Buddha and the Knotted Handkerchief – Osho

I am reminded of a story. Gautam the Buddha one day comes into his morning discourse; ten thousand sannyasins are waiting for him, just like every day. But today there is something surprising.

Everybody is puzzled and looking at each other, because Buddha is coming with a handkerchief, it is very costly – perhaps some king has presented it to him.

But he does not accept that kind of thing, so everybody is looking, thinking, what is the matter?

And why should he bring it just in his hand ahead of himself almost saying to everybody, “Look, look well”? And then he comes and sits; and keeping the handkerchief in his hand, says to his sannyasins, “Look very carefully.”

They all look. There is nothing to look at, just a beautiful silken handkerchief.  And then Buddha starts putting knots in the handkerchief; he puts five knots in it. There is immense silence… everybody is simply watching what he is doing. Then Buddha asks them, “Is this the same handkerchief the same that I had brought with me, or is it a different handkerchief?”

Sariputta, one of his chief disciples, stands up and says, “Why are you joking with us? You have never done such a thing. This is the same handkerchief.”

Buddha says, “Sariputta, think once again – because the handkerchief that I brought had no knots, and this has five knots. How can this be the same?”

Sariputta could see the point. He said, “I am sorry. I do understand. Although it is the same handkerchief now it is in a very knotted condition – such as a man in anguish. He is the same man; a man in suffering is the same man but in knots.”

Buddha said, “Exactly right. That’s what I want to show to you: that the man who is in suffering is not different from Gautam the Buddha. I am just a handkerchief without knots. You are a handkerchief with five knots.” Of course Buddha has his philosophy of five basic problems that trouble man: violence, greed, untruthfulness, unawareness, and the ego. You can find many more knots; these are just the main ones according to him.

Secondly he said, “I would like to ask you one thing more. I am trying to open these knots. Look at me – will this help to open the knots?” He pulled both the ends of the handkerchief; the knots became smaller and tighter. Somebody shouted, “What are you doing? This way those knots will never open. Such fine silk and you are pulling so hard! The knots are becoming so small that it will become almost impossible to open them again.”

Buddha said, “You can understand about this handkerchief so clearly – can’t you understand yourself? Can’t you see yourself in the same, understanding way? Have you been pulling your knots or not? Otherwise why do they go on becoming smaller and smaller, and tighter and tighter?

”A child is loose, relaxed. Look at the old man, just knots and knots. Certainly, whatever you are

doing is wrong. You are pulling the handkerchief. You are trying hard; your intention is good, you want to open the knots. You are taking much trouble – but your doing is your very undoing. You are making things more and more complicated, worse and worse. And the more complicated they become, the harder you pull, because you think, what else to do?”

Buddha asked, “Then I would like to ask you, what do you suppose I should do?”

One monk stood up and he said, “I would like to come close, and first I would like to see how the knots have been put together.”

Buddha said, “That’s a scientific way. Before you can undo something, you have to know how it has been done, because if you know how it has been done, you have already known all that is needed to undo it; you have just to reverse the process.”

The monk looked at the handkerchief and he said “The knots have been done in such a way that if we relax the handkerchief and allow the knots to become looser rather than tighter, and help them to become loose, it is not going to be very difficult. They are simple knots.”

Buddha gave the handkerchief to him and the man opened the knots one by one. Buddha said,

”Today’s sermon is finished. I am not going to speak anymore today. Just go and meditate about your knots, and how you have managed to make them so tight. And just do the reverse.”

Any small problem, just look at it, at how you have been trying to solve it and it goes on becoming worse and worse. Certainly in your doing there is something which is becoming a  nourishment to it rather than a killer. You are not poisoning it; you are nourishing it, feeding it. And don’t try to work on so many knots together. Just choose one small knot, the smallest you can find in yourself; by smallest, I mean the most insignificant.

