Be Aware of the Golden Light – Osho

The threshold of reality is veiled by golden light.

Now the Isa Upanishad reminds the seeker that: be aware. When you enter into the world of absolute reality you will come across a golden veil, very beautiful, so beautiful that many have become enchanted and stopped there. 

The threshold of reality is veiled by golden light.

All darkness disappears and there is such a golden light, so psychedelic… you have never experienced anything like it. You think you have come home. Wait, beware: this is just the light that surrounds the reality. You have to penetrate this light to reach to the very center of reality. When you come close to a flame, the flame is surrounded by golden light. Remember, the golden light radiates from the flame, but the golden light is not the flame itself. When you look at the sun you see a golden light radiating from the sun. We are far away from the sun; it takes for sunlight to reach to us ten minutes, and ten minutes for light is long distance because light travels by tremendous speed, ultimate speed. Scientists say that that is the last, more speed is not possible. Light travels in one second, one hundred eighty-six thousand miles – in one minute sixty times more. In ten minutes six hundred times more. It is far away, but we can see the light; the rays are reaching us. Remember, these rays are coming from the sun, but these rays are not the sun itself. If you want to reach to the sun you will have to go beyond these rays. And this sun is nothing compared to other suns which are far bigger. Even this sun is not a small sun; it is sixty thousand times bigger than the earth, and this is a very mediocre sun in the universe. There are greater suns than this, millions of times bigger.

In the night when you see stars you think they are very small – you are wrong. They are very far away. That’s why they look small; they are far bigger than the sun, but their distance is almost unbelievable. The closest sun next to this sun is four light years away; the rays from that sun reach to us in four years; from this sun it takes ten minutes, from that sun it takes four years, and that is the closest. There are suns from where it takes millions of light years for the sunlight to reach to us, and there are few suns conceived by the physicists whose light has not reached to the earth yet, since the earth was made. And there is a possibility that there may be suns even farther away whose light will never reach to the earth, because meanwhile the earth will disappear. It came into being, for millions of years it existed; the light was traveling and traveling with that tremendous speed of one hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second. By the time the light reaches the earth would have died; that light will never reach to the earth.

But all these suns, great suns, are nothing compared to the ultimate reality. Kabir says, “The moment I penetrated into my innermost core I found as if suddenly millions of suns had risen” – not one, millions of suns. Naturally, the Upanishadic seers are making you aware:

The threshold of reality is veiled by golden light.

And the light is so beautiful, so blissful, that you can be caught in the net of it and you can start thinking you have arrived. Many scriptures of the world say: God is light. The people who have said that have misunderstood: they have thought the golden light as God itself.

God is neither light nor darkness; he is both and beyond. Unless you reach to that ultimate which is always beyond the duality, transcendental to duality, go on remembering: you have not come home yet. Go on inquiring, go on exploring.

-OSHO

Excerpt from I Am That, Chapter Thirteen

I Am That - Osho

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This Host is Your Being in its Purity – Osho

I am never born as a body.

I am not the ten senses.

And I am neither intellect,

nor mind nor everlasting ego.

I am eternally pure self-nature

without vital breath and mind.

I am the witness without intellect,

And I am the ever-knowing self-nature.

There is no doubt, whatsoever, about it. 

-Sarvasar Upanishad 

A very long journey from “I” to “thou,” from “thou” to “that,” and from “that” to the beyond. And now again the rishi begins to talk about “Who am I?” Obviously, the first “I” is not referred to, that has been just disposed of. This is a second “I.”

The first “I” constitutes the ego; constitutes whatsoever we have done, whatsoever we have achieved, whatsoever has been our accumulation. This second “I” is not our doing; this second “I” is our being. So we must distinguish between these two: the doing and the being.

The being is something which is there, has been there; it is a priori.  It is not your creation, it is not your construction, you have not contributed anything to it, because you are it. So how can you do anything? And whatsoever you have done is just an accumulations around – never on the center; the center has always been there.

The child is born. The child is born with a being, with a center, but with no periphery, with no circumference. The child is born with a being, but with no doing at all. Now the doing will grow; now the child will cultivate the ego. Whatsoever the child is going to do will become part of his ego. If he succeeds, then a superiority is accumulated; if he fails, then an inferiority is accumulated. And whether you begin to feel to be inferior or superior, a certain ego is formed. Even when you feel inferior, you have an ego which feels to be inferior. If you succeed, you have an ego which feels to be superior.

The ego means whatsoever you have done – whether you succeed or fail, it is irrelevant, you create an ego. You begin to assert, “I am this, I am that.” And the more this feeling grows, the more the center is lost, and by and by forgotten. In the end we are nothing but our doings. The being is just lost; we have lost the track.

So first we discussed the “I,” the ego, the superficial, the one created by us – our own creation. Now the rishi is talking about the being – what we are, not what we have done; what we are, pure, simple beingness. Of course when we say “I” and use “I” for it, the meaning is totally different. We again refer to it as an “I,” because this is the innermost center of our existence. But now there is no feeling of “I-ness,” only a reference, only a word to be used and forgotten. This pure “I,” this pure being, can only be described in a negative way, through elimination. We have to say, “This is not, that is not,” and go on denying. And when nothing remains to deny anymore, it is revealed.

There are two ways to indicate a thing. One is direct, positive; another is indirect, negative. The more sublime a phenomenon, the more deep a thing is, you cannot indicate it positively, you cannot figure it out. You cannot say, “This is.” No, that’s not possible. How can you say what love is? How can you say what goodness is? How can you say what God is? If you say something positive, you will feel that much has remained unexpressed, and your word has given a limitation.

