Chapter 11: You Cannot Step Twice into the Same River
That’s why Buddha says, “There is no soul. You are not a self, not an atma. You are an anatta, a no-self. There is nothing permanent in you, nothing substantial - you are a flow, a river.” Why does Buddha insist on a no-self? He insists because if you accept nonbeing, if you accept nothingness, then there is no fear of death, then you can drop yourself completely. And when you drop yourself completely, the vision arises. Then you are capable of knowing. With your ego you cannot know. Only in an egolessness, in a deep abyss, in the absence of the ego, does the perception happen - then you become a mirror. With the ego you will always interpret, you cannot know the truth. With the ego you will always be there interpreting in subtle ways, and your interpretation is not the truth. You are the medium of all falsification. Through you everything becomes false. When you are not there, the true reflects.
Somehow you have to come to an understanding: the understanding of the no-self, of a changeless flux, no substance as such - just a river flowing and flowing. Then you are a mirror, a clarity. Then there is nobody to disturb and nobody to interpret and nobody to distract. Then existence mirrors in you as it is. That mirroring of existence as it is, is the truth.
Second thing: if you want to abide always and always, you have not lived the moment. One who has lived his life truly, authentically, one who has enjoyed it, is always ready to die, is always ready to leave. One who has not enjoyed and celebrated, one who has not lived the moment, the life, is always afraid to leave because “the time has come to leave and I am yet unfulfilled.” The fear of death is not the fear of death, it is a fear of remaining unfulfilled. You are going to die, and nothing, nothing at all could you experience through life - no maturity, no growth, no flowering. Empty-handed you came, empty-handed you are going. This is the fear!
One who has lived is always ready to die. His readiness is not a forced attitude. His readiness is just like a flower. When the flower has flowered, has sent its perfume to the infinite corners of existence, enjoyed the moment, lived it, danced through the breeze, risen against the wind, looked at the sky, watched the sunrise, lived it, a fulfillment comes by the evening and the flower is ready to drop to the earth, to go back, to rest. And it is always beautiful - when you have lived, rest is beautiful. It is the thing! The flower simply drops to the earth and goes to sleep. There is no tension, no anguish, no cry, no effort to cling.
You cling to life because your life is unfulfilled. You have not risen against a strong wind. You have not known the morning, and the evening has come. You have never been young, and old age is knocking at the door. You never loved, and death is coming. This unfulfilled state and the coming of death creates the fear. Buddha says that if you have lived you will always be ready to die. And that readiness will not be something forced upon you. It will be the thing, it will be a natural thing! As you are born, you die. As you come, you go. This is the wheel of existence. You lived the being part, now you will live the nonbeing part. You existed, now you will not exist. You rose, you manifested, now you will move into the unmanifested. You were visible, embodied, now you will move without the body to the invisible. You had your day; now you will take rest in the night. What is wrong in it?