CAN YOU THROW SOME LIGHT ON THE FEELING OF NOSTALGIA?
The whole of humanity suffers from nostalgia. Yes, I call it a suffering - it is a disease. It happens only because we are not able to live in the present totally, passionately, intensely. Then the mind starts making substitutes for the present, and then there are two possibilities: either you move towards the past or you move towards the future. Neither the past exists nor the future: the past is no more, the future not yet. All that exists is this moment, only this moment. Now is the only real time and here the only real space.
But whenever you become obsessed with the past or the future it simply shows one thing: an escape from the present, an escape from the existential And why should one want to escape from the existential? Why should one want to escape into memories or into fantasies? There can be only one reason: you don’t know how to live now, you don’t know the art of getting in tune with reality.
Because your present is so empty, so meaningless, you have to compensate for it with something.
The easier way is to compensate for it with the past because the past once existed; it has left its footprints in the sands of your memory, so it is easier to fall back. The past seems more substantial than the future, hence ninety-nine percent of people fall towards the past. Only one percent - the poets, the visionaries, the artists - look towards the future, they compensate for their present with the future. But basically both are doing the same; more or less everybody is doing it in his own way.
Nostalgia means non-meditativeness, unawareness, unconsciousness, and it is an utterly futile exercise, an absolutely futile exercise. You cannot be nourished by the past, there is no way to live it again, but you can live in memories. Living in memories is an empty gesture.
So the first thing, Ronald, is to remember that it is not only you who is suffering from nostalgia, everybody is although there may be relative differences.
And the people who live in the future are also projecting their past, because where else can they get the material to make future dreams? They will get it from the memories. They will modify their past, decorate their past, make new combinations of the past and create a future - a future heaven. And this is true about individuals and about societies too.
The old societies, for example, India, live in the past. India’s golden age has passed. In the future there is only darkness and nothing else; the future holds no hope. So India falls back towards the past.
It happens to every individual in his old age - it is an indication of old age - because the old man cannot look ahead, there is nothing there but death. If he looks into the future he can hear the footsteps of death coming closer and closer and closer. It is frightening. He closes that door completely, he looks back. It is more beautiful - all those memories of youth and childhood…
The child lives in the future because he has no past. He is always hoping to grow up as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. The same is true about young societies, for example, America: its whole history is only three hundred years old. India has existed for at least ten thousand years; more is possible but not less. Ten thousand years certainly create a deep hankering for the past - the society is so old, so collapsing.
But America can hope for the future - it is so young; it has no past. If the American tries to go to the past, where can he go? Abraham Lincoln, Washington… and then comes the end. There is not much in it - three hundred years is nothing. India can go on and on as far back as one can conceive.
So it is true about individuals, it is true about societies, races, collectivities - that if you are very young you look towards the future, if you are getting old you start looking towards the past.
So one thing, Ronald: you must be getting old, if not physically then psychologically. But deep down you know that the peak of life has passed and the future looks dark and dismal. But I don’t differentiate much between future and the past because both are escapes.
The king had very small reproductive machinery. One day, while bathing with other nobles, a friend remarked, “My dear King, you have a really small thing there!”
And the king replied, “Yes. If it was another inch smaller I"d be a queen!”
Relatively speaking… This is the whole theory of Albert Einstein, The Theory of Relativity.
So, Ronald, you may be too obsessed by nostalgia and others may be a little less obsessed, or more, but it is only a question of quantity.
Only an enlightened person has no nostalgia because he need not escape from the present. The awakened person lives herenow, he knows no other life.
The first thing about nostalgia: it can be understood only if you understand the nature of the mind.
The mind functions like the pendulum of an old dock: it moves from one extreme to another, it never stays in the middle. If the pendulum stays in the middle, the dock stops. That’s exactly true about the mind: if it remains in the middle, the mind stops, and that is the beginning of meditation. To be in the present is the beginning of an immense journey into eternity.
Eternity is vertical, time is horizontal. In time you move from A to B, from B to C, from C to D; it is linear, a line, a horizontal line. The moment you stop in the middle, you don’t move from A to B, your whole dimension changes - it becomes vertical. You dive deep into A: from Al to A2, from A2 to A3, from A3 to A4, and you go on diving deeper and deeper into A - not to B, not to C. The horizontal is no longer there; it is vertical. And the heights of life and the depths of life belong to the vertical dimension. The horizontal means the shallow, the superficial.
The mind is equivalent to time, hence it is not only a metaphor when I use the clock and the pendulum as symbols for the mind, it is literally true. The moment you are out of the mind - that is, you are moving in the vertical dimension - you are also out of time.
