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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol. 4
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Chapter 7: The Ten Grounds of the Way

The Buddha asked a monk: “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?”
The monk answered, “By days.”
the Buddha said: “You do not understand the way.”
The Buddha asked another monk: “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?”
The monk answered, “By the time that passes during a meal.”
the Buddha said: “You do not understand the way.”
The Buddha asked a third monk: “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?”
The monk answered, “By the breath.”
The Buddha said: “Very well, you know the way.”

The Buddha asked a monk: “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?”
The monk answered, “By days.”

Very simple question, and a very simple answer. But much is implied in the question. And the answer also shows much about the monk - his understanding, his state of mind.

When Buddha asks, “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?” he is raising a question that can only be answered by depth. Man’s life can be measured only by depth. It looks paradoxical: length can be measured only by depth.

In fact, the deeper you live, the longer you live. The length of your life depends on your depth. The quantity of your life depends on your quality. The monk could not understand it. He simply said, “By days.” His simple answer also showed much about himself. “By days” means by time; by days, means by the fleeting; by days, means by the flux, the changing. He measures life by the momentary, not by the eternal, not by the timeless.

Life exists in time, but life does not belong to time. It penetrates time, and one day it disappears from time. It is just like when a ray of sun penetrates water, and when it penetrates the water its angle changes. That’s why if you put a straight stick into water it will look curved. It will not look straight because the angle of light changes. And when the ray of light enters into the medium of water, it does not belong there, it has come from beyond. It will go back, it will be reflected back - because everything returns to its source, has to return to its source. Only then is the circle complete, and there is contentment.

When Buddha asked: “How do you measure the length of a man’s life?” and the monk replied, “By days,” he showed his understanding. He does not know anything beyond time; he thinks life is just that which consists of time: being born, getting married, living, then old age, then death. Days go on flicking by, just like numbers on a gasoline pump.

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