Chapter 3: The Sage Answers
When they were killing Mansoor by cutting his limbs off one by one, he was laughing. Someone in the crowd asked him, “Mansoor, have you gone mad? You are being killed and yet you are laughing.”
Mansoor replied, “Previously I was mad; then even the prick of a thorn used to make me cry. But now I am not mad, because just as you are watching my head being cut off, I am also seeing the head being cut off. You are watching it from the outside, I am watching it from within; but we are both onlookers, watchers. You are watching this body from the outside, I am watching it from within.”
If we ask a religious person, “What is a drop?” he will say, “It is the ocean itself.”
The scientist reduces the ocean to a drop, the religious man finds the ocean in a drop. And this is no small difference, this is a revolutionary difference. Science reduces all things to their lowest denominator, religion connects all things to the highest point.
This is not just an ordinary play of words so that you can say, “What difference does it make whether you say a drop is the ocean or the ocean is a drop?” It does make a difference. Because science analyzes, and after this analysis it accepts the lowest common denominator as the basis for all life. When a man is dissected all that can be found is matter - the bones, the flesh - but no soul. So science says, “There is no soul, man is only a combination of bones, flesh and marrow - this is the sum total; there is nothing more.”
Religion says that the higher cannot be understood through the lower, but the opposite is possible.. The ocean cannot be understood through the drops, but the drops can be understood through the ocean; the lower can be understood through the higher, but the higher cannot be understood through the lower. There are reasons for this. Try to understand this correctly, then you will be able to understand the language of the Upanishad.
An old man cannot be understood through a child, but a child can be understood through an old man, because an old man has lived both. A child is only a child, he has not yet become old. Through the ocean we can understand the ocean as well as the drop, but through the drop we cannot understand the ocean. Through matter we can explain only the body, through the divine we can explain both body and soul. The vast universe contains the molecule, but the molecule is unable to contain the universe. Through the vast universe everything can be explained, but through the infinitesimal it is impossible to explain the universe.
Understand it in this way: science always focuses its attention on the first and religion always focuses on the last. Science focuses on the first step and religion focuses on the ultimate destination - because religion says that if there is no destination, then even that first step cannot be explained. How can you even call it the first step when there is no destination? That first step exists because of the last step which is waiting in the future.