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Chapter 8: Agony Is Missing Yourself, Ecstasy Is Finding Yourself

I said, “You have missed forty years. You have completely forgotten that forty years have passed since you were in the university studying philosophy, and after that you have never bothered about what has been happening to philosophy. You are still remembering Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Shankara, Nagarjuna, Bradley. You are still remembering these people who have really faded out; they are simply no longer in. And any philosopher worth the name today is not interested in God - he is interested in man. And to be interested in man brings all these problems, agony..”

He said, “But what is agony?”

I had to use his language, something from the past history of philosophy so that he could have a little insight into agony. In the past there has been a great philosophical question down the ages. The question was: between animals, trees, rocks, and man, what is the difference? Certainly they all exist; as far as existence is concerned there is no difference. Certainly they all live - even rocks grow.

The Himalayas are growing every year, one foot higher. The place where I was born was by the side of a mountain range called Vindhyachal. It is thought to be the ancientmost mountain in the world. It is almost a proved fact that Vindhyachal and the land around it came out of the sea first, because on Vindhyachal corpses of sea animals have been found which are the most ancient. On the Himalayas also they have been found but they are not so ancient. The Himalayas are the youngest mountains in the world, and Vindhyachal is the oldest mountain in the world.

Just by the way, I am reminded of the story about Vindhyachal in the Upanishads. One great seer, Agastya, went to south India, and had to cross Vindhyachal.

Vindhyachal was so high it was difficult for the seer, so he prayed to Vindhyachal, “Be kind enough to just bend down a little and let me pass. And remain bending till I come back, because I will have to pass again.” Agastya died in the south and never came back, but Vindhyachal is still bending. If you see the mountain you can see, it is as if an old man is bending.

The story is beautiful, but it shows that Vindhyachal is really old, an old man who cannot even stand straight. Mountains grow old or young; they are as alive as you are. Trees, animals, birds - as far as life is concerned we may have different kinds of life but we all have a certain quality called living, aliveness, which is similar.

So in ancient philosophy this has been a problem: Then what is the difference? Is there no difference? There have been two schools. One said there is no difference; we are all alike, we are part of one single whole - different dimensions, different branches, but we are all rooted in one existence. These are the spiritualists who say that we are all one.

The other school is that of the materialists, who say that we are all separate, there is no organic unity anywhere; existence is not one. According to the materialists, the word universe should not be used. The word universe was invented by the spiritualists because it means uni, one. According to the materialists the right word should be multiverse - many, not one. Everything is separate, and there is no unity anywhere.

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