No Self, No Other – Osho

Osho, say something more about self-knowledge. That’s my whole interest and inquiry. 

Self-knowledge is a contradiction in terms. When it really happens, there is no self and there is no knowledge. If the self is there, it can’t happen. If knowledge is there, it has not happened. So a few preliminary things to be understood.

First: for self-knowledge to happen, the self has to go. You have to forget all about your ego. You have to be in a state of egolessness.

And the second thing: you have to forget all about knowledge too. If you are continuously hankering to know, that very hankering will prevent you. God reveals himself only to those who are not hankering for anything, who are not desiring anything – not even to know God. Mysteries are revealed only to those who simply wait, who make no demand on God. They wait with open eyes, they wait with open heart, but with no demand.

Your demand is basically ego-oriented. Why do you want to know? Because knowledge gives power. Try to understand it. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more powerful you become. Ego is always interested in becoming knowledgeable. If you know about nature, you become powerful over nature. If you know about people, you become powerful over people. If you know about your own mind, you become powerful over your own mind. If you know about God, you will become powerful over God.

The search for knowledge, deep down, is really the search for power. And how can you be powerful over reality? The very idea is ridiculous. Allow the reality to be powerful over you… relax. And allow the reality to take possession of you, rather than you trying to take possession of reality.

To be really in a state of self-knowledge, one has to forget self and forget all inquiry into knowledge. Then it happens! And only then it happens.

There have been three efforts in the whole history of human consciousness concerning self-knowledge. The first effort is of the realist. The realist denies the self; he says there is no self inside, no subject; only the object exists, the thing, the matter, the world. That is his way to avoid the inner journey.

The inner journey is dangerous. You will have to lose all! Self-knowledge and all, root and all – you will have to lose all. The realist cannot take that risk. He finds an explanation. He says, “There is no soul. There is no self. All that exists in the world is objects.” So he becomes concerned with knowing the objects. He forgets the subjectivity and becomes occupied with the objectivity. That’s what science has been doing for three hundred years. It is a way of escaping from oneself.

The second way is that of the idealist who says there is no object: the world is maya – illusion. There is nothing to know outside, so just close your eyes and go in. Only the knower is true – the known is false. The realist says only the known is true and the knower is false; the idealist says only the knower is true and the known is false. And just see the absurdity of it – because how can there be a knower if there is no known? And how can there be a known if there is no knower?

So the idealist and the realist are only choosing half of the reality. About the other half they are afraid.

The realist is afraid to go in, because to go in means to go into emptiness, into utter emptiness. It is to fall in a bottomless pit, in an abyss… unpredictable. Where one will land nobody knows, or whether there is any landing at all.

The realist is afraid of the knower, so he denies it. Out of fear he says it is not: “My whole concern is with the known, the object.” And the idealist is afraid of the object, of the world, of the enchantments of the world, of the magic of the world. He is afraid of getting lost into the desires and passions. He is afraid of getting entangled into things – money, power, prestige. He is so afraid that he says, “All is dream. The world that is outside is not real. The real world is inside.”

But both are being half true. And remember: a half-truth is far worse than a total lie. At least the total lie has one quality about it: it is total – the quality of totality. And one thing is beautiful about a total lie: it cannot deceive you long – because it is such a lie, even the stupid person will be able to see sooner or later that it is a lie. But the half-truth is dangerous – even an intelligent person can get lost into it.

And then there is the third way: the way of the mystic. He accepts both, and rejects both. That is my way. He accepts both because he says, “On one plane both exist – the knower and the known, the subject and the object, the inner and the outer. But on another plane, both disappear and only one remains – which is neither the known nor the knower.”

The mystic’s approach is total. And I would like you to understand the mystic’s approach as deeply as possible. On one level both are right. When you are dreaming, the dream IS true, and the dreamer is true. When you are awake in the morning, it is no more true. Now the dreamer is gone, the dreaming is gone – both have gone. Now you are awake. Now you are existing on a totally different level of consciousness.

The world is true, the ego is true, when man is ignorant, unconscious, unaware. When man becomes aware, when Buddhahood happens, then the world is not there, neither is there any ego – both have disappeared. “Both have disappeared” does not mean that nothing is left: both have disappeared into each other. Only one is left now, two are not left. The knower and the known have become one.

That oneness is what is really meant by self-knowledge. But the word is not right. No word can be right. About such great experiences which go beyond duality, no word can be right.

