OSHOMEDITATION - Chapter 3. The Owl and the Phoenix

OSHOMEDITATION - Chapter 3. The Owl and the Phoenix


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Osho - The Empty Boat
Chapter 3. The Owl and the Phoenix

Hui Tzu was prime minister of Liang.
He had what he believed to be inside information
That Chuang Tzu coveted his post,
And was plotting to supplant him.
When Chuang Tzu came to visit Liang
The prime minister sent out police to arrest him,
But although they searched for three days and nights
They could not find him.
Meanwhile, Chuang Tzu presented himself to Hui Tzu
Of his own accord, and said:
"Have you heard about the bird
That lives in the south -
The phoenix that never grows old?
"This undying phoenix rises out of the south sea
And flies to the sea of the north,
Never alighting except on certain sacred trees.
He will touch no food
But the most exquisite rare fruit,
And he drinks only from the clearest springs."
Once an owl
Chewing an already half-decayed dead rat
Saw the phoenix fly over." Looking up he screeched with alarm
And clutched the dead rat to himself
In fear and dismay.
"Prime minister,
Why are you so frantic,
Clinging to your ministry
And screeching at me in dismay?"
The religious mind is basically nonambitious. If there is any sort of ambition, then to be religious is impossible, because only a superior man can become religious. Ambition implies inferiority. Try to understand this because it is one of the basic laws. Without under-standing it you can go to temples, you can go to the Himalayas, you can pray and you can meditate, but everything will be in vain. You will be simply wasting your life if you have not understood whether the nature of your mind is ambitious or nonambitious. Your whole search will be futile, because ambition can never lead to the divine. Only non-ambition can become the door.
Modern psychology also agrees with Chuang Tzu, with Lao Tzu, with Buddha, with all those who have known, that inferiority creates ambition. Hence politicians come from the worst stuff in humanity. All politicians are SUDRAS, untouchables. It cannot be otherwise, because whenever the mind feels the inferiority complex it tries to become superior - the opposite is born. When you feel ugly, you try to be beautiful. If you are beautiful, then it is no effort.
So look at ugly women and you will come to know the nature of the politician. An ugly woman always tries to hide the ugliness, always tries to be beautiful. At least the face, the painted face, the clothes, the ornaments, all belong to the ugly. The ugliness has somehow to be overcome and you have to create the opposite to hide it, to escape from it. A really beautiful woman will not worry, she will not even be conscious of her beauty. And only an unconscious beauty is beautiful. When you become conscious, the ugliness has entered.
When you feel that you are inferior, when you compare yourself with others and see that they are superior to you, what will you do? The ego feels hurt - you are inferior. You just cannot accept it, so you have to deceive yourself and others.
How do you deceive? There are two ways. One is to go mad. Then you can declare that you are Alexander, Hitler, Nixon. Then it comes easily because then you are not bothered by what others say. Go to the madhouses all over the world and there you will find all the great characters of history, still living!
While Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was alive, at least one dozen people in India believed that they were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Once he went to a madhouse to inaugurate a new department. And the madhouse authorities had arranged for a few people to be released by him, because now they had become healthy and normal. The first person was brought to him and introduced, so Nehru introduced himself to the madman who had become more normal and said, "I am Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India. "
The madman laughed and said, "Don't worry. Be here for three years and you will become as normal as I have become. Three years ago when I first came to this madhouse that is who I believed I was - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister of India. But they have cured me completely, so don't worry."
This has happened in many ways. Lloyd George was prime minister of England. In the war days, at six o'clock in the evening there used to be a blackout and nobody could leave their homes. All traffic stopped, lights were not allowed, and everyone had to be in a shelter of some kind. Lloyd George was taking his usual evening walk, and he forgot.
Suddenly the siren went off. It was six o'clock and his house was at least a mile's walk away. So he knocked on the nearest door and said to the man who opened it, "Let me rest here for the night; otherwise the police will catch me. I am Lloyd George, the prime minister. "
The man suddenly grabbed him and said, "Come in. This is the right place for you. We have three Lloyd Georges already!" It was a madhouse.
Lloyd George tried to convince the man that he was the real one. But the man said, "They all argue, so don't bother to try, just come in or I will beat you."
So Lloyd George had to keep quiet all night or he really would have been beaten. How could he convince them? There were already three Lloyd Georges and they had all tried to prove it.
