Forget all about morality

A king was getting old, and he told his only son, who was going to succeed him, "Before I die you have to learn the art of morality, because a king has to be a model for everyone else in the kingdom; nothing should go wrong in your actions. So I am sending you today to my old master. I am old, he is even older than me, so don't waste time. Learn everything intensely, totally, without wasting a single moment."

The prince went to the master and he was surprised -- surprised by the fact that the master was a master of archery: "And what has archery to do with morality? Has my father gone senile?" But he had come to the mountains, so he thought, "It is better to see the old man at least once."

He went in. The old man was immensely beautiful and graceful, surrounded by an aura of silence and peace. He had been thinking he was going to meet a warrior, an archer, but here was a sage. He was getting even more puzzled. He asked the old man, "Are you the master archer?" He said, "You are right."

The prince said, "I have been sent by my father, the king, who is your disciple, to learn morality from you. I cannot see any connection at all between morality and archery." The old man laughed and he said, "Soon you will see."

The prince said, "I am in a hurry. My father is old, and before he dies I want to fulfill his desire." The master said, "Then get lost, because these things cannot be learned in a hurry. Patience, infinite patience is the very foundation of learning any art, whether it is archery or it is morality."

Looking at the old man's eyes the prince remained, and he said, "When are my lessons going to start?" The old man said, "Just now they have started. Patience is your first lesson. And about the second lesson I should make you aware. The second lesson is that you will be cleaning the floors, cleaning in the garden, collecting the old leaves, throwing them out. Be very careful, because I may hit you with a wooden sword at any moment. Although it is wooden, it hits really hard. It has given many people fractures."

The prince said, "But I have come here to learn morality, not to get fractures!" The old man said, "That will come in its own time, this is only the beginning." Puzzled, confused... but he knew his father, that if he went back empty-handed the old man would be really enraged. He had to learn. On both sides two mad, old people.... "And this man is trying to teach me morality by hitting me! But let us see what happens."

And the master started hitting him. He would be washing the floor, and suddenly a hit would come. He would be cleaning the path in the garden, and suddenly a hit would come. But he became surprised, within a week, that a certain intuition was arising in him. Even before the old man had approached him, he would jump out of his way. Whatever he was doing, some part of his consciousness was continuously alert the old man, where he was. And the old man used to walk so silently that it was almost impossible to remain conscious. But he started being conscious, because getting so many hits, his whole body was hurting.

It continued for one month. But in one month he became so capable that the old man was no longer able to hit him. The old man said, "You are really the son of your father. He was also very keen, intense, and total in learning; it won't take much time. Your first lesson is finished today, because for twenty-four hours I have been trying to hit you, but you have been found always alert, and saved yourself.

"From tomorrow morning you will have to be more alert, because the wooden sword will be replaced by a real sword. The wooden sword at the most could have given you a fracture, but the real sword may even cut off your head. So more awareness will be needed."

But this one month had been of such great learning... he was never aware that inside him there was so much possibility of intuitive awareness. He was trained, well-trained intellectually, but he had no idea of any intuitiveness. And he was not afraid even of the real sword, because he said, "It is the same. If you cannot hit me with the wooden sword, you cannot hit me with the real sword either. It makes no difference to me."

For one month the old man was trying in every possible way to hit him with the real sword, and naturally the prince became more and more alert -- had to become, there was no other alternative. And one complete month passed, and the old man could not even touch him. He was very happy, and he said, "I am immensely satisfied. Now the third lesson. Up to now I was hitting you only while you were awake. From this evening, remember that in the night when you are asleep I may hit you at any time. Again it will start with the wooden sword."

The prince became a little worried -- awake it was one thing, but when you are asleep? But these two months had given him tremendous respect, trust in the old man and his art, and also a confidence about his own intuition. And he thought, "If he says it, then perhaps intuition never sleeps."

And that proved to be the truth. The body sleeps, the mind sleeps, but the intuition is always awake; its very nature is awareness, but we never look at it He had to look, he had to remain alert, even asleep.

The old man started hitting him, and a few times he got really bad hits. But he was grateful, not angry, because after each hit he was becoming more and more alert, even in sleep -- just like a small flame, something remained alive in him, alert and watchful. And just in one month he was again able to protect himself even in his sleep. As the old man would come close, very silently, making no noise, no footstep sounds, the young man would jump up out of his bed. He may have been fast asleep, but something remained awake.

And in the next lesson the real sword appeared 
in his sleep. The next morning the old man said, "Now the last lesson -- I will be hitting you with a real sword. And you know my sword, just a single hit and you are finished. You have to gather all your consciousness." The young man was a little worried, a little afraid, because the game was becoming more and more dangerous.

In the early morning sun the old man was reading a book, sitting under a tree in the rising sun, and the young man was gathering the old leaves from the garden. Suddenly a thought came to him, "This old man has been hitting me for months; it will be a great idea... I should try to hit him and see whether he is alert or not."

And he was just twenty or twenty-five feet away, when he was just thinking this in his mind -- he had not done anything yet -- and the old man said, "Boy, I am very old, and your teaching is not finished yet. Don't have such ideas." The prince could not believe it. He came and touched his feet, and said, "Forgive me, but I had not done anything, I was only thinking... just an idea."

The old man said, "When you become fully alert even the sound of your thoughts is heard. It is the question of awareness. You don't have to do anything, you just think and I will know. And soon you will become capable of the same -- just a little more patience ."

And soon the day came when he started suddenly becoming aware that the old man was thinking of hitting him... for no reason. The old man was sitting reading his book, but the idea came so clearly that he went to the master, and said, "So you are going to hit me again? Just a few seconds before I heard the idea." The master said, "You are right, I was just thinking to finish the page and come. Now there is no need for you to be here. I know your father is old and is waiting for you."

But the young man said, "What happened about morality?" The old man said, "Forget all about it. A man who is so alert can only be moral. He cannot harm anybody, he cannot steal, he cannot be unkind, cruel; he will be naturally loving and compassionate. You forget all about morality! 
This awareness is what I call religiousness!"

The prince went back. The father was waiting and waiting, and he said, "Have you learned the whole art of archery?" The young man said, "You sent me to learn the art of morality. From where have you got the idea of archery?" The king said, "I sent you to learn morality, archery was only a device."

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