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The art of being fully alive


Published by Penguin Books India
The Razor’s Edge
Chapter #23
Chapter title: It is a carbon copy
8 March 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Archive code: 8703085
ShortTitle: RAZOR23
Audio: Yes
Video: Yes
Length: 96 mins

Would you please talk about the art of how to be fully alive?
Prem Rudra, t The art of living fully, totally, and intensely is not something arduous or difficult, but it has been made almost impossible. It is so simple and so obvious that there is no need to learn it.
One is born with an intuitive feeling, intrinsic in life itself. The trees know it, the birds know it, the animals know it. Only man is unfortunate. Man is the highest peak of life, and he wants to know the art of living. There has been a continual conditioning against life. That is the basic cause why the art is needed.
All the religions of the world which have dominated humanity for centuries are anti-life. Their very fundamental is that this life is a punishment. According to Christianity, you are born in sin because Adam and Eve disobeyed God. One cannot believe how long you can stretch fictions. Even if Adam and Eve disobeyed God, I don’t see any relationship with you or with me. And secondly, disobedience is not necessarily a sin. Sometimes it may be the most virtuous thing to do.
But all cultures, all societies, want obedience. That is another name of slavery, spiritual imprisonment. What wrong had Adam and Eve done because they had eaten the fruit of knowledge? Is wisdom a sin? Is ignorance a virtue? And God had forbidden them to eat from two trees; one was of wisdom and the other was of eternal life. Who is committing the sin, Adam and Eve, or God? Neither is wisdom wrong, nor is the longing for eternal life wrong; they are absolutely natural. The prohibition is wrong, and their disobedience is absolutely right. They were the first revolutionaries of the world, the first human beings with some dignity.
It is because of their disobedience that all civilization, science, art, everything else has become possible. If they had not disobeyed, we would have been still naked in the Garden of Eden chewing grass even chewing gum would not have been possible.
It is not only Christianity; other religions find other reasons to condemn life. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism all say you are suffering, you are miserable, and you cannot get out of it because it is a punishment for your evil acts of the past life. Now, what has been done in the past life cannot be undone; you have to suffer it. This misery, this suffering, this anguish has been created by yourself, and all that you can do is patiently suffer so that in the future life you are rewarded. A strange argument!
If you do something wrong in this life, you should be punished in this life. In fact, cause and effect are always together. You just put your hand into fire do you think you will be burnt in your coming life? You will be burnt herenow. Every act either has its own reward or has its own punishment. This distance of lives is a cunning idea to make you accept life at the minimum, and all these religions teach you to renounce life. The people who renounce life become saints; they are worshiped. The people who live fully, totally nobody worships them; nobody even appreciates them. They are, on the contrary, condemned.
Our whole upbringing is such that it goes against pleasure, against joy, against the sense of humor, against rejoicing in small things of life singing a song or dancing or playing your flute. Nobody is going to call you a saint because you play the flute so beautifully except me.
I will call you a saint if you dance so totally that you disappear in the dance and only the dancing remains; the dancer is completely merged, melted and has become dance. If you play the flute so totally that you completely forget yourself, only the song remains, and you are not the singer but only a listener, then the flute is on the lips of God.
If you love, it is condemned.
It has been told by all the religions that love is animalistic. Although I have been watching animals, I have never seen any love in any species of animals. Love is absolutely human. Animals may indulge in sex, but have you watched animals while they are indulging in sex? You will not see any joy. You will find them absolutely British. Such hangdogs, as if they are going through a misery. And in fact they are going through a misery. It is a biological necessity, and they feel it that they are being forced to do something by some unknown force in which they are not interested.
That’s why, except man, no animal makes love all the year round. Only when their mating season comes, when biology compels them: Now you have to do it under enforcement, as if somebody is standing with a gun and ordering you, Make love! Just watch the animals, their eyes they are not feeling any joy.
