Can Meditation be Learned – Osho

Can meditation be learned, or is it, like love, a state of being that comes as a present?

Prem Prabhati, meditation cannot be learned in a positive way, but it can be learned in a negative way. This is very important to understand: the basic method of meditation is negative.

What do I mean when I say meditation can be learned negatively, only negatively? I mean that the mind can be unlearned, and the moment you unlearn the mind you are learning meditation. Unlearning the mind is learning meditation; when the mind has been completely unlearned you have learned meditation. You cannot go directly into learning meditation. All that is needed is to remove the mind.

Mind is like a block. The river is there but blocked, it can’t flow. It is covered with rocks; those rocks don’t allow it any outlet. It is surging inside you, it is longing for the ocean, it wants to get out of this prison. That’s why everybody feels so restless. This restlessness is nothing but your consciousness longing to meet with the ultimate. The river wants to reach the ocean. The seed wants to sprout, but it is covered, blocked by a big rock. That rock is of your mind. And it is a big rock because you have been accumulating it for many, many lives. Your meditation is simply crushed underneath it.

You cannot reach meditation directly, but you can remove this rock chunk by chunk. You can take a chisel and a hammer – that’s what I go on providing you – and go on hammering on the rock. Slowly slowly the rock will disappear. The day the rock disappears, suddenly a flow, a fresh flow of water, will start running towards the ocean. That is meditation.

Hence, Prabhati, in one sense meditation cannot be learned. You cannot practice it, because all practicing is of the mind. All practices strengthen the mind, make it stronger. And the mind has to be made weaker; its power over you has to be destroyed. It has to be put in its right place: it is not the master; it has only become the master. You have to stop cooperating with it; you have to stop giving more and more nourishment to it.

That’s what I mean by unlearning the mind. Don’t support it. Don’t cling to it. Don’t rely on it. Don’t be possessed by it. Don’t live according to its dictates. And then slowly, slowly the master is free from the slave. That master is your meditative quality.

You ask me: “Can meditation be learned, or is it, like love, a state of being that comes as a present?”

It is already there. It does not come like a present – nobody ‘presents’ it to you – it is your very nature, svabhava, it is your very being. And so is love.

When meditation has happened, love is its aroma, its perfume. A meditative person is naturally loving; it can’t be otherwise. A loving person is naturally meditative. If it is not so, then you are deceived, then you are carrying false coins. If a man thinks he is meditative and is not loving, then his meditation is nothing but a mind practice, something false, pseudo. Something which is not meditation is masquerading as meditation. He has been deceived by his mind. If a man thinks that he is very loving and is not meditative, his love is nothing but another name for lust. He knows nothing of love; he can’t know in the very nature of things.

Aes dhammo sanantano. This is the ultimate law: meditation brings love naturally – it is its aroma, its fragrance. And love exists only around the flower called meditation, never otherwise. They are together.

Either search for love or for meditation. And you can only search for one, because things are already too complicated. If you start searching for both you will make them even more complicated, you may become more confused. Hence I say, only seek one. If you can find one, the other is found without any effort on your part. Either find love or find meditation and the other will follow it like a shadow.

But they are not learned in a direct way as you learn mathematics, as you learn geography, history, as you learn a new language. That is not the way to learn meditation or love; they are learned in an indirect way. If you want to learn meditation, you will have to unlearn the ways of the mind. If you want to learn love, you will have to unlearn the unloving ways that have become very ingrained in you. Anger, possessiveness, jealousy – these will have to be unlearned.

And it never comes as a gift because it is already given; it is your innermost nature. Yes, it is a grace, a gift, but it is not going to happen in the future, it has already happened. You have never been without it, you CAN’T be without it. Love and meditation constitute your real essential core.

-Osho

From The White Lotus, Chapter Four

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Relaxation Without Concentration – Osho

When we start watching our bodies, and then our minds and emotions, there remains an element, although subtle, of concentration. Initially, for example, watching my breathing, I would watch it to the exclusion of everything else – here there was an element of focus. On other occasions, when silence is just there, the breathing may be all there is to watch. This seems to be nearer, but still I feel that more soft focusing of the awareness would take me further and further back, as if relaxing enough to to let the watcher move far enough away so that all is seen, rather than any one thing like thoughts or breathing. Does relaxing allow the watcher to be on the hill?

