The East, and particularly India, can be called by the psychologists not only obsessive about death, but really possessed by the idea of suicide. In a way the psychologist would not be wrong. One should live while one is alive; there is no need to think of death. And when death comes one should die, and die totally; then there is no need to look backward. And every moment being total in living, in loving, in dying – that’s how one comes to know. To know what? There is no what. One simply comes to know – not what, but that, the knower. “What” is the object, “that” is one’s subjectivity.
The moment my grandfather died, my Nani was still laughing the last flicker of her laughter, then she controlled herself. She was certainly a woman who could control herself. But I was not impressed by her control, I was impressed by her laughter in the very face of death.
Again and again I asked her, “Nani, can you tell me why you laughed so loudly when death was so imminent? If even a child like me was aware of it, it is not possible that you were not aware.”
She said, “I was aware, that is why I laughed. I laughed at the poor man trying to stop the wheel unnecessarily, because neither birth nor death mean anything in the ultimate sense.”
I had to wait for the time when I could ask and argue with her. When I myself become enlightened, I thought, then I will ask her – and that’s what I did.
The first thing I did after my enlightenment, at the age of twenty-one, was to rush to the village where my grandmother was, my father’s village. She never left that place where her husband had been burned. That very place became her home. She forgot all the luxuries that she had been accustomed to. She forgot all the gardens, the fields, and the lake that she had possessed. She simply never went back, even to settle things.
She said, “What is the point? All is settled. My husband is dead, and the child I love is not there; all is settled.”
Immediately after my enlightenment I rushed to the village to meet two people…first Magga Baba, the man I was talking about before. You will certainly wonder why. Because I wanted somebody to say to me, “You are enlightened”…I knew it, but I wanted to hear it from the outside too. Magga Baba was the only man I could ask at that time. I had heard that he had recently returned to the village.
I rushed to him. The village was two miles from the station. You cannot believe how I rushed to see him. I reached the neem tree….
The word neem cannot be translated because I don’t think anything like the neem tree exists in the West at all. The neem tree is something strange: if you taste the leaves they are very bitter. You cannot believe that poison could taste more poisonous. In fact it is just the opposite, it is not poisonous. If you eat a few leaves from the neem tree every day…which is a difficult thing. I have done it for years; fifty leaves in the morning and fifty again in the evening. Now, to eat fifty leaves of the neem tree really needs someone who is determined to kill himself!