People have the tendency to choose the most significant; even when they are choosing to solve their problems, they choose the greatest problem first. Now, that is simply foolish. Just become a little aware, alert. Start from the small things, very small things.

In one sermon Buddha was speaking, and a man sitting in front of him was moving his toe continuously. Buddha was not like me; otherwise he would have stopped him immediately. He tolerated it, tolerated it, tolerated it – but it was too much, because the man was just in front of him and he went on, went on, went on.

At the end Buddha said, “What is wrong with your toe?” The moment he said, “What is wrong with your toe?” the man stopped. Buddha said, “This is what is wrong with your toe: you are not aware of it. You were not doing it, it was happening almost unconsciously. It is just a habit; you must be doing it everywhere you are sitting. Now it goes on doing it by itself knowing that the master needs it. The master is not even aware that it is happening, because the moment I asked you about it, it stopped immediately. That means the moment your awareness went to the toe there was a complete break.”

Now, start with such small things which have not much investment in them. People start with their ego – they want to become egoless. Now, you are taking on such a big problem. You are so small, and the problem is so big, that you are going to fail.

In fact that’s why you have chosen the big problem, because you want to fail, you don’t want to succeed. Perhaps this too is the way of the ego, to choose the biggest problem. You are no ordinary man trying to change small things here and there; when you want to change, you want to change the real problem. Perhaps this is the ego coming in from the back and deceiving you.

Now choose something very insignificant, which makes not much difference. But the beauty is,

the smallest problem has the same properties as the biggest problem, the same ingredients as the biggest problem and the same solution as the biggest problem.

All problems are one problem.

If you can solve a small problem – dissolve it, get rid of it, be finished with it – you know the master key.

Now you can go on opening all the locks in your house. And there is not going to be any trouble.

The basic key is awareness.

And while solving a small problem, you are starting to learn the ABC of awareness.

Choose something meaningless with no investment; it will be easier to work with. And once you have worked with it, you will be surprised: you have the secret, the whole secret of your puzzled, knotted life.

Solve it, then man is born in you. Before that, you are only a problem.

-Osho

Taken from the series From Misery to Enlightenment, chapter 19.

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

Both audio and pdf files can be downloaded from Osho World.

I AM is the Gate – Osho

This is a follow-up to the last post – Jesus was a Buddha.

Osho addresses the often quoted statement by Jesus.

Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.

This statement is of immense importance, and has been tremendously misunderstood by Christians, misinterpreted. This statement has become a protection for the priest, for the dogmatist, for the demagogue. Christians have taken it to mean that nobody ever comes to God unless he comes through Christ – that means Jesus, son of Mariam. Nobody comes to God unless he comes through Jesus. They have meant, or they have interpreted it in such a way, that Christianity becomes the only right religion. All other religions become wrong. All other religions are against God – only Christianity.

Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.

What does he mean? These priests and the missionaries and the Christians who go on converting the whole world to Christianity, are they right? Is their interpretation right? Or has Jesus something else? He has something UTTERLY else.

In the Bhagavad Gita also there is a statement which Hindus go on misinterpreting. Krishna has said to Arjuna… And almost the same quality of closeness existed between Arjuna and Krishna as between Jesus and Thomas – the same relationship. And the same flowering had happened, and the same statement had bubbled up out of that relationship. Krishna said to Arjuna: SARVA DHARMAN PARITYAJYA MAMEKAM SHARANAM VRAJA: Drop all religions, forget about all religions and come to my feet, because it is only through me that one reaches to God.

Now Hindus are happy with this statement. Krishna has said so clearly: Forget all religions. Drop all kinds of other religions and hold unto me. Hold to my feet – MAMEKAM SHARANAM VRAJA. Come to my feet; they are the bridges to God – the only bridges.

