Man has a suicidal instinct – this is one of the latest discoveries by psychoanalysts and other psychologists – just as there is a deep lust for life. One wants to live – and people are living in such conditions; just go around Bombay and see the beggars, see the people living in slums. Somebody is blind, somebody is crippled, somebody is starving; somebody has no medicines, is sick; somebody is old and still dragging, there is no point in living. But why do these people go on? There is such a deep lust for life that one can tolerate anything.
It happened…in an Egyptian monastery, a monk went into a coma. But it was misunderstood by the other monks and the chief monk; they thought he had died.
The monastery had a graveyard, underground. They simply used to open the door…and it was a deep hole, sixty feet deep, with miles of tunnels inside, because the monastery had been there for thousands of years. All the monks who died were dropped into the underground tunnel.
This young man was also dropped – and the door was sealed, because it was not something to be opened every day. Once in a while, somebody dies…but the man was not dead. After a few hours, his consciousness returned. He could not figure out where he was. By and by, he became accustomed to the darkness, started groping, and then stumbled against corpses. Then he understood what had happened, they had misunderstood: “I have fallen in a coma.”
It was a disease he had suffered since his childhood but it came only once in five or six years, so he had never mentioned it to anybody. But now it was too late. He tried his best – shouting, screaming – but in a sixty-foot hole, completely closed, who was going to hear him? It is difficult to hear even if the person is sitting in front of you; who is going to hear this dead fellow?
After a few efforts, he dropped it, but he could not drop the lust for life. But how to live in that graveyard? – no sunlight, no fresh air…it was disgusting. The smell of thousands of bodies which had become rotten…but man has the capacity to survive, to adjust in any kind of situation.
For a few days it was difficult, but slowly, slowly he started eating the rotten flesh of the corpses. The hunger was too much; it was not a time for being a snob, for saying “I cannot eat this.”
From the gutters of the monastery, water used to leak down the stone walls of the graveyard. He knew it was from the gutters, the dirtiest water in the monastery, but there was no other way. He started drinking from that water. And slowly, slowly he forgot about the bad smell, he forgot that the water was dirty. He even forgot about the monastery and the world; he had found a new business, a new life. First his business was to find a corpse, in the early morning, for his breakfast.
And in Egypt, since the ancient days of the pharaohs, this has been the convention. You must have heard about the mummies of the queens and kings of Egypt. Their bodies are preserved, covered with gold. And when a king or a queen died, it was not a single death. It was the death of almost fifty persons, because all the people who were taking care of the king – his physician, his masseur, his cook – everybody who was taking care of the king had to be buried with him in the graveyard because he might need them at any time, and much money, gold, precious stones, so that he’s never out of money. If he needs some money, he has enough.