Be the unsame same to friend as to stranger, in honor and dishonor.
BE THE UNSAME SAME” — this is the base. What is happening in you? Two things are happening. Something in you remains continuously the same, it never changes. You may not have observed it, you may not have encountered it yet, but if you observe you will come to know that something in you remains constantly the same. Because of that sameness, you can have an identity. Because of that sameness, you feel yourself centered; otherwise you will be a chaos. You say, “My childhood.” Now what has remained of it? WHO says, “My childhood”? Who is this “my, me, I”?
Nothing has remained of your childhood. If your pictures of your childhood are shown to you for the first time, you will not be able to recognize them. Everything has changed. Your body is no more the same; not a single cell has remained the same. Physiologists says that the body is a flux, it is river-like. Every moment many cells are dying and many new ones are born. Within seven years your body will have changed completely. So if you are going to live seventy years, ten times over your body has renewed itself completely.
Every moment your body is changing, and your mind. You cannot recognize a photograph of your childhood, and if it were possible to give you a photograph of your mind, of your childhood mind, it would be impossible to recognize it. Your mind is even more of a flux than your body. Every moment everything changes. Even for a single moment nothing remains the same. In the morning you were different as far as your mind is concerned. In the evening you are totally a different person.
When someone would come to meet Buddha, before the person would depart, take leave of him, Buddha would say, “Remember, the man who has come to meet me is not the man who is going back. You are totally different now. Your mind has changed.” Meeting with a buddha is, of course, bound to change your mind for better or worse, but you cannot be the same.
You came here with a different mind; you will go with a different mind. Something has changed. Something new has been added, something has been deleted. And even if you are not meeting anyone, if you are just remaining by yourself, then too you cannot remain the same. Every moment the river is moving.
Heraclitus has said, “You cannot step twice in the same river.” The same can be said about man: you cannot meet the same man again — impossible! And because of this fact, and because of our ignorance of it, life becomes a misery — because you go on expecting the other to be the same. You marry a girl and you expect her to be the same. She cannot be! Unmarried, she was different; married, she is completely different. A lover is something else, a husband is something totally different. You cannot expect your lover to meet you through your husband. That is impossible. A lover is a lover; a husband is a husband. The moment a lover becomes a husband, everything has changed. But you go on expecting. That creates misery — unnecessary misery. If we can recognize this fact that mind goes on moving and changing continuously, we will escape many, many miseries without any cost. All you need is simple awareness that mind changes.
Someone loves you and then you go on expecting love. But the next moment he hates you; then you are disturbed — not because of his hate, but only because of your expectation. He has changed. He is alive, so he is bound to change. But if you can see the reality as it is you will not be disturbed. The one who was in love a moment before can be in hate a moment later, but wait! One moment later he will be in love again. So don’t be in a hurry, just be patient. And if the other can also see this changing pattern, then he will not be fighting for changing patterns. They change; that is natural.
So if you look at your body, it changes. If you try to understand your mind, it changes. It is never the same. Even for two consecutive moments, nothing is the same. Your personality goes on like a flux. If this is all and there is nothing which remains the same continuously, eternally, timelessly, then who will remember that this was “my childhood”? Childhood has changed, the body has changed, the mind has changed. Then who remembers? Then who knows about childhood and about youth and about old age? Who knows?
This knower must remain the same; this witness must remain the same. Only then can the witness have a perspective. The witness can say, “This was my childhood, this was my young age, this was my old age. This moment I was in love, and this moment the love changed into hatred.” This witnessing consciousness, this knower, is always the same.
So you have two realms or two dimensions existing together in you. You are both — the changing which is always changing and the non-changing which is always remaining non-changing. If you become aware of these two realms, then this technique will be helpful: “BE THE UNSAME SAME.” Remember this: “BE THE UNSAME SAME.” You are bound to be “unsame” on the periphery, but at the center remain the same.
Remember that which is the same. Just remembering will be enough; you need not do anything else. It is non-changing. You cannot change it, but you can forget it. You can be so engrossed, obsessed with the changing world around you — with your body, with your mind — that you may completely forget the center. The center is so much clouded by the changing flux — and, of course, there are problems: that which is constantly the same is difficult to remember because change creates problems.
