WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO GET RID OF PAIN, MISERY, SUFFERING OR ANGUISH, WHILE
KNOWING PERFECTLY WELL THAT ONE HAS JUST TO UNDERSTAND AND DROP THEM?
It is difficult to get rid of pain, misery, and suffering for the simple reason that they have been your companions for your whole life. Except them, you don't have any friends in the world.
It is easier to be in pain, misery, suffering, than to be utterly lonely, because there are ways you can have pain-killers, you can have drugs, as an escape from misery. You can get engaged in all kinds of stupidities to forget your suffering. But there is no way - no painkiller is going to help you out of your loneliness, no drug, no stupidity.
Loneliness is so deep that all these superficial methods cannot reach to it, cannot touch it. That's why it is so difficult to get rid of these few friends that you have got. This is your world, your family.
In my professorial days in the university, I had lived for a few months in the university campus. My neighbor was a newly-married man, a professor of physics, Nityanand Mukhopadhyaya - a very sharp, intelligent teacher, with a great future ahead, because he had such a grip on physics that even older professors of physics used to come and ask him things about new physics.
He had been married not more than two or three months, but the marriage was finished. They were constantly fighting, quarreling. The wife was also educated, a postgraduate, and in a beautiful subject, in music. The walls that separated me from this couple were not very thick - so thin that it was impossible not to hear what was going on.
It was almost thirty years ago. I was only their neighbor for a few months; since then I have not seen them, but they have given me one thing to which I have become addicted: earplugs. Even today when I don't have any neighbors for miles ... and even those who live miles away don't consider me their neighbor. In the whole of America I don't have a neighbor. And anyway, tourists are not supposed to have neighbors.
But I cannot get rid of those earplugs. I cannot go to sleep without earplugs. I have tried. The moment I think of dropping them I start thinking of Nityanand Mukhopadhyaya. From morning till midnight they were quarreling, on every point, on every single thing. There was no agreement on anything. And almost every night it ended with them throwing things - a pillow fight. I even heard them slapping each other.
Once or twice I interfered. I just knocked on their door in the middle of the night, and they opened the door. I looked at the scene - things all over the floor - and I said, "Don't be embarrassed, because I have been hearing the whole thing since the morning. I know every detail of it, so you do not have to be hypocrites before me.
"This is perfectly good - it is supposed to happen between every husband and wife sooner or later.
You are intelligent people: it is happening sooner. But one thing I cannot understand: once in a while you both say to each other, 'I love you, darling, I love you.' That, I cannot understand. Everything else is understandable to me.
"I had to interfere in the middle of the night because just now, after a big pillow fight, you said, 'I love you, I love you, my darling.' It simply disturbs my whole sleep. Everything else I accept, but how, out of this pillow fight, and throwing things and shouting and screaming, does the conclusion come, 'I love you, darling'?"
They looked at each other. They had no answer because .... Then the professor said, "I have never thought about it but certainly you are right. After all this, this should not be the conclusion. I can understand - you are a man of logic. I cannot understand too much logic but physics is also based on logic; I can see the contradiction."
The wife said, "I have never thought about it, but it is true that .... Can you help us to understand why?"
I said, "That's why I have come. This happens with husband and wife: they hate each other, and then they hate themselves for hating each other. And then to cover up the whole thing - that 'I hate you,' that, 'I hate myself for hating you' - this is the cover: 'I love you, darling.'
"This manages both things. You are no longer hating yourself, because you love your wife. But this is only a cover, a very thin cover which cannot stand the strong winds of life. Tomorrow morning again you have forgotten. The same story begins, comes to the same conclusion. Why don't you just separate?"
And they both were angry at my suggestion. They said, "This is not nice of you to suggest that we separate."
I said, "Yes, I suggest it. Get a divorce." And they were both ready to fight with me.
I said, "You need not fight with me because I don't hate you, I don't love you, darling; I am simply not part of it. Exclude me out, I am going back. I just dropped in the suggestion - you can think about it. Only three months have passed. After thirty years you will be still in the same situation, but then it will be too late, even divorce will not be of any help. You will have become addicted to the quarreling, to the fighting, to everything that you hate. You will become addicted to it, you will miss it."
