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The Man who Loved Seagulls
Essential Life Lessons from the World's Greatest Wisdom Traditions
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2008 Osho
All rights reserved.
Walking the Tightrope
A story of two criminals and their king
On belief and trust, and the differences between them
Once, when the hasidim were seated together
in all brotherliness,
pipe in hand, Rabbi Israel joined them.
Because he was so friendly they asked him,
"Tell us, dear Rabbi, how should we serve God?"
He was surprised at the question,
and replied, "How should I know?"
But then he went on to tell them this story:
There were two friends of the king,
and both were proved guilty of a crime.
Since he loved them the king wanted to show them mercy,
but he could not acquit them because even a king's word
cannot prevail over the law.
So he gave this verdict:
A rope was to be stretched over a deep chasm,
and, one after another, the two were to walk across it.
Whoever reached to the other side was to be granted his life.
It was done as the king ordered,
and the first of the friends got safely across.
The other, still standing on the same spot, cried to him,
"Tell me, friend, how did you manage to cross?"
The first called back,
"I don't know anything but this:
Whenever I felt myself toppling over to one side,
I leaned to the other."
Existence is paradoxical; paradox is its very core. It exists through opposites, it is a balance in the opposites. And one who learns how to balance becomes capable of knowing what life is, what existence is, what God is. The secret key is balance.
A few things before we enter into this story ... First, we have been trained in Aristotelian logic — which is linear, one-dimensional. Life is not Aristotelian at all, it is Hegelian. Logic is not linear, logic is dialectical. The very process of life is dialectic, a meeting of the opposites — a conflict between the opposites and yet a meeting of the opposites. And life goes through this dialectical process: from thesis to antithesis, from antithesis to synthesis — and then again the synthesis becomes a thesis. The whole process starts again.
If Aristotle is true then there will be only men and no women, or, only women and no men. If the world was made according to Aristotle then there will be only light and no darkness, or, only darkness and no light. That would be logical. There would be either life or death but not both.
But life is not based on Aristotle's logic, life has both. And life is really possible only because of both, because of the opposites: man and woman, yin and yang, day and night, birth and death, love and hate. Life consists of both.
This is the first thing you have to allow to sink deep into your heart — because Aristotle is in everybody's head. The whole education system of the world believes in Aristotle — although for the very advanced scientific minds Aristotle is out of date. He no longer applies. Science has gone beyond Aristotle because science has come closer to existence. And now science understands that life is dialectical, not logical.
I have heard.
Do you know that on Noah's ark, making love was forbidden while on board?
When the couples filed out of the ark after the flood, Noah watched them leave. Finally the tomcat and the she-cat left, followed by a number of very young kittens. Noah raised his eyebrows questioningly and the tomcat said to him, "You thought we were fighting!"
Noah must have been Aristotelian; the tomcat knew better.
Love is a sort of fight, love IS a fight. Without fight love cannot exist. They look opposite — because we think lovers should never fight. It is logical: if you love somebody how can you fight? It is absolutely clear, obvious to the intellect, that lovers should never fight — but they do. In fact, they are intimate enemies; they are continuously fighting. In that very fight the energy that is called love is released. Love is not only fight, love is not only struggle, that's true — it is more than that. It is fight too, but love transcends. The fight cannot destroy it. Love survives fight but it cannot exist without it.
Look into life: life is non-Aristotelian, non-Euclidean. If you don't force your concepts on life, if you simply look at things as they are, then you will be suddenly surprised to see that opposites are complementaries. And the tension between the opposites is the very basis on which life exists — otherwise it would disappear. Think of a world where death does not exist. ... Your mind may say "then life will be there eternally," but you are wrong. If death does not exist life will simply disappear. It cannot exist without death; death gives it the background, death gives it color and richness, death gives it passion and intensity.
So death is not against life — the first thing — death is involved in life. And if you want to live authentically you have to learn how to continuously die authentically. You have to keep a balance between birth and death and you have to remain just in the middle. That remaining in the middle cannot be a static thing: it is not that once you have attained to a thing — finished, then there is nothing to be done. That is nonsense. One never achieves balance forever, one has to achieve it again and again and again.
This is very difficult to understand because our minds have been cultivated in concepts that are not applicable to real life. You think that once you have attained meditation then there is no need of anything more, then you will be in meditation. You are wrong. Meditation is not a static thing. It is a balance. You will have to attain it again and again and again. You will become more and more capable of attaining it, but it is not going to remain forever, like a possession in your hands. It has to be claimed each moment — only then is it yours. You cannot rest, you cannot say, "I have meditated and I have realized that now there is no need for me to do anything more. I can rest." Life does not believe in rest; it is a constant movement from perfection to more perfection.