For example, if a constant noise goes on around you, you will not be aware of it. If a clock on the wall goes on, tick-tock, tick-tock the whole day, you are never aware of it. But if suddenly it stops, you will immediately become aware. If something is constantly the same, there is no need to take any notice. When something changes, the mind has to take notice. It creates a gap, and the pattern vibrates. You were hearing it continuously, so there was no need to hear it. It was there, it became part of the background. But if now suddenly the clock stops, you will become aware. Your consciousness will suddenly come to the gap.
It is just as if one of your teeth falls out; then your tongue goes continuously to the place. When the tooth was there the tongue never tried to touch it. Now the tooth is not there — just a gap is there — then the whole day, howsoever you try, you cannot help it: the tongue goes to the gap. Why? Because something is missing and the background has changed. Something new has entered.
Whenever something new enters, you become conscious — for many reasons. It is a safety measure. It is needed for your life — to survive. When something changes you have to become aware. It may be dangerous. You have to take notice, and you have to adjust again to the new situation that has come into being. But if everything is as it was, there is no need. You need not be aware. And this same element in you, what Hindus have called ATMAN, the soul, has been there always from the very beginning, if there was any beginning. And it is going to the very end, if there is going to be any end. It has been eternally the same, so how can you be aware of it?
Because it is so permanently the same, eternally the same, you are missing it. You take notice of the body, you take notice of the mind because they are changing. And because you take notice of them, you start thinking that you are them. You know only them; you become identified.
The whole spiritual effort is to find the same amidst the unsame — to find the eternal in the changing, to find that which is always the same. That is your center, and if you can remember that center, only then will this technique be easy — or if you can do this technique, remembering will become easy. From both the ends you can travel.
Try this technique. The technique is to “BE THE UNSAME SAME TO FRIEND AS TO STRANGER.” To the friend and to the enemy, or to the stranger, be the “unsame same.” What does it mean? It seems contradictory. In a way you will have to change, because if your friend comes to meet you, you will have to meet him differently, and if a stranger comes you will have to meet him differently. How can you meet a stranger as if you know him already? You cannot. The difference will be there, but still, deep down remain the same. The attitude must remain the same, but the behavior will be “unsame.” You cannot meet an unknown person as if you know him already. How can you? You can pretend at the most, but pretensions will not do. The difference will be there.
There is no need to pretend with a friend that he is a friend. With a stranger, even if you try to act as if he is a friend, it will be pretension — something new. You cannot be the same; unsameness will be necessary. As far as behavior is concerned you will be different, but as far as your consciousness is concerned you can be the same. You can look at the friend as at the stranger.
It is difficult. You may have heard, “Look at the stranger as if he is a friend,” but that is not possible if what I am saying is not possible. First look at your friend as the stranger; only then you can look at the stranger as at the friend. They are correlated.
Have you ever looked at your friends as if they are strangers? If you have not, then you have not looked at all. Look at your wife: do you really know her? You may have lived with her for twenty years or even more, and the more you live with her, the more is the possibility that you will go on forgetting that she is a stranger — and she remains a stranger. Howsoever you love her, it will not make any difference.
Really, if you love her more, the more strange she will look — because the more you love, the deeper you penetrate and the more you know how river-like she is, moving, changing, alive, every moment different. If you don’t look deeply, if you just stick to the level that she is your wife, that this is her name or that, then you have chosen a particular fragment, and you go on thinking of that particular fragment as your wife. And whenever she has to change, she has to hide her changes. She may not be in a loving mood, but she has to pretend because you expect love from your wife.
Then everything becomes false. She is not allowed to change; she is not allowed to be herself. Then something is being forced. Then the whole relationship goes dead. The more you love, the more you will feel the changing pattern. Then each moment you are a stranger. You cannot predict; you cannot say how your husband is going to behave tomorrow morning. You can predict only if you have a dead husband: then you can predict. Predictions are possible only about things, never about persons. If some person is predictable, know well he is dead; he has died. His living is just false, so you can predict. Nothing is predictable about persons because of the change.
Look at your friend as at a stranger; he is one! Don’t be afraid. We are afraid of strangers, so we go on forgetting that even a friend is a stranger. If you can look at the stranger in your friend also, you will never get frustrated because you cannot expect anything from a stranger. You take your friends for granted; hence, expectations and then frustrations — because no one can fulfill your expectations, no one is here to fulfill your expectations. Everyone is here to fulfill his own expectations; no one is here to fulfill you. Everyone is here to fulfill himself or herself, but you expect others to fulfill you and others expect you to fulfill them. Then there is conflict, violence, struggle and misery.
