A small Zen parable:
There is a river which is flooded. It is rushing toward the ocean with tremendous speed and force, and two small stalks of some plant are also flowing with its currents. One of the stalks has placed itself crosswise against the currents; it is tense and anxious, tries to fight against them… it makes no difference for the currents which are too powerful to be resisted. The currents are not even aware that a little straw is in their way, trying to resist their triumphant advance. But as far as the little stalk is concerned, it is fighting for its life and wasting all its energy for nothing.
The other stalk has left itself lengthwise in the currents, which are taking it with them effortlessly.
This stalk is relaxed and joyous and festive. It is dancing with the ripples of the river; it has a feeling of sharing and celebrating with the great river. The ways of the stalks make not the least difference to the river, but make all the difference to themselves.
Like the two stalks there are two kinds of people in the world. One is demanding, aggressive and resistant like the first stalk which places itself against the river and fights with it and suffers at every step. And there are people – the other kind of people – who say “Yes” to life, who cooperate with it like the other stalk, which places itself in the currents lengthwise and moves effortlessly and happily with them. These people have a sense of deep kinship with existence; they move with it, with a song in their hearts.
Cooperate Or Resist
We have opportunity to cooperate or resist. All is up to us.
Life can be lived in two ways. One is that of the soldier, and the other, that of the sannyasin. Either you can fight with life or you can relax with life. Either you can try to conquer life or you can live in a deep let-go. The path of the soldier is the wrong path, because it is impossible to conquer life – the part cannot conquer the whole. Frustration and failure is absolutely certain. You can play around the idea, but it is not going to succeed; it is doomed to failure. The soldier tries to conquer the life, and in the end finds he has been crushed by life, defeated by life, destroyed by life.
Life destroys nobody, but if you fight with it you will be destroyed by your own violence. Life is not against you. How can it be? Life is your mother. It is life that has brought you here. You are born out of it. You are a ray of its light, a wave of its ocean. You are intrinsic and organic to it, you are not separate. But if you start fighting your own source of energy, you will be destroyed. Your very concept of fight will poison you. And of course, the more you feel that you are losing the battle, the harder you will fight. The harder you fight, the more frustrated you become.
The soldier’s way is the ordinary way. Almost ninety-nine point nine percent of people follow it – hence there is so much misery, hence there is so much hell. It is created by you, by your wrong approach to life. Once you understand it, you start getting in tune with the whole, you start getting into a dance with the whole. You lose fighting, you start cooperating.
The moment you decide to cooperate, you have become a sannyasin.
The religious person is one who has no idea of separation from the whole who never thinks, never dreams that he is separate who has no private goal of his own who simply moves with life in total trust. If you cannot trust life, who are you going to trust? If you cannot allow life to flow through you, you will be missing – you will be missing this tremendous opportunity to be alive. Then you will get worried, then you will be caught in your own mind. And then misery is the natural outcome.
To understand that conflict is not the way to be happy, is the greatest understanding. To understand that cooperation is the way to be blissful and your dark night of the soul is over and the morning has come, and the sun is rising on the horizon. You will be transformed.
This very understanding is a transforming force – that cooperation is the key, not conflict. Trust is the key, not doubt. Violence is not the way love. This is the basic framework.
Learning from the story Two Stalks: Cooperation
If you cooperate with Life your will be joyful, if you cooperate with misery you will be miserable.
Half the miseries will suddenly disappear once you understand that you are the cause, because then you can-not cooperate. Then you will not be so ignorant to help strengthen the cause which creates miseries. Your cooperation will break. Miseries will still continue for a while just because of old habits.
Even if you become alert, the habitual pattern will force you for a while to move in the same direction. But it cannot persist for long, the energy is no more there. It may continue as a dead pattern, but by and by it will wither away. It needs to be fed every day, it needs every day to be strengthened. Your cooperation is needed continuously.
Once you become alert that you are the cause of your miseries, the cooperation has dropped. So you alert of a single fact: that wherever you are, whatsoever you are, you are the cause. And don’t get pessimistic about it, this is very hopeful – if somebody else is the cause then nothing can be done.
Because of this, Mahavira denies God. Mahavira says there is no God, because if there is God then nothing can be done: “Because if he is the cause of everything then what can I do? Then I become helpless. He has created the world, he has created me. If he is the creator then only he can destroy. And if I am miserable then he is responsible and I cannot do anything.” So Mahavira says, “If there is God then man is helpless.” So he says, “I don’t believe in God.” And the reason is not philosophical, the reason is very psychological. The reason is so that you cannot make anybody responsible for you. Whether God exists or not, that is not the question.
Mahavira says, “I want you to understand that you are the cause of whatsoever you are.” And this is very hopeful. If you are the cause you can change it. If you can create hell, you can create heaven. You are the master.
So don’t feel hopeless. The more you make others responsible for your life the more you are a slave. If you say, “My wife is making me angry,” then you are a slave. If you say your husband is creating trouble for you, then you are a slave. Even if your husband is creating trouble, you have chosen that husband. And you wanted this trouble, this type of trouble – it is your choice. If your wife is making hell you have chosen this wife.