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Chapter 7: Awareness: The Fire That Burns the Past

Hindus say, “No, don’t bring God in because complications will arise. Either He will be just - then there will be no space for compassion, or He will have compassion - then He cannot be just.” Because of this people will think that good and bad deeds are not really relevant, only prayer, a pilgrimage to the sacred place. Hindus say, “It is a simple law of nature; prayer will not help. If you have done bad you will have to suffer. No prayer can help.” So don’t wait for prayer, and don’t waste your time in praying. If you have done bad you will have to suffer; if you have done good you will enjoy.

But nobody is distributing these things to you, there is no personality in the world - it is a law, impersonal. This is more scientific. It creates less complexities and solves more problems. The Hindu concept about the law of nature, rit, is in every way compatible with the scientific attitude towards the world. Then what can you do? You committed bad, you committed good; pleasure or pain will follow like a shadow. How does it come? What should be done?

There are two attitudes in the East: one is that of Patanjali and the other is that of Mahavira. Mahavira says, “If you have done wrong then you have to do right to balance it, otherwise you will have to suffer.” That seems to be too much, because for many lives you have been doing millions of things. If everything has to be balanced, it will take millions of lives. And even then the account will not be closed because you will have to live these millions of lives, and you will be continuously doing things which will create future and more future. Everything leads to another thing, one thing to another; everything is intertwined. Then there seems to be no possibility of freedom.

Patanjali’s attitude is another attitude. It goes deeper. The question is not of balancing the good; the past cannot be undone. You have killed a man in the past - Mahavira’s attitude is, “Now you do good things in the world.” But even if you do good things, that man is not revived. That man is killed, killed for ever. That murder will remain forever as a wound inside you. You may console yourself that you have created so many temples and dharamsalas, and you have donated millions of rupees to poor people. Maybe it’s a consolation, but the guilt will be there. How can you balance a murder? It cannot be balanced. You cannot undo the past. Patanjali says, “Past is nothing but memory; it is a dream phenomenon, it is no more there. You can undo it just by going into prati-prasav. You go backwards, relive it: murder that man again in your memory, in your reliving. Feel that wound again. Feel the pain of when you murdered the man. Live the whole misery again and this is how that wound will be healed and the past will be washed.”

With Patanjali liberation seems possible, with Mahavira it seems impossible. That’s why Jainism could not spread very much. Moksha seems to be almost impossible, unbelievable. Patanjali has become one of the bases of the Eastern esotericism. Mahavira remained on the fringe, just on the boundary. He could never become the centered force. He’s much too concerned with action, and he believes in the reality of actions too much. Patanjali says, “Actions are just like dreams. The whole world is nothing but a big stage, and the whole life is nothing but a drama. You did it because you were unaware. If you had been aware, there would be no problem.”