Just like this, Buddha and Mahavira, both contemporaries, used very contradictory language. Mahavira says, “To know the Self is the ultimate knowledge, the wisdom. To know the Self is the wisdom.” And Buddha says, “To believe in the self is the only ignorance.” Mahavira says, “Only the Self is,” and Buddha says, “Only the self is the deception, the most false thing.” Nothing can be more contradictory – so Jainas and Buddhists have been fighting constantly for twenty-five centuries. But the whole conflict is based just on linguistic fallacies – because Mahavira uses the word “Self,” negating everything of the ego in it. He says, “You become the Self when there is no ego.” So really, “Self” becomes just like “no-self.” If there is no ego, the Self becomes just like no-self. And Buddha uses the “self” as the ego and he says the self means the ego, so the most perfect ego means “the self.” Then the meaning becomes clear. So both are right. When Buddha says, “To believe in a self is to be ignorant,” he is right. Mahavira is also right when he says, “To know the Self is the ultimate wisdom.” The contradiction is just apparent.
Lao Tzu says, “To go down to the last is to reach the basic existence.” He begins from the beginning: “Drop down back to the very beginning, to the original source. The original source is deep down.” The Upanishads say, “Go up to the last where the peak is achieved.” Lao Tzu says, “Go down to the original source,” and the Upanishads say, “Go up to the ultimate possibility, to the very end. Achieve the potentiality to the very end; make the potentiality absolutely actual.” The beginning and end are not two separate things. Really, no end can end unless it reaches again to the beginning, and the beginning begins only where the end ends.
Life moves in a circle, so if you begin a circle, the point of beginning will also be the point of the ending. Life moves in a circle, so you can say the same point is both the beginning and the end. So the upward is not contradictory to the downward. The Lao Tzu-an downward and the Upanishadic upward – both mean the same. Only the words differ.
If we can penetrate to the meaning beyond the words, only then can we conceive of and comprehend these minds. These minds are living in such experiences which cannot really be expressed through ordinary words. But they have to use ordinary words, so they can use only ordinary words with a very different meaning, with a very different connotation. So one thing more: when the Upanishads say upward, remember, it is the same as inward. The more you go in, the more up, and vice versa: the more up you go, the more in. What is this upwardness or inwardness? Why should the sutra say that this upward flow of the mind is the only water by which you can worship the feet of the divine? So many things are implied. One is that it is useless to use just water – it is useless!
Al-Hillaj Mansoor, a Sufi mystic, was killed. When his hands were cut off, blood began to flow, and he used that blood as Mohammedans use water for wazu – cleaning the body before going to the worship. They use water, but Mansoor used blood. When he made the gesture of wazu, someone asked from the crowd, “Mansoor, have you gone mad? What are you doing?”
Mansoor said, “For the first time I am doing wazu, cleaning myself with my own blood – because how can you clean yourself with water?”
He gives a deeper significance. Really, he means that unless you die, how can you purify yourself for the prayer? Wazu, through blood, means dying. Only dying can be a real cleansing, a real purity. And when you die, you become able to pray. Unless you die, you cannot pray. So the courage to die becomes a basic requirement for prayer.