The Outer Cannot Change the Inner – Osho

Last night you said that by changing the outer, the inner remains unchanged, untransformed. But is it not true that the right food, right labor, right sleep, right actions and behaviors are also important factors for inner transformation? Isn’t it a mistake to ignore the outer completely?

The outer cannot change the inner, but the outer can help, or it can hinder. The outer can create a situation in which the inner can explode more easily. The thing to be remembered is this: that the outer transformation is not the inner. Even if you have done everything and the situation is there, the inner is not going to explode. The situation is necessary, it is helpful, but it is not the transformation. And those who get involved with the outer….

The outer is a vast phenomenon. You can go on changing for lives and you will never be satisfied, and something or other will remain to be changed, because unless the inner changes, the outer can never be perfect. You can go on changing it and polishing it and conditioning it. You will never feel satisfied. You will never come to a situation where you can feel, ‘Now, the field is ready.’ So many have wasted their lives.

If your mind becomes obsessed with the outer – with the food, with the clothes, with the behavior… I am not saying to neglect them. No, what I am saying is, don’t get obsessed with them. They can be helpful, but they can become great hindrances if your mind becomes obsessed. Then it becomes an escape, then you are just postponing the inner change. And you can go on changing the outer. The inner is not even touched by it, the inner remains the same.

You might have heard one old Indian fable. In Panchtantra it is said that a mouse was very much afraid of a cat; constantly in fear, anxiety. He couldn’t sleep: he would dream about the cat and he would tremble. A magician, just out of pity, transformed the mouse into a cat. The outer was changed, but immediately the mouse within the cat now became afraid of a dog. The anxiety was the same; only the object had changed. Previously it was the cat, now it was the dog. The trembling continued, the anguish remained, the dreams were still of fear.

So the magician changed the cat into a dog. Immediately the dog became afraid of the tiger, because the mouse within remained the same. The mouse was not changed; only bodies, the outer. The same anxiety, the same disease, the same fear remained. The magician changed the dog into a tiger. Immediately the mouse within the tiger became afraid of a hunter. So the magician said to the mouse, ‘Now be a mouse again, because I can change your bodies, I cannot change you. You have the heart of a mouse, so what can I do?’ The heart of a mouse.

You can go on changing the outer, but the heart of the mouse remains the same. And that heart creates the problems. The shape will change, the form will change, but the substance will remain the same. And it makes no difference whether you are afraid of a cat, or of a dog, or of a tiger. The question is not of whom you are afraid; the question is that you are afraid.

The emphasis is – my emphasis is – that you must remain aware that your outer effort should not become a substitute for the inner transformation. One thing. Take every help that can be taken. It is good to have right food, but it is nonsense and madness to become obsessed with food. It is good to have right behavior, but it is neurotic to become obsessed with it. You should not become mad about anything.

In India there are many sects of sannyasins who are obsessed with food. The whole day they are thinking only of food: what to eat and what not to eat; who should prepare the food and who should not prepare the food. Once I was travelling with a sannyasin. He would take only milk, and only cow’s milk, and only from those cows which were white; otherwise, he would go without food. This man is mad.

Remember this: that the inner is important, significant. The outer is helpful, it is good, but you must not become focused with it. It must not become so important that the inner is forgotten. The inner must remain the inner and the central, and the outer, if possible, should be changed just as a help. Don’t ignore it completely. There is no need to ignore it, because really the outer is also part of the inner. It is not something opposite to it, it is not something contrary to it, it is not something imposed upon you – it is you. But the inner is the central, and the outer is the periphery. So give as much importance as a periphery needs, as a circumference needs, as a boundary needs – but the boundary is not the house. So take care of it, but don’t become mad after it.

Our mind is always trying to find escapes. If you can become involved with food, with sex, with clothes, with the body, your mind will be at ease, because now you are not going towards the inner. Now there is no need to change the mind. Now there is no need to destroy the mind, to go beyond the mind. With the change of food, the same mind can exist. You may eat this or that – the same mind can exist. Only when you move inwards… the more inner you reach, the more this mind which you have has to cease. The inward path is the path towards no-mind.

The mind becomes afraid. It will try to find some escape – something to do with the outer. Then the mind can exist as it is. Whatsoever you do makes no difference. It is irrelevant what you do – this mind can exist, and this mind can find ways for how to remain the same. And sometimes, when you struggle with the natural outlet, your mind will find some perverted outlets which are more dangerous. Rather than being a help, they will become hindrances.