Man tries in two ways to overcome the epistemological dichotomy which is inherent in self-knowing.

One way is to confine his knowing to objects of the world of the non-self. This way is to escape from self-knowledge. The people who want to escape from self-knowledge condemn it as introverted, unsocial, abnormal, even perverted. They call it a kind of intellectual masturbation, navel gazing: they call these people lotus-eaters, dreamers, poets, mystics, somehow gone astray from reality.

How much of the pursuit of research in the natural sciences is motivated by the effort to keep our attention off ourselves? This question has to be asked.

People become interested in scientific research – why? Are they really interested in some scientific project? Or are they simply trying to avoid going in? The greater possibility is that they are avoiding going in.

Albert Einstein said before he died that if God were going to give him another chance to be born, he would not like to become a scientist again. A friend who was by the side of the bed asked, “Then who would you like to become?”

And he said, “Anybody, but not a scientist. I would like to become a plumber even, but not a scientist.”

Why? Albert Einstein was a man of great sensitivity, of great intelligence; a man who could have easily become a Buddha. Had all the potential, and missed – because he poured all his intelligence into the objective world. He became too much concerned about the stars and time and space, etcetera, and he forgot completely about himself. He became so much engaged with other things and other problems that he forgot completely who he was, or that some time has to be given to oneself too.

One of the socialist leaders of India, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, went to see him. He was telling me that when he went to see Albert Einstein he had to wait six hours. The time had been fixed by Albert Einstein himself, and again and again the wife would come and bring tea and other things and would say, “We are sorry but he is taking his bath.” So long?

Dr. Lohia asked, “How long is he going to take his bath?”

The wife said, “Nobody knows, because when he sits in his tub he starts thinking of great things. And he forgets completely where he is. And we are not allowed to disturb him, because he may be chasing some subtle train of thought, and if we disturb him it may be a loss to humanity.”

Dr. Lohia became more interested. He said, “But what does he go on doing sitting there?”

The wife said, “Please don’t ask… he plays with soap-bubbles. He keeps himself engaged with soap-bubbles, and goes on thinking. All the great problems that he has solved, they have been solved in his tub.”

You must have heard of great scientists becoming absent-minded. Those are not just jokes – there is a truth in it. They lost track of their own being. It is said of Immanuel Kant: one night he came back home, he knocked on the door, it was getting dark, and the servant looked from the window, from the top floor, and said, “The master is not at home.”

It is Emmanuel Kant’s house, he is the master, but the servant thought somebody had come to see the master. So he said, “The master is not at home. He has gone for a walk.”

And Immanuel Kant said, “Okay, then I will come later on.”

And he went! After walking for one hour, then he suddenly realized, “What nonsense has this servant been playing with me? I am the master!”

If you become too much engaged in outer things, there is a possibility your whole consciousness will start moving into extroversion. Nothing points to yourself.

Another night, Immanuel Kant came back home. He used to carry a walking-stick. He went in the room and forgot what is what, so he put the walking-stick on the bed, and he himself stood in the comer. Only in the middle of the night, suddenly he recognized the fact that something was wrong.

This IS possible. One can become really so much obsessed with the objective… one can lose all track of oneself. One can fall in a shadow. Scientists live in that kind of shadow. Philosophers live in that kind of shadow.

Subjectivity is eliminated when objects and objective interests take over. The ontological imperialism of scientific methodology is a pressing danger. It is one matter to hold that if something cannot be known by scientific methods, it cannot be known, but it is quite another matter to hold that if something cannot be known by scientific methods it does not exist.

And once you become too much obsessed with the objective, then naturally you become obsessed with the methodology of science too – then that is the only valid method to know. If something is not available to that method, then not only do you say it cannot be known, you start saying, slowly, slowly, unconsciously, unawares, that if it cannot be known through scientific method it cannot exist.

That’s why scientists go on saying God does not exist. Not that God does not exist – it is just their methodology. Their methodology is for the object and God is your subjectivity. Their methods are meant to catch hold of that which is separate from you. And God is not separate from you: God is your innermost being, your inferiority.

Through scientific methods, love cannot be proved. That does not mean love does not exist. For it, a different methodology is needed, a different approach, a different vision, a different way of seeing. The scientist avoids the problem of self-knowing by getting more and more interested in the objective world. By getting more and more into things, he goes farther and farther away from himself.

