First: Friedrich Nietzsche’s WILL TO POWER
Alfred Adler was one of the ’greatest’ psychologists. He is one of the trinity of psychologists: Freud, Jung and Adler. He is simply a thief. Adler has stolen his whole psychology from Friedrich Nietzsche.
Adler says: Man’s basic instinct is the ’will to power’. Great! Who was he trying to deceive? Yet millions of fools are deceived. Adler is still counted as a great man. He is just a pygmy, only to be forgiven and forgotten.
George Bernard Shaw steals his whole basic philosophy from Nietzsche. Great G.B.S. – Nobel prizewinner, George Bernard Shaw. Whatsoever he says is contained in only a few sentences of Nietzsche’s WILL TO POWER.
Even a so-called great Indian saint was not far behind Adler and Shaw. His name is Shri Aurobindo. He is worshipped by millions all over the world as the greatest sage of the age. He stole his idea of superman from the manuscript of WILL TO POWER. Shri Aurobindo was only a mediocre scholar, nothing much to brag about.
Nietzsche’s book was not published until many years after his death. His sister prevented it. She was a great businesswoman. She was selling other books which were already published, and waiting for the right moment when WILL TO POWER could best be sold. She was not concerned about Nietzsche, his philosophy, or his contribution to humanity.
Why didn’t Nietzsche himself publish the book while he was alive? I know why. It was too much even for him. He was not an enlightened man. He was afraid, afraid of what was going to happen to him if he published. And the book is pure dynamite! He always kept it under his pillow, even while asleep. He was afraid it may fall into the wrong hands. He was not a brave man as people usually think of him, he was a coward. But strange are the ways of existence: sometimes even a coward is showered with stars, and that’s what happened to Nietzsche.
Adolf Hitler stole his whole philosophy from Nietzsche. Hitler was incapable of doing anything right; he was such an idiot, he should really have been in India, not in Germany, and become a disciple of Muktananda. I can suggest a beautiful name for him: Swami Idiotananda! That’s what he was, the suprememost idiot of human history. He thought he understood Nietzsche. It is very difficult to understand Nietzsche; he is so subtle, so deep, and so profound. It is beyond the reach of any idiotananda.
Friedrich Nietzsche kept his best book to be published only after his death. I have already counted one of his books, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA, but even that pales before WILL TO POWER. It is not a philosophical treatise, written systematically, it is just maxims, paragraphs. You have to find the connection. It is not there written for you to read. Hence, even though it is published it is not read much. Who bothers! Who wants to make any effort? – and WILL TO POWER needs tremendous effort to understand it. It is the very essence of Friedrich Nietzsche’s soul. And he was a madman! To understand it is to transcend it too.
Second: P.D.Ouspensky, A NEW MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE
a third book by him which was written in between – after TERTIUM ORGANUM and before he met George Gurdjieff. This book is very little known. It is a strange book, very strange.
Ouspensky searched for a master all over the world, particularly in India, because people in their foolishness think that masters are only found in India. Ouspensky searched in India and searched for years. Even in Bombay he searched for a master. In those days he wrote this tremendously beautiful book, A NEW MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE. This is a poet’s vision, because he knows not what he is talking about. But what he is talking about comes very, very, very close to the truth… but only close, remember, and even a hair’s breadth is enough to keep you away. He remained away. He searched and searched….
In this book he describes his search. The book ends strangely, in a cafeteria in Moscow, where he meets Gurdjieff. Gurdjieff was certainly the strangest master who ever lived. He used to write in cafeterias. What a place to write! He would sit in a cafeteria – people eating, talking, children running hither and thither, the noise from the street, the honking of horns, and Gurdjieff sitting by the window surrounded by all this nonsense, writing his book ALL AND EVERYTHING.
Ouspensky saw this man and fell in love. Who could resist it? It is utterly impossible to see a master and not fall in love, unless you are utterly dead, made of stone, or made of synthetic material – a pre-fab man! The moment he looked at Gurdjieff… strange: he saw that these were the eyes that he had been looking for all over the earth, on the dusty, dirty roads of India, and this cafeteria was just beside his house in Moscow! Sometimes you may find what you are seeking just nearby.
A NEW MODEL OF THE UNIVERSE is poetic, but comes very close to my vision; that is why I include it.
People like Sanai don’t argue, they only state. They need not argue, their very existence is the proof; no other argument is needed. Come, look into my eyes, and you will know that there is no argument, only a statement. A statement is always true. An argument can be clever but is rarely true.
Sanai is one of my love affairs. I cannot, even though I would like to, exaggerate him. It is impossible. Sanai is the very essence of Sufism.
Sufism is an English word for tasawuf. Tasawuf means ’pure love’. ’Sufism’ comes from suf, meaning wool, and a Sufi means a person wearing a woolen robe. Sanai used to wear a black cap – a white robe and a black cap.
Either you love them or hate them.
Sanai only states without arguing about it. He simply says it is so. You cannot ask why; he will say, ”Shut up! There is no why!”
You don’t ask a roseflower, ”Why?”
You don’t ask the snow, ”Why?”
You don’t ask the stars, ”Why?”
Then why do you ask people like Sanai? They are of the world of stars, flowers, snow. They don’t argue.
I love Sanai. I had not forgotten him; I was not going to mention him just because I wanted to keep him only for myself, in my heart. But in a postscript you can even pour out your heart.
That is the way my father used to write me letters. The letter would be very short – there was nothing much to write – then he would write a P.S. Again I would wonder what he had left out of the letter, and he would say something really significant. Then the P.S. would not be enough. There would be another P.P.S. ”My God,” I would think, ”what has he forgotten?” Again there would be something really beautiful that could not have been written in the letter. A P.S. is a more intimate phenomenon, and a P.P.S. even more so.
people like Dionysius should not be forgotten. They are the real people.
The real people can be counted on your fingers. The real person is one who has encountered the real, not only from the outside as an object, but as his own subjectivity. Dionysius belongs to the great world of the buddhas. I refer again to his few statements – I cannot call it a book; a book needs to be a little more than just fragments.
Fifth: Jiddhu Krishnamurti, AT THE FEET OF THE MASTER
one of the strangest moments in this series.
Krishnamurti says he does not even remember having written it. It was written long, long ago, back when Krishnamurti was only somewhere between nine and ten years old. How can he remember all that time ago when it was published? But it is a great work.
I want to disclose for the first time to the world who the real author is: Annie Besant! Annie Besant wrote the book, not Krishnamurti. Then why did she not call it her own work? There was a reason behind it. She wanted Krishnamurti to be known to the world as a master. It was just a mother’s ambition. She had brought up Krishnamurti, and she loved him just as any mother loves her own child. Her only desire in her old age was that Krishnamurti become a world teacher, jagatguru. Now, how could Krishnamurti be declared a world teacher if he has nothing to say to the world? In this book, AT THE FEET OF THE MASTER, she tried to fulfill that demand.
Krishnamurti is not the author of that book. He himself says he does not remember ever having written it. He is a sincere man, true and honest, but the book is still being sold in his name. He should prevent it. He should make it clear to the publishers of the book that he is not the author of it. If they want to publish it, then publish it anonymously. But he has not done that. That’s what makes me say he is still in the ninth picture of the ten cards of Zen, the Ten Zen Bulls. He cannot deny it, he simply says he cannot remember. Deny it! Say it is not your work.
But the book is beautiful. In fact anybody would be proud to have written it. Those who want to travel the path and be in tune with a master must study AT THE FEET OF THE MASTER. I say study, not read, because one reads fiction, or spiritual fictions like Lobsang Rampa and his dozens of books, or the books of so many fictitious people. There are many around today, because there is a need, a market. Anybody can be a master now….
Sixth: Sufi mystic, Junnaid
the master of al-Hillaj Mansoor…. Al-Hillaj became world famous because he was murdered; hence Junnaid fell into shadow. But the few sentences, fragments, that have survived from Junnaid are really great. Otherwise how could he have produced a disciple like al-Hillaj Mansoor?
He does not make a garland of flowers, but only heaps them. It is up to you to choose.
Junnaid said to al-Hillaj Mansoor, ”What you have known, keep it to yourself. Do not shout ana’l haq! so loudly. If you say it, you will say it in such a way that nobody can hear you.”
Everybody has been unjust to Junnaid. They thought he was a little afraid. It is not so. It is easy to know the truth, it is easy to declare it; it is immensely difficult to keep it in your heart undeclared, unpronounced. Let those who want come to the well of your being, to your silence.
Seventh: Meher Baba, GOD SPEAKS
He was silent for thirty years. Nobody has been silent for so long. Mahavira was silent for only twelve years, that was the record. Meher Baba broke all records. Thirty years of silence! He used to make gestures with his hands, as I do when I speak, because there are a few things which can only be said through gestures. Meher Baba dropped the words, but he could not drop the gestures. We are fortunate that he did not drop gestures too. The intimate ones who lived with him started writing notes through his gestures, and the book that was published after thirty years of Meher Baba’s silence has a strange title, as it should have.
Meher Baba lived in silence and died in silence. He never spoke, but his silence was itself his statement, his expression, his song. So it is not really strange to title the book GOD SPEAKS.
There is a Zen book which says: The flower does not speak. It is wrong, absolutely wrong. The flower speaks too. Of course it does not speak in English or Japanese or Sanskrit; it speaks in the language of flowers. It speaks through its perfume. I know it well because I am allergic to perfume. I can hear a flower speaking from miles away, so I am speaking from my own experience. It is not a metaphor. I say again, a flower speaks too, but its language is that of flowers. GOD SPEAKS, however it sounds, is true about Meher Baba. He spoke without speaking at all.
Eighth: George Bernard Shaw, MAXIMS FOR A REVOLUTIONARY
It is a very unknown book. All his other books are well known except this one. Only an insane man like me can choose it. I have forgotten everything else he has written – it is all rubbish, just garbage.
he was just a skeptic. He was not even a saint, not enlightened nor even thinking about enlightenment. He may not have even heard the word; he belonged to a totally different world.
the first maxim is: There are no golden rules, this is the first rule. Now, even this small statement is of tremendous beauty. There are no golden rules…. Yes, there are none; this is the only golden rule. For the remainder you will have to study the book. Remember, whenever I say study I mean meditate over it. Whenever I say read it, meditation is not required. Only acquaintance with the language will do.
Ninth: Hui Neng, THE TEACHINGS OF HUI NENG
Hui Neng is one of the pinnacles, the very crescendo a man can rise to. Hui Neng does not say much; he only gives hints, just a few hints. But they are enough. Like footprints, if you can follow you will reach. What he says is essentially not different from Buddha or Jesus, but the way he says it is his own, authentically original. He says it in his own way, and that proves he is not a parrot, not a pope or a priest.
Hui Neng can be summarized very easily, but can only be realized by those who can risk all. He can be summarized very easily because all that he says is: Do not think; be. But to realize it one will need many lives, unless one is utterly intelligent; then, this very moment, herenow, it can become a reality in you. It is already a reality in me, why can’t it become a reality in you? Except you, nobody is preventing it.
Tenth: Mulla Nasruddin
he was a Sufi and his grave still exists. But he was such a man that he could not resist even to joke from his grave. He made a will that his gravestone will be nothing but a door, locked, and the keys thrown away into the ocean.
Now this is strange! People go to see his grave: they can go round and round the door because there are no walls, there is just a door standing there, no walls at all! – and the door is locked. The man Mulla Nasruddin must be laughing in his grave.
I have loved no one as I have loved Nasruddin. He is one of the men who has brought religion and laughter together; otherwise they have always stood back to back. Nasruddin forced them to drop their old enmity and become friends, and when religion and laughter meet, when meditation laughs, and when laughter meditates, the miracle happens… the miracle of all miracles.
First: Haas, THE DESTINY OF THE MIND
The book is not very well known for the simple reason that it is so profound. I think this fellow Haas must be a German; even so he has created a book of immense significance. He is not a poet, he writes like a mathematician. He is the man who gave me the word philosia.
Philosophy means ’love of wisdom’; philo is love, and sophia is wisdom, but it cannot be applicable to darshan, the Eastern way of looking at the whole. Philosophy is harsh.
In his book DESTINY OF THE MIND, Haas uses for darshan not the word philosophy but philosia. Philo still means love, but osia means truth, the real, the ultimately real – not love of knowledge or wisdom, but love for the truth, palatable or unpalatable, it does not matter.
This is one of those books which has brought East and West closer – but just closer, books cannot do anything more. For the meeting to happen a man is needed, not a book, and Haas was not that man. His book is beautiful, but he himself is just ordinary. For the real meeting a Buddha, a Bodhidharma, a Jesus, a Mohammed or a Baal Shem is needed. In short, meditation is needed, and I don’t think that this man Haas ever meditated. He may have concentrated – Germans know much about concentration, concentration camps… great! I have been holding meditation camps and they have been holding concentration camps! Concentration is German, meditation is not.
Yes, once in a while even in Germany a meditator has happened, but that is not the rule, only the exception, and the exception always proves the rule. I know Eckhart, and I know Boehme….
I would have loved for him to have been born in the East. To be born among Germans and then to write or speak about the ultimate is a difficult job. But the poor man did it, and did it perfectly. Germans are Germans; whatsoever they do, they do it perfectly. Even today it seems one German sannyasin is still knocking. Perfection! Listen to his knocks, how beautiful they sound amidst all this silence.
