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Chapter 8: Off to Hell - Yo ho!

In India, the innermost part of the temple is called garbha, womb - very meaningfully. Where the deity of the temple sits, the innermost shrine, is called garbha - the womb. In ordinary life also we are searching the same comfort. When you feel a room is cozy, what do you really remember when you say that the room is cozy? - warm, alive, receptive, welcoming. You are not a stranger, you are a welcome guest. You are reminded of something of those nine months. Science goes on improving comfort, luxury, but we have not yet been able - and I think we will never be able - to create the womb situation again.

The child has lived in such abundance; it is just a continuous celebration, in silence, in utter silence. Now he is being thrown out. And he does not know anything about the outside world, whether there is any world or not. He is thrown out of his home. If the child could say anything he would say, “I am dying.” You call it birth, you who are outside - but ask the child, just think of the child. The child will think, “I am being uprooted, I am thrown out. I am being rejected.” The child clings, the child does not want to go out. The child feels it a kind of death. On one side it is death, on another side it is birth.

And so again is enlightenment. On one side, on the side of the mind, it is death. The mind feels “I am dying.” The mind clings. The mind tries in every way to prevent this enlightenment happening. The mind creates a thousand and one questions, doubts, inquiries, distractions. Wants to pull you back - “Where are you going? You will die.”

This happens here every day; whenever a person starts moving closer to meditation, fear arises - great fear. His whole being is at stake, he starts trembling. Actual trembling arises in his being. Now he is facing the abyss - on one side it is death, on another side it will be birth. If the mind dies he will be born as consciousness. If thought dies he will be born as samadhi, as no-thought. If the mind disappears he will be born as no-mind. If this noise of the mind disappears then he will be born as silence. On one side it will be death, another side birth.

And so is death. Each death is also a birth, and each birth is also a death.

This story of Buddha being born on a certain day at a certain time, then at the same time and the same day becoming enlightened, and at the same time and the same day dying, is meaningful. It simply says that these three things are the same. One thing is missing; I would like to add that too. If you really fall in love then the whole list is complete. These four things, then your whole life is complete. If I am to write Buddha’s story again, I will add this too, that he fell in love on the same day at the same time, because that too is a birth and a death. The people who were writing Buddha’s story were not so courageous. They have dropped the idea of love; it seems to be dangerous.

These are the four greatest things in life, the four directions of life; this is the whole sky of life.

Tetsugen decided to die on Buddha’s enlightenment day. Many Zen monks have been deciding to die on that day, and they die on that day. They don’t commit suicide and they don’t take any poison - they just collapse. But their collapse is beautiful; they collapse with a smile, with laughter.

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