Saint Augustine has been asked by someone, “What is God?” Saint Augustine says, “When you do not ask me, I know very well, but when you ask me, everything is lost. So don’t disturb me; go and find out. Please go and find out for yourself. I am not going to answer, because the moment I begin to answer, I feel guilty. Any expression becomes just criminal, because whatsoever I say is nothing compared to that about which I am saying.” This has always been felt, very deeply felt, and so many have just remained silent, mm? – not to be guilty; it is better not to say.

Wittgenstein has written in his Tractatus, “It is better not to say than to say something about a thing which is inexpressible. So be silent, it is better, because at least you are right.” At least you are right! The moment you say something you are bound to be wrong, any assertion is bound to be wrong. So infinite a phenomenon as the deeper “I”…. It is better to be silent. But it needs expression. It may be better for the person who is going to say, but it is not better for the person who is going to understand it, to enquire about it. Silence will not do.

So the rishi uses the second method, the negative one. The Upanishads have been using the same method always. That has been their technique, to negate. They will say, “I am that which is never born. I am the unborn one. All that which is born, I am not. So whatsoever is born, I am not.” This is the eliminating process. Whatsoever is born, I am not. Breathing has been born in me. It is born because a child is born without breathing, then he breathes. So the being precedes breathing; being comes first, and then there is breathing. Then there is thinking, then there is ego – all this is born.

If we go still deeper, when the mother becomes pregnant, the first egg has no senses, but the being is there. Then by and by the egg grows and then senses come into being; they are born. After the being is, it is born.

So the rishi says: “I am not the senses, because I am always prior.” I always precede. And whatsoever has succeeded me, I am not.”

“I am not the senses” – that is, I am not the body – “neither am I the mind,” because mind is a later growth, and sometimes mind can be destroyed without destroying you. Sometimes it happens that accidentally the mind is destroyed, and you are.

In the Second World War, one English soldier fell down into a ditch. He became unconscious, and he remained unconscious for one week. And when he came back from unconsciousness, he was not the same mind again. He couldn’t recognize anyone – not even himself; he couldn’t recognize his face in the mirror, because all his memory was lost; the whole mechanism was destroyed. But the being was still there. So the mind is a mechanism – something added to you, but not you. It is something instrumental to you, but not you.

The rishi says, “I am not the mind. Neither am I the feeling of being a self.” Neither am I the feeling of being a self, because how can you feel yourself as a self without the mind? The feeling of self is part of the mind, that, “I am.” Go deep into it. We use “I am.” This feeling of “I” is part of our mind. The rishi says, “No not this either. This feeling of being a self is again not my reality, my being.” So when the rishi says, “Not even the feeling of self,” then what remains? “I” drops completely, and only “am-ness” remains. The feeling of “I” belongs to the mind, but “am-ness” belongs to my being itself. A feeling of “am-ness” is what is meant by atma – just “am-ness.”

If you can drop your thinking, you will be, but in an oceanic feeling of “am-ness.” Even this formation of “I,” this formation of self-hood, is not there. That is a later growth.

The rishi is really trying to bring into consciousness, the purest possibility of existence, with nothing added to it – the purest, just a clean slate, nothing written on it. So he is washing everything that we have written on it, and just cleaning the whole thing. When nothing more remains to be washed, he says, “This is the being.” Because whatsoever is written is just doing – howsoever subtle, howsoever hidden, howsoever unconscious – whatsoever is written is a later growth.

So go back, retrace, regress to the original “am-ness.” That, he says, even when there is no breathing, where there is no “minding,” this being is there – without mind, without breathing, without senses. What remains? But what remains? Just a vacuum? Just a nothingness? No, all remains, but in its purity, in its potentiality, in its absolute seed.

Only one positive assertion is made, and that is, “This innermost center is aware, is conscious.” The very nature of it is consciousness. When everything has been eliminated – thoughts, senses, body, mind – when everything has been eliminated, only pure consciousness remains. This is the nature of it.

What is meant by pure consciousness? By pure consciousness is meant that there is consciousness; not conscious about anything – just a mirror, mirroring nothing. Towards this purity is the whole search. And the rishi says, “There is no doubt about it,” because this is not a doctrine, this is not a philosophical system; this is experience, this is realization. The rishi says, “This I have known; this I have lived; this I have reached. This is not just a mental projection; this is not just a thought-out system; this is what I have lived and known and experienced.”

This must be understood because this is one of the most emphatic characteristics of Eastern darshan – I will not call it philosophy. It has been called and translated as philosophy very wrongly – not only wrongly, but the very meaning is perverted. By darshan is meant that which you have seen, not thought. By philosophy is meant that which you have thought.

Philosophy means love of thinking. Philo means love, sophy means thinking – love of thinking.

Darshan is not love of thinking; it is love of seeing. So only one man, Hermann Hesse, has rightly

translated it; he has coined a new word to translate darshan into English, and that word is philosia philo for love, and sia for seeing – not sophy, but sia.

The Eastern mind has been constantly concerned, not with thinking, but with seeing. They say thinking is a pale substitute. You have seen the sunrise, that is one thing. Someone who is blind can only think about the sunrise. Can there be any parallel? Can there be any comparison? Whatsoever you have seen and whatsoever he may have thought – can there be any link between the two? A blind man thinking about the sunrise is really a very complex phenomenon, primarily, because a blind man has never known what sunrise is, what light is. What does rising mean to a blind man? What does light mean to a blind man? Simple words – only words, mere words with nothing in them – meaningless. He has heard “light,” “sun,” “sunrise”; he can think. What can he think? He can think in a chain of words. He can create a chain of words – simple – a chain of words, not of meanings, because meaning is something which is always felt. A word is meaningless unless you have felt the substance of it. A blind man cannot think about the sunrise because he cannot even think about light; really, he cannot even think about darkness.