It is true. Relaxation helps the most. No part of concentration should be in your watchfulness. Concentration is sabotaging the whole process of watchfulness, because concentration is an act of the mind, and watchfulness is something that comes from above, from beyond. If there is any concentration… I can understand, if you start watching your breathing – in the name of watching, you are concentrating on the breathing, you are excluding everything else. Don’t exclude.

Watch your breathing inclusive of all.

Watching your breathing… a temple bell starts ringing, a car passes by, a child starts crying – all that should be included. Your watchfulness should be open. Watching the breathing is simply to begin with. It is not the end. It is just learning how to watch.

But there is a difficulty – you can start thinking that concentration is watching. Concentration is not watching. Concentration is narrow, narrowing the mind, bringing it to a focus on one thing, forgetting everything else. That’s why in relaxing, you will feel more watchful, yet without concentration. If that is happening, that’s perfectly good.

The essential thing is watchfulness, inclusive of all. Concentration can be disturbed, watchfulness cannot be disturbed. These are the differences. If somebody is concentrating on something, anybody can disturb him. Just a small boy can do something and he is distracted and his focus is lost – or not even a small boy, just the wind comes and the door opens and the noise is enough.

So you will find the phenomenon in so-called religious people. They are always angry, because their concentration is continuously disturbed.

Watchfulness cannot be disturbed. It is simply inclusive of all. If the door opens, makes a noise, the wind passes through the trees singing its song, it is available to it. It is not choosing breathing or anything in particular, but simply being there, open, available, present to everything that is happening.

So remember the difference: concentration is sabotaging watchfulness.

To begin with, something has to be given to you so you can have a little taste of what watchfulness is. Then it has to be made wider and wider and bigger, so much bigger that there is no need to do anything. You simply sit, or lie down relaxedly and everything that is happening around you is mirrored in you.

You don’t think about it, you don’t justify it, you don’t condemn it, you don’t evaluate it – you simply watch.

So it is perfectly right. Relaxation, utter relaxation with no focusing of consciousness is real watchfulness.

-Osho

From The Transmission of the Lamp, Chapter Twelve

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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Let Consciousness Be Your Master – Osho

You say: Go beyond the mind. Do not listen to its chatter. Discipline it and make it a servant. Do not be its slave. But how to know when the mind is being disciplined and when it is being repressed. 

Prem Lisa, the difference is so great that it is impossible to miss it. Repression happens through fighting with your mind. Discipline happens through being watchful, aware, alert. In discipline, there is no fight implied. In discipline, there is no condemnation, no evaluation. One simply looks at the mind silently, seeing the whole traffic, without saying what is right and what is wrong, what should be and what should not be, just as, standing by the side of the road, you watch the people walking by – saints and sinners, beautiful people, ugly people, good people, bad people – but you are unconcerned. It has nothing to do with you; you are out of it.

That’s exactly the meaning of the English word “ecstasy”. Ecstasy means to be out of the mind. You are just looking, as one looks at the clouds moving in the sky or at the river flowing by – cool, detached. Neither are you trying to cling to something nor are you trying to push something away from you.

This is pure awareness: you are only a mirror. And in just being a mirror, the miracle happens – the miracle of discipline. Slowly, slowly, the traffic starts disappearing. Less and less thoughts are moving on the road; less and less pictures are appearing on the screen, less and less memories, fantasies. Gaps start appearing.

A mother was telling her child, “Be very careful when you go to school because the traffic is dangerous at rush hour time.”

The child said, “Don’t be worried. I always wait by the side of the road. When a gap comes by, then I cross the road.”

“When a gap comes by…” As you are looking at your mind you will be surprised: gaps come by, intervals when there is nothing to be seen. The observer remains alone and because it is alone it is no longer an observer either. You can’t call it an observer because there is nothing to observe. The mirror is there, but it is not reflecting anything. There is no duality of the seen and the seer. In these intervals discipline arises.