They were very angry; they closed the door in my face. I said, "Thank you."
After two months the wife went to see her mother for a week - her mother was sick - and in just one week Professor Nityanand Mukhopadhyaya started coming to me and continuously saying, "I miss my wife so much. I cannot sleep - the bed seems so empty."
I said, "And the room also seems so empty, things are not all over the place. Why don't you throw things yourself? Shout a little, scream a little - and she is not here so you can say anything you want. Throw things, beat on the clothes, and then come to the climax: I love you, darling. And you will have a good sleep."
He said, "You must be joking."
I said, "Why should I be joking? You try it - what is the harm?"
And you will not believe it: not that day, but after two days, he tried it - because I heard it. He was doing really a great job, greater than he had done ever before, a greater performance. And he climaxed it: "I love you, darling." And soon I heard him snoring.
In the morning I went to see his room; things were all over the place. The servant opened the bedroom; the professor was still asleep. I woke him up; I said, "You did such a good performance."
He said, "Really, it works. I was just trying, knowing perfectly well that it was not going to work. How could it work? - she is not here. But it worked; slowly slowly I got hotter and hotter. She was almost here: when I was beating the pillows I was beating her. And I have never given her such a good beating - it was such a deep contentment to the heart. I have never slept so deeply. You were right."
But this is the situation of almost everybody. You become addicted to your pain, to your misery, to your suffering. You really don't want to get rid of it.
You go on asking how to get rid of it, but that is also a strategy of the mind; to go on inquiring how to get rid of it.
Have you ever asked sincerely, do you want to get rid of it? Are you ready to live without all the miseries and the pains and the sufferings that you have been carrying all along? Will you be ready to be left alone without all these longstanding companions who have been with you in thick and thin, who have never left you?
When everybody was leaving you, they were still with you. They have followed you like a shadow; they have been in a certain way a consolation. This will be very shocking to you when I say they have been in a certain way a consolation to you. When I say that, I have many things implied in it.
Your suffering makes you somebody special. Without all your suffering, you are nobody. Who are you? You will not even have something to talk about with anybody. You will be at a loss - what are you going to talk about?
In England, people talk about the weather just to avoid real conversation. It is a very sophisticated way, to talk about weather. But it looks a little idiotic because you are seeing the weather, I am seeing the weather, it makes no sense to say, "What a beautiful day, how sunny!" you are seeing it, you are also in the same day. You are not tomorrow, you are not yesterday, you are here with me.
And you say, "Yes, so beautiful!"
This is because of the English character; it is one of the most phony characters in the world. It does not want to raise any controversial conversation. Politics is dangerous, there is controversy; religion is dangerous, there is controversy; literature is dangerous, there is controversy. Except the weather there seems to be nothing non-controversial - something on which both can agree without any problem.
It is said that two Englishmen were traveling in a compartment for almost three hours. Then the ticket checker came in, looked at them ... they were looking very sad and depressed. He asked ....
One said, "Three hours sitting, not even somebody to talk to."
He said, "Just in front of you another Englishman is sitting - you could have talked."
The man said, "But how? - because nobody introduced us. Without an introduction it is a kind of trespass."
I have heard another story too, that a man went to meet his wife - a four or five-hour journey. The wife had come to the station to receive him, and he was looking very tired, utterly tired. She asked, "What is the matter? Why are you looking so tired?"
He said, "It always happens when I have to sit in a position where my back is against the direction of the train. If I am sitting against the direction of the train - the train is going this way, and I am sitting facing that way - then my whole body gets very tired."
The wife said, "But there was no problem. You could have asked the gentleman in the front seat, 'This is my trouble; would you be kind enough to change?'"
He said, "I wanted to but there was no gentleman, the seat was empty. Whom to ask?"
These are very sophisticated people.
Just now I was reading that the most prestigious directory of the royal family's noble blood has dropped many names out of it in the new edition because they were all AIDS victims. Now, you can see even noble people have ways which are not noble at all: noble people with ignoble lifestyles.