Talking about love as animalistic is such nonsense. Animals don’t know what love is. Even millions of human beings don’t know what love is. Love needs, as a base, a certain centering, a certain g rounding in your own being, because unless you are centered in your being you will not know all the treasures that you are carrying within yourself. Love is only one of those treasures. There are even greater things there is truth, there is ecstasy, and there is the experience of the divine. Unless one is deep in meditation he cannot love, and he cannot live.
You are asking me, Rudra, about the art of being fully alive. Start with meditation so that you can know the source of your life, and you can be at the source of your life and it is an amazing experience. Suddenly you become aware that you have so much, such an abundance, that if you want, you can love the whole world. You can fill the whole world with your love.
In your small body there is the seed that can create millions of flowers, that contains all the fragrance possible.
The art of life begins with meditation. And by meditation I mean silence of the mind, silence of the heart, reaching to the very center of your being and finding the treasure that is your reality. Once you have known it, you can radiate love, you can radiate life, you can radiate creativity. Your words will become poetic, your gestures will have grace; even your silence will have a song to it. Even if you are sitting unmoving, you will be in a dance. Each breath coming in, going out, will be a joy, each heartbeat so precious because it is the heart beat of the universe itself you are part of it.
To know yourself as part of existence… and you will start living fully, without any fear of religions and the priests and all the anti-life teachings which want you to be, rather than rejoicing, renouncing life, escaping from life. Once you are free of your conditionings and meditation is almost like fire which burns all the rubbish that the past has given you as heritage you are born anew. And you will not need any art to learn. It will arise spontaneously within your being.
Right now there are so many hindrances, so many barriers. You have been poisoned for so long, and you have been taught so many wrong things, that it has become almost a dragging. Rather than being a dance, life has become a dragging from the cradle to the grave. People go on living because, what else to do? They don’t commit suicide because if life is so miserable, how can they hope death is going to be better?
So rather than focusing on the art of living, focus on where your life arises, in the very roots from where it gets its juice. Go deep within yourself searching for the roots of your life, and suddenly you will come across what mystics have called enlightenment, awakening, or the experience of the divine. After that experience you are a totally different person.
Then each act will have your totality behind it.
Then you will not be schizophrenic.
Then you will not hold anything back.
If you are dancing, then you are dance. If you are singing, then you are song. If you are loving, then you are love. If you are listening, then you are just ears and everything else has disappeared. Then each moment becomes so full, and this fullness goes on expanding.
Otherwise, people are somehow making themselves satisfied with the minimum, consoling themselves with Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek. Nobody needs to be poor and nobody needs to be meek.
Life gives you so much that you are capable of being an emperor. To be an emperor you don’t need an empire; to be an emperor is just an authentic and total way of life. Otherwise your emperors are also beggars. They are not living, they are in the same boat in which you are; inside they are as hollow as you are. You are asking for more, they are asking for more.
I am reminded of an ancient Sufi story: A great emperor had gone for a walk in his garden early in the morning, and suddenly he found himself encountered by a beggar who was waiting in the garden, knowing that every day before sunrise he comes. Otherwise who is going to give an appointment with the emperor to a beggar? And he always comes alone, so there is was no problem. The emperor said, What do you want?
The beggar said, This is my begging bowl and I want it to be filled. And this is my condition: if you cannot fill it, and I am not asking with what gold, silver, diamonds, or stones or mud I am not saying anything about with what . My condition is that it should be filled completely. If you accept my condition, then only, try; otherwise I can go.
It was a great challenge to the emperor. He said, What do you think ? — I cannot fill your begging bowl?’ He immediately called his prime minister and told him, Fill his begging bowl with the most precious diamonds.
The beggar said, ‘Once again I say to you, beggar to beggar, that there is still time, I can go.” The emperor said, What do you mean by, beggar to beggar ?
He said, You will understand it a little later on. Just let your prime minister come.