The word “discipline” is also beautiful. It is sometimes very significant to go to the roots of words. “Discipline” comes from a root which means learning. When you are looking at a gap, learning happens. Learning about what? Learning about yourself, because there is nothing else. You are full of awareness. You are just full of your own being, overflowing. And this experience of just being yourself, overflowing, undistracted by anything, undisturbed by anything, is the greatest learning, the greatest possibility of knowing the truth. This is discipline.

From the same root comes the word “disciple.” Disciple means one who is becoming capable of being utterly silent in the presence of the Master. The disciple is one who allows the interval to happen when he is with the Master. With the Master you are bridged only through silence; when there is nothing in your mind you are bridged. Something then transpires between the Master and the disciple. A flame jumps from the Master into the heart of the disciple. The unlit candle of the disciple suddenly becomes lit. All is joy and light and love, and a great dance arises.

Lisa, discipline can never be misunderstood as repression. Repressions are totally different. In repression you have already decided what is wrong – a priori decisions. In fact, others have decided for you what is wrong and what is right. Now you are simply trying to impose the ideas and opinions of others upon yourself. You will have to repress your nature. You will have to force that which is wrong – or which you have been told is wrong – deep into the unconscious. There will be a fight, great turmoil. Instead of bringing silence to you, every method of repression brings more turmoil.

That’s why the so-called religious people are more restless, more worried. You are worried only about this world; they are worried even about the other. You are worried only about this life, they are worried about many, many past lives and future lives. Your worries are nothing compared to the worries of the so-called religious people. And they are sitting on a volcano, because whatsoever is repressed is there; it is not destroyed.  Repression never destroys anything; you are simply sitting on top of it. And the danger is that you cannot sit on top of it for twenty-four hours a day; you have limitations. You will get tired, you will need some rest. And whenever you will be tired and you will need rest, repressions will start arising in you.

Hence, even your greatest saints go on thinking, fantasizing, dreaming about all those things that they have repressed.

Mahatma Gandhi has written in his autobiography: “I have been able to control my sexuality as far as my day is concerned, but in the night, in my dreams, it comes with a vengeance.” This he was writing at the age of seventy… a whole life of repression!

Yes, in the day you can somehow manage, but in the night, in the dreams, that which you have repressed in the day is bound to take revenge. It will come back, it will explode in you.

Hence, down the ages your saints have been very much afraid of sleep. They go on cutting down on their sleep – five hours, four hours, three hours, two hours. And the less they sleep the greater the danger, because all their repressions have to come in those two hours in a very condensed way. Then they are crowding in from everywhere. And people worship them! The less a saint sleeps, the more people worship him. They say, “Look how much he has sacrificed! What a great austerity he is doing – he is not even sleeping! Or he sleeps for only two hours or one hour.”

The reality is that he is afraid of sleep. And from where is the fear coming? The fear is coming from the fact that when you are awake you can control, but when you are asleep, who is there to control? The controller is asleep, is in a relaxed state. He cannot sit on top of all the repressions, and they will assert themselves.

So, Lisa, if you are fighting with anything, then it is not discipline. I don’t teach fight, I teach awareness. It is useless to fight with the darkness, utterly useless and stupid. Bring the light in. Why fight with darkness? And how can you ever hope to win by fighting with darkness? Bring the light in and the darkness is found no more.

You are surrounded by much darkness: greed, anger, jealousy, lust, ambition, ego. These are layers of darkness. If you start fighting with all these layers of darkness you are not going to win, because there is no way to fight with darkness directly. Darkness does not exist in the first place; it is only the absence of light. So if you want to do something with darkness, don’t try to do it directly, do something with light. If you want darkness, put the light out. If you don’t want darkness, put the light on. But do something with the light, forget about darkness. If the light is there, darkness is not there. If the light is not there, you cannot avoid darkness. You can close your eyes, you can try to forget about it, you can become occupied somewhere else, you can take your mind far, far away from it, but it is there all the same. And it will show in your acts, in your thoughts, in your behavior. It will come up again and again. You cannot hide it – it is impossible to hide it. The truth of your being, whatsoever it is, is bound to surface.

Lisa, become aware. And I am not saying what is wrong and what is right. I am simply saying: Be aware; or, awareness is right and unawareness is wrong. When you are aware, things will start changing of their own accord, and then the mind functions as a servant. It is a machine, a beautiful machine, one of the most complex machines invented by nature in thousands of years. Man has not yet been able to create anything comparable to it. Even the best computer is not yet so capable.

