There was once a very great master, his name was Ribhu. He had one rare disciple, his name was Nidagha.
Ribhu hoped for so much – seeing the potentiality of Nidagha, he was working hard on him.
The master works hard only on those disciples who are more potential than others.
There are differences of potentiality: there are a few who are only casually interested – not much is possible with them – whose passion to find God is lukewarm, cannot even be called passion.
There are a few whose thirst is intense, who are ready to risk all. God is not just one item in their life’s search, but the only phenomenon that they would like to know.
Nidagha was rare. Ribhu was working hard on him. “Although the master taught his disciple ‘the supreme truth of the one absolute reality, without a second,’ Nidagha, in spite of his erudition and understanding, did not get sufficient conviction to adopt and follow the spiritual path of self-knowledge, but settled down in his native town to lead a life devoted to the observance of ceremonial religion.”
That’s what I mean when I say “If you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian you will not find God.”
Those are ceremonial religions, those are poor substitutes for the real thing. They cannot nourish you, they can only keep you in a kind of consolation, convenience, comfort.
You can go on telling yourself, “Yes, I am doing whatsoever is needed. I go to the temple, to the church, I pray twice, or five times, I do all the rituals.”
But religion is not a ritual or a ceremonial thing, it is not a social formality.
It is gambling. It needs guts.
It needs you to put your whole being at stake – and to stake that which you know, for that which you don’t know needs real courage because you cannot in any way predict the outcome.
It is going into the dark, it is leaving that which you know for that which you don’t know.
And you never know whether you are going to be a loser or a winner. All is vague. Great courage is needed.
Nidagha had the potential; the master was aware of the potential. But Nidagha himself was not aware of the potential – he escaped from the master into ceremonial religion. He said, “I will read the scriptures, I will do the rituals, I will do whatsoever is asked by the priest.” And remember, the priest asks only the superficial – it only scratches your skin; it never goes into your heart, it never transforms you. Avoid the priest.
But the sage loved his disciple as deeply as the latter venerated his master.
In spite of his age, Ribhu would himself go to his disciple in the town, just to see how far the latter had outgrown his ritualism. At times the sage went in disguise, so that he might observe how Nidagha would act when he did not know that he was being observed by his master.
Yes, that’s what a master has to do – to go on observing you, to go on observing you in those moments when you are completely forgetful of the master, to see what is really happening in your life – because what you pretend is not the real thing.
You can go to the temple and you don’t mean it. You can pray and those words are only lip-service; they don’t come from your innermost core. You can read the scripture without reading it at all. You can go on moving through empty gestures, mechanical gestures, and you can deceive the ordinary person.
But you cannot deceive the master, he will look through your empty gestures.
(The master is one, who has got a glimpse of Consciousness or Self or Soul or God as it is. This is treated as getting answer of the prominent question ‘Who am I?’. Then the beyond starts trickling the wisdom through experiences like Satori-as called in Zen.
So the master is one who has seen, and disciple is one to whom the master is trying to explain this experience. If disciple is ready then just the right situation is needed to be created and the disciple too will get the glimpse. After that experience all differences fall immediately because the REALITY is same for all.)
So Ribhu was after his disciple, and sometimes he would go in disguise.
On one such occasion, Ribhu, who had put on the disguise of a village rustic, found Nidagha intently watching a royal procession.
Unrecognised by the town-dweller Nidagha, the village rustic, inquired what the bustle was all about? and was told that the king was going in procession.
Oh! It’s the king. He goes in procession.
But where is he? asked the rustic.
‘There, on the elephant,’ said Nidagha.
You say the king is on the elephant. Yes, I see the two, said the rustic.
‘But which is the king and which is the elephant?’
‘What!’ exclaimed Nidagha.
‘You see the two, but do not know that the man above is the king and the animal below is the elephant? What is the use of talking to a man like you?’
‘Pray, be not impatient with an ignorant like me,’ begged the rustic.
‘But you said above and below. What do they mean?’
Nidagha could stand it no longer. ‘You see the king and the elephant, the one above and the other below. Yet you want to know what is meant by above and below?’ burst out Nidagha.
‘If things seen and words spoken can convey so little to you, action alone can teach you. Bend forward, and you will know it all too well.’
The rustic did as he was told.
Nidagha got on his shoulders and said, ‘Know it now. I am above as the king and you are below as the elephant. Is that clear enough?’ “
‘No, not yet,’ was the rustic’s quiet reply.
You say you are above like the king and I am below like the elephant. The king, the elephant, above and below – so far, it is clear.
But pray tell me, what do you mean by I and you?
When Nidagha was thus confronted all of a sudden with the mighty problem of defining the ‘you’ apart from the ‘I,’ light dawned on his mind.
At once he jumped down and fell at his master’s feet saying, ‘Who else but my venerable master, Ribhu, could have thus drawn my mind from the superficialities of physical existence to the true being of the self? Oh, benign master, I crave thy blessings.’
If you look at yourself, at your knowledge, at all that you think you know – if you observe it, you will be surprised that you know only words. I, thou, above, below, king, elephant – just words. You don’t know who is behind the words.
Who is this person you go on calling “I”?
You have lived with this person, you are this person, but do you know who you are?
(from “The Revolution: Talks On Kabir” by Osho)
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