The first question:
From what I heard you say last night about reincarnation, I understand that even individuality is superficial.
Reincarnation was a consolation for me, that “my essence” or “soul” would continue. But now I understand that nothing of me will continue.
In witnessing, do we all “plug in” to the same witnessing energy? Don’t I even have my own witness?
The ultimate truth hurts very much.
Finally, everything is gone, including me and you. What remains is a pure consciousness.
It is not that you are plugged into it, you are no more.
The dispersion is so intimate and so ultimate that first your personality has to disappear, then your individuality has to disappear, then what remains is pure existence. It makes one feel a little worried and concerned, because you don’t know the experience of not being.
Just think for a moment . . . Before this life you were not. Was there any trouble? Any anxiety?
After this life you will not be again. What is the fear? There will be silence and peace, in the same space where anxiety, tensions and anguishes flourished. They all will have melted just the way a dewdrop disappears into the ocean.
Hence, Zen does not teach you self-realization. Self-realization is a much lower goal. Zen teaches you the ultimate: no-self realization, or realizing that disappearing into the whole is the final peace.
Your very being is an anxiety. At whatever level you are, some anxiety will remain. You are anxiety, and if you want anxiety to disappear, you have to be ready to disappear yourself.
The second question:
In my witnessing I have experience nothing – by that, I mean that there was nothing discernable other than the simple state of conscious waiting. I have witnessed events of the mind, body and emotions, and I have observed out-of-body experiences, but I don’t have the clarity to understand the nature of these things.
What is the nature of no-mind apart from mind? Is it a receptive, passive mind as opposed to an active mind? Or is it truly non-mind? And how does consciousness receive and recognize information if it has no mind-brain to perceive it?
You have asked too many questions in one question.
The first thing to remember is that when I say witness, in the beginning you witness things of the body, of the mind, of the heart, emotions, thoughts . . . layer upon layer you go on witnessing. And finally, you find just a pure mirror, the witness itself. I call it a pure mirror because it is witnessing nothing. This nothingness is your very nature.
Out of this nothingness arises everything, and into this nothingness dissolves everything. And if you are ready to be nothing – even while you are alive – your life will have a flavor of peace, silence, and grace.
All your educational systems and all your cultural beliefs, force you to be ambitious, to be somebody. But to be somebody means creating anxieties in a silent pool, ripples and waves. The greater the ambition, the more tidal is the wave of anxiety. You can become almost insane desiring. Trying to be somebody, you are trying the impossible, because basically you are nobody.
Zen has an absolutely unique perception into the nothingness of everyone. It does not teach you any ambition, it does not teach you to be someone else. It simply wants you to know that in the deepest part of your being you are still nothing, you are still carrying the original purity which is not even contaminated by an idea of “I.”
So while you are witnessing, you say, “I have experienced nothing.” If you have experienced nothing, you should not be there. Experiencing nothing means you are not, nothing is – simply waves in the water, coming and going.
It is not that you witness nothing. You are creating another small “I,” but it contains the whole world of ambitions. Experiencing nothing simply means you are not. And there comes a tremendous joy, because the whole energy that was involved in anxieties and desires and tensions, is released in a dance, in a blissfulness, in a silence, in a tremendous insight, but it does not belong to any “I” – a pure white cloud without any roots, floating in freedom, without any reason and without any direction. The whole existence has become its home. It no longer separates itself. This inseparation is the ultimate blossoming of buddhahood. To know that you are not is the greatest knowing.
You ask in your question if there is no one who perceives all this. That no one is not yet no one if it perceives anything. When there is nothing left, there is no perceiver, everything is dissolved into existence.
Zen is the only existential religion in the world. Every religion thrives on your desire to be separate, to be individual, to be special, to be self-realized, to be a saint. Those are all cowardly desires.
Zen is a brave step.
It cannot be transcended by anything more courageous.
A quantum leap into nothing and silence . . .
If you start asking who is silent, you are not silent. If you start asking who is perceiving all this, who is witnessing, you have not yet come to the nothingness I am indicating to you.
