- Adi Shankaracharya
- Baul Mystics
- Gautama Buddha (The Buddha)
- Chuang Tzu
- George Gurdjieff
- Hakim Sanai
- J. Krishnamurti
- Jalaluddin Rumi
- Kahlil Gibran
- Lao Tzu
- Lieh Tzu
- Ma Tzu
- Mulla Nasruddin
- Omar Khayyam
- Rabindranath Tagore
- Raman Maharishi
- Ram Krishan Paramhansa
- Ta Hui
Book on Dogen:
Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment (in English)
Before I explain Dogen to you, let this be the introduction, because this is what he is trying to say: that everything passes and yet there is something that never passes; that everything is born and dies and yet there is something that is never born and never dies. And unless you get centered into that eternal source you will not find peace, you will not find serenity, you will not find blissfulness, you will not find contentment. You will not feel at home, at ease in the universe. You will remain just an accident, you will never become essential.
Dogen is a very unique genius. He is saying, “You may be aware of your buddhahood or not aware of your buddhahood — don’t be worried. When the right time and the right season come you will blossom into a buddha.” Just wait … wait intelligently, wait without desire; enjoy waiting, make waiting itself a blissful silence, and whatever is your birthright is bound to flower. Nobody can prevent a bird from flying, nobody can prevent a cuckoo from singing, nobody can prevent a rose from blossoming. Who is preventing you from becoming buddhas? Except you, nobody is responsible for it.
– Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment, Chapter #3
Dogen, a Zen master, used to say, when he felt hungry he would say, “It seems the universal feels hungry through me.” When he would feel thirsty he would say, “The existence is thirsty within me.” This is what this meditation will lead you to. Then everything disperses from your ego and becomes part of the universe. Then whatsoever happens, happens to existence itself; you are no more here. Then there is no sin, then there is no responsibility.
– Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, Chapter #39
Book on Dionysius:
Theologia Mystica (in English)
Dionysius is one of the greatest Buddhas ever. And whenever the Eastern scholar by any chance, if at all, comes across a person like Dionysius, he starts thinking that he must have borrowed from the East. That seems to be a tacit assumption: that the East has some monopoly over spiritualism. Nobody has any monopoly. East or West cannot make any difference in man s spiritual growth. Jesus could become a Buddha in Jerusalem, Lao Tzu could become a Buddha in China, Dionysius could become a Buddha in Athens. There is no need to borrow from anybody.
Dionysius is a rare man: living with stupid Christianity and its rigid organization, being a bishop and still being able to reach to the ultimate peaks of consciousness is something worthy of praise.
– Theologia Mystica, Chapter #1
The fourth name is Dionysius.I have spoken about his statements, which are only fragments noted down by his disciples, but I have spoken on him only to make it known to the world that people like Dionysius should not be forgotten. They are the real people.
The real people can be counted on your fingers. The real person is one who has encountered the real, not only from the outside as an object, but as his own subjectivity. Dionysius belongs to the great world of the buddhas.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #8
And the problem with Dionysius is that professionally he is a theologian and spiritually, existentially, he is a mystic — which very rarely happens. I have never come across another case like Dionysius, not at least in the Western history of thought. In the East it has happened a few times that the same person was a mystic and a theologian, and whenever it happens in the East the same problem arises. The language is of the theologian, and in the language, in the thick forest of words, the truth is lost.
But the truth is valuable and has to be saved. That’s why I decided to speak on Dionysius. I was aware that I cannot like the way he speaks, his expression — I hate it! But I love the truth that he wants to express.
– Theologia Mystica, Chapter #13
DIONYSIUS has to go through all this unnecessarily. I feel sorry for the man. I have a deep love for the man, and many times reading his statements I have wondered… It must have been an accident that he was born in the West; he belonged to the East. In the East he would have flowered fully.
– Theologia Mystica, Chapter #4
My approach is Dionysian, I am a disciple of Dionysius: Live and love life. Enjoy this occasion as deeply as possible, as totally as possible, and out of this living experience you will grow. A maturity will come to you; you will ripen and you will carry the fragrance with you. That fragrance is heaven. Nobody goes to heaven — those who go to heaven, they have to carry their heaven in their heart. Nobody goes to hell — those who go to hell, they have to carry their hell in their heart.
