We See Things That Are Not There
Words are very limited. Like the word America, what does that mean? What if I went to the border and took a look at the country from a mountain top. When I look across the border, I think, “Oh, my country, my beautiful country. I see towns and trees and hills. This is my home land!” What am I reacting to? Nothing. I am focusing on a word, America. But trees are not America; trees are trees. In fact, there are no frontiers or boundaries. They were put there by the human mind; mostly by greedy politicians. What are national flags but idols? What are we saluting? I salute humanity, not a flag with an army around it. Flags are in the heads of people.
There are thousands of words in our vocabulary that do not correspond to reality at all but they trigger emotions in us anyway. So we begin to see things that are not there. We actually see American mountains when they don’t exist, and we actually see American people who also don’t exist. American conditioning exists though.
We like to talk about “inculturation.” What is this thing called “culture”? Does it mean you’d like to do something because you were conditioned to do it? That you’d like to feel something because you were conditioned to feel it? Isn’t that being mechanical? Imagine an American baby that is adopted by a Russian couple and taken to Russia. It has no notion that it was born American. It’s brought up talking Russian; it lives and dies for Mother Russia; it hates Americans. The child is stamped with his own culture; it’s steeped in its own literature. It looks at the world through the eyes of its culture. Do you wear your culture the way you wear your clothes? An Indian woman would wear a sari and the American woman would wear something else, the Japanese woman would wear her kimono. Nobody identifies themself with their clothes, but you want to wear your culture more intently. You become proud of your culture. You are taught to be proud of it.
If you give money to a beggar every time because that’s what your mother did, that’s not a virtue, it’s a compulsion. There is no great merit in it if it’s mechanical. The beauty of an action comes not from it being a habit but from its sensitivity, consciousness, clarity of perception, and accuracy of response. I can say yes to one beggar and no to another. I am not compelled by any conditioning or programming from my past experiences or from my culture. Nobody has stamped anything on me, or if they have, I’m no longer reacting on the basis of that. If you had a bad experience with an American or were bitten by a dog or had a bad experience with a certain type of food, for the rest of your life you’d be influenced by that experience. You need to be liberated from that. Don’t carry over experiences from the past, good are bad. Learn what it means to experience something fully, then drop it and move on to the next moment, uninfluenced by the previous one. You’d be traveling with such little baggage that you could pass through the eye of a needle. You’d know what eternal life is, because eternal life is now, in the timeless now. Only then will you enter into eternal life. But how many things are we carry around with us. We never set about the task of freeing ourselves, of dropping the baggage, of being ourselves. And, I’m sorry to say, we use religion to distract ourselves from this task.
Imagine, no longer being influenced by words; uninfluenced by labels. Think how free you would be.