Listen to me: from perfection to more perfection. It is never imperfect, it is always perfect, but always more perfection is possible. Logically these statements are absurd.
I was reading an anecdote....
A man was charged with using counterfeit money to pay a bill. At his hearing, the defendant pleaded that he didn't know the money was phony. Pressed for proof, he admitted: "Because I stole it. Would I be stealing money that I knew was counterfeit?"
After thinking it over, the judge decided that made good sense, so he then tossed out the counterfeit charge. But he substituted a new charge — theft.
"Sure, I stole it," the defendant conceded amiably. "But counterfeit money has no legal value. Since when is it a crime to steal nothing?"
No one could find any flaw in his logic, so the man went free.
But logic won't do in life. You cannot go free so easily.
You can come out of a legal trap legally and logically because the trap consists of Aristotelian logic — you can use the same logic to come out of it. But in life you will not be able to come out because of logic, because of theology, because of philosophy, because you are very clever — clever in inventing theories. You can come out of life or you can go beyond life only through actual experience.
There are two types of people who are religious. The first type is childish; it is searching for a father figure. The first type is immature; it cannot rely upon itself, hence it needs a God somewhere or other. The God may exist or not — that is not the point — but a God is needed. Even if the God is not there the immature mind will invent him, because the immature mind has a psychological need — it is not a question of truth whether God is there or not, it is a psychological need.
In the Bible it is said God made man in his own image, but the reverse is more true: man made God in his own image. Whatsoever is your need you create that sort of God, that's why the concept of God goes on changing in every age. Every country has its own concept because every country has its own need. In fact, every single person has a different concept of God because his own needs are there and they have to be fulfilled.
So the first type of religious person — the so-called religious person — is simply immature. His religion is not religion but psychology. And when religion is psychology it is just a dream, a wish fulfillment, a desire. It has nothing to do with reality.
I was reading....
A small boy was saying his prayers and concluded with this remark, "Dear God, take care of Mommy, take care of Daddy, take care of baby sister and Aunt Emma and Uncle John and Grandma and Grandpa — and, please God, take care of yourself, or else we're all sunk!"
This is the God of the majority. Ninety percent of the so-called religious people are immature people. They believe because they cannot live without belief; they believe because belief gives a sort of security; they believe because belief helps them to feel protected. It is their dream, but it helps. In the dark night of life, in the deep struggle of existence, without such a belief they will feel left alone. But their God is their God, not the godliness of reality. And once they get rid of their immaturity, their God will disappear.
That's what has happened to many people. In this century many people have become irreligious — not that they have come to know that God does not exist but only because this age has made man a little more mature. Man has come of age; man has become a little more mature. So the God of the childhood, the God of the immature mind, has simply become irrelevant.
That is the meaning when Friedrich Nietzsche declares that "God is dead." It is not godliness that is dead, it is the God of the immature mind that is dead. In fact, to say that God is dead is not right because that God was never alive. The only right expression will be to say that God is no longer relevant. Man can rely more upon himself — he does not need belief, he does not need the crutches of belief.
Hence people have become less and less interested in religion. They have become indifferent to what goes on in the church. They have become so indifferent to it that they will not even argue against it. If you say, "Do you believe in God?" they will say, "It's okay — whether he exists or not, it doesn't make any difference, it doesn't matter." Just to be polite, if you believe, they will say, "Yes, he exists." If you don't believe, they will say, "No, he does not exist." But it is no longer a passionate concern.
This is the first type of religion; it has existed for centuries, down the centuries, down the ages, and it is becoming more and more outmoded, out of date. Its time is finished. A new God is needed, which is not psychological; a new God is needed that is existential, the godliness of reality, the God as reality. We can even drop the word "God" — "the real" will do, "the existential" will do.
Then there is a second type of religious people for whom religion is not coming out of fear. The first type of religion comes out of fear, the second type — also bogus, also pseudo, also so-called — is not out of fear, it is only out of cleverness. There are very clever people who go on inventing theories, who are very trained in logic, in metaphysics, in philosophy. They create a religion that is just an abstraction: a beautiful piece of artwork, of intelligence, of intellectuality, of philosophizing. But it never penetrates life, it never touches life anywhere, it simply remains an abstract conceptualization.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was saying to me, "I have never been what I oughta been. I stole chickens and watermelons, got drunk and got in fights with my fists and my razor, but there is one thing I ain't never done: in spite of all my meanness I ain't never lost my religion."
