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Chapter 2: Meditation: The Razor’s Edge

In New York, in 1940, there was the case of a man who used to jump from the roof of his house to the roof of his neighbor’s house in his sleep. Fifteen stories high, and he would leap from one roof to another! People got to know about it, because punctually, on the stroke of one o’clock at night, he would make the leap, and the return leap, and go back to bed. Before long, crowds were gathering each night to watch his death-defying jump - the distance from one roof to the other was excitingly great! Then one night it happened that people began cheering as the man made his roof-top leap. They cheered so loudly that their noise brought the man out of his sleep. Now he was not in danger, because he had already finished his first jump, but the moment he awoke he was flooded with fear. Finding himself standing there on the roof, with the crowd below and the noise, he was so terrified that in the return jump he fell to his death. The very thought that he had made such an impossible leap led him to his death. The jump that he had made so many times in his sleep was, to his conscious mind, impossible!

Learning can take place in a sleeping state. To be asleep means to live a life in which awareness has no place. You are doing something, but your mind is somewhere else. You are walking along the street, your body is there in the street, but your mind is having a conversation with your wife, or may already have reached the office ahead of your physical arrival there. Your mind is already making arrangements in the office while you are still walking along the street. Mind in one place, body in another, is the characteristic of lack of awareness. Mind accompanying body is the characteristic of awareness.

You are here, listening to me. In these moments of listening, if your hearing is all, if only your hearing remains and your mind wanders nowhere else but is here and now - if hearing is the only thing happening, as if the rest of the world has disappeared, as if nothing else remains.. Here, I am the speaker, there, you are the listener and a bridge is created between us. Your mind does nothing else, it falls silent, utterly silent; it hears, only hears. When only hearing remains, you experience awareness. For the first time, you discover what meditation is.

Meditation means being in the moment, not leaving this moment.

Someone asked Buddha, “How shall we meditate?”

Buddha replied, “Whatsoever you do, do it with awareness; this is meditation. Walking, walk attentively, as if walking is everything; eating, eat with awareness, as if eating is everything; rising, rise with awareness; sitting, sit with awareness. All your actions become conscious, your mind does not travel beyond this moment, it remains in the moment, settles in the moment - this is meditation.”

Meditation is not a separate process. Meditation is simply the name for life lived with awareness. Meditation is not an hour-a-day affair where you sit for one hour and then it is over till tomorrow. No, if twenty-three hours are empty of meditation and only one hour is meditative, then it is certain that the twenty-three hours will defeat the single hour. Non-meditation will win, meditation will lose. If you are living twenty-three hours a day without awareness, and only one hour with awareness, then you will never attain to the state of buddhahood. How can this single hour triumph over the other twenty-three hours?

There is something else that also has to be understood. How can one be aware for one hour if in the remaining twenty-three hours one is not aware? How can you be healthy for one hour if you are sick the other twenty-three hours of the day? Health and sickness are the result of an internal flow. If you are healthy for twenty-three hours of the day, you will be healthy for all twenty-four hours, because the internal flow cannot suddenly be broken for just one of those hours. The current that is flowing goes on flowing.

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