Eckhart was uneducated. It is strange that many of the mystics are uneducated. There must be something wrong with education. Why are there not so many educated mystics? Education must be destroying something, and that prevents people from becoming mystics. Yes, education destroys. Twenty-five years continuously, from the kindergarten to the postgraduate courses in university, it goes on destroying in you whatsoever is beautiful and aesthetic. The lotus is crushed under scholarship, the rose is murdered by the so-called professors, teachers, vice-chancellors, chancellors. What beautiful names they have chosen for themselves.
The real education has not begun yet. It has to begin. It will be the education of the heart, not of the head; of the feminine in you, not the masculine.
It is a wonder that Eckhart, among the Germans, the most male chauvinist race in the world, remained yet in his heart, and spoke from there. Uneducated, poor, of no political status, of no economic status, of no status at all – just a beggar, but so rich. Very few people have been so rich. Rich in his being – his BEING.
These two words, being and becoming, have to be understood. Becoming is a process with no beginning and no end, a continuum. But being is not a process at all, it simply is. Call it is-ness, and you will be very close to it.
Being is neither of time nor of space, it is a transcendence. Transcendence – again, write TRANSCENDENCE in capital letters. Alas that you cannot write it in golden letters. It is a word that should be written in gold, pure gold – not eighteen carat but twenty-four carat, one hundred percent gold.
Eckhart said only a few things, but even those were enough to irritate the ugly priesthood, the pope and the devils that surround him. They immediately stopped Eckhart. They told him what to say and what not to say. It needs a madman like me not to listen to these fools. But Eckhart was a simple man; he listened, listened to authority. A German is after all a German. When you say ”Left turn” he turns left; when you say ”Right turn” he turns right.
Eckhart listened. A German cannot be really enlightened, it will be very difficult. Vimalkirti may be the first German who became enlightened. But Eckhart was very close; one step more and the world will end… and the opening, the opening of the doors, the opening to the beyond. But he said – even though he was a German, and even under pressure from the pope – he said beautiful things. Just a little bit of truth has entered into his sayings, hence I include him.
Boehme, one of the most beautiful Germans ever. Again, he was utterly poor. It seems one has to be poor to be wise; that has been the case up to now. But not after me. After me you have to be rich to be enlightened. Let me repeat it: you have to be rich to be enlightened.
Jesus says the rich will not enter into his kingdom of God. He was talking in the old way. I say emphatically that only the richest will enter into the kingdom of God. And remember, what I am saying is the same as what Jesus was saying, it is not contradictory. The ’poor’ in Jesus’ terminology and the ’rich’ in my terminology mean exactly the same. He calls a man poor who has lost himself, his ego, and that is the man I call rich. The more egoless you are the richer you are. But in the past, very rarely was a man like Boehme born into a rich family, particularly in the West.
It is not so in the East. Buddha was a prince, Mahavira was a prince; the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas were all kings. Krishna was a king, Rama was a king. All were rich, immensely rich. It signifies something; it signifies the richness I am talking about. A man is rich when his ego is lost. When he is no more, he is.
Boehme says a few things, just a few. He could not say many things, so don’t be afraid. The one thing I would like to mention is: The heart is the temple of God. Yes, Boehme, it is the heart not the head.
Fourth: Idries Shah
I will not mention any of his books because all of them are beautiful. I recommend every one of this man’s books.
Don’t be afraid, I am still insane. Nothing can make me sane. But one book by Idries Shah towers above all the others. All are beautiful, I would like to mention them all, but the book THE SUFIS is just a diamond. The value of what he has done in THE SUFIS is immeasurable.
He is the man who introduced Mulla Nasruddin to the West, and he has done an incredible service. He cannot be repaid. The West has to remain obliged to him forever. Idries Shah has made just the small anecdotes of Nasruddin even more beautiful. This man not only has the capacity to exactly translate the parables, but even to beautify them, to make them more poignant, sharper. I include all of his books.
Fifth: Alan Watts
I have loved this man immensely. I have loved Buddha for different reasons; I have loved Solomon for a different reason. They are enlightened, Alan Watts is not. He is an American… not a born American, that’s his only hope; he just emigrated there. But he has written tremendously valuable books. THE WAY OF ZEN should be counted as one of the most important; THIS IS IT is a tremendous work of beauty and understanding – and from a man who is yet unenlightened; hence it is more appreciable.
When you are enlightened, whatsoever you say is beautiful; it has to be. But when you are not enlightened and groping in the dark, and yet can find a small window of light, that’s tremendous, fantastic. Alan Watts was a drunkard, but still he was very close.
Sixth: Rinzai, SAYINGS
Rinzai… his Chinese name is Lin Chi; in Japanese it is Rinzai. I choose the Japanese, Rinzai. Rinzai looks more beautiful, more aesthetic.
THE SAYINGS of Rinzai are just dynamite. For instance he says: You fools, you followers of Buddha, renounce him! Unless you renounce him you will not find him. Rinzai loved Buddha that’s why he said this.
He also said: Before you use the name Gautam Buddha, remember that that name is not the reality. The buddha outside in the pagoda is not the real buddha. It is within you… of whom you are completely unaware, of whom you have never heard. That is the real buddha. Get rid of the outer buddha so you can get the inner.
Rinzai says: There is no doctrine, no teaching, no Buddha. And remember, he was not an enemy of Buddha but a follower, a disciple.
It was Rinzai who took the flower of Zen away from China to Japan. He transmitted the spirit of Zen to the Japanese language, and not only to the language but to the culture itself, to flower arrangement, to pottery, to gardening and whatnot. One man, one single man, transformed the whole life of a nation.
Seventh: Hazrat Inayat Khan
He is not an enlightened man like Rinzai, but very close.
He introduced Sufism to the West. He did not write a book, but all his lectures have been collected into twelve volumes. Here and there they are beautiful. Forgive me, I cannot say they are all beautiful, but here and there, once in a while, particularly when he is talking about a Sufi story, he is beautiful.
He was also a musician; in that way he was really a maestro. He was not a master in the spiritual world, but in the world of music he certainly was. But once in a while he flew to the spiritual, he rose beyond the clouds… to fall back with a thud, of course. He must have suffered from… Devaraj, what do you call it? Multi-fracture? Multiple fractures, perhaps that’s the right word.
Eighth: Hazrat Vilayat Ali Khan
The son of Hazrat Inayat Khan. He is a beautiful man. He is still living. The father is dead, Vilayat is alive, and when I say alive I really mean it – not only breathing… breathing of course, but not only breathing. All his books are also included hereby. Vilayat Ali Khan is also a musician, just like his father, only of a higher quality, of a greater depth. He is more profound… and – listen to this pause – more silent too.
Ninth: Kahlil Gibran, JESUS, THE SON OF MAN
It is one of the books which is almost ignored. Christians ignore it because it calls Jesus the son of man. They not only ignore it, they condemn it. And of course, who else cares about Jesus? If Christians themselves are condemning him, then nobody else cares about it.
Kahlil Gibran is a Syrian from very close to Jerusalem. In fact in the hills of Syria, people – a few people at least – still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Amid those high- reaching cedars, anyone, even a fool, is bound to be amazed, mystified. Kahlil Gibran was born in Syria under the cedars reaching towards the stars. He comes very close in representing the real man Jesus – closer than the four so-called disciples who wrote the gospels. They are more gossips than gospels. Kahlil Gibran is closer, but Christians were angry because he calls Jesus the son of man. I loved the book.
The book related different people’s stories about Jesus: a laborer, a farmer, a fisherman, a tax- collector – yes, even a tax-collector – a man, a woman, all possibilities. It is as if Kahlil Gibran is asking many people about Jesus – the real Jesus, not the Christian Jesus; the real Jesus, made of flesh… and the stories are so beautiful. Each story needs to be meditated upon.
Tenth: Kahlil Gibran, THE MADMAN
I cannot leave it out, although I confess I wanted to. I wanted to leave it out because I am that madman about whom he is talking. But I cannot leave it out. He talks so meaningfully, so authentically about the very innermost core of the madman. And this madman is no ordinary madman, but a Buddha, a Rinzai, a Kabir. I wonder – I have always wondered – how Kahlil Gibran could manage it. He himself was not the madman, he himself was not the enlightened one. He was born in Syria, but lived unfortunately in America.
But there are wonders and wonders, questions without answers. How did he manage? Perhaps he did not manage it himself… perhaps something, someone – what Sufis call Khidr, and Theosophists call K.H., Koothumi – must have taken possession of him. He was possessed, but not always. When he was not writing he was a very ordinary man, in fact more ordinary than the so-called ordinary man: full of jealousy, anger, passions of all kinds. But once in a while he became possessed, possessed from above, and then something started pouring through him… paintings, poetry, parables.
Jean-Paul Sartre’s BEING AND NOTHINGNESS
First I must mention that I don’t like the man. I don’t like him because he is a snob. He is one of the most snobbish people of this century. I call him a snob because he has become the leader of Existentialism without knowing at all what it means to be existential. But the book is good – not for my disciples but for those who have gone a little bit nuts, just a little bit. It is unreadable.
If you are a little bit nuts it will bring you to your senses. It is a great work in that sense – medicinal. It should be prescribed in all mad asylums. Each madman should be forced to read it, study it. If it cannot bring you to sanity nothing can. But only to first-degree nuts, like philosophers, professors, mathematicians, scientists – but only the first degree, not those very advanced in madness.
The existentialism of which Jean-Paul Sartre is the representative is a mockery. Without ever knowing anything of meditation he talks about ’being’, and he talks about ’nothingness’. Alas, they are not two: being is no-thingness; that is why Buddha has called being, anatta – no-self. Gautama the Buddha is the only man in history to call self ’no-self’. I love Buddha for a thousand and one reasons; this is only one of the reasons. The thousand I cannot count because of the shortage of time.
But Jean-Paul Sartre I dislike – just dislike, not even hate, because hate is a strong word; I save it for the second book. Jean-Paul Sartre knows nothing of existence, but he has created a jargon, a philosophical jargon, intellectual gymnastics. And it really is gymnastics. If you can read ten pages of BEING AND NOTHINGNESS, either you will become sane or insane. But to read ten pages is a difficult task. When I was a professor I gave it to many of my students, but nobody ever completed it. Nobody could even read ten pages – one page was too much; in fact one paragraph itself was too much. You cannot make any head or tail of it. And there are a thousand pages or more. It is a big book.
I include the book because he has done such a tremendous task. It is one of the most monumental books ever written, with such skill, such logic. And yet the man was just ordinary, a communist – that’s another reason why I dislike him. A man who knows existence cannot be a communist, because he will know that equality is impossible. Inequality is the way things are. Nothing is equal and nothing can ever be equal. Equality is only a dream, a dream of stupid people. Existence is multidimensional inequality.
Second: Martin Heidegger, TIME AND BEING
I hate this man. He was not only a communist, but a fascist too, a follower of Adolf Hitler. I cannot believe what the Germans can do! He was such a talented man, a genius, and yet a supporter of that retarded imbecile Adolf Hitler. I am simply amazed. But the book is good – again not for my disciples, but for those who are very advanced in their madness. If you are really advanced in madness, read TIME AND BEING. It is absolutely un-understandable. It will hit you like a hammer on the head. But there are a few beautiful glimpses in it. Yes, when somebody hits you on the head with a hammer, even during the day you start seeing stars. This book is just like that: there are a few stars in it.
The book is not complete. Martin Heidegger had promised to bring out a second part. He continued to promise again and again throughout his whole life, but he never produced the second part, thank God! I think he himself could not understand what he had written, so how to continue it? How to bring out the second part? And the second part was going to be the culmination of his philosophy. It was better not to produce it, and not to become a laughingstock. He died without producing the second part. But even the first part is good for advanced insane people – and there are many; that is why I am talking about these books and including them in my list.
Third: Ludwig Wittgenstein, TRACTATUS LOGICO PHILOSOPHICUS
This is for the real adepts in madness, who have gone beyond all psychiatry, psychoanalysis, who are unhelpable. This third book is again the work of a German.
It is one of the most difficult books in existence. Even a man like G.E.Moore, a great English philosopher, and Bertrand Russell, another great philosopher – not only English but a philosopher of the whole world – both agreed that this man Wittgenstein was far superior to them both.
Ludwig Wittgenstein was really a lovable man. I don’t hate him, but I don’t dislike him. I like him and I love him, but not his book. His book is only gymnastics. Only once in a while after pages and pages you may come across a sentence which is luminous. For example: That which cannot be spoken should not be spoken; one should be silent about it. Now this is a beautiful statement. Even saints, mystics, poets, can learn much from this sentence. That which cannot be spoken must not be spoken of.
Wittgenstein writes in a mathematical way, small sentences, not even paragraphs – sutras. But for the very advanced insane man this book can be of immense help. It can hit him exactly in his soul, not only in the head. Just like a nail it can penetrate into his very being. That may wake him from his nightmare.
Ludwig Wittgenstein was a lovable man. He was offered one of the most cherished chairs of philosophy at Oxford. He declined. That’s what I love in him. He went to become a farmer and fisherman. This is lovable in the man. This is more existential than Jean-Paul Sartre, although Wittgenstein never talked of existentialism. Existentialism, by the way, cannot be talked about; you have to live it, there is no other way.
