Center & Circumference


The body in itself is nothing. It is luminous because of something
that is beyond the body. The glory of the body is not in the body
itself--it is a host--the glory is because of the guest. If you forget
the guest, then it is sheer indulgence. If you remember the guest,
then loving the body, celebrating the body is part of worship.
    The modem worship of the body is meaningless. Hence,
people go after health food, massage, Rolfing, and in a thousand
and one ways they somehow try to create meaning in their lives.
But look into their eyes; a great emptiness exists. You can see
they have missed the target. The fragrance is not there, the
flower has not flowered. Deep inside, they are just desert-like,
 lost, not knowing what to do. They go on doing many things for
 the body, but they are missing the target.
     Here is an anecdote I have heard:
        Rosenfeld walked into the house with a grin on his face.
     "You will never guess what a bargain I just got," he told his
     wife. "I bought four polyester, steel-belted, radial, wide-
     tread, white-walled, heavy-duty tires, on sale yet!"
        "Are you nuts?" said Mrs. Rosenfeld. "What did you buy
     tires for? You don't even have a car."
     "So," said Rosenfeld, "you buy brassieres, don't you?"
     If the center is missing, then you can go on decorating the
 periphery. It may deceive others, but it cannot fulfill you. It may
 even deceive you sometimes, because even one's own lie re-
 peated too many times starts appearing like a truth, but it cannot
 fulfill you, and it cannot give contentment. People try hard to
   enjoy life, but there seems to be no rejoicing. Remember that
   whenever you are trying to enjoy, you will miss. When you are
   trying to achieve happiness, you will miss. The very effort to
   achieve happiness is absurd--because happiness is here: you can-
   not achieve it. Nothing has to be done about it; you have simply
   to allow it. It is happening, it is all around you; within, without,
   only happiness is. Nothing else is real. Watch, look deep into the
   world, into trees, birds, rocks, rivers, into the stars, moon and
   sun, into people, animals--look deep: existence is made out of
   the stuff of happiness, joy. It is made of bliss. Nothing need be
   done about it. Your very doing may be the barrier. Relax and it
   fulfills you; relax and it rushes into you; relax and it overflows
       People are tense. Tension arises when you are chasing some-
  thing; relaxation arises when you are allowing something.
       People are chasing, chasing hard, trying to get something out
  of life, trying to squeeze life. Nothing comes of it because that is
  not the way. You cannot squeeze life; you have to surrender to it.
  You cannot conquer life. You have to be so courageous to be de-
  feated by life. Defeat is victory there, and the effort to be victo-
  rious is going to prove to be nothing but your final, utter failure.
      Life cannot be conquered because the part cannot conquer
  the whole. It is as if a small drop of water is trying to conquer the
  ocean. Yes, the small drop can fall into the ocean and become the
  ocean, but it cannot conquer the ocean. In fact, dropping into
  the ocean, slipping into the ocean is the way to conquer.
      People are trying to find happiness, hence the overconcern
 with the body. It is almost an obsession. It has gone beyond the
 limits of concern to obsession with the body. They are making
 an effort to have some contact with happiness through the body,
and that is not possible.
     The second problem is that the mind is competitive. You may
not be really in love with body, you may be just competing with
others. Because others are doing things, you have to do them.
And the American mind is the most shallow, ambitious mind that
has ever existed. It is a very worldly mind. That's why the busi-
nessman has become the top-most reality in America. Everything
else has faded into the background; the businessman, the man
who controls money, is the top-most reality. In India, brahmins
were the top-most reality--the seekers of God. In Europe, the
aristocrats were the top-most reality--cultured, educated, alert,
in tune with the subtle nuances of life: music, art, poetry, sculp-
ture, architecture, classical dances, languages--Greek and Latin.
Under Communism the proletariat, the downtrodden, the op-
pressed, the laborer is the top-most reality. Under capitalism it
is the businessman, the one who controls money.
    Money is the most competitive realm. You need not have
culture, you need only have money. You need not know anything
about music or poetry. You need not know anything about an-
cient literature, history, religion, philosophy--no, you need not
know. If you have a big bank balance, you are important. That's
 why I say the American mind is the most shallow mind that has
 ever existed. It has turned everything into commerce. It is con-
 tinuously in competition. Even if you purchase a Van Gogh or a
 Picasso, you don't purchase because it is a Picasso. You purchase
 it because the neighbors have purchased one. They have one in
 their drawing room, so how can you afford not to have one? You
 have to have it. You may not know even how to hang it properly
 since it is difficult to know, with a Picasso, whether it is hanging
 upside down or right side up. You may not even know whether it
 is an authentic Picasso. You may not look at it much but you have
 acquired it because others have. You simply flaunt your money
 and possessions because whatever is costly is thought to be sig-
  Money and the neighbors seem to be the only criterion in de-
  ciding American success. You have to keep up with the Joneses.
  If they have saunas in their bathrooms, everyone has to have one
 to be part of the "in" crowd. Otherwise you look poor. If every-
 one has a house in the hills, you have to have one too. You may
 not know how to enjoy the hills or you simply may be bored
 there. Or you may take your TV and radio there and just listen
 to the same programs you were listening to in your old home.
 What difference does it make where you live? The answer is that
 it matters because it matters to others. And so on it goes.
     I have heard.
        Old Luke and his wife were known as the stingiest cou-
     ple in the valley. Luke died and a few months later his wife
     lay dying. She called in a neighbor and said weakly, "Ruthie,
     bury me in my black silk dress, but before you do, cut the
     back out and make a new dress out of it. It is good material
     and I hate to waste it,"
        "Could not do that," said Ruthie. "When you and Luke
     walk up them golden stairs, what would them angels say if
     your dress ain't got a back in it?"
       "They won't be looking at me," she said. "I buried Luke
     without his pants."
     The concern is always the other--Luke will be without pants
so everybody will be looking at him. The American concern is al-
ways with the other.
    Have you watched a child just running, shouting, dancing for
nothing at all--because he has nothing? If you ask him, "Why are
you so happy?" he will not be able to answer you. He will really
think that you are mad. Is there any need to have a reason to be
happy? The child will simply be shocked that "why" is asked. He
will shrug his shoulders and go on his way and start singing and
dancing again. The child has nothing. He is not a prime minister
yet, he is not a president of the United States, he is not a Rocke-
feller. He owns nothing--maybe a few shells or a few stones that
he has collected on the seashore, that's all.
{To be continued in Part 2}


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