We always think, we assume that the blind man is living in darkness. That is simply absurd, because darkness is a phenomenon of the eyes, not of blindness. You have to be not blind to know darkness: darkness is seen, and a blind man cannot see. So a blind man is not in darkness – remember this. A blind man has never known what darkness is, because for darkness to be felt, you need eyes. So even darkness has not been known. So if you eliminate, negate, and you say to the blind man, “Light is what darkness is not,” it still means nothing. You cannot even use the eliminative process; you cannot say, “Light is not darkness.” He will ask what darkness is.

A blind man can think. Thinking is a dimension which need not be experienced. He can think, he can create concepts in his own way – in his own blind ways he can create concepts. He can create some parallelism; he can create some synonyms. He can begin to think in terms of his own experience about light, darkness and sunrise, and he can create a philosophy. Really, only blind men create philosophies, because those who can see will not bother to create philosophies. If you can see, there is no need.

This is the basic difference between Eastern thinking and Western. Western thinking has always remained with thinking; Eastern thinking has always stepped out of thinking, because they say even thinking is a barrier to seeing. If your eyes are filled with thoughts, you cannot see. The eyes must cease all thinking, all ideation, all minding – then the eyes are clear, then you can go deep into reality.

So the rishi says, “There is no doubt about it. Whatsoever I am saying, I have seen, and there is no doubt.” So it is not, “I don’t know, but I propose… perhaps… it may be so….” It is not so. The rishi is not saying, “Perhaps it may be like this,” or “Perhaps it may be like that.” He is simply saying – he is describing. So it is not that he is proposing any ideology; it is simply this, that he is describing something he has gone into. So he says, “There is no doubt. I myself have known this: this pure consciousness.”

How to go? – because for us still there is doubt. It may not be for him – for the rishi it may not be – but for us there is still doubt. And it is good – if you also say, “”Now there is no doubt,” then you are lost, because if there is no doubt for you, you will not go for the journey where the certainty is. You will create a pseudo certainty; all believers create pseudo certainties. They also say, “We believe it is so,” and they have not known.

Unless you know, do not believe.

Unless you know, do not say, “There is no doubt.”

Remain with the doubt.

Doubt is healthy; it pushes you.

But don’t get stuck in the doubt – go ahead, find the state where you can also say, “Now there is no doubt. I know it.” But not before that – not before that.

Live with doubt, go with doubt; search, enquire.

Don’t make your doubt suicidal – that’s enough – don’t make your doubt suicidal. Let it be a healthy push! Let it be an enquiry, an open enquiry.

So be with doubt. Don’t create any false belief. It is better to be sincerely in doubt, than to be insincerely into belief, because at least you are authentic. And authenticity is very meaningful. An authentic, sincere person can reach – will reach. But a non-authentic, insincere person may go on believing for lives and lives together. He is not even moving a single inch; he cannot move. So when this rishi says, “There is no doubt,” it is not meant that thereby you begin to believe. The rishi is simply giving a statement about his own stage. He is saying, “For me, there is no doubt. Whatsoever I am saying, I mean it, and I have known it.”

Really, the Upanishads have never given any arguments. Whatsoever they say, they say without any arguments, without any proofs. This is rare! They don’t say why this is so; they say, “This is so.” Why? It is significant. It is very significant, because whenever you try to prove something – you argue something, you gather witnesses for it – it means that you are creating a philosophy, a rationalization, a reasoning, a logical system; but you have not known.

If you have known, then a simple statement is enough. So the rishis give simple statements, and then methods – not proofs. Whatsoever they say, they say, “It is so; now this is the method, you can also know it.” They never give any proofs; quite the opposite.

There are Greek thinkers: Aristotle, or Plato, or even Socrates. They go on giving proofs. They go on giving proofs, arguments. They say, “This is so because…. And in “because” they will never say, “because I have known it.” They will say, “because this proves it, that proves it; that’s why it is so.” It is a syllogism, a logical syllogism.

These rishis are just illogical. They say, “This is so.” And if you ask, “Give us proofs,” they say, “This is the method. Experiment with it and you will get the proof.” In a way this is more scientific – less logical, but more scientific – not concerned with arguments at all, but with experiment. Really, this is what scientists are doing. If you ask them, “Why is this so, why does fire burn?” they will say, “Put your hand in it. We don’t know why, we know how it burns.”

So the basic approach of any philosophical ideation is “why?” And the basic scientific approach is always concerned with “how,” never with “why.” The rishi will never ask why we are not minds; he will ask “how” – the method. This is religious science, not philosophical systematizing. Of course, the experiment has to be different, because the lab has to be different. For scientific experimenting a lab is needed outside you; for religious experimentation you are the lab.

How? How can this pure consciousness be achieved? The very description is the process also – this eliminatory method of saying a thing is also the process. When the rishi says, “I am not the body; I am not the senses; I am not the mind” – this is also the method. Go on, go on being more and more conscious of the fact that “I am not the body.” Remain with this fact: “I am not the body.”

Remember this fact – let it go deep in you:

I am not the body.

Begin to feel the gap between you and the body and soon the gap is known, because the gap exists there – you have only forgotten it. It is not to be created; it is there already – you have just forgotten it. You have just escaped from the gap. The gap is always there, but we never go in to see the gap.

Really, this is miraculous in a way, and very strange, that we know our bodies from the outside – even our own bodies we know from the outside. This is as if you live in a house but you have never known the inner walls of the house; you have known only the outer ones – your own house! You cannot describe your body – how it looks from within? You can describe how your body looks in the mirror. But the mirror cannot see the inside; it can only see the outer, the outer shell.

But there is an inside also, because no outside can exist without an inside – or can an outside exist without an inside? But we have never become aware from the inside of our own body.