A single human mind can contain all the libraries of the world. It is almost infinite. Its capacity is great, its use is great, but it should be your servant not your master. As a servant it is beautiful; as a master it is dangerous.

Let consciousness be your master and mind your servant. It happens through awareness. And I am not telling you to control it, because all control is repression. I am not telling you to fight, because all fight is a sheer waste of energy. You are fighting with your own servant – you are wasting your energy. You need not fight with your servant, you have simply to say, “I am the master”; that’s all.

You have simply to be the master, that’s all, and the servant bows down. The servant immediately understands that the master has come in. And how does the master come in? The moment you become awake, the master comes in.

You ask me, Lisa:

You say: Go beyond the mind. Do not listen to its chatter. Discipline it and make it a servant. Don not be its slave. But how to know when the mind is being disciplined and when it is being repressed? 

It is very simple. Nobody can ever mistake the two; nobody can ever confuse the two. They are so different – just like light and darkness, just like love and hate, just like flowers and thorns, just like poison and nectar. They are so totally different! But if you think about them you may get confused.

In thinking you cannot make the distinction. Don’t think about them – experiment, experience, and the distinction will be absolutely clear.

-Osho

From Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Chapter Three

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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Then Know That Nothing Disturbs – Osho

You said that noise and disturbances are not outside in the world, but are because of your own minds and ego, but why do the saints and mystics always live in unnoisy crowded places?

Because they are still not saints and mystics. They are still endeavoring, still working. They are seekers, not siddhas. They have not reached. Noise will disturb them, the crowd will disturb them.

The crowd will pull them back to its own level. They are still weak, they need protection. They are still not confident. They cannot move into temptation. They have to protect themselves in the lonely solitude where they can grow and become strong. When they are strong there will be no problem.

Mahavir moved into the wilderness. For twelve years he was alone, silent, not talking, not moving in villages or cities. Then he became enlightened. Then he came back to the world. Buddha was in total silence for six years. Then he came back to the world. Jesus or Mohammed, or anyone – when they are growing they need protected conditions. When they have grown, then there is no problem.

So if you find a mystic afraid of moving in a crowd, then know well that he is still a child, growing. Otherwise why should a mystic be afraid of moving in crowds? Nothing can be done to him by the crowd, by the noise, by the world, by the objects of the world. With all this madness around him, nothing can be done to him. He cannot be touched. He can move and he can live – anywhere it happens for his emptiness to live, he can live.

But in the beginning it is good to be alone, to be in a harmonious, natural surrounding. So remember, don’t think that because you live in a noisy Bombay you are a mystic, or you have grown up and have become a siddha. If you want to grow you will also have to move sometimes, for some definite periods, into loneliness – out of the crowd, out of the concerns of the world, relations of the world, objects of the world – into such a place where you can be alone and not disturbed by others. As you are now you can be disturbed, but once you have the strength, once you have the inner power, once you are crystallized and you know that now no one can shatter your inner center, you can move anywhere. Then the whole world is lonely. Then wherever you are is wilderness. Then the space of silence moves with you because you are the creator of it. Then around you, you create your own inner silence, and wherever you move, you are in silence. No one can penetrate that silence. No noise can disturb it.

But unless the crystallization has happened, don’t believe that you will not be disturbed. You are disturbed, whether you know it or don’t know it. Really, you are so disturbed that you cannot know it. You have become accustomed to disturbance. Every nerve is on edge; you are continuously disturbed. Right now you don’t feel the disturbance – to feel the disturbance sometimes you need to be not disturbed. Only then can you feel it in contrast. You are continuously disturbed but you have become accustomed to it, habituated to it. You think this is how life is. It would be good if you move into the Himalayas for some time. It would be good to go into some remove village, a remote forest, and be alone for a few days’ silence – as if the whole of humanity has disappeared. Then come back to Bombay. Then you will know what disturbance you have been living in. You will be suddenly disturbed. Now you have a contrast. You had an inner music, now it is shattered. For seekers solitariness is good; for siddhas it is irrelevant.

