Between death and birth there is a great dreaming time, and you can live long in that dream time – because the dream time is absolutely different from your waking time. Have you sometimes observed that you are just sitting in your chair and for a minute you fall asleep and you dream? And the dream is so long that it takes years – in dream time. Then suddenly you are awake and you look at the clock and only one minute has passed. Now you are puzzled. How, in one minute’s dream, could you see a projection of many years? You were a child, then you become young, and then you went to the college and the university, and you fell in love and were married, and you were just coming out of the church – and the dream is broken. And there is such an expanse of many years. How has it happened in a single minute?
Dream time is different from actual time: it can happen in a single minute. So maybe between death and birth there are only a few minutes, or a few days at the most, or a few hours. But they will look very long; you can dream infinite dreams – you can dream of hell, you can dream of heaven – but you continue.
I have come across a beautiful anecdote sent to me by a few of my sannyasins.
Once upon a time, there was a playboy named Shiva. One day, he suddenly died. His friends thought of inquiring if he had reached hell. Of course, naturally, they thought he must have reached hell. So they rang up hell.
The phone was picked up and a voice boomed, “Hello, the devil speaking.”
“Hello, Mr Devil, has Shiva come to hell?”
“No, try the other place. We have enough playboys here, and we don’t need any more trouble,” said the devil.
So they rang up heaven and a very, very holy voice said, “Hello, Virgin Mary speaking.”
“Has Shiva come to heaven?”
“No, not yet,” said Virgin Mary. “Try tomorrow.”
So they rang up again the next day, and the same pure and holy and saintly voice said, “Hello, Virgin Mary speaking.” They again asked about Shiva and she said, “No, not yet. Try tomorrow.” And her voice was as sweet as honey; sweet in the beginning, sweet in the end, sweet throughout!
So next day, they tried again and a wonderful and sexy voice came, “Hello, Mary speaking.”
The friends looked at each other and said, “So, he has reached.”
Your hell is your hell; your heaven is your heaven. It is your projection, it is your personality projected in dreams. These are not realities.
Buddha is tremendously existential. He’s the first religious man who has said that there is no heaven and no hell; it is just in the dreams of humanity that heaven and hell exist. If you have stopped dreaming while alive, then there is no heaven and no hell. In fact, there is no sin and no virtue. He’s the greatest iconoclast, the idol-breaker. He takes everything away from you – because he knows that unless everything is taken away, the mind continues. Mind needs props. If all the props are taken away, the mind collapses. And in that collapse, reality arises in its true color, in its true tone.
The reality is only when the mind is not. Mind is a distorting faculty.