So be aware:

Close your senses, remain in, and be aware.

And begin to feel your body from the inside. There will be a gap, because there is always a gap. You will come to know that gap, and then you will know what this rishi means when he says, “I am not the body, I am not the senses, I am not the mind.” Go on, deep. Begin to look into your minding itself, into your mind process itself, and then you will begin to be aware that there is still a gap, between you and your mind.

Go on eliminating, and a moment comes when you explode into simple am-ness – without any I, without any self, without any selfhood – into pure authentic, existential being.

-Osho

From That Art Thou, Chapter 15

I am not the doer. I am not the consumer.

I am simply the witness of nature.

And just because of my nearness, the body, et cetera,

have the feeling of being conscious,

and they act accordingly.

Beyond a shadow of doubt,

I am still, eternal, everlasting bliss –

Ever-knowing pure self or soul.

And I pervade all beings as the witnessing soul. 

-Sarvasar Upanishad

How does this bondage happen? How is it that we never feel that we are in the body, but feel that we are the body? The witnessing self is never felt. We always feel some identity; we always feel some identification. And the witnessing consciousness is the reality. So why does this happen? And how does this happen?

You are in pain – what is really happening inside? Analyze the whole phenomenon: the pain is there, and there is this consciousness that pain is there. These are the two points: the pain is there, and there is this consciousness that the pain is there. But there is no gap, and somehow “I am in pain” – this feeling happens – “I am in pain.” And not only this – sooner or later, “I am the pain” begins, happens, starts to be the feeling. “I am pain; I am in pain; I am aware of the pain” – these are three different, very different states.

The rishi says, “I am aware of the pain.” This much can be allowed, because then you transcend pain. The awareness transcends – you are different from it, and there is a deep separation. Really, there has never been any relation; the relation begins to appear only because of the nearness, because of the intimate nearness of your consciousness and all that happens around.

Consciousness is so near when you are in pain – it is just there by the side, very near. It has to be; otherwise, the pain cannot be cured. It has to be just near to feel it, to know it, to be aware about it. But because of this nearness, you become identified, and one. This is a safety measure again; this is a security measure, a natural security. When there is pain you must be near; when there is pain your consciousness must go in a rush towards the pain – to feel it, to do something about it.

You are on the street and suddenly you feel a snake there – then your whole consciousness just becomes a jump. No moment can be lost, not even in thinking what to do. There is no gap between being aware and the action. You must be very near; only then this can happen. When your body is suffering pain, disease, illness, you must be near; otherwise, life cannot survive. If you are far off and the pain is not felt, then you will die. The pain must be felt immediately – there should be no gap. The message must be received immediately, and your consciousness must go to the spot to do something. That’s why nearness is a necessity.

But because of this necessity, the other phenomenon happens: so near, you become one; so near, you begin to feel that “this is me – this pain, this pleasure.” Because of nearness there is identification: you become anger, you become love, you become pain, you become happiness.

The rishi says that there are two ways to disassociate yourself from these false identities. You are not what you have been thinking, feeling, imagining, projecting – what you are is simply the fact of being aware. Whatsoever happens, you remain just the awareness. You are awareness – that identity cannot be broken. That identity cannot be negated. All else can be negated and thrown. Awareness remains the ultimate substratum, the ultimate base. You cannot deny it, you cannot negate it, you cannot disassociate yourself from it.

So this is the process: That which cannot be thrown, that which cannot be made separate from you, is you; that which can be separated, you are not.

The pain is there; a moment later it may not be there – but you will be. Happiness has come, and it will go; it has been, and it will not be – but you will be. The body is young, then the body becomes old.

All else comes and goes – guests come and go – but the host remains the same. So the Zen mystics say:

Do not be lost in the crowd of the guests.

Remember your host-ness.

That host-ness is awareness.

That host-ness is the witnessing consciousness.

What is the basic element that remains always the same in you? Only be that, and disidentify yourself from all that comes and goes. But we become identified with the guest. Really the host is so occupied with the guest, he forgets.

Mulla Nasruddin has given a party for some friends and some strangers. The party is very boring, and half the night is just lost and it goes on. So one stranger, not knowing that Mulla is the host, says to him, “I have never seen such a party, such nonsense. It seems never-ending, and I am so bored that I would like to leave.”

Mulla says, “You have said what I was going to say to you. I myself have never seen such a boring and nonsense party before, but I was not so courageous as you are. I was also thinking to leave it and just run away.” So they both run.

Then, in the street Mulla remembers and says, “Something has gone wrong, because now I remember: I am the host! So please excuse me, I have to go back.”

This is happening to us all.

The host is lost –

The host is forgotten every moment.

The host is your witnessing self.

Pain comes and pleasure follows; there is happiness, and there is misery. And each moment, whatsoever comes you are identified with it, you become the guest.

Remember the host.

When the quest is there, remember the host.

And there are so many types of guests: pleasurable, painful; guests you would like, guests you would not like to be your guests; guests you would like to live with, guests you would like to avoid – but all guests.

Remember the host.

Constantly remember the host.

Be centered in the host.

Remain in your host-ness; then there is a separation. Then there is a gap, an interval – the bridge is broken. The moment this bridge is broken, the phenomenon of renunciation happens. Then you are in it, and not of it. Then you are there in the guest, and still a host. You need not escape from the guest, there is no need.

Then you can be in the crowd and alone. And if you cannot be alone in the crowd, you can never be alone anywhere, because the capacity to be alone in the crowd is needed to be alone when you are really alone; otherwise, if you cannot be alone in the crowd, the crowd will be there when you are alone. The mind will be crowded even MORE, because the mind has a tendency to feel absence more than presence.