A Sufi saying attributed to Jesus is that when a disciple asked Jesus, “What will be very special in your kingdom of God?” he said, “There shall be time no longer.” The disciple may not have ever thought that this was going to be the answer: “There shall be time no longer.” It is not reported in the New Testament - the New Testament has missed many important things about Jesus - but other secret traditions have carried those messages. “There shall be time no longer.” He defines his kingdom of God by that statement - that will be the most special thing about it - no time, timelessness.
The mind is time; the moment there is no mind there is no time. And when there is no time there is no past, no future. Remember, time consists only of past and future: nostalgia for the past and dreams of the future. The present is not part of the time at all.
So when you hold the pendulum of the clock in the middle, the clock stops; when you hold your attention, your awareness, exactly in the middle, in the present, mind disappears, time disappears.
If you don’t know the art of meditation then the pendulum goes on moving from one extreme to another: from the past to the future, from the future back to the past. That’s how it keeps itself going, that’s how it keeps its momentum.
A beggar knocks at the gate of a Bavarian convent and asks the sister on duty, “Please, do you have any old robes for me?”
A bit ruffled, the sister replies, “But this is a nunnery! We don’t have any men in this house and no men’s clothing, of course! ”
The beggar apologizes and leaves.
The Mother Superior, who has overheard the conversation, says, “You shouldn’t have told him that we are without any male protection. Now that he knows he might come one night and molest us.” After a brief moment of thought, the sister on duty opens her little window and shouts after the beggar, “Hey, you, listen! At night the house is full of men!” That’s the way of the mind - from one extreme to another; it never stops in the middle. It is extremist, either rightist or leftist; it knows nothing of the golden mean.
You ask me, Ronald: FREUD CALLED IT REGRESSIVE AND A SEEKING OF THE WOMB. THIS DOES NOT SATISFY ME.
You have not understood poor Sigmund Freud; he is one of the most misunderstood men of this century. He had many insights of tremendous value and they gain more value because of the fact that he was not an awakened man. He was a blind man groping for the door and many times he came very close to the door. But obviously, not being enlightened himself, whatsoever he says about the door, his experience of being close to it, does not have that clarity which only a Buddha or a Lao Tzu or a Jesus can have. He uses words which can be very easily misunderstood. His words are ordinary, his insights very extraordinary. It is almost a miracle that a man who knows nothing of meditation, who knows nothing of his own consciousness, has many times come so close to the truth. One step more and he may have stepped out of darkness, out of blindness.
For example, Sigmund Freud calls it regressive. It is true, but the word “regressive” hurts. Nostalgia is regressive. Of course, it does not satisfy because it does not give you any nourishment for the ego. Regressive? And you always thought it was some great poetic quality, that you had a great understanding of the past, that your memory was magical, that you could recreate the past, you could relive it as if it were there again. You may have thought of it as something of very great creative value - and Sigmund Freud comes and he calls it “regressive”. It is certainly regressive.
You think of yesterdays only because you are not grown-up yet; you are still living somewhere farther back. The average psychological age of human beings is twelve years. And that is the average, Ronald - one may be ten, eight, seven, six, five, because there are people who are sixteen, twenty, twenty-five… So don’t take the average for granted.
Just look into your nostalgia, where you are lingering in past. There must be a few special spots, a few special memories which come again and again. That’s an indication that something has remained there, something has not grown since then. A part of you is still six years of age if that is the time which gives you sad and sweet memories. If you remember some other time then another part is still clinging there. Man is spread out almost all over the way.
There is a story in India:
Shiva’s wife died and he loved the woman so much, so madly, that he in his madness thought that there must be a physician somewhere in the country who could still bring her back to life. So he carried the dead body of his wife Parvati on his shoulders and roamed around the country looking for some miracle worker, some physician who knew the secret of the nectar which could revive the woman.
Of course, the body started deteriorating: it became rotten, parts of the body started falling. But he was so mad he went on and on. The hands fell in one place, the legs fell in another, the head fell somewhere else… That’s how the Indian sacred places were born - this is the story. One part fell in Varanasi, another fell in Puri, another fell in Ujjain, and so on and so forth. The body fell in twelve parts all over the country. By the time his tour was over nothing was left; the woman had disappeared. But wherever one part of the woman fell a sacred spot arose; it became a teertha, a place for pilgrimage.
This is somehow very significant for each of you. A part of you fell when you were four years of age and that part has remained there, another part fell somewhere else… you are spread out all over the way. You are not one piece, you are a multiplicity - multi-psychic many minds. And one part of may be very grown-up and another may be very childish.
A scientist may be a very grown-up man as far as his science is concerned. When he goes into his lab he is a very skilful, intelligent person, he works with great acumen, talent, genius, but another part of his life may be very childish, almost stupid. When he is out of his lab he is a totally different person.