– The Revolution, Chapter #6
Diogenes is one of the most loved human beings, as far as I am concerned. As far as the world is concerned, he is one of those who are destined to be condemned for their behavior, for their ideas. And Diogenes particularly, because he is so unique.
– Beyond Psychology, Chapter #14
It is said of Diogenes, a man of the same caliber as Bodhidharma …. If they had met, it would have been a great meeting. Diogenes was in Greece. He lived naked; he had such a beautiful body that to hide it behind clothes would have been a crime. It is perfectly good to hide an ugly body behind clothes but a beautiful body needs to be available for anybody who wants to see the beauty, the proportion. Diogenes was one of the most beautiful men. Even when Alexander the Great met him, he felt a little embarrassed — although he was a world conqueror, compared to Diogenes he was utterly poor.
– Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master, Chapter #14
I am reminded of Diogenes, a beautiful Greek philosopher, mystic — and a mystic of a rare quality. He was a contemporary of Aristotle, and he was as much against Aristotle as I am, so I have a certain friendship with Diogenes.
Aristotle defined man as an animal who walks on two legs. What did Diogenes do? He caught one animal — and there are many animals who walk on two legs, but they have feathers also, they can fly also — a peacock. He took out all the feathers — because men have no feathers. Take out all the feathers of the peacock… the peacock walks on two legs. And he sent the peacock to Aristotle with the message: “Please receive the gift of a human being.”
– From the False to the Truth, Chapter #30
I am reminded of Diogenes. I love this fellow Diogenes for the simple reason that he does not claim any authority from God. He does not give any orders and commandments and disciplines to others. He used to live naked — not for any religious reasons, not to get to heaven; he was not concerned about heaven and hell at all. He lived naked, because, he said, “That’s how I was born. Nature wants me to be this way. Why should I be otherwise? I am going to be just natural.”
– From Unconciousness to Consciousness, Chapter #28
Books on Daya:
The Last Morning Star (in English)
Jagat Taraiya Bhor Ki (in Hindi)
THE SONGS OF DAYA. She was a contemporary of Meera and Sahajo, but she is far more profound than either of them. She is really beyond numbers. Daya is a little cuckoo — but don’t be worried…. In fact in India the cuckoo is called koyal, and it does not have the meaning of being nuts. Daya is really a cuckoo — not nuts, but a sweet singer like the Indian koyal. On an Indian summer night, the distant call of the cuckoo; that’s what Daya is… a distant call in the hot summer of this world.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #12
Translated from BIN GHAN PARAT PHUHAR
Daya has trodden the path and is acquainted with it. She has left no stone unturned on that path. She has died in the dust of the path. Treading on the path, traveling on the path she has become empty in every way. Now just the fragrance of the path is there. That very fragrance has appeared in her small verses.
Daya belongs to those devotees who have left no information about themselves. They drowned so much in singing songs of the divine that no time was left for leaving information. Just the name is known.
– Early Talks, Chapter #9
Book on Dadu:
Sabe Sayaane Ek Mat (in Hindi)
He was called Dadu, which means the brother. He was so loving that people forgot his real name and simply remembered him as Dadu, the brother. There are thousands of songs that Dadu sang, but they were not written down by him, they were collected by others, just like a gardener collects flowers long fallen.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #7
“Dadu was the most beautiful flower”
“And the day Dadu died Rajjab simply closed his eyes. It was closing eyes to the world. He was saying, Now there is nothing more to see. I have seen that which is really worth seeing. Now why waste your eyes and why collect dust? Once you have mirrored God then there is nothing else — you have seen the ultimate.”
“And what happened to Sundero, another disciple? When Dadu died he laid himself down on the same bed and remained on the same bed; he never left the bed again. The Master had slept on it his whole life: it was full of his vibe, it was full of his presence, it was soaked with him. He would not leave the bed. “Why?” people would ask him.
And Sundero would say, “There is nowhere to go. I have arrived — this is my home. This is my MOKSHA, this is my heaven. And I would like to LIVE in this beautiful space that the Master has created in this bed, and I would like to die here.”
It is becoming so attuned with the Master that you don’t feel your life and your death as separate from him; that is the meaning of it.
Sundero was so attuned with the Master’s life that it used to happen sometimes that he would speak in Dadu’s name. And he was told by people, “You are not Dadu!”
