Consciousness is a two-edged sword; it cuts both ways. It can make you so utterly happy that that type of happiness is not known anywhere in existence; it can make you so unhappy and miserable that that type of unhappiness is also not known anywhere else in the world. Man is a double possibility; by being conscious two roads suddenly open before him.
Consciousness can become a blessing, but it can become a curse also. Every blessing comes with a curse, the question is it depends on you how you choose. Let me explain it to you, then we can enter into the sutra easily.
Man is conscious. The moment man becomes conscious he becomes conscious of the end also – that he is going to die. He becomes conscious of tomorrow, conscious of time, conscious of the passing of time – sooner or later the end is coming near. The more he becomes conscious, the more death becomes the problem, the only problem – how to avoid it? This is using consciousness in a wrong way. It is just as if you have given a child a telescope, and the child doesn’t know how to use it. He can look into the telescope from the wrong end.
Consciousness is a telescope, you can look through it from the wrong end. And the wrong end has some benefits of its own – that creates more trouble. Through the wrong end of the telescope you can see that many benefits are possible; in the short range many benefits are possible. People who are time conscious gain something in comparison to people who are not time conscious. People who are death conscious attain many things in comparison to those who are not death conscious. That’s why the West goes on accumulating material wealth and the East has remained poor. If you are not death conscious, who bothers? People live moment to moment as if tomorrow doesn’t exist. Who accumulates? For what? Today is so beautiful, why not celebrate it, and we will see about tomorrow when it comes.
In the West they have accumulated infinite wealth because they are so time conscious. They have reduced their whole life into things, material things – skyscrapers. They have attained much wealth. That is the benefit of looking from the wrong end. Because they can only see certain things which are close, short-range, they cannot see further away. Their eyes have become like those of a blind man who cannot see further away. He looks at just whatsoever he can gather right now, without thinking that it may be at a very great cost in the end. In the long range this benefit may not prove a benefit. You can make a big house, but by the time it is built you are ready to go; you couldn’t live in it at all. You could have lived in a small house beautifully, even a cottage would have done, but you thought that you would live in a palace. Now the palace is ready but the man is gone. He is not there.
People accumulate wealth at the cost of their own selves. Finally, eventually one day, they become aware that they have lost themselves and that they have purchased useless things. The cost was great, but now nothing can be done, the time is past. If you are time conscious you will be mad after accumulating things, you will transform your whole life energy into things.