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Chapter 3: The Owl and the Phoenix

When your eyes are filled with desire they see only dead rats. Ramakrishna used to say that there are people who cannot see anything else than the objects of their lust. This owl can sit at the top of a high tree, but he is only looking for dead rats. Whenever a dead rat appears on the street, the owl becomes excited. He will not become so excited, he will not even see, if you throw him a beautiful fruit. He will not see, he will not become aware; the information never reaches him because the desires work like a screen. Continuously, only that which your desires allow enters you. Your desires are just like a watchman standing at the door of your being. They allow only that which appeals to them.

Change this watchman; otherwise you will always live 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. You cannot feel - how can a phoenix feel blissful with a dead rat? He is always a stranger, 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 noisier. The phoenix cannot be heard, the voice is very subtle, 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 there is the least resistance. The rut is there. You don’t have to do anything. You simply run on the track, and go on running - the same desires, the same lusts, the same ambitions, and you go on running in a circle. 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, it is not part 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 make this owl silent 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 in dismay. When you, your inner phoenix, comes to live its life, the owl, the prime minister, will be in very much dismay in the beginning. Your mind will create every type of hindrance 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 you. In the beginning it will happen - and you have to be alert and aware of it. By and by only your awareness will help.