Chapter 4: Reflections in a Mirror
It was a dark night with no moon. She was in agonizing pain and thirst. There was nobody even to offer her a cup of water. That night the bhikkhu came; he laid his hand on her head and said, “I have come. Now your body is in its real condition, now nobody comes near you. Now the outside body has become the same as it is inside. Now the distance between the outside and the inside has disappeared, the illusion that the skin was maintaining is no longer there. Now the inner filth and pus is manifest outside also; now you are the same inside and outside. Now I have come. This is the day I had promised I would come when I said that when nobody else comes to you, I will come.”
The bhikkhu further said, “As far as I am concerned, even at that first meeting I could see in you what has now manifested. Yes, then you couldn’t see it. I could have become your guest even on that day, there was no difficulty, but your illusion would have increased: ‘Now even bhikkhus have begun to be my guests.’ I had no difficulty, I could have come on that first day, because I could see your body as it is today. What the whole village can now see, I had seen that day.”
But that prostitute, now lying on the outskirts of the village, was not looking at her body. With closed eyes, she was still remembering those days when she had a beautiful body, when she had dignity and lived with pride in the village.
Even in old age people reflect about their days of youth. When the body manifests itself in its true form, they continue to cover it up with their mind. When even the skin cannot hide their old age, they close their eyes and delight in brooding over the past.
When an old man derives delight in thoughts of his youth, he will die a sudra. And when even a young man sees the old age in his body before it actually occurs, he will die a brahmin. When even a dying person is carrying the lust for life, know well he is a sudra. When even in the peak of youth someone begins to see his death, understand that the brahmin is being born in him. And it is necessary that this reality of the body is seen by us, so that the bonds are loosened and we can turn towards where consciousness is.
O seeker of the truth! By knowing the oneness of the soul and the supreme soul, just like the oneness of ghatakash, the sky within a pot, and mahakash, the sky without a pot, undividedly be always peaceful.
Just turn away from the body and look towards that mahakash. That mahakash, that vast existence, is very near.
If an earthen pot is on the ground and we turn it over and place it upside down, and if the pot then looks up, it will see only its earthen body, not the sky. Kept upside down, even if the pot looks upwards what will it see? All it will be able to see is its own base, its own layer of mud - its body - but not the sky. Then we place the pot the right way up, its face towards the sky. Then when it looks up toward the sky it will be able to see, “I am not the body.” Now the pot will also be able to see, “The small sky which is within me is the same sky that is outside; and between the two of us nowhere is there any gap, we are inseparable. It is me who has expanded into the sky above, and it is the sky above that has come all the way down into me; nowhere is there any obstacle, any boundary, any wall in between.”