And there are two types of wrong people. With the first type, if you say to them that it is they who are disturbed, the situation is irrelevant, then they will never go into solitariness to have a glimpse of what silence is. Then they will remain here and they will say, “Nothing disturbs us. It is us really, not the surrounding. So we remain here.” And they are disturbed but their theory will become a rationalization.

Then there are other people, the other type of wrong people, who, if you tell them to move into silence, to solitude, because it will help, they will move – but then they will never come back. Then it becomes an addiction and they will remain weak forever, they will always feel afraid of coming back to the world. Then their solitariness has not been a help; rather, it has become a hindrance. They are not stronger through it, they have become weaker. Now they cannot move in the world. Both these types are wrong.

Be the third type, which is the right type. In the beginning, know well that you are disturbed by circumstances; so sometimes try, manage, to move out of them. Then when you are out of them, whatsoever silence you attain, bring it back to your circumstances and try to preserve it. If you can preserve it in the circumstances, then only will the theory have become an experience. Then you know that nothing disturbs. Then you know it is you ultimately who are disturbed or not disturbed.

But make it an experience – just as a theory it is useless.

-OSHO

From The Book of Secrets, Chapter 80

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Silence and Blissfulness – Osho

Can you talk about the relationship between silence and blissfulness? Is silence all that is needed? Does everything else follow?

Prem Samarpan, there is no relationship between silence and blissfulness; they are two names of the same thing.

Silence is blissfulness, not in the dictionaries, but in actual experience. And I don’t see that in actual experience it can be different to different people. As you become silent, you cannot be worried, you cannot be tense; you cannot be miserable, you cannot be noisy, you cannot be chattering continuously. Otherwise, how can you be silent?

And when all these stupid activities are gone, silence simply clears the ground for blissfulness to be discovered. They are almost the same phenomenon because they happen simultaneously. As you become silent, a certain sweetness, a certain fragrance, a certain beatitude spontaneously arises in you.

But your silence should not be a repressed stillness; you should not be silent by force. If you are silent by force, if you have repressed your mind then rather than doing meditation you are doing gymnastics, fighting with the mind. It is possible you can force the mind to be silent, but then there will be no blissfulness. There will be just emptiness and a silence of the graveyard, not the silence of the garden; something empty, not something overflowing.

The silence that comes out of meditation is not an empty experience, it is very positive—it is overflowingly positive. And what is there to overflow in silence except blissfulness? So, please check. If your silence is not bringing blissfulness then you are trying to have a wrong kind of silence—blissfulness is the criterion—then stop doing what you are trying to do.

In meditation, silence comes on its own accord. You simply go on watching the mind without any control, without any repression, and silence comes suddenly just like a breeze, and with the silence, the fragrance of the flowers—that is your blissfulness; it is your own fragrance which you were not capable of knowing because there was so much noise.

The mind was creating so much fuss, thoughts were creating so many dark clouds, emotions and moods, it had become a thick barrier between you and your real self. When the barrier is removed, it is as if you have removed a rock which was preventing a stream, a fountain.

And the moment you remove the rock, suddenly the fountain bursts forth in a great dance of joy. Your blissfulness is not something that comes from outside, it springs from within you. Just the rock of your mind—thoughts, miseries—has to be removed. It is not that you have to repress it, because by repressing it you will be repressing the fountain behind it too.

So the question can arise, Samarpan, if your silence is a wrong kind of silence. You are asking, “Is silence all that is needed?” Yes, absolutely yes. Silence is all that is needed, and everything else follows on its own accord.

-OSHO

From The Invitation, Chapter Twelve

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Don’t Ask for More – Osho

Since I started meditating four years ago my life has changed tremendously. Changes are happening; it is not that I have an insight and then I start doing something. This has been a time of waiting. There is a feeling that something wants to express itself, and that I have to allow it. Am I waiting for something to grow strong enough or am I just lazy? Or am I waiting for Godot? Beloved Master, thank you for your being here.

Amrit Sagaram, things are growing.

Since you started meditating, much water has gone down the Ganges, and much has changed in your consciousness. But don’t ask for more; let existence take its own time. Remember Ta Hui—the more you hurry, the more you are delayed. You cannot do anything better than existence is doing already. Simply leave yourself in the hands of existence.

