Desiring the Unattainable – Osho

Desire only that which is within you.

It looks absurd, paradoxical, illogical: Desire only that which is within you. Desire is basically for that which is not within you. Desire means the desire for something that is not within you. If it is already within you, then what is the need to desire it?

We never desire ourselves as we are. We always desire something else. No one desires himself; there is no need. You are already that; you are not missing anything. You desire something that is missing.

This sutra says: Desire only that which is within you for many reasons. One, if you desire something that is not within you, you may get it, but it will never become yours. It cannot. Really, you can never become the master of it; you will just become a slave. The possessor is always possessed by his possessions. The greater the number of possessions, the greater the slavery that is created.

You are possessed by your possessions, and you were desiring to be the master. Frustration sets in because your whole hope is frustrated. You come to a point where the things you wanted are there, whatever you desired has happened, but you have become the slave. The kingdom now appears to be nothing but an imprisonment and whatever you possess, or think that you possess, is not really possessed, because it can be taken away at any moment. Even if no one takes it away, death is bound to take it.

In religious terminology, that which can be taken away by death is not yours. Death Is the criterion. There is only one criterion to judge whether you really possess something. Judge it against death and see whether you will still have it after. your death. If death takes it, you never possessed it. It was just an illusion.

Is there something that death cannot take from you? If there is nothing, then religion is pointless, meaningless. But there is something that death cannot take over and that something is hidden within you. You already possess it. It is your innermost nature. It has come with you; you are born with it. Or rather, it will be better to say that you are it, not that you possess it. If you possess it, it can be taken away.

You are it, it is your very being. It is your very ground; it is your existence. That is what is called atman. Atman means that which you are already. No one can take it away from you; not even death can destroy it. This sutra says: Desire only that which is within you. Desire atman, desire your innermost self, desire the center which you already possess but you have forgotten completely.

Why does man forget? It is a necessity. To survive, attention has to be paid to the outside world. To survive, to exist, to remain in life, you have to continuously pay attention to things: to food, to shelter. The body needs attention. It becomes ill, it is prone to suffering. The body is continuously struggling to survive because, for the body, there is death. The body is in a continuous struggle with death, so constant attention has to be paid to it.

The body is always in a state of emergency because at any moment death can occur. You have to be continually aware and continually conscious of this fight against death, so your whole attention moves outward. No energy is left to move within. This is a survival necessity. That’s why we go on forgetting that one center within us exists that is deathless, one center within us exists that is eternal, one center in us exists that is absolute bliss.

Pain attracts attention; suffering attracts attention. If you have a headache, your attention moves to the head; you become aware that you have a head. If there is no ache in the head, you forget your head. You become headless – as if you have no head.

The body is felt only when it is ill. If your body is absolutely healthy you will not feel it. You will become weightless. Really, you will become bodiless. This is the only criterion of authentic health: that the body is not felt at all. Whenever the body is felt it means that there is some illness, some disturbance. Your attention is called.

There are so many problems that come from the outside that your attention is constantly engaged and occupied there. That’s why you forget that something exists right in the very center of your being that is deathless, that is divine, that is blissful. This sutra says:

Desire only that which is within you.

For within you is the light of the world – the only light that can be shed upon the path. If you are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere.

The eighth sutra:

Desire only that which is beyond you.

Desire only that which is beyond you. Always desire the impossible, because only through that desire do you grow. And what is impossible? Climbing Mt. Everest is not impossible; neither is going to the moon. Both have become possible. Someone has reached Everest. Even when no one had reached there, it was not impossible. Difficult, but not impossible. It was within human capacity to reach. The moon is within our capacity to reach and soon man will reach other planets as well. It is not impossible, only difficult. Someday it will become possible. Only one thing is impossible, one thing is beyond you, and that is your innermost self.

Why? I say that the moon is not so difficult to reach even though the moon is so far away, and I say that your innermost self is more impossible to reach even though it is just within you. Why is it so difficult to reach then? Because it is within you, that’s why. You only know how to reach what is without. Your hands can reach for what is without, your eyes can see what is without. Your senses open to the outside; you have no senses that can help you look within. Your mind moves without; it cannot move within. That’s why the mind has to be thrown. Only then can you enter meditation.

The mind is basically a movement toward the without. You can observe this very easily. Whenever you think, you are thinking of something that is outside of you. Whatsoever you think about is always outside you. Have you ever thought about anything that is within? There is no need to think about what is within because you can experience it. There is no need to think about it; thinking is a substitute. You can realize that which is within you. It is just by the corner. You move your head, you change your direction. From without you turn within, and you can experience it. What is the need to think about it?

But we go on thinking even about the within. We think about what atman is. We think, “What is the self?” We create philosophies and systems. We go on creating theories that the self means ‘this’, the definition is ‘this’, and no one tries to feel it. It is so near to you – what is the need of theories?

Theories are needed for what is far away, because you cannot reach it right now. You have to create a bridge. Theories are needed to reach the moon, but they are not needed to reach the center within you, because there is no gap. Nothing is to be bridged; you are already there. Just a change in your attitude is needed and you can realize it. There is no need of theorizing or philosophizing. But we go on creating philosophies. We have created thousands and thousands of philosophies. and philosophers go on wasting their lives thinking about that which was already within them. They could have jumped within at any moment!

But it is beyond. Beyond the senses, because the senses cannot open toward it; they open in the opposite direction. And beyond the mind, because the mind cannot lead you there; it always leads you somewhere else. The mind is an instrument for the world; it is a mechanism to move without, to move away from you. It is meant for that. That’s why there is so much emphasis that in samadhi there is no mind. Samadhi is a state of no-mind, the mind ceases.