Then he would say, “Yes, forgive me. I forget! But if you ask in reality, then I am Dadu — I have become one with my Master.”
That is the ultimate state of disciplehood: when the disciple becomes one with the Master. He used to say that he was Dadu. He has written songs in which his name is not given but Dadu’s name — and people think that is not good. And the scholars go on discarding all that has been written by Sundero; they think that is not from Dadu.
But I say to you: it IS from Dadu! Sundero has become just a hollow bamboo on the lips of Dadu. Sundero exists no more as a separate entity. That is the ultimate goal of a disciple: when the disciple and Master meet and merge and become one. Sundero has become one with the Master, hence he has every right to sign ‘Dadu’. He signs his poems as Dadu, not as Sundero — and I TOTALLY agree with him! And I would like the scholars to be a little more sensitive.”
– Be Still and Know, Chapter #9
Books on Chuang Tzu:
The Empty Boat (in English)
When the Shoe Fits (in English)
Chuang Tzu is a rare flowering, because to become nobody is the most difficult, almost impossible, most extraordinary thing in the world.
Chuang Tzu says: To be ordinary is to be the sage. Nobody recognizes you, nobody feels that you are somebody extraordinary. Chuang Tzu says: You go in the crowd and you mix, but no one knows that a buddha has entered the crowd. No one comes to feel that somebody is different, because if someone feels it then there is bound to be anger and calamity. Whenever someone feels that you are somebody, his own anger, his own ego is hurt. He starts reacting, he starts attacking you.
– The Empty Boat, Chapter #1
Chuang Tzu says that the real, the divine, the existential, is to be attained by losing yourself completely in it. Even the effort to attain it becomes a barrier — then you cannot lose yourself. Even the effort to lose yourself becomes a barrier.
– When the Shoe Fits, Chapter #1
Chuang Tzu says: Even the distance of a hair is enough, and heaven and earth fall apart. Just the distance of a hair — not much at all, almost negligible — but it is enough to separate earth from heaven. When even that much difference is not there, one is enlightened.
– Theologia Mystica, Chapter #15
Chuang Tzu is very rare — in a way the most unique mystic in the whole history of man. His uniqueness is that he talks in absurdities. All his poems and stories are just absurd. And his reason to choose absurdity as his expression is very significant: the mind has to be silenced. With anything rational, it cannot stop; it goes on and on. Anything logical and the mind finds nourishment through it. It is only the absurd that suddenly shocks the mind — it is beyond mind’s grasp.
His stories, his poems and his other statements are so absurd that either people simply left him, thinking that he is mad…. Those who were courageous enough to remain with him found that no other meditation is needed. Just listening to his absurd statements, the mind stops functioning. And that is the meaning of meditation.
Meditation is not of the mind.
– The Razor’s Edge, Chapter #14
Chuang Tzu is one of my love affairs, and when you talk about someone you love you are bound to use extremes, exaggerations, but to me they don’t sound like that. I could give the whole kingdom of the world to Chuang Tzu for any single parable that he wrote — and he wrote hundreds. Each is a SERMON ON THE MOUNTAIN, a SONG OF SOLOMON, a BHAGAVADGITA. Each parable represents so much, and so richly, that it is immeasurable.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #14
Books on Buddha:
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha (12 volumes in English)
The Diamond Sutra (in English)
The Discipline of Transcendence (4 volumes in English)
The Heart Sutra (in English)
Ais Dhammo Sanantano (12 volumes in Hindi)
I love Gautama the Buddha because he represents to me the essential core of religion. He is not the founder of Buddhism — Buddhism is a byproduct — but he is the beginner of a totally different kind of religion in the world. He’s the founder of a religion less religion. He has propounded not religion but religiousness. And this is a great radical change in the history of human consciousness.
Before Buddha there were religions but never a pure religiousness. Man was not yet mature. With Buddha, humanity enters into a mature age. All human beings have not yet entered into that, that’s true, but Buddha has heralded the path; Buddha has opened the gateless gate. It takes time for human beings to understand such a deep message. Buddha’s message is the deepest ever. Nobody has done the work that Buddha has done, the way he has done. Nobody else represents pure fragrance.
