Reincarnation and Vegetarianism
Pythagoras also introduced into Western consciousness was the idea of reincarnation. That too is somehow related with vegetarianism. You will be surprised again: all the vegetarian religions believe in reincarnation, and all the non-vegetarian religions believe only in one life. This can't be just a coincidence. In India, Brahminism, Jainism, Buddhism are the three great religions. They differ in every possible way -- their ideologies are so different that you cannot find more different ideologies anywhere. Hindus believe in God, they believe in the soul. Jainas don't believe in God -- a tremendously fundamental thing -- a religion without God.
Buddhists don't even believe in the soul -- no God, no soul. You cannot imagine a religion without God and without the soul. Such are their differences. But about one thing they are all agreed, and that one thing is the idea of reincarnation, rebirth. Even Buddha, who does not believe in the soul, agrees with it. It looks very absurd -- how can there be rebirth if there is no soul? He does not believe in a soul but he believes in a continuum. Still Buddha believed in reincarnation. Jainas believe in reincarnation, Brahmins believe in reincarnation.
But Jews, Christians and Mohammedans don't believe. Those are the three great religions which were born outside India. How did it happen that all three Indian religions stumbled upon the fact of reincarnation? -- although they don't agree in ANY other matter. Why do they agree about one thing? They COULD not disagree. From where did this experience come to them? And you will be surprised -- the answer is vegetarianism.
When a person is utterly vegetarian he can easily remember his past lives. His clarity is such that he can look into his past lives. He is not gross, his energy is not blocked, his energy moves easily. His river of consciousness can penetrate to the ancient most times; he can go backwards as much as he wants. The consciousness of a non-vegetarian is blocked -- in many ways. He has been accumulating gross matter in himself. That gross matter functions as a barrier. That's why all the three religions that were born outside India, and have remained non-vegetarian, could not come to the idea of reincarnation. They could not experience it.
Pythagoras lived in India, lived the life of a vegetarian, meditated deeply, became aware of the past lives, could see himself moving backwards. He could understand what Buddha means when he says, "Once I was an elephant, once I was a fish, once I was a tree."
The idea of evolution has been here in the East for ever -- and in a far more subtle way than it has been given to Western science by Darwin. Darwin's idea is very raw: he says monkeys have become man -- although Darwinians have not yet been able to prove it, because they are still searching for the link between the monkey and the man. And the problem arises: why did only a few monkeys become men? What happened to other monkeys? And monkeys are basically imitators -- if a few monkeys had become men then all the monkeys would have imitated. What happened to the other monkeys? Great imitators they are -- why only a few men?
And the monkeys are still there! Thousands and thousands of years have passed and monkeys are still monkeys. And you don't come across a monkey suddenly becoming a man... one fine morning he wakes up and he is a man. Nobody has ever seen this miracle happen. The question is: where are the links between monkey and man? -- and the difference is great, it is not small.
The Western concept of evolution, the Darwinian concept of evolution, is very gross. The Eastern idea of evolution is very subtle. It is not a question of the body of a monkey becoming the body of man -- it has never happened; of the body of a fish becoming the body of man -- it has never happened. But the inside of the fish goes on growing; it goes on changing from one body to another.
The growth, the evolution, has not happened from body to body: the growth has been happening in consciousness. When a monkey attains to a certain consciousness, the next birth will be that of man not of a monkey. He will die as a monkey and will be born as a man. The evolution is not going to happen in the body of the monkey itself. That body has been used by the soul -- or whatever you call it, the continuum -- the body of the monkey has been used, now the soul is ready to take a better body, a body where more possibilities of growth will become available.
The soul moves from one animal to another animal. The bodies are not evolving, but souls are evolving. The candles are not evolving, but the flames go on jumping from one candle to another. The flame goes on rising higher and higher. The evolution is of consciousness, not of the material, physiological body. That is where Darwin missed the whole point. But in the East for at least ten thousand years we have been aware of it. The awareness came through meditation and the awareness was based in vegetarianism -- because people started remembering their past lives.
It was a basic technique with both Buddha and Mahavira: whenever a disciple was to be initiated, the first thing that both Buddha and Mahavira required was that he had to go into his past lives. Great methods were developed so that one could move into past lives. And once you start moving into past lives, this life will be utterly transformed. Why? Because once you see that all the stupid things that you are doing now, or wanting to do, you have been doing for many many lives... you have done those same things many times, and each time nothing was attained.
