“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”


“What is it that you’ve learned, what you’re able to do?”

“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”

“That’s everything?”

“I believe, that’s everything!”

– Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse

– The famous dialogue from  Hermann Hesse’s great novel, Siddhartha. This is the reply the protagonist, Siddhartha, gives to his prospect employer who interviews him on his knowledge and job skills. This novel and I, grew up together…. It has given me different meanings and answers to the same questions I asked at different stages of my life. Today, when I sat to write my weekend blog and had trouble focusing and got vexed in the process, this dialogue from my ‘guide’ knocked at the doors of my mind.

Can I think?
Yes,  a lot!

We all can think. But ‘a lot’ is the problem. Do we think only that which is necessary? And are we able to think with the required degrees of attention about which we are supposed to think?  In majority of the cases, the answer in no. We think too much about unnecessary things and too little about the necessary ones. In a day, almost 90 % of our thinking is either repetitive, redundant, unnecessary or imaginative. Conscious imagination is a wonderful work of the mind, but an unconscious creation or recreation is a mere waste of time and energy. Nothing is more detrimental to a productive and peaceful life than a mind that is on an ‘auto-run’ mode.

And the next, can I wait?
To wait means to be patient. And to be patient means to respect the pace of life. There is no point in trying to run ahead of life. We simply cannot outsmart life. It is similar to running within a moving train with a hope that our running would take us to our destination faster. The best way to wait is to shift the focus of the mind from the object of waiting to something else. This method is effective because the perception of time is nothing but the perception of an experience /incident. In waiting, there is no experience or any incident happening, and so, time comes to a standstill which is very difficult for the mind to handle. The best way is to engage the mind in some activity during the waiting period. That is how some of the great books were born in prisons and exiles.
And finally, can I fast?
Very occasionally and with great difficulty…

What is the psychology and spirituality behind fasting? Fasting increases our sustaining capacity, tolerance level and will power. The will power is not just about bearing the physical hunger, but at a higher level, it is also about bearing  mental and emotional hungers, and agonies of life. This is the deeper meaning behind the ritual of fasting which is practiced in almost all the religions of the world. All those who can survive through tough times without succumbing are the ones who can fast –  those who can fast their pride, egos, desires, and aspirations. There are no short cuts to learn the art of fasting. It comes only by practice and determination.

Siddhartha was a smart man. He knew no trade or craft but knew well the fundamental skills required for survival. And he was right when he said, “I believe, that’s all.”


Salt Man and the Theorists – a story

salt field reflection b&w


“Once it happened that there was a great festival near a sea, on the beach. Thousands of people were gathered there and suddenly they all became engrossed in a question — whether the sea is immeasurable or measurable; whether there is a bottom to it or not; fathomable or unfathomable? By chance, one man completely made of salt was also there. He said, ‘You wait, and you discuss, and I will go into the ocean and find out, because how can one know unless one goes into it?’

So the man of salt jumped into the ocean. Hours passed, days passed, then months passed, and people started to go to their homes. They had waited long enough, and the man of salt was not coming back.
The man of salt, the moment he entered the ocean, started melting, and by the time he reached the bottom he was no more there. He dissolved into the Ocean. He came to know about the Ocean, but became the Ocean itself  and couldn’t come back to tell his experience. And those who didn’t know, they discussed it for a long time. They may theories and counter theories , and finally arrived at some conclusion, because the mind loves to reach conclusions.
Once a conclusion is reached, mind feels at ease — hence so many philosophies exist. All philosophies exist to fulfill a need: the mind asks and the mind cannot remain with the question, it is uneasy; to remain with the question feels inconvenient. An answer is needed — even if it is false it will do; mind is put at rest. we are all men of salt as far as the ocean is concerned — the ocean of life and death. We are men of salt, we will melt into it because we come out of it. We are made by it, of it. We will melt!
So mind is always afraid of going into the ocean; it is made of salt, it is bound to dissolve. It is afraid, so it remains on the bank, discussing things, debating, arguing, creating theories: all false — because they are based on fear. A courageous man will take the jump, and he will resist accepting any answer which is not known by himself.
Jesus says, ‘Truth liberates.’ Have you seen anybody being liberated by theories? Experience liberates, yes, but theories about every experience? No, never! But the mind is afraid to take the jump, because mind is made of the same stuff as the universe; if you take the jump you will be lost. You will come to know, but you will know only when you are not.
The salt man came to know. He touched the very depth. He reached the very center but he couldn’t come back. Even if he could, how would he relate…? Even if he comes, his language will belong to the center, to the depth, which is Silence, and your language belongs to the bank, to the periphery which is theory, philosophy and words.”

– edited from a talk by Osho.

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Veil of words, veil of theories and ideas, all just to feed the mind, to keep oneself engaged ! The more we talk, the more we are avoiding the Truth. That is why Lao Tzu said,

“He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.”

Photo source: http://www.lexphoto.co.uk/