Other founders of religions, other enlightened people, have compromised with their audience. Buddha remains uncompromised, hence his purity. He does not care what you can understand, he cares only what the truth is. And he says it without being worried whether you understand it or not. In a way this looks hard; in another way this is great compassion.
– The Diamond Sutra, Chapter #1
Buddha is one of the most important masters who has ever existed on the earth — incomparable, unique. And if you can have a taste of his being, you will be infinitely benefited, blessed.
– The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 1, Chapter #1
GAUTAM BUDDHA is like the highest peak of the Himalayas, like Gourishanker… one of the purest beings, one of the most virgin souls, one of the very rare phenomena on this earth. The rarity is that Buddha is the scientist of the inner world — scientist of religion. That is a rare combination. To be religious is simple, to be a scientist is simple — but to combine, synthesize these two polarities is incredible. It is unbelievable, but it has happened.
– The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 1, Chapter #1
But as far as Gautam the Buddha is concerned, I welcome him in my very heart. I will give him my words, my silences, my meditations, my being, my wings. From today onwards you can look at me as Gautama the Buddha.
– No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity, Chapter #1
Buddha says: Meditation is enough to solve your problems, but something is missing in it — compassion. If compassion is also there, then you can help others solve their problems. He says: Meditation is pure gold; it has a perfection of its own. But if there is compassion then the gold has a fragrance too — then a higher perfection, then a new kind of perfection, gold with fragrance. Gold is enough unto itself — very valuable — but with compassion, meditation has a fragrance.
– The Heart Sutra, Chapter #1
Even I myself could not believe that I had not included Gautama the Buddha’s DHAMMAPADA. Gautam Buddha was sitting there silently in the last row. I love the man as I have loved nobody else. I have been speaking on him throughout my whole life. Even speaking on others I have been speaking on him. Take note of it, it is a confession. I cannot speak on Jesus without bringing Buddha in; I cannot speak on Mohammed without bringing Buddha in. Whether I mention him directly or not that’s another matter. It is really impossible for me to speak without bringing Buddha in. He is my very blood, my bones, my very marrow. He is my silence, also my song. When I saw him sitting there I remembered. I cannot even apologize, it is beyond apologizing.
DHAMMAPADA literally means ‘the path of truth’, or even more accurately ‘the footprints of truth’. Do you see the contradiction?
leaves no trace behind,
nor it needs a guide.
Truth is unspeakable. There are no footprints. Birds flying in the sky don’t leave any footprints… and buddhas are birds of the sky.
But buddhas always speak in contradictions, and it is beautiful that at least they speak. They cannot speak without contradicting themselves, they cannot help it. To speak of truth is to contradict yourself. Not to speak is again to contradict, because even when you are trying not to speak, you know that your silence is nothing but an expression, without words maybe, but an expression all the same.
Buddha gave the name DHAMMAPADA to his greatest book, and there are contradictions upon contradictions. He is so full of contradictions that believe me, except me nobody can defeat him. Of course he would enjoy being defeated by me, just as a father once in a while enjoys being defeated by his own child. The child sitting on his father’s chest victorious, and the father has simply allowed him to win. All the buddhas allow themselves to be defeated by those who love them. I allow my disciples to defeat me, to go beyond me. There cannot be anything more joyous than seeing a disciple transcend me.
Buddha begins with the very name DHAMMAPADA — that’s what he is going to do: he is going to say the unsayable, to utter the unutterable. But he uttered the unutterable so beautifully that DHAMMAPADA is like an Everest. There are mountains and mountains, but not one rises to the height of Everest.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #6
Books on Bodhidharma:
The White Lotus (in English)
Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master (in English)
I have a very soft corner in my heart for Bodhidharma. That makes it a very special occasion to speak about him. Perhaps he is the only man whom I have loved so deeply that speaking on him I will be almost speaking on myself.
– Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master, Chapter #1
I AM ECSTATIC because just the name of Bodhidharma is psychedelic to me. In the long evolution of human consciousness there has never been such an outlandish Buddha as Bodhidharma — very rare, very unique, exotic.
There have been many buddhas in the world, but Bodhidharma stands out like Everest. His way of being, living, and expressing the truth is simply his; it is incomparable.
– The White Lotus, Chapter #1
Bodhidharma reached China. He was one of the greatest buddhas of all the ages. After Gautam Buddha, Bodhidharma seems to be the most precious person in the Buddhist heritage.
