different way from any other book in the whole world. The master remained silent, and eleven disciples simultaneously hear – emphasize the word simultaneously – the same word, then they record it. That’s how the JIN SUTRAS were born. What a birth for a book! One cannot conceive of a more beautiful beginning, and they certainly contain the highest light man is capable of, and the whole science of conquering oneself.
Kazantzakis: ZORBA THE GREEK
I have always loved his book. It is a masterpiece.
The man who produced it is not a Buddha, nor a Mahavira, but is capable of being either at any moment. He is almost ready, ripe, just waiting as if for his season.
Zorba is one of my love affairs. I love strange people. Zorba is a very strange man – not even a real man, only fictitious, but to me he has become almost a reality because he represents Epicurus, Charvaka, and all the materialists of the world. He not only represents them, but represents them in their best form.
In one place Zorba says to his boss, ”Boss, you have everything but still you are missing life, because you don’t have a little madness in you. If you can manage a little madness you will know what life is.”
I can understand him; not only him, but I can understand all the Zorbas down the ages, with their ’little madness’. But I don’t believe in a little of anything. I am as mad as one can be, totally mad. If you are only a little mad, of course you will understand only a little of life, but it is better than not knowing at all.
Zorba, poor Zorba, illiterate Zorba, a laborer… he must have been huge, strongly built, and a little mad. But he gave great advice to his master: ”Be a little mad,” he said. I say being a little mad won’t do; be totally mad! But you can allow total madness only in meditation, otherwise you will freak out. You won’t be able to consume it; on the contrary, it will consume you. If you don’t know what meditation is you will be burned. Hence I have coined a new name: Zorba the Buddha.
Zorba the Buddha is my synthesis. I love Kazantzakis for creating a great work of art, but I feel sorry for him too because he is still in darkness. Kazantzakis, you need a boss, a little of meditation; otherwise you will never know what life is.
Fourth: Al-Hillaj Mansoor
Al-Hillaj has not written a book but only a few statements, or rather declarations.
Ana’l haq! is his declaration and it means ”I am God, and there is no other God.” Mohammedans could not forgive him; they killed him. But can you kill an al-Hillaj? It is impossible! Even while they were killing him he was laughing.
Somebody asked, ”Why are you laughing?”
He replied, ”Because you are not killing me, you are killing only the body, and I have said again and again that I am not my body. Ana’l haq! I am God himself.” Now these men are the very salt of the earth.
All that is known of him is this anecdote.
In the first place Buddha, who had never before come with anything, comes with a lotus flower; secondly, he used to speak immediately, but today minutes and hours have passed, and he is just looking at the flower. Many must have thought he must have gone mad. Only one man did not agree. He laughed. That man was Mahakashyapa.
Buddha raised his eyes, laughed, and called Mahakashyapa to him, gave him the flower, and told the assembly that the sermon was over, saying, ”I have given to you what you are entitled to, and I have given to Mahakashyapa what he deserves, and rightly so. I have talked to you for years in words, and you never understood. Today I have spoken in silence, and the laughter of Mahakashyapa has shown that he has understood.” In this mysterious way the successor was found. Mahakashyapa became Buddha’s successor. A strange way….
whatsoever was written is of immense beauty. A few fragments, just like pieces of the full moon: if you can put them together there will be the full moon again. The secret to put them together is meditation.
The tradition that followed Mahakashyapa is Zen. He is the first patriarch of Zen, of dhyana. Strange… not even Buddha, but Mahakashyapa is the first. … Because Buddha spoke for forty years, Mahakashyapa never spoke; the only noise that he ever made was that of laughter. If you can call it speaking, that’s another matter. In a way it is speaking – it is saying that the whole existence is a joke. It is saying to Buddha, ”What a joke!”
The moment you understand that the whole existence is a joke, you have understood. There is no other understanding, no other enlightenment. Everything else is pseudo.
