What D.T. Suzuki did
for Zen, Buber has done for Hassidism. Both have done a tremendous service for
seekers. But Suzuki became enlightened; sorry to say, Buber could not.
Buber was a great writer, philosopher, thinker, but all those things are toys to play with. Still, I pay my respects to him by including his name, because without him the world would not have even known the word Hassid.
Buber was born into a Hassidic family. From his very childhood he was raised among Hassids. It was in his very blood, bones, in his marrow, so when he relates it, it sounds so true, although he is only describing what he has heard, nothing more. He has heard correctly; that must be on record. Even to hear correctly is very difficult, and then to report to the world at large is even more difficult, but he has done it beautifully.
Suzuki is enlightened, Buber is not - but Suzuki is not a great writer, Buber is. Suzuki is an ordinary writer. Buber towers very high as far as the art of writing is concerned. But Suzuki knows, and Buber knows not; he is only relating the tradition in which he was brought up... of course, relating authentically.
Tales of Hassidism should be read by all seekers of truth. These tales, small stories, have such a flavor. It is different from Zen, it is also different from Sufism. It has its own flavor, unborrowed from anyone, uncopied, unimitated. The Hassid loves, laughs, dances. His religion is not of celibacy, but of celebration. That′s why I find a bridge between my people and the Hassids. It is not accidental that so many Jews have come to me; otherwise, I am always shattering the heads of the Jews as much as I can... and still they know that I love them. I love the essential in Judaism, that is Hassidism. Moses had not heard of it of course, but he was a Hassid; whether he knew it or not does not matter. I declare him to be a Hassid - and so I declare Buddha, Krishna, Nanak and Mohammed. Hassidism came after Baal Shem. The word does not matter, the spirit matters.
Martin Buber′s second book, I and Thou, is his most famous work, the book for which he was given the Nobel prize. Forgive me, but I disagree with it completely. I mention it because it is a beautiful work, written artistically, with great profundity and sincerity. But still there is no soul in it, because the soul was missing in Buber himself. How could the poor man manage to bring it into his book, his masterpiece?
I and Thou is very much respected by the Jews because they think it represents their religion. It does not represent any religion at all, neither Jew nor Hindu; it only represents the ignorance of the man called Martin Buber. But the man was certainly an artist, a great genius. When a genius starts writing about something of which he knows nothing, he can still produce a masterpiece.
I and Thou is basically wrong because Buber says it is a dialogue between man and God. I and Thou! Nonsense! There cannot be any dialogue between man and God, there can only be silence. Dialogue? What will you talk to God about? The devaluation of the dollar? or Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini? What are you going to have a dialogue with God about? There is nothing you can talk about. You can simply be in a state of awe... utter silence.
There is no ′I′ and there is no ′Thou′ in that silence; hence I refute not only the book but even the title. I and Thou? That means one remains still separate. No, it is like a dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf into the ocean. The dewdrop disappears, or in other words becomes the ocean, but there is no I and Thou. Either there is only I or there is only Thou. But when there is no I, there cannot be any Thou, it won′t have any meaning. If there is no Thou, there can be no I either, so in fact there is only silence... this pause.... My being silent for a moment says much more than what Martin Buber tries to say in I and Thou, and fails. But even though it is a failure, it is a masterpiece.
It is not known that
even in the very traditional, orthodox Judaism there have been a few utterly
enlightened masters - even some who have gone beyond enlightenment. One of them
is Baal Shem Tov. I cannot forgive myself for not including him, and there is
nobody to whom I can ask forgiveness.
Baal Shem Tov. Tov was the name of his town. His name simply means ′Baal Shem from the town of Tov′; so let us call him simply Baal Shem. I have spoken about him because when I was speaking about Hassidism, I have not left anything essential unspoken. I have spoken of Tao, of Zen, of Sufism, of Hassidism. I am not a man of any tradition so I am free to move in any direction I decide to. I don′t even need a map.
Let me remind you again:
Baal Shem Tov has not written any treatise - treatise is a dirty word in the world of mysticism - but he told many beautiful stories, so beautiful that I would like to relate one of them to you just as an example so you can taste the quality of the man.
