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Chapter 22: Meditation, Awareness, Alertness

He said, “There is no need to prove it; everybody around here knows. For thirty years I have been sitting underneath it.”

I said, “You may have been sitting for thirty years, the tree has been here even before that; now I am sitting under it and the tree will remain. The tree has no concern with you or me; the tree has no idea who is its owner. You just get lost!”

He said, “What are you saying? You have been here for just a few hours and you become the possessor, and I have been here for thirty years.”

I said, “I am not going to possess the tree, I will be moving soon; but not in this way. You will have to apologize to the tree. You have not purchased it, you have not planted it, you have not watered it. On what grounds have you become its possessor? - just because you have been here for thirty years bothering the tree day and night?

“You owe something to the tree, the tree owes nothing to you. The tree has been kind to you, and you have become the possessor of it! And this ‘possessing’ is what you had left behind. Nothing has been left behind.

“You are even ready, right now, here, to fight with me. Thirty years before you would have been fighting for a house, for a small piece of land: ‘This is my wife, this is my house, this is my religion, this is my country..’

“Now all that has become concentrated on this poor tree. Your whole possessiveness has become concentrated on this poor tree. It does not matter whether you possess a whole kingdom or just a small tree; possessiveness has nothing to do with quantity, it is an attitude.”

I told him, “You are an old renunciate, you must have heard the famous story of an ancient king. A great sage told one of his disciples to go to the court of the king and be there for a few days as his last lesson. Before the sage could declare him graduated he had to go to the kings court and be there for a few days.

“‘If this is what the master wants..’ The young man went. He thought, ‘Perhaps the king is a great sage; he must be greater than my own master, if my master sends everybody to him for the last lesson and the last test.

“‘Strange, that a sage who has renounced everything should send his disciples to a man who has not renounced anything, who is just an ordinary power-hungry man, continually trying to conquer other countries; an imperialist, so attached to things that he does not bother even about killing thousands of people. And am being sent to him? There must be some secret in it.’

“He went there. It was evening time, and he was brought immediately before the king. It was time for the king to drink, and the women, beautiful women had come to dance. His court was now going to celebrate the evening.

“Seeing all this, the young renunciate was terribly shocked, and he said to the king, ‘I had come to stay for a few days but I cannot stay here for a few minutes even. I cannot think why my master has sent me to this hell!’

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