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Chapter 9: The Way of Upanishad

But there are different kinds of people in the world; they all need different paths to reach to their fulfillment. These are the two extremes. In this sense, Zen and Upanishad are as far away from each other as two points can be; and yet, the final conclusion is always the same. One is a hard way, a long way, but a few people need it.

One mystic in Sri Lanka was dying. He declared that the next morning he would be dying. He had thousands of followers; they all gathered. He was old, almost ninety years, and he had been teaching these people for sixty years. And the Buddhist teaching is a very hard way. But the mystic, at the point of death said, “I have been teaching you the way I have followed, the way that has helped me to attain to the ultimate. But I now know that there is a shortcut in reaching to the ultimate too - so short that if somebody wants to go with me, stand up! I am leaving.”

People looked at each other, about whom they thought, “These are very religious people, perhaps they may stand up. As far as I am concerned, there are so many problems.”

Nobody stood up. Only one man raised his hand.

The old man said, “Even that is a great consolation to me. But why are you not standing up?”

He said, “Because I don’t want to go right now, but I want to know where the shortcut is in case at some time I want to go. Why bother with the hard and long way? That’s why I just raised my hand. I cannot stand up. As far as the hard way is concerned, we know - because for sixty years you have been teaching it. And at the last moment. You are a strange fellow; at least tell us where the short way is!”

The mystic said, “The short way has a condition: it is only for those who are ready to go right now. I give another chance - stand up!”

Even that man’s hand went down, and there was utter silence. And everybody was looking at each other.

The old man died.

People want the way to be hard and to be long because this is a good excuse for avoiding - because the way is so long and so hard, life is so short and so many problems, so many responsibilities; so much has to be done. The children are growing up, they have to be married. The business is not good - or the business is so good that this is not the moment to meditate.

Upanishad is the shortest possible way. Neither has the disciple to do anything nor has the master to do anything. Doing is not part of it.

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