If you want to experience peace, then scientifically speaking, you will also have to go through turmoil; otherwise you will have no perception of what peace is. You may be at peace, but you will only know the feeling of peace when you have also been through turmoil. If you have never known turmoil in your life, how will you recognize peace? There is no way you can. A background of turmoil is needed for peace to be felt.
If you want to experience life, then death is compulsory – and not because of any play on God’s part. Death is compulsory precisely because life cannot be experienced without the background of death. Death is the soil, and life flowers from that soil of death. Death does not destroy life; on the contrary, it gives birth to life. Nothing can be experienced without its opposite. If there were no words, how would you experience silence?
The sutra says that if there were no worldliness, you would not be able to have any experience of godliness either. So this world is not merely a play, an illusion, but a process to experience godliness – and a necessary process. You could have been one with God already; you were, you are even now, you can never be outside of God, but it is necessary to be thrown into the world in order to come to understand that you are one with God.
Put it this way: if you were a fish in the ocean, it would be necessary to take you out of the ocean at least once and throw you onto the shore. Only then would you become aware of the ocean.
As a fish you live in the ocean, you were born in the ocean. You have never had so much as a glimpse of what is beyond the ocean, you have never been out of it, so you will never become aware of the ocean. The ocean is so close to you, so much a part of you, that you have never taken even one single breath without it and you will never become aware of it. To know the ocean, to become aware of it…and this will sound a little strange, you will not understand it, but when the fish is thrown out onto the sandy shore for the first time, only then does it realize that there is such a thing as an ocean. The suffering it will feel on the sandy shore, the pain of being separated from the ocean, that same pain will become its urge to be one with the ocean.
A fish that gets caught once in a fisherman’s net but manages to escape into the ocean again…that fish will not be the same fish as the one who was in the ocean before. Now, the ocean will be a bliss. Now it knows that the ocean is its very life. Now it knows the mystery of the ocean, now it knows what the ocean is all about! It has experienced its significance.
So existence is not some sort of sadist that is making you suffer, existence is not doing anything at all. But it is compulsory, a part of life, the law of life, that without having gone through the opposite you cannot experience anything.
Nirvana and the world are opposites. Nirvana happens only after you have passed through the world. You arrive at the same place as you originally were, but now you arrive as a different being. You attain that which you always had, but now you have regained it after having lost it. That losing in between is of prime importance. No experience of nirvana is possible without it. That is why the world is a learning, and a compulsory one.