Chapter 1: The World Is on Fire
Once Buddha was gone, great misunderstanding arose around him. The day he died his followers became divided into thirty-six sects. And what was the reason for their division, and so soon? The reason was that everybody was trying to impose his interpretation on Buddha, and of course they all had their own interpretations.
I am not interpreting Buddha at all because I am not a Buddhist, I am not a follower. I have experienced the same truth as Gautama the Buddha, so when I am speaking on Buddha it is as if I am speaking on myself. It is not a commentary, it is not an interpretation. Buddha is just an excuse to speak to you, a beautiful excuse to communicate my own realization to you. Let it be remembered that it is my own experience that I am talking about. I am using Buddha as a peg to hang my own understanding and experience on. And I love the man. I am in immense love with this man because nobody else has ever touched such depths and such heights as Gautama the Buddha. He remains the Everest, the highest peak human consciousness has ever reached.
Be very meditative while you are listening to these sutras; that is the only way to understand them. Not analysis, not thinking, not a logical approach, but a meditative, silent listening - just listening. And truth has a mystery about it: if you can listen silently you will see whether it is true or not, it will be a vision - immediately. It will strike your heart if it is truth, something will start vibrating in your heart, your heart will immediately respond. It is not a question of the mind.
When you are listening meditatively you are not listening from the mind at all. Of course the words are very ancient - twenty-five centuries have passed - Buddha speaks in the language of his day. Don’t be deceived by the language, don’t be distracted by his language. It is natural because there is a gap of twenty-five centuries between you and him. He can’t speak the language that you understand. That’s why I am talking about him, on him - to give you a new version, a twentieth-century version of the same experience, of the same understanding, of the same transformation.
The first sutra:
The world is on fire!
What does Buddha mean by fire? He means anguish. Søren Kierkegaard means by anguish, anxiety, despair, misery; that’s what Buddha means by fire. It is a symbol. Everybody is on fire because everybody is divided, split, schizophrenic. Everybody is on fire because there is great anxiety in the world, the anxiety of: “Am I going to make it this time or not?” There is great anguish in every heart - the anguish of not knowing oneself, the anguish of not knowing from where we are coming and to where we are going, and who we are and what this life is all about. What is the meaning of life? - this is our anguish, our agony.