Q: Wherever I am, I’ve been feeling like I’m in the wrong place. It feels really strange….
“As I see it, almost everybody is in the wrong place. The person who would have been a tremendously happy doctor is a painter and the person who would have been a tremendously happy painter is a doctor. Nobody seems to be in his right place; that’s why this whole society is in such a mess. The person is directed by others; he is not directed by his own intuition.
“Meditation helps you to grow your own intuitive faculty. It becomes very clear what is going to fulfill you, what is going to help you flower. And whatsoever it is – and it is going to be different for each individual. That is the meaning of the word individual: everybody is unique. And to seek and search your uniqueness is a great thrill, a great adventure.
“Your question is significant in many more ways too, because it is not only a question of finding the essential in the individual. In life also we are burdened with the unessential, in religion too, in every dimension.
“The religious person goes on doing certain rituals which are taught by others to him. He never finds his own religiousness, a quality which can not be imposed on you, a quality which can only be helped to grow in you. It is not like a plastic flower that can be given to you from the outside, by the priest. It is a real rose flower, and for that you have to be very alert, very aware.
“The Christian goes to the church every Sunday. It is a formality; it does not make him religious, but it gives him a false sense of religiousness. The Hindu goes on chanting the Gita. It does not make him religious at all; on the contrary it prevents, because by reciting the Gita he becomes very knowledgeable. He becomes a parrot or a computer. He can recite the whole Gita, but he understands nothing because he has not experienced anything. He knows words; he has not encountered the meaning of those words. People go on being imitative.
“For example, Mahavira lived naked; that was his individuality. Nobody else is supposed or expected to live naked, unless one finds it an inner, intuitive vision, unless one finds that that is the only way he can be true to his self. Then it is another matter. But the Jaina muni, the Jaina monk, practices nudity – just an imitation, a carbon copy. And remember. imitation is always ugly because it creates a false person; it never gives you authenticity.
“Mahavira was naked not because anybody had told him to be naked. He felt the immense urge to be just like a child and he followed his urge, and he suffered for his urge. He was chased from one village to another, mad dogs were put after him, he was stoned, because people thought he was destroying their morality, that he was a dangerous man.
“In an orthodox country like the India of twenty-five centuries ago, a man walking naked would have been certainly a nuisance to people, to their conventional way of living, to their traditional style of thinking. Krishna has not lived naked, Rama has not lived naked, no Hindu avatara has lived naked. This man is destroying the whole tradition, culture, religion. Of course he has to be punished.
“But Mahavira was immensely blissful. The Jaina muni does not seem to be blissful at all because he is simply an imitation. He is really torturing himself, forcing himself to be naked, because in his mind now the greed has arisen: unless he looks like Mahavira he is not going to attain the ultimate liberation.
“Now nakedness has become an essential thing, which it is not. Nakedness is not an essential thing. Buddha attained without being naked, Jesus attained without being naked, you can attain. And I am not saying that Mahavira did not attain by being naked. He attained, but these are individual things.
“Buddhist monks go on following the Buddha. They sit the same way, they talk the same way, they behave the same way. That is not going to help at all. That is not going to make you religious. That is not going to make you another Buddha. You are being simply stupid. And the more stupid you are the better you can imitate, because imitation needs no intelligence. In fact, only a mediocre mind can be imitative. The more intelligent you are, the more you want to be simply yourself, whatsoever it is. Now the whole thing goes non-essential. For Buddha it was essential to sit that way; that was his intuitive feeling.
“When Buddha dropped the ideas imposed on him by others, his followers left him. He had five followers – before he became very famous he had only five followers; that is before he became enlightened. Those five followers were very devoted to him for the simple reason that he was going just like any other Hindu ascetic, only with great stubbornness, doing all kinds of austerities, following all kinds of rules and regulations given in the scriptures. He was so particular about everything that these five followers thought that he was the greatest master.
“Then one day he understood the whole stupidity of it: he is not following his own intelligence, he is simply following others who may be right, may not be right. One thing is certain: that they were a different kind of people and he is not of that kind. He was suffering, but he was thinking that it is necessary to suffer this; this pain is necessary to grow.
“The day he realized it he dropped all ascetic practices; he relaxed. That was the first time he ate in the night and he ate food offered by an untouchable woman. All five followers immediately left him, thinking that he had gone astray. First, eating in the night is not right; secondly, the food offered by an untouchable, a poor woman, is not acceptable to a holy man. He is no longer holy.
“And that very night Buddha became enlightened. Those five fools missed his enlightenment. That very night he became enlightened. And he became enlightened for the simple reason that for the first time he relaxed into his being and simply followed his essential core.
“All religions are destroyed by the non-essential. Your whole life is destroyed by the non-essential. But nobody else can decide for you what is essential and what is non-essential.
“Remember that I cannot say exactly, ‘This is essential and this is non-essential.’ Each individual has to discover it. Each individual has to be a light unto himself or herself.
“All that I can suggest is: be silent so that you can hear the still small voice of your heart. And it is always speaking, but you are so noisy you go on missing its message.”
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