The duke could not believe it. He said, “Why are you leaving? If there is any difficulty you simply tell me and it will be done. I have been very much pleased with your work and I would like you to be here for your whole life.”
The young man said, “No, I am leaving. Please allow me to leave.”
The duke asked, “But why?”
The young man said, “Because nothing belongs to me here. Empty-handed I have come, empty-handed I will have to leave. This is a dream: nothing belongs to me here.”
This is the point where a person starts becoming religious. If something belongs to you in this world, then you are not yet ready to be religious. Empty-handed you come, empty-handed you go. Once you realize this, like a flash of lightning everything becomes clear. This world cannot be your home – at the most an overnight stay…and in the morning we go.
Once you have the feeling that you are here only momentarily – you cannot possess anything, you cannot have anything here – it becomes a dream, what Hindus call maya. It becomes illusory. That is the definition of “maya” – something which appears to be yours and is not, something which appears to be real and is not, something which seems to be eternal and is only momentary, something which is made of the stuff dreams are made of.
Unless one understands it, one goes on doing things which are eventually found to be meaningless. The day death comes your whole life proves to be meaningless. Confronting death, you will see that your hands are empty – and you worked hard! You were in so much anguish and anxiety for things which cannot be possessed.
It is not in the nature of things that they can be possessed. Possession is impossible because you are here only for a few moments. Things were here before you, things will be here after you. You come and go, the world remains.
Be a guest, and don’t start feeling and believing that you are the owner here. Then your life changes immediately; then your life takes on a new hue, a new color, a new dimension. That dimension is religion.
Once you understand it, you need initiation – initiation into the other world. That is available just by the corner. Once this world is understood to be just a dream, the other becomes available.
This was the whole message of John the Baptist:
“Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven
is at hand.”