One way is to go mad - you suddenly declare that you are superior, the most superior. Another way is to go politician. Either go mad or go politician. Through politics you cannot suddenly declare - you have to prove that you really are the prime minister or the president. So it is the long way around.
Madness is a shortcut to importance; politics is the long way. But they reach the same goal.
And if the world is to become a sane, normal world, then two types of persons have to be cured:
madmen and politicians. Both are ill. One has gone the long route round, one has taken the shortcut.
And remember well that the madman is less harmful than the politician, because he simply declares his superiority, he doesn't bother to prove it; the politician bothers to prove it - and the proof is very costly.
What was Hitler trying to prove? That he was the most superior, the suprememost Aryan. It would have been better for the world if he had gone mad, used the shortcut; then there would have been no second world war.
Politicians are more dangerous because they are madmen with proofs. They are madmen working, reaching, achieving a goal, just to hide the inferiority in them. Whenever somebody feels inferior, he has to prove or simply hypnotize himself into believing that he is not inferior. You cannot be religious if you are mad. Not mad in the way a Saint Francis is mad - that madness comes through ecstasy, this madness comes through inferiority. The madness of a Saint Francis or a Chuang Tzu comes out of superiority, comes out of the heart, comes out of the original source. This other madness comes out of the ego. The soul is always superior and the ego is always inferior.
So an egotist has to become a politician somehow or other - whichever profession he chooses, through it he will be a politician.
What do I mean when I say politics? I mean the conflict between egos, the struggle to survive. When your ego and my ego are in conflict then we are politicians. When I am not in conflict with anybody's ego, I am a religious man. When I don't try to be superior, I am superior. But this superiority is not in opposition to inferiority, it is absence of the feeling of inferiority.
This distinction has to be remembered. There are two types of superiority. In one you have just hidden the inferiority, covered it, you are using a mask - behind the mask the inferiority is there.
Your superiority is just superficial, deep down you remain inferior, and because you go on feeling it you have to carry this mask of superiority, of beauty. Because you are aware that you are ugly you have to contrive to be beautiful, you have to exhibit, you have to show a false face. This is one type of superiority; it is not real.
There is another type of superiority, and that superiority is the absence of inferiority, not the opposite to it. You simply don't compare. When you don't compare, how can you be inferior? Look: if you are the only one on earth and there is nobody else, will you be inferior? With whom will you compare yourself? Relative to what? If you are alone what will you be, inferior or superior? You will be neither.
You cannot be inferior because no one is above you; you cannot declare yourself superior because there is no one beneath you. You will be neither superior nor inferior - and I say to you that this is the superiority of the soul. It never compares. Compare, and the inferiority arises. Don't compare, and you simply are - unique.
A religious man is superior in the sense that the inferiority has disappeared. A politician is superior in the sense that he has overcome his inferiority. It is hidden there, it is still inside. He is just using the garb, the face, the mask of a superior man.
When you compare, you miss; then you will always be looking at others. And no two persons are the same, they cannot be. Every individual is unique and every individual is superior, but this superiority is not comparable. You are superior because you cannot be anything else. Superiority is just your nature. That tree is superior, that rock is also superior. The whole of existence is divine, so how can anything here be inferior? It is God, overflowing in millions of ways. Somewhere God has become a tree, somewhere God has become a rock, somewhere God has become a bird, somewhere God has become you. And only God exists, so there can be no comparison. God is superior, but not to anything - because only God is, and there cannot be any inferiority.
A religious man comes to experience his uniqueness, comes to experience his divineness, and through his experience of divineness comes to realize the divineness of all. This is nonpolitical because now there is no ambition, you have nothing to prove, you are already proved; you have nothing to declare, you are already declared. Your very being is the proof. You are...it is enough.
Nothing else is needed.
Hence, remember this as the basic law. If in religion also you go on comparing, you are in politics, not in religion. That is why all religions have become political. They use religious terminology, but hidden behind is politics. What is Islam? What is Hinduism? What is Christian-ity? They are all political groups, political organizations, doing politics in the name of religion.
When you go to the temple to pray, do you simply pray or do you compare? If someone else is praying there, does comparison arise in your mind? Do you wonder if he is doing better than you, or if you are doing better than him? Then the temple is there no more. The temple has disappeared, it has become politics.
