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Chapter 4: Earth and Sky Apart

After Gottlieb left his house, the rabbi felt sorry for him. “I don’t make much money” he thought, “but that poor man needs it. I will give him twenty-five dollars out of my own pocket.”

A week later, the rabbi stopped Gottlieb and said, “Here God sent this to you!”

Back in his home, Gottlieb bowed his head, “Thank you, Lord!” he said, “But next time you send money, don’t send it through Rabbi Jacobs - that crook kept half of it!”

It all depends on you, on how you look at things. You can see each day surrounded by two nights or you can see each night surrounded by two days. And it really makes a lot of difference. Let your waiting be joyous. You are waiting for God. Let it be a song in your heart. Let it be prayerful. Let it be a celebration. Only celebration is sacred.

Just the other day I was reading a statement of a German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. He says, “I have not come across anything in the world which can be called sacred.” Now this man must have lived a very poor life, an utterly poor life, if he could not name, could not vouch for, could not be a witness to a single thing that he could call sacred. His life must have been one of utter frustration. He has not known any song, he has not known any joy. He has not seen a smile on a child’s face, he has not seen tears. He has not heard the birds singing and he has not seen roses and lotuses flowering, and he has not looked at the stars. He has missed.

The whole of life is sacred.

Once it happened that Buddha asked one of his disciples, “Can you find anything which is worthless in life? If you can, then bring it.” The disciple thought for many days and Buddha inquired every day, “What is happening? Have you not yet found anything worthless?” And after a month or two the disciple came and he said, “Sorry. I looked all around. I looked very hard. I could not sleep because you had put a question and I had to find the answer. But I could not find anything worthless.”

Then Buddha said, “Now another task. Find anything which has worth. How many days will you take for it? You took months for the first.” And the disciple laughed. He said, “No need to take any time.” He just took a straw from the ground and gave it to Buddha. And he said, “This is enough proof. This has worth.”

Buddha blessed the disciple and he said, “This is how one should look at life. This is the right attitude - samyak drishti, right vision.” And Buddha said, “I am happy with you - that you took months and still you could not find anything worthless. You could not find a single instance of something meaningless. And now for the meaningful, for that which has worth, you have not taken even a single second. Yes, this is how it is. The whole life is sacred.”

Buddha has lived a rich life, spiritually rich. Heidegger must have lived in misery.