And he came with a bucketful l of diamonds and poured all the diamonds into the small begging bowl. The emperor and the prime minister both could not believe it as the diamonds fell in the begging bowl, they disappeared. The begging bowl remained empty as empty as it was before. But the emperor was a man of great pride. He said, Even if my whole treasury has to be poured, this beggar has to be defeated. I have defeated emperors; I cannot allow this beggar to defeat me. And he has already called me beggar to beggar”.’‘”
As the sun was rising, the rumor went around the capital that the emperor was in great difficulty. His treasure was being swallowed by the begging bowl. Crowds gathered; nobody could believe it. But the emperor was stubborn. Diamonds and rubies and emeralds and sapphires disappeared, then gold, then silver. By the evening the emperor said, You were right. Now I am as much a beggar as you are. The beggar said, That’s why I was saying, You will understand”.’‘”
The emperor said, You have deceived me. This is not a begging bowl and you are not a beggar. You seem to be a magician!
The beggar replied said, No, I am not a magician, I am simply a beggar. But this begging bowl is really magical. And I will tell you the secret, beggar to beggar.
I found this just come close and have a look. This is the skull of a man. I have polished it, made it clean. I found it in the cemetery. I am so poor that I cannot buy a begging bowl from the market, so I said, This is perfectly good. I washed it, cleaned it, polished it, but because it is the skull of a man, it is never satisfied, it is always asking for more. There is not much mystery in it. Your skull is doing the same. Everybody’s head is doing the same: , More ! ‘”
In asking for more you go on missing that which you have.
A meditator neither bothers about the past that is gone, nor bothers about the future that has not come yet. He is focused in the present, and whatever he has, he enjoys it to its full. He squeezes the juice of the present moment to its maximum. Naturally, his life is not the life of a beggar. He is never asking for more, although he is living at the maximum with totality and intensity. Otherwise, you have to be satisfied. That’s what your religions teach you to be satisfied with little.
Satisfaction and contentment have been raised to great values. They are simply opium to the people so that you can at least tolerate the suffering that surrounds you and the misery in which you are drowning continuously.
A man is playing golf, and he hits his ball into the woods. He goes to retrieve it and comes upon a witch stirring a large cauldron of brew. What is in there?” he asks.
This is a magic brew, the witch cackles. If you drink this, you will play the best golf in the world. Nobody will be able to beat you.
Give it to me, says the man. I want to drink it!
Wait a minute,’!” she warns. You will also have the worst sex life in the world.
The man pauses to consider and then says, Okay give me the brew. The man drinks it down, goes back to his friends, wins the game and becomes the champion of the club. He goes on to play tournaments and becomes the best golfer in the country.
A year later he is playing at the same course and he decides to go to see if the witch is still there. He goes into the woods and finds her in the same place. He asks her, Do you remember me?
Ah, yes, I remember you, she says, ” t Tell me something, how is your golf game?
You were absolutely right, he says. I win all the time. I am the best golfer in the country!
She cackles and then says, So how has your sex life been?
Not bad, he replies.
Not bad? she says, surprised. Tell me, how many times did you have sex in the last year?
Three maybe four, says the man.
Three four? says the witch. And you call that ‘not bad’?
Well, no, he says, not for a Catholic priest with a very small congregation.
So one thing, Rudra, don’t be a Catholic priest! If you want to live life fully, don’t be part of any organized religion and don’t be dominated by the dead. Live according to your own light. Find your own light within and live according to it without any fear. It is our existence, we are part of it, and whatever existence wants us to be, it has given us potentially. Use it! Actualize it! Never hold back, and never be miserly in living, in loving, in sharing, in singing, in dancing, in anything that you are doing or not doing.
If you are sitting silently, then be totally silent.
If somebody wants to learn the art of living, he will have to forget all religious scriptures, all doctrines which teach nothing but anti-life attitudes, which are in the service of death, not in the service of life.
I want my people, the first people in the world, to have a life-affirmative religiousness.
uestion 2
Sarovara, the observation that you have made is right and shows immense clarity. You are saying, “It is strange.” It appears strange only in the beginning. The more you become acquainted with it, the more the strangeness will be gone.
You say, “The closer I come to you, the more ordinary it feels.” It is ordinary. Do you think the stars are not ordinary? Do you think the moon is not ordinary? Do you think the roses in the garden are not ordinary? Do you think these beautiful trees are not ordinary? This whole existence is ordinary! Even to say that it is ordinary shows a desire that it should have been extraordinary.