In the techniques of meditation that we are doing, the whole effort is this: how to cease to be a mind, how to drop the mind, how to drop thinking, how to come to a moment where no thinking exists, where simply attention, simply awareness, exists. ‘No thinking’ means that there are no clouds in the sky; just the sky is there. ‘No thinking’ means that there are no clouds in the mind, just consciousness. In that consciousness, you are within.

When you are in the mind, you are without; when you are in no-mind, you are within. This transfer from mind to no-mind is the whole journey. If you can add ‘no’ to your mind, you have reached. That’s why it is called beyond.

Desire only that which is beyond you – beyond your senses, beyond your mind, beyond your ego. ‘You’ will not be there. Your innermost center is not you; you are just the periphery. The periphery cannot be at the center. When you move toward the center you leave the periphery. The periphery cannot exist at the center. It belongs to the center but it exists outside the center, just around it.

Whatsoever you know about yourself is just the periphery: your name, your identity, your image. You are a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian; you are black, or you are white; you are this and that. Your nation, race, culture – all this is just on the periphery; all your conditionings are just on the periphery.

The world cannot enter your center. It can only cultivate the periphery; it can only touch you on your boundaries. Only your boundary can be Hindu, only your boundary can be Christian, only your boundary can be Jain. ‘You’ are not; you cannot be.

Only your boundary belongs to India or to Pakistan or to America. You cannot belong to any nation, to any race. You belong to existence itself. All divisions are false at the center, but meaningful on the periphery.

Whatsoever you know about yourself is your ego. ‘Ego’ is just a utilitarian word. Your whole periphery means ‘you’. But this ‘you’ will drop when you start moving inward. This ‘you’ will drop by and by; this ‘you’ will disappear; this ‘you’ will evaporate. Then a point will come when you are authentically yourself; your old self is no longer there.

That’s why it is said: Desire only that which is beyond you. It is beyond you because when you reach it you have lost yourself.

Desire only that which is unattainable.

Desire only that which is unattainable. What is unattainable? Look around – everything is attainable. You may not have attained it, but it is attainable. If you make enough of an effort, you can attain it. Potentially, it is attainable.

Alexander created a big empire. You may not have created one, but what Alexander can do you can do. It is not impossible; it is not unattainable. You may not have gathered as many riches as Rockefeller or someone else but what Rockefeller can do you can do It is human: it is within your capacity. You may be a failure. you may not be able to attain it, but it is attainable. Your failure is your own failure, but potentially you could have been a success so the thing cannot be said to be unattainable.

Then what is unattainable? That which cannot be attained? If that is the meaning, then what is the point of desiring it? If it cannot be attained, then the desire is futile. Why desire that which is unattainable? What’s meant by it?

The meaning is very deep, esoteric. The meaning is that your innermost self is unattainable because it is already attained. You cannot attain it because you are it. You cannot make it an achievement. It is not something that has to be attained. It is already there; you have never been away from it. You have never lost it; it is your very nature. It is you, your innermost being. You cannot achieve it; you can only discover it. You cannot attain it; you can only uncover it; you can only recognize it.

There is no possibility of inventing it; it is already there. It is not to be earned; it is already there. You just have to give your awareness to it. You have to focus your awareness on it and suddenly that which was never lost is found.

When Buddha attained enlightenment, someone asked him, “What have you attained?”

Buddha said, “Nothing, because whatsoever I have attained – now I know that it was always there. It was never lost. I have simply discovered it. I have known some treasure which was, already, always within me.”

Desire only that which is unattainable.

It is unattainable, because it forever recedes. You will enter the light, but you will never touch the flame.

In another sense also it is unattainable. You will never be able to say, “I have attained it,” because who will say that I have attained it? That ‘I’ which can claim is no more. That ego – the periphery – is no more. In attaining, in discovering, it has to be lost. The ego has to be thrown away, cast away. You can reach only when you have become egoless. You cannot reach with the ego, because the ego itself is the barrier.

So who is there who will claim? It is said in the Upanishads that if someone claims that he has attained, know well that he has not attained, because the very claim is egoistic. If someone says. “I have known God,” know well that he has not known God; because once God is known, who is there to claim? The knower is lost in the very phenomenon of knowing. Knowing happens only when the knower is not When the knower is absent, the knowing happens – so who will claim?

There was one Zen monk, Nan-in. Someone asked him, “Have you known the truth?”

He laughed but kept silent. The man said, “I cannot understand your mysterious laughter. Nor can I understand your mysterious silence. Use words. Tell me. And be dear about it. Tell me yes or no. Have you known the truth, the divine?”

Nan-in said, “You are making it difficult for me. If I say yes, the scriptures say, ‘One who says, “I have known,” has not known.’ So if I say yes, it means no. And if I say no, it will not be true. So what am I supposed to do? Don’t force me to use words. I will laugh again and keep silent. If you can understand, it is okay. If you do not understand, it is also okay. But I will not use words. Don’t force me to, because if I say yes, it means that I have not known, and if I say no, it will not be true.”

You will reach, but in your purity. In that purity, your ego will not be there. The ego is the impure, foreign element within you – just the dust gathered all around you. It is not you. Naked, you will reach. Your ego is just like your clothes. It will not be there.

Desire only that which is unattainable.


From The New Alchemy: To Turn You On, Discourse #4

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.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

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