This book was written when Wittgenstein was studying under G.E.Moore and Bertrand Russell. Two great philosophers of Britain, and a German… it was enough to create TRACTATUS LOGICO PHILOSOPHICUS. Translated it means Wittgenstein, Moore and Russell. I, on my part, would rather have seen Wittgenstein sitting at the feet of Gurdjieff than studying with Moore and Russell. That was the right place for him, but he missed. Perhaps next time, I mean next life… for him, not for me. For me this is enough, this is the last. But for him, at least once he needs to be in the company of a man like Gurdjieff or Chuang Tzu, Bodhidharma – but not Moore, Russell, not Whitehead. He was associating with these people, the wrong people. A right man in the company of wrong people, that’s what destroyed him.
My experience is, in the right company even a wrong person becomes right, and vice-versa: in a wrong company, even a right person becomes wrong. But this only applies to unenlightened men, right or wrong, both. An enlightened person cannot be influenced. He can associate with anyone – Jesus with Magdalena, a prostitute; Buddha with a murderer, a murderer who had killed nine hundred and ninety-nine people. He had taken a vow to kill one thousand people, and he was going to kill Buddha too; that’s how he came into contact with Buddha.
He would kill a man, cut off his fingers and put them on his garland, just to keep count of the number of people he had killed. Only ten fingers were missing to make up the thousand; in other words only one man more…. Then Buddha appeared. He was just moving on that road from one village to another. Angulimala shouted, ”Stop!”
Buddha said, ”Great. That’s what I have been telling people: Stop! But, my friend, who listens?”
Angulimala looked amazed: Is this man insane? And Buddha continued walking towards Angulimala. Angulimala again shouted, ”Stop! It seems you don’t know that I am a murderer, and I have taken a vow to kill one thousand people. Even my own mother has stopped seeing me, because only one person is missing…. I will kill you… but you look so beautiful that if you stop and turn back I may not kill you.”
Buddha said, ”Forget about it. I have never turned back in my life, and as far as stopping is concerned, I stopped forty years ago; since then there is nobody left to move. And as far as killing me is concerned, you can do it anyway. Everything born is going to die.”
Angulimala saw the man, fell at his feet, and was transformed. Angulimala could not change Buddha, Buddha changed Angulimala. Magdalena the prostitute could not change Jesus, but Jesus changed the woman.
So what I said is only applicable to so-called ordinary humanity, it is not applicable to those who are awakened. Wittgenstein can become awakened; he could have become awakened even in this life. Alas, he associated with wrong company. But his book can be of great help to those who are really third-degree insane. If they can make any sense out of it, they will come back to sanity.
Fourth: Vimalkirti, NIRDESH SUTRA
I feel tremendously thankful to existence…. Now I am going to talk about a man who was beyond numbers.
Vimalkirti was one of the most wonderful men; even a Buddha could be jealous of this man. He was a disciple of Buddha, but never became a disciple formally, he was never initiated by Buddha outwardly. And he was such a terrible man that all Buddha’s disciples were afraid of him. They never wanted him to become a disciple. Just to see him on the way, or to greet him, was enough for him to say something shocking. To shock was his method. Gurdjieff would have loved him – or who knows, even Gurdjieff may have been shocked. The man was really terrible, a real man.
Buddha asked everybody, and nobody was ready to go except one man, Manjushree, the first of Buddha’s disciples to become enlightened. He went, and that is how this book came to be created. It is a dialogue. Our Vimalkirti was given the name because of this man. The original Vimalkirti was dying on his bed, and Manjushree was asking him questions, or rather answering his questions. That’s how the VIMALKIRTI NIRDESH SUTRA was born – a really great work.
Nobody seems bothered about it because it is not a book of any particular religion. It is not even a book of the Buddhists, because he was never a formal disciple of Buddha. People pay so much respect to the form that they forget the spirit. I recommend the book to all true seekers. They will find a mine of diamonds.
Fifth: J.Krishnamurti, COMMENTARIES ON LIVING
It is his diary. Once in a while he writes something in his diary… a beautiful sunset, an ancient tree, or just the evening… birds coming back home… anything… a river rushing to the ocean… whatever he feels, he sometimes notes it down. That’s how this book was born. It is not written systematically, it is a diary. Yet to just read it is enough to transport you to another world – the world of beauty, or far better, beautitude. Can you see my tears?
I have not read for some time, but just the mention of this book is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I love the book. It is one of the greatest books ever written. I have said before that Krishnamurti’s FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM is his best book, which he has not been able to transcend – of course not as a book, because COMMENTARIES is only a diary, not a book in the real sense, but all the same I include it.
Sixth: Maurice Nicoll, COMMENTARIES
Nicoll was a disciple of Gurdjieff, and unlike Ouspensky, he never betrayed, he was not a Judas. A true disciple to the very last breath and beyond it too. The commentaries of Nicoll are vast – I don’t think anybody reads them – thousands and thousands of pages. But if one takes the trouble one is immensely benefited. In my opinion Nicoll’s COMMENTARIES should be considered as one of the best books in the world.
Seventh: Hartmann, OUR LIFE WITH GURDJIEFF
Again a book by another disciple of Gurdjieff. Hartmann and his wife were both disciples of Gurdjieff. Hartmann was a musician and played for Gurdjieff’s dances. Gurdjieff used dances as meditations, not only for the disciples but even for the people who saw the disciples dancing.
In New York, when he performed for the first time, Hartmann was playing the piano, the disciples were dancing, and the moment when Gurdjieff shouted ”Stop!” – it was a stop exercise.
When Gurdjieff shouted ”Stop!” the dancers really stopped, in the middle of a dance! They were just on the edge of the stage. They all fell on top of one another on the floor, but still nobody moved! The audience was awestruck. They could not believe that people could be so obedient.
The book is a beautiful description by a disciple. It will be helpful to anyone who is on the way.
Eighth: Ramanuja, SHREE PASHA
It is a commentary on BRAHMAN SUTRAS. There are many commentaries on BRAHMAN SUTRAS – I have already talked about Badrayana’s BRAHMAN SUTRAS. Ramanuja comments on him in a way which is unique.
The original book is very dry, absolutely desertlike. Of course the desert also has its beauty and its truth, but Ramanuja in his SHREE PASHA makes it a garden, an oasis. He makes it juicy. I love the book Ramanuja has written. I don’t like Ramanuja himself because he was a traditionalist. I hate the traditionalists, the orthodox, from my guts. I consider them to be fanatics – but what can I do, the book is beautiful; once in a while even a fanatic can do something beautiful. So forgive me for including it.
Ninth: P.D. Ouspensky, THE FUTURE PSYCHOLOGY OF MAN
There are a few fools who even marry women who are schoolmasters! They must be suffering from the disease called by the psychologists ’masochism’; they must be searching for someone to torture them.
I don’t like Ouspensky. He was exactly the schoolmaster, even when he was lecturing on the teachings of Gurdjieff. He would stand before a blackboard with a chalk in his hand, with a table and chair in front, exactly like a schoolteacher, with specs and all, nothing was missing. And the way he taught! – I can see why so few people ever became attracted to him, although he was bringing a golden message.
Secondly, I hate him because he was a Judas. I cannot love anybody who betrays. To betray is to commit suicide, spiritual suicide. Even Judas had to commit suicide just within twenty-four hours of Jesus being crucified. Ouspensky is not my love affair, but what can I do? – he was a capable writer, talented, a genius. This book I am going to mention was a posthumous publication. He never wanted it to be published during his lifetime. Maybe he was afraid. Maybe he thought it may not prove up to his expectations.
It is a small book; He wrote in his will that the book should only be published when he was no more. I don’t like the man, but I must say, in spite of myself, that in this book he almost predicted me and my sannyasins. He predicted the future psychology, and that is what I am doing here – the future man, the New Man. This small book must become a necessary study for all sannyasins.
Tenth: Bahauddin, THE BOOK OF BAHAUDDIN
The original Sufi mystic, Bahauddin created the tradition of Sufism. In his small book everything is contained. It is like a seed. Love, meditation, life, death… he has not left anything out whatsoever. Meditate over it.
First: Colin Wilson’s THE OUTSIDER
It is one of the most influential books of this century – but the man is ordinary. He is a scholar of tremendous capacity, and yes, there are a few insights here and there – but the book is beautiful.
As far as Colin Wilson is concerned, he himself is not an outsider; he is a worldly man. I am an outsider, that’s why I love the book. I love it because although he is not part of the dimension that he talks about, he writes very very close to the truth. But remember, even if you are close to truth you are still untrue. You are either true or untrue, there is nothing in between.
The book, THE OUTSIDER, represents a great effort on the part of Wilson to understand from the outside the world of the outsider; from the outside to look into the outsider, just as if someone is peeping through your keyhole. He can see a little bit – and Colin Wilson has seen. The book is worth reading – just reading, not studying. Read it and throw it into the dustbin, because unless a book comes from a real outsider it is going to be just a far, far away echo… echo of the echo, reflection of the reflection.
Second: Confucius, THE ANALECTS OF CONFUCIUS
I don’t like Confucius at all, and I don’t feel any guilt about not liking him. I feel really relieved that it is now on record. Confucius and Lao Tzu were contemporaries. Lao Tzu was a little older; Confucius had even gone to see Lao Tzu and came back trembling, shaken to the very roots, perspiring. His disciples asked, ”What happened in the cave? … Because you were both there and nobody else.”
Confucius said, ”It is good that nobody witnessed it. That man, my God, he is a dragon! He would have killed me, but I escaped. He is truly dangerous.”
Confucius is reporting truly. A man like Lao Tzu can kill you just to resurrect you; and unless one is ready to die one cannot be reborn. Confucius escaped from his own rebirth.
I have already chosen Lao Tzu, and forever. Confucius belonged to the very ordinary, mundane world. But let it be noted that I don’t like him; he is a snob. It is strange he was not born in England. But anyway, China in those days WAS England. In those days England was just barbarious, there was nothing of value there.
Confucius was a politician, cunning, clever, but not really intelligent; otherwise he would have fallen at the feet of Lao Tzu, he would not have escaped. He was not only afraid of Lao Tzu, he was afraid of silence… because Lao Tzu and silence are the same.
But I wanted to include one of Confucius’ most famous books, just to be fair. ANALECTS is his most important book. To me it is just like the roots of a tree, ugly but very essential – what you call a necessary evil. ANALECTS is a necessary evil. In it he talks about the world and worldly matters, politics and all. One disciple asked him, ”Master, what about silence?”
Confucius was irritated, annoyed. He shouted at the disciple and said, ”Shut up! Silence? – silence you will have in your grave. In life there is no need for it, there are many much more important things to do.”
This was his attitude. You can understand why I don’t like him. I pity him. He was a good man. Alas, he came so close to one of the greatest, Lao Tzu, and yet missed! I can only shed a tear for him.
Third: Kahlil Gibran, THE GARDEN OF THE PROPHET
I know that when the masses condemn a man there is bound to be something great in him. Kahlil Gibran’s book, THE GARDEN OF THE PROPHET reminds me of Epicurus because he used to call his commune The Garden. Everything a person does represents him. Plato called his commune The Academy – naturally; he was an academician, a great intellectual philosopher.
Epicurus called his commune The Garden. They lived under the trees, under the stars. Once the king came to see Epicurus because he had heard how these people are immensely happy. He wanted to know, he was curious as to why these people were so happy: What could be the cause? – because they didn’t have anything. He was puzzled, because they were really happy, they were singing and dancing.
The king said, ”I feel very pleased with you and your people, Epicurus. Would you like a gift from me?”
Epicurus said to the king, ”If you come again, you could bring a little butter, because for many years my people have not known butter. They are eating just bread without butter. And one thing more: if you come again please don’t stand like an outsider; at least for the time you are here become part of us. Participate, be one of us. Dance, sing. We don’t have anything else to offer you.”
Kahlil Gibran’s book reminds me of Epicurus. I am sorry that I have not mentioned Epicurus, but I am not responsible for it. His book was burned, destroyed by the Christians. All the copies that were available were destroyed hundreds of years ago. So I cannot mention his book, but I have brought him in through Kahlil Gibran and his THE GARDEN OF THE PROPHET.
Fourth: Kahlil Gibran, THE VOICE OF THE MASTER
It must have been a very beautiful book in the original, because even in translation here and there are traces of beauty, footprints. But that is bound to be so. The language that Kahlil Gibran spoke is very close to the language of Jesus. They are neighbors. Kahlil Gibran’s home was Lebanon. He was born in the hills of Lebanon, under the cedars. They are the greatest trees in the world. Looking at a cedar of Lebanon you can believe Van Gogh, that trees are the desire of the earth to reach the stars. They are hundreds of feet high and thousands of years old.
Kahlil Gibran represents Jesus in some way; he belongs to the same dimension, although he was not a christ. He could have been. Just like Confucius, he also missed. There were people alive in Gibran’s lifetime to whom he could have gone, but the poor fellow was roaming in the dirty streets of New York. He should have gone to Maharshi Ramana, who was still alive, who was a christ, a buddha.
Fifth: Maharshi Ramana, WHO AM I?
Ramana was neither a scholar nor was he educated very much. He left home when he was only seventeen and never returned. Who returns to the ordinary home when one has found the real home? His method is a simple inquiry into your innermost core by asking, ”Who am I?” He is really the founder of the enlightenment intensive, not some American fellow – or fella – who pretends to be the inventor of it.