And there is a third effort also to overcome the subject/object dichotomy, and that is the way of the mystic. One way to avoid this problem of subject and object is that of the scientist: only object exists. The other way to avoid the dichotomy – because it is insoluble – is that of the idealist: to say that the world is illusory, it doesn’t exist, it is maya, close your eyes. Both are wrong. The third is the method of the mystic: he transcends. He does not deny reality to the object, he does not deny the reality to the subject – he accepts the reality of both. He bridges them.

That is the meaning of the famous Upanishadic statement: Tat-Tvam-Asi – That art thou. This is a bridging. In this bridging, self-knowledge happens. Self disappears, knowledge disappears – knowing remains; a clarity, a transparency. All is clear. There is nobody to whom it is clear, and there is nothing which is clear – but ALL IS clear. It is only clarity and clarity…. This is called by the Buddhists: The Lotus-Land of Buddha. All is clear and fragrant, and beautiful, and graceful. Then the splendor opens its doors.

The mystic transcends the problem by attempting a form of knowing in which the knower and the known are merged into one unit. Now nothing is left in the concept of ‘knowledge’.

Knowledge cannot be divided into direct and indirect. All knowledge is indirect. Knowledge is a salute, not an embrace. It is a representation, a symbolization, a universalization, an analysis. In a sense, knowledge is a form of falsifying; for reality is concrete, particular, specific, unanalyzed. Knowledge is a dry and dead fact – it is not wet experience. And experience is not knowledge but knowing.

That’s why Krishnamurti always uses the word ‘experiencing’ rather than ‘experience’. He is right. He turns the noun into a verb: he calls it experiencing. Remember that always: transform nouns into verbs and you will be Dover to reality. Don’t call it knowledge: call it knowing. Don’t call it life: call it living. Don’t call it love: call it loving. Don’t call it death: call it dying. If you can understand that the whole life is a verb, not a noun, there will be great understanding following it like a shadow.

There is no self and there is no other.

The great Jewish mystic and philosopher, Martin Buber, says that prayer is the experience of I and thou, a dialogical experience a dialogue. Yes, in the beginning prayer is so, but not in the end. For the beginners, prayer is a dialogue between I and thou. But for those who have arrived, prayer is not a dialogue because there is neither I nor thou – only one. Dialogue cannot exist. It is not communication: it is communion. It is not even union, but unity.

Self-knowledge is of great importance. Nothing else is of more importance than that. But remember these two pitfalls: one is denying subjectivity and becoming a realist; another is denying reality and becoming an idealist. Avoid these two pitfalls. Walk exactly in the middle.

And then you will be surprised – the self has disappeared, the knowledge has disappeared. But then descends knowing. Great light descends, and a light that not only transforms you but transforms your whole world.

Buddha is reported to have said: The moment I became enlightened, the whole existence became enlightened for me. This is true. I am a witness to it. Exactly that’s how it happens. When you become enlightened, the whole existence becomes full of light and remains full of light. Even darkness becomes luminous, even death becomes a new way of living.

-OSHO

From The Perfect Master, V.2, Chapter Two

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

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2 thoughts on “No Self, No Other – Osho”

  1. Hello: HI and Low and in between is the Hollow… where there,s nor ups and neither downs, no mind to discover and no self to be. Osho came and left because he found no foothold to establish himself, that,s how life is…impermanent!!! Too much thinking and talk disorientates the mind from its natural state and looks for means to catch hold of the truth and use it for sensual contentment in being while truth is beyond mind. Should completely lose oneself to get freed from ignorance. Don,t think to gain but think how to disappear from the grips of thinking where neither life nor death has any values… where liberation begins to unfold, where both life and death are felt no more, where no recognition is possible but the eternal unknown as it must remain in the unconditional state of not knowing, where Earth Sun and Moon are felt as dust particles in the eternal Unknown…

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  2. Besides knowing how to meditate , its equally important to know that how to handle spiritual experiences -both your own as well as those that you keep on hearing/reading ! So here’s another one from my Spiritual Series (Featured yet again on Livingwiseproject.com) :

    “Don’t Hallucinate,Just Meditate ” – (5 Minute read )

    https://the-passport-souls.travel.blog/2017/08/01/dont-hallucinate-just-meditate/

    Would love hear you back as feedback !

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