I have heard that Mulla Nasrudin fell down his stairs. His leg was fractured, so it was put in a plaster cast, and he was told that for three months he was not to go up and down the stairs. After three months he came to the doctor and the plaster was removed. Mulla asked, ‘Now can I go up and down the stairs?’

The doctor said, ‘Now you can go. You are absolutely okay.’

Mulla said, ‘Now I am so happy, doctor. You cannot believe how happy I am. It was so awkward to go up and down the drain-pipe the whole day. For three months, every day going up and down the drain-pipe – it was so awkward, and the whole neighborhood was laughing at me. But you had told me not to go up and down the stairs, so I had to find a way.’

This is what everyone is doing. If one outlet is blocked, then a perversion is bound to happen. And you don’t know the ways of the mind – they are very cunning and very subtle. People come to me with their problems. The problem seems to be obvious – it is not. All problems seem to be obvious, clear – it is not so. Deep down something else is hidden, and unless that something else is known, discarded, gone beyond, the problem will remain. It will change its shape.

Someone is smoking too much and he wants to stop it. But smoking in itself is not a problem; the problem is something else. You can stop smoking, but the problem will remain, and it will have to come out in something else. When do you smoke? When you are anxious, nervous, you start smoking, and smoking helps you. You feel more confident, you feel more relaxed.

Just by stopping the smoking, your nervousness is not going to change. You will feel nervous, you will feel anxious; the anxiety will come. Then you will do something else. And you can find something which is a beautiful substitute; it looks so different. You can do anything. You can just use a mantra instead of smoking, and whenever you feel nervous you can say, Ram, Ram, Ram – anything continuously.

What are you doing with smoke? It is a mantra. You smoke in and out, you smoke in and out – it becomes a repetitive thing. Because of the repetition you feel relaxed. Repeat anything and the same will happen. But if you are using a mantra and saying, Ram, Ram, Ram, no one is going to say that you are doing something wrong. And the problem is the same.

The problem has not changed; only you have changed the trick. Previously you were doing it with smoke; now you are doing it with a word. Repetition helps; any nonsense thing will help. You just have to repeat it continuously. When you repeat a thing it gives relaxation, because it creates a sort of boredom. Boredom is relaxing. You can do anything that creates a sort of boredom. Boredom is relaxing. You can do anything that creates boredom.

If you are smoking, everyone will say that it is wrong. And if you are chanting a mantra, no one is going to say that it is wrong. But if the problem is the same, I am saying that it is also wrong – rather, more dangerous than the previous one, because with smoking you were aware that it was wrong. Now, with this chanting of the mantra you are not aware, and this disease that you are unaware is more dangerous and more harmful.

You can do anything on the surface, but unless deeper roots are changed, nothing happens. So with the outer remember this: be aware of it, and move from the surface towards the roots and find the root – why are you nervous? Someone is eating too much food. It can be stopped. You can force yourself to not eat too much. But why is one eating too much food? Why? Because this is not a bodily need, so somewhere the mind is interfering. Something has to be done with the mind; it is not a question of the body. Why do you go on stuffing yourself?

Too much obsession with food is a love need. If you are not loved well, you will eat more. If you are loved and you can love, you will eat less. Whenever someone loves you, you cannot eat more. Love fills you so much, you don’t feel empty. When there is not love, you feel empty; something has to be stuffed in – you go on forcing food.

And there are reasons, root reasons, for it, because the first encounter of the child with love and food is simultaneous. From the same breast, from the same mother, he gets food and love – food and love become associated. If the mother is loving, the child will never take too much mild. There is no need. He is always secure in his love; he knows that whenever there is a need the food will come, the milk will be there, the mother will be there. He feels secure. But if the mother is non-loving, then he is insecure. Then he doesn’t know whether, when he feels hungry, food will come, because there is no love. He will eat more. And this will continue. It will become an unconscious root.

So you can go on changing your food – eat this, eat that, don’t eat this – but it makes no difference, because the basic root remains there. Then if you stop stuffing yourself with food, you will start stuffing with something else. And there are many ways. If you stop eating too much you may start accumulating money. Then again you have to be filled by something; then you go on accumulating money.

Observe deeply, and you will see that a person who accumulates money is never in love, cannot be, because the money accumulation is really a substitute. With money he will feel secure now. When you are loved there is no insecurity; in love all fears disappear. In love there is no future, no past. This moment is enough, this very moment is eternity. You are accepted. There is no anxiety for the future, for what will happen tomorrow – there is no tomorrow in love.