And it is such a small thing to understand what you have gained by being – troubles. Zen shows you the way of non-being, the way out of all troubles, the way of silence.
Meditation comes to its flowering when there is nobody. This flower of nobodiness, of nothingness, is the ultimate expression of existential heights. Otherwise, you remain a small someone, somebody, confined. Why not be the whole? When it is possible to drop into the ocean, why remain a dewdrop and be afraid of many kinds of death, of the sun which will evaporate you . . . ?
Why not take a small jump into the ocean and disappear? Why not be the ocean itself? It is another way of saying it. When I say, “Be nothing,” I am simply saying, “Why not be everything?”
Disappear into the existence. You will blossom into flowers, you will fly with the birds; you will become clouds, you will be oceans, you will be rivers, but you will not be somebody special with an “I.” The “I” is the trouble, the only trouble, and then it creates many troubles around it.
The whole experience of Zen is the experience of getting into a state of no-I, no-self, and then there is no question – nobody is to ask, and nobody is to answer.
The third question:
It has been said that duality is the nature of mind. But by saying “mind” does that mean only the analytical processes which occur mainly in the left brain? Does that mean that activity such as music, beauty, wholeness and synthesis also arise from an inevitable intrinsic dualism of the mind itself?
Everything that arises out of the mind is bound to be dual. It may be arising from the right side of the mind or the left side of the mind, it does not matter.
There is a music which does not rise from the mind. That music is absolutely soundless, and is heard only by those who have come to be nothing. There is a beauty known, there is a dance experienced only by those who have gone beyond the duality of the mind. Meditation can be defined as going beyond the duality of the mind.
Whatever comes out of the mind is going to be ordinary; it may be music, it may be mathematics. One arises from the right side; one arises from the left side – that does not matter. Your music and your mathematics, your philosophy and your poetry, all are very superficial.
But there is something in you which is never heard, never can be said, never can be conveyed, but can only be lived. This nothingness I am talking about is a living experience of being no one. Out of that nothingness, a life arises full of music, but the music is soundless; full of beauty, but the beauty is formless; full of joy, but the joy is indefinable; full of dance, but there is no movement.
A meditator knows something that mind is not capable of knowing about. The mind only knows the superficial, and the superficial is always dual; it is divided for and against.
Nothingness is non-dual, it is not divided. It is just pure silence, but a very alive silence. And if out of that silence anything happens, that has a beauty and a truth which anything created by the mind cannot be compared with.
A man of silence – he may not even do anything, but just his silence is a blessing to the whole existence. His silence is a music only heard by those who have gone deeper and beyond the mind.
Sekishitsu was a disciple of Choshi. On a visit to Sekito, the monk Sekishitsu, became enlightened. After his enlightenment, Sekishitsu went back to his master, Choshi. Chosi had also been a disciple of Sekito.
Choshi said, “Did you reach Sekito?”
Sekishitsu replied, “Yes, I did, but was not introduced.”
Choshi said, “Who did you receive precepts from?”
Sekishitsu replied, “Not from him.”
Do you see the mysterious way Sekishitsu is replying? When asked, “Did you reach Sekito?” he said, “Yes, I did, but was not introduced, because neither has he a form nor have I a form. Neither has he a name nor have I a name. There is no possibility of introduction.”
Choshi said, “Who did you receive precepts from?” – then from whom have you received the teachings?
Sekishitsu replied, “Not from him – I have received, but I have received from a nothingness. To me, my master was not a man of words. We met beyond the words. We looked into each other’s eyes and something transpired. But he has not said a single word; that is why I cannot say that I have received any teachings from him. Of course, being with him I have become enlightened.”
Sekishitsu became enlightened just by seeing Sekito. Nothing was verbally said to him; neither did he become a disciple, nor did he become initiated. Just watching Sekito… just seeing that pillar of silence, that nothingness – and he simply disappeared as a being, himself; he became a nothing. And without saying a word, he left Sekito and went back to his master, Choshi.
Choshi became enlightened also in the company of Sekito. That is why he is interested in asking what has happened: “Did you reach Sekito? – because you look as if you have not only reached him, but you have found him. You have penetrated his being; you are carrying his fragrance. What is the matter? Did you reach Sekito?”