It is said about Karl Marx that one day he brought many boxes of cigarettes to his home. The wife was a little puzzled. Women are more together than men; they are more earth-bound, more earthly and live more closely to the present.
The wife asked, “What made you bring so many cigarettes? And we are out of money!” He said, “Don’t be worried at all! I have found a secret way of earning money, that’s why I have purchased so many cigarettes. I will tell you the secret. Just along the way while coming back home I thought about an economic law: that if you smoke twelve cigarettes per day and you can find cheaper cigarettes, then with each cigarette you will be saving money, so the more you smoke the more money is saved! So now there is no need to worry about money. I will simply smoke and money will be saved! And I have found the cheapest brand. So much money will be saved that now you need not worry!”
The woman thought he had gone mad! He closed his doors and started smoking, two cigarettes at a time, because he was in such a hurry to earn money! And the woman rushed to one of his friends, Friedrich Engels, and told him the whole thing: “He has gone mad! He is continuously smoking, and two cigarettes at a time, because he thinks that the quicker the better!”
Engels came and tried to convince him, but he argued. It was very difficult to bring him down to earth.
And this happens to many people: in one part they may be grown-up, in another part very childish.
Nostalgia is regressive. You may not like the word, but the truth is there. Sigmund Freud is very dose to the right point. And he is also right about the womb; again he is using a word which seems offensive. Who wants the womb? Who wants to go back into the womb? The very idea is sickening!
What can you get in the womb of a mother? Just the very idea will make you vomit!
Just the other day Ajit Saraswati sterilized my tailor, Veena, and my librarian Gayan went to see the operation. Before Ajit started the operation, Gayan fainted. The very idea of looking into the womb was enough! And if this is so about a woman, what about a man?
Just think: looking back into the womb - if there were a window and you could look inside - would you like to go there? You will escape as far away as possible from any womb because a few wombs are very dangerous - they can suck you in!
I have heard:
A woman was lying on the street dead and naked. A rabbi was passing by. Seeing the naked woman he removed his hat and covered her, particularly her private parts.
Then a drunkard came by. He looked at the naked woman and, being completely drunk, he thought there was a man there also. So he asked the rabbi, “What are you going to do?”
The rabbi said, “I am going to contact the hospital people.”
But the drunkard said, “First we should take this guy out. Just his hat is showing, the rest of the guy has gone. By the time you bring the hospital people the guy may have disappeared! First let us take this guy out and then you can go anywhere you want. I am concerned about this poor man.”
Who wants to go into the womb? So it offended you, Ronald, but what he means really is that those nine months in the mother’s womb - of course you are not conscious of them anymore, you were not conscious of them even when you were in the womb - were the most pleasant time. Unless you can find a more blissful space the desire to go back into the womb remains; it is an unconscious longing.
Those nine months were of tremendous silence, rest, warmth There was no worry, no problem. You were fed, you were taken care of, and everything was absolutely automatic. You were surrounded by warm water and the womb was keeping you in a very cosy space, protected, safe, secure. Those nine months are still there in your unconscious, hence there is a desire to go back to the womb. That is part of nostalgia; in fact, that is part of what you call love.
The man trying to penetrate the woman is nothing but a search for the womb - very much changed but deep down still the same search. Every man is looking for the mother and unless your woman fulfils the role of your mother you will not be happy with her.
Now you are asking something impossible, hence so much unhappiness in the world. You are asking your woman to be your mother and yet be your woman - young, very alive, beautiful and yet at the same time motherly. Now, she cannot do both things. If she has to be very beautiful according to your criterion of beauty, if she has to be very young, then she cannot be your mother. If she tries to be your mother then she will no longer be beautiful; then she will not be a Sophia Loren. Then she will be like my Sushila - she is a perfect mother! You can find the mother, but if you are asking for Sophia Loren in Sushila then there is going to be trouble! What can she do? She cannot do both things. And Sophia Loren will look good in the films, but she cannot be a mother to you. She cannot give you that warmth - she does not have that much fat. How to give you warmth? She is bony!
Don’t ask a woman to be both a model and a mother. But that’s what everybody is asking. And every woman is asking the same from the man: to be a dad and to be a lover. No man can fulfill both roles together; it is almost impossible. Hence you will be frustrated this way or that; frustration is bound to be there.
The search is for the womb. You may not like the word “womb”, but that’s your misunderstanding.
Nothing is wrong with Freud using the word, but you have misunderstood it.
Punya has sent me a joke. She says, “This is a real joke. I heard it on the main street of the ashram between the boutique and the bag check.”
One sannyasin said to another sannyasin, “What I can’t stand about this ashram is: wherever you look, there are queues.”
