Chapter 1: One Boat, Two Travelers
But man commits the same mistakes again and again. Man thinks that if all the pains and miseries of life are eliminated then there will be much happiness. But it is a strange fact that when all the pain and miseries are gone, we also come to know that there is no happiness left anywhere either, because they are interrelated. That is why the rich man often becomes more unhappy than the poor man; the affluent societies become more distressed than the poor societies.
This is the problem in the West today. Now they have put an end to most of the pain and misery which are still the cause of so much suffering in the East. They have destroyed all those miseries. They have made enormous efforts in the hope that the day would come when there would be no misery and only happiness would remain. And the miseries have ended, but simultaneously they discovered that happiness had also disappeared; the valleys disappeared but the peaks also disappeared. The nights are no more, but with them the days too have disappeared. We separated all the thorns from the rosebush, but while we were busy separating the thorns we looked up and found that the flowers had also been cleared away. They had existed together with the thorns, they were interrelated.
Someday it may become possible for babies to be delivered without pain, but it will never be possible for man to attain to a new life without pain. It cannot happen, and it has a reason. The reason is that whatever we have been up to now has to be discarded to create space for the new.
A mother’s trouble in giving birth to a baby is not that she will be destroyed, her trouble is in the shock that something completely new is separating from her, is becoming free of her. But when you give birth to your own self you are not giving birth to something separate from you, you are doing double work. You are eliminating yourself and at the same time the elimination is happening, in the same proportion, a new life is beginning to unfold.
That is why I said that the teachings of this Upanishad are dangerous - you have to be ready for the pains of inner revolution. The sage’s first sutra is related to the fear of that pain. Try to understand it.
Aum. May the divine protect us both.
Why this prayer? Why is this sage, in the very beginning of the Upanishad, praying to the divine for protection? Do you think that he had no roof on his hut? Do you think that he had no bread to eat and was dying of hunger, or that he had no clothes to wear? What is it that he wants to protect? What is it that he wishes to have protected? And that, too, in the very beginning! The very first statement is concerning protection.