In religion comparison is not possible; you simply pray, and prayer becomes your inner being. It is not something outward to be compared. This incomparable prayer, incomparable meditation, will lead you to the intrinsic superiority of all existence.
Buddha says: Don't be ambitious, because through ambition you will remain inferior always. Be nonambitious and attain to your intrinsic superiority. It is intrinsic. It doesn't have to be proved, or achieved, you already have it, you have got it. It is already there - it has always been with you and it will always remain with you. Your very being is sup-erior but you don't know what being is there.
You don't know who you are. Hence so much effort in seeking your identity, in searching, in proving that you are superior to others. You don't know who you are.
Once you know, then there is no problem. You are already superior. And it is not only you that is superior - everything is superior. The whole of existence is superior without anything being inferior, because God is one, existence is one. Neither the inferior nor the superior can exist. The nonambitious mind comes to realize this.
Now let us take Chuang Tzu's sentences. This beautiful incident really happened. Chuang Tzu was on his way to the capital and the prime minister became afraid. He must have heard the news that Chuang Tzu was coming through the secret police, the cid. And politicians are always afraid, because everybody is their enemy, even friends are enemies, and one has to protect oneself from friends because they too are trying to pull you down.
Remember, nobody is a friend. In politics, everybody is an enemy. Friendship is just a facade. In religion there is no one who is an enemy. In religion there cannot be any enemy; in politics there cannot be any friend.
The prime minister became afraid because Chuang Tzu was coming. Chuang Tzu's superiority was such that the prime minister thought that he might try to become prime minister. It was an uneasy situation. And of course Chuang Tzu WAS superior; not superior in comparison to anybody else, he was simply superior. It was intrinsic.
When a man like Chuang Tzu moves, he is king; whether he is living like a beggar or not, it makes no difference. He is a king wherever he moves. Kingship is not something external to him, it is something internal.
A begging monk from India went to America at the beginning of this century; his name was Ramateertha. He used to call himself The Emperor. The president of America came to see him, and looked astonished. He was just a beggar! The president asked, "I cannot understand: why do you call yourself The Emperor? You look like a beggar. You have even written a book called Six Orders of Emperor Ram. Why?"
Ramateertha laughed and said, "Look within me, my kingdom belongs to the inner world. Look in me. I AM an emperor. My kingdom is not of this world."
Because of this, Jesus was crucified. He was always saying, "I am the king." He was misunderstood.
The man who was the king, Herod, became alert. The viceroy, Pontius Pilate, thought that Jesus was dangerous, because he talked about the kingdom and the king, and he had declared, "I am the king of the Jews." He was misunderstood. He was talking of a different type of kingdom which is not of this world.
When he was being crucified the soldiers poked fun at him, threw stones and shoes at him, and just to mock him, put a crown of thorns on his head with the words: king of the Jews. And when they were throwing stones and shoes at him they were saying, "Now, tell us something about the kingdom, say something, you king of the Jews!"
He was talking of some other kingdom, not of this world; that kingdom is not without, that kingdom is within. But whenever a man like Jesus walks, he is the emperor. He cannot help it. He is not in competition with anybody, he is not hankering for any crown of this world, but wherever he goes ambitious people become afraid, politicians become afraid. This man is dangerous, because the very face, the eyes, the way he walks, show that he is an emperor. He need not prove it, he is the proof. He need not utter it, need not say it.
So when the prime minister heard through the secret police that Chuang Tzu was coming, he thought he must be coming to the capital to supplant him; otherwise, why come? People only came to the capital for that. One never goes to Delhi for anything else. People come to the capitals because of ambition, in search of ego, identity. Why should he come - a fakir, a beggar? What is the need for him to come to the capital? He must be coming to take my seat, my chair. He must be coming to the king to say, "I am the right man. Make me prime minister and I will put every wrong right. I will solve all your problems."
And the man had a glory around him, a charisma. The prime minister became afraid. Prime ministers are always inferior. Deep down the inferiority complex is there, like a disease, like a worm eating the heart, always afraid of the superior.
Hui Tzu was prime minister of Liang.
He had what he believed to be inside information
That Chuang Tzu coveted his post,
And was plotting to supplant him.
