Chapter 4: Remember to Stop in the Middle
But optimism appeals because the world is more or less pessimistic. People have long faces; they are always complaining and grumbling. It is beautiful to come across the optimist. People are always talking about the thorns; it is fortunate to meet somebody who talks about flowers and fragrances. But he is also wrong.
Let me tell you another anecdote.
Once I went to visit Mulla Nasruddin in the hospital where he was confined as a result of a car accident.
The Mulla had been seriously injured: a broken leg, both arms broken, a broken collarbone, terrible cuts over his face and head, and several broken ribs. He was so thoroughly bandaged and taped and strapped up that only his two eyes and mouth were showing.
I was at a loss for words, but I realized that I must say something.
So I asked the Mulla, “How do you feel today, Nasruddin? I suppose all of those broken bones and cuts cause a great deal of pain. Do you suffer very much?”
“No, not much,” said Nasruddin. “Only when I laugh.”
It is good to meet such a person. It is rare, but it is as wrong as the common variety The pessimist is the common variety. Out of a hundred persons, ninety-nine are pessimists. They are looking for misery, they are waiting for misery. They are convinced that something is going to happen which is going to be wrong. They are ready for it. If it doesn’t happen they will be very disappointed, but they are waiting for the negative, for the dark side. These people are certainly wrong, but then because of these people - and they are in the majority - the other rarity becomes very valuable: a person who is looking for the morning, who looks for the white lightning in the darkest of clouds.
When the night is very dark he waits, because he knows now the morning is very close. He is always hopeful. But I again insist that both are wrong because life is both black and white. In fact, life is gray. On one extreme end it looks white, on the other extreme end it looks black, but just in between the two it is nothing but shades of gray.
One who understands both becomes choiceless. He is neither pessimist nor optimist. You will not find him in either of the rooms. You will not find him unhappy, you will not find him over enthusiastic about happiness. That is the goal of the buddhas: they are not in agony and they are not in any ecstasy. They don’t know any excitement; they are simply peaceful, silent. That is what bliss is, sat-chit-anand. Bliss is not happiness, because happiness has a certain excitement in it - it is feverish. Sooner or later you will be tired of it; it is unnatural. Sooner or later you will have to change, you will have to become unhappy. Bliss is neither; it is neither negative nor positive - it is transcendental, it is beyond duality. One remains tranquil, calm, quiet, centered. Whatsoever happens, good or bad, one accepts both because one knows life is both.