This relaxedness people have misunderstood always as laziness. It is not laziness. It looks like laziness to workaholics who cannot sit down, who have to do something because they are afraid the moment they stop doing something, they will have to know themselves. And that is their fear—who knows who they are? It is better to avoid the encounter.

Relaxation is to be at ease. Whatever is happening to you is perfectly good.

You say, “Since I started meditating four years ago my life has changed tremendously. Changes are happening, it is not that I have an insight and then I start doing something. This has been a time of waiting. There is a feeling that something wants to express itself, and that I have to allow it.” That’s how it should be. Your mind is worried about what is happening because what is happening is going to take all the functions of mind out of its control. Hence, the mind is creating questions: “Am I waiting for something to grow strong enough or am I just lazy? Or am I waiting for Godot?” You are not waiting for any Godot.

Meditation is simply a waiting for the unknown, for the unpredictable, for the incomprehensible. And the more the waiting is pure, the more grace arises out of it. No hurry, no desiring, no expectations, just waiting and millions of things will happen. In fact, the things that are going to happen to a meditator are so vast you cannot conceive of them, you cannot have even dreamt of them; they are beyond the capacity of the mind to conceive.

You just wait and let things happen to you—not according to you, but according to existence itself. Existence has not to be according to you; you have to be in tune with existence, according to existence.

This is the only difference between the non-meditator and the meditator. The non-meditator always wants existence according to his ideas, and falls naturally into miserable states, because existence is too big; it cannot follow your ideas, your prayers, your expectations, your demands. The proverb is true that man proposes and God disposes — but there is no God to dispose. In fact, in the very proposal, you have disposed of it. You have created a failure for yourself because you wanted to succeed.

So there is nothing to expect, nothing to desire. Existence is so abundant that if you are simply waiting it starts showering flowers on you. A life of waiting, without any expectations, is the only religious life I know of.

A Broadway bookie was given a parrot in lieu of cash payment. The bird’s vocabulary included choice phrases in English, French, Spanish and German. Sensing a winner, the bookie hauled the bird off to his favorite bar. “Speaks four languages,” he said to the bartender, who snorted in disbelief. “Wanna bet this bird can speak four languages?” the bookie challenged.

Annoyed, the bartender finally agreed to a ten-dollar wager. The bookie turned to the parrot and said, “Parlez-vous Francais?” There was no response. On the street the bookie glared at the bird, “You fink!” he exclaimed, “I’ve got ten bucks riding on you and you clam up on me. I oughta strangle you.”

“Don’t be a jerk,” the parrot replied. “Just think of the odds you’ll get tomorrow.”

Just wait for tomorrow. My own experience is, every day brings so much that when I think retrospectively I cannot conceive that I could have expected it—and it always brings in abundance! Existence is so compassionate and so sharing, but only to those who don’t demand. Desirelessness is the foundation of all great happenings.

Sagaram, just wait in trust and everything that existence has will be revealed to you.

The Lone Ranger is about to be hanged by rustlers who caught him spying on their camp. His only hope is Tonto who managed to escape and go for help. As the bandits are putting the noose around the Lone Ranger’s neck, he sees three horses approaching at a gallop. Sure enough, as they get closer, he can see that it is Tonto on the first horse, but he can’t make out who the other two riders are.

The Lone Ranger finally sees that Tonto is riding with two beautiful naked women. The riders burst into the robbers’ camp and Tonto rides up to the Lone Ranger saying, “Kemosabe, I have returned with the people you asked me to get.”

“Tonto, you idiot,” says the Lone Ranger, “I told you to go get a posse!”

It is better, Sagaram, not to ask for anything; otherwise, there is always frustration.

Don’t ask, and you will be fulfilled.

Just trust silently and wait, and miracles are always happening to the meditators. The greatest miracle is the revelation of the mystery of oneself.

You are perfectly on the right path. Beware of your mind—it will try to disturb you, to distract you, to create doubts. Just put it aside. This great affair has nothing to do with the mind.