Politicians cannot think otherwise. The first thing to be understood is that what you are is what you think of others. Your desires, your own ambitions give you the pattern. If you are after money you think that everyone is after money. If you are a thief you keep checking your pocket: that is how you show that you are a thief. Your inner desire is the language of your understanding. Politicians always think in terms of plots, conspiracies: Somebody is going to supplant me, somebody wants to get rid of me.... Because that is what they have done, that is what they have been doing all their lives, plotting. Politicians are conspirators. That is their language. And you look at others through your mind, you project onto others things which are hidden deep within you. Hui Tzu thought, "This Chuang Tzu is plotting to supplant me. "
When Chuang Tzu came to visit him, the prime minister sent out police to arrest him. But although they searched for three days and nights, they could not find him. This is beautiful!
The police can only find thieves - they understand each other. The mind of the policeman and the mind of a thief are not different - thieves in the service of the government are the police. Their mind, their way of thinking is the same, only their masters are different. A thief is in his own service, a policeman is in the service of the state - but both are thieves. That is why policemen can catch thieves. If you send a sadhu to find a thief, he won't find him, because he will look at others through his mind.
A rabbi was walking past a young man during a religious festival. The young man was smoking, and smoking was forbidden on that day. So the rabbi stopped and asked him, "Don't you know, young man, that this is a religious day, and you should not be smoking?"
The young man said, "Yes, I know that this is a religious day." Still he continued smoking - not only that, he blew smoke into the rabbi's face.
The rabbi asked, "And don't you know that smoking is forbidden?"
The young man said arrogantly, "Yes, I know it is forbidden." And he continued.
The rabbi looked at the sky and said, "Father, this young man is beautiful. He may be breaking the law, but nobody can force him to lie. He is a truthful man. He says: Yes, I know this is a religious day, and yes, I know it is forbidden. Remember on the day of judgment, that this young man could not be forced to lie."
This is a beautiful rabbi. This is the mind of a sadhu. He cannot see wrong, he always sees right.
The police could not find Chuang Tzu, it was impossible. They could have found him if he had been an ambitious man, if he had been plotting, if he were thinking in terms of politics - then he could have been caught. The police must have looked in places where he was not, and their paths must have crossed many times. But he was a beggar, a nonambitious man. He was not plotting. He had no mind for plots, he was like the breeze. The police searched and searched for many days and couldn't find him.
You can find only that which you are. You always find yourself in others, because others are just mirrors. To catch Chuang Tzu, a Lao Tzu was needed. Nobody else could catch him, for who could understand him? A Buddha was needed; Buddha would have guessed where he was. But a policeman? - impossible! Only if he were a thief would it be possible. Look at the policeman, the way he is, the way he talks, the dirty language he uses; it is even more vulgar than thieves' language. The policeman has to be more vulgar than the thief, otherwise thieves would win.
Once a man was caught by the police and the magistrate asked, "Tell me, when you were caught, what did the policeman say to you?"
The man said, "Can I repeat the same vulgar language that he used here in court? Will you not feel offended? It might shock you."
The magistrate said, "Leave out the vulgar language but tell us what he said."
The man thought and said, "Then...the policeman said nothing."
The police came back to Hui Tzu and reported that they couldn't find Chuang Tzu. There was no such man.
They must have had a picture, some way of identifying him, some idea of how to find him, catch him, his type. But Chuang Tzu has no identity, he has no face. Moment to moment he is a flow, a liquidity. Moment to moment he reflects, responds to existence. He has no fixed abode, he is homeless, faceless. He has no name. He is not a past, he is always a present, and all photographs belong to the past.
It is beautiful and meaningful. Although it looks absurd, it is said that you cannot photograph a man like Buddha. Not that you cannot photograph him - but the moment the photograph is there, Buddha has moved. So a photograph is always of the past and never of the present. You cannot catch Buddha's present face. The moment you catch it, it has passed. The moment you understand, it is already gone.
One of the names of Buddha is Tathagata. This word is really wonderful; it means, just like the wind he came and he is gone. Thus came like the wind and thus gone. You cannot photograph a wind, a breeze. Before you have caught it, it has already gone, it is there no longer.
Chuang Tzu could not be found because the police were searching for his past and he lived in the present. He was a being, not a mind. Mind can be caught but being cannot be caught. There are no nets. Mind can be caught very easily, and you are all caught in some way or other. Because you have a mind, a wife, a husband will catch you; a shop, a treasure, a post, anything will catch you.
