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Chapter 2: Neither Mine nor Yours

Examine every small atom of life and you will realize that there is no place for the I - the ego - to stand. Then why are we creating this illusion? How does it come about? From where does this deception come? It comes because we always feel that there is an alternative. For example, you insult me. Now I have two alternatives: I may insult you back; or I may ignore it, thinking the insult is not there at all. That is, I can choose to reciprocate if I wish, and if I don’t wish, I can choose not to. But are there really any alternatives? Do you suppose that the person who returns an insult could have chosen not to, if he had wanted? You will say: If he had not wished to do so, he need not have returned the insult. But you will have to go a little deeper to understand this. Is that desiring there already in him, or does he bring it from somewhere? Is that desire to insult or not to insult under his control?

Those who seek within say that what the depths reveal is only that the happenings go beyond our control. A man thinks to insult, and he insults. Another man decides not to insult, and he does not insult. But from where does this idea of giving or not giving abuse come? Is the idea yours? No, it comes from the place from which birth comes. It comes from where love is. It comes from where consciousness is. It returns to where death is. It is absorbed where the breath goes.

It is easy to deceive ourselves by saying, “It is in my hands, it is under my control. Had I wished, I would not have abused.” But who told you, who asked you, to abuse? People like Buddha and Mahavira would not give abuse. Do you think that they can simply choose to feel abusive? No; just as you experience a fixed and unavoidable situation in having to abuse, so Buddha and Mahavira experience an equally unalterable situation of not feeling abusive. They cannot choose, even if they wish, to feel abusive. That desire itself is not created.

A man came to a Zen master early in the morning and began to ask him why he was so calm and quiet, while he himself was so agitated and disturbed. The master replied, “I am calm and you are agitated, that’s all. The matter is over there. There is nothing more to be said.”

The man insisted, “No, I want to know how you became so calm.”

The master replied, “I want to know from you how you became so agitated.”

The man replied, “Agitation comes of its own accord.”

The master said, “That has happened exactly with me. Calmness came to me of its own accord, and I do not take any credit for it. When agitation was coming, it was coming. I could not do anything to stop it, and now, when calm has come to me, I cannot do anything to bring agitation even if I wish to bring it, so much am I bound by the situation.”

The man said, “No, please show me the way to be calm and quiet.”

So the master said, “I know only one way, and that is this: give up your illusion that you are able to do anything about it. If you become agitated, remain agitated. Know that you are disturbed and that you can do nothing about it. It is out of your control. Don’t make any effort to be calm. Even those people who make an effort to be calm become agitated and disturbed. They become agitated, and in their efforts to become calm they create fresh uneasiness in themselves.”

But the man persisted, “Your advice does not settle my mind; I want to be calm.”

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