Chapter 11: The Choice Is Always Yours
So when you apply words such as falsehood, untruth, illusion, appearance, do keep one thing in mind: it does not mean something is nonexistent. Take, for instance, this man who fled, believing he had seen a snake. If you try and convince him there is no snake on the street he will refuse to believe you; he will insist he has seen the snake. You may persuade him to go back and look once again, but he won’t agree unless you lend him a stick for his safety. You know very well there is no snake and carrying a stick is meaningless, but the man is sure of the snake and finds the stick useful. So when you offer him a stick for his safety someone may ask, “If the snake is not really there, then why do you give him the stick? That shows you believe the snake is there as well.” Nevertheless, you reiterate, “There is no snake, the snake is false. However, the man has seen it and is scared to go there again. For him the snake is real.” So you give him the stick and tell him, “If there is a snake, kill it.” If there is none, then there is no question.
What man sees in life is not the truth of life. Only when one is fully aware can one see the truth of life. Truth is adulterated with falsehood in the same proportion to which one is unconscious. Things appear distorted, perverted, to the same degree one is asleep. For one thing, what appears to us is not the reality. So when one points out to a person who is asleep that everything is false, that it is illusion, he refuses to believe you. He says, “How can I believe everything is illusion? My son is sick - how can that be an illusion? I am hungry - how can I take it as an illusion? I need a house. How can I believe all these things are illusion? I have a body. When someone hits me with a stone I hurt, my body bleeds and I feel pain.”
Then what shall be done about it? Some device will have to be found to awaken this man. And all these devices will be similar in nature to the stick. The day he will wake up he will do the same thing with these devices that the other man did with the stick you gave him. He went to where he had spotted the snake, found a rope lying there, laughed at himself and threw away the stick. He said, “The snake was indeed false. Now it is useless even to carry the stick.” He may come back and be amazed at you for having had him carry the stick all that way unnecessarily - the snake was not there.
What I call meditation, or kundalini, or the technique of spiritual discipline are essentially means of searching for that which does not exist. The day you find for certain that what you saw did not even exist, is the day all techniques become meaningless, all means become useless. That day you will realize the illness was false and so was the cure for it. Actually, there cannot be a cure for a pseudo illness - or can there be? If the illness is false the cure can never be right. A pseudo illness requires a pseudo treatment; that is the only way it can be cured. Two falsehoods negate each other. That’s why, when I say all techniques of spiritual discipline are false I mean it in the sense that what we are seeking was never lost in the first place.
The rope, in our example, was always a rope; not for a second did it ever turn into a snake. The rope was lying there all along. What did happen, however, was that the man lost sight of the rope. Not even for a moment did the rope change into a snake, but for the man it became a snake - a snake which did not exist even for a second.
Now this obviously creates a stalemate, a rather complicated situation. It is indeed a rope but it looks like a snake. The snake has to be killed and the rope has to be found - without killing the snake the rope cannot be found. Without finding the rope the snake will not be killed. So something has to be done.