Are you sure you weren’t born enlightened? You seem to have lived your whole life with such clarity, courage and a commitment never to compromise your integrity that it seems some quality of awakening has been with you all the time. If for twenty years you were not enlightened, was anything a suffering for you?
There has been no suffering for me. I don’t know the taste of suffering. I have seen people suffer, I can visualize what must be going within them, but in this life I have not suffered a single moment. So you are right: I was born almost enlightened.
I cannot say “enlightened”; but almost, just on the verge of it, as if one is standing on the boundary line: on this side is the world of darkness, unconsciousness and suffering, and on the other side is the world of blissfulness, light and benediction. I was neither on this side nor on that side, just on the borderline.
In my past life, the work remained just a little bit incomplete. That’s why I am using the word “almost.” One step more and I would have been enlightened. But even to be so close to it means you cannot suffer, you cannot go through anguish, you cannot have nightmares. And your life is bound to have qualities which are not ordinarily available to every child: courage, integrity, an absolutely non-compromising attitude, a total commitment – never going back whatever may be the consequence, and accepting it joyfully as if the consequence does not matter.
What matters is how you encountered the situation. You were total, you were absolutely committed, you had no doubt. Your trust was ultimate, not relative, not dependent on any condition – unconditional. This is what matters, not what happens as a consequence – that is immaterial.
The act in itself is its own reward, and that’s the way I have lived. And if I am given another chance, I would like to live the same way again and again without changing anything, for the simple reason that I have enjoyed whatever has been happening – and so much has happened in such a small lifetime.
Once Emerson was asked, “How old are you?” and he said, “Three hundred and sixty years.” The man who had asked could not believe it. He said, “This is too much; you must be kidding! Just tell me exactly how old you are.”
And Emerson said, “I have told – but I can understand why you are puzzled. You are counting three hundred and sixty years according to the calendar. That is not my way of counting life. I am only sixty years old according to the calendar, but in sixty years I have lived six times more than you will be able to live in the same period of time. Looking at how much I have lived, I told you my age is three hundred and sixty years – three hundred and sixty years of life compressed into sixty years’ time.”