But if everything were extraordinary, it would look very ordinary. And that is the situation. Everything is very extraordinary… but everything. Extraordinariness is the ordinary quality of existence. It is nothing special, it is simply the way things are.
So the closer you come, the more understanding you will become. Your imagination will start dispersing, and you will know the extraordinary ordinariness of everything that surrounds you.
You say, “It is a calmness and a coolness and a nothingness, and yet out of this space….” You are already feeling that this ordinariness is not what you have always thought to be the meaning of the word ordinary, because out of this ordinariness is coming calmness, coolness, nothingness. How can this ordinariness be ordinary?
“I find myself dancing, clapping, laughing and rejoicing with you. But it feels so different — as though something has gone, but I can’t remember what.”
Something has really gone, and it always goes in such a way that you become aware only when it is gone. And then, too, you don’t know what it is that has gone. It is your ego. And because the ego is so non-substantial, when it goes it makes no sound; you don’t hear its footsteps going away. It is just like your shadow: you are standing in the sun and there is a shadow; you move under the shadow of a tree and your own shadow disappears. But there is no noise, no footsteps of your shadow going away. To which direction has it gone? But something has disappeared, and that is making it different.
Your dancing, your singing, your clapping, your laughing, your rejoicing… it feels so different for the simple reason that it is happening spontaneously; it is not your doing. In these beautiful moments of dancing and singing and clapping, it is not that you are doing them, they are happening. You are just a witness, at the most. The doer, the ego, is absent; hence, the difference.
And your observation is correct, “… as though something has gone, but I can’t remember what. And if I look for words to describe this new feeling, I can only say `love.'” People think hate is against love. That is not right, because hate can be transformed into love. It is the other side of the same coin. The real enemy of love is the ego, and because the ego has disappeared, although you are not certain what has disappeared, you are feeling a new arrival, a new guest within you which you can only describe as love.
“But I say it uncertainly, insecurely.” Love is such a great phenomenon. You cannot say it with certainty; it is not mathematics. And you cannot say it with security. It is so vast and so fragile. How can you be secure about it? A moment before, it was not there, and who knows what is going to happen a moment afterwards? Suddenly it has descended upon you. You are in its possession, but security is not possible and neither is certainty. And if you want to make it certain and secure, you will kill it.
A bird on the wing looks so beautiful, so representative of freedom. The whole sky belongs to it… no limits, no boundaries. You can catch the bird; you can keep it in a cage. It is the same bird in a way, but it is not the same bird because, where is its sky? Where is its freedom? Where is its joyful dance in the air? All that was alive in it is gone. It is only a faraway echo of the real bird that you had seen in the sky. It resembles it, it is a carbon copy, but it is not the original.
When love comes to you — and it comes only when the ego is absent — when love comes to you, you cannot be certain about it and you cannot be secure about it. You can only be grateful. You can only be amazed — amazed at the generous existence, because you don’t deserve it, and it has suddenly poured over you so many flowers. You never earned it. You cannot demand tomorrow, “Again you have to shower those flowers.” That’s why there is no certainty, no security.
Your observation is very clear, and I am happy; everybody’s observation has to be so clear. You are simply in a state of awe. You are asking, “Oh, Osho, what is going on?”
It is better not to be rational about it, not to intellectualize it, not to label it. “What is going on?” I can say only that whatever is going on is tremendously beautiful. Allow it — no need to have any explanation. Experience it — no need to understand it, to explain it. Be totally possessed by it, and this total possession by love will bring a new birth to you, a new life, and a new world all around.
You are passing through the most beautiful space every meditator has to pass through. Unafraid, go dancingly into the unknown without ever being concerned where it is going to land you. If love is the guide, then you need not be worried; if the ego is the guide, then you have to be really concerned and worried. Love can take you only to the ocean. The ego always tries to go upwards, up-current, against the current.
Love goes with the current.
Love is a relaxation, a rest, the peace that passeth understanding.