But that is all underground. On the surface everything seems to be the way it should be. More or less it is the same all over the world; nobody wants really to drop their suffering.
You have to ask this question very sincerely:
Are you ready to be lonely?
At least your suffering, your pain, your misery, makes you somebody special. It gives you a certain character, it gives you a certain identity. Moreover it is your misery, nobody else's. It is your possession, your prestige. If it is just taken away from you, you will be a beggar.
You ask me, why is misery so difficult to get rid of?
It is difficult because you don't want to get rid of it.
It is also difficult because you have many misunderstandings.
You say, "pain, misery, suffering or anguish." That shows you don't understand. You can get rid of pain, misery, suffering, which are your own creations; you can withdraw. They cannot stand without your support, they need constant nourishment from you. They suck you, they are parasites - but you can throw them away.
Anguish you cannot get rid of.
So don't say "suffering or anguish."
Anguish is a totally different plane.
Anguish is something spiritual.
Anguish you are not to get rid of; anguish you have to become more acquainted with.
If you are standing with your back towards anguish, it appears like suffering.
If you turn your face towards anguish, it becomes blissfulness.
You are not to get rid of it. And it is nothing to do with you, so you cannot get rid of it. Even if you want to get rid of this blessing, then too it is not in your power. It is something intrinsic to your nature.
If you are not facing yourself, you will feel anguish; if you turn towards yourself, the same anguish becomes the greatest blessing in the world.
So don't say suffering or anguish. That shows your utter ignorance of your own inner world.
Suffering, misery, pain, are all outside.
Anguish is within.
Anguish you are born with.
Suffering, misery, pain, are your creations.
That is also one of the causes why you cannot get rid of them. You have created them, they are your children.
You just look at people when they are talking about their suffering; watch their faces, watch their eyes - and you will be surprised. Are they talking about their suffering or are they bragging about it?
- because their face seems to be radiant when they talk about their suffering. And remember, you know! - because you are doing the same. You always exaggerate your pain, your suffering, your misery; you make it as big as possible. Why? If it is something to get rid of, why are you magnifying it? You are enjoying it.
One of my friends is a Catholic priest. I asked him once, "You hear people's confessions. Have you ever wondered whether they may be exaggerating?"
He said, "What! Exaggerating? They are confessing their sins, why should they exaggerate?"
I said, "People exaggerate everything. If sinners are standing in a queue, you would like to stand first, you would like to be the greatest sinner. You would not like to be just third-class, standing at the end of the queue. And if somebody asks what kind of sin you committed - you have stolen a hen!
When there are Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, and Nadirshah, and Alexander the Great, and Ivan the Terrible - your whole life you only stole a hen? You must be an idiot! Such a long life - seventy years - you could not do anything else? And you have some nerve to stand in the line with such great people: Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin. Get lost! Don't count yourself a sinner!
No, you will have to magnify it as much as possible.
A small boy came running into his home and, huffing and perspiring, told his mother, "A lion has been following me! But I was not afraid."
The mother said, "Lion? In the middle of the city? I have told you a thousand times: Don't exaggerate. Where is the lion?"
He said, "He is standing outside the door."
The mother went to the door; a small dog was standing there.
The boy said, "Yes, this is the lion."
The mother said, "You know perfectly this is a dog."
He said, "I know, but when you are telling a story, and you say a small dog was following you, and you were not afraid - that does not fit. A lion is needed. And as far as exaggeration is concerned, you are telling me that you have told me one thousand times not to exaggerate. You are exaggerating yourself."
Everybody is making himself look, in every possible way, like somebody special.
You are talking about your suffering and somebody says, "It is nothing." You will be hurt, you will not like this response. You were telling such a great story; you were opening your wounds and that man said, "This is nothing. You should know my suffering."
Suffering also becomes a support to your ego. A man without suffering, without pain, without any misery - how can he manage his ego? He won't have any props for the ego.
