Look upon a bowl without seeing the sides or the material. in a few moments become aware.
Look at anything. A bowl or any object will do, but look with a different quality. LOOK UPON A BOWL WITHOUT SEEING THE SIDES OR THE MATERIAL. Look upon any object, but with these two conditions… Do not look at the sides, look at the object as a whole. Ordinarily, we look at parts. It may not be done so consciously, but we look at parts. If I look at you, first I see your face, then your torso, and then your whole body. Look at an object as a whole; do not divide it in parts. Why? Because when you divide something in parts, the eyes have an opportunity to move from one part to another. Look at a thing as a whole. You can do it.
I can look at all of you in two ways. I can look from this side and then move. I can look at A, then at B, then I look at C and go on moving. When I look at A, B and C, I am not present — or just present on the fringe, but not focused. When I look at B, I am leaving A. When I look at C, A has been completely lost; he has gone out of my focus. I can look at this group in this manner, but I can look at the whole group without dividing it into individuals, into units, taking it as a whole.
Try it. First look at a thing moving from one fragment to another. Then suddenly look at this thing as a whole; do not divide it. When you look at a thing as a whole, the eyes have no need to move. In order not to give any opportunity for movement, this has been made a condition: look at an object totally, taken as a whole. And secondly, without seeing the material. If the bowl is of wood, do not see the wood: just see the bowl, the form. Do not see the substance.
It may be of gold, it may be of silver — observe it. Do not look at the material of which it is made, just look at the form. The first thing is to look at it as a whole. Secondly, look at it as a form, not as a substance. Why? Because substance is the material part, form is the spiritual part, and you are to move from the material to the non-material. It will be helpful.
Try it. You can try it with anyone. Some man or some woman is standing: look, and take the man or woman wholly into your look, totally into it. It will be a weird feeling in the beginning because you are not habituated this way, but it is very beautiful in the end. And then, do not think about whether the body is beautiful or not, white or black, man or woman. Do not think; just look at the form. Forget the substance and just look at the form.
In a few moments become aware. Go on looking at the form as a whole. Do not allow the eyes any movement. Do not start thinking about the material. What will happen? You will suddenly become aware of your self. Looking at something, you will become aware of your self. Why? Because for the eyes there is no possibility to move outwards. The form has been taken as a whole, so you cannot move to the parts. The material has been dropped; pure form has been taken. Now you cannot think about gold, wood, silver, etc.
A form is pure form. No thinking about it is possible. A form is just a form; you cannot think about it. If it is of gold, you can think many things. You would like, you may like to steal it, or to do something with it, or to sell it, or you can think about the price — many things are possible. But of pure form, no thinking is possible. Pure form stops thinking. And there is no possibility of changing from one part to another; you have taken it as a whole.
Remain with the whole and the form. Suddenly you will become aware of yourself, because now the eyes cannot move. And they need movement; that is their nature. So your look will move toward you. It will come back, it will return home, and suddenly you will become aware of your self. This becoming aware of one’s self is one of the most ecstatic moments possible. When for the first time you become aware of your self, it has such beauty and such bliss that you cannot compare it with anything else you have known.
Really, for the first time you become your self; for the first time you know you are. Your being is revealed in a flash.
But why does it happen? You might have seen, in children’s books particularly, a picture, or in some psychological treatises, but I hope everyone must have seen somewhere or other — a picture of an old woman, and in the same lines a beautiful young woman is also hidden. There is one picture, the same lines, but two figures are in it: one old woman, one young woman.
Look at the picture: you cannot become aware of both simultaneously. You will become aware either of one or the other. If you have become aware of the old woman, you cannot see where the young woman is hiding. But if you try to find her, it will be difficult, and the very effort will become a barrier. Because you have become aware of the old woman, she will have become a fixed thing in your eyes. With this fixed thing, you are trying to find the young woman. It is impossible, you will not be able to find her. You have to do a technique.
Just stare at the old woman; forget the young woman completely. Stare at the old woman, at the old woman figure. Stare! Go on staring. Suddenly the old woman will disappear, and you will become aware of the young woman hiding there. Why? If you try to find her you will miss. This type of picture is given to children like a puzzle, and it is said to them, “Find the other.” Then they start trying to find her, and because of that they miss.
The trick is not to try to find her: just stare at the figure and you will become aware. Forget the other, no need to think about it. Your eyes cannot remain at one point, so if you stare at the old woman figure the eyes will become tired. Then suddenly they will move from the figure, and in that movement you will become aware of the other figure which is hidden just by the old woman’s side, in the same lines. But the miracle is that when you become aware of the young woman, you cannot see the old woman. But you know that both are there now.
In the beginning you may not have believed that the young woman is hiding, but now you know because you have seen the old woman first. Now you know that the old woman is there, but while looking at the young one you cannot simultaneously become aware of the old one. And if you become aware of the old one, you will miss the young are again. Both cannot be seen simultaneously; you can see only one at a time.
The same happens with the outside and the inside look. You cannot have both looks simultaneously. When you are looking at a bowl or at any object, you are looking out: the consciousness is moving out, the river is flowing out. You are focused on the bowl. Go on staring at it. That very staring will create the opportunity to move in. Your eyes will become tired; they would like to move. Finding nothing to move out toward, suddenly the river will turn back — that remains the only possibility. You will have forced your consciousness to fall back. And when you will become aware of you, you will miss the bowl; it will not be there.
