No escape. Los Angeles, California Public Meeting - October 17, 2004
Most people enter into this spiritual affair to try to escape the human condition.
Once they realize how horrible the human condition is, what an aggressive species we are, and once they see within themselves how much negativity there is, how much pushing and shoving and climbing over and disregarding and hating, they are disgusted with it. They hate it. And so they want to get rid of it. They want to escape. Right? Is this familiar?
This is very deep seated then. It is disgusting, it is horrible. And it is a natural response when you see it, to want to get out of it, to want to be above it, to transcend it. And then the search begins, so that you can learn how to do that: to escape through the techniques, the practices, the altered states, the glimpses, the trying and the falling back. But humanity keeps reasserting itself, in all of its messiness. And a kind of disillusionment can set in at that point. It can turn into a cynicism, which is not useful at all. Or it can turn into surrender: "I don't know what to do. I have tried everything, and still this mess keeps appearing."
Someone said up here yesterday, "I just want to kill it. Not the sweet, wonderful me, but this habit that keeps appearing." But the habit is just the other side of the sweet, wonderful you - this humanness. And so then we look to our teachers. You quoted Ramana as saying: "Why are these people upset about a cancer growing on me? It is the nature of cancer to grow." This is then used as a whip: "They don't get upset about things, so I shouldn't get upset. Why am I upset?" Or, "Buddha was totally detached, so that is what I should be, and that way I will escape all the mess. So why am I not detached?" Or, "Christ was totally open-hearted and loving and giving, so why am I not like that? How can I be like that? How can I transcend to that?" And that is part of this spin - the spin of self-hatred. This is the hatred of the animal. There is a recognition of the mess of the animal, the hatred of that mess, and a desire to transcend that mess, to perfect it, or to get rid of it. And of course, animals can be trained, and training is good. Animals are usually happy if they are trained somewhat. Discipline is good, but still there is an animal nature. I remember Papaji saying once, "You know, you can clean the dog's bed, but it's going to get dirty again." And he wasn't saying don't clean the dog's bed. Just don't expect it to not get dirty again.
So this disillusionment is a crossroads. It allows one to recognize the arrogance of thinking that you can change the animal, escape the animal so that you will be happy. I was exactly at that point when I met my teacher. I knew I wanted freedom, but I didn't even know if it existed, except maybe as a story to make me feel better. I wanted truth, and I prayed for a teacher. And when he appeared in my life (or rather, I appeared in his life, quite miraculously), he told me to stop all my searching. Essentially he told me to stop trying to escape, to stop trying to change, to stop trying to do anything. He said just stop and be where you are and meet what is here.
So I have been traveling around speaking to people for some time now, inviting them to stop the search. And it has been quite enlightening to see how wily the mind is, in its desire to transcend and to escape. It will use everything, including the great examples of saints and sages as a hope of escape. Or it uses them as a club when you see that you have failed to escape. It takes all the teachings as something to learn, and memorize and understand, in order to escape. And so I repeat here today; the invitation to true inquiry is to stop all of your searching, for this moment. You can pick up the search later if you like, but then it will be by choice. But first, meet what is here. Stop trying to escape. Discover who you are and then speak of that discovery.
And here at this meeting, I invite us all to listen very attentively, to see how everything that is said reflects either some way that our minds try to escape, or some deeper revelation of the truth that is discovered when we stop. We have this precious time together, we have the opportunity, and we have the gift of each other to inquire in the deepest way. But this is only possible if you stop trying to get anything, including enlightenment, transcendence, understanding, or happiness. And stop trying to get rid of anything including your sorrow, your life, your ego, and your past. Just stop and be here. Then we can meet, individually and collectively. If this meeting is unknown, it is fresh and it is alive. But if what is brought to it is a concept of what the meeting is or should be then it is dead, it is flat. It is not a true meeting then, but an imitation of a meeting. So in order to listen carefully to what is said, just stop following any thought of what you will get or how it proves you haven't gotten, or how it proves you have gotten. Just stop. To listen is really to receive. And to receive is to meet.