What is the relationship between meditation and witnessing?
In what way are mind and ego dissolved by them?
Human life can be divided into four circles.
The first circle is of action, the world of doing. It is the outermost. Moving within a little we come to the world of thought. Move a little further in we come to the world of feeling, devotion, love. Moving still further within we reach the center – the world of the witness.
The witness is our nature, because there is no way to go beyond it. No one ever has, and no one ever can. To become the witness of the witness is impossible. The witness is simply the witness.
You cannot go deeper than it. It is our foundation. Our house is built on the foundation of witnessing – built of feeling, of thought, of action.
This is why there are three Yogas: Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga – the Yogas of action, knowledge and devotion. These are the three methods of meditation. Through these three one can make efforts to reach the witness.
The Yoga of action means action plus meditation. Karma Yoga is the effort to go directly from doing to witnessing.
Meditation is the process and witnessing is the goal.
You have asked, “What is the relationship between meditation and witnessing?” Meditation is the path, witnessing is the destination.
Witnessing is the culmination of meditation.
And meditation is the beginning of witnessing.
A Karma Yogi is one who adds meditation to doing, who links meditation to the world of action – action plus meditation.
Then Gyan Yogi is one who adds meditation to thought. He links meditation to the world of thought. He begins to think meditatively. A new practice is added: whatever one does is done with awareness. When the state of thought plus meditation is established the journey towards witnessing begins.
Meditation is a change of direction.
Whatever meditation is joined to becomes a vehicle for moving towards witnessing.
And the third path is Bhakti Yoga – adding meditation to emotion, a deep joining of meditation and emotion, the whirlpool of meditation and feeling! While feeling become meditative.
Through these three paths one can approach the witness. But the method that brings you is meditation, the fundamental thing is meditation. It is just like a doctor giving you medicine, saying to take it with honey, and you say you don’t eat honey, you are a Jaina. Then he says to take it with milk, and you say you cannot drink milk because milk is a form of blood, you are a strict Quaker – you don’t drink milk, it is like eating meat. So the doctor says take it with water. But the medicine is the same – honey, milk or water, it doesn’t make any difference. They are only to help swallow the medicine, to get it down the throat. Medicine won’t go down by itself.
Meditation is medicine.
There are three types of people in the world. Some people cannot live without doing. Their whole life flow is in working. If they try to sit quietly, they cannot; they have to do something or other. There is energy, flowing energy. There is no harm in this. But the master says try swallowing the medicine of meditation with activity. You can’t stop doing but you can add meditation to doing. You say, “I can’t sit a single moment without doing something. I just can’t. Sitting is not within my power, it’s not my nature.”
Psychologists call them extroverts: they are always occupied; they need to do something or other. Until they fall down exhausted and sleep it is not natural for them to stop working. Activity is their nature.
The master says, “Good. Do it riding on action. Make this your horse. Mix your medicine with this and swallow it. The real question is the medicine. Start working meditatively. Whatever you do, don’t do it unconsciously, do it with awareness. Stay awake while doing.”
Then there are some who say doing has no attraction for them, but thoughts come rushing in waves. They are thinkers-they have no juice for doing. They have no interest in the outer, but great waves arise within, a great tempest. And they cannot be inside for a single moment without thoughts. They say, “If we sit silently more thoughts come. When we sit silently more thoughts than usual come. Just mention worship, prayer, meditation, and a great deluge of thoughts – armies – come in wave after wave and drown us. What should we do?”
The master says, “Drink meditation mixed in with your thoughts. Don’t stop your thoughts, but when thoughts come observe them. Don’t get lost in them; stand a little apart, at a distance. Calmly watching your thoughts, you will gradually attain witnessing. Add meditation to your thoughts.”
Then there are some who say, “We have no trouble with thoughts, no trouble with doing. We have an excess of feeling. Tears flow, the heart is overwhelmed, drowning – in love, in affection, in trust, in devotion.”
The master says, “Make this your medicine, add meditation to this. Let tears flow – flow filled with meditation. Let the thrill be there, but filled with meditation. The essence is meditation.”
These differences between bhakti, karma and gyan are not differences in medicine. The medicine is one. You can see this in Ashtavakra. Ashtavakra says take a direct leap. Swallow the medicine straight. He says what use are these practices?
That is why Ashtavakra is not a Gyan Yogi or a Bhakti Yogi or Karma Yogi. He says to drop straight into witnessing. These crutches are no use – this medicine can be swallowed directly. Drop these crutches, drop these vehicles – you can run directly. You can be the witness directly.
As far as Ashtavakra is concerned the witness and meditation are not different. But as far as other methods are concerned, the witness and meditation are different. Meditation is the process and witnessing is the destination.
For Ashtavakra the path and destination are one. So he can say to be blissful right now. One whose path and goal are different cannot say “right now.” He will say, “Move! The journey is long; climb, then you will reach the mountain.” Ashtavakra says, “Open your eyes: you are sitting on the mountain! Where are you going? How to go anywhere?”
Ashtavakra’s sutra is extremely revolutionary.
Neither gyan, nor bhakti, nor karma – none of these have reached to his height. It is pure witnessing. Look at it like this: the medicine doesn’t even need to be swallowed, understanding is enough, awareness is enough. There is no need for help – you are already there. But it happens that people are incapable of understanding it.
A Sufi story…. A man went in search of truth. The first religious man he met was sitting under a tree, just outside his own village. He asked, “I am searching for a true master. Please tell me the characteristics of a true master.” The fakir told him the characteristics. His description was very simple. He said, “You’ll find him sitting under such and such a tree, sitting in such and such posture, his hands making such and such gestures – that is enough to know he is the true master.”