Don’t start looking for that which is missing — it was not anything valuable, it was not your friend. That which you have lost, that something that you feel has gone, was your enemy. Say goodbye to it, and allow this new state to become more and more deep. There are depths beyond depths. There is no end to growth; there is no end to the mysteries of existence. Doors after doors go on opening. This is the infinity of the miracle of the universe. You should not be bothered about rationalizing your experiences, just drink them, and dance and sing and rejoice. And thank existence that it has been your fortune.
A Sicilian woman is standing in a crowded bus, having been shopping in the market. Suddenly she realizes that her purse has been stolen and she begins to cry. The bus stops and the conductor asks her, “What is wrong?”
The woman explains that in all the confusion and crush of people, her purse has been stolen.
The conductor, trying to console her, asks, “But where did you keep your purse?”
The Sicilian woman blushes and touching her lower belly says, “Here, in my underpants.”
The man looks at her, amazed, and says, “And you did not realize that someone was touching you there?”
The woman replies indignantly, “Of course I did. But I thought he had good intentions!”
So wherever you were hiding your ego, it is gone. Even if it comes with good intentions, don’t let it come back in. And take care, because it will not leave you so easily. It is not that somebody has stolen it, it is just that in your totality, you dropped it. It must be looking for you, so be careful! It happens again and again: one loses the ego and the next day again it is back — and with good intentions! But you simply keep your doors closed, good intentions or no intentions.
Just tell the ego, “I am finished with you.” Or give it as a present to some friend, because there are a few people who will really enjoy having two egos! One is not enough for them.
Question 3
Prem Shunyo, the possibility is there, but it is one of the most difficult things in existence, to let love and awareness grow together. People find it difficult even to grow one. So ordinarily, people either choose the path of love or the path of awareness.
But the possibility cannot be denied, because there is no intrinsic antagonism between awareness and love. In fact, my effort here is exactly for what Shunyo is asking. I want you to grow in your love and in your awareness together — to be a Zorba and to be a Buddha, together. Zorba is love; Buddha is awareness. It is easier to grow one, but is far more juicy to grow both together. And if both together can be grown, then the master will not be the last barrier, because in love and awareness you will become one with the master.
On the path of awareness the master is a barrier. That’s why Buddha said, “If you meet me on the path, cut my head immediately.” That is the answer on the path of awareness, because in Buddha’s teaching there is no place for love.
There have been schools of love like the Sufis. A Sufi will not agree with this. He will say, “If the master meets you on the way, become one with him.” But if you are understanding my approach… it is a little bit complex, because I am trying that your love and your awareness both go hand in hand.
The reason for my insistence that both should grow together is that the people who have grown in love have not reached to the ultimate peaks of consciousness. They have enjoyed existence tremendously, but they have not become like Everest, pillars of awareness. Love makes them more drunk, less aware. And the people who have followed only awareness have become desert-like, dry. Nothing grows, not even grass. There is no oasis on their path, only the desert, which goes on becoming drier and drier; but they have reached to the highest peak of awareness.
The effort to create a synthesis between love and awareness is my contribution to the world, because I would like you to be as aware as Gautam Buddha, but not so dry.
I would also like you to be like Meera — so juicy that even today her songs are unparalleled. She is like a garden in the spring. And I don’t see that there is any contradiction. Why have people chosen only one? They have chosen one because it is simpler to manage one. To manage both is a little difficult, but it is worth it. If you can grow roses on top of Everest, you have fulfilled my dream of being a new kind of sannyasin, a new seeker of truth. And love and awareness together means you don’t have to renounce life.
Love will prevent you from renouncing life, and awareness will help you to be in the world and yet not be of the world. As I see them, they can be complementary and we can create Zorba the Buddha — -whose feet are on the ground and whose head is touching the stars. When you can have both, why unnecessarily be poor and have one? I want you to be the richest sannyasins the world has ever known.
The world has known both kinds of people — the lovers and the meditators — but the world has never tried both together. This synthesis will bring a new kind of man. For this kind of searcher, the master is not a barrier at all.
–From The razor’s Edge, Discourse 23

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