Chapter 16: The University of Inner Alchemy
Man has no center separate from the center of the whole. There is only one center in existence; the ancients used to call it Tao, Dhamma, God. Those words have become old now; you can call it truth. There is only one center of existence. There are not many centers, otherwise the universe would not be really a universe, it would become a “multiverse.” It is a unity, hence it is called the universe; it has only one center.
But this is to be meditated upon a little. That one center is my center, your center, everybody’s center. That one center does not mean that you are center-less, that one center simply means that you don’t have a separate center. Let us say it in different words. You can make many concentric circles on one center, many circles. You can throw a pebble in a silent lake. One center arises from the fall of the pebble and then many concentric circles arise and they go on spreading to the farthest shore - millions of concentric circles, but they all have one center.
Each can claim this center as his own. And in a way it is his center, but it is not only his. The ego arises with the claim, “The center is mine, separate. It is not your center, it is my center; it is me.” The idea of a separate center is the root of the ego.
When a child is born he comes without a center of his own. For nine months in the mother’s womb he functions with the mother’s center as his center; he is not separate. Then he is born. Then it is utilitarian to think of oneself as having a separate center; otherwise life will become very difficult, almost impossible. To survive, and to struggle for survival in the fight of life, everybody needs a certain idea: “Who am I.” And nobody has any idea. In fact nobody can ever have any idea, because at the deepest core you are a mystery. You can’t have any idea of it. At the deepest core you are not individual, you are universal.
That’s why if you ask the Buddha, “Who are you?” he remains silent, he does not answer it. He cannot, because now he is no more separate. He is the whole. But in ordinary life even Buddha has to use the word I. If he feels thirsty he has to say, “I am thirsty. Ananda, bring me a little water, I am thirsty.”
To be exactly true, he should say, “Ananda, bring some water. The universal center is a little thirsty.” But that will look a little odd. And to say it again and again - sometimes the universal center is hungry, and sometimes the universal center is feeling a little cold, and sometimes the universal center is tired - it will be unnecessary, absolutely unnecessary. So he continues to use the old meaningful word I. It is very meaningful; although a fiction, it is still meaningful. But many fictions are meaningful.
For example, you have a name. That is a fiction. You came without a name, you did not bring a name with you; the name was given to you. Then by constant repetition you start becoming identified with it. You know your name is Rama or Rahim or Krishna. It goes so deep that if all you three thousand sannyasins fall asleep here and somebody comes and calls, “Rama, where are you?” nobody will hear except Rama. Rama will say, “Who has come to disturb my sleep?” Even in sleep he knows his name; it has reached to the unconscious, it has seeped through and through. But it is a fiction.