There are nets, millions of nets. And you cannot be free unless you are free of the mind. You will be caught again and again. If you leave this wife, another woman will catch you immediately. You cannot escape. You can escape this woman, but you cannot escape women. You can escape this man but where will you go? No sooner have you left one than another has come into your life. You can leave this town, but where will you go? Another town will catch you. You can leave this desire but another will become the bondage. Mind is always in bondage, it is already caught. When you drop the mind then the police cannot catch you.
This Chuang Tzu was without mind. He was a mindless beggar, or an emperor. It means the same.
He could not be caught.
When Chuang Tzu came to visit Liang
The prime minister sent the police out to arrest him,
But although they searched for three days and nights,
They could not find him.
Meanwhile, on the third or fourth day Chuang Tzu of his own accord appeared before Hui Tzu and said, "The type of man that I, Chuang Tzu, am, cannot be caught. He always appears of his own accord. It is his freedom. You cannot catch him, you can only invite him. It is his freedom to appear or not."
When there is mind, you are always caught. The mind forces you, you are its prisoner. When there is no-mind you are free: you can appear, you can disappear of your own accord. It is your own freedom.
If I am speaking to you it is not because you have asked a question, it is of my own accord. If I am working with you it is not because of you, but of my own accord. When there is no-mind there is freedom. Mind is the basis of all slavery.
Chuang Tzu appeared of his own accord and told a beautiful parable. Listen from the very deepest core of your heart.
"Have you heard about the bird
That lives in the south -
The phoenix - a mythical bird -
That never grows old?"
A Chinese myth, it is beautiful and carries much meaning. Myth is not truth, but it is truer than any truth. Myth is a parable, it indicates something which cannot be indicated otherwise. Only through a par-able, through poetry, can it be said. Myth is poetry, it is not a description. It indicates the truth, not an event in the outer world; it belongs to the inner.
"Have you heard about the bird
That lives in the south?"
To China, India is the south, and that bird lives here. It is said that when Lao Tzu disappeared, he disappeared into the south. They don't know when he died... he never died. Such people never die, they simply go to the south - they disappear into India.
It is said that Bodhidharma came from the south. He left India, and searched for the disciple to whom he was to transmit the treasure of Buddha. After nine years waiting, he was able to transmit it and it is said that then he disappeared again into the south. India is the south for China. Really, India is the source of all myth; not a single myth exists in the whole world which has not arisen here.
Science arose out of the Greek mind, myth out of the Indian mind. And there are only two ways of looking at the world: one is science, the other is religion. If you look at the world through science, it is looking through analysis, mathematics, logic.
Athens, the Greek mind, gave science to the world, the Socratic method of analysis, logic and doubt. Religion is a totally different pattern of looking at the world. It looks at the world through poetry, through myth, through love. Of course, it is romantic. It cannot give you facts, it will only give you fictions. But I say fictions are more factual than any fact, because they give you the innermost core, they are not concerned with the outer event. Hence, India has no history. It has only myth, Puranas, no Itihas, no history.
Rama is not an historical person. He may or may not have been, it cannot be proved. Krishna is a myth, not an historical fact. Maybe he was, maybe he was not. But India is not bothered whether Krishna and Rama are historical. They are meaningful, they are great epic poems. And history is meaningless for India because history contains only bare facts, it never reveals the innermost core.
We are concerned with the innermost core, the center of the wheel. The wheel keeps on moving, that is history, but the center of the wheel, which never moves, is the myth.
Said Chuang Tzu:
"Have you heard about the bird
That lives in the south -
The phoenix that never grows old?"
All that is born grows old. History cannot believe in this bird, because history means the beginning and the end, history means the span between birth and death. And the span between the birthless and the deathless is myth.
Rama is never born and never dies. Krishna is never born and never dies. They are always there.
Myth is not concerned with time, it is concerned with eternity. History changes with the times, myth is always relevant. No, myth can never be out of date. Newspaper is history, and yesterday's newspaper is already out of date. Rama is not part of the newspaper, he is not news, and he will never be out of date. He is always in the present, always meaningful, relevant. History keeps changing; Rama remains in the center of the wheel, unmoving.
Says Chuang Tzu:
"...That lives in the south -
The phoenix that never grows old?"