There are many things that can be said only through stories. Baal Shem has said
the fundamental: Do not ask and it shall be given. Do not ask - that is the
The Hassidism that arose out of Baal Shem′s stories is the most beautiful flowering that has ever happened. Jews have done nothing comparable to Hassidism. Hassidism is a small current, but is still alive, still flowing.
Here is the only space, now is the only time. Beyond the here-now, there is nothing. Two thousand years ago, a great Jewish master, Hillel, wrote a little poem in Aramaic. The poem is this:
If I′m not for myself,
Then who can be for me?
And if I′m only for myself,
Then what am I?
And if not now,
It is a beautiful statement: if not now, then when? Tomorrow? But the tomorrow never comes. Hence I emphasize the here-now. Don′t let this moment slip by unused, unlived, unpenetrated; squeeze all that you can out of it. Live it passionately and with intensity, so you need not repent later on that you missed your life.(Osho - The Book of Wisdom #16)
Why did I want to avoid it? If I say anything against the Jews
- as I have
always done and will go on doing.... But for the moment I don′t want to say
anything against the Jews; only for the moment, just as if one is on holiday.
That is why I wanted to avoid this book.
There is only one beautiful sentence in it, that′s all, so I can quote it. It says: God is terrible. He is not your uncle, he is not nice. Only this sentence: God is not nice, and is not your uncle - this I love. This is really great. Otherwise the whole book is gibberish. It is altogether very primitive, to be thrown away. Just save this one sentence when you are throwing it away. Write it in your bedroom: God is not your uncle, he is not nice - remember! That will bring you back to your senses when you start doing stupid things to your wife or to your husband, your children, to your servants... or even to yourself.
A great Hassid mystic, Zusya, was dying. His old aunt was always worried about Zusya because he was not following the traditional Jewish religion...
she was very much worried about him. She was an old woman with all the old orthodox thoughts.
At his deathbed she came and asked Zusya, "Have you made peace with God?"
Zusya opened his eyes and said, "But I have never been in a conflict with him! Why should I make any peace with God? I have never struggled against him. I have lived a life of let-go!"
The old woman could not understand the life of let-go, the life of total surrender to the ultimate, to the whole, flowing with the whole. She again asked, thinking that he had not understood; she said, "Have you made peace with Moses?"
Zusya said, "When I am in front of God, he is not going to ask me, ′Zusya, why are you not a Moses?′ He will ask me, ′Zusya, why are you not a Zusya?′ I am not supposed to be Moses, otherwise he would have made me a Moses! Who was preventing him? He never made another Moses."
God never repeats. He never sends carbon copies to the world. Mahavira is not repeated, Buddha is not repeated, Christ is not repeated, Mohammed is not repeated, Kabir, Nanak - nobody is ever repeated.
And this is what we all are doing: we are trying to be like Moses or like Mahavira or like Mohammed. Zusya is right, his insight is great.
He says, "God will ask me, ′Why are you not Zusya?′ He has made me Zusya and I have to be myself. That is my responsibility. To be Moses is not my responsibility; that was Moses′ responsibility and that is something between Moses and God. I have nothing to say about it, nothing to do with it; it is not my concern at all."
The most essential thing is: you have to be yourself. Don′t be distracted by anybody, by any scripture, by any priest, by any politician. Don′t be distracted. Stick to one thing: "I have to be myself." Don′t be stubborn. Don′t bother about non-essentials. If the rule is to keep to the left, follow it; it is a non-essential thing. Whether you keep to the left or whether you keep to the right does not matter; it is just a traffic convenience. In India we keep to the left because of the Britishers, because they had the idea of keeping to the left; the Americans keep to the right. Both are okay; there is nothing essential about it. But one thing is certain, that the traffic has to be managed and one has to decide either left or right - the traffic cannot be left in chaos.
These are non-essentials. Don′t start fighting for them; that is a sheer wastage of energy. But about the essential no compromise should ever be made.