Sekishitsu replied, “Yes, I did, but was not introduced. Nothing was said by him, and nothing was said by me.”
Choshi said, “Then from whom did you receive the precepts? You seem to have realized the purity of consciousness. You cannot deceive me; I can see you are no more. How did it happen? Who told you the precepts – the techniques, the methods, the disciplines?”
Sekishitsu replied, again in a roundabout way, “Not from him.”
Choshi then said, “If you were like that there, what will you be here? If you have not received the teachings, the disciplines, the precepts from a great master, Sekito, what kind of person are you going to be here? If you were like that there, what will you be here?”
Sekishitsu said, “Not much difference. I will be the same. Neither time makes any difference, nor space makes any difference. I was no one there, I will be no one here.”
Sekishitsu said, “Not much difference.”
Choshi could not understand this roundabout way of talking; he was a simple man of Zen. He said, “That is too much if you are going to be the same here too. Here you have to follow the precepts; here you have to meditate. Here you have to enter into the world of Zen.”
But Choshi was not a great master of Zen, he was a man of Zen. He has understood nothingness, but he was not capable of conveying it. He said, “That is too much if you are not going to be any different here.”
Sekishitsu said, “My tongue has no color yet.” He is saying, “Don’t be worried. I am as pure as a child. I have not been programmed by anyone. I am a tabula rasa, a clean slate. My tongue has no color yet.”
Choshi replied, “You noisy novice” – because according to Choshi, this young man was just a novice. He could not penetrate and see in this novice the transformation that had happened in the companionship of Sekito.
He was an ordinary man of Zen who had followed precepts, principles, step by step. He could not understand this quantum leap – a pure jump. That was too much. He thought, “This man is too noisy. I am asking simple questions; he goes on in a roundabout way. Go away!” And Sekishitsu immediately went away.
This anecdote is very strange. Its strangeness is that it is not necessary that a man of Zen will be able to understand another man of Zen. Of course, a master will be able to understand all kinds of Zen people, but a master is multidimensional, and a man of Zen is only one-dimensional. He has followed a certain path, and he thinks only by following that path does one reach to the nothingness he has reached.
If one has to reach nothingness, any path will do. There are as many paths as there are people to travel. But to understand that, a great master is needed.
There have been enlightened people, but still they could not understand other enlightened people for the simple reason that they have followed a certain path and the other fellow has not followed that particular path. They have become too conditioned by the path. They cannot see that when you are going into nothingness, every path is the right path.
When you are going somewhere, every path is not the right path, but when you are going nowhere, every path is the right path. But to understand that every path finally leads into nothingness, needs a multidimensional consciousness.
There are masters, and there are mystics, and this is the difference: the mystic can understand only one-dimensionally; the master has a wider view, a bird’s-eye view. He can look from above and see that all paths are leading to nowhere.
Choshi could not understand Sekishitsu. Sekishitsu left him immediately; this was not the right place for him. He had already gone beyond the paths and the precepts and the scriptures.
Moon, Spring, sleep.
He is saying this is what life is: “Immobile haze. Moon, spring, sleep” – simple, no complication.
A sannyasin lives a life of such simplicity: the moon, the spring, the sleep – and he is fulfilled. A little immobile haze, and then arises the moon, then comes the spring – there are flowers – and then the sleep.
If you can conceive life in such simple terms – a little dance, a little love, a little playfulness, a little laughter, a little music, and then comes the eternal sleep, life becomes just a small drama. Soon the drama will be over. The acceptance that the drama will be over, that we are just players in a game which is not going to last forever – we will have to vacate the place for other players – then life becomes very simple, without any complexity and without any competition. One lives silently, peacefully, and prepares himself for the eternal peace, the eternal silence, the eternal sleep.
Fritjof Capra contends that, “Modern physics goes far beyond technology. The way – or Tao – of physics can be a path with a heart, a way to spiritual realization.”
Do you agree?
