Consciousness has been at the center of my life for almost 50 years, as it has for so many of us. But I am a practical sort of guy and so am not much interested in conceptual “consciousness.” On the contrary, the consciousness that I am interested in is the “being consciousness.” There are many neo-advaita teachers around who tell us that we are always consciousness. And, since we are always awareness, consciousness, there is nothing to be done. Osho is much more compassionate. He too tells us that we are already Buddhas, but he also reminds us that the difference between us and him is that he is aware of his Buddhahood. He is experiencing his Buddhahood, and we are unawake to its splendor.
In his compassion, he introduced us to Shiva’s 112 meditation techniques (The Book of Secrets). He created active meditations to prepare the ground for meditation to take root, and he distilled all meditation techniques down to the key element of witnessing.
For me personally, I have found that the best way to become aware — to awaken the witness — is to begin by being aware of my unconsciousness, my unawareness, my dreaming mind.
Most every morning I wake up around 3:30 a.m., meaning at around that time I become aware that I am no longer sleeping. Immediately, I begin to look at the activity of the mind, the tail end of the dreaming cycle. I find that it is this seeing the unconscious that enables becoming more conscious, or we could say, less unconscious.
As I continue lying in bed, looking directly at the tail of the dream, this awakeningness becomes more pronounced. I find this to be the best time to get up and sit in meditation.
This sitting in meditation is more of the same but now I am sitting erect and perhaps more attuned to the watching.
At first, while I am watching I catch thought streams, some thought about this or that, but as I watch without grasping the thought and without rejecting the thought but just looking directly at the movement of thought, it becomes less defined, more opaque.
At this point, it is the energy of the mind that is being seen rather than individual thoughts. At the same time, I am now aware of the watching itself rather than that which is being seen. With my awareness of the watchingness, the previous objects of consciousness begin to slip out of view.
This is not a permanent situation. At some point, some thought appears and either I am dragged off until I remember again or I am awake enough to catch it at the beginning, and again, without grasping or rejecting there is the remembrance of watching and the watched subsides.
I find that the unconscious stream is in an inverse relationship to how conscious I am in that moment. The more conscious, the less of the stream. The less conscious, the more present the stream. So, it is by seeing my unconscious that I become more conscious.
My understanding of Ramana Maharshi’s method of inquiry is a thought appears, one inquires to whom does the thought appear, and the answer is to me. Then one inquires more deeply, “Who am I?” I see that as another way of saying what I have described above.
Osho’s method is even simpler; it is watching, witnessing. Watching without judgement, without jumping onto the back of the thought, and without pushing it away in rejection. Just watching, and as we watch without reaction, the other steps that I described above happen naturally. As thought becomes less, I automatically become aware of my self, provided I haven’t fallen asleep.
“Meditation starts by being separate from the mind, by being a witness. That is the only way of separating yourself from anything. If you are looking at the light, naturally one thing is certain, you are not the light, you are the one who is looking at it. If you are watching the flowers, one thing is certain, you are not the flower, you are the watcher. Watching is the key of meditation:
Watch your mind.
Don’t do anything — no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of God — just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don’t disturb it, don’t prevent it, don’t repress it; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly, slowly mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.
As the mind becomes completely empty, your whole energy becomes a flame of awakening. This flame is the result of meditation. So, you can say meditation is another name for watching, witnessing, observing — without any judgment, without any evaluation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the mind.”
-Osho, from The Invitation, Discourse #21
So, this has been my experience. By understanding and seeing my un-consciousness, un-consciousness is transformed into consciousness, from unconsciousness to consciousness. This is how I come out of mind. This is not enlightenment; it is an awakening before enlightenment. It is nothing special; we are all capable of coming out of mind. It is just a question of seeing the identification with what we are Not that we discover that which we Are.
Along the way, a couple of points have become clear, and perhaps they may be helpful to someone else.
Number one, and this is of course obvious but nevertheless important to state. In order for the transformation of consciousness to take place, we have to look directly at the mind. It is not enough to know about meditation, we have to meditate. We have to get to know intimately how we perpetuate unawareness. We have to meditate; did I already say that. We have to meditate.
A second point that one day became clear is we are not to do anything with the mind, or any content of consciousness. Transformation happens but not by anything we do. Our job is to become conscious, and again we do that by watching our unconscious. It is through watching the unconscious that the energy becomes conscious. I used to feel that it was the content that was important in the watching. Somewhere along the way a shift happened so that it is the watcher that is of importance not what is being watched. We watch our unconsciousness simply to become conscious.
And thirdly, it is by watching without reacting that we begin to become aware of being conscious, of awareness itself, not as an object but as a living, existential experiencing.
Finally, these awakenings, this watchfulness that arises in meditation, has to be taken into daily life. With this watchingness, there are more moments of action and fewer of reaction, but when reaction appears, it is watched without judgment just like the watching of thought. And, it is here in this daily life that the watchingness is crystalized into Being conscious. And that truly is a splendor.
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.