If your beloved, if your lover is present, you can just forget very easily. But if he is not present, you cannot forget. The mind has the tendency to feel absence more, because through absence is desiring. And mind is just desiring, so mind feels absences more; otherwise, there can be no desiring. If you can forget absences, then desire becomes impossible. So we forget presences, and we go on feeling absences. Whatsoever is not, is desired; and whatsoever is, is just forgotten.

So when you are alone, the crowd will be there; it will follow you. If you escape from the crowd, the crowd will follow you. So do not escape, do not try – it is impossible. Remain where you are, but don’t be centered in the guest.

Be centered in yourself, remember the host.

This host is your being in its purity.

Do not fall in love with the guest.

Do not fall in hate with the guest.

Really, this word is very good: “falling” in love. Why falling in love? Why not rising in love? No one rises in love, everyone falls in love. Why? Why this falling? Really, the moment you are in love, or in hate, you fall from your host-ness. You just fall from your host-ness; you become the guest. That is the misery, that’s the confusion, that’s the darkness.

Wherever you are – doing, not-doing, lonely, in the crowd, active, inactive – wherever you are, go on remembering the host. Remember that whatsoever is happening is just a guest, and you are the host, and don’t be identified with anything. Anger comes – remember you are the host; anger is just a guest. It has come and it will go.

I am reminded of a Sufi story.

A great emperor asks his wise men to give him a mantra of such a type that it can be used in any dangerous, fatal situation – ANY. Advice is always particular, and he wants a mantra, an advice, the essence of all wisdom, so that it can be used in any situation whatsoever, whenever there is danger.

The wise men are very confused, very disturbed, and in a deep anguish. They cannot find such an essence of all wisdom. Then they go to a Sufi mystic and he gives a piece of paper and says, “This should not be opened unless there is really danger! And then the advice will be there.” So the king put the piece of paper under the diamond of his ring.

There are many moments when the danger approaches, but the Sufi has emphatically said, “Unless you feel this is really the last hope – that nothing can be more dangerous – only then open it!” Many dangers come and go, and the king always feels this is not the last; something more can still happen. Even death approaches, and the king is just on his deathbed, but still he cannot open it, because he remembers still more is possible.

But his wise men say, “Now please open it. We want to see what is there.” But the king says, “The promise must be fulfilled. Really, now it is irrelevant what is there; the mantra has worked upon me. Since having this mantra with me, I have not felt any danger at all. Whatsoever the danger was, I have felt still more was possible, and I have remained the host. I was never identified.”

Danger can never become the ultimate unless you are identified with it, and then anything can become the ultimate – just anything! Just anything ordinary can become the ultimate, and you are disturbed. And the king said, “Now I am not worried at all, whatsoever. The man is wise; the Sufi knows – I am not concerned about what he has written.”

Then, the king died without opening the ring. The moment he died, the first thing his wise men did was to open the ring. There was nothing; it was just a piece of paper… just a piece of paper – not a word, not a single word of advice.

But the advice worked; the mantra worked.

So be centered in your host, and remember nothing is happening to you. All that is happening is just the guests, visitors; they will come and go. And it is good that they come and go; it enriches you, you become more mature. But don’t follow them, don’t be involved with them. Don’t become one with them. Don’t fall in love and hate; don’t fall into identification.

Remain the host, and then the ultimate happening happens.

Then the ultimate explosion becomes possible.

Once the witnessing soul is known, you will never be the same again. The whole world disappears and you are transmuted into a new dimension of bliss. Identification is misery; non-identification is bliss.

To fall in love and hate with the guest is misery. To transcend them, and to be centered in oneself, is bliss.

-Osho

From That Art Thou, Chapter 16

That Art Thou

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.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

This Fourth is the Being – Osho

The state in which the soul,

with the help of the energies of the sun and other gods,

and through the instrumentality of these fourteen:

mind, intellect, mind stuff, ego and the ten sense organs –

becomes sensitive to sound, touch and such other gross objects,

is called the waking state. 

When the living being, on account of the unfulfilled desires of the waking state,

becomes sensitive to sound, touch and other gross objects –

even in the absence of the latter –

it is called the dreaming state of the self or soul. 

-Sarvasar Upanishad 

The Eastern mind divides consciousness into four states: one is when we are awake, or the first; the second is dreaming; the third is deep sleep, dreamless; and the fourth is beyond all the three, the turiya, the fourth.

What is this which we call the awake state of consciousness? Knowledge, knowing is possible in two ways: mediate and immediate. Mediate knowledge means knowledge through some means, not direct – indirect. Senses are the means, the windows through which we know the extension beyond us. But the knowledge gained is indirect; it is not a face-to-face encounter, the mediator is in between. The senses are mediators, and when senses inform us of something, it is not a simple information, it is an interpretation also. The senses are not just passive receptors; they are positive interpreters also; they impose something, they add something to the information.

So whenever anything is reported by the senses to the consciousness, it is not a passive receptivity; the senses have added something to it, they have interpreted it, they have imposed something on it. This imposition creates an illusory world around every consciousness, and everyone begins to live in a world of his own. This world, the Eastern esoteric mind says, is the maya, the illusion. It is not the real, the objective, that-which-is: it is something that you have created.

Everyone is within his own world, and there are as many worlds as there are minds. So whenever two persons are near, two worlds are in collision. And otherwise is not possible, because you have not known the objective as it is.

The second dimension, the alternative dimension to know the world as it is, is not through senses, but through transcendence of the senses. And human consciousness can be in a direct encounter: the senses are just dropped; and still, knowing happens. That knowing is about the truth, because there has been no mediator. Now you have known directly. To know the truth through the senses is maya; to know the truth immediately, directly, face to face, is brahman. That which we know remains the same, but the knower changes. If he is using senses, then he creates an illusory perception; if he is not using the senses, then he is face to face with the reality.