Both statements happened in the same kind of situation. Arjuna must have been very very close when Krishna said this. And so is the case with Thomas – he must have been very close. Christ must have been showering like flowers on Thomas when he said this. You will need that loving understanding of a Thomas, only then will you be able to understand the meaning of this. You will need that loving intimacy of an Arjuna, only then will you be able to understand the statement of Krishna. Both are the same, both mean the same – and both have been misinterpreted.

The misinterpretation comes from the priest and the politician – those who try to convert religion into organisational, political strategies.

Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way

I AM… That has to be understood. It does not mean Jesus, it simply means the inner consciousness: ’I am’ – the inner life. This consciousness inside you, which you call ’I am’, this ’I am’ is the only way. If you can understand this ’I am’, what it is, what this consciousness is, you have found the way. It has nothing to do with Jesus, it has nothing to do with Krishna. When I say to you ’I am the gate’ it has nothing to do with me! That I AM is the gate. The gate is within you, the way is within you, the truth is within you. You have to understand who this is calling himself ’I am’ within you, what this consciousness is, what it consists of.

If you can go into your consciousness, if you can feel, see, realise the nature of your consciousness, that is the way. Meditation is the way – not Christ, not Krishna, nor Mohammed. Who am I? – this question will become the way.

Raman Maharshi is right when he says that only one question is relevant: Who am I? Go on asking this question, let this question become a fire in you. Be aflame with it! Let every cell of your body and your being, and every fibre of your existence pulsate, vibrate with it. And let this question arise from the deepest core: Who am I? And go on asking; don’t accept any answer that is given by the mind. You have been reading the Upanishads, and in the Upanishads they say ’You are God’. And your mind will say ’Why are you asking again and again? I know the answer: You are God. And keep quiet!’ Or if you are a Christian and have been reading the Bible again and again, you know: The kingdom of God is within you. So, ’Who am I?’ – ’The kingdom of God. Now keep quiet!’

No answer from the head has to be accepted. No answer from the.memory has to be accepted. No answer from knowledge has to be accepted. All answers have to be thrown in the whirlwind of the question ’Who am I?’ A moment comes when all answers have gone and ONLY the question remains, alone like a pillar of fire. You are afire with it! You are just a thirst, a passionate quest: ’Who am l?’ When the question has burned all the answers, then the question burns itself too, it consumes itself. And once the question has also disappeared, there is silence. That silence is the answer. And that is the door, the gate, the way, the truth.

Please be careful. When Jesus says I AM THE WAY, he means the one who calls himself I AM within you is the way. It has nothing to do with Jesus. Just by holding the feet of Jesus you are not going to go anywhere. Just by praying to Jesus you are not going to go anywhere. Listen to what he is saying.

Each Master throws you back to yourself, because ultimately God is hidden in you as much as in the Master. You are carrying your light within yourself. You just have to turn back, you have to look inwards.

I AM the way, the Truth

Yes. In your very consciousness is the truth. When you become fully conscious you become the full truth. When you are absolutely conscious, it is not that you face truth as an object, you ARE the truth, it is your subjectivity, it is you. That’s what Upanishads say: TATWAMASI: Thou art that.

…… and the Life…

Three things Jesus says: It is the life – I AM, consciousness, awareness. This is life – the life that you know, the ordinary life. Then the second: I AM THE WAY – the way that joins the ordinary life with the extraordinary life, the way that joins Adam with Christ, the way that joins body with soul. And the third thing: I AM THE TRUTH. Jesus has said all the three things.

You are that right now, because I AM THE LIFE. And you have the way too, hidden behind you, within you: I AM THE WAY. And you are the ultimate goal too, the destiny. You are the beginning and the middle and the end. You are Adam, Jesus and Christ.

no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.

No man has ever entered into God unless he has entered into his consciousness, until he has entered into his ’I am’-ness. This is the meaning. This is the meaning of Krishna, and this is the meaning of Christ. This is the meaning of all the Masters.

Osho

From I Say Unto You, Vol. 2., Chapter Nine

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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See Jesus Was A Buddha here