These days, looking inside, I do not find a personality with certain characteristics, but rather an ever-changing flux, totally unpredictable. It makes life in this body feel very fragile, vulnerable and momentary – a feeling which extends itself to everything around me, shaking me to the roots.
Man is not one, man is many: man is a multitude, a crowd. The feeling of being a personality is a mirage. It arises because you never go in, and you never face the crowd. Perhaps to avoid the crowd, you never go in.
You are living outside your own home and the home is being occupied by your neighbors, many of whom are dead. And when I say many, I mean many! – centuries, queues of old and dead people are living within you; hence, when for the first time one enters on the path of meditation, the first encounter shakes one to the very roots. One sees many faces and many people – except one face, except the one individual that he is.
Most people, out of fear, simply run out again and get engaged in things so that they can forget what is happening within themselves. To find oneself alone needs such courage because the moment you find yourself alone you have to face a multitude, a crowd. Each in the crowd pretends to be your real self, and there is no way for you to find out who is your real individual. Millions of people live their lives without meditation for the simple reason that they cannot cope with this encounter.
The method is very easy. Bodhidharma used to say to his disciples, “When you enter into yourself you will find many pretenders who look almost like you. Some of them are even better than you, because they have been practicing your act, your part, for years – or perhaps for lives. You have to behave the way the elephant behaves when a crowd of dogs starts barking: the elephant goes on without even bothering, as if there is nobody…You have to be an elephant and treat the crowd within you as if they are barking dogs.”
In India it is now becoming a rare scene, but in my childhood it was an everyday scene because all the Maharajas, and there were many, and all the great religious leaders, and they were many, all had many elephants. In fact, a religious leader’s religiousness was measured by how many elephants he had, because to keep an elephant is not easy; it is very costly.
It was an everyday scene – the elephants passing on the road and the dogs barking. A strange feeling arises when you see a dog bark at the elephant; the elephant pays not even the smallest attention – as if there is nobody, nothing is happening. And if you look at the face of the dog, you can understand the meaning of the word despair…”This fellow is strange: we are barking, so many dogs, and he is going his way as if nothing is happening.”
Soon those dogs start disappearing – “What is the point? The elephant seems to be an idiot, or maybe he is deaf, but not our equal. Perhaps he does not understand our language, but whatever the reason, the task is hopeless.”