In twenty to twenty-five years his habit becomes so solid that now he can’t give up the habit of renouncing. The habit hangs around his neck like a rock. He continues to find ways and means – what to drop next? – and his ladder goes on rising. He begins to try to figure out whether to drop food, water, salt, butter, sugar, whatever. He goes on playing with ideas as to what he should renounce next – whether he should give up sleep, or stop bathing. He is continuously looking for ways to renounce things. Ultimately he even arrives at a point where he talks of giving up his life, begins to think in terms of committing suicide. He gets ready to do santhara, the religious practice of embracing death voluntarily.
One who renounces and one who clings are of the same kind. One is holding on to the ladder meant for renouncing things, while the other has seized upon the ladder meant for latching on to things. But none of them is willing to get off the ladder. And in my view, truth lies where ladders cease to exist and you land on plain ground, where there is no longer the need to climb up or down. Truth lies where you drop your attachment, where you drop your conditions, where you stop seeing things through your conditioned mind, where you begin to perceive things with a mind free of all conditioning – that’s where the truth lies.
Perhaps that’s precisely what Jesus means…. When Jesus was asked who would inherit the truth, he replied, “Those who are like children.” Now what can this mean, “like children”? What it means is: the one who looks at things without any preconditioning. You will be amazed if you watch how children look at things. There is a difference between how we see things and how children do. When we see, we are looking at something, we are looking for something, while a child just looks. He doesn’t look for something in particular; his eyes simply move. Whatsoever is, whatsoever is visible, he just looks at it. He is not attached to seeing a particular thing. He is not fixed on the idea that what he sees should only appear in a particular way. He sees whatsoever there is. To put it rightly, his seeing is purposeless.
A child does not look with a purpose. That’s why in the eyes of an adult you don’t see the innocence you see in the eyes of a child. An adult sees things with a reason. If you have money in your pocket, he looks at you in a particular way; if your pocket is empty, he looks at you differently. If you happen to be beautiful, the man has a look of one kind; if you are not beautiful, he has a different look in his eyes. He looks at you in a special way if he is interested in you; otherwise he looks differently, or doesn’t look at you at all. His seeing has purpose. For an adult even the simple act of looking is not without purpose.
When a purpose enters your view, a rope begins to look like a snake; the rope ceases to exist. Actually, just reflect, if you will, as to why a rope appears to someone like a snake. It is simply his projection – the man is scared. There is fear in his look. That means, whenever he looks at things, he looks out of fear. He is walking down the street in the dark, and there is fear in his eyes. He spots something lying on the road, it looks like something is moving. He immediately believes it to be a snake, because he is looking out of fear. He is guided by a purpose, he is looking through his unconscious mind to see if there is any snake on the street – and that makes him see a snake instead of a rope.