Beyond Heaven & Hell


"A great politician died. When he reached the door of heaven he announced that he would first inspect both heaven and hell before deciding where he would stay. He was taken around heaven and found it too quiet and insipid for his liking. A politician used to living in Delhi with all its excitement is bound to find heaven rather dull. People are relaxed and peaceful; there is no noise, no tumult, no chaos; there is no fighting, no processions, no blockades; in fact, nothing is happening there.
He asked for a newspaper and was told there was none. A newspaper can only be printed when there is news. News requires disturbance and trouble. If you want to be in the news you have to cause some kind of commotion. If you sit under a tree like Buddha, no reporter will come your way.
He said he didn’t enjoy such a dull atmosphere and he would like to pay a visit to hell. He reached hell and was immediately impressed. It was more lively and gay even than Delhi; there were lots of newspapers, lots of processions – everywhere there was noise and movement. There was gaiety and mirth all around, with hotels and bars and cinemas. He was very pleased and wondered why people on earth had the opposite impression of heaven and hell.
He asked Satan, who stood at the gate to welcome him, “Why is such a wrong account of hell given on earth? Had I accepted it without looking for myself I would have suffered in heaven. On earth when a person dies it is good manners to say he has left for his heavenly abode. Actually, this is the place to come. There is so much more life here.”
Satan answered, “There is a reason for all this false propaganda. The opposition party has campaigned against me. They are always publicizing heaven and who listens to me? Whenever I try to tell someone the actual facts, they warn him, ‘Beware of Satan!’ See for yourself how unjust this is.”
The politician went back to the gate to tell the escort from heaven to leave because he had made his decision to stay in hell. No sooner did he say this than the doors of hell closed suddenly and the conditions inside changed drastically – just like in the films. He found a crowd of people attacking and manhandling him. When he shouted in protest and demanded to know what was going on, Satan answered, “Before you were on a tourist visa. Now you are an immigrant. What you saw was meant for visitors only. Now you will get the real taste of hell.”
People choose hell all the time, because the initial stage of every desire is “for visitors only.” Every desire seduces in the beginning. It is the display window, not the real thing – only an advertisement. Once you choose a particular desire the real hell starts. You alone select your particular path to hell.
Many people, many – almost ninety percent – have decided to live on the plain ground, safe, not taking any risks. They never fall to the depth, they never rise to any heights. Their life is a dull affair, a drab thing, monotonous – with no peaks, no valleys, no nights, no days. They just live in a gray world, without colors; the rainbow doesn’t exist for them. They live a gray life, and by and by they also become gray and mediocre.
Never settle for any mediocrity because that is a sin against life. Never ask that life should be without risk, and never ask for security, because that is asking for death. Live dangerously – because that is the only way to live.
The greatest danger is to reach to the greatest peaks of divineness, and to fall to the greatest depths of hell. Become a traveler between these two, unafraid. By and by you will come to understand that there is a transcendence. By and by you will come to know that you are neither the peak nor the depth, neither the peak nor the valley. By and by you will come to know that you are the watcher, the witness. Something in your mind goes to the peak, something in your mind goes to the valley, but something beyond is always there – just watching, just taking note of it – and that is you. Mind has polarity, you don’t have any polarity – you are a transcendence.
Remember this word transcendence. You are transcendental: you go beyond both the polarities. Both the polarities are in you but you are neither; you tower higher than both. Once you become in tune with this transcendence then you walk, not on the plain ground, but between the valleys and the peaks, remaining so balanced that no plain ground can remain as plain as this.
This is something inner; it has nothing to do with the ground. The ground is very high and low – both heaven and hell are there – but you are somewhere far, far away from both. You simply watch the whole game of it, the whole play of consciousness.
Homesickness will arise; it is part of our security, part of our mediocre life. These are just conveniences, just consolations that we create around us to give us a false feeling of security – because every moment death is coming closer and closer. Every moment the grave is calling, and sooner or later everybody is going to be in the grave. The home is not going to remain a home forever. At the most it is a caravanserai – you stay for the night, an overnight stay, and by the morning you go.
Life is an eternal journey. To understand this homelessness is to understand life.