Chapter 14: Conscious Dying
Much religion, so-called religion, is a compensation, a consolation. Whatsoever you lack in life, you substitute for it in your dreams. Whatsoever you lack, you substitute in your dreams. That’s why every religion, every country, every race, believes in different types of heaven and hell. You believe in one heaven; in another country the concept of heaven will be different. Because your problems are different and their problems are different, you cannot compensate with one heaven.
For example, Tibetans believe in a heaven which will be warm. Indians believe in a heaven which will be cool. Indians believe in a hell which is going to be fiery, burning fire, hot. Tibetans believe in a hell which is ice-cold. Why this difference? This is the difference of compensation. Tibetans are already in India’s heaven and India is already in their hell. India cannot believe in heaven unless it is air-conditioned. “Then what type of heaven is it if it is not air-conditioned? It must be air-conditioned!” That’s a compensation.
Your contentment is a compensation. It is a mental trick, cunning. So don’t think that those among us who are very contented are very simple. They are very complex and cunning. Whenever a person says, “I am content with my poverty,” don’t think that he is a simple man. He has created a very cunning attitude.
Once I met a great Jaina monk. He is a leader; he has a big following. Hundreds and hundreds of Jaina monks believe in him as their teacher. So when I met him, he recited a small poem. He had written that poem. He is an old man, very old, lives naked. He recited the poem. The poem had only one central idea, continuously repeated.
The idea was this: “You may be a king, you may be on your golden throne, but I am happy in my dust. I don’t care about you, I am contented in my hut. You may be in your palace, I am contented in my hut. Whatsoever you have is nothing to me, because death is going to snatch everything away from you.” Like this the whole piece ran.
This mind is very cunning. What is he saying? If he is really not interested in being a king, why compare? If you are really contented in your dust, why think of golden thrones? Because I have never heard any poem written by a king that says, “You may be happy in your dust, but I am contented on my golden throne.” Why has no emperor written this? There must be some reason.
And why does this man say that whatsoever you have will be snatched away by death? He feels happy about it. “Okay, be on your golden throne! Soon I will see death snatching away everything, and then you will know who was happy. I am happy because death cannot snatch anything away from me.”
This is a very cunning attitude. This is not contentment. But he was writing on contentment; that was the title of his poem, “Contentment.” Is this contentment? If this is contentment, then this sutra is not concerned with it. This sutra has a different meaning, a different dimension, of contentment. What is that?
You desire something, you cannot get it; or, even if you get it, the desire is still unfulfilled. Then you rationalize. Then you say, “I must live in contentment because desire gives pain, because desire gives suffering, because through desire anxiety is created, through ambition one suffers unnecessarily. So I give up. I don’t desire because I don’t like suffering.”