Meditation is the path of how to drop the senses, how to drop the windows and just to be in reality without anyone in between. The rishi says that this contact with the world through the senses is the first state of consciousness, the awake state of mind, jagrut. When you are in contact with the world through the senses, this is jagrut – the awake state of the mind.

Dreaming is the second state, deeper than the state we call the awake. Dreaming is a substitute state, secondary, but deeper. Whatsoever has been left unfulfilled in the state when you were awake has to be completed. Mind has a tendency to complete things. If you leave something incomplete, then you will create a dream to complete it. The mind tends to complete a thing. You must complete it; otherwise, there is something restless inside.

You have seen a beautiful figure, but you couldn’t look at it as you liked, as much you liked. Now a lingering incompletion will continue inside. You can suppress it when you are awake – you are occupied in many other things, and the suppression is possible – but when you go to sleep, the incomplete link unfolds a dream and completes the thing.

This state of dreaming, the rishi says, means without the instrumentality of your senses. The senses are closed – they are not aware of the world beyond you; now you are within your cells, within your body, but still you can create your own worlds. This creation of your own worlds in dreams becomes possible because your mind is a conditioning of everything you have known, you have felt; everything has been accumulated in it. It is an accumulation, not only of this life, but of all the lives one has lived; and not only of human lives, of animal lives also; and not only of animal lives, but of vegetable lives also.

So in a dream you can become a tree; in a dream you can become a lion. Sometime you have been a tree: that memory is still there – it can unfold. This unfolding of past memories, of past lives, means only that you have never lived totally – always partially. You have not loved totally, you have not been angry totally, you have not been anything totally. Everything is incomplete. So many things incomplete inside, create the situation in which dreaming happens. The moment one begins to live totally, everything is completed, dreaming ceases.

A christ, a buddha, will not dream, because he has not left anything incomplete. A Jesus says this moment is enough – live it totally. Do not think of the other moment that is to come; do not think of the other moment that has gone. That which has gone is no more, and that which has not come yet, has not come yet. Both are non-existential.

This moment, this very moment, this passive moment is the only existential time. Live in it! And leave all else aside. Be totally in it, then there will be no dreaming, then everything is complete. And by the night, when you are dropping into sleep, nothing is incomplete and needs to be completed. And when dreaming ceases, mind becomes more aware.

This is the second state: dreaming. When dreaming ceases you become more awake; and when there is no dreaming in the night, in the morning when you are awake, you have more innocent eyes, more fresh, more alive. In your eyes there is no dust, there is no smoke; the flame is clear without the smoke. Dreaming creates a smoke around your eyes.

And one who has been dreaming in the night, really goes on dreaming in the day also. Deep down there is always a continuous dream film. You are hearing me: just close your eyes and look inside and there is a dream unfolding.

You are too occupied outside, that’s why you cannot become attentive to your inside dreaming; but the dreaming continues.

Look at the sky; there are no stars now. Where have they gone? They cannot go anywhere; they are where they have been in the night, but only because of the sun, we cannot see them. Our eyes are so occupied with the sun, they cannot penetrate through to them. They are still there. If you can go down into a deep well, even in the day, you can look at the stars, because then there is a gap of darkness and again stars appear.

Just like this, you are continuously dreaming. But when you are occupied in the outside world, the dreaming continues inside without your being attentive to it. The moment you are not occupied, relaxed, you become again aware of the dreaming. This is a constant state – in fact, continuous. And this dreaming is more indicative about your mind than whatsoever we call being awake, because it is less inhibited, less suppressed, more naked and therefore more true.

So, if your dreaming can be known, if your dream can be known, much is known about you. You cannot deceive – in dreams, at least. They are still not a part of your will, they are not voluntary. You are not the controller; that’s why they are so wild, so animal-like. This second stage must be penetrated, must be transcended. Only then we can come to the third – still deeper, the deep sleep, the dreamless sleep.

The more you go deep inside, the nearer you are to existence. The deeper you go to the center, the nearer you are to the center of the universe. These three are concentric circles around the center: awake, dreaming and deep sleep. These are three concentric circles. If you transcend all these three, then suddenly you are face to face with your own center. Then you are centered in it. That centering is all.

That centering is to achieve the deathless.

That centering is to be deep inside the heart of the universe.

That centering is divine realization.

Dreaming has to cease, one must cease dreaming. Dreaming has to be transcended – dreaming is the barrier. A dreaming mind can never know the truth; a dreaming mind is bound to live in illusory worlds. Dreaming is the problem, and if dreaming stops…. And it stops when ambition stops, it stops when desiring stops, it stops when one begins to live moment to moment, just here and now. If you can remember two words, “here” and “now,” dreaming stops. Be here and now, and there can be no dreaming, because dreaming is always from the past and for the future. It originates in the past; it spreads into the future.

Dreaming can never be in the present. To be in the present and to be in a dream is impossible; they never meet. So if one is awake, aware, attentive of the time that is just here and now, dreaming stops. And when dreaming withers away, you can become aware, really aware; you can really become awake. And when you are awake, this awareness can penetrate the third state of consciousness: dreamless sleep. Really, in no language other than Hindi, is there a word for it – sushupti. In no language is there a word for it – sushupti.

Sleep is not sushupti – that’s why we have to add dreamless  sleep. It is not just sleep, it is non-dreaming sleep – without any ripple of the dream, with no waves of the dream. The ocean is totally silent, not even a dream is there to disturb. Then you are in sushupti – the third state, dreamless sleep, the non-dreaming sleep. But you can never become aware of it unless dreaming ceases. The waves must cease; only then can you become aware of the ocean; otherwise, you are always aware of the waves. Waves are on the surface, so when you see, you see the waves, not the ocean.

