Chapter 9: The Practical Joke
An old man who was born in Yen but grew up in Chu’u decided to return to his native country. While he was passing through the state of Chin his companions decided to play a joke on him. Pointing to a city they said to him, “This is the capital of Yen.” The old man composed himself and looked solemn. Inside the city they pointed out a shrine: “This is the shrine of your quarter.” He breathed a deep sigh. They pointed out a hut: “This was your father’s cottage.” Tears welled up. They pointed out a mound: “This is your father’s tomb.” He could not help weeping aloud. His companions roared with laughter: “We are teasing you - you are still only in Chin.” The old man was very embarrassed.
When he reached Yen and really saw the capital and the shrine of his quarter and his father’s cottage and tomb,
he did not feel it so deeply.
Your whole world is in your mind. Or rather, your whole world is your mind; nothing else exists. Whatsoever you see is a projection. Whatsoever you feel is also a projection. That’s why Hindus have always been saying that the world is illusory. It is a mirage; it appears but it is not there. And how can this illusion be transcended?
If you can understand it as an illusion you are already on the way to transcending it. If a dream is realized as a dream you are already moving away from it, you are awakening.
The world that you see is not the reality, because the reality can be seen only when there is no mind. With a mind in between, the reality cannot be seen, it is colored. You project your mind on it - it becomes a screen.
You see a woman as very very beautiful; others don’t see that beauty at all. Does the beauty belong to the woman or to your mind? If it belongs to the woman, then everybody would see her as beautiful. But you can find people who will look at her and will be simply disgusted, you can find people who will not become in any way aware that she is beautiful. And you think that the woman is beautiful - so where is beauty? Is it in the woman or in your mind? Is it objective or just a subjective phenomenon?
It happened once:
I was sitting near the Ganges in Allahabad with a friend. We were talking of God, of meditation, when suddenly the friend lost contact with whatsoever we were saying. I also felt that something had happened, so I asked, “What has happened? - because you are no longer here.”
He said, “I cannot be. Look!” Just near the bank a woman was taking a bath, but we couldn’t see her face. Her back was towards us, a very slender, proportionate body with long hair. And the friend was too much excited - he was excitement. He said, “Wait, I cannot talk about God and meditation right now, it is impossible. I will have to go and look at this woman. The body seems to be so beautiful and proportionate.”
So I said, “You go and be finished.” You can imagine the romance that was in his step. He walked filled with an illusion, a projection. He walked very softly and delicately, but when he reached her he suddenly became sad. He came back, and I asked, “What happened?”
He said, “She is not a woman at all. He is a sannyasin with long hair.” But for a moment he was in a dream..