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Chapter 7: From the Surface to the Center

I have always wondered.I have met with many escapist saints and I have asked them, “If you really see that this world is illusory, made of the same stuff as dreams are made of, why are you escaping from it? What is the point? According to you the world does not exist. You are renouncing a non-existential world!”

If the world does not exist, then why not enjoy it? Have good, nice dreams - drop nightmares! Sort things out: whatever is a nightmare, drop it.

And that is what happens when a man reaches his center. That which is a nightmare - and your whole life up to now has been a nightmare - simply disappears. And a tremendously beautiful world arises out of the ashes of the old world that you used to know. It looks the same but because your vision is different, it is not the same.

Not a single saint I have met - and I have been roaming around for almost thirty-five years and I have met almost all kinds of saints, Hindu, Jaina, Mohammedan, Christian - not a single one has been able to answer a simple question: if the world is illusory, then it does not matter, let it be there; where are you going? Escaping from a world that is illusory is so stupid an act. If the world is real there is some point in escaping from it if you don’t want it. But it is illusory! And if illusions arise out of your mind, then wherever you go, the illusions will arise.

A great saint was dying and he said to his successor, a young man, “Remember one thing: never allow a cat in your life,” and he died. A big crowd had gathered to listen to the last statement of this great saint.and what a sentence! “Never allow a cat in your life.” The successor said, “My god, why should I allow a cat in my life in the first place? And this is the whole religion?” But an old man - who was also a disciple, but was not chosen as a successor because he was too old; he was himself going to die within a year or two - said, “You don’t know, there is a long story behind it. He has just given you the punch line.”

He said, “Then I must know the whole story.”

The story was that when the saint renounced his wife and children and his home and went into the Himalayas, he lived near a small village. Otherwise, from where will you get your food? But the villagers were happy that they had a saint of their own, so they made a small bamboo cottage for him.

The Indian monks used, in place of underwear, just a long strip of cloth called langot. It is a “mini” - mini-est - because just a long strip.they wrap it around themselves. They were allowed to have only two langotis. But a trouble arose: some rats came into the house and they started chewing on the langot. The man was in a great difficulty; he had only two langotis and soon they would be gone. So he asked the villagers, “What to do? because my sect does not allow a saint to have more than two langotis. That’s the only possession allowed.”

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