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Chapter 10: A Single Man’s Compassion

The friend said, “Many good people have tried but the birds don’t listen. It is not only now ingrained in them, their children are born with the idea. It is in their blood and bones, it has become a part of their blueprint. The children are born with the idea of the fence, and good people have tried, and they go on trying.

“And you will be surprised,” said the friend, “that the birds have been very angry and animals have attacked good people.they don’t want to be disturbed. In fact, they have created a philosophy that they are in freedom and the world beyond is the imprisonment. Still, good people go on trying,” the friend said, “but it seems to be almost impossible to persuade them that ‘You are free and there exists no fence, and you can fly into the sky.’”

I loved the story! That’s what Jesus, Baal Shem, Moses, Mahavira, Buddha, Christ have been doing with you - the birds and the animals - but you have developed a fence mentality: you don’t believe. Either you are active or you become passive but both belong to the fence, the same fence - the mind.

Think of a fence made of wood - one pillar is white, another is black; then again one is white, another is black. A fence made of wooden pillars, colored in two colors - one pillar white, one black. That is the mind: one idea passive, one active; yin-yang, right-wrong, good-bad, the world-nirvana. Both belong to the same fence, and you go on choosing. Sometimes you choose the white, then you get fed up with the white, then you start loving and worshipping the black. But the black is as much part of your imprisonment as the white.

Mind is active, mind is passive - both are part of the mind. And what I mean when I say “flowing with the river” is to go beyond passivity, negativity; white and black, day and night, love and hate, the world and god. Go beyond it. Just see the whole point that the active becomes the passive, then the passive will again become the active.

This I have watched. People who are very active in the world are always, deep down, thinking to renounce all nonsense. And I know monks who have lived their whole life in the monasteries. Whenever they have confessed to me, they have always said that they always think that they have missed life, and are always fantasizing to come back to the world. The active wants to become the passive, the passive wants to become the active.

Choice is of the mind. To be choiceless is to flow with the river. That’s why Hasidism insists, and I also insist, on not leaving the world. Renounce it and be in it! That looks difficult, almost impossible for the mind to conceive. The mind can conceive of the world, the renunciation, because both belong to the same pattern. When I say, “Be in the world and not be of the world,” the mind becomes uneasy. It cannot understand: “What are you saying?”

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