Go on always remembering the stranger. Don’t forget, even your closest friend is a stranger — as far removed from you as possible. If this feeling happens to you, this knowing, then you can look at the stranger and you can find a friend there also. If a friend can be a stranger, then a stranger can be a friend. Look at a stranger: he doesn’t know your language, he doesn’t belong to your country, he doesn’t belong to your religion, he doesn’t belong to your color. You are white and he is black or you are black and he is white. You cannot communicate through language; you don’t belong to the same church. So there is no common ground in nation, religion, race or color — no common ground! He is totally a stranger. But look into his eyes, and the same humanity is there, that is the common ground; and the same life, that is the common ground; and the same existence, that is the root of your being friends.
You may not understand his language, but you can understand him. Even silence can be communicative. Just by your looking deep down into his eyes, the friend will be revealed. And if you know how to look, then even an enemy cannot deceive you. You can look at the friend in him. He cannot prove that he is not your friend. Howsoever far removed, he is near you because you belong to the same existential current, to the same river to which he belongs. You belong to the same earth of being.
If this happens, then even a tree is not far away from you, then even a stone is not far away from you. A stone is very strange. There is no meeting ground, no possibility of any communication — but the same existence is there. The stone also exists, the stone also participates in being. He is there — I call it “he” — he also takes up space, he also exists in time. The sun also rises for him — as it rises for you. One day he was not, as you were not, and one day you will die and he will also die. The stone will disappear. In existence we meet. The meeting is the friendship. In personality we differ, in manifestation we differ; in essence we are one.
In manifestations we are strangers, so howsoever close we come we remain far away. You can sit close, you can embrace each other, but there is no possibility to come more close. As far as your changing personality is concerned, you are never the same. You are never similar; you are always strangers. You cannot meet there because before you can meet you have changed. There is no possibility of meeting. As far as bodies are concerned and minds are concerned there can be no meeting, because before you can meet you are no more the same.
Have you ever observed? You feel love for someone — a very deep upsurge. You are filled with it, and the moment you go and say, “I love you,” it has disappeared. Have you observed? It may not be there now, it may be just a memory. It was there, but it is not there now. The very fact that you asserted it, made it manifest, has made it enter into the realm of change. When you felt it, it may have been deep in the essence, but when you bring it out you are bringing it into the pattern of time and change, it is entering into the river. When you say, “I love you,” by then it may have disappeared completely. It is so difficult, but if you observe, it will become a fact. Then you can look. In the friend there is the stranger and in the stranger the friend. Then you can remain “THE UNSAME SAME.” You change peripherally; you remain the same in the essence, in the center.
“IN HONOR AND DISHONOR…” Who is honored and who is dishonored? You? Never! Only that which is changing, and that you are not. Someone honors you; if you take it that he is honoring YOU, you will be in difficulty. He honors a particular manifestation in you, not you. How can he know you? You don’t even know yourself. He honors a particular manifestation; he honors something which has come into your changing personality. You are kind, loving; he honors it. But this kindness and this love are just on the periphery. The next moment you will not be loving, you may be filled with hate. There may be no flowers — only thorns. You may not be so happy. You may be just sad, depressed. You may be cruel, angry. Then he will dishonor you. Then again the loving manifestation. Others come in contact not with you, but with your manifestations.
Remember this, they are not honoring and dishonoring YOU. They cannot do either because they don’t know you; they cannot know you. If even you are not aware of yourself, how can they be? They have their own formulas, they have their theories, they have their measurements and criteria. They have their touchstones and they say, “If a man is such and such we will honor him, and if a man is such and such we will dishonor him.” So they act according to their criteria, and you are never near their touchstones — only your manifestations.
They can call you a sinner one day and a saint another. They can call you a saint today, and the next day they may go against you, stone you to death. What is happening? They come in contact with your periphery, they never come in contact with you. Remember this, that whatsoever they are saying, it is not about you. You remain beyond; you remain outside. Their condemnations, their appreciations, whatsoever they do is not really concerned with you, just with your manifestations in time.
I will tell you one Zen anecdote. One young monk lived near Kyoto. He was beautiful, young, and the whole town was pleased. They honored him. They believed him to be a great saint. Then one day everything turned upside down. One girl became pregnant, and she told her parents that this monk was responsible. So the whole town turned against him. They came, and they burned his cottage. It was morning, and a very cold morning, a winter morning, and they threw the child onto the monk.
