Chapter 4: Every Step Is the Destination
Not only Shankara is a hidden Buddha, Buddha also is a hidden Vedantin. Anything which is polluted has to be destroyed; that which has become perverted has to be destroyed. Anything which has become dilapidated has to be put on the fire so that there can be space for the new. The mind says, “Save the old.” Mind says, “Look after the old.” But if you go on looking after the old too much then there will be no space for the new. The old man has to go so that children can come in. The old, rotten tree will fall down so that a new seed may sprout.
I have heard that there was a very old, dilapidated church - it was in such a bad condition that it could fall down at any moment. People who used to pray in it were also afraid to go in. Then at last the trustees called a meeting to decide what to do about it, because now even the priest was afraid to go in. People were afraid, and even passers-by were afraid of its falling down at any moment - anyone could get killed. So now nobody passed by on that road - it became quite lonely. So they passed three resolutions.
The first, was that the old church had to be demolished. It was passed unanimously with great sorrow.
Second, was that a new church had to be constructed. This was accepted with a lot of heartache, because the attachment for the old is always there. The new is not born yet, the new is not known yet, so there cannot be any attachment with the new - attachment is always with the old. That is why if a small child dies then the anguish is not much. But the anguish goes on increasing with age, because relationship, attachment, increases proportionately. The old one has to be demolished - with great sorrow. The new has to be constructed, just out of sheer helplessness.
And they passed a third resolution, that the new church will be constructed on the same site where the old church is, “And until the new one is built we will go on using the old one. For the new church we will use the stones of the old one. And while the new one is not yet built we will continue to use the old one.” This was also passed unanimously! That church is still there. It cannot be demolished, because there is deep attachment to it.
I call only that person religious who, after giving up the old, is always moving towards the ever new, and thus is able to retain his innocence and purity - one who is coming out of the past every moment, just like the snake coming out of his skin, and doesn’t look back. If you get attuned with that which is ever new, if you live in that which is always new, if you refuse to carry the old garbage, then you will find in the new that which is eternal. In that eternal, godliness is hidden.
The second question:
Before telling us to sing the song of the divine, why do you and Shankara address us as “fool” every time?