Chapter 2: Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Once and for all it should be clear that the future of religion cannot depend on the escapists. The authentic religious man will live in the world without being disturbed by all kinds of disturbances. He will be simply a watcher, unperturbed. In fact the world is a good place because it gives you an opportunity to test your silence, your meditativeness, your watchfulness. Be in the world but don’t be of it. Be in the world but don’t let the world be in you.
It is the ordinary mind’s approach that where things are quiet and peaceful, it is good; there you can meditate. So people have gone to the Himalayas to meditate. And what they meditate on, you will be surprised: they meditate more on the world that they have left behind! Because everything that they have left behind forcibly, follows them in their minds
I have heard two stories. One is about an American billionaire. He became tired of money, tired of women, tired of drugs. Finally he thought, “I have to go to the Himalayas, to find a real master to show me the way to peace.” He traveled to the Himalayas and inquired, “Is somebody aware of an authentic master?” People said, “Yes, there is a man near Mansarovar” - the highest lake in the world, on top of the Himalayas. “He has been there perhaps for sixty years or more, nobody remembers; we have always known him to be there. He is the only man there.”
Even the swans which live in Mansarovar leave it for three months and come down to the plains, because for those months the lake is completely frozen. You can walk on it, you can drive over it; it is like solid rock. The people said, “But even in those months that man never leaves the place. Obviously, he must have found the truth; otherwise why should one remain there for sixty years in such arduous conditions?”
The billionaire was not to be discouraged; on the contrary, it became a challenge. He was a man who had fought many challenges in his life. He was born a poor man and he became a billionaire by sheer effort and struggle. So he struggled; it was a difficult task to reach there, because no buses go there, no roads go there. He had to find his path by just looking at the map and moving into the unknown.
Finally, he found an old man, a very old man. He thought in his mind that if there is any God, he must look like this man! He was very happy, although tired and tattered. He fell at the feet of the old man and he said, “I am coming from America. I am a super-rich man, but I am tired of the world; I have renounced everything.”
The old man looked at him and said, “These matters we will discuss later on. Do you have a cigarette on you? Sixty years, and not a single idiot has come here with a cigarette.”
The billionaire was very much shocked, but he gave his whole packet, and a lighter, and the old man said, “You are a very religious person.”
“But,” the billionaire said, “what am I to do now?”
He said, “Go back. And when you come again, bring as many cigarettes as possible.”
He said, “This is strange! I had come here for enlightenment.”