Sixth: Hermann Hesse, SIDDHARTHA
He was not an enlightened one, what to say about those who have gone beyond enlightenment. He was just an ordinary human being, but in a poetic flight he has written one of the greatest books in the world, SIDDHARTHA.
Siddhartha is really the name of Gautama the Buddha, given to him by his parents. He became known as Gautam Buddha. Gautama was his family name; Buddha simply means ’the awakened’. Siddhartha was the real name given by his parents in consultation with the astrologers. It is a beautiful name.
Siddha means ’one who has attained’; artha means ’the meaning’. Combined together Siddhartha means ’one who has come to the meaning of life’. The astrologers, the parents, the people who gave him this name must have been wise people – if not enlightened, at least wise… worldly-wise at least.
Hermann Hesse’s SIDDHARTHA repeats the story of Buddha in a different way, but in the same dimension, with the same meaning. It is unbelievable that Hermann Hesse could write it but could not become a siddha himself. He remained a poor writer – yes, a Nobel prizewinner, but that does not matter that much. You cannot give a Nobel prize to a buddha; he will laugh and throw it away. But the book is immensely beautiful, and I include it.
Seventh: Baal Shem Tov
Baal Shem Tov has not written any treatise – treatise is a dirty word in the world of mysticism – but he told many beautiful stories, so beautiful that I would like to relate one of them to you just as an example so you can taste the quality of the man.
A woman comes to Baal Shem. The woman is childless; she wants a child. She bugs Baal Shem continuously saying, ”If you bless me everything is possible. Bless me please. I want a child.”
Finally, tired – yes, even Baal Shem can get tired of a nagging woman – he says, ”Do you want a boy child or a girl?”
The woman was tremendously happy; she said, ”A boy, of course.”
Baal Shem said, ”Then listen to this story. My mother was also childless, and she bugged and nagged the rabbi of the town continuously to bless her. Finally the rabbi said, ’First bring me a beautiful cap.’ My mother,” Baal Shem said, ”made a beautiful cap and went to the rabbi.”
The cap was so beautiful that Baal Shem’s mother said, ”I don’t want anything in return, just to see you in this cap is so beautiful. I am tremendously gratified. You are not obliged to me, I am obliged to you. Thank you, rabbi.”
”And my mother went away. That’s how she became pregnant,” Baal Shem said, ”and I was born.” The woman said, ”Great. So tomorrow I will come with a beautiful cap.”
The next day she returned with a very beautiful cap. Baal Shem accepted and did not even say ”Thank you.” The woman waited and waited, then she said, ”What about the child?”
Baal Shem said, ”Forget all about the child! The cap is so beautiful, I am obliged to you. I must say thank you to you. Do you remember the story I told you? The woman did not ask anything in return, that’s why she conceived a child, and a child like me” – like Baal Shem.
”But you have come with the desire to get something. Just because of this cap do you want a child like Baal Shem? Forget all about it,” he said, ”and don’t come again – ever.”
There are many things that can be said only through stories. Baal Shem has said the fundamental: Do not ask and it shall be given. Do not ask – that is the basic condition.
The Hassidism that arose out of Baal Shem’s stories is the most beautiful flowering that has ever happened. Jews have done nothing comparable to Hassidism. Hassidism is a small current, but is still alive, still flowing.
Farid, the Sufi mystic, a contemporary of Kabir, Nanak and others. I love him. In his songs he calls himself Farida.
He always starts, ”Farida, are you listening? Farida, be awake! Farida, do this, do that!” In Hindi, when you use the name Farid it is respectable. When you use the name Farida it is not respectable; one only calls the servants in that way. Farid calls himself Farida of course because he is the master; the body is the servant.
The great king Akbar used to come to Farid to listen to his songs. Akbar once received a gift, a very precious gift, a pair of golden scissors studded with diamonds. Gudia would have loved them – any woman would. Akbar also loved them, so much so that he thought they would be a good present for Farid. He came and gave the precious scissors to Farid. Farid looked at them, turning them this way and that, then returned the gift to Akbar saying, ”This is of no use to me. If you want to give something to me as a gift, bring a needle.”
