Chapter 11: Choose the Eternal
We build our cities in such a way, on such a fleeting existence, on the momentary, the temporal, that by the time they are ready they are falling; by the time they are ready they have already become ruins. Why? - because we can see only the momentary, we don’t have a total vision. We can see only that which is nearest, just very close. Only the moment is close: you see one moment, then it passes; then another moment, then it passes. You see these passing moments, you cannot have a total vision.
For the total vision a perfect consciousness is needed. In a total vision, you can see the whole of life; not only the whole of life, you can see the whole world. That’s what Jainas mean when they say that when Mahavira became enlightened he could see past, present and future; the whole of time. What do they mean? They mean that the wholeness of existence becomes clear to you, and when the wholeness is clear, only then can you make a fortified city. Otherwise, how can you make one?
You don’t know what is going to happen the next moment. Whatsoever you do, the next moment may undo it. And whatsoever you do depends on the momentary, not on the whole. The whole may reject it, it may become absolutely meaningless in the whole.
It happened once that a Chinese master had an American disciple. When the disciple was going back home the master gave him a present, a small carved wooden box, and he said, “One condition has always to be followed; if you give this box to somebody else, then the condition has to be fulfilled. Promise.because I have been fulfilling this promise, and this is not a new thing, it’s a very ancient thing and for many, many generations the condition has been fulfilled.”
The disciple said, “I will fulfill it.” It was such a beautiful thing, so valuable, so ancient, he said, “Whatsoever the condition.”
The master said, “The condition is simple: you have to keep it in your house facing east. And this has always been done, so be respectful to the tradition.”
The disciple said, “That is very simple, I will do it.”
But when he put the box facing east, then he came to understand that it was very difficult, because his whole arrangement in the drawing room became absurd. That box facing east would not adjust. So he had to change the whole arrangement of the drawing room to be harmonious with the box. But then the whole house became absurd, so then he had to change the whole house. Then the garden became absurd! He felt exhausted.
He wrote to the master: “This box is dangerous! I will have to change the whole world, because if I also change my garden, then next it will be the neighborhood.” And he was a man of sensitivity, that’s why he felt like this.