Chapter 43: Living in Consciousness
She herself is a great musician, but Mohammedan women are prohibited by their religion from any public performance - unless they declare themselves as prostitutes. And because she cannot do that, she cannot perform publicly. Otherwise, I have heard her playing; I have heard Ravi Shankar’s records. Ravi Shankar is far behind her. He has become world famous because he is playing sitar in the West where nobody understands it and nobody understands its nuances. He rarely comes to India because in India there are many who are far superior to him. His own wife is far more superior.
This old man could not live as an enlightened man, but he could die as an enlightened man. The other musicians I have known have not dared to be aware while they are completely absorbed in music. I can understand their problem: it is really so absorbing that they forget that they have to keep watchfulness.
Secondly, when they became aware that one man has tried my method and has died, a great fear has arisen in their minds because they cannot understand that death that comes through enlightenment is not a death: it is a door to the divine. But to everybody looking from the outside it is a death.
I have known a few dancers who have the same problem. Ravi Shankar’s brother, Udai Shankar, was perhaps the greatest dancer of this century, but the same problem - he would get completely lost. There was nobody to be aware. He died an ordinary death.
I had told him, “Your choice is either an ordinary death or an enlightened death - now your days are over. You are getting older. It is time; you can risk. Death is going to come anyway; now there is no need to be afraid.” But he remained afraid and died, very close to enlightenment.
To me, the so-called religious people are not very close to enlightenment; on the contrary they are far away. The artists are far more closer than anybody else. But even though they are closer, most of them are going to miss. It is a strange fate that being miserable, in suffering, in anguish, is far better as far as enlightenment is concerned. Perhaps this is an existential device - that so many people are in suffering.
You may have remembered a nightmare in which the suffering goes on becoming more and more and more. But there comes a climax - just the suffering is so much that you wake up. Nobody goes through the whole nightmare. If you go through the whole nightmare, it was a very soft kind; it was not really a nightmare, it was just a dream.
A real nightmare.that you are falling from the mountain and you see the abysmal depth and you know there is no way now; soon you will be scattered into pieces - just before you hit the ground you will wake up. It is too much: the sleep cannot continue. The same is true about suffering in life.
You suffer, but your suffering is also bourgeois, middle class. That too is not very sharp - just so-so, lukewarm. A lukewarm suffering is not of much help because you can tolerate it your whole life. In fact you may become so accustomed that you cannot live without it. You need it. It defines you. Without it you start feeling you are losing your identity.