Have you ever seen a picture of Rama or Krishna which belongs to their old age? They are always young, without even a beard or mustache. Have you ever seen a picture of Rama bearded? Unless he had some hormonal defect it must have grown; if he was really a man - and he was - then the beard must have grown. If Rama was historical, then the beard would have been there; but we have pictured him beardless, because the moment the beard grows you have started becoming old.
Sooner or later it will turn white. Death is coming near and we cannot bear to think of Rama dead, so we have washed his face completely clean of any sign of death. And this is not only so with Rama; the twenty-four TIRTHANKARAS of the Jainas are all beardless, no mustaches. Buddha and all the AVATARS of the Hindus had no beards, no mustaches. It is just to indicate their eternal youth, the eternity, the timelessness, the far-awayness.
"...The phoenix that never grows old."
There is time - in time everything changes - and there is eternity. In eternity nothing changes.
History belongs to time, myth belongs to eternity. Science belongs to time, religion belongs to the nontemporal, the eternal.
In you also, both exist - time and eternity. On your surface the wheel, time: you were born, you will die, but this is only on the surface. You are young, you will become old. You are healthy, you will be ill. Now you are full of life, sooner or later everything will ebb, death will penetrate you. But this is only on the surface, the wheel of history. Deep down right now in you the eternity exists, the timeless exists. There nothing grows old - the phoenix, the south, the India, the eternal. Nothing grows old, nothing changes, everything is unmoving. That south is within you.
That is why I keep saying that India is not part of geography, it is not part of history, it is part of an inner map. It doesn't exist in Delhi, it never existed there. Politicians don't belong to it; it doesn't belong to politics. It is the inner. It exists everywhere.
Wherever a man comes deep down into himself he reaches India. That is the reason for the eternal attraction, the magnetism, of India. Whenever a person becomes uneasy with his life, he moves towards India. This is just symbolic. Through physical movement you will not find India. A different movement is needed, where you start moving from the outer to the inner, to the south, to the land of myth, and the deathless, ageless phoenix - THE PHOENIX THAT NEVER GROWS OLD.
"This undying phoenix rises out of the south sea
And flies to the seas of the north,
Never alighting except on certain sacred trees.
He will touch no food
But the most exquisite rare fruit,
And he drinks only from the clearest springs."
This soul, this innermost core of your being, never alighting except on certain sacred trees, this inner bird, this is your being. It alights only on certain sacred trees.
"He will touch no food
But the most exquisite rare fruit,
And he drinks only from the clearest springs.
"once an owl
Chewing an already half-decayed dead rat
Saw the phoenix fly over.
Looking up he screeched with alarm
And clutched the dead rat to himself
In fear and dismay."
Chuang Tzu is saying: I am the phoenix, and you are just an owl with an already dead rat, chewing it. And you are alarmed that I am coming to supplant you. Your position, your power is nothing to me but a dead rat. This is no food for me. Ambition is not a way for life, it is only for those who are already dead. I have looked into ambition, and I have found it useless.
Once a woman came wailing and weeping to a rabbi, but the rabbi was at prayer. So she said to the secretary, "Go in, and even if his prayer has to be interrupted, interrupt. My husband has left me. I want the rabbi to pray for my husband to come back."
The secretary went in and interrupted the prayer. The rabbi said, "Tell her, don't worry, her husband will be back soon."
The secretary went back to the woman and said, "Don't worry, don't be sad. The rabbi says that your husband will come back soon. Go home and be at ease."
Happy, the woman left, saying, "God will reward your rabbi a million times over, he is so kind."
But once the woman had left, the secretary became sad, and told someone who was standing there that this was not going to help. Her husband cannot come back, poor woman, and she left here so happy.
The bystander said, "But why? Don't you believe in your rabbi and his prayer?"
The secretary said, "Of course I believe in my rabbi and I believe in his prayer. But he has only seen the woman's petition, I have seen her face. Her husband cannot EVER come back."
One who has seen the face of ambition, one who has seen the face of desire, one who has seen the face of lust, will never come back to them. It is impossible, the face is so ugly.
Chuang Tzu has seen the face of ambition. That is why he says: Your power, your position, your prime-ministership, is just a dead rat to me. Don't screech, and don't get dismayed.
"This undying phoenix arises out of the south sea
And flies to the seas of the north,
Never alighting except on certain sacred trees.
