And the greatest thing to learn is not to hold onto anything: to your love, to your joy, to your body, to your health. Enjoy everything – your health, your body, your love, your woman, your man – but don’t cling. Keep your hands open – don’t become a fist. If you become a fist you become closed – closed to the winds and the rains and the sun and the moon, closed to God himself. And that is the ugliest way to live; it is creating a grave around yourself. Then your existence is windowless. You go on suffocating inside and you are suffocating because you think you are creating safety and security for yourself.
I have heard an ancient Sufi parable:
A king was very much afraid of death, as everyone is – and the more you have, the more, of course, you are afraid. A poor man is not as much afraid of death. What has he got to lose? What has life given to him? He remains unconcerned.
That’s why in poor countries you will see again and again a great indifference about death, poverty, starvation. The reason is, people have lived in such poverty for so long that now they are not so worried about death. Death comes to them as a relief – relief from all the miseries and anxieties, relief from starvation, suffering, poverty.
People coming from richer countries think, “Why are they so indifferent to death?” The reason is simple: there is nothing to cling to. Their life has not given anything to them. Their life is so poor that death can’t take anything away from them; it can’t make them poorer than they already are. But the more you have, the more you become afraid of death. The richer the society, the more fear of death.
In poor societies the taboo is sex, and in richer societies the taboo is death. That is an indication whether the society is rich or poor – you can just look at what their taboo is. If they are very much against sex that means they are poor; if they are very much against death, even afraid to mention it, that simply means they are rich. Hence it is a very difficult encounter between poor countries and richer countries – their taboos clash.
This is happening every day here, because my people have come from all over the world and the poor Indian society has the taboo against sex. Sex is their problem, sex is their fear. Birth is their fear, not death. They think of how to stop birth, they ponder over birth control methods. In richer countries the scientists go on searching how to postpone death. In poor countries the problem is how to postpone birth.
So the king was very much afraid, naturally. He had so much and death would take everything away; and he had wasted his whole life in accumulating. How to protect himself? And in accumulating so much wealth he had created many enemies and they were always in search of an opportunity to cut off his head, to shoot him.
He took advice from old, wise people of his country. They told him to make a castle with only one door – no windows, no other doors, just a single door to enter into and to come out of. He would be safe. And on the door he could place a one-thousand-strong security force so it would be impossible for anybody to enter.
The idea was appealing. He made a big castle with no windows, no doors, except the one door which was guarded by one thousand warriors.