Akbar was puzzled. He said, ”Why a needle?”
Farid said, ”Because the function of scissors is to cut things into pieces, and the function of a needle is to join pieces together. My function is not that of the scissors, it is that of the needle. I join things together, I synthesize.”
Farid would not have agreed with Sigmund Freud, nor with psychoanalysis, because psychoanalysis is the golden scissors, going on cutting everything to pieces. He would have agreed with Assagioli and psychosynthesis. Join, put things together, to oneness. Do you see my tears? They are for Farid… Farida… yes, for Farida. There can be no homage for him. He will understand the tears, not the golden scissors. Alas, could Akbar have fallen to the feet of Farid and wept, that would have been the real gift to the master.
Punjabi is like a sword, the language of a soldier. It is so penetrating. When you hear Farid’s songs sung in Punjabi your heart starts breaking.
When I used to travel in the Punjab, I used to ask people, ”Can you sing Farid for me?” – and once in a while I found a singer who was ready, who knew how to sing Farida. And all those beautiful singers… all those beautiful moments…. Punjabi has a quality of its own. Every language has a quality of its own. But Punjabi is certainly a sword, you cannot sharpen anything more.
Ninth: Shiva, VIGYAN BHAIRAV TANTRA
another poet, another singer, another dancer, of a totally different quality.
I have spoken about it. It is very small, only one hundred and twelve sutras. You can easily write it on one page of a book, or at the most two pages.
I have spoken on it in five volumes, thousands of pages – THE BOOK OF THE SECRETS.
I cannot say any other book exists as condensed as VIGYAN BHAIRAV TANTRA – the book of Shiva. Each sutra is a method unto itself.
Tenth: Uma Swati, TATVA SUTRA
Uma Swati is a mystic, but a very dry mystic – just like my lips at this moment, without any moisture. He has written a very dry but true description of the ultimate.
Tatva means ’the ultimate reality’. Tat means ’that’ – the ultimate. ’This’ is the immediate, and ’that’ is the ultimate.
TATVA SUTRA is beautiful and I would have spoken about it but again and again I have postponed. It is too mathematical, like Kundkunda’s SAMAYASAR. That’s how all Jaina mystics are – dry, utterly dry.
I have always wanted to live in the Himalayas, but for the sake of my people I have to leave the very idea of being in the Himalayas.
It did not happen to Buddha, Bodhidharma, to Basho; it did not happen to Omar Khayyam, to Kahlil Gibran, to Mikhail Naimy, but it has happened to me. I know there must be a secret in it. It can only be that I have to make Kutch as beautiful as the Himalayas. One thing is certain: that wherever I am, I am going to create the most beautiful spot in the world, whatsoever the challenge.
Eleventh: SONG OF NAROPA
I have never spoken about it because I never thought that anything could be said about it, but it has been in my heart. I only mention it so that those who love me should start searching for it… the poetry, the song, the dance of Naropa. And it is mine too.
First: Maluka (Malukdas)
He is one of the most significant mystics in India.
You will be surprised that in a country like India, which is full of commentators, scholars, pundits, nobody has even bothered to comment on Malukdas because it is so difficult. He had to wait for me. I am his first commentator, and who knows, maybe the last too.
Maluka says: The snake never goes out to work at a job, nor does the bird ever work. And, says Maluka, there is no need, in fact, because existence provides for all. He was a man Zorba would have liked. He was the man with a little madness and a lot of meditation.
He was so deep in meditation that he says:
I don’t chant the name of God, nor do I use a rosary for worship. I don’t worship at all – who cares for such stupid things! He continues: In fact, God remembers my name, there is no need for me to remember him….
Do you see? A little madness and a lot of meditation. Malukdas is one of the men of whom I can say without any hesitation that he has gone beyond enlightenment. He has become the picture on the tenth card of the Ten Zen Bulls.