He will touch no food
But the most exquisite rare fruit,
And he drinks only from the clearest springs.
"once an owl
Chewing an already half-decayed dead rat
Saw the phoenix fly over.
Looking up he screeched with alarm
And clutched the dead rat to himself
In fear and dismay.
"prime minister,
Why are you so frantic,
Clinging to your ministry
And screeching at me in dismay?"
This is the fact, but only once you know it...only then can you understand. Listening to a Buddha, or to a Jesus, or to a Zarathustra, you have always been told: Drop desiring and bliss will be yours. But you cannot drop it, you cannot understand how bliss can happen when you drop desire, because you have tasted only desire. It may be poisonous, but it has been your only food. You have been drinking from poisoned sources, and when someone says, "Drop it," you are afraid that you will die thirsty. You don't know that there are pure, clear springs and you don't know that there are trees with rare fruit. You look only through your desire, so you cannot see those fruits and those trees.
When your eyes are filled with desire they only see the dead rats. Ramakrishna used to say: There are people who cannot see anything else than the objects of their lust. This owl can sit at the top of a tall tree, but he is only looking for dead rats. Whenever a dead rat is seen on the street the owl becomes excited. He won't get excited, he won't even see if you throw him a beautiful fruit. He will not become aware of it. The information never reaches him because the desires work as a screen.
All the time, continuously, only that enters you which your desires allow. Your desires are just like a watchman standing at the door of your being. They allow in only that which appeals to them.
Change this watchman; otherwise you will live always on dead rats. You will remain an owl, and that is the misery, because deep within you the phoenix is hidden and you are behaving like an owl. That is the discontent. That is why you can never feel at ease, that is why you can never feel blissful. How can a phoenix feel blissful with a dead rat? He is always a stranger, and this is not the right food for him.
And this you have felt many times. Making love to a woman or to a man, you have felt many times that this is not for you. The phoenix asserts itself but the owl is much more noisy. The phoenix cannot be heard, its voice is very subtle and silent, not aggressive. In moments of peace and meditation the phoenix says, "What are you doing? This is not for you. What are you eating? This is not for you. What are you drinking? This is not for you. "
But the owl is very noisy and you have believed in the owl for so long that you go on following it just like a habit. It has become a dead habit. You simply follow it, because it is the line of least resistance. The rut is there. You don't have to do anything. You simply run on the track, you go on running in a circle - the same desires, the same lusts, the same ambitions. No wonder you live in anguish, you live in a nightmare.
Let the inner Chuang Tzu assert himself, let the inner phoenix assert itself. Listen to it, it is a still, small voice. You will have to calm down, you will have to put this owl to sleep; only then will you be able to listen. This owl is the ego, the mind, the phoenix is the soul. It is born in the south, out of the sea, it is not a part of the land. Not out of the mud, out of the vast sea it is born. It never grows old, it never dies. It alights only on rare, holy, sacred trees, eats only exquisite rare fruit, drinks only from the clearest of springs. Those springs are there, those holy trees are there. You have been missing them because of the owl, and the owl has become the leader.
All meditation is nothing but an effort to silence this owl so that the still small voice can be heard.
Then you will see what you have been doing - chewing a dead rat.
Chuang Tzu is right. The prime minister was unnecessarily dismayed. When you, your inner phoenix, comes to live its life, the owl, the prime minister, will in the beginning be very much dismayed. Your mind will create every type of objection to meditation because the mind is afraid, the prime minister is afraid - this Chuang Tzu, this meditativeness, is coming to supplant him.
Your mind will catch hold of the dead rat, and will scream, scared, as if somebody is going to take that food away from it. In the beginning it will happen - and you have to be alert and aware of it.
Only your awareness will help by and by.
Whenever one starts meditating, the mind becomes rebellious. It starts up all types of arguments:
What are you doing, why are you wasting time? Use this time! You can achieve so much in the time. That desire has been waiting for so long unfulfilled, and now you are wasting time meditating.
Forget it. Those who say that meditation is possible are deceiving you. These Buddhas, these Chuang Tzus, don't believe them. Believe in the mind, mind says. It creates all kinds of doubts about everybody, but it never creates any doubt about itself.
I have heard: A man was talking to his small child. The child had written a letter as part of his homework and was showing it to his father. There were as many spelling mistakes in it as there were words, even more. So the father said, "Your spelling is awful. Why don't you look in the dictionary? When you feel in doubt, look in the dictionary."