A great Master, Zusya, went to suffer the exile in Germany. He came to a city of Reform Jews. When they saw his ways, they mocked him and thought
he was crazy. When he came into the synagogue, some of them poked fun at him, and when the children saw their parents ridiculing him, they thought he was crazy and began to pull
at him and tug at his belt.
Then he beckoned to the children and said, "My dear children, gather round and I will tell you something."
The children thought he would show them a trick. They all stood around him and he in the middle.
And he said to them, "My dear children, look well at me, do not take your eyes off me."
The children, because they thought he was going to show them something, looked steadily at him and he also looked steadily at each child separately. After that he told them to go home.
When the children came home and were given their food, they refused to eat. One said that the meat must not be eaten. Another asked how one could eat unclean meat. And so all the children refused to eat. They said the dishes were unclean and the food was unclean.
Then, as women do, one went to another and told her that all of a sudden her son came home from the prayer house and refused to eat; whatever was given to him, he said it was unclean. Then her neighbor said that her son too refused to eat and shouted that everything was unclean and that one could not pray in her house because her hair was uncovered. Then another neighbor came in and also told such things about her son - the whole town was amazed! Then they each learnt that their sons were not the only ones who suddenly became pious. They said that the visitor whom they had ridiculed and thought crazy was none other than a saint. By looking at the children, he had instilled in them something of his being. The parents became afraid that they had shamed him and went to beg his forgiveness.
Zusya laughed and forgave them all. He wanted to look in their eyes too, but they escaped as fast as they could.
In this beautiful anecdote, what happened? The children were innocent. They were ready to look into the eyes of this strange Master. They became connected! For a moment they were lost into the vastness of the Master; for a moment the Master flowed in them. There was a meeting and a merging, a communion.
Just looking in their eyes for a few moments, something was transferred - the purity of the man, the holiness of the man. Something of his being spilled into the eyes of the children. They were no more the same. Their vision changed.
But the grown-ups escaped. They were afraid to look into the eyes of the Master. What was their fear? They were cunning, clever, knowledgeable. They must have thought, "It is a kind of hypnosis or something. This man is a magician or something." They must have thought of a thousand and one things: "The time is not ripe for us. We cannot go on this faraway journey. The moment has not come. We will have to wait. We have to do a thousand and one other things, then...."
They were not innocent. Even their apology was out of cunningness; it was not out of love and understanding. They were afraid: if the man is so strange and powerful, he may do something wrong to them. Hence the apology. Not out of understanding, not out of humbleness, but out of fear.
But the children? - they simply got in tune with the Master!
Just to think of death frightens. Don′t laugh at those people who escaped from Zusya - Zusya was death. A Master is death. That′s what ancient scriptures say: a Master is a death. Those people escaped! The children were innocent. They were not afraid because they didn′t know what it is to look into the eyes of a Master.
People avoid looking into the eyes of the Master. They avoid getting too close, because to be too close is to melt, is to disappear, never to be the same again.
The real initiation is going to happen some day when you drop all your mind and you just look into me with no idea, with no knowledge, with innocence.
Remember Zusya and those children who looked into his eyes. The day you look into my eyes as if you are a child, innocent, with no past, with no future, then the meeting will happen.
Zusya is one of the most beautiful Masters - you can call him the perfect Master. One day he was caught praying in the synagogue. Why caught? because the people felt very offended. He was saying to God, "Listen, I need you so you need me. Without you I will be nothing. And I say to you: without me you will be nothing. I am me because of you; you are you because of me."
The people were offended. They said, "What are you saying Zusya? Have you gone mad?"
He had not gone mad. This is the way one should have a dialogue with God. This is not ego! not at all. This is a simple fact. Even a small leaf of grass is as valuable as any star. There is no hierarchy in existence, nobody is lower and nobody is higher. We are all joined into one organic unity.
This is real therapy. Therapy when it is real will be nothing but love. Therapy when real will help you to regain your confidence, will help you to bloom.
The word ′Buddha′ comes from a root ′bodha′. In the ancient days, the word ′bodha′ was used for the opening up of a bud. It comes from the world of flowers; then it was taken over. ′Bodha′ means originally opening up of a bud and becoming a flower. Then it was taken in a metaphoric sense: when a man opens up, blooms, releases fragrance and color and dances in the sky, he becomes a Buddha - he has opened up.