For example, if you are mad after money and then you remember that in the past life also you were mad after money and then you had succeeded, and you had become a rich man, a very rich man, and then you died... and all that richness and all that wealth was of no use. It was taken away by death, and you died as empty as ever, as poor as ever. And you remember even before that: you were a king and you had a great kingdom. And still you were frustrated, and still you lived in misery, and you died in misery. And again you are doing the same and hankering for more money? It will become impossible. The longing will simply fall flat on the ground. How can you go on repeating the same stupid thing again and again if YOU CAN REMEMBER? YOU can go on repeating the same stupidity again and again if you CANNOT remember.
The idea of reincarnation is not a philosophical idea: it is an experience, it is utterly scientific. People have remembered their lives. When you have grown a little deeper into meditation... we are going to do all those techniques here too. But those techniques will require that you be absolutely vegetarian, otherwise you will not be able to go beyond THIS life. Your mind cannot move -- it has to be so light, feather light, that it can simply pass from one existence into another. And the lighter it is, the deeper it goes.
It can not only remember that you were a man in the past life -- slowly slowly, you will remember that you have been animals. AND, sometimes, when the depth gross, you will remember that you have been trees, rocks. You have lived for millennia in many forms. And if you remember that once you were a fish, it will become difficult for you to eat fish. Vegetarianism leads you into remembering your past lives. And KNOWING your past lives, you become more and more a vegetarian -- because seeing that all are brothers and sisters, the whole existence, you cannot kill animals. It becomes simply impossible! Not that you have to prevent yourself: it simply becomes impossible.
Pythagoras was a REAL adventurer. Alexander the Great also came to India, he also took away many things from India, but they were useless things -- diamonds and emeralds and gold. That's what Alexander the Great took away from India -- useless things. Pythagoras was a real seeker. He gathered real diamonds, real emeralds: diamonds of consciousness, emeralds of consciousness. And these were two tremendously significant, tremendously pregnant approaches -- that of vegetarianism and the idea of reincarnation.
Once it happened: Pythagoras saw somebody hitting a dog. He said, "Do not hit him!" to the man who was beating the dog. "It is the soul of a friend of mine. I recognized it when I heard it cry out."
Now this looks utterly ridiculous to a Western mind, to the Western scientific attitude. Even in those old days, people must have laughed: "What nonsense he is talking about! -- 'Don't beat the dog because I have recognized a friend.'" He was simply trying to teach the idea of reincarnation in every way possible.
And the third thing: he was, again, the first to introduce the concept that life is a wheel -- a wheel of birth and death. The wheel goes on moving and we go on clinging to the wheel. And the wheel is repetitive; again and again it will move on the same track. Nothing new will ever happen. Birth will come, you will become young, you will be full of sex and great desires, and then you will be spent and you will be old, diseased, ill sick, frustrated, tired. And then death... and again birth... and so on and so forth.
Each birth brings a death, each death brings a birth. It is a vicious circle, and the wheel goes on moving. In India the word for the world is SAMSARA. SAMSARA means 'the wheel'. Youth or childhood or old age are just spokes of the wheel. and we go on clinging to the wheel and the wheel goes on moving -- as everything else moves in the world. The earth moves around the sun, and the sun also moves around some unknown sun. And the moon moves around the earth, and earth and moon both move around the sun, and the sun around some other sun, and so on and so forth. And all the stars are moving.... And EVERYTHING IS moving in a circle! Seasons move in a circle.
Life is a wheel and the wheel is repetitive. You will never reach anywhere if you go on clinging to the wheel. In the East it has been a known fact that we have to jump out of the wheel -- only then are we free. To be free from this wheel of birth and death is to have freedom. Then you simply ARE. Then you are not moving. Then there is no past and no future but only the present. Then NOW IS the only time and here the only space.
That is the state of nirvana, MOKSHA -- freedom. That is the real kingdom of God. One simply is... all turmoil gone, all storms finished, and there is absolute silence. In that silence there is a song, in that silence there is music -- unheard music, unstruck music. In that silence is joy, in that silence is bliss. And that bliss is eternal, it never changes. All change is if you are clinging to the wheel.
If you drop out of the wheel, all change disappears. Then you are here and always here. That state is the real search of all true seekers: how to get out of this wheel of birth and death, how to enter into life eternal where no birth ever happens and no death either, where nothing begins and nothing ends, where all simply is -- how to enter into this God. Just the other day, I was saying God means 'that which is'... how to enter into that which is? These are the sutras by which to enter into that which is.