I have said it is not a great book, but the man is great. Sometimes I mention books which are great, written by a little man, very mediocre. Now I am mentioning a really great man who wrote a very small book, just a few pages, a pamphlet. Otherwise he was always silent; he spoke very little, just once in a while. Kahlil Gibran would have been immensely benefited if he had gone to Maharshi Ramana. Then he would have heard THE VOICE OF THE MASTER. Maharshi Ramana would also have been benefited by Kahlil Gibran, because he could write like nobody else. Ramana was a poor writer; Kahlil Gibran was a poor man but a great writer. Both together would have been a blessing to the world.
Sixth: Moorehead and Radhakrishnan, THE MIND OF INDIA
Moorehead knew nothing of India, neither did Radhakrishnan, but strangely they wrote a beautiful book, very representative of the whole Indian heritage. Just the peaks are missing, as if a bulldozer had been going on and on destroying all the peaks of the Himalayas and making a plain. Yes, both of these fellows have done the work of a bulldozer. If somebody knows the spirit of India – I cannot call it the mind – then the title of the book should be THE NO-MIND OF INDIA.
But although the book does not represent the highest, it still represents the lowest, and the lowest is the majority, ninety-nine point nine percent. So it really represents almost all of India. It is beautifully written but it is only guesswork. One was an Englishman, the other an Indian politician – a great combination! And both together they wrote this book THE MIND OF INDIA.
Seventh: Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND and ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
Both are nonserious, that’s why I love them. Both are written for children, that’s why I immensely respect them. Both are full of beauty, grandeur, mystery and small parables which can be understood on many many levels. I have always loved one parable.
Alice comes to the King – or perhaps it was the Queen, it does not matter – and the King asks Alice, ”Did you meet my messenger coming towards me on the way?”
Alice says, ”I met nobody, sir.”
The King then says, ”Then he must have reached here by now.”
Alice could not believe her ears, but just out of respect, amazed, Alice still remained silent, quite an English lady.
The King laughed and said, ”Yes, of course nobody is nobody, but why has he not arrived yet?”
Lewis Carroll was not the real name… because he was a mathematician and a schoolmaster; hence he used a pseudo-name. But what a calamity, the pseudonym has become a reality to the whole world and the real man is completely forgotten. It is strange that a mathematician and schoolmaster could write such beautiful books.
You will wonder why I am including them. I am including them because I want to say to the world that to me, Jean-Paul Sartre’s BEING AND NOTHINGNESS and Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND are all the same. It does not matter. In fact, if I have to choose between the two I will choose ALICE IN WONDERLAND and throw BEING AND NOTHINGNESS in the ocean, so far away in the Pacific that nobody will find it again. To me these two small books have great spiritual value. Yes, I’m not joking… I mean it.
Ninth: Kahlil Gibran, THE WANDERER
I have loved him and would have liked to help him. I have even waited for him, but he is not born yet. He will have to seek for some other master in the future. THE WANDERER is my choice for this number.
THE WANDERER, by Kahlil Gibran, is a collection of parables. The parable is the oldest method of saying that which is profound; that which cannot be said can always be said in a parable. It is a beautiful collection of small stories.
Tenth: Kahlil Gibran, THE SPIRITUAL SAYINGS
Now I must object, even though the objection is against Kahlil Gibran whom I love. He cannot be allowed to write ’spiritual sayings’. Spiritual? – although the book is beautiful it would have been better if he had called it BEAUTIFUL SAYINGS. Beautiful, not spiritual. To call it spiritual is just absurd. But still I love the book, just as I love all absurdities.
Tertullian’s famous saying is: credo quia absurdum – I believe because it is absurd. I don’t think there is another saying in all the languages of the world which is more pregnant than this one. And Tertullian is a Christian saint! Yes, when I see beauty I appreciate it – even in a Christian saint.
Credo quia absurdum – this should be written in diamonds, not even in golden letters. Gold is too cheap. This saying: I believe because it is absurd, is so valuable. Tertullian could have written a book entitled SPIRITUAL SAYINGS but not Kahlil Gibran.
Eleven: Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT
Now nobody knows what ’Godot’ means, just as nobody knows what ’God’ means. In fact Beckett did a great job inventing the word Godot for God. Everybody is waiting for nothing because God does not exist. Everybody is waiting, waiting, waiting… and waiting for nothing. That’s why even though the number was complete I wanted to include this book WAITING FOR GODOT.
First: Martin Buber, TALES OF HASSIDISM
What D.T. Suzuki did for Zen, Buber has done for Hassidism. Both have done a tremendous service for seekers. But Suzuki became enlightened; sorry to say, Buber could not.
Buber was a great writer, philosopher, thinker, but all those things are toys to play with. Still, I pay my respects to him by including his name, because without him the world would not have even known the word Hassid.
Buber was born into a Hassidic family. From his very childhood he was raised among Hassids. It was in his very blood, bones, in his marrow, so when he relates it it sounds so true, although he is only describing what he has heard, nothing more. He has heard correctly; that must be on record. Even to hear correctly is very difficult, and then to report to the world at large is even more difficult, but he has done it beautifully.
Suzuki is enlightened, Buber is not – but Suzuki is not a great writer, Buber is. Suzuki is an ordinary writer. Buber towers very high as far as the art of writing is concerned. But Suzuki knows, and Buber knows not; he is only relating the tradition in which he was brought up… of course, relating authentically.
TALES OF HASSIDISM should be read by all seekers of truth. These tales, small stories, have such a flavor. It is different from Zen, it is also different from Sufism. It has its own flavor, unborrowed from anyone, uncopied, unimitated. The Hassid loves, laughs, dances. His religion is not of celibacy, but of celebration. That’s why I find a bridge between my people and the Hassids. It is not accidental that so many Jews have come to me; otherwise, I am always shattering the heads of the Jews as much as I can… and still they know that I love them. I love the essential in Judaism, that is Hassidism. Moses had not heard of it of course, but he was a Hassid; whether he knew it or not does not matter. I declare him to be a Hassid – and so I declare Buddha, Krishna, Nanak and Mohammed. Hassidism came after Baal Shem. The word does not matter, the spirit matters.
Martin Buber’s second book, I AND THOU, is his most famous work, the book for which he was given the Nobel prize. Forgive me, but I disagree with it completely. I mention it because it is a beautiful work, written artistically, with great profundity and sincerity. But still there is no soul in it, because the soul was missing in Buber himself. How could the poor man manage to bring it into his book, his masterpiece?
I AND THOU is very much respected by the Jews because they think it represents their religion. It does not represent any religion at all, neither Jew nor Hindu; it only represents the ignorance of the man called Martin Buber. But the man was certainly an artist, a great genius. When a genius starts writing about something of which he knows nothing, he can still produce a masterpiece.
I AND THOU is basically wrong because Buber says it is a dialogue between man and God. I AND THOU…! Nonsense! There cannot be any dialogue between man and God, there can only be silence. Dialogue? What will you talk to God about? The devaluation of the dollar? or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini? What are you going to have a dialogue with God about? There is nothing you can talk about. You can simply be in a state of awe… utter silence.
There is no ’I’ and there is no ’Thou’ in that silence; hence I refute not only the book but even the title. I AND THOU…? That means one remains still separate. No, it is like a dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf into the ocean. The dewdrop disappears, or in other words becomes the ocean, but there is no I and Thou. Either there is only I or there is only Thou. But when there is no I, there cannot be any Thou, it won’t have any meaning. If there is no Thou, there can be no I either, so in fact there is only silence… this pause…. My being silent for a moment says much more than what Martin Buber tries to say in I AND THOU, and fails. But even though it is a failure, it is a masterpiece.
Second: Karl Marx, DAS KAPITAL
one of the most stubborn – not more stubborn than me.
This is the worst-written book ever. But in a way it is a great book, because it dominates millions of people. Almost half the world is communist, and the other half you cannot be certain about. Even people who are not communist, deep down they feel that there is something good in communism. There is nothing good in it. It is the exploitation of a great dream. Karl Marx was only a dreamer – not an economist, not at all – just a dreamer; a poet, but a poet of third-rate quality.
He is not a great writer either. Nobody reads DAS KAPITAL. I have come across many famous communists, and I have asked them, looking deep into their eyes, ”Have you read DAS KAPITAL?” Not a single one has said yes.
They said, ”Only a few pages…. We have so many other things to do, we cannot read such a big book.” Thousands of pages, and all rubbish, written neither logically nor rationally, but as if someone had gone insane. Karl Marx goes on writing anything that happens in his mind. Sitting in the British Museum, surrounded by thousands of books, he went on writing and writing. You know, it was almost an everyday ritual that he had to be dragged out of the museum at closing time. He had to be forced to leave; otherwise he would not go. Once in a while he was even taken out unconscious.
Now this man has become a god! There is something like an unholy trinity: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and of course Lenin – these three people have become almost like gods to millions of people on the earth. It is a calamity, but I still mention the book – not that you should read it, but so that you do not. Underline what I have said: Do not read it. You are already in a mess. Enough of it. No need for DAS KAPITAL.
Fourth: Sigmund Freud, LECTURES ON PSYCHOANALYSIS
I don’t like the word analysis, nor do I like the man, but he managed to create a great movement just like Karl Marx. He is also one of the dominant figures of the world.
Jews have always dreamed of dominating the world. They are really dominating. The three most important men who can be said to be dominating this age are Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein. All three are Jews. The Jews have achieved their dream, they are dominating. But Marx is wrong as far as economics is concerned; Freud is wrong because mind is not to be analyzed, but to be put aside so that you can enter into the world of no-mind.
Albert Einstein is of course right in his theories about relativity, but he proved himself to be utterly foolish when he wrote a letter to President Roosevelt proposing to make the atom bomb. Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the thousands of people who died there, burned alive, are all pointing towards Albert Einstein. It was his letter that started the process of making atom bombs in America. He could never forgive himself; that is the good part of the man. At least he realized that he had committed one of the greatest sins possible. He died in utter frustration. Before he died he said, ”I would never, never, never again like to be born a physicist, but only to be a plumber.”
And he was one of the greatest minds in the whole history of man. Why was he so frustrated with being a physicist? Why? For the simple reason that he was not conscious of what he was doing. He became aware only when it was too late…. That is the way of unconscious man: he becomes aware only when it is too late. The conscious man is aware beforehand.
Fifth: Gurdjieff’s MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN
Gurdjieff traveled all over the world, particularly in the Middle East and India. He went up to Tibet; not only that, he was the teacher of the late Dalai Lama… not the present one – he is a fool – but the previous one. Gurdjieff’s name in Tibetan is written as Dorjeb, and many people thought that Dorjeb was someone else. He is none other than George Gurdjieff. Because this fact was known to the British government – that Gurdjieff had been in Tibet for many years; not only there, but had been living in the palace at Lhasa for many years – they prevented him from staying in England. He originally wanted to stay in England but was not allowed.
Gurdjieff wrote this book MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN as a memoir. It is a tremendously respectful memory to all those strange people he had met in his life – Sufis, Indian mystics, Tibetan lamas, Japanese Zen monks. I must mention to you that he did not write of them all; he left many out of the account for the simple reason that the book was going to be in the marketplace and it had to fulfill the demands of the market.
I don’t have to fulfill anybody’s demands. I am not a man who worries at all about the market, hence I can say that he left out the really most remarkably significant people from his account. But whatsoever he wrote is still beautiful. It still brings tears to my eyes. Whenever something is beautiful my eyes fill with tears; there is no other way to pay homage.
This is a book that should be studied, not just read. In English you don’t have a word for path; it is a Hindi word which means reading and reading the same thing every day for your whole life. It cannot be translated as reading, particularly in the West where you read a paperback and once you have read it you throw it away or leave it on the train. It cannot be translated as study either, because study is a concentrated effort to understand the meaning of the word, or words. ’Path’ is neither reading nor study, but something more. It is repeating joyously, so joyously that it penetrates to your very heart, so it becomes your breathing. It takes a lifetime, and that’s what is needed if you want to understand real books, books like Gurdjieff’s MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN.
It is not a fiction like DON JUAN – a fictitious man created by an American fellow, Carlos Castaneda. This man has done a great disservice to humanity. One should not write spiritual fictions for the simple reason that people start thinking that spirituality is nothing but a fiction.
MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MEN is a real book. A few of the people Gurdjieff mentions are still alive; I have met a few of them myself. I am a witness to the fact those people are not fictitious, although I cannot forgive even Gurdjieff for leaving out the most remarkable people he met.
There is no need to compromise with the marketplace; there is no need to compromise at all. He was such a strong man, I wonder why he compromised, why he omitted the really important people. I have met a few people that he omitted from the book, who themselves told me that Gurdjieff had been there. They are very old now. But still the book is good – half, incomplete, but valuable.
Sixth: THE GRANTHA
I have always loved a book whose author is unknown; he is anonymous, although it is known to have been written by a disciple of Kabir. It does not matter who wrote it, but whoever did so must have been enlightened; that much can be said without any hesitation.
It is a small book of poems, very poorly written. Maybe the man was not very educated, but that too does not matter. What matters is the matter in it.
The people who have it in their possession are against publishing it, and I can understand their feelings and completely agree with them. They say that when a book is published it becomes part of the marketplace, and they do not want it to be published. If anyone wants the book he can come and write it down in his own handwriting. So there are many handwritten copies around in India, but they have all promised not to publish it. Publication certainly does something to a book; it becomes mechanical, it loses something while going through the press. It loses its spirit; it comes out as a corpse.