Real therapy does not shrink you: it opens you up. It makes all that is yours available to you. It gives you your lost treasure. But as far as the modern psychotherapy is concerned, people are right in calling psychotherapists shrinks - they are.
And a strange thing is this: that they are as ill as the people they are treating. Sometimes even more so. I have never come across a psychotherapist who is not mentally in some disturbance. Maybe just to avoid his own mental disturbance he has become interested in other people′s mental disturbances, and he is playing superior. And he is getting more and more ill every day.
Those who know, they always thank and praise, even in moments when you will not think that praise is possible.
Let me remind you of Zusya, the same mad mystic who would run and jump and dance into the synagogue, so madly, so wildly, that everybody else who was in the synagogue would escape, because he would turn tables upside down. And whosoever would come in between him and his dance would be thrown. His dance was of such abandon that he would forget everybody! He would forget himself - only God existed in those moments.
Zusya′s son died, his only Son and he had loved the son tremendously. And do you know what? He danced! He danced all the way to the cemetery. He was dancing and tears of joy were flowing from his eyes. And he was saying to God, "Look! You had given me such a beautiful and such a pure soul, and I am returning the beautiful and the pure soul as beautiful as it was. It has not been contaminated at all. Can′t you see?! I am returning your gift back to you. I am happy that for these few days you have given this gift to me. I am immensely grateful. It must be time that the child has to go back home."
If you see, then all and everything becomes a cause to celebrate. If you can′t see, then everything is a cause for a complaint.
It is said of the great mystic, Zusya, that he awaited the arrival of the Messiah and redemption with such fervor, passion and eagerness that when
he heard a tumult in the street he was at once moved to ask what it was and whether the messenger had not come. And each time he went to sleep, he commanded his disciples to
awaken him at the very moment when the messenger came.
One day he said, "If the Messiah should come today and say to me, ′Zusya, you are better than others,′ then I would say to him, ′Sir, then you are not the true Messiah.′"
His whole life he waited, and with such eagerness that even in the night he was afraid, "I may be asleep and he may come." One disciple had to wait continuously by his side, so if the messenger came, Zusya could be awakened immediately - because he would not like to miss a single moment.
See the passion, the longing, the love.
But the question is: Did the Messiah come? That is not the point. The point is that Zusya became more and more alert, more and more aware. He became so alert and aware that it is said that one day he said, "If the Messiah should come to me today and say to me, ′Zusya, you are better than others,′ then I would say to him, ′Sir, then you are not the true Messiah - because now I myself know that there is no better, no worse, there is no higher, no lower. That all is one. That there is nobody to be redeemed and nobody is the redeemer."′
Waiting, waiting, waiting, becoming aware and aware, one day the heart opened, and he knew God is everywhere. There is no need for any Messiah to come. God has already come! God′s presence is already there.
So, don′t ask: Where is the beloved? Ask: where is he not? Jesus says to his disciples: Break a stone and you will find me there. Remove a rock and you will find me there. Where is he not?
It is said about a Hassid mystic, Zusya - who could have been a Zen Master, who could have been a Sufi... In fact, enlightened people don′t
belong to any tradition. They are born somewhere - one has to be born somewhere, you cannot be born everywhere... So it was a coincidence that he was born a Jew in the Hassidic
tradition. But he was a strange Hassid. Hassids are strange, but he was the strangest; he was very unpredictable.
I at least come here and tell you a joke so that you can laugh. He was far more strange: he would simply come here and start laughing! Not even a joke! Hassids love beautiful jokes and stories.
So once he was asked, "Zusya, what kind of Hassid are you? At least tell some jokes, some stories. You simply come and start laughing!"
He said, "I am saving all my jokes for God because I don′t have anything else. I don′t know how to pray, I don′t know any scriptures; I am saving some beautiful jokes for him. And when Zusya dies you will see!"
And it actually happened. When he died there was great thunder and people said, "He has arrived, and God is laughing!"