Second, the book of the Sikhs: GURU GRANTHA SAHIB
It was not written by one single man so I cannot tell you who the author is. It is a compilation from generation to generation. It was compiled from all sources, as no other book in the world.
THE OLD TESTAMENT is only Jewish, THE NEW TESTAMENT is only Christian, BHAGAVADGITA IS only Hindu, DHAMMAPADA is only Buddhist, JIN SUTRAS only Jaina; but GURU GRANTHA SAHIB is the only book in the world taken from all the sources possible. Its sources come from Hindu, Mohammedan, Jaina, Buddhist, Christian. Such openness, no fanaticism.
The title GURU GRANTHA means ’the book of the masters’, or ’the master book’. In it you will find Kabir, Nanak, Farid, and a long line of mystics belonging to different traditions, different schools, as if thousands of rivers are meeting in the ocean. GURU GRANTHA is like an ocean.
Nanak says: The truth, the ultimate truth is unspeakable, so please forgive me, I will not speak about it but only sing it. If you can understand the language of music, then perhaps a chord in your heart may be touched. The transmission of the lamp is beyond words.
a book is a book, and the moment the masters depart the book is dead, the word is dead. So they are carrying a beautiful corpse, just as all the other religions are doing. Remember, by the way, that religion is alive only once in a while, alive only in the presence of a master. When the master is no longer alive it becomes a creed, and a creed is an ugly thing.
GURU GRANTHA has compiled the sayings of ten living masters, ten enlightened ones. I say that no other book can be compared to it. It is incomparable. Nanak says, ”Ek omkar satnam – only one thing is true, the name of the inexpressible.” In the East we call it omkar, om – only that is true. The sound of the soundless… the silence that pervades after the sound has left…ek omkar satnam.
Third: The book by Mabel Collins, LIGHT ON THE PATH
Anybody who wants to travel towards the heights has to understand LIGHT ON THE PATH. It is a small book as far as quantity is concerned, just a few pages, but as far as quality is concerned it is one of the biggest, the greatest books. And, wonder of wonders, it has been written in the modern age. Nobody knows who the author Mabel Collins is. The author never even writes the name Mabel Collins in full, but only M.C. It is just by chance that I have come to know the full name through a few friends of M.C.
Why M.C.? I can understand the reason. The writer is only a vehicle, and more particularly so in the case of LIGHT ON THE PATH. Perhaps the Sufi, Khidr – I have told you about him: the spirit who leads people, guides people, helps people – was behind M.C.’s work too.
the book is immensely helpful. Whosoever wrote it, whosoever guided the writer, that’s beside the point; the book itself stands like a golden tower.
Fourth: the Kashmiri woman Lalla
The Kashmiris are ninety-nine percent Mohammedans, so when they say they know only two words, Allah and Lalla, it is important.
Lalla never wrote a book. She was illiterate, but so courageous…. She remained naked all her life – and remember this was hundreds of years ago in the East – and she was a beautiful woman. Kashmiris are beautiful; in India they are the only really beautiful people. They are the lost tribe Moses was searching for. They are basically, originally Jews.
When Moses was leading his people towards Israel… and one wonders what that madman was doing: why to Israel? But madmen are after all mad, there is no explanation. Moses was searching for a place for his people. He wandered for forty years in the desert, and then found Israel. Meanwhile he had lost one of his tribes. That tribe had reached Kashmir.
Sometimes at least it is fortunate to be lost. Moses could not find them. Do you know that in his search for the lost tribe Moses finally reached Kashmir… and he died there. His tomb is not in Israel, it is in Kashmir.
Strange, Moses died in Kashmir, Jesus died in Kashmir. I have been to Kashmir many many times, and I know it to be a place where one says, ”Aahhh, could I die this very moment, here and now…!” It is so beautiful that to live afterwards will not be worthwhile.
Kashmiris are beautiful people – poor, but immensely beautiful. Lalla was a Kashmiri woman, illiterate, but she could still sing and dance. So a few of her songs have been saved. She, of course, could not be saved, but her songs have been. I include them in my postscript.