’Tying down’ is the exact meaning of THE GRANTHA – ’tying down the leaves’.
The book has a few immensely valuable statements. I will just acquaint you with a few. One, it says: That which can be said, don’t bother about it, it can’t be true. Truth cannot be said. Second: God is only a word – significant, but not existent. God is only a symbol representing an experience, not an object. Third: Meditation is not mentation, it is not of the mind. On the contrary, to drop the mind is to meditate. And so on and so forth.
Seventh: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
You cannot find a more anti- communist man than me, but still I love this small book, THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO. I love the way it is written – not the content but the style.
You know I have multidimensional likes and I will appreciate even style. Buddha would have closed his eyes and ears, Mahavira would have run away: style…? But I am in my own category. Yes, I love the style THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO is written in, and I hate the content. Do you understand me? One can love the dress and yet hate the person. That’s actually the case with me. The last sentence in THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO is: Proletariat of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains, and you have a world to win.
Do you see the style? The strength of saying the thing: Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains, and a world to win. That’s what I say to my sannyasins, though I do not say unite, I say: Just be – and you have nothing to lose but your chains.
And I don’t say that you have to win the world – who cares, who bothers! Can you persuade me to become Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte or Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse-tung? There is a long line of all these idiots and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I don’t say to my sannyasins: Win – there is nothing to win. Just be – that is my manifesto. Be, because in being you have already achieved all.
Heighth: Marcel, THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS
I am not a religious man in the ordinary sense; I am religious in my own way. So people will wonder why I am including books which are not religious. They are, but you have to dig deep, and then you will find their religiosity. The myth of Sisyphus is an ancient myth, and Marcel used it for his book. Let me relate it to you.
Sisyphus, a god, was thrown out of heaven because he disobeyed the supreme God and was punished. The punishment was that he had to carry a big rock from the valley to the top of a mountain which was so small at the summit that each time he reached it with the huge rock and tried to put it down, the rock started rolling down to the valley again. Sisyphus has to go down to the valley again to carry the rock, huffing and puffing, perspiring…. A meaningless job… knowing perfectly well it will slip again, but what to do?
This is the whole story of man. That’s why I say if you dig you will find pure religion in it. This is the situation of man, and has always been so. What are you doing? What is everybody else doing? Carrying a rock to a point where it always and always slips back to the same valley, perhaps even a little deeper every time. And next morning, after breakfast of course, you carry it again. And you know while carrying it what is going to happen. It slips again.
The myth is beautiful. Marcel has introduced it again. He was a very religious person. In fact, he was the real existentialist, not Jean-Paul Sartre, but he was not a slogan-monger so he never came to the front. He remained silent, wrote silently, died silently. Many people in the world do not know that he is no more. He was such a silent man – but what he has written, THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS, is very eloquent. THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS is one of the greatest works of art ever produced.
Ninth: Bertrand Russell, THE HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY
I have loved him always, also knowing perfectly well that we are poles apart – in fact diametrically opposite to each other. Perhaps that’s the reason. Opposite poles attract each other. Do you see again tears in my eyes? They are for Bertrand Russell.
Nobody had previously done such a work as far as Western philosophy is concerned. Only a philosopher could do it. Historians have tried, and there are many histories of philosophy, but none of the historians was a philosopher. This is the first time a philosopher of the category of Bertrand Russell has also written a history.
And he is so sincere that he does not call it THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, because he knows perfectly well that he knows nothing of Eastern philosophy. He simply, humbly states what he knows, also stating that it is not the whole history of philosophy but only the Western part, from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell.
I don’t love philosophy, but Russell’s book is not only a history but a work of art. It is so systematic, so aesthetic, such a beautiful creation, perhaps because basically Russell was a mathematician.
India still needs a Bertrand Russell to write of Indian philosophy and its history. There are many histories, but they are written by historians, not philosophers, and obviously a historian is only a historian; he cannot understand the profundity and the inner rhythm of the moving thought. Radhakrishna has written a HISTORY OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY, perhaps hoping it will become something like Bertrand Russell’s book, but it is a theft. The book was not written by Radhakrishna, it was the thesis of a poor student of whom, he, Radhakrishna, was the examiner, and he stole the whole thesis. There was a case against him in the court, but the student was so poor that he could not fight the case. He was given enough money by Radhakrishna to be hushed up.
Now, such people cannot do justice to Indian philosophy. A Bertrand Russell is needed by India, by China… particularly these two countries. The West is fortunate to have a revolutionary thinker like Bertrand Russell, who could and did write the most beautiful narrative describing the whole progression of Western thought from Aristotle to himself.
Tenth: Daya, THE SONGS OF DAYABAI
It is not a so-called religious book. It is religious only if you meditate over it… if you don’t read it, but meditate over it.
THE SONGS OF DAYA. She was a contemporary of Meera and Sahajo, but she is far more profound than either of them. She is really beyond numbers. Daya is a little cuckoo – but don’t be worried…. In fact in India the cuckoo is called koyal, and it does not have the meaning of being nuts. Daya is really a cuckoo – not nuts, but a sweet singer like the Indian koyal. On an Indian summer night, the distant call of the cuckoo; that’s what Daya is… a distant call in the hot summer of this world.
I have spoken on her; perhaps someday it will be possible to translate it. But I am afraid it may not be possible, because how can one translate these poets and singers? The East is pure poetry, and the West and all its languages are all prose, pure prose. I have never come across real poetry in English. Sometimes I listen to the great classical Western musicians… the other day I was listening to Beethoven, but I had to stop in the middle. Once you have known Eastern music then there is nothing comparable to it. Once you have heard the Indian bamboo flute then everything else is just ordinary.
First: Irving Stone’s LUST FOR LIFE
It is a novel based on the life of Vincent van Gogh. Stone has done such a tremendous work that I don’t remember anybody else doing the same. Nobody has written so intimately about somebody else, as if he is writing from his very own being.
LUST FOR LIFE is not just a novel, it is a spiritual book. It is spiritual in my sense, because to me all dimensions of life have to be incorporated into a single synthesis; only then one is spiritual. The book is written so beautifully that the possibility that even Irving Stone will be able to transcend it is remote.
Second: Irving Stone, THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY
again based on another life in the same way. Perhaps Stone was thinking that he would be able to create another LUST FOR LIFE, but he failed. Although he failed, the book stands second – not to any other but to his own. There are hundreds of novels written on the lives of artists, poets, painters, but none of them reaches even to the height of the second book, what to say of the first. Both are beautiful, but the first is of transcendental beauty.
The second book is a little lower, but it is not the fault of Irving Stone. When you know that you have written a book like LUST FOR LIFE, the ordinary human instinct is to imitate oneself, to create something of the same order, but the moment you imitate it cannot be the same. When he wrote LUST he was not imitating, he was a virgin island. When he wrote THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY he was imitating himself, and that is the worst imitation. Everybody does it in their own bathroom, looking in the mirror…. That’s what one feels about his second book. But I say even though it is only a reflection in the mirror, it reflects something of the real; hence I count it.
It was about Michelangelo.
Michelangelo? A great life. Then Stone has missed much. If it had been Gauguin then it would have been okay, but if it is Michelangelo then I am sorry; even I cannot forgive him. But he writes beautifully. His prose is like poetry, although the second book is not of the same quality as LUST FOR LIFE. It cannot be for the simple reason that there has never been a man like Vincent van Gogh. That Dutch fellow was just inimitable! He stands alone. In the whole sky full of stars he shines alone, separately, uniquely in his own way. To write a great book on him is easy, and it would have been so on Michelangelo, but Stone was trying to imitate himself; hence he missed. Never be an imitator. Do not follow… not even yourself.
moment to moment
who you are…
and where you are.
That’s what it means
to be my people.
Alas, if he could have forgotten his first book, he would have produced another LUST FOR LIFE.
Third: Leo Tolstoy’s RESURRECTION
For his whole life, Leo Tolstoy was concerned, immensely concerned with Jesus; hence the title, RESURRECTION. And Leo Tolstoy has really created a tremendous work of art. It has been a bible to me. I can still see myself when I was young continuously carrying Tolstoy’s RESURRECTION with me. Even my father became worried. ”It is okay to read a book,” he said to me one day, ”but why do you go on carrying this book the whole day? You have read it.”
I said, ”Yes, I have read it, not only once but many times. But I am going to carry it with me.”
My whole village knew about it, that I was continuously carrying a certain book called RESURRECTION. They all thought I was mad – and a madman can do anything. But why was I carrying RESURRECTION the whole day? – and not only during the day, but during the night too. The book was with me by my bed. I loved it… the way Leo Tolstoy reflects the whole message of Jesus. He succeeds far more than any of the apostles except Thomas – and about that I am going to talk just after RESURRECTION.
The four gospels particularly included in The Bible miss the whole spirit of Jesus. RESURRECTION is far better. Tolstoy really loved Jesus and love is magic, particularly because when you love someone time disappears. Tolstoy loved Jesus so much that they become contemporaries. The gap is big, two thousand years, but it disappears between Tolstoy and Jesus. It rarely happens, very very rarely, that’s why I used to carry that book in my hand. I no longer carry that book in my hand, but in my heart it is still there.
Fourth: Thomas, NOTES ON JESUS
the fifth gospel. It is not recorded in The Bible; it has just been found in Egypt.
I have spoken about it because I immediately fell in love with it. Thomas, in his NOTES ON JESUS, is so simple that he cannot be inaccurate. He is so direct, immediate, that he is not, only Jesus is.
Do you know that Thomas was the first disciple to reach India? Indian Christianity is the oldest in the world, older than the Vatican. And the body of Thomas is still preserved in Goa – a strange place, but beautiful, very beautiful. That’s why all the outsiders called hippies have become attracted towards Goa. There is no other place… no other beaches so pure and beautiful as in Goa.
The body of Thomas is still preserved, and it is a miracle how it is preserved. Now we know how to preserve a body, to freeze it, but Thomas’ body is not frozen; some ancient method that was used in Egypt, in Tibet, has been used in this case too. Scientists have not yet been able to discover – such chemicals have been used… or even whether any chemicals were used or not. Scientists are great! They can reach to the moon, but they cannot make a fountain pen which does not leak! About small things they are failures.
I don’t know anything about machinery or chemistry, I only know myself. When everything around me is going perfectly there is a transcendence. I know through that transcendence that everything is going perfectly. If something is wrong, I have to come down again.
Let me explain to you the whole Eastern concept of coming down. A man is born only if something is wrong… if something is wrong with him. If nothing is wrong he is not born; he moves to the source, disappears in the cosmos.
The day before yesterday everything functioned perfectly. It did not happen yesterday. First I said ”Okay”; that was not true. But I can lie because I love – I did not want to disappoint you. At the end too I said, ”Great, you can end it,” but there was nothing to end because it had not even begun. I have to tell you this so it is not repeated again. Please don’t force me to lie. I am not British, not an Englishman; even for etiquette’s sake it is hard for me, really hard to lie. Help me so that I can say the truth. At this moment things are going really beautifully – and I am not speaking like an Englishman – really beautifully…. You know me, the seducer.
Fifth: Leo Tolstoy, WAR AND PEACE
One of the greatest in all the languages of the world. Not only the greatest but also the most voluminous… thousands of pages. I don’t know that anybody reads such books except myself. They are so big, so vast, they make you afraid.
But Tolstoy’s book has to be vast, it is not his fault. WAR AND PEACE is the whole history of human consciousness – the whole history; it cannot be written on a few pages. Yes, it is difficult to read thousands of pages, but if one can one will be transported to another world. One will know the taste of something classic. Yes, it is a classic.
Sixth: Maxim Gorky’s THE MOTHER
I don’t like Gorky; he is a communist, and I hate communists. When I hate I simply hate, but the book THE MOTHER, even though written by Maxim Gorky, I love it. I have loved it my whole life. I had so many copies of that book that my father used to say, ”Are you mad? One copy of a book is enough, and you go on ordering more! Again and again I see a postal package and it is nothing but another copy of THE MOTHER by Maxim Gorky. Are you mad or something?”
I said to him, ”Yes, as far as Gorky’s THE MOTHER is concerned, I am mad, utterly mad.”
When I see my own mother I remember Gorky. Gorky must be counted as the suprememost artist of the whole world. Particularly in THE MOTHER he reaches to the highest peak of the art of writing. Nobody before and nobody after…. He is just like a Himalayan peak. THE MOTHER is to be studied, and studied again and again; only then slowly it seeps through you. Then slowly slowly you start feeling it. Yes, that’s the word: feeling it – not thinking, not reading, but feeling. You start touching it, it starts touching you. It becomes alive. Then it is no longer a book, but a person… a person.
seventh: Turgenev, FATHERS AND SONS
This has been one of my love affairs. I have loved many books, thousands of books, but none like Turgenev’s FATHERS AND SONS. I used to force my poor father to read it. He is dead; otherwise I would have asked him to forgive me. Why did I force him to read the book? That was the only way for him to understand the gap between himself and me. But he was really a wonderful man; he used to read the book again and again just because I said. It wasn’t once he read it, but many times. And not only did he read the book, but at least between him and me the gap was bridged. We were no longer father and son. That ugly relationship of father and son, mother and daughter, and so on… at least with me my father dropped it, we became friends. It is difficult to be friends with your own father, or your own son; the whole credit goes to him, not to me.
