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Chapter 22: Meditation, Awareness, Alertness

I have never seen Indians so mad! Millions gathered to see Yuri Gagarin in New Delhi. They have never gathered to see a sage, a saint, a mahatma, in the same way. So much curiosity!

Yuri Gagarin must have felt a thousandfold bigger than he was. When I met him I asked him, “What have you gained as far as you are concerned, personally? I am not talking about the scientific progress - that you have brought all the material that will help the first man to land - that’s okay. What have you gained personally?”

He said, “I have never thought about it, but your question is right. I have certainly gained something personally. I have become world famous and I have not done anything. I cannot show you that ‘this is my achievement.’ But I understand your question and I can see where you are pointing.

“Yes, it is true: I am no longer the same Yuri Gagarin I used to be. I was an ordinary, simple man. I have never imagined myself being received by millions and with such tremendous joy that I feel that only now am I living; before I was dead.”

I said, “This feeling is not from the awareness that you are, because your consciousness has remained the same. This sense of a new birth is coming from your ego; your ego is tremendously gratified, strengthened. That is your ‘gain.’ But according to those who know that is your loss.”

What is gain to the ego is loss to the soul.

What is a blessing to the ego is a curse to the soul.

What seems to be of tremendous importance to the ego is just sheer stupidity to the innermost core of your being.

The logic of the ego is that it is never interested in the simple things, because if you say, “I can breathe!” that is not going to bring crowds to welcome you, to say, “Teertha, you are great! Your name will remain immortal because you breathe.”

Nobody is going to say this to you and if anybody does, you will think he is taunting you, that he is not appreciating you - because breathing is so easy. You need not even do it; it goes on by itself. It is not your doing, so how can you be strengthened by it? On the contrary, you are its doing: without breathing you would be nowhere.

Breathing is far deeper than your ego, far more essential than your ego, and far more existential than your ego. Ego cannot do anything. Ego is a superficial thing - just a soap bubble floating on the surface of the river. It knows nothing about the depths. Breathing belongs to your deepest part. That’s why even when you are fast asleep, it continues. It has no need of your being awake even.

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