...the Buddhist explanation is to say that the whole idea of having a self of any kind is an illusion; that there is just this happening and that happening where you are or where this person is, but there is no real self there that can incorporate all that and declare a separate self. I don't agree with that. I think that everything that has happened to us since we were born is unique...
You see, the big difference, for me, is to move away from being centred in your daily life. The big step is to move that centre of gravity, which very few people manage, and you then say, "Right, I am faced with my daily life, so from this place I enter my daily life, and I do maybe the same things I was doing before, but I am not centred in that anymore."
Many, many years ago when I was seriously moving onto the spiritual path I read a famous book, famous in India, called the ‘Bhagavad Gita’, I am sure some of you have read it and for sure some of you know about it. It is a kind of cross between the Bible and ‘Alice in Wonderland’. One of the statements in it which knocked me over and which took me many years to understand, or to fully realize what was being said, was: ‘Passion is the enemy’. But I thought: “It is surely great to be passionate about things, passion means a tremendous personal involvement.”
So there is an energy, a basic life force or life energy, in each of us which takes over our lifetime and our experiences and influences on us during our lifetime and of course our heritage and our genes, that throws up a certain person into the world that is you. Everything that we do, everything that is, is a form of energy. So this essential basic life energy is doing this with this person, is doing that with that person, is doing that with this person. Anyway, despite all the things that have contributed to our particular nature and individuality and uniqueness, behind all that there is just one source of energy which is converted with each person into some different system.
‘The present moment as it comes, wants to unfold the message of life, the message of eternity’. ‘The present moment’, that means every moment, not this present moment that I am speaking only, of course, but every moment wants to unfold for you the message of life and the message of eternity. Can you find it? Can you hear it? Can you feel it and taste it? Can you know it? Can you unite with it? Can you live it? Because it is here, in every moment.
So the only way to achieve real peace is to find it peacefully. You can’t do it violently then suddenly decide, “After all this violence, now we’ve achieved peace, so from now on we move into peace.” It’s not possible. People don’t do that because their whole view of things is that you have to fight to get what you want, even if it’s peace.
Zen says for example, “Inwardly, no identity. Outwardly, no attachment.” No identity within, no clinging, holding, embracing anything outside – then what state are you in, if you have no identity and no attachments? Then you’re nowhere. That’s the place where you can be reached.
There comes a time, as it has come for me, when the gift of life is taken away - well, as far as we know for sure.
So dying is a process that happens on earth, it’s not about something that happens when you’re kind of already out of life and you’re in kind of a space where you not really here anymore and yet you are, and you just watch the time go by in a kind of neutral way. It’s not like that, not for me. It’s like a process that belongs to something I don’t know about, and that has really surprised me.
You can be happy for this or that as a response to some favour or incident, but you can never reach happiness as a state of being, until you reach the top of the mountain. On the other hand – and that’s my teaching coming now – you don’t actually have to climb to the top of the mountain to find that happiness.