Chapter 13: Don't Make Wicked Jokes
And the third kind of poisoned food is spiritual. That’s what the self is. The self needs continuous attention. It feeds on attention, attention is its food. It is not only the politician who hankers for attention, more and more attention from more and more people. Your so-called saints are doing the same.
There is no difference between saints and politicians and actors, no difference at all. Their basic need is the same - attention: “More people should pay attention to me, more people should look up to me.” That becomes food for the ego, and that is the subtlest kind of poisoned food.
These three things are implied in the first sutra. Atisha says:
Abandon poisoned food.
Physical, psychological, spiritual. Let your physiological body be pure of all poisons, toxins, and your mind unburdened from all kinds of rubbish, junk. And let your soul be free from the idea of the self. When the soul is free from the idea of “I” you have arrived at that inner space called no-self, anatta. That is freedom, that is nirvana, that is enlightenment. You have come home. Now there is nowhere to go; now you can settle, rest, relax. Now you can enjoy the millions of joys that are being showered upon you by existence.
When these three poisoned foods are dropped, you become empty. But this emptiness is not a negative kind of emptiness. You are empty in the sense that all poisons, all contents, are gone. But you are full, full of something which cannot be named, full of something which devotees call God.
Atisha cannot use that word; he is not a devotee, he is not a bhakta. He cannot say any word for it, he remains completely silent about it. He says: Drop this, drop this, drop this, and then whatsoever remains is you, the real you.
And the second sutra is a very, very significant sutra.
Don't be consistent.
Have you ever heard anything like that, “Don’t be consistent”? When you hear it for the first time or read it for the first time, you will think there has been some mistake, maybe a proof mistake or something. Because your so-called saints have been telling you just the opposite. “Don’t be inconsistent,” they say. “Be consistent.”
It is here that Atisha is superb. He says:
Don't be consistent.