The waves must stop totally. Only then, for the first time, do you become aware of the ocean, the waveless ocean – the dreamless sleep. And if one can become aware of dreamless sleep, one transcends sleep. One transcends sleep only when one becomes aware of it. And then you are turiya, the fourth; then you have passed all the three.

This fourth is the being; this fourth is the search. For this fourth effort is needed. And one may go on continuously dreaming and dreaming and dreaming – one can never achieve this fourth state through dreaming. That’s why there is so much insistence on non-desiring, non-ambition. The buddhas go on saying, “Do not desire,” because if you desire then dreaming cannot cease. The buddhas go on saying, “Do not be attached,” because if you are attached the dreaming cannot cease. Do not be ambitious, do not long for any becoming, do not think in terms of the future; otherwise, dreaming cannot cease. And unless dreaming ceases you will never be. You can never be! You will always be a becoming, just a becoming: “a” changing into “b,” “b” changing into “c,” “c” changing into “d” – and always the longing for the far off. And then you go on running, and you never reach; then you go on becoming this and that and you are never a being.

The being is here and now.

Drop dreaming and you are there where you have really been always, but you were never aware.

All meditation techniques are just anti-dream efforts, just dream-negating devices.

-Osho

From That Art Thou, Chapter Four

 

The sleeping state is one

 in which all the fourteen organs are still and tranquil,

and when – For lack of real knowledge – the self of soul

is insensitive to sound, touch and such other objects.

And the one which is aware of the creation and dissolution

of these three states – waking , dreaming and sleeping – but which

is itself beyond creation and dissolution, is known as turiya –

the fourth state of consciousness, the state of turiya. 

-Sarvasar Upanishad 

Consciousness in itself is nothing. One is always conscious about something; so the “about” is important. Consciousness is always objective: you are conscious of something. If there is nothing in front of you, consciousness will drop – you will not be conscious.

This state, the oriental religious perception says, is the sushupti; this is the third state. When there is no object to be known, the knower is lost. When then is no object in the outside world to be aware of, and when there is no object in the mind, dream object, when all objects have dropped – outside all are dream objects – then consciousness drops. Then you are not conscious; then you are unconscious. This unconsciousness is sushupti, the third stage.

But this is amazing: it means that we are not conscious really, we are only objectively conscious.

We have not known ourselves, we have known only objects and things. Our consciousness is other oriented; it is not self-centered. I can be conscious only when something else is present. When nothing is present I will go to sleep. I have not known any subjective consciousness which can exist without the object. That’s why in the third state, consciousness equals unconsciousness – it becomes unconscious. When there is no object as a challenge, one becomes unconscious.

So this consciousness, this so-called consciousness, is just a struggle, just a challenge, just a constant stimulus-response; it is not anything in itself. You are not the master of it; you are not really conscious: you are only being forced to be conscious constantly. Everything is forcing you to be conscious; otherwise, to go to sleep will be the spontaneous act – one will just drop into a coma. So can we call it consciousness? It is not. This state is not the state of self-consciousness, it is just a constant tension between you and the world, between you and the thoughts. If there are no objects and no thoughts, you drop… and be unconscious. This is the third state, sushupti. And unless one transcends it, one cannot be called conscious.

Gurdjieff used to say that man has no soul. He used to say that you have got no self, because self means self-consciousness; otherwise, how can you be said to have a self? If you are not conscious, how can you be a self? How can you be an individual? So Gurdjieff’s teaching doesn’t believe that every man has got a soul. He says, “Every man has got a potentiality he can develop, he may not develop.”

If you become self-conscious, then you develop the individual; then you become the individual. If you are not self-conscious then you are just one object among other objects, and there is nothing more. Gurdjieff’s teaching makes this central point the supreme point. He says, “Try to remember yourself without any object. Try to remember yourself without any object, without any relation to anything else. Remember yourself directly, simply.” It is very arduous; in a way it seems impossible. You cannot remember yourself without in any way relating to something else – Can you?

Can you remember yourself?

Can you feel yourself?

Whenever you feel, you feel in relation to: someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s husband, being rich or poor, belonging to this country or that, being healthy or ill – but this is all in relation to something else. Can you remember yourself without any relation? – Unrelated? Without any context? Just you? It becomes inconceivable. Really, we have not known ourselves, we have known only in relation. And this is the miracle: you know yourself in relation to someone, who knows himself in relation to you. See the absurdity of it! Everyone knows themselves because of others – and the others know themselves because of him.

Everyone is ignorant, but by being related with other ignorant people, you become wise. You know yourself because you know your name, you know your house, your address, your city, your country – and not for a single moment have you known who you are. This sushupti, this third state of unconsciousness must be broken apart, must be penetrated beyond. One must become aware of oneself without being related to anything else – this is self- knowledge. This fourth is known as the turiya.

We must make a distinction between the being and the states. Any state, whether it is awake, or dreaming, or non-dreaming sleep, cannot be synonymous with the being, because the being is that upon which these states happen. The being is one who goes through all these three states. He cannot be identified with any; otherwise, he cannot move.

You cannot be awake if you are identified with dreaming: if you are dreaming, then you cannot be awake. If you are awake, then you cannot go into sleep. But you move – just as one moves into one’s house and out of one’s house, you come in and you go out; so you cannot be identified with the inside of your house or the outside of your house. You move: you can come in; you can go out; so you become the third. You move from dreaming to non-dreaming; you move from sleep to dream, from dream to wakefulness.

So this mover must be something else, more than all the three – this is the fourth; hence, it is called “the fourth.” And therefore no name is given to it… because from the fourth it can never move. From the fourth it can never move. When I say this, a question must come into your mind: “But this fourth goes into sleep, goes into dreaming and other states?”