Turgenev’s book FATHERS AND SONS should be read by everyone, because everyone is entangled in some kind of relationship – father and son, husband and wife, brother and sister, ad nauseam… yes, it creates nausea. The whole business of ’family’ in my dictionary should mean ’nausea’. And yet everybody is pretending, ”How beautiful….” Everybody is pretending to be English, British.
Eighth: D.H. Lawrence, THE PHONIX
THE PHOENIX. This is a wonderful book, one which is written only once in a while… only once after decades, or even centuries
Ninth: D.H. Lawrence, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS
THE PHOENIX is great, beautiful, but not my ultimate choice. My ultimate choice is this book. which is rarely read. Now, who is going to read this book? The people who read novels are not going to read it, and the people who read psychoanalysis will not read it because they don’t consider Lawrence to be a psychoanalyst. But I read it. I am neither a fan of novelists, nor mad about psychoanalysts. I am free from both. I am absolutely free. I love this book.
My eyes are beginning to collect dewdrops. Please don’t interrupt.
PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS has been and will be one of my most beloved and cherished books. Although I don’t read anymore, if I were to read again that would be the first book that I would read. Not the Vedas, not The Bible, but PSYCHOANALYSIS AND THE UNCONSCIOUS… and do you know, the book is against psychoanalysis.
D.H. Lawrence was really a revolutionary, a rebel. He was far more revolutionary than Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud is middle class. I will not say more than that, so don’t wait. In saying ’middle class’ I have said everything mediocre. That is the meaning of middle class: just in the middle. Sigmund Freud is not a rebel in the real sense; Lawrence is.
Good. Don’t be worried about me and my tears. It is good to have tears once in a while, and I have not wept for so long.
Tenth: Arnold’s LIGHT OF ASIA
Eleventh: Kabir’s BIJAK
It is Kabir’s selection of songs. BIJAK means ’the seed’ – and of course the seed is subtle, very subtle, invisible. You cannot see it unless it sprouts and becomes a tree.
Don’t interrupt. Do you want to continue? – that’s the question. Never ask me, ask yourself. If you don’t want to continue, simply inform me, that’s enough. It is really so difficult to ride on two horses, and that is what I am doing. Moreover one is a mare and one is a stallion. Now what to do – two different directions….
Twelfth: Herbert Marcuse, ONE DIMENSIONAL MAN
I am against it, but he has written a beautiful book. I am against it because I know a man is fulfilled only when he is multidimensional, when he is spread in all dimensions possible, not one- dimensional. ONE DIMENSIONAL MAN is the story of modern man; it is my twelfth choice.
thirteenth: I CHING
the mysterious book of the Chinese.
Fourteen: Satchidanand Vatsyayana, ISLANDS OF A RIVER (NADI KE DWEEP)
This novel is for those who want to meditate; it is a meditator’s novel. No other novel, neither by Tolstoy nor Chekhov, can be compared to it. It is unfortunate that it is written in Hindi.
Just wait. It is so beautiful that I want to enjoy rather than say anything. To talk at this height is so difficult. No interruptions please….
First: Lin Yutang, THE ART OF LIVING
Lin Yutang knows nothing of life because he knows nothing of death. Although he is a Chinese, he is a corrupted Chinese, a Christian. That’s what corruption is. Corruption makes you a Christian. Corruption corrupts, and you are a Christian.
Lin Yutang in his book THE ART OF LIVING writes beautifully about many things – except death. That means that life is not included. Life can come in only if you allow death in, not without. They are two sides of the one coin. You cannot have one side and reject the other. But he writes beautifully, artistically – he is certainly one of the greatest writers of the modern age – but whatsoever he writes is only imagination, pure, pure imagination… just dreaming about beautiful things. Sometimes dreams can be beautiful. All dreams are not nightmares.
THE ART OF LIVING has nothing to do with life and nothing to do with art either, but still it is a great book. It is great in the sense that you can be absorbed by it. You can be lost in it, just like one is lost in a thick forest: stars in the sky, trees all around, and no path, no way, nowhere to go. It leads you nowhere. Still I found it to be one of the great books. Why? – because just reading it you forget the past and the future and become part of the present.
I don’t know whether Lin Yutang ever knew anything of meditation. Unfortunately he was a Christian; hence he never went to a Taoist monastery, nor a Buddhist temple. Alas, he cannot know what he is missing. Instead he was just reading THE BIBLE, one of the most third-rate books in the world – except for two small pieces in it: THE SONG OF SOLOMON in THE OLD TESTAMENT; and in THE NEW TESTAMENT, THE SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN. If these are taken out THE BIBLE is just garbage. Alas, could he not have known something of Buddha, Chuang Tzu, something of Nagarjuna, Kabir, al-Hillaj Mansoor… something of these madmen; only then would his book have been authentic. It is artistic, but not authentic. It is not sincere.
Second: Lin Yutang, THE WISDOM OF CHINA
He has the art of writing so he can write anything, even THE WISDOM OF CHINA, although he knows nothing of Lao Tzu, who contains the whole wisdom not only of China but of the whole world. Of course Lin Yutang includes a few sentences of Lao Tzu, but those sentences are those which coincide with his Christian upbringing. In other words they are not Lao Tzuian at all. He quotes Chuang Tzu, but naturally his selections are very rational, and Chuang Tzu is not a rational man; he is the most absurd man who has ever lived.
Chuang Tzu is one of my love affairs, and when you talk about someone you love you are bound to use extremes, exaggerations, but to me they don’t sound like that. I could give the whole kingdom of the world to Chuang Tzu for any single parable that he wrote – and he wrote hundreds. Each is a SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN, a SONG OF SOLOMON, a BHAGAVADGITA. Each parable represents so much, and so richly, that it is immeasurable.
Lin Yutang quotes Chuang Tzu but quotes him like a Christian, not like a man who understands. But he is certainly a good writer, and THE WISDOM OF CHINA should be put alongside those very few books that represent a whole country, like Bertrand Russell’s HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY, or Moorehead and Radhakrishnan’s MIND OF INDIA. It is history, not mystery, but beautifully written, correctly written, grammar and all.
He is not only a Christian but was brought up in a convent school. Now, can you think of any greater misfortune that can befall a child than a convent school? So Lin Yutang is right in every way according to the Christians, and wrong in every way according to this madman who is speaking about him. But even so I love him. He is talented. I cannot say he is a genius, forgive me, but he is talented, immensely talented. Don’t ask more than that. Genius he is not – and I cannot be polite, I can only be true. I can absolutely be true.
Third: THE TALMUD
Why did I want to avoid it? If I say anything against the Jews – as I have always done and will go on doing…. But for the moment I don’t want to say anything against the Jews; only for the moment, just as if one is on holiday. That is why I wanted to avoid this book.
There is only one beautiful sentence in it, that’s all, so I can quote it. It says: God is terrible. He is not your uncle, he is not nice. Only this sentence: God is not nice, and is not your uncle – this I love. This is really great. Otherwise the whole book is gibberish. It is altogether very primitive, to be thrown away. Just save this one sentence when you are throwing it away. Write it in your bedroom: God is not your uncle, he is not nice – remember! That will bring you back to your senses when you start doing stupid things to your wife or to your husband, your children, to your servants… or even to yourself.
Fourth: Taran Taran, SHUNYA SVABHAVA – The Nature of Emptiness
He speaks exactly like a madman.
It is just a few pages, but of tremendous significance. Each sentence contains scriptures, but very difficult to understand. You will naturally ask how I could understand him. In the first place, just as Martin Buber was born into a Hassid family, I was born into this madman’s tradition.
Taran Taran simply means The Savior. That has become his name.
I have breathed him from my very childhood, listened to his songs, wondered what he meant. But a child never cares about the meaning. The song was beautiful, the rhythm was beautiful, the dance was beautiful, and it is enough. One needs to understand such people only if one is grown up; otherwise, if from their very childhood they are surrounded by the milieu, they will not need to understand and yet deep down in their guts they will understand.
I understand Taran Taran – not intellectually, but existentially. Moreover I also know what he is talking about. Even if I had not been born into a family of his followers I would have understood him. I have understood so many different traditions – and it is not that I have been born into all of them. I have understood so many madmen that anybody could go mad just by making an effort to understand them! But just look at me: they have not affected me at all. They have remained somewhere below me. I have remained transcendental to them all.
Still I would have understood Taran Taran. I may not have come into contact with him, that is possible, because his followers are very few, just a few thousand, and found only in the middle parts of India. And they are so afraid because of their being in such a minority that they don’t call themselves the followers of Taran Taran, they call themselves Jainas. Secretly they believe, not in Mahavira as the rest of the Jainas believe, but in Taran Taran, the founder of their sect.
It would have been almost impossible to have come to know Taran if not for the chance that I was born into a family who believed in him. But I thank God, it was worth the trouble to be born into that family.
His book SHUNYA SVABHAVA says only one thing again and again, just like a madman. You know me, you can understand. I have been saying the same thing again and again for twenty-five years. I’ve said again and again: Awake! That’s what he does in SHUNYA SVABHAVA.
Fifth: Taran Taran, SIDDHI SVABHAVA
The Nature of Ultimate Realization, a beautiful title. He says the same thing again and again: Be empty! But what can the poor fellow do? Nobody can say anything else. ”Be awake, be aware….”
The English word beware is made up of two words: be aware – so don’t be afraid of the word beware, just be aware, and the moment you are aware you have come home.
There are many books by Taran Taran, but these two contain his whole message. One shows you who you are – pure emptiness; the second, how you can reach to it: by becoming aware. But they are very small books, only a few pages.
Sixth: Dostoevsky’s NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND
It is a very strange book, as strange as the man was. Just notes – like Devageet’s notes, fragmentary, on the surface unrelated to each other, but really related with an undercurrent of aliveness. It has to be meditated upon. I cannot say anything more than this. It is one of the most ignored great works of art. Nobody seems to take note of it, for the simple reason that it is not a novel, just notes, and they too seem to the unmeditative to be unrelated. But to my disciples it can be of great significance; they can find treasures hidden in it.
Seventh: Ludwig Wittgenstein, PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS
It is really a penetrating study of all the profound problems of man. Of course, the woman is included; otherwise from where will the man find his profound problems? His real problem is the woman. Socrates is reported to have said: If you get married to a beautiful and good woman – which is rare – you will be fortunate.
This book PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS by Ludwig Wittgenstein – I have loved it, its clarity, transparency, its impeccable rationality. I loved it all and all, and I would like everyone on the path to go through it… not in the way people in the therapy groups grow and ’go through it’ – not in pain. That is what many sannyasins think, that going through suffering is necessary; it is not, that is your choice. You can go through blessings, blissfulness… it’s up to you.
So I don’t mean ”Go through it” in the same sense as the so-called humanist therapists mean. When I say ”Go through it” I mean dance through it, love through it. I may be right literally, but grammatically I may be wrong.
Eighth: Assagioli’s PSYCHOSYNTHESIS
Sigmund Freud has done great work in creating psychoanalysis, but it is only half. The other half is PSYCHOSYNTHESIS done by Assagioli – but it too is only half, the other half. My work is the whole: Psychothesis.
Psychoanalysis and psychosynthesis, both of these sciences are worth studying. PSYCHOSYNTHESIS is very rarely read because Assagioli is not a towering figure like Freud; he has not been able to reach the same heights. But he should be read by all sannyasins. It is not that he is right and Freud is wrong; both are wrong taken separately. They are right only when they are put together. And that’s my whole work: to put all the pieces together like a jigsaw.
Ninth: Kahlil Gibran, PROSE POEMS
beautiful. Nobody in the modern world, except Rabindranath Tagore, can write such prose poetry.
It is strange that both are foreigners to the English language. Perhaps that is why they can write such poetic language. They come from different languages: Kahlil Gibran from Arabic, which is immensely poetic, pure poetry; and Rabindranath from Bengali, which is even more poetic than Arabic. In fact if you see two Bengalis fighting you will be surprised because you will think that they are exchanging loving words among themselves. You will not be able to conceive that they are fighting. Even in fighting the Bengali is poetic.
I know it from my own experience. I was in Bengal and saw people fighting – sheer poetry! I was amazed. When I came to Maharashtra I saw people just talking, gossiping, and I was worried: were they fighting? Should the police be informed? Marathi is such a language that you cannot say sweet nothings in it. It is harsh, hard. It is a fighting language.
It is strange that the English have appreciated both Kahlil Gibran and Rabindranath, but they have not learned anything from them. They have not learned the secret of their success. What is the secret of their success? Their ’poeticness’.
Tenth: Kahlil Gibran, THOUGHTS AND MEDITATIONS
Now, I cannot agree with it, and because of it I know that Kahlil Gibran never knew what meditation is. In this book ’meditations’ are nothing but ’contemplations’; only then can they go with thoughts. Ashu, you don’t have to go with thoughts, you have to go with meditation – with me, not with Kahlil Gibran. So go higher. Unless you achieve it I am going to stop talking like this very soon. I want to affirm my transcendence in every way. No buddha has done it before. I want to be a pioneer.
I am against this tenth book because I am against thought. I am also against it because Kahlil Gibran uses the word meditation in the Western sense. In the West meditation simply means to think about something concentratedly. That is not meditation. In the East meditation means to not think at all. It has nothing to do with ’about this or that’, it is non-objective. There is no object in it, only pure subjectivity. Soren Kierkegaard said: The innermost core of man is pure subjectivity. That’s what meditation is.
