Chapter 11: Sober Up
In the morning this monk used to call himself - because Buddhists don’t believe in prayer, they believe in meditation. The distinction has to be understood. I myself don’t believe in prayer; my emphasis is also on meditation. There are two types of religious people: one, the praying type, and the other, the meditating type. Buddhists say there is no need to pray, but just to be alert, aware, because alertness will give you the prayerful mood. There is also no need to pray to a God. How can you pray to a God you don’t know? Your prayer is groping in the dark; you don’t know the divine. If you knew him there would be no need to pray. So your prayer is just groping in the dark. You are addressing someone you don’t know, so how can you address him? How can your address be authentic and real, how can it come from the heart? It is just a belief and deep down there is doubt. Deep down you are not certain whether God exists or not; deep down you are not certain whether this prayer is a monologue or a dialogue, whether there is someone who is listening and will answer, or whether you are alone, talking to yourself. This uncertainty will destroy the whole thing.
Buddha emphasized meditation. He said, “There is no need for the other; know well that you are alone.” At least that much is certain, that you are. Base your life on something which is absolutely certain.because how can you base your life on something which is uncertain, doubtful, which exists only as a belief, not as a knowing? But what is certain in life? Only one thing is certain, and that is you. Everything else can be doubted.
I am here talking to you; you may not be there, it may be just a dream. You are here listening to me; I may not be here, it may be just a dream.because many times in dreams you have listened to me, and when the dream is on it looks real. How can you make the distinction whether this is a dream or not? How can you make the distinction between the real and the dream? There is no way. About the other you can never be certain; there is no way to be certain about the other. About yourself only you can be certain; the only certainty that is there is you. Why? - because even to doubt yourself, you have to be there.
The father of modern Western philosophy, Descartes, started by doubt; he doubted everything, because he was in search of something which cannot be doubted. Only that can become the base of real life, authentic life - that which can be doubted. That which has to be believed cannot become the real foundation. This foundation is sinking, and you are building a house on the sands. So he doubted everything. God can be doubted easily, the world can be doubted, it may be just a dream; the others.. He doubted everything. Then suddenly he became aware that he could not doubt himself, because that is contradictory. If you say that you doubt yourself it means you have to believe you are there to doubt. You can say that you may be deceived about yourself, but there is somebody who has to be there to be deceived. The self cannot be doubted.
Hence Mahavira didn’t believe in God; he believed only in the self, because that is the only certainty. You can grow out of certainty, you cannot grow out of uncertainty. When there is certainty there is trust; when there is uncertainty there may be belief, but the belief is always hiding the doubt.
So many people come to me who are theists. They believe in God, but their belief is just skin-deep. Poke them a little, push them a little, shake them a little - they become doubtful and they become afraid. What type of religion is possible if you are so much in doubt? Something indubitable is needed.
Mahavira and Buddha both emphasized meditation. They canceled prayer; they said: How can you pray? You don’t know the divine, so you cannot really believe. You can force a belief, but a forced belief is a false belief. You can argue and convince yourself, but that won’t help, because your arguments, your convictions, are always yours; and the mind goes on wavering. So Buddha and Mahavira both emphasized meditation.