Painful dreams may make you uncomfortable, but then you simply turn over. You tolerate bad dreams in expectation of nice ones. But the absence of painful dreams does not guarantee pleasant ones. It just makes you hope for better dreams to come. But pleasure and pain are yoked together; they are like a pair of bullocks pulling the cart of dreams. And so a man wastes his life in sleep, in dreams. And one who is asleep cannot be called alive.
This is the very old and very painful story of humanity. It is as old as creation. But whenever a man says that he is on fire people say he is mad. They ask where the fire is and then rush to him with buckets of water to put it out. But the fire is not on the outside, and so those whose eyes are only accustomed to looking outwardly cannot find it. And how can outer water extinguish inner fire anyway?
Whether the fire is visible or not, every individual feels at some point that his life is consuming him. And where there is fire, there is flame – whether we can see it or not. Its existence does not depend on our sight.
The truth is that the fire only exists because we cannot see it. Its very existence is due to our unawareness. It lives only in our ignorance. But when a man feels the heat of the flame he thinks he is burning up and instead of looking for the cause of the fire he rushes madly about in search of water. This quest for water is also an illusion. Everyone is running here and there in search of water – be it in the form of wealth, fame or salvation.
Water is outer, and to find it requires an outward approach. But this outer race only adds fuel to the flames; it only stimulates the fire. Any outer search only fans the flames and as one is running about looking for water on the outside the flames get higher and higher, the inner fire grows hotter and hotter. It is just a vicious circle. But even this vicious circle is also an illusion. And you can never find the water you are looking for. All the wells are illusory too. How can any outer effort extinguish this inner fire?
The man who thinks he has found water and the man who cannot find any at all really share the same defeat. Illusion and real success can never exist together. One’s lack of success is really fuel for the fire of illusion.
When Alexander the Great died, millions of people came to pay homage. And they found, much against tradition, that his hands were visible. In almost every country it is customary to place the hands inside the coffin. When people asked about it they were told Alexander had expressly wished his hands be visible so that people could see that he too had left the world empty-handed. A great conqueror like Alexander also leaves the world with nothing in his hands! How nice it would be if every corpse’s empty hands were exposed so mankind could witness again and again the truth that worldly possessions have nothing to do with life at all.
Nothing outward can ever extinguish the inner fire. No outer happiness can ever cure inner pain. No amount of outer light can ever dispel the inner darkness. But up to now all attempts to remove this inner darkness have been made by outward approaches. And it is this very effort that has given birth to science.