Zusya was staying in a house, in a disciple′s house. The family was a little worried about the man because his ways were strange - he might do anything. In the middle of the night he might start laughing, he might wake up the neighbors, he might create a scene. So they put him in the basement and locked the door for the night so that at least they could rest and the neighbors could rest.
In the middle of the night suddenly they heard laughter from the terrace! They could not believe it! They rushed out and Zusya was rolling about on the roof laughing! They said, "Zusya, what is the matter?"
He said, "That′s why I am laughing! I was sleeping in the basement; suddenly I started rising upwards!"
But he was simply making it clear that there is another law which does not believe in locks and does not believe in falling downwards. His actual words were, "Suddenly I found myself rising upwards."
That is the law of grace: surrender, and suddenly you are in a totally different law; your gestalt changes, you start rising upwards. And there is great laughter in you and the whole existence laughs with you.
A Hassid master was dying and his disciples asked ′Now tell us the secret. We have watched you for almost fifty years and we have never
found you sad, not even for a single moment. And we have heard from our fathers and forefathers that in your youth you were a very sad and serious person - then what happened?
How did you become so cheerful?′
He said ′They are right, up to my thirtieth year I was a very sad and very serious person. Then one morning I thought "What am I doing? Why am I so sad and serious? Why should I waste my energies? Let me try today, just for a change, to be cheerful." I tried and it worked! Since then every morning when I wake up I ask myself, "Zusya" - Zusya was his name - "What do you want today? Do you want to be sad, serious and sad, miserable, or blissful?" And I always choose to be blissful. Since then I have been blissful.′
And I totally agree with this man Zusya, he is certainly right, it is only a question of choice.
So from tomorrow morning try it. You have been serious enough. Or you can start even now. There is no need to wait even for tomorrow, because who knows? - tomorrow may come, may not come. Give it a try. And believe me, you will like it!
Your treasure is in your own being - don't look for it somewhere else. All palaces and all bridges to the palace are meaningless; you have to create your own bridge
within your own being. The palace is there; the treasure is there.
God never sends anybody into this world without a treasure. He sends you ready for every situation - how can it be otherwise? When a father sends his son on a long journey, he makes every preparation. Even for unexpected situations, the father provides... He makes all provisions.
You are carrying everything that you need... Just go into the seeker and don′t go seeking outside. Seek the seeker, let the seeker be the sought.
And because of this, Rabbi Eisik built the house of prayer. It was such a tremendous revelation, such a tremendous experience:
′God has put the treasure where I have always lived. I was poor because of myself, I was not poor because God wanted me to be poor. As far as He is concerned, I was a king, always a king.′ Because of this understanding he made a prayer house, a temple, out of this treasure. He used it well.
Whenever somebody comes to his innermost treasure, prayer arises - that is the meaning of the story, that he made a house of prayer called Reb Eisik′s Shul.
Whenever you understand the grace of God, the compassion, the love, what else can you do? A great prayer of thankfulness rises into your being, you feel so overpowered by His love, overwhelmed. What else can you do? You simply bow down and you pray.
And remember, if you pray to ask for something, it is not prayer. When you pray to thank Him for something, only then is it prayer. Prayer is always a thanksgiving.
If you ask for something, then the prayer is still corrupted by desire. Then it is not prayer yet - it is still poisoned by dreaming.
A real prayer happens only when you have attained to yourself, when you have known what God has given to you already without your asking for it. When you realize what you have been given, what infinite sources have been given to you, a prayer arises. You would like to say to God, ′Thank you!′ There is nothing else in it but a pure thank you.
When a prayer is just a thank you, it is a prayer. Never ask for anything in a prayer; never say, ′Do this, do that; don′t do this, don′t do that.′ Never advise God. That shows your irreligiousness, that shows your lack of trust. Thank Him. Your life is already a benediction, a blessing. Each moment is such pure joy. But you are missing it, that I know. That′s why the prayer is not arising - otherwise you would build a house of prayer; your whole life would become that house of prayer; you would become that temple - His shrine. His shrine would burst from your being. He would flower in you and His fragrance would spread to the winds.