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A letter to Mr. Stephen Hawking from Chaitanya Keerti

A letter to Mr. Stephen Hawking who has arrived in New Delhi. I have sent him two books today: Enlightenment The Only Revolution ( A book on Ashtavakra) and Heartbeat of the Absolute (Ishavasya Upasnishad )  

Dear Mr. Hawking,
It is a real pleasure to have you visiting India as even your brief visit is a genuine compliment to modern India's scientific progress and status. Many of us have read your book "A Brief History of Time" and learnt about your scientific discoveries and knowledge for which we admire you.   We would like to share with you some aspects of eternal India beyond the dimensions of history and time.

Through the ages, Indians have given more importance to mythology than history; timelessness rather than fleeting time. In ancient Indian scriptures of the Puranas, we have an eminent mystic called Ashtavakra. When he was twelve years old, the Emperor Janak hosted a huge conference of pundits from all over the country to discuss the ultimate truth. Janak offered the winner a reward of 1,000 cows with their horns plated with gold and decorated with jewels. A great debate ensued in Ashtavakra's father also participated.  At dusk, Ashtavakra came to know that his father was losing to a renowned pundit called Vandin after defeating all others. Ashtavakra rushed to the palace. On entering he saw that his father's defeat was a forgone conclusion. The learned pundits were amused to see Ashtavakra whose body was bent and deformed in eight places. As he moved into the court, many started laughing at him. The whole conference broke into laughter.

Seeing this, Ashtavakra also roared with laughter. Janak asked, "Everyone else is laughing. I can understand why they laugh, but why did you laugh, my son?" Ashtavakra said, "I am laughing because the truth is being explored in this conference of tanners (chamaars, skinners) instead of seekers of truth? What are all these skinners doing here?" A deep silence fell over the meeting.

The king asked, "What do you mean?" Ashtavakra said, "It is simple and straightforward: They only see skin, they don't see me. It is difficult to find a man more pure and simple than me, but they don't see this; they see a bent and deformed body. They are leather mongers, they judge one by the skin. Your Majesty, in the curve of a temple is the sky curved? When a pot is smashed, is the sky smashed? The sky is beyond change. My body is twisted, but I am not. Look at the one within. You can't find anything more straight and pure." A pin-drop silence fell after this startling declaration. Janak faced the brutal truth: Why had he gathered a crowd of leather mongers there? He became repentant and felt guilty that he, too, had laughed.

The next day when he was out on his morning ride he saw Ashtavakra. Janak dismounted from his horse and fell at his feet because the day before, in front of everyone, he couldn't find the courage to do so. The day before he had said, "Why do you laugh, my son?" Ashtavakra was a boy of twelve years, and Janak had considered his age. This day he didn't notice the age. This day he got down from his horse and fell at Ashtavakra's feet, spread-eagled in prostration. He said, "Please visit the palace, and satisfy my eagerness for the truth. Oh lord, be so gracious as to come to my home. I have understood! I couldn't sleep the whole night. You spoke truly: what depth of understanding have those who recognize only the body?

They are debating the being, but attraction and repulsion for the body still arise; hate and attraction still arise. They are looking at death while talking of the deathless! I'm blessed that you came and disturbed me, that you broke my sleep. Please come to the palace!" Janak had the palace decorated magnificently to welcome Ashtavakra and had him seated the twelve-year old Ashtavakra on a golden throne. Then he put his questions to him. From then onwards, Janak asked and Ashtavakra explained. The result was a magnificent scripture the Ashtavakra Samhita which has been called as Mahageeta by the modern mystic Osho, who has commented extensively on this.

Some Osho Quotes: "To identify with the body is to carry a false passport." "When walking be aware that the body walks, not you. When you are hungry, know the body is hungry, not you. When thirst, know the body is thirsty, not you. Let this awareness always be with you. Gradually you will find that this consciousness creates an abyss between you and the body. As the awareness increases, the distance between you and the body will become greater and greater. There is an infinite distance between you and the body. Remember! As your awareness deeps the connecting links will begin to separate; then one day you will observe the profound fact that the body is just a shell; you are life, the body is death; you are consciousness, the body is matter, a play of atoms. You are not a collection of anything. You are consciousness – integrated consciousness – that always was, always is, and always will be."  

Ashtavakra says, "I am pure knowing. I am neither intelligent nor of great character, nor characterless; I am neither beautiful or ugly; I am neither old nor young; neither white nor black; neither Hindu nor Muslim; neither brahmin nor sudra. I have no identification – I am the one who sees all of these." When you light a lamp in your house, its light falls on the table, on the chair, on the wall, on the wall clock, on the furniture, on the cabinet, on the carpet, on the floor, on the ceiling – it falls on all. If you are there, it falls on you too. But the flame is neither the wall nor the roof, nor the floor, nor the table or chair. Everything is illumined by its light, but the light is separate. Pure consciousness is your light, is your awareness. The light of that awareness falls on your intellect, on your body, on your actions – but you are not any of these. As long as you identify yourself with anything, ego will arise. Ego is the identification of consciousness with some other thing. As soon as you drop all identification – you say I am only pure knowing, I am pure awareness, I am purely a buddha – then you begin to return to your home. The moment of liberation is coming closer. Ashtavakra says, " 'I am the one pure knowing,' thus having burnt with this fire of certainty…" What is this certainty, this trust? This trust will not happen through listening. This certainty will not happen through intellectual understanding – you have understood it many times, and still you forget it again and again. This certainty comes from experience."  

Dear Mr. Hawking, we would appreciate your insight on this ancient Indian mystic approach to mythology and timeless vis a vis history, meta-physics and physics.  

With best wishes, Swami Chaitanya Keerti Osho World Foundation Ansal Plaza, Khelgaon Road, New Delhi 110049 Tel. 011-626 1616 www.meditate-celebrate.com