Chapter 71: Forget the Periphery
Become aware of the area between the armpits and feel that it is filled with great peace. Just feel peace there and you will feel it is filled. It is always filled but you have never been alert about it. This is only to increase your alertness, to bring you nearer home. And when you feel this peace you are farther away from the surface. Not that things will not be happening there - but when you try this experiment and when you are filled with peace you will feel a distance; the noise is coming from the street but there is a great distance now, a great space. It happens, but it brings no disturbance; rather, it brings you a deeper silence. This is the miracle. The children will be playing, someone will be listening to the radio, someone will be quarreling and the whole world will be going around, but you feel that a great distance has come between you and everything. That distance comes because you have retreated from the periphery. Things are happening on the periphery and they will appear to you as if they are happening to someone else. You are not involved. Nothing disturbs you so you are not involved - you have transcended. This is the transcendence.
And the heart is naturally the source of peace. You are not creating anything. You are simply coming to a source which is always there. This imagining will help you become aware that the heart is filled with peace - it is not that the imagining will create the peace. This is the difference between the Tantra attitude and Western hypnosis. Hypnotists think that you are creating it by imagination but Tantra thinks that you are not creating it by imagination, you are simply becoming attuned to something that is already there. Because whatsoever you can create by imagination cannot be permanent: if it is not a reality then it is false, unreal, and you are creating a hallucination. So it is better to be disturbed and real than to be in a hallucination of peace, because that is not a growth, you are simply intoxicated by it. Sooner or later you will have to come out because sooner or later the reality will shatter the illusion. Reality has to shatter all illusions; only a greater reality cannot be shattered.
A greater reality will shatter the reality which is on the periphery, hence Shankara and others say that the world is illusion. Not that the world is illusion, but they have come to know a higher reality and from that altitude this world looks dreamy. It is so far away, the distance is so infinite that it cannot be felt as real. The noise on the street will be as if you are dreaming about it - it is not real. It cannot do anything. It just happens and passes and you remain untouched. And when you are untouched by reality how can you feel that it is real? The reality is felt only when it penetrates you deeply. The deeper the penetration, the more you feel it as real.
Shankara says the whole world is unreal. He must have come to a point from where the distance is so vast, so tremendously vast, that all that happens there becomes just like a dream. It comes but no reality comes with it because it cannot penetrate. Penetration is the proportion of reality. If I throw a stone at you it hits you. The hit penetrates you and that penetration makes the stone real. If I throw a stone and it touches you but doesn’t penetrate you, deep down you will hear the thud of the falling stone on you, but there will be no disturbance. You will feel it as false, unreal, maya, illusory. But you are so near the periphery that if I throw a stone at you, you will be hurt. Not the body - the body will be hurt in either case. If I throw a stone at a buddha the body will be hurt as your body will be hurt, but Buddha is not on the periphery, he is rooted in the center. And the distance is so great that he will hear the thud of the stone without being hurt. The being will remain untouched, unscarred. This unscarred being will feel the stone as if it is something thrown in a dream. It is illusory. So Buddha says that nothing has substance to it, everything is “substanceless,” without any substance. The world is empty of substance - which is the same thing as Shankara saying that the world is illusory.