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Chapter 23: “Nothing” Is My Sword

Why are you afraid to tell others that you want to become a sannyasin, that you have filled in the form to become a sannyasin? - because they will think you are sick. But the whole of humanity is sick.

They will not laugh at you. They will appreciate your courage, that you have accepted your sickness. This is the beginning of dissolving it. The most difficult thing is when a person does not accept his sickness; then you cannot help him. He will throw away the medicine; he will shut the door in the face of the doctor.

I have heard that Mulla Nasruddin became old, very old - and as people become old they become troublesome, they become more and more a nuisance. Children are a nuisance, but nothing compared to old people, because old people have experience - their nuisance is supported by their experience, reason, logic; they have known the world. They will not let anybody live in peace.

And as people become older they cannot sleep, because the function of sleep is no longer there. The child sleeps in the mother’s womb for twenty-four hours a day because he is growing so much that if he is awake it will be a disturbance to his growth. Nature does not allow him to be awake but keeps him in a kind of anesthesia, fast asleep so he can grow. Scientists say that in these nine months a child grows as much as he will never grow again. In seventy years of life, he will never again grow with such speed.

After the birth, sleep starts being cut. Then the child is sleeping twenty-two hours, then twenty hours, then eighteen, then sixteen, then fourteen. And then, by the age of fourteen, he comes to the average of eight hours. But as he goes beyond fifty, less sleep again - because now he has to prepare for death. In the mother’s womb he was preparing for life; his body was growing, his brain was growing. It was a subtle process, a delicate process; it needed complete silence. Now everything is dying.so beyond sixty, people start becoming senile. Then they go on believing in their old memories, their golden days - the future is dark. By the time they reach seventy, two hours of sleep is enough.

Mulla Nasruddin had reached ninety years. Now he needed no sleep! It would be okay if he kept quiet, but he would not. He would wake everybody up, start giving sermons and great advice to everybody. And they told him, “In the day you can do everything.”

He said, “In the day you have to do other kinds of work, you have to live life. In the night you are all at home and there is nothing to do.” So he would gather everybody, wake everybody up and start giving great sermons which were all nonsense. But he was the oldest man in the town, the most respected - what to do with him?

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