The child said, "But, Dad, I never feel in doubt."
This is what your mind does. It says to Buddha, "But Dad, I never feel in doubt."
Mind never doubts itself, that is the problem. It doubts everybody - it will doubt even a Buddha.
Even if Krishna knocks at your door it will doubt; if Jesus comes it will doubt. It has always been so, you have been doing it continuously.
You doubt me but you never doubt yourself, because once the mind starts doubting itself it is already going out of existence. Once self-doubt arises the base is broken, the mind has lost its confidence.
Once you start doubting the mind, sooner or later you will fall into the abyss of meditation.
Baal Shem, a mystic, was dying. His son, whose name was Hertz, was a very sleepy, unconscious person. Before he died, Baal Shem told him that this night would be his last.
But Hertz said, "Nobody can know when death will come." He doubted. Baal Shem was his father, and thousands believed that he was the messiah, the man who would lead millions to salvation. But the son doubted, and that night he fell asleep. He was awakened at midnight. His father was dead.
Then he started crying, weeping. He had missed a great opportunity, and now there would be no possibility of seeing his father alive again. But he never doubted his mind, he doubted Baal Shem.
In his dismay and despair, he started crying. He closed his eyes and for the first time in his life, now that his father was dead, he started talking to him. His father used to call him many times: "Hertz, come to me." And he would say, "Yes, I will come, but first I have other more important things to do."
This is what your mind is saying. I go on calling you: "Come to me." You say, "There are other more important things right now. I will come later on; wait."
But death had broken the bridge. So Hertz cried and started talking to his father, and he said, "What should I do now? I am lost. I am in darkness. Now how can I drop this mind which has deceived me? I never doubted it, and I doubted you. Now it makes me very sad."
Baal Shem appeared inside Hertz and said, "Look at me. Do the same as I do." Hertz saw, as in a dream, a vision, that Baal Shem went to the top of a hill and dropped himself into the abyss. And he said, "Do the same."
Said Hertz, "I cannot understand." Really, doubt arose again: What is this man saying? This will be suicide.
Baal Shem laughed, and said, "You are still doubting me, not doubting yourself. Then do this." In his vision Hertz saw a big mountain, all aflame, like a volcano, fire all over, rocks splitting, and the whole mountain breaking into fragments. Said Baal Shem, "Or do this. Let the mind be thrown into an abyss, let the mind be burnt up completely."
And the story goes that Hertz said, "I will think it over."
Whenever you say, "I will think it over," you have started doubting. Doubt thinks, not you. And when there is no doubt, faith acts, not you. Doubt thinks, faith acts. Through doubt you can become a great philosopher; through faith you will become a Chuang Tzu, a phoenix which never grows old, which is undying. Through doubt you can penetrate the mysteries of time; through faith you will enter the door of eternity.
I have heard about two men who were once lost in a forest on a very dark night. It was a very dangerous forest, full of wild animals, very dense, with darkness all around. One man was a philosopher and the other was a mystic - one a man of doubt, the other a man of faith. Suddenly, there was a storm, a crashing of the clouds, and great lightning.
The philosopher looked at the sky, the mystic looked at the path. In that moment of lightning, the path was before him, illuminated. The philosopher looked at the lightning, and started wondering, "What is happening?" and missed the path.
You are lost in a forest denser than that of the story. The night is more dark. Sometimes a flash of lightning comes. Look at the path.
A Chuang Tzu is lightning, a Buddha is lightning, I am lightning. Don't look at me, look at the path.
If you look at me, you have already missed, because lightning will not continue. It lasts only for a moment, and the moment is rare when eternity penetrates time; it is just like lightning.
If you look at the lightning, if you look at a buddha - and a buddha is beautiful, the face fascinates, the eyes are magnetic - if you look at the buddha, you have missed the path.
Look at the path, forget the buddha. Look at the path. But that look happens only when there is no doubt, when there is faith; no thinking, no mind.
Chuang Tzu has not to be thought about. Don't think about him. Just let this story penetrate you and forget it. Through this story the path is illuminated. Look at the path, and do something. Follow the path, act. Thinking will not lead you, only action, because thinking goes on in the head. It can never become total; only when you act, it is total.
Enough for today.

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