Chapter 5: Layer upon Layer
Frederick Nietzsche is reported to have said, “Please don’t take the lies away from humanity, otherwise man will not be able to live. Man lives through lies. Don’t take the fictions away, don’t destroy the myths. Don’t tell the truth because man cannot live by truth.” And he is right about ninety-nine point nine per cent of people. But what kind of life can there be through lies? It will be a big lie itself. And what kind of happiness is possible through lies? There is no possibility; hence humanity is in misery. With truth is bliss; with lies there is only misery and nothing else.
But we go on protecting those lies. Those lies are comfortable, but they keep you protected against bliss, against truth, against God.
Sufis say that man is exactly like an onion. And religion is the art of how to peel the onion and come to it’s innermost core. And what is the innermost core of an onion? Have you ever peeled an onion? You go on peeling one layer. another layer, and another, and so on and so forth. Then a point comes when the last layer is taken off and only emptiness is left in your hand. That is fana. If you go on peeling your being, the last layer will be of being - baka - and beyond that will be emptiness - fana.
So you can think in this way: at the very innermost core there is emptiness, pure sky, nothingness, fana. The first layer around fana is that of baka, individuality - what religions call the self, atman, the soul. But the soul is already a step away from your being. The self is already distant from your being. Buddha has the right word for it. He calls it anatta, no-self. Your innermost being is a non-being. Nothing is there, or only nothing is. The first layer, the first fence that surrounds it, is baka, individuality.
This is your true and simple being: non-being surrounded by being, defined by being.
The real core is empty but the emptiness has to be defined by something - otherwise there will be no division between you and anything else. So a thin. a very thin, layer of being divides you. But that being is also a circumference not the center. At the center is fana, dissolution, disappearance. Even at the point of baka, individuality, you don’t meet God, you are still there. Very little is left of you, but there is still just a thin line - even that has to disappear in fana. Then you enter God.
Start from the other end. Start peeling the onion.
The first layer is made of corrupted physical senses. Never for a single moment think that your physical senses are as they should be - they are not. They have been trained. You see things it your society allows you to see them. You hear things if your society allows you to hear them. You touch things if your society allows you to touch them.
Man has lost many of his senses - for example, smell. Man has almost lost smell. Just see a dog and his capacity to smell - how sensitive is his nose! Man seems to be very poor. What has happened to man’s nose? Why can’t he smell so deeply as a dog or as a horse? The horse can smell for miles. The dog has an immense memory of smells. Man has no memory. Something is blocking the nose.