What can be seen from the outside is one aspect, and the other aspect is what can be known only by entering deeply into the heart. That is the reality which is at the center.
The circumference goes on changing continuously. When you were in your mother’s womb you were a small cell. If that cell were brought before you, you would not be able to recognize that you were once that small cell. But even then, at the inner center you were the same as you are today. Only your circumference has changed. Once you were a child, then you were a youth, now you have become older; your outer form has kept on changing. If you see your own photographs from childhood to old age, you will not be able to recognize that all these photographs are of the same person; everything has kept on changing.
Biologists say that the body is changing every moment and the whole body changes every seven years. If you live for seventy years you will have a new body ten times.
Every moment, something of the body dies. You go on creating your new body from the food you eat. All the dead cells are being thrown out through perspiration, excreta, hair and nails. That is why there is no pain when your hair is cut – it is a dead part of the body that is being thrown out. There is no pain when you cut your nails; they also are a dead part. You will be surprised to know that the hair and nails of a dead body continue to grow. If the dead body is preserved the nails and hair will continue to grow for some time because life has no relationship with them. These are dead parts of the body which the dead body continues to throw out.
So every seven years all the cells of your body will change and become new. This is your periphery which goes on flowing like the stream of a river. It was born on one day and it will end on some other day – but the inner center is the reality. This inner center is like a small cell that is invisible to the naked eye; that would need a microscope to see it. Once you were a child, then a youth and finally an old man who will return to dust, but this is all happening at the body level. The center remains untouched. That center is the reality and everything else on the periphery is just the appearance. It is called “illusion” because so many people believe it to be the only reality that it creates the impression that it is the truth.
And this is not true only about human beings, it is true about all forms of life. The trees which you see all around have leaves and branches, but these leaves and branches are neither the origin of the tree nor the center of the tree nor the soul of the tree. These are just parts of the body of the tree. Within this body of the tree is hidden the soul – just as it is hidden in you. Wise people in India have been saying this for a very long time: that you also were once a tree. Your present human form is only a change in the circumference.