“What if there is no holy life?” asked Buddha. Â … Â “You see,” said Buddha, “even holiness has become food for your ego to feed on. Â You want to be different. Â You want to be safe. Â You want to have hope.”
“Why is that wrong?” asked Assaji.
“Because these things are dreams that lull you,” said Buddha.
“What would we see if we weren’t dreaming?”
“The five monks felt a chill pass over them. Â It seemed pointless to deny what their brother said but hopeless to accept it. Â Buddha said, “You are all afraid of death, as I was, so you make up any story that will ease your fears, and after a while you believe the story, even though it came from your own mind.” Â Without waiting for a reply, he reached down and picked up a handful of dust. Â “The answer to life and death is simple. Â It rests in the palm of my hand. Â Watch.”
He threw the dust into the air, it remained suspended like a murky cloud for a second before the breeze carried it away.
“Consider what you just saw, ” said Buddha. Â “The dust holds its shape for a fleeting moment when I throw it into the air, as the body holds its shape for this brief lifetime. Â When the wind makes it disappear, where does the dust go? Â It returns to its source, the earth. Â In the future that same dust allows grass to grow, and it enters into a deer that eats the grass. Â The animal dies and turns to dust. Â Now imagine that the dust comes to you and asks, ‘Who am I?’ Â What will you tell it? Â Dust is alive in a plant but dead as it lies in the road under our feet. Â It moves in an animal but it is still when buried in the depths of the earth. Â Dust encompasses life and death at the same time. Â So if you answer ‘Who am I’ with anything but a complete answer, you have made a mistake.
I have come back to tell you that you can be whole, but only if you see yourself that way. Â There is no holy life. Â There is no war between good and evil. Â There is no sin and no redemption. Â None of these things matter to the real you. Â But they all matter hugely to the false you, the one who believes in the separate self. Â You have tried to take your separate self, with all its loneliness and anxiety and pride, to the door of enlightenment. Â But it will never go through, because it is a ghost.
– from Buddha by Deepak Chopra