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Chapter 32: The Great Accident

This is something very significant to understand. Enlightenment is always accidental. That does not mean that you have not to try for it, but your trying is not going to bring it. Your effort is not going to achieve it. But making the effort, searching in all directions in every possible way, some day it happens - not because of your efforts but because of your intense urge, a tremendous intensity like a flame within you. But it is always accidental; you cannot say, “It happened because I did that.” Otherwise, things would have been very simple.

For example, Buddha was sitting under a bodhi tree, and enlightenment happened. Now, thousands of Buddhist monks.. In every Buddhist monastery there are bo trees, and they are sitting, waiting for enlightenment to happen - as if the bo tree has something to do with it.

Buddha had eaten that evening a sweet made of milk and rice. Buddhist monks think that has something to do with it, so for them it has become very spiritual food. Before sitting for meditation, they will eat kheer - that is the name of the sweet. But enlightenment has nothing to do with kheer.

Buddha was sitting in a certain posture, the lotus posture. So every Buddhist monk sits in the same posture - perhaps the posture has something to do with it. The posture has nothing to do with it, but millions, throughout history, have been sitting in that posture, torturing their legs. And now Westerners have started learning yoga postures, in which the lotus posture is the most important because Buddha became enlightened in that posture. For a Westerner, who has been sitting in a chair his whole life - in a cold country you don’t sit on the ground - his legs are in tremendous torture, but he tries hard. It takes almost three months for him to attain to the lotus posture, but only to the lotus posture; and then he waits his whole life for enlightenment. It doesn’t happen.

So it is not a certain sequence of causes that brings enlightenment. Your search, your intense longing, your readiness to do anything - altogether perhaps they create a certain aroma around you in which that great accident becomes possible.

But you cannot manage it. Every seeker has to begin from the beginning; you cannot learn by watching somebody. That’s what all the religions have been doing: a certain prayer, a certain posture, a certain ritual, a certain way of breathing. Nothing helps.

I have always loved a small story.. The archbishop of Russia became very much annoyed because on a small island three men had become known to the population as saints. Now, this is against Christianity. Christianity is the most foolish religion of all the religions. A saint has to be certified by the church - as if to be a saint is a degree, a title. The English word saint comes from sanction. When the church gives the sanction, one becomes a saint.

The archbishop was very angry that without his sanction, these three people had become known as saints. And thousands of people were going to touch their feet, to get their blessings. Naturally, this was making him very angry.

One day he finally decided to go and see what kind of saints these were. He went in a motorboat, reached the island - it was a very small island, only those three people lived there. It was early morning, and those three were sitting under a tree. They looked simple, uneducated, illiterate people.

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