Spiritual Snakes and Ladders – Osho

The mind can be suppressed – though even that is difficult. The mind can be hidden – though even that is difficult. But the annihilation of mind – that is the last thing that can be managed.

Even if your mind becomes quiet, it becomes unquiet again the next day. It arises again and again; it revives again and again. It sprouts again and again – somehow its seed remains. However much we may meditate, pray and remember God’s name, one moment it feels that everything is alright and the next moment it feels that everything has gone topsy-turvy; sometimes it feels that the destination has come, this is the place, and then again everything gets lost.

This whole game appears like the one of snakes and ladders which children play. There are both ladders and snakes in it. Up the ladders you climb and then suddenly you come to the mouth of some snake and immediately you have dropped down to a lower level. This goes on happening –climbing up, falling down. A similar thing goes on with the mind. Sometimes it feels one has climbed, everything is fine, perfectly okay; one feels one has arrived. “So this is what the saints have been talking about – this is the very place, this is the very state – and I didn’t get it until now!” But just as you remember the saints, you fall in the mouth of the snake and drop down headlong to discover that you are where you have started from. You feel those saints must have been telling lies or, “Probably I hallucinated; I just imagined everything was alright, but in fact everything is wrong.”

Around me I constantly have a crowd of people who have been climbing ladders and coming down through the snake’s mouth. One day they come and report to me, “How wonderful, fantastic! Now there really remains nothing to be done.” And the next morning they are coming back, beaten down. Against every ladder a snake is awaiting you.

Many times you will feel the mind is gone for good, and it will be back again. You will get glimpses. Even if it disappears for only a little time, you will have a small glimpse of beyond the mind. Even if it moves out of your way for a while, a space is created; the sky is cleared, a window has opened up and you see the stars in the sky. But this does not last long. A yogi becomes a siddha, the enlightened one, when the mind is annihilated. The mind is annihilated when one experiences that, “I am not even a soul.”

As long as I feel that, “True, I am not the body, I am not the mind, but I am the soul,” as long as there is any support left for my ‘I’, my mind will survive in its seed form. As long as there is any support whatsoever left, even that of the soul, my mind will remain in its seed form. Whenever a drop of rain will come the seed will break open, sprout and start growing into a tree.

Only when I no longer remain does the mind cease. It is easy to give up money, it is easy to give up position, it is easy to give up attachment to the body, it is easy to give up attachment to the mind, but it is the most difficult task to break the attachment with my very self, with my very individuality, with my very existence. But as soon as this is broken, the mind is annihilated.

Sariputta came to Buddha. He asked Buddha, “How can I be liberated?” Buddha said, “Do not come to me, go elsewhere – because I cannot liberate you, I can only liberate you from this ‘you’.” Buddha said further, “‘I’ is never liberated. One is liberated from the ‘I’. So if you are looking for your liberation, go somewhere else. But yes, if you want liberation from yourself, you have come to the right place. I will make you free from yourself. So do not ask how you will be liberated. You will not survive in your liberation. You should ask how to be free from this ‘I’ – how to be liberated from this ‘I’.”

Therefore Buddha did not select the word moksha, liberation. He selected the word nirvana. With the word moksha, there is a feeling of ‘my’. At least this much will remain, the soul will remain – and sitting on siddhashila, the seat of the liberated one, one will enjoy liberation. The same person, the same man who was running a shop here, now sitting on a seat of the liberated one in the world of liberation is enjoying there!

This interest remains lurking in your mind that you will remain. But what is there in you that is worth keeping? And what is there in you worth saving? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever considered what you have that would be worth saving for eternity? What kind of fragrance have you that you could say that it should remain forever? What kind of melody have you that you would want to make it immortal? What is there in your personality which you would want to remain forever? There seems to be nothing of the sort within you.

Buddha says, “This too is a sort of desire, a lust for life – that one should survive, for no reason at all. There seems to be no reason why you should survive. What is in you which, if saved, may be beneficial to the world? There is nothing.”

So, Buddha says, “No, this word liberation is not right”; and he chose the word nirvana.

This sutra is a sutra for nirvana. Nirvana means the extinguishing of the lamp. When a lamp is extinguished can you tell where the flame has gone? The flame does not go anywhere, it simply ceases to be, it disappears, it simply merges. Now you will not be able to find that extinguished flame anywhere. Nowhere in all the worlds, nowhere in the vast infinity will you be able to locate that extinguished flame. It has merged; it has merged so utterly that it cannot be called back from the infinity. It has moved so deeply into the formless that it cannot take any form any more. It is annihilated.

So Buddha says that you will also get annihilated, just as a lamp is extinguished. Hence he chose the word nirvana. He says, “You will attain to nirvana, not moksha but nirvana. The flame that is faintly flickering in you will be extinguished.”

This seems to be a very frightening thing. What, then, is the purpose of all this? To put more oil in your lamp and keep the flame burning? What really is the essence? But Buddha says that when you are annihilated, only then will you know what you are. And when you have disappeared only then will you know that you are not lost – you have gained all, you have become all.


From Finger Pointing to the Moon, Discourse #3

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

You can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

3 thoughts on “Spiritual Snakes and Ladders – Osho”

  1. this is the calling is to return to what was prior to the arrival of self consciousness, prior to all individuality.

    No body can make the choice to go there. Understanding this paradox results in the cessation of seeking.


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