First: Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, MY EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
Talking about his experiments with truth is really wonderful. This is the right time.
I can certainly say a few beautiful things. One: nobody has written their autobiography with such sincerity, with so much authenticity. It is one of the most authentic autobiographies ever written.
Autobiography is a very strange thing: you are writing about yourself. Either you start bragging or you start being too humble – just another way of bragging. I will talk about that in my second book. But Mahatma Gandhi is neither of these two things; he is simple, just stating factually, just like a scientist… utterly unconcerned that it is his autobiography. He says everything one would like to hide from others. But the very title is wrong. One cannot experiment with truth. One can know it or one can not know it, but one cannot experiment with it.
The very word experiment belongs to the world of objective science. One cannot experiment with subjectivity, and that’s the truth. Note that:
Subjectivity is irreducible to any object of experimentation, observation.
Subjectivity is the most mysterious phenomenon in existence, and its mystery is that it always goes back and back. Whatsoever you observe, it is not ’it’… it is not subjectivity. Subjectivity is always the observer and never the observed. You cannot experiment with truth, because experiment is possible only with things, objects, not with consciousness.
Mahatma Gandhi was a sincerely good man, but he was not a meditator. And if one is not a meditator, howsoever good one is it is all useless. He experimented his whole life and achieved nothing. He died as ignorant as ever. It is unfortunate, because it is very difficult to find a man of so much integrity, sincerity, honesty, and a tremendous desire to know the truth. But that very desire becomes a barrier.
Truth is known by people like me, who don’t even bother about it, who are unconcerned even about truth itself. Even if God knocks on my door, I am not going to open it. He will have to find his own way to open it. Truth comes to such lazy people. Hence I have called myself The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment. Now I can add one thing more so it can become complete: I am the lazy man’s guide to enlightenment, and to non-enlightenment too! That is going beyond enlightenment.
I feel for the man, although I have always criticized him for his politics, his sociology, and his whole stupid idea of turning the wheel of time backwards – you can call it the spinning wheel. He wanted man to become primitive again. He was against all technology, even against the poor railways, the telegraph, the postal system. Without science man will be a baboon. The baboon may be very strong… but a baboon is a baboon. Man has to go ahead.
I object even to the title of the book because it is not only a title, it summarizes his whole life. He thought because he had been educated in England, he was a perfect Indian Englishman – utterly Victorian. These are the people who go to hell, the Victorians! He was full of etiquette, full of manners, full of all kinds of English stupidities. Now Chetana must be hurting. Chetana forgive me. It is just by chance that you are here, and you know me – I always find something to hit people with.
But Chetana is fortunate: she is not an English lady, she is an Osho freak! And she comes from a poor English family, that’s very good. Her father was a fisherman, simple. She is not snobbish; otherwise English ladies, more than gentlemen, always keep their noses up, as if they are always watching the stars. They really stink – stink of snobbishness!
Mahatma Gandhi was educated in England; perhaps that messed him up. Perhaps he would have been better if he had remained uneducated, and then he would not have experimented with truth, he would have experienced truth.
Experimenting with truth? Absurd! Ridiculous! If one wants to know the truth one has to experience it.
Second: Saint Augustine’s CONFESSIONS
Augustine was the first person to have written his autobiography without fear, but he went to the other extreme. That’s why I appreciated Gandhi. In his CONFESSIONS Augustine confesses too much – even the sins he had never committed! – just for the sheer joy of confessing. What a joy! For the sheer joy of saying to the world that ”there is not a sin which I have not committed. I have committed every sin man is capable of.”
That is not true. No man can commit all the sins. No man is capable of that, not even God himself. What to say of God, even the devil himself will start thinking how to enjoy those things that Augustine is confessing! Augustine exaggerated!
Exaggeration is one of the common diseases among saints. They exaggerate everything, even their sins; then, naturally, they become capable of exaggerating their virtues. That is the second part of the story. When you exaggerate your sins, certainly against that background even your small virtues look very big, very bright – lightning in the dark clouds. Those dark clouds help immensely to show the lightning. Without sins you cannot become a saint. The greater the sins, the greater the saint – simple arithmetic!
But I still include the book because it is written beautifully. I am such a man, please note, let it be on record, that even if you lie beautifully I will appreciate it for its beauty. Not for its being a lie – who cares whether it is a lie or not! Its beauty makes it worth enjoying, appreciating.
CONFESSIONS is a masterpiece of lies. It is full of lies. But the man did his job almost perfectly. I say almost because there is always the possibility somebody may do the job even better. But he has done it almost ninety-nine percent perfectly; there is not much scope left for anyone else. Yes, after him many tried, even a great man like Leo Tolstoy. I talked about his books RESURRECTION and WAR AND PEACE. Throughout his whole life he was trying to write his own confessions; in that he could not succeed. Augustine seems to be unsurpassable even for a man like Tolstoy. But, Tolstoy, please don’t freak out; I am going to put you on my list.
Third: Leo Tolstoy’s ANNA KARENINA
a small but immensely beautiful novel. You must wonder why I should include a novel in my list. Just because I am crazy! I like all kinds of things. ANNA KARENINA is one of my most loved books. How many times I have read it I can’t remember. I mean the number of times – I remember the book perfectly well, I can relate the whole book.
If I was drowning in the ocean and had to choose just one novel out of all the millions of novels in the world, I would choose ANNA KARENINA. It would be beautiful to be with that beautiful book. It has to be read and read again; only then you can feel it, smell it, and taste the flavor. It is no ordinary book.
Leo Tolstoy failed as a saint, just as Mahatma Gandhi failed as a saint, but Leo Tolstoy was a great novelist. Mahatma Gandhi succeeded as – and will remain forever – a pinnacle of sincerity. I don’t know of any other man in this century who was so sincere. When he wrote to people ’sincerely yours’ he was really sincere. When you write ’sincerely yours’, you know, and everybody else knows, and the person to whom you are writing also knows, that it is all bullshit. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to really be ’sincerely yours’. That’s what makes a person religious – sincerity.
Leo Tolstoy wanted to be religious but could not be. He tried hard. I feel great sympathy with his effort, but he was not a religious person. He has to wait at least a few more lives. In a way it is good that he was not a religious man like Muktananda; otherwise we would have missed RESURRECTION, WAR AND PEACE, ANNA KARENINA, and dozens more beautiful, immensely beautiful books. Then he would have been another Swami Idiotananda, and nothing else.
Fourth: Ajit Mukherjee, THE ART OF TANTRA
He has done a great service for Tantra. I am going to include his two books.
The man is still alive, and I have always loved him for these two books, because they are masterpieces – the paintings, the art, and the commentaries he has made on the paintings. His introductions are immeasurably valuable.
But the man himself seems to be just a poor Bengali. Just a few days ago he met Laxmi in Delhi. He came to see her and confessed that he wanted to give his whole Tantra collection to me. He must have had one of the most valuable and richest collections of Tantra paintings and Tantra art. He said to Laxmi, ”I wanted to give it to him because he is the only man who will be able to understand it and know the meaning of it, but I was too afraid.” He said, ”Just to be associated with him in any way may create trouble for me, so I finally donated my whole collection of a lifetime to the Indian government.”
I have loved these two books – but what to say about this man: Ajit Mukherjee or Ajit Mouse? Such fear! – and with such fear is it possible to understand Tantra? Impossible! What he has written is only intellectual. It is not, and cannot be, of the heart. He has no heart. I know even a mouse has a heart as far as physiology is concerned – but it is not a heart, it is only lungs. It is only man who has something more than lungs… a heart; and the heart grows only in the climate of courage, in love, in adventure. What a poor man! Still I appreciate his books. The mouse has done a tremendous work. These two books will always remain of immense significance to Tantra, and to seekers of truth. But forget and forgive Ajit Mouse – I mean Ajit Mukherjee.
Fifth: Ajit Mukherjee, THE PAINTINGS OF TANTRA
Sixth: Shankaracharya, BHAJ GOVINDAM
this is the book I have always wanted to talk about; it is even scheduled for my morning talks in English.
The song title means: O Idiot, sing the song of the Lord.
But idiots don’t listen. They never listen to anybody, they are deaf. Even if they listen they don’t understand. They are imbeciles. Even if they can understand, they don’t follow; and unless you follow, understanding is meaningless. Understanding is understanding only when it is proved by your following.
Shankaracharya has written many books but none of them is so beautiful as this song: BHAJ GOVINDAM MOODH MATE. I have spoken much on these three or four words, almost three hundred pages. But you know how I love to sing songs; if I have the opportunity I will go on endlessly. But here I wanted to at least mention the book.
Seventh: Ludwig Wittgenstein, PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS
It is not a book, but rather a collection of articles which appeared at different times. Each article is beautiful. Wittgenstein could not do otherwise. He had that capacity to produce beauty without being illogical, and also to write poetry in prose. I don’t think he ever thought of himself as a poet, but I declare him to be a poet of the first order. He is in the same category as Kalidas, Shakespeare, Milton or Goethe.
Heighth: Paul Reps’ ZEN FLESH, ZEN BONES
It is a great work – not original in that he has not created it, but although not original it is far more significant than just a translation. It is a category in itself. In one way it is original, in another way a translation. It is a translation of old Zen anecdotes and original writing. I know because I have seen almost all the books written on and about Zen, and nothing compares to Paul Reps’ book. He has caught a glimpse. He has the same flavor as Basho or Rinzai.
The man is still alive somewhere in California. He has in this small book not only collected Zen anecdotes but also VIGYAN BHAIRAV TANTRA – the one hundred and twelve sutras of Shiva to Parvati, his beloved, in which Shiva talks about all the keys possible. I cannot conceive that there can be anything more to meditation than VIGYAN BHAIRAV TANTRA. One hundred and twelve keys are enough – they seem to be enough; one hundred and thirteen will not look like a right number. One hundred and twelve looks really esoteric, beautiful.
This book is very small, you can carry it in your pocket;
But the most beautiful thing about Paul Reps is that he has not added a single word of his own – which is incredible. He has simply translated, just translated – and not only translated, but he has brought the flower of Zen to the English language. That flower is not found in any other English writer on Zen. Even Suzuki has not been able to do it, because he was a Japanese. Although enlightened he could not bring the flavor of his enlightenment to his English books. Suzuki’s English is beautiful but very unenlightened, perhaps electrified but absolutely unenlightened.
Paul Reps has done an almost impossible task, being an American, and yet, I repeat, and yet getting the full flavor of Zen. And not only getting it for himself but bringing it in ZEN FLESH, ZEN BONES for the whole world too. The world should remain grateful to him forever, although he is not an enlightened person. That is why I say he has done an almost impossible task.
Ninth: Christmas Humphries’ ZEN BUDDHISM
The book is beautiful, but the title is ugly because Zen has nothing to do with any ’ism’, Buddhism or any other. ZEN BUDDHISM is not right as a title. Just ZEN would have been enough.
He writes in his diary that he had chosen CHARAIVETI, CHARAIVETI as his first preference for the title, but then he thought it was too long. WALK ON, WALK ON… GO ON, GO ON. He changed the title and made it something ugly: ZEN BUDDHISM. But the book is beautiful. It has introduced millions of Westerners to the world of Zen. It has served tremendously.
This man Humphries was a disciple of D.T.Suzuki, and he has served the master as nobody else has, particularly in the West. He remained devoted to Suzuki his whole life.
To be with an enlightened person is hard – and to be with one who has gone beyond that is even harder.
But Humphries proved to be really a disciple; he remained true and loyal and obedient to Suzuki to the very end of Suzuki’s life and his own. He did not waver for a single moment. You can find that unwavering spirit in his book.
Tenth: Chandidas, THE SONGS OF CHANDIDAS
It is a very small book, known only to a very few people in the world, but it needs to be declared from the housetops to each and everyone.
Chandidas danced and sang from village to village and nobody knows who collected his songs. It must have been someone with a great and generous spirit, so generous that he has not even mentioned his name.
THE SONGS OF CHANDIDAS… I feel in such awe. Just the name of Chandidas and my heart starts throbbing with a different beat. What a man he was, and what a poet! There have been thousands of poets, but Chandidas is of the same category as Solomon, not less than that. If Solomon can be compared to anybody then it is to Chandidas.
Chandidas’ songs sing of strange things – of God who does not exist. Chandidas also knows that God does not exist, but he sings about him because God only represents existence. God does not exist; he is existence.
Chandidas also sings of meditation, although nothing can be said about meditation – but still he says something, something which cannot be ignored. He says: Meditation is equivalent to no-mind. What a tremendous formula! Albert Einstein would have been jealous of Chandidas. Alas, Einstein knew nothing of Chandidas nor of meditation. One of the greatest men of this age, he was absolutely unaware of meditation. He was aware of everything except himself.
Chandidas sings songs of love, of awareness, of beauty, of nature. And there are a few songs which are not concerned with anything at all; just sheer joy, the very joy of singing – the meaning is not at all important.
I thank God that he has made me this way: utterly stubborn.
The book is about an absolutely unknown Indian mystic, Shivpuri Baba. The world has come to know about him only through Bennett’s book.