-OSHO

From The Invitation, Chapter Three

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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Ending Thought – J. Krishnamurti

Questioner: I wonder what you really mean by ending thought. I talked to a friend about it and he said it is some kind of oriental nonsense. To him thought is the highest form of intelligence and action, the very salt of life, indispensable. It has created civilization, and all relationship is based on it. All of us accept this, from the greatest thinker to the humblest labourer. When we don’t think we sleep, vegetate or daydream; we are vacant, dull and unproductive, whereas when we are awake we are thinking, doing, living, quarrelling: these are the only two states we know. You say, be beyond both – beyond thought and vacant inactivity. What do you mean by this?

Krishnamurti: Very simply put, thought is the response of memory, the past. The past is an infinity or a second ago. When thought acts it is this past which is acting as memory, as experience, as knowledge, as opportunity. All will is desire based on this past and directed towards pleasure or the avoidance of pain. When thought is functioning it is the past, therefore there is no new living at all; it is the past living in the present, modifying itself and the present. So there is nothing new in life that way, and when something new is to be found there must be the absence of the past, the mind must not be cluttered up with thought, fear, pleasure, and everything else. Only when the mind is uncluttered can the new come into being, and for this reason we say that thought must be still, operating only when it has to – objectively, efficiently. All continuity is thought; when there is continuity there is nothing new. Do you see how important this is? It’s really a question of life itself. Either you live in the past, or you live totally differently: that is the whole point.

Questioner: I think I do see what you mean, but how in the world is one to end this thought? When I listen to the blackbird there is thought telling me instantly it is the blackbird; when I walk down the street thought tells me I am walking down the street and tells me all I recognise and see; when I play with the notion of not thinking it is again thought that plays this game. All meaning and understanding and communication are thought. Even when I am not communicating with someone else I am doing so with myself. When I am awake, I think, when I am asleep I think. The whole structure of my being is thought. Its roots lie far deeper than I know. All I think and do and all I am is thought, thought creating pleasure and pain, appetites, longings, resolutions, conclusions, hopes, fears and questions. Thought commits murder and thought forgives. So how can one go beyond it? Isn’t it thought again which seeks to go beyond it?

Krishnamurti: We both said, when thought is still, something new can be. We both saw that point clearly and to understand it clearly is the ending of thought.

Questioner: But that understanding is also thought.

Krishnamurti: Is it? You assume that it is thought, but is it, actually?

Questioner: It is a mental movement with meaning, a communication to oneself.

Krishnamurti: If it is a communication to oneself it is thought. But is understanding a mental movement with meaning?

Questioner: Yes it is.

Krishnamurti: The meaning of the word and the understanding of that meaning is thought. That is necessary in life. There thought must function efficiently. It is a technological matter. But you are not asking that. You are asking how thought, which is the very movement of life as you know it, can come to an end. Can it only end when you die? That is really your question, isn’t it?

Questioner: Yes.

Krishnamurti: That is the right question. Die! Die to the past, to tradition.

Questioner: But how?

Krishnamurti: The brain is the source of thought. The brain is matter and thought is matter. Can the brain – with all its reactions and its immediate responses to every challenge and demand – can that brain be very still? It is not a question of ending thought, but of whether the brain can be completely still. Can it act with full capacity when necessary and otherwise be still? This stillness is not physical death. See what happens when the brain is completely still. See what happens.

Questioner: In that space there was a blackbird, the green tree, the blue sky, the man hammering next door, the sound of the wind in the trees and my own heartbeat, the total quietness of the body. That is all.

Krishnamurti: If there was recognition of the blackbird singing, then the brain was active, was interpreting. It was not still. This really demands tremendous alertness and discipline, the watching that brings its own discipline, not imposed or brought about by your unconscious desire to achieve a result or a pleasurable new experience. Therefore during the day thought must operate effectively, sanely, and also watch itself.

Questioner: That is easy, but what about going beyond it?

Krishnamurti: Who is asking this question? Is it the desire to experience something new or is it the enquiry? If it is the enquiry, then you must enquire and investigate the whole business of thinking and be completely familiar with it, know all its tricks and subtleties. If you have done this you will know that the question of going beyond thought is an empty one. Going beyond thought is knowing what thought is.

-J. Krishnamurti

From The Urgency of Change