You Can’t Get There From Here


The third question is a beautiful story from Devateertha:

Your story, Osho, about Uncle Dudley reminds me of another West Virginia story. So it goes that a stranger to the area was searching for a certain place. He got lost, so he stopped to ask an old farmer for direction.
The old man replied, “Go three miles north, over the bridge, make a right, go six miles ahead to a broken- down barn, turn left at the hickory fence…. Nope. That won’t do it.”
Again he tried, “Follow this here road for four miles, over the creek around the bend by the chestnut tree make a right, follow that road about two miles, turn left by the stop sign…. Nope, wrong again.”
Trying once more the old man said, “Head west till you hit Gruber’s general store, follow to the right over the bridge for five miles, turn right by the yellow house.
Go over three ridges till you come to a fork in the road, bear right…. Nope. That won’t do.”
“So, said the old farmer after serious contemplation, “You can’t get there from here.”

I have always loved that story. It is tremendously significant. Let me repeat the last part. He said, “Sorry, you can’t get there from here.”

In fact from here you can get only to here. From here there is no way to there. From here always you can get to here – from here to here is the only possibility. From here there is no way to there. From now you get to now – again and again – because it is always present. From today you never get to tomorrow. Remember, from today you come back to today again and again and again – because there is no tomorrow. Today remains; it is an eternity. Now is an eternity, and here is the only space.

Osho smiling

The man may have been drunk, but sometimes drunkards utter tremendously meaningful truths. Why? Because drunkards can never remain in the Aristotelian logic. That may be the appeal of alcohol, of drugs; it relaxes you. Your head which is divided by Aristotle – between here and there, between now and then, between today and tomorrow – that division disappears. You settle deeply in you. You regain your lost childhood when everything was everything else and everything was meeting and merging into everything else, and there were no boundaries.

Remember, there is nowhere to go.
You carry your here and now around you.
Wherever you go it is always here;
wherever you go it is always now.

Watch a child. When he gets up in the morning sometimes he may be crying because he has lost a toy in the dream. In fact there is no boundary between dream and day – there is no boundary between dream and reality. Everything meets and merges into each other. A child lives in a totally different world – the world which is one, the world of the mystics, the world of the nondualists, advaitans, the world where there are no distinctions, where things are not divided against each other.

That old man may have been drunk that day. Otherwise, when you are in your senses you cannot say such a thing. He tried hard. He tried hard to catch hold of his Aristotelian mind. He tried hard, to get into the old categories which have become dim under alcohol and its influence. He tried hard to find a way but again and again he got lost. Finally he said it is not possible; “Sorry, you cannot yet there from here!”

This conclusion of the anecdote would be loved by Zen Masters. They will see the point, because they are also drunkards – drunk with God. Again the same happens categories disappear, distinctions disappear. Says Lao Tzu, “Everybody is clearheaded, only I am muddled.” Lao Tzu and muddled? Says Lao Tzu, “Everybody knows what is what only I don’t know. Everybody is wise, only I am ignorant.” The very word “Lao Tzu” means either “the old fellow” or “the old idiot.” Maybe enemies were calling him Lao Tzu and meaning the old idiot and friends were calling him Lao Tzu meaning the old fellow; but he was both.

Remember, there is nowhere to go. You carry your here and now around you. Wherever you go it is always here; wherever you go it is always now. Here and now are the eternities, and they are not two. In language we have become accustomed to calling them two, because in language Einstein has still to be introduced. Einstein has proved it now as a scientific fact that space and time are not two. He has coined a new word spatio-time to make them one. If that is right then here and now cannot be two. “Here-now” is the word of the future. Sooner or later, when Einstein is absorbed into languages these words will lose distinction. Here-now.

The story is beautiful. Sometimes in small anecdotes, in folklore, in stories of the people, much wisdom is hidden. Don’t just laugh at them. Sometimes through your laughing you may be trying to escape from something which can make you uncomfortable. Nobody writes these stories; they grow like trees. Through centuries a thousand and one minds work on them. They go on changing and being refined continuously. They are part of human heritage. Whenever a joke is told, don’t just laugh and forget it. Laugh, perfectly true and right, absolutely okay, but don’t miss the joke in the laughter. It may have something of tremendous value hidden in it. If you can see it, your own consciousness will be enriched.

Osho, Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega Vol. 7, Ch 6, Q 2

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