Another mystic, Gorakh, a tantrika, a man so versed, so efficient in all the methods of Tantra that anybody in India who knows many businesses is known as doing gorakh-dhandha. Gorakh- dhandha means ’in the business of Gorakh’. People think one should stick to one’s own business. Gorakh moved in all directions, in all dimensions.
Gorakh’s full name was Gorakh-nath. It must have been given by his disciples, because nath means lord. Gorakh has given all the keys possible to enter into the inner mysteries. He has said everything that can be said. He is, in a way, a full stop.
But the world continues, so do I. The world knows no full stop, neither do I. I will die only in the middle of a sentence; then people will wonder forever what I was going to say, how I was going to complete the sentence. I respect Gorakh-nath. I have spoken much about him. One day it will be translated, so I need not waste any more time on this fellow.
Sixth: Hubert Benoit
It is very rare that a man, a single man, produces two masterpieces, but that is the case with Hubert Benoit.
Before writing LET GO he had written another book called THE SUPREME DOCTRINE. I would like to include that too; otherwise I will feel really sad not to have mentioned it. It is a tremendously beautiful book but very difficult to read, and much more difficult to understand. But Benoit tried his best to make it as simple as possible.
Seventh: SHIVA SUTRA
This book SHIVA SUTRA contains the techniques of all meditations. There cannot be any other technique that is not included in this book. SHIVA SUTRA is the very bible of meditators.
This book is like no other, it is unique, incomparable.
The most immensely beautiful work of an Indian mystic.
The word gaurang itself means ’the white one’. He was so beautiful… I can see him standing right before me, just white, or rather snow-white. He was so beautiful that all the girls in the village fell in love with him. And he remained a bachelor. One cannot get married to millions of girls. One of them is too much; millions, my God! – that will kill anyone! Now you know the secret of why I am a bachelor.
Gaurang used to dance and sing his message. His message was not of words, but much more – of a song. Gaurang has not written a book; his lovers – and there were many, too many in fact – they collected his songs. Those songs are one of the most beautiful collections; I have never come across anything like it before or after. What to say about them… just that I love them.
Again another Indian mystic, you may not have heard about him. Dadu means the brother. He was so loving that people forgot his real name.
There are thousands of songs that Dadu sang, but they were not written down by him, they were collected by others, just like a gardener collects flowers long fallen.
What I say about Dadu is true about all saints. They are averse to writing. They sing, they speak, they dance, they indicate, but they don’t write. To write something is to make it very limited. A word is a limitation; only then can it be a word. If it is unlimited it will be the sky, containing all the stars. That’s what a saint’s experience is.
my book A CUP OF TEA is the only book that can be said to have been written by me. It is a compilation of my letters. Otherwise I have not written anything.
Dadu’s songs have been collected. I have spoken on him. He reaches to the very heights one can aspire to.
one of the strangest men that has ever walked on the earth.
He was a Sufi, and he was murdered in a mosque by order of the Mohammedan king. He was murdered simply because of a particular Mohammedan sutra, one of their prayers. The prayer is: ”Allah la il allah – Allah, God, is the only God.” And that is not enough for them; they want something more. They want to declare to the world that Mohammed is the only prophet of God: ”Allah la il allah; mohammed bismillah. God is the only God, and Mohammed is the only prophet of God.”
Sufis deny the second part, that Mohammed is the only prophet of God. That was the sin of Sarmad. Obviously nobody can be the only prophet; nobody absolutely can be the only one – neither Mohammed, nor Jesus, nor Moses, nor Buddha. Sarmad was killed, murdered, butchered, by the Mohammedan king of India, in conspiracy with the Mohammedan priests. But he laughed, and said, ”Even after my death I will say the same thing: Allah la il allah – God is the only God.”
I love Sarmad. He has not written any book, but his statements have been compiled and the most significant is: God is the only God, and there is no prophet, there is no one between you and God. There is no mediator, God is immediately available. Just all that is needed is a little madness and a lot of meditation.