I used to stay with one of the presidents of the Indian National Congress - which has been the ruling party since independence. His name was Uchchhangrai Dhebar, and he loved me very much. He was the only politician of that status who used to come to the camps to meditate, to participate. He was really a nice person. It is very difficult to find in politicians that quality of niceness.
He was talking about the great problems that he was facing. I listened, and I told him, "You can talk about these things to other people - don't waste my time. If you can do something about those things then do it; otherwise what is the point of unnecessarily talking? I am not the person interested in that kind of thing."
Just then the phone rang and he took it. The prime minister was calling, and Uchchhangrai Dhebar said, "I am very much engaged right now." And he was not engaged at all - we were just gossiping!
He said, "I am very much engaged right now; today it is not possible for me to meet you. Perhaps tomorrow I can manage. I will have to enquire from my secretary."
As their conversation was finished I said, "I don't see that you are engaged."
He said, "That is not the point. When a prime minister phones - and I am the president of the party as far as organization is concerned, he is just a member of the organization .... He may be the prime minister, but when a prime minister calls me, I am always engaged. When the president of the country calls me, I am always engaged. These people understand only that language.
"If I just go and run to his house and say, 'Yes, sir, I am here, what do you want?' then what is the point of being the president of the party? So much struggle, so much trouble, so much conflict, quarreling, and then in the end I have been able to become the president. And you want me to say to the prime minister that I am gossiping, I am free, I have nothing to do? Now I am engaged in great problems."
I said, "Perhaps the same is true when you are talking about your great problems to me. At least with me be sincere. I am not the prime minister or the president."
He looked into my eyes for a moment and he said, "You are right. I was just bragging about how much puzzled I am, how much trouble my life is. To be the president of the ruling party of such a vast country is to be lying on a bed of thorns."
He was sleeping on a Dunlop mattress. I said, "What are you talking about? I see you sleep on a Dunlop mattress!"
I cannot sleep on one of those because it is so soft that the moment you move, it moves with you. It keeps me awake; I am waking continuously the whole night.
Once Teertha brought for me a water bed. That night I will never forget. That water bed must be supplied in hell, because you turn and the whole water inside moves just underneath you. That much water movement - how can you sleep? I can sleep on a hard floor; it may hurt a little bit, but sooner or later you will fall asleep. But on a water bed ... and that was the latest "in thing" so Teertha brought it for me. I had to suffer many latest in things.
You cannot get rid of your miseries for the simple reason that you don't have anything else to cling to. You will be empty - and nobody wants to be empty. People befool themselves in every possible way.
I have visited areas where people were so hungry - starving; they had no food. I enquired, "You don't have any food, how do you manage to sleep?" - because without food you cannot sleep. In fact sleep is needed for one of the most basic reasons: to digest food. So all other activity is dropped and your whole energy goes into digestion. But when you don't have any food in the stomach, sleep becomes difficult.
I have been fasting, so I know. Before the fasting day, the whole night you go on tossing and turning, thinking of the next day and the delicious foods. And when you are hungry anything looks delicious.
But you cannot sleep. I asked, "How do you manage to sleep?"
They said, "We drink a lot of water to fill the belly, to deceive the body, and then sleep comes." They know perfectly well they are deceiving; water is not nourishment. The body is asking for food, and they are giving water because only water is available. But at least something is in the stomach, it is not empty.
This is the situation as far as your psychological emptiness is concerned: anything will do. Nothing is not acceptable to you. And unless nothing is acceptable to you, you are not ready to get rid of your pain, misery, and suffering.
You say, "Knowing perfectly well ...." You don't know at all, and you are saying, "Knowing perfectly well." You know nothing. "Knowing perfectly well" means that if you understand, all these sufferings and miseries will drop of their own accord.
Knowing perfectly well and still continuing to suffer, to be miserable - no, it is not possible. Either you don't know or you cannot suffer. You cannot be allowed both together: knowing perfectly well and still suffering. And your last sentence makes it clear that that knowledge is not knowing. It may be knowledge.
You say, "Knowing perfectly well that one just has to understand and drop them." It is a little delicate affair - to understand and drop them ... as if after understanding you will have to drop them. That's not how it happens.