Now what kind of religion is that? It has no impact on your life. You believe, but that belief never penetrates your life, never transforms it. It never becomes an intrinsic part of you, it never circulates in your blood, you never breathe it in or breathe it out, it never beats in your heart — it is simply something useless. Ornamental maybe, at the most, but of no utility to you. Some days you go to the church; it is a formality, a social need. And you can pay lip service to God, to the Bible, to the Koran, to the Vedas, but you don't mean it, you are not sincere about it. Your life goes on without it, your life goes on in a totally different way — it has nothing to do with religiousness.
Watch ... somebody says he is a Mohammedan, somebody says he is a Hindu, somebody says he is a Christian, somebody says he is a Jew — their beliefs are different, but watch their lives and you will not find any difference. The Mohammedan, the Jew, the Christian, the Hindu — they all live the same life. Their life is not at all touched by their belief.
In fact, beliefs cannot touch your life, beliefs are devices. Beliefs are cunning devices through which you say "I know what life is" — and you can rest at ease, you are not troubled by life. You hold a concept and that concept helps you to rationalize. Then life does not bother you much because you have all the answers to all the questions.
But remember ... unless religion is personal, unless religion is not abstract but real, deep in your roots, deep in your guts — unless it is like blood and bone and marrow — it is futile, it is of no use. It is the religion of philosophers not the religion of sages.
When the third type comes in ... and that is the real type, these other two are the falsifications of religion, pseudo dimensions. Cheap, very easy, because they don't challenge you. The third is very difficult, arduous; it is a great challenge; it will create a turmoil in your life — because the third, the real religion says God has to be addressed in a personal way. You have to provoke him and you have to allow him to provoke you and you have to come to terms with him; in fact, you have to struggle with him, you have to clash against him. You have to love him, and you have to hate him; you have to be a friend and you have to be an enemy; you have to make your experience of God a living experience.
I have heard about a small child — and I would like you to be like this small child. He was really smart....
A little boy was lost at a Sunday school picnic. His mother began a frantic search for him, and soon she heard loud sounds in a childish voice calling, "Estelle, Estelle!"
She quickly spotted the youngster and rushed up to grab him in her arms. "Why did you keep calling me by my name, Estelle, instead of Mother?" she asked him, as he had never called her by her first name before.
"Well," the youngster answered, "it was no use calling out 'Mother'— the place is full of them."
If you call "mother" there are so many mothers — the place is full of them. You have to call in a personal way, you have to call the first name.
Unless God is also called in a personal way, addressed with a first name, it will never become a reality in your life. You can go on calling "father" but whose father are you talking about? When Jesus called him "father" it was a personal address. When you use that word, it is absolutely impersonal. It is Christian but impersonal. When Jesus called him "father" it was meaningful; when you talk about the "father" it is meaningless — you have made no contact, no real contact with existence. Only an experience of life — neither belief nor philosophy — only an experience of life will make you able to address existence in a personal way. Then you can encounter it.
And unless existence is encountered you are simply deceiving yourself with words ... with words which are empty, hollow, with words which have no content.
There was a very famous Sufi mystic, Shaqiq was his name. He trusted God so deeply, so tremendously, that he lived only out of that trust. Jesus says to his disciples, "Look at those lilies in the field — they labor not and yet they are so beautiful and so alive that not even Solomon was so beautiful in all his glory." Shaqiq lived the life of a lily. There have been very few mystics who have lived that way, but there have been ordinary people who have lived that way. The trust is so infinite, the trust is so absolute that there is no need to do anything — existence goes on doing things for you: in fact, even when you are doing them God is doing them; it is only that you think you are doing them.
One day a man came to Shaqiq accusing him of idleness, laziness, and asked him to work for him. "I will pay you according to your services," the man added.
Shaqiq replied, "I would accept your offer if it weren't for five drawbacks. First, you might go broke. Second, thieves might steal your wealth. Third, whatever you give me you will do so grudgingly. Fourth, if you find faults with my work, you'll probably fire me. Fifth, should death come to you, I'll lose the source of my sustenance.
"Now," Shaqiq concluded, "it happens that I have a Master who is totally devoid of such imperfections."
This is what trust is. Trust in life then you cannot lose anything. But that trust cannot come by indoctrination, that trust cannot come by education, preaching, studying, thinking — that trust can only come by experiencing life in all its opposites, in all its contradictions, in all its paradoxes. When within all the paradoxes you come to the point of balance, there is trust. Trust is a perfume of balance, the fragrance of balance.
Excerpted from The Man who Loved Seagulls by Osho. Copyright © 2008 Osho. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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