Maneesha, the question is not of agreeing or not agreeing, because all agreements and disagreements are of the mind. I know that Capra is simply guessing. He is a man who knows modern physics and a little bit of the philosophy of Tao. And it is a very small thing to create a physics of Tao, or a Tao of physics, because the word tao simply means the way, and modern physics certainly has gone beyond technology. It has moved beyond the boundaries of mind, and is in a tremendous chaos. As far as mind was concerned, things were clear. But now, modern physics has come to a point where mind cannot make any sense. Capra himself, being a physicist, started learning about Tao in the effort to understand the chaos that modern physics has entered into, and that perhaps Tao may help.
But he is not a man of Tao, he is still an intellectual trying to make some definitions, trying to make something out of the chaos. He is still thinking of spiritual realization, and there is no spiritual realization because there is no spirit as such.
There is a dispersion into nothingness. You cannot call it realization. It can be called derealization, but it cannot be called realization. Nothing is realized. Even that which was there is no more – only silence prevails.
I know the chaos of existence is ultimate. Every effort to bring it into a system is bound to fail. Philosophies have failed, science has failed. More efforts will be made, but I can predict with absolute authority that no system is going to explain this vast existence. It is bound to remain a mystery.
Religions have tried in their own way, but failed. Philosophies have failed. Science came with great systematic logic, and in the beginning of this century science was absolutely certain that it was going to succeed and explain away the whole mystery of existence, bring it down to rationalization. But on the contrary, the opposite has happened.
As science has approached deeper into reality, all its old concepts have become invalid. Now Aristotelian logic is no longer logic, and Euclidean geometry is no longer geometry. Now, science is at a point where everything again has become mysterious – no explanation, and no reason. But the effort continues.
My approach is totally different. I want you to know that chaos is the very nature of existence, you cannot make it a cosmos. You cannot make it a system, either by Tao or by Zen. You cannot make it an explained system where everything is knowable.
I have always divided existence into three segments: the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.
That which is unknown will become known tomorrow.
That which is known today was unknown yesterday. But the known and the unknown are a very superficial part. Beyond both is the unknowable. That unknowable is a chaos; it is irrational, illogical. There is no way to bring it into explanations, no way to make a science of it, or a philosophy of it. This chaos I have called nothingness. You can enter into it, you can be one with it, you can rejoice in it, but don’t try to conceptualize it.
So it is not a question, Maneesha, of my agreement or disagreement with Fritjof Capra. I know existence is a chaos, and will remain always a chaos. All efforts of man are bound to fail in systematizing it. It is not a system; it is not mechanics. Hence, I always have loved Gautam Buddha’s statement. Asked, “What is truth?” he replied in a very strange way. He said, “Whatever works.” He did not define truth, he simply said, “Whatever works is true.”
And more than that, even today we don’t know. We don’t know what electricity is, we only know how it works; we don’t know what it is. There is no way to know it, and there is no need.
Let existence function.
Use it, love it, rejoice in it. There is no need to systematize it; all systems are bound to fail. Zen is not a system; it is a path towards the chaos.
Go dancingly in without bothering and worrying what it is.
Rejoice in it!
What is the point in thinking what is music?
Love it, listen to it, create it.
What is the point of finding the definition of dance?
But still very few people are of the age, mature enough to recognize this immense chaos without fear, and to use it as much as you can. Love it, live it, and drop the childish idea that you have to understand it. What are you going to do by understanding it? And in the first place, understanding is not possible.
Mind is too small, and existence is too vast – without any boundaries. There is no possibility that there will ever be a system which explains everything. And that will be a very fatal day if some system explains everything – life will lose all joy.
People are trying to explain everything. Then love becomes just chemistry, biology, hormones. Do you ever think about love as hormones, as biology, as chemistry? And the moment you think about chemistry, biology, hormones, love loses all mystery. And certainly, love is more than chemistry, biology, or hormones can explain. They may explain sex, but they cannot explain love.
Love need not be sexual. In fact, at the highest point even sexuality transforms into love . . . love unexplained, irrational, a chaos. You can experience it, but you cannot explain it.
From The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself, Discourse #6
Copyright © OSHO International Foundation