In understanding is the very dropping. There is no "and to drop them."
There is no action after understanding.
Understanding is the action itself.
It is not that you bring the light inside the room, then you throw the darkness out. You don't say, "I will bring the lamp in and then throw the darkness out." If you say that, anybody will know that you are blind. You don't know what you are saying. When you bring light in you will not find darkness at all. What are you going to throw out?
Understanding is light.
The moment you understand, there is no suffering to be thrown out, to be dropped, to be got rid of.
Understanding simply cleanses you.
You may have a laugh after it, but there is no action. You may have a good laugh because you will see how stupid you have been. You have been trying to get rid of things which only need to be understood, and that very understanding becomes freedom from them.
No doing other than understanding is needed.
But perhaps you don't have a clear-cut idea of knowing and knowledge. It is knowledge: you have heard, you have listened, you have read.
Yes, you are knowledgeable, but knowledge helps nobody.
Sigmund Freud, a man of great knowledge, was afraid of ghosts - although he said continually, "There are no ghosts, there is no evidence, no proof." He was so much afraid of ghosts that a simple incident became the breaking point between his chief disciple, Carl Gustav Jung, and himself.
Carl Gustav Jung was going to be his successor. Freud had already declared, "Jung is going to be my successor." And Jung was the most intelligent, scholarly, impressive, charismatic personality amongst all Freud's disciples, but there were a few things which were troublesome. One was that Jung was interested in ghosts; that was a constant trouble.
One day Sigmund Freud was sitting in his office with Jung in front of him; they were talking and somehow the topic of ghosts came up. Jung said, "Whatever you say, I still suspect that something like ghosts exists." Sigmund Freud became red with anger - and at that very time, in the cupboard behind, there was a sound almost like an explosion. Sigmund Freud fell from his seat.
Jung opened the cupboard: there was nothing. He closed it again, put the seat right, placed Freud there and said, "There is nothing. I don't know what happened, what caused this explosion." They started talking again, and again the ghost thing came up. Sigmund Freud said, "I don't believe in it and you stop talking about it" - and the explosion!
This was too much: Sigmund Freud fell into unconsciousness. And that was the breaking point. He simply informed Jung, "Either you drop me, or you drop your ghosts."
So knowledgeable, so much a pioneer, a great scientific mind .... But if you really know that there are no ghosts then there will be a different response. You will not fall unconscious, you will not fall from your seat. It is just knowledge, belief. Freud wants to believe that there are no ghosts, but deep down he is just an ordinary human being like anybody else, with all the fears.
Jung was not different either. He was interested in ghosts, but he was very much afraid of death.
Now look at this strange thing. You are interested in ghosts; if you are really interested in ghosts, you should be interested in death too, because without death ghosts can't exist. A ghost is nothing but a man who was once in the body and is no more in the body. If you are interested in ghosts, you should be logically interested in death, in the very process of death.
But Jung was so afraid, more afraid than Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud at least had some excuse in the explosion to fall unconscious. Jung was so afraid that even the word "death" was enough.
Thrice in his life he became unconscious just because the word "death" came into the conversation.
He was very much interested in seeing in Egypt the mummies of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, queens, kings - which were very recently discovered, excavated, and were now available for the public to see. He booked at least a dozen times to go to Egypt but at the very last moment he would find some excuse not to go.
One time Jung even reached the airport in Zurich; finding no excuse not to go, he was very much in trouble. He was trying to find some excuse not to go but there was no excuse. People had even come to give him a good send-off and say, "Have a good journey." And finally he said, "I am not going."
"But," they said, "why?"
He said, "I have tried to find an excuse not to go - there is none. But if I don't want to go, who are you to force me to go? You have come with flowers, and I am dying with fear. I cannot look at a corpse."
It is the strange mind of man. You are obsessed with things of which you are afraid. Perhaps you are obsessed only because you are afraid. Your fear and your obsession are almost always pointed to the same thing. Jung never managed in his life to reach Egypt, and this was one of his cherished desires. He was very knowledgeable, but as far as knowing was concerned - just nil.
Knowing transforms you.