But if love is not there, then the tomorrow is there. What will happen? Accumulate money, because you cannot rely on any person. So rely on things, rely on money and wealth. There are people who say, ‘Donate your money. Don’t accumulate money. Be non-attached to money.’ But these are superficial things, because the inner need will remain the same – then he will start accumulating something else.

Stop one outlet and you will have to create another – unless roots are destroyed. So don’t be too much concerned with the outer. Be aware of whatsoever your outer personality is. Be aware of it, be alert, and from the periphery always move towards the roots to find what the cause is there. Howsoever disturbing, move to the roots. Once you come to know the roots, once the roots are exposed…. Remember this law: the roots can exist only in darkness – not only the roots of trees, but the roots of anything. They can exist only in darkness. Once they are brought to light, they die.

So move with your periphery; dig it deep and go to the roots, and bring the roots to consciousness, to light. Once you have come to the root, it simply disappears. You have not to do anything about it. You have to do something only because you don’t know what the problem is. A problem rightly understood disappears. Right understanding of a problem, a root understanding of the problem, becomes the disappearance of it. The first thing.

The second thing: whatsoever you do is superficial; it is not you in your totality. So don’t judge a man by his actions, because action is very atomic. You see a person in anger, and you can judge that this man is filled with hatred, violence, vengeance. But a moment later the anger disappears; the man becomes as loving as possible, and a different perfume, a different flowering, comes to his face. The anger was atomic. Don’t judge the whole man. But this love is also atomic. Don’t judge the whole man by this love.

Whatsoever you have done is not your total sum. Your actions remain just atomic – part of you of course, but your totality transcends them. You can be different immediately. And whatsoever is known about you by your behavior, by your actions, by your doings, you can contradict. You may have been a saint: you can become a sinner this very moment. No one could imagine that you, a saint, could do this. You can do it. It is not inconceivable. You may have been a sinner up to this moment, and the next moment you can jump out of it.

What I am saying is, your inner is so vast and so great that by your outer it cannot be judged. Your outer remains superficial, accidental. I will repeat it. Your outer remains accidental, your inner is the essence. So remember to uncover the inner, and don’t get entangled with the outer. One thing more: outer is always of the past. It is always dead, because whatsoever you have done, you have done. It is always of the past, it is never alive. The inner is always alive, it is here and now, and the outer is always dead. If you know me – whatsoever I have done and said – you know my past, you don’t know me. I am here, the living. That is my inner point, and whatsoever you know about me is just the outer. It is dead, it is no more there.

Observe it in your own consciousness. Whatsoever you have done is not a bondage on you. It is no more really; it is just a memory. And you are greater than that. Your infinite possibilities are there.

It was only accidental that you are a sinner or you are a saint. It was only accidental that you are a Christian or a Hindu. But your innermost being is not accidental; it is essential.

The emphasis on the inner is the emphasis on the essential. And that inner remains free, it is freedom. The outer is a slavery, because you can know the outer only when it has happened; then you cannot do anything about it. What can you do about your past? It cannot be undone, you cannot move backwards. You cannot do anything with the past; it is a slavery.

If you understand it rightly, then you can understand the theory of karma, the theory of actions. This theory – one of the most essential parts of Hindu realization – is that unless you go beyond karmas, you are not free; unless you have gone beyond all actions, you will remain in bondage. Don’t pay much attention to the outer, don’t get obsessed with it. Use it as a help, but continuously remembering that the inner has to be discovered.

These techniques we are discussing here are for the inner, for how to discover it. I will tell you one thing. There have been traditions…. For example, one of the most important religious traditions has been Jainism. But Jainism pays too much attention to the outer; too much, so much so that they completely forget that there is anything like meditation, that there is anything like a science of yoga. They forget it completely.

They are obsessed with food, with clothes, with sleep, with everything – but with no effort towards meditation. Not that in their tradition originally there was no meditation, because no religion can be born without it, but they got obsessed somewhere with the outer. It became so important that they forgot completely that this whole situation is just a help; it is not the goal.

What you eat is not the goal. What you are is the goal. It is good if your eating habits help you to uncover the being. It is good. But if you become just obsessed with eating, continuously thinking about it, then you have missed the point. Then you are a food-addict. You are mad, neurotic.


From The Book of Secrets, Discourse #50, Q1

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

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