Only he is liberated who hangs on to nothing. One who is free from all clinging, attachments, blocks, demands, he alone knows the truth. Only he can know the truth who makes no conditions. Even this much of a condition – that you would rather be in the temple worshipping than attending to your store – can prevent you from knowing the truth. In such a case you will end up knowing only the truth that is born out of a lie – such as the temple itself. Even this much of a condition on your part – that you would live only in a particular way, that you wish to live like a sannyasin – if this too became a condition, you would never come to know the truth. This would amount to holding on to the ladder after having climbed to the top rung.
Often it may have even occurred to you that “How can the very ladder which helped me climb so high be thrown away all of a sudden?” So you want to hold fast to the ladder. We find this happening all around us. For example, a man begins to earn money so that he can live a comfortable life later on. It takes him years to make money, and in the process he misses his rest and recreation. How could he have succeeded in creating his wealth otherwise? He had assumed at that moment he would earn a great deal and live in comfort and ease later. His aim was to live in comfort which, without having money, was naturally impossible. So the man was busy making money. And when you have to make money you can’t afford to relax. The only way to make money is to give up rest and relaxation for years at a time.
So let’s assume this man gives up his holidays and vacations for the next twenty to twenty-five years and earns a lot of money. No doubt he creates wealth, but he loses the habit of relaxing. Not relaxing at all becomes a habit to him, and that creates the problem. A practice of twenty-five years is behind him. Now if you ask him to stay home and relax, he can’t do it. He arrives at his office an hour earlier than his secretary; his staff quits at five o’clock, he leaves at seven. Apparently the man has forgotten that the ladder he climbed was for getting off one day. The objective was to get off at some level, and relax. The idea was to earn enough so that someday he could quietly slip off. His sole aim was to make money so he could retire.
Now he finds himself in a very difficult situation. In the pursuit of earning money he has lost his ability to relax, he got hooked to the habit of not relaxing. He thinks, how can he relax? So he goes on piling up money. He keeps on climbing the ladder, refuses to get off the ladder. His roof never comes closer. He goes on climbing – raising one ladder on top of another. No matter how much you persuade him, “It’s enough, now it’s time to get off,” he persists by saying, “How can that be possible? I will have to build the ladder before I sit down and relax.” So he goes on building his ladder and keeps climbing. It would not have mattered much had this been true only in regard to money. The same thing happens with regard to religion as well. Our mind functions exactly the same way – regardless.
A man enters the world of religion, and begins to renounce things. He gives things up so he can arrive at a point where his mind will be free of all attachments. His assumption is that as long as there is attachment, there will be bondage. So he says, “Leave everything, renounce everything that creates bondage!” He starts disowning his home, his business, his family, his wealth, his clothes – he goes on dropping things.