The seeker started searching. It is said that thirty years passed while he wandered the whole earth. He visited many places, but never met the master. He met many masters, but none were true masters. He returned to his own village completely exhausted. As he was returning he was surprised, he couldn’t believe it: that old man was seated under the same tree, and now he could see that this was the very tree that the old man had spoken of “… he will be sitting under such and such a tree…..” And his posture was exactly as he had described. ”It was the same posture he was sitting in thirty years ago – was I blind? The exact expression on his face, the exact gestures….!”
He fell at his feet saying, “Why didn’t you tell me in the first place? Why did you misdirect me for these thirty years? Why didn’t you tell me that you are the true master?”
The old man said, “I told you, but you were not ready to listen. You were not able to come home without wandering away. You had to knock on the doors of a thousand houses to come to your own home, only then could you return. I said it, I said everything – beneath such and such a tree. I was describing this very tree, the posture I was sitting in, but you were too fast, you couldn’t hear correctly, you were in a hurry. You were going somewhere to search. Searching was very important for you, the truth was not so important.
“But you have come! I was feeling tired, sitting continuously in this posture for you. You were wandering for thirty years, but think of me sitting under this tree! I knew some day you would come, but what if I had already passed away? I waited for you – you have come! You had to wander for thirty years, but that’s your own fault. The master was always here.”
It happens many times in our life that we cannot see what is near, and what is far attracts us. The distant drum sounds sweeter, we are pulled by distant dreams.
Ashtavakra says that you are what you are seeking.
And you are it right here, right now.
What Krishnamurti has been telling people is exactly Ashtavakra’s message. No one understood, nor has anyone understood Krishnamurti. And your so-called saints and sannyasins are very angry because Krishnamurti says there is no need for meditation. He is absolutely right– No need for devotion, no need for action, no need for knowledge. Ordinary sadhus and saints become very nervous: “No need whatsoever? He is misleading people!” It is these sadhus who mislead.
Krishnamurti is straightforwardly giving Ashtavakra’s message. He is saying there is no need because there is only a need if you have lost something. Just get up and shake off the dust! Splash a little cold water on your eyes; what more is needed?
In Ashtavakra’s vision witnessing and meditation are one, because the goal and the path are one. But for all other paths and religious schools meditation is a method; witnessing, its final fruit.
“In what way are mental blocks and ego dissolved by them?”
Mind and ego are not dissolved by witnessing: in witnessing you find out that they never existed. They can be dissolved only if they exist.
It is like this: you are sitting in a dark room and think there is a ghost. It is only your shirt hanging there but you are scared, and in fright your imagination adds hands and feet to it. He is standing there frightening you! Someone says light a lamp, and you ask how will lighting a lamp make ghosts go away. But lighting a lamp does drive away the ghost because there isn’t one there! If there were, lighting a lamp wouldn’t drive it away. What has a lamp got to do with scaring away ghosts? If there were a ghost a lamp would not drive him away. But he doesn’t exist, he is illusory – that’s why he goes away.
You suffer from thousands of diseases which are not there. This is why the ash from some sadhu will cure you, not because ash has driven out your illness. Are you mad? Has ash ever cured a disease? If so, the whole science of medicine would be useless. Ash cannot cure illness, it only gets rid of the idea that you were ill.
I have heard a story about a doctor – he himself told it to me. He was living near the Bastar tribal area and a tribal man came to him from deep within Bastar. The doctor was visiting a village, a tribal village. This man was sick, but the doctor had nothing to write with; there was no pen or paper in the village. He found a cloth and wrote the name of the medicine on it with a piece of rock, and told him, “Take it with milk for a whole month, and you will be fine.” The man came back after a month. He was completely okay – healthy, robust. The doctor asked, “Did the medicine work?
He said, “It worked great. Now write on one more cloth for me.”
The doctor asked, “What do you mean?”
He said, “The cloth is finished. I drank it all up! Such great medicine.”
He had come to him completely cured! Now it wouldn’t be right for the doctor to explain anything; that would be inappropriate. He told me, “Since he was cured I didn’t say anything: medicine is what makes you well. Why should I confuse him by telling him, ‘You idiot, I just wrote out the name of the medicine, but you never bought it!’ He drank the prescription, but it worked.” The disease must have been false, imaginary.
Psychologists say ninety out of a hundred illnesses are imaginary. And as understanding increases it is possible that ninety-nine percent are imaginary. One day perhaps one hundred percent diseases will be found to be imaginary.
This is why the world has so many medical systems that work. Use western medicine and the patient gets well. Use Ayurveda or Homeopathy or the Greek-Islamic system, or Naturopathy – the patient is cured. Even a charm or talisman will cure him.
It is surprising. If he were really sick then only one particular method would work to cure the disease, every method could not work. There is no disease. It is only what you believe in: someone believes in western medicine so it works…. And the doctor’s name is more important than the medicine.
Have you ever noticed that when you return from seeing a great doctor, your pockets empty from paying such huge fees, you are already half cured? If this same doctor wrote you free prescriptions it wouldn’t have any effect on you. The fees you have paid out do more than his medicine. Once you have the idea that he is a great doctor – the greatest – it is enough.
You ask, “In what way are mind and ego dissolved by them?” They are not dissolved. If they existed, they would be dissolved. In witnessing you find out, “Idiot, you are needlessly lost! Your own imagination has projected mirages – it was all imagination.” They don’t dissolve. In witnessing you become alert and find out that they never existed.
Excerpt from Enlightenment: The Only Revolution, Chapter Four
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation
You can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.