Shivpuri Baba was certainly one of the rarest flowerings, particularly in India where so many idiots are pretending to be mahatmas. To find a man like Shivpuri Baba in India is really either luck or else a tremendous work of research. There are five hundred thousand mahatmas in India; that is the actual number. To find a real man among this crowd is almost impossible.
But Bennett was fortunate in many ways. He was also the first man to discover Gurdjieff. It was neither Ouspensky nor Nicoll, nor anyone other than Bennett. Bennett found Gurdjieff in a refugee camp in Constantinople. Those were the days of the Russian Revolution. Gurdjieff had to leave Russia; on the way he was shot twice before he escaped. Our styles are different, but in a strange way destiny may play the same game again….
Gurdjieff in a refugee camp! – just thinking of it, I can’t believe humanity can fall so low. Putting a Buddha, or Gurdjieff, Jesus or Bodhidharma in a refugee camp…. When Bennett discovered him, Gurdjieff was standing in a food queue. The food was given only once a day, and the queue was long. There were thousands of refugees who had left Russia because the communists were murdering people without any consideration who they were murdering, or for what. You will be surprised to know they murdered almost ten million Russians.
How did Bennett discover Gurdjieff? Gurdjieff sitting among his disciples would not be difficult to recognize, but Bennett recognized him in dirty rotten clothes, unwashed for many days. How did he recognize him in that queue? Those eyes – you cannot hide them. Those eyes – whether the man is sitting on a golden throne, or standing in a refugee camp, they are the same. Bennett brought Gurdjieff to the West.
Nobody thanks poor Bennett for it, and there is a reason. It is because he was a wavering kind of person. Bennett never betrayed Gurdjieff while he was alive. He did not dare. Those eyes were too much; he had twice seen their tremendous impact. He reports in his book on Gurdjieff – which is not a great book, that is why I am not going to count it, but I am just referring to it – Bennett says: I came to Gurdjieff tired and exhausted after a long journey. I was sick, very sick, thinking I was going to die. I had come to see him only so that before I die I could see those two eyes again… my last experience.
He came to Gurdjieff’s room. Gurdjieff looked at him, stood up, came close and hugged him. Bennett could not believe it – it was not Gurdjieff’s way. If he had slapped him that would have been more expected, but he hugged him! But there was more to the hug. The moment Gurdjieff touched him, Bennett felt a tremendous upsurge of energy. At the same time he saw Gurdjieff turning pale. Gurdjieff sat down; then with great difficulty stood up and went to the bathroom, saying to Bennett, ”Don’t be worried, just wait for ten minutes and I will be back, the same as ever.”
Bennett says, ”I have never felt such a wellbeing, such health, such power. It seemed I could do anything.”
It is felt by many people who take drugs – LSD or marijuana and other drugs – that under their impact they feel they can do anything. One woman thought she could fly, so she flew out of a window on the thirtieth floor of a New York building. You can conclude what happened. Not even pieces of the woman were found.
Bennett says, ”I felt I could do everything. At that moment I understood the famous statement by Napoleon: Nothing is impossible. I not only understood it but felt I could do anything I wanted. But I knew it was Gurdjieff’s compassion. I was dying, and he had saved me.”
This happened twice… again a few years later. In the East this is called ’the transmission’; the energy can jump from one flame to another lamp which is dying. Even though such great experiences happened to him, Bennett was a wavering man. He could not waver and betray like Ouspensky, but when Gurdjieff died, then he betrayed. He started looking for another master. What a misfortune! – I mean misfortune for Bennett. It was good for others, because that was how he came to find Shivpuri Baba. But Shivpuri Baba, howsoever great, is nothing compared to Gurdjieff. I cannot believe it of Bennett. And he was a scientist, a mathematician… only that gives me the clue. The scientist has almost always behaved foolishly outside his own specific field.
I always define science as ’knowing more and more about less and less’, and religion as ’knowing less and less about more and more’. The culmination of science will be knowing everything about nothing, and the culmination of religion will be knowing all – not knowing about all, simply knowing; not about, just knowing. Science will end in ignorance; religion will end in enlightenment.
All the scientists, even the great ones, have proved foolish in many ways outside their specific field. They behave childishly. Bennett was a scientist and mathematician of a certain standing, but he wavered, he missed. He started looking for another master again. And it is not that he remained with Shivpuri either…. Shivpuri Baba was a very old man when Bennett met him. He was almost one hundred and ten years old. He was really made of steel. He lived for almost one and a half centuries. He was seven feet tall and one hundred and fifty years old and still there was no sign that he was going to die. He decided to leave the body – it was his decision.
Shivpuri was a silent man, he did not teach. Particularly a man who had known Gurdjieff and his tremendous teaching would find it very ordinary to be with Shivpuri Baba. Bennett wrote his book and started searching again for a master. Shivpuri Baba was not even dead yet.
Then, in Indonesia, Bennett found Mohammed Subud, the founder of the movement called Subud. Subud is a short form of sushil-buddha-dharma; it is just the first letter of these three words. What foolishness! Bennett started introducing Mohammed Subud, a very good man, but not a master… nothing even compared to Shivpuri Baba; no question arises about Gurdjieff. Bennett brought Mohammed Subud to the West, and started introducing him as the successor to Gurdjieff. Now this is utter stupidity!
But Bennett writes beautifully, mathematically, systematically. His best book is SHIVPURI BABA. Although Bennett was a fool, even if you allow a monkey to sit at a typewriter once in a while he may come upon something beautiful – perhaps a statement which only a buddha could make – just by knocking the typewriter keys here and there. But he will not understand what he has written.
Bennett continued in this way. Soon he became disillusioned with Mohammed Subud and started searching for yet another master. Poor fellow, his whole life he was searching and searching unnecessarily. He had already found the right man in Gurdjieff. He has written about Gurdjieff, and what he says is beautiful, efficient, but his heart is dark, there is no light in it. Still, I count his book as one of the best. You can see that I am impartial.
Second: Wilhelm Reich, LISTEN LITTLE MAN
It is a very small book, but it reminds one of the SERMON ON THE MOUNT, TAO TE CHING, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA, THE PROPHET. In reality Reich was not of that status to write such a book, but he must have been possessed by some unknown spirit.
LISTEN LITTLE MAN created much antagonism towards Reich, particularly among the professional psychoanalysts, his colleagues, because he was calling everyone ’little man’ – and he was thinking he was so great? I want to tell you: he was! Not in the sense of a buddha, but in the same sense as Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Assagioli. He belongs to the same category. He was a great man – of course still a man, not superman, but great. And it was not out of his egoism that this book was born; he could not help it, he had to write it. It is almost like when a woman is pregnant, she has to give birth to the child. He carried this small book within himself for years, resisting the idea of writing it because he knew perfectly well it was going to create hell for him. And it did. After that book he was condemned from every corner.
To create anything great in this world is a crime. Man has not changed at all. Socrates he kills, Reich he kills. No change. They condemned Reich as mad and imprisoned him. He died in jail, condemned, reduced to a madman. He had the capacity to rise beyond the clouds, but he was not allowed. America still has to learn to live with people like Socrates, Jesus, Buddha.
This book should be meditated upon by all my sannyasins. I recommend it without any conditions at all.
Third: Bertrand Russell and Whitehead, PRINCIPIA MATHEMATICA
Just the name is enough to make people afraid, and the book must be the most difficult in existence. Hence, I worked on that book as much as possible. Anything difficult always allures me. The book is enchanting and challenging, but I will not recommend it to my sannyasins. Avoid it! I went through those thousands of pages and found nothing but mathematics. Unless you are interested in mathematics, particularly higher mathematics… that is another matter. I wanted to include it because it is a masterpiece – of mathematics.
Fourth: Aristotle’s POETICS
I am a born enemy of Aristotle. I call the man Aristotle-itis… a kind of disease, incurable.
Aristotle is thought to be the father of Western philosophy and logic. He certainly is, but only of philosophy and logic, not of the real thing. The real thing comes from Socrates, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Diogenes and Dionysius, but not from Aristotle. But it is strange: he wrote a beautiful book – and this is one of the books not studied by the Aristotelian scholars – POETICS. I had to search for it among his many books. I was just looking to see whether I could find something beautiful in this man too, and when I found POETICS, a book of just a few pages, I was thrilled. The man also had a heart. He had written everything else from his head, but this book was from the heart. Of course it is about the essence of poetry – poetics – and the essence of poetry cannot be anything other than the essence of love. It is the fragrance not of intellect but of intuition. I recommend this book.
Fifth: Ross’ THREE PILLARS OF ZEN
Many people have written about Zen – including Suzuki, who knew it the most – but THREE PILLARS OF ZEN is the most beautiful book written about Zen. Remember my emphasis, about, because Ross has no experience of it. In fact, that makes it even more wonderful: that without any experience, just from studying books and visiting monasteries in Japan, she wrote a masterpiece.
There is only one thing I want to say to Ross: in Zen there are not three pillars, not even a single pillar. Zen has no pillars. It is not a temple, it is pure no-thing-ness. It needs no pillars at all. If she publishes the book again she should change the title. THREE PILLARS OF ZEN looks good, but it is not true to the spirit of Zen. But the book is written in a very scientific way. Those who want to understand Zen intellectually cannot find a better book.
He calls himself ’M’. He was a Bengali, a disciple of Ramakrishna.
Mahendranath sat at Ramakrishna’s feet for many many years, and went on writing down whatsoever was happening around his master. The book is known as THE GOSPEL OF RAMAKRISHNA, but written by M. He never wanted to disclose his name, he wanted to remain anonymous. That is the way of a true disciple. He effaced himself utterly.
The day Ramakrishna died, you will be surprised, M died too. There was nothing more for him to live for. I can understand… after Ramakrishna it would have been far more difficult to live than to die. Death was more blissful than to live without his master.
There have been many masters, but there has never been such a disciple as M to report about the master. He does not come into it anywhere. He was just reporting – not about himself and Ramakrishna, but only about Ramakrishna. He no longer exists in front of the master. I love this man and his book, and his tremendous effort to efface himself. It is rare to find a disciple like M. Ramakrishna was far more fortunate in this than Jesus. I know his real name because I have traveled in Bengal, and Ramakrishna was alive at the end of the last century, so I could find out the name of this man Mahendranath.
Even a man like Ramateertha can also commit such stupid mistakes.
Ramateertha had been talking about the ultimate reality, and this brahmin had asked him, ”Do you know Sanskrit? If you don’t then you have no right to speak about ultimate reality. First go and study Sanskrit.”
There was nothing wrong with the brahmin; all over the world brahmins are like that. What surprises me is that Ramatirtha started to study Sanskrit. That shocks me. He should have told the brahmin, ”Get lost, along with all your Vedas and your Sanskrit! I don’t care. I know the truth, why should I bother to know Sanskrit?”
Ramateertha did not know Sanskrit, that is true, and there is no need either – but he felt the need. That is the first thing I want you to remember. His books are very poetic, exhilarating, ecstatic, but the man is missing somewhere.
Secondly: when his wife came to see him from faraway Punjab he refused. He had never refused any other woman, why did he refuse his own wife? Because he was afraid. He was still attached. I feel sorry for him: renouncing his wife, yet still afraid.
Third, he committed suicide – although Hindus don’t call it that, they call it ’dissolving oneself in the Ganges’. You can give beautiful names to ugly things.
Except for these three things Ramatirtha’s books are valuable, but if you forget these three things you may start thinking of him as if he is enlightened. He speaks as if he was an enlightened man, but it is only ’as if’.
Eighth: G.E.Moore’s PRINCIPIA ETHICA
I have loved this book. It is a great exercise in logic. He spends two hundred or more pages just considering one question: What is good? – and coming to the conclusion that ’good’ is indefinable. Great! But he did his homework, he did not just jump to the conclusion as mystics do. He was a philosopher. He went step by step, gradually, but he came to the same conclusion as the mystics.
Good is indefinable, so is beauty, so is God. In fact all that is of any worth is indefinable. Note it: if anything can be defined that means it is worthless. Unless you come to the indefinable, you have not come to anything worthwhile.
Ninth: Rahim Khan Khana, THE SONGS OF RAHIM
He was a Mohammedan, but his songs are written in Hindi so Mohammedans don’t like him, they don’t take any note of him. Hindus don’t like him because he was a Mohammedan. I may be the only person who respects him.
His songs are of the same height and same depth as Kabir, Meera, Sahajo or Chaitanya. Why did he write in Hindi? Being a Mohammedan he could have written in Urdu, and Urdu is a far more beautiful language than Hindi. But he chose knowingly; he wanted to fight the Mohammedan orthodoxy.
Tenth: Mirza Ghalib, DIVAN. DIVAN
the greatest Urdu poet – and not only the greatest Urdu poet, but perhaps there is no other poet in any language of the world who can be compared with him.
He is difficult to read, but if you can make a little effort it pays immensely. It is as if each line contains a whole book. And that is the beauty of Urdu. I say no other language can contain so much in such a small space. Just two sentences are enough to contain a whole book. It is magical! Mirza Ghalib is the magician of that language.
Eleventh: Alan Watts’ THE BOOK
I have been saving it. Alan Watts was not a buddha, but he could be one day. He has moved closer to it. THE BOOK is tremendously important. It is his testament, his whole experience with Zen masters, Zen classics. And he is a man of tremendous intelligence; he was also a drunkard. Intelligence plus wine have really created a juicy book. I have loved THE BOOK and I have saved it for the last.