The buddha is, knows that he is, and also knows who he is. These are the three states of growth: the beast, the man, the buddha. The beast has only one dimension – he is, he exists, utterly unaware that he exists. Hence he cannot think of death.
Death is not a problem for the beast. Death can only become a problem when you know that you are. With that very knowing the fear arises that some day you may not be – because there was a time when you were not, there will again be a time when you will not be. Your existence is momentary. You can disappear any moment. You will disappear some day. Death is bound to happen. It is only man who knows about death.
That’s why man creates religion. Religion is man’s response to the possibility of death. It’s man’s effort to conquer death. No animal is religious, cannot be. Without the awareness of death religion has no possibility. But before you can become aware of death, you will have to become aware that you are. That’s a basic requirement.
So man knows he is – and also becomes aware and apprehensive that any moment he will not be. Time is short. For the beast time is non-existential, time is not. The beast lives in a timeless world. Each moment. Neither thinking of the past, nor imagining about the future.
Man cannot live in the present. He thinks of the past and all the nostalgia. Days that were golden and are no more. And thinks, imagines, fantasizes about the future – days as they should be.
Man lives in the past and in the future. The beasts live only in the present. But they are not aware that this is the present. They cannot be aware of the present. Only one who is aware of past and future can be aware of the present, because the present is sandwiched between past and future.
The animals have no anxiety. The memory does not disturb them, and imaginations don’t stir their hearts. They are simple. Existence has no complexity for them. When they live, they live; when they die, they die. They are innocent. Time has not entered to corrupt their being.
But man lives in time. Is aware that he is, but is not aware who he is. And that becomes a great problem: Who am l? This is the fundamental question that any man can ask. Out of this fundamental question is all philosophy, all religion, all poetry, all art – different ways of raising the question: Who am l? different ways of answering it. But the question is one: Who am l?
If you try to understand man’s life, you will see this single question persisting. Yes, the man who is mad after money is also trying to answer the question: Who am l? By having money, he thinks that he will know who he is – he will know he is a rich man. He will have a certain identity. The man who is searching for power is basically trying to answer the question: Who am I? By becoming a prime minister of a country he will know: I am the prime minister.