The other said, “What? Jews?”
This is your misunderstanding, Ronald.
Mr. Gold had been married for many years when he had to go to Paris for a business trip.
In that city of love, he easily fell victim to the amorous advances of the pretty mademoiselle. But somehow Mrs. Gold found out about it. She wired her husband at his hotel, “Come home! Why spend money there for what you can get here for free?”
The next day she received a cable in reply: “I know you and your bargains!”
Just a misunderstanding on your part…
An English vicar checked into a large hotel. As he was walking up the main stairway he met a tiny old lady half-way up, panting for breath and carrying an enormous suitcase.
He eagerly took the case from the speechless old lady and carried it to the top of the stairs.
When he returned to help her up, she kicked him viciously in the shins. “It took me ten minutes to carry my case that far down!” she shouted.
Ella: “I’m homesick!”
Bella: “But this is your home.”
Ella: “I know, and I’m sick of it!”
The newly-arrived ambassador to a Far Eastern country called on the Emperor to present his credentials. Although he was disturbed by the presence of so many comely, half-nude maidens in the palace, he was determined not to show it. Trying to restrict the conversation to affairs of state, he asked, “Your Highness, when was the last time you had an election?”
“Ah,” said the Emperor, with a smile and a sly wink, “Just befo” blekfast!“
Ronald, the problem is not with poor Sigmund Freud, the problem is with you! What can he do if it does not satisfy you? It is not a question of satisfying you - the truth is truth.
You say: SOMETIMES THE PERFUME OF A FLOWER, SOUNDS, A PLACE OR AN INCIDENT FROM CHILDHOOD, CAN EVOKE A FEW SECONDS OF FEELING AND YEARNING THAT ARE SO SAD AND SO SWEET, IT CAN CHOKE ME WITH ITS INTENSITY.
It is possible only if this moment is not intense enough to grip you totally, only if something is left out of this moment if you are holding back.
For twenty-five years I have never thought of my past, of my childhood - no nostalgia. And I have never thought about the future either. This moment is so much - in fact, too much - so overwhelming, who bothers about past and future?
You say: MY CHILDHOOD WAS NOT SO HAPPY, NOR IS THE WOMB SO APPEALING THAT MERE SENTIMENTALITY FOR "THE OLD DAYS” CAN EXPLAIN IT.
Nobody’s childhood can be happy, it cannot be happy for the simple reason that the child is so dependent, so helpless. He is continuously being manipulated by the parents, by the teachers, he is continuously repressed by everybody, ordered, commanded. No child can be ever happy, but everybody, later on, thinks that the childhood was the most beautiful thing that happened to him.
The reason is again relative: the childhood was miserable, but now you are in far more misery! Now the childhood looks beautiful: seeing all the worries of life and the responsibilities and the troubles and the anxieties, it looks beautiful. But that is the only relative - the older you become, the more beautiful it will look.
That’s why it is both sad and sweet. The sadness is its truth and the sweetness is your invention.
And when the childhood was not happy - you say it was not happy - that simply shows you must be living a really miserable life today. If even an unhappy childhood attracts you, that shows only one thing and shows it definitely: that today is just dark, meaningless, hence the past pulls you backwards.
I can say only one thing to you: learn the art of meditation - meditation simply means the art of being herenow totally, absolutely - and then all this nonsense about nostalgia will disappear. Otherwise, it is going to remain with you to the very end.
From the cradle to the grave people go on living somewhere where they cannot live and go on escaping from the only place where it is possible to live.
“y´know its not like i dont appreciate it, I DO!, but you know… after seeing the same kinda joke around 6-ish times a day yknow, you just… start to think the joke is not funny anymore and like… i dont wanna say something rude i do appreciate the time you took to draw me with dark glasses, a joint of weed and yelling 420 blazee as a birthday gift but, like I DO APPRECIATE IT THANK YOU, but” - and keep that going for like 10 minutes
False Justice spreads upon the people and the ruin of the world is near. They will take everything from you, if you do nothing. What is your answer? Will you use the strength within you to take it back?
Very well, I have heeded your resolve. Vow to me. I am thou, thou art I…
Observe your own body. It breathes. You breathe when you are asleep, when you are no longer conscious of your own ideas of self-identity. Who, then, is breathing? The collection of information that you mistakenly think is you is not the main protagonist in this drama called the breath. In fact, you are not breathing; breath is naturally happening to you. You can purposely end your own life, but you cannot purposely keep your own life going. The expression, “My life”, is actually an oxymoron, a result of ignorance and mistaken assumption. You don’t posses life; life expresses itself through you. Your body is a flower that life lets bloom - a phenomenon created by life.