This is something very subtle to be understood. No, this fourth never goes anywhere; those states come upon it and pass – this fourth remains in itself constantly. Dreaming comes over it just like clouds coming over the sun. The sun remains, then there are clouds, then the clouds have gone. This fourth is the non-moving center within you. Dreams come, then objects are seen, then thoughts are seen; then objects drop, and thoughts drop, and you are engulfed in a dark sleep; but the fourth remains its center – it has never moved. That’s why no name has been given to it; no name is needed – it remains the nameless. One has to penetrate to this fourth.

This is not a state really; when we talk we have to call it the fourth state, but it is not a state. All the three are states; this fourth is beyond these states. This fourth is the being – this fourth is the very nature of one’s self. Unless one goes to this fourth, unless one becomes aware of this non-moving center, unless one is centered in it, there is no freedom and there is no bliss. Really, there is nothing except dreaming, many many dreams, many types of dreams; but nothing else – just bubbles in the air.

This fourth…. How to achieve this fourth? How to reach this fourth? How to penetrate this deep sleep? How to destroy this darkness within? What to do?

The one basic thing is to be aware first: in the first state when you are awake, be aware. Be aware whatsoever you are doing. Walking on the street, then be aware that you are walking. Let your awareness be double-arrowed: one arrow conscious of the act of walking, another arrow going deep inside and aware of the walker. Listening to me, be aware, double-arrowed: one arrow of your consciousness going outside listening attentively, another going inside constantly aware of the listener.

Mahavira has a very beautiful word. He used “listener”, shravak, with a very original meaning, and he has given a very new shape, a new nuance to it. He says if you can be simply a right-listener, nothing else is needed. This much will do: if you can be a right listener – samyak shravak. If you can listen attentively with double-arrowed attention, then this much is enough, you will be awakened. No other discipline is needed.

Buddha has used the word, “mindfulness” – samyak smriti, right mindfulness. He says whatsoever you are doing, do it mindfully; don’t do it in sleep, do it mindfully – whatsoever you are doing. Do it consciously, then consciousness begins to crystallize in the first state, wakefulness. When you have become conscious, when you are awake, the your consciousness can penetrate the second state, dreaming. It is not difficult then. Then you can become conscious of your dreams; and the moment you become conscious of your dreams, dreams disappear. The moment dreams disappear you become conscious of your dreamless sleep, and the arrow goes on. Now be aware that you are asleep, and by and by the arrow penetrates – and suddenly you are in the fourth.

Religion cannot be a belief.

Religion cannot be a tradition.

Religion cannot be an accepted dogma.

Religion is totally individual:

One has to discover it again and again.

One has to know it for oneself, for oneself.

Unless you know there is no knowledge.

All knowledge gathered from others is just false, it is pseudo, it is deceptive. One has to encounter the reality oneself. This is just like love – you know if you love. If you have not loved you may know everything about love, but love will not be known, because love is not really a knowledge, it is a realization, it is an experience… rather, not even experience, but experiencing. Experience means something which you have experienced and now it is dead. Experience means something which has finished, which is finished with a full stop. Experiencing means a process, a continuous process.  You have to go on discovering, discovering – and there is no end to it.

Religion is like love: There is a beginning to it but no end.

You have to begin it but you never reach it – you go on reaching. You go on reaching, but it is never of the past. It is not that there comes a full stop and you can say, “I have reached.” No, never. That’s why we call the religious search, the ultimate search. By “ultimate” we mean that which begins, which never ends. Rather, on the contrary, a moment comes when you are lost but the end has not been achieved. But this, this seeker being lost is the explosion.

So unless you know, never believe. Unless you know, never feel at ease with words, doctrines, scriptures. Unless you know, remember continuously that you have to seek and find, that you have to go on a far, faraway journey. And that’s why religion really is the only adventure; all else is just childish. That which can be found is just childish; that which can be found is not really the adventure; that which is possible needs no courage. Only the impossible needs courage, only that which cannot be found. If you go on the search for it, you have gone on an adventure.

But the moment one is ready for the impossible, the impossible become possible. The moment one is ready to take the jump, the miracle happens. You are not in a way, in the jump – you are lost. And still, for the first time, you are – you have found yourself.

The states are lost, the identities are lost, the names and forms are lost. There only remains the original source of all This rishi says: These are the states; these three are the states. The fourth is the knower of all these states. These three states come out of the fourth, again are dissolved in the fourth, and the fourth never comes out of anything and is never dissolved in anything else.

The fourth is the eternal principle, the eternal life, the eternal aliveness.

-Osho

From That Art Thou, Chapter Five

That Art Thou

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.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

This Identification is Ego – Osho

The Self or soul is both God and Living Being.

But the body, which is not the soul,

gets infected with a sense of ego,

and that is what is called living being’s bondage.

The cessation of this ego is what is called freedom.

That which gives rise to the ego is called avidya (false learning).

And that which leads to the cessation of the ego is called vidya (right learning). 

-Sarvasar Upanishad 

One is to analyze a thing, to divide it into its parts, but parts are not the whole. They constitute the whole, but they are not equivalent to the whole. The whole cannot be created without the parts. But still the whole is something plus, something more than all the parts combined. That something plus is the mystery.

Science divides, and the knowledge achieved is through analysis. Religion is quite the opposite dimension. Religion believes, not in division, but in synthesis. Religion goes on adding, totaling. And when everything is totaled – nothing remains outside, everything is included; and this whole, taken as a whole, is looked at – the divine appears. That’s why science can never say that there is a god – that is impossible. So no one should hope that any day science can say there is a god, because the very process of scientific analysis cannot lead to the total. The very process leads to the part, the minutest part – never to the whole – because it depends on division.

Science can never come to any divineness