There is a story told by Sufis about a man who read that certain dervishes, on the orders of their Master, never touched meat and did not smoke. Since this tends to fit in with certain well-established beliefs, especially in the West, this man made his way to the ZAWIA — assembly place — of the illuminated ones, to sit at their feet. They were all over ninety years old.
Sure enough, there they were, not a spot of nicotine or shred of animal protein among them, and our hero gasped with delight as he sat drinking in the unpolluted air and tasting the bean-curd soup which they provided. He hoped that he would at least live to a hundred.
Suddenly one of them whispered, “Here comes the great Master!” And all stood up as the venerable sage came in. He smiled benignly and went into the house, heading for his quarters. He did not look a day over fifty.
“How old is he, and what does he eat?” asked the enraptured visitor.
“He is one hundred and fifty years old, and I don’t suppose any of us will reach that venerable age and station,” wheezed one of the ancients. “But, of course, he is allowed twenty cigars and three steaks a day, since he is now beyond being affected by frivolities and temptations!”
It is a beautiful story. There comes a moment when a man goes beyond all duality — then he is allowed everything.
Drop All Dos And Don’ts
From where this dos and don’ts come?
The society has substituted character for consciousness. Children are very conscious, more alert than they will ever be. You can watch children; that’s why they look so alive, so fresh, such a bubbling cheerfulness. Where does all that disappear to? And look at people who have character – you will always see a kind of dullness in their eyes. You will not find any spark, you will not see intelligence. Children are intelligent: they are not yet covered by layers of dust, they have not yet gone through the factory called education, they have not yet been cultured; they are yet wild and they still have the freedom and the innocence and the joy of the wild animals. They act moment to moment.
But we start cultivating them, we start curbing their freedom. We start imposing, “Do this, don’t do that.” We start imposing do’s and don’ts on them. Soon they will forget all about freedom, soon they will start acting out of the past, pretending. Soon they will be no more alive.
What is not ours, why do we want to be in a cage of that?
Learning from story: Drop all dos and don’ts. Follow your own Intelligence and not intellectual.
First we will understand what is the difference between a man of character and a man of consciousness.
If somebody insults you, the man of character has a ready-made answer. The man of consciousness has no ready-made answers. He need not be bothered – he has consciousness, he has a mirror-like quality. He will reflect the situation and he will respond to the situation. His act will be out of that moment’s awareness. His act will not be out of the past, out of memory, out of the mind. His act will be born anew in the present. His act will be fresh, as fresh as dewdrops in the morning. His act will have beauty, his act will have splendor, his very act will be that of grace.
The man of character is ugly. He is dull, stupid; he lives in the past, he lives in habits. He has created what are called “good habits” – but why do you need habits? You need habits because you can’t depend on your awareness; otherwise there is no need to have any habits. You can always rely on your consciousness, you know you will be there, fully aware – so why prepare beforehand? There is no need. Whatsoever is required by the moment will be arising in you.
If you become a man of consciousness dos and don’ts will drop out. The first step is to bring awareness. Whatsoever you do, do with awareness. It may be gardening, cleaning the floor. walking, eating. Start from small act.
Right awareness means not only awareness – because awareness can become a strain – right awareness means awareness without any strain, relaxed. One can try to be aware but can create tension on the way, and that tension will destroy the whole work. So these two things have to be remembered: awareness with no strain, with no tension.
Awareness is a flowering of relaxation. Wherever you feel any tension in the body, relax that part. If your whole body is relaxed, your awareness will grow faster. Just watch, just see, make no effort, do not strive; an effortless awareness. In the beginning it looks very paradoxical – effortlessness and awareness – but once you start working on it, slowly slowly the knack is learned. It is a knack. And once you have learned the knack, once you have known even a single moment of awareness without tension, you are on the right track; you will never be the same person again.