That is why a Shankara or a Nagarjuna says the whole world is illusory; they have known it so. When we come to know ourselves, the world is not. Really, the world is not illusory; it is there. But you cannot see both worlds simultaneously — that is the problem. So when a Shankara enters into himself, when he comes to know his self, when he becomes a witness, the world is not there. So he is right. He says it is maya — illusion. It simply appears to be; it is not there.
Be aware of the fact. When you know the world, you are not. You are there, but hidden, and you cannot believe that you are hidden there; the world is too much present for you. And if you start to look for yourself directly, it will be difficult, the very effort may become a barrier. So tantra says, fix your stare somewhere in the world, on any object, and do not move from there, remain there. This very effort to remain there will create the possibility for the consciousness to begin to flow upwards — backwards. Then you will become aware of your self.
But when you become aware of your self, the bowl will not be there. It is there, but FOR YOU it will not be there. So Shankara says the world is illusory because when you come to know your self the world is not there. It disappears like a dream.
But Charwak and Epicurus and Marx, they are also right. They say the world is true, and your self is just false; it is nowhere to be found. They say science is real. Science says only matter is, only objects are; there is no subject. They are right, because the eyes are focused on the object.
A scientist is constantly focusing on objects. He forgets the self completely. Both Shankara and Marx are right in one sense and wrong in another. If you are fixed upon the world, if your look is fixed on the world, the self will look illusory — like it is just a dream. If you are looking inwards, the world will become a dream. Both are real, but you cannot be aware of both simultaneously — that is the problem. And nothing can be done. You will meet the old woman or you will meet the young woman, and one will become maya, illusory. But this technique can be used easily. It will take a little time, but it is not difficult.
Once you know the turning of consciousness, you can do it anywhere. Just riding in a bus or sitting in a train you can do it — anywhere. No need of a bowl or any particular object: you can do it with anything. With anything, stare, stare, stare… and suddenly turn inwards, and the train disappears. Of course, when you come back from your inner journey you will have traveled, but the train will have disappeared. From one station you will reach to another, and in between there will have been no train — just a gap. Of course, the train was there; otherwise how can you come to the other station? But it was not there for you; for you it was not.
Those who can practice this technique, they can live in the world very easily. Any moment they can make anything disappear — remember this. You are bothered with your wife or with your husband — you can have her or him disappear. The wife is there sitting just by your side and she is not there. She is maya, she has disappeared. Just by staring and then turning your consciousness inwards, she has ceased to be there. And it has happened many times.
I remember Socrates. His wife Xanthippe was very much worried about him, and any wife would have been in the same dilemma. To have a Socrates as a husband is one of the most difficult things to tolerate. Socrates is good as a teacher, but not as a husband.
One day it happened… and because of it his wife has been condemned for two thousand years continuously, but that is not just, I do not think she has done anything wrong. Socrates was sitting there, and he must have been doing something like this technique — it is not recorded, I am just assuming. His wife came with a tray, a teapot to give him tea. She must have found that he was not there, so it is reported that she poured the tea upon Socrates, over his face. Then suddenly he came back.
His face remained burned for his whole life. And because of this his wife has been condemned very much, but no one knows what Socrates was doing there — because no wife would do this suddenly, there is no need. He must have done something; something must have been happening there. That is why Xanthippe had to throw tea over him. He must have been in an inner trance, and the burning sensation of the tea must have brought him back, the consciousness must have returned.
I assume that this was the case because there are many other cases reported about Socrates which are similar. For forty-eight hours he was not found. He was sought all over, the whole Athens went in search of Socrates, but he was not to be found anywhere. Then he was found outside the city, miles away, standing under a tree. Half of his body was just under snow. Snow was falling, and he was just frozen, standing there with open eyes. But he was not looking at anyone.
When the crowd gathered around, they looked into his eyes and they thought that he was dead. His eyes were just like stones — looking, but not looking at anyone; just static, unmoving. They felt his heart: It was beating slowly; he was alive. They had to give him shocks, only then did he come back to look at them. Immediately he asked, “What is the time now?” He had missed forty-eight hours completely, they never existed for him. He was not in this world of time and space.
So they asked, “What were you doing? We thought you were dead already… forty-eight hours!” He said, “I was staring at the stars, and just suddenly it happened that the stars disappeared. And then, I don’t know… then the whole world disappeared. But I remained in such a cool, calm, blissful state that if it is death it is worth thousands of lives. If it is death, then I would like to enter it again and again.”
It may have happened without his knowledge, because Socrates was not a yogi, not a tantric. He was not in any way concerned consciously with any spiritual practice. But he was a great thinker, and it may have happened as an accident that he was staring at the stars in the night, and suddenly his look returned back, inwards. You can do it. And stars are really good objects.
Lie down on the ground, look at the black sky, and then fix yourself on one star. Concentrate on it, stare at it. Narrow down your consciousness to one star; forget other stars. By and by, concentrate, narrow down your gaze. Other stars will be there just on the fringe, on the boundary. But by and by they will disappear, and only one star will remain. Then go on staring, go on staring. A moment will come when that star will disappear. And when that star disappears, you will appear to yourself.