– The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 12, Chapter #10
Bodhidharma is one of the greatest enlightened men who has ever existed, and one of the most unique amongst all the enlightened men. In many ways he surpasses his own master, Gautam Buddha.
– From Bondage to Freedom, Chapter #7
I also forgot THE NOTES OF THE DISCIPLES OF BODHIDHARMA. When I talk of Gautam Buddha I always forget Bodhidharma, perhaps because I feel as if I have included him in his master, Buddha. But no, that is not right; Bodhidharma stands on his own. He was a great disciple, so great that even the master could be jealous of him. He himself did not write a word, but a few of his disciples, unknown because they did not mention their names, wrote some notes of Bodhidharma’s words. These notes, though few, are as precious as the Kohinoor. The word Kohinoor, do you know, means the light of the world. Noor means the light, kohi means of the world. If I had to describe anything as Kohinoor, yes, I would indicate towards those few notes by the anonymous disciples of Bodhidharma.
– Books I Have Loved, Chapter #2
But who are they to decide how an enlightened or illuminated person should speak? Have they known Bodhidharma? Have they seen his picture? They will immediately conclude that an enlightened or illuminated person cannot look like that. He looks ferocious! His eyes are those of a lion in the forest, and the way he looks at you is such that it seems he will jump from the picture and kill you instantly. That’s how he was! But forget Bodhidharma, because now fourteen centuries have passed.
I knew Bodhidharma personally. I traveled with the man for at least three months. He loved me just as I loved him. You will be curious to know why he loved me. He loved me because I never asked him any question. He said to me, “You are the first person I have met who does not ask a question — and I only get bored with all the questions. You are the only person who does not bore me.”
I said, “There is a reason.”
He said, “What is that?”
I said, “I only answer. I never question. If you have any question you can ask me. If you don’t have a question then keep your mouth shut.”
We both laughed, because we both belonged to the same category of insanity. He asked me to continue the journey with him, but I said, “Excuse me, I have to go my own way, and from this point it separates from yours.”
He could not believe it. He had never invited anyone before. This was the man who had even refused Emperor Wu — the greatest emperor of those days, with the greatest empire — as if he was a beggar. Bodhidharma could not believe his eyes, that I could refuse him.
I said, “Now you know how it feels to be refused. I wanted to give you a taste of it. Goodbye.” But that was fourteen centuries ago.
– Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Chapter #6
Books on Sufis:
Just Like That (in English)
The Wisdom of the Sands (2 volumes in English)
The Secret (in English)
Sufis: The People of the Path (2 volumes in English)
The Perfect master (2 volumes in English)
Until You Die (in English)
When a Sufi mystic, Bayazid, was dying, people who had gathered around him — his disciples — were suddenly surprised, because when the last moment came his face became radiant, powerfully radiant. It had a beautiful aura.
Bayazid was a beautiful man, and his disciples had always felt ar aura around him, but they had not known anything like this; so radiant.
They asked, ‘Bayazid, tell us what has happened to you. What is happening to you? Before you leave us, give us your last message.’
He opened his eyes and he said, ‘God is welcoming me. I am going into his embrace. Goodbye.’
He closed his eyes, his breathing stopped. But at the moment his breathing stopped there was an explosion of light, the room became full of light, and then it disappeared.
When a person has known the transcendental in himself, death is nothing but another face of God. Then death has a dance to it. And unless you become capable of celebrating death itself, remember, you have missed life. The whole life is a preparation for this ultimate.
– The Art of Dying, Chapter #1
Bayazid of Bistam, one of the greatest names amongst the Sufis.
– Just Like That, Chapter #8
Sufism is the path of intense love, passionate love. As Bayazid has said, “The duration of Bayazid’s life of asceticism was only three days. On the first day he renounced the world, on the second day he renounced the other world, and on the last day he renounced himself. ”
– The Secret, Chapter #17
Bayazid says that it is the nature of the master to change others; it is not an effort. Nothing is being done by the master, simply his presence…. And if he appears to do something, that appearance is just a trick because you cannot understand the language of nondoing. You can only understand the language of effort. So he creates a language for you. Even if you cannot understand his language, he can understand your language very well. Even if you cannot understand him, he can understand you very well.
– The Supreme Doctrine, Chapter #3