The father of the girl told him, “This is your child, so take the responsibility.”
The monk simply said, “Is it so?” And then the child started weeping, so he forgot about the crowd and began caring for the child.
The crowd went and destroyed the whole cottage, burned it down. Then the child was hungry and the monk was without any money, so he had to go to beg in the city for the child. Who will give him anything now? Just a few moments before he was a great saint, and now he is a great sinner. Who will give him anything now? Wherever he tried, they closed their doors in his face. They condemned him completely.
Then he reached to the same house — to the house of the girl. The girl was very much distressed, and then she heard the child weeping and screaming, and the monk standing there just saying, “Don’t give anything to me, I am a sinner. But the child is not a sinner; you can give milk to this child.” Then the girl confessed that just to hide the real father of the child, she had taken the name of the monk. He was absolutely innocent.
So the whole town turned around again. They fell at his feet, started asking his forgiveness. And the father of the girl came, took the child back with weeping eyes, tears rolling down, and he said, “But why did you not say so before? Why did you not refuse in the morning? The child does not belong to you.”
The monk is reported to have said again, “Is it so?” In the morning he had said, “Is it so? This child belongs to me?” And in the afternoon he said, “Is it so? This child doesn’t belong to me?”
This is how this sutra has to be applied in life. In honor and dishonor, you must remain “THE UNSAME SAME.” The innermost center must remain the same, whatsoever happens to the periphery. The periphery is bound to change, but you must not change. And because you are two, the periphery and the center, that is why opposite, contradictory terms have been used: “BE THE UNSAME SAME…” And you can apply this technique to all opposites: in love and hate, poverty and richness, comfort and uncomfort, or in anything, remain “THE UNSAME SAME.”
Just know that the change is happening only to your periphery; it cannot happen to you, it is impossible. So you can remain detached, and this detachment is not forced. You simply know it is so. This is not a forced detachment; this is not any effort on your part to remain detached. If you TRY to remain detached, you are still on the periphery; you have not known the center. The center is detached; it has always been so. It is transcendental. It is always the beyond. Whatsoever happens below never happens to it.
Try this in polar situations. Go on feeling something in you which is the same. When someone is insulting you, focus yourself to the point where you are just listening to him — not doing anything, not reacting — just listening. He is insulting you, and then someone is praising you. Just listen. Insult-praise, honor-dishonor: just listen. Your periphery will get disturbed. Look at it also; don’t change it. Look at it; remain deep in your center, looking from there. You will have a detachment which is not forced, which is spontaneous, which is natural.
And once you have the feeling of the natural detachment, nothing can disturb you. You will remain silent. Whatsoever happens in the world, you will remain unmoved. Even if someone is killing you, only the body will be touched — not you. You will remain beyond. This “beyondness” leads you into existence, into that which is bliss, eternal, into that which is true, which is always, into that which is deathless, into life itself. You may call it God or you can choose your term. You can call it NIRVANA, whatsoever you like, but unless you move from the periphery to the center and unless you become aware of the eternal in you, religion has not happened to you, neither has life happened to you. You are missing, simply missing all. That is possible — to miss the ecstasy of living.
Shankara says that “I call the man a SANNYASIN who knows what is changing and what is non- changing, who knows what is moving and what is non-moving.” This, in Indian philosophy, is known as discrimination — VIVEK. To discriminate between these two, the realm of the change and the realm of the unchanging — this is called VIVEK, discrimination, awareness.
This sutra can be used very, very deeply and very easily with whatsoever you are doing. You feel hunger? Remember the two realms. Hunger can only be felt by the periphery because the periphery needs food, needs fuel. You don’t need food, you don’t need any fuel, but the body needs them. Remember, when hunger happens it is happening to the periphery; you are just the knower of it. If you were not there, it would not be known. If the body were not there, it would not happen. By your absence only knowledge will not be there because the body cannot know. The body can have it, but it cannot know it. You know it; you cannot have it.
So never say that “I am hungry.” Always say within, “I know that my body is hungry.” Give emphasis to your knowing. Then the discrimination is there. You are becoming old: never say, “I am becoming old.” Just say, “My body is becoming old.” Then in the moment of death also you will know, “I am not dying; my body is dying. I am changing bodies, just changing the house.” If this discrimination deepens, one day, suddenly, there will be enlightenment.