Knowledge only gives you a false idea that you are wise.
It is better to be sincerely ignorant - because there is a chance of change - than to be a hypocrite insincerely believing that you know.
Ignorance has done no harm to anybody.
Knowledge has done immense harm.
The knowledgeable person goes on living with this false idea that he knows. And because he knows, there is no need to enquire any more. The ignorant man is continuously on the verge of enquiry; always a question mark is there. And this is one of the traits of human nature, that you cannot live with a question mark. Either you have to cover it with false knowledge - which becomes your answer - or you have to find the real answer so that the question disappears.
Knowledge is not the answer but only a pretension of an answer.
You say, "Knowing perfectly well" .... Drop this idea of knowledge. Please just accept your ignorance.
Be courageous and capable of saying, of many things, "I do not know."
If somebody asks you about God, do you have the courage simply to say, "I do not know"?
The atheist has no courage; he says, "I know there is no God."
The theist has no courage; he says, "I know there IS God."
Only the agnostic is a little courageous; he says, "I do not know yet." He leaves the question without any definite answer. He is enquiring, he is searching.
From my very childhood I have been continuously questioning knowledgeable people. My house was a guest house of many Jaina saints, Hindu monks, Sufi mystics, because my grandfather was interested in all of these people. But he was not a follower of anybody. He, rather, enjoyed me bothering these saints.
Once I asked him, "Are you really interested in these people? You invite them to stay in the house and then you tell me to harass them. In what are you really interested?"
He said, "To tell you the truth I enjoy their being harassed, because these guys go on pretending that they know - and they know nothing. But anywhere else it would be difficult to harass them because people would stop you. People would tell me, 'Your grandson is a nuisance here - take him away.'
So I invite them, and then in our own house you can do whatever you want. And you have all my support: you can ask any questions you want."
And I enquired of these people, just simple questions: "Be true and just simply tell me, do you know God? Is it your own experience or have you just heard? You are learned, you can quote scriptures, but I am not asking about scriptures: I am asking about you. Can you quote yourself, your experience?"
And I was surprised that not a single man had any experience of God, or of himself. And these were great saints in India, worshiped by thousands of people. They were deceiving themselves and they were deceiving thousands of others. That's why I say that knowledge has done much harm.
Ignorance has done no harm.
Ignorance is innocent. Knowledge is cunning.
Knowing is far beyond both.
Knowing has the innocence of ignorance and the knowing of knowledge, both together. It is innocent knowing.
And knowing is authentically yours.
Unless any knowledge is yours, it is better not to have such ideas of having perfect knowledge.
Do you understand, when you use words like "perfect"? Is there anything in life perfect?
The moment anything is perfect, it is dead.
Life is continuous imperfection.
Yes, it is moving towards perfection - but always moving and never arriving. That's the whole stance of evolution, that it goes on evolving higher and higher but there is no point where it can say, "Now the journey is finished." The book of life has no beginning and no end. It is a continuum; infinite continuity.
Never use words like "perfect". Everything is imperfect here, has to be - except idiots like pope the polack. These are perfect people, infallible. Only idiots can claim infallibility. The wise ones will say, "Perhaps it is so. I do not know absolutely. Yes, I have glimpses. There are moments of clarity; there are times it seems, 'Yes! This is it!' but there is no full stop anywhere."
If you ask me how many times I have said, "This is it!" and the next day, something bigger .... And I think, "My God! So this is it!" But slowly slowly, when it was happening more and more, more and more, bigger and bigger, I dropped the idea of saying, "This is it!"
This is always becoming it, but there is no full stop. It is never perfect.
Knowing is a process.
Knowledge is a dead thing, with a full stop.
You don't know, and it will be of immense help to you to know that you don't know, because from there a true journey can start. Your question gives enough evidence of ignorance because you say, "By understanding and then dropping it." Alas, after understanding there is nothing to drop. You will be at a loss.
Before understanding there is so much to drop, but you cannot drop it.
After understanding, when you can drop it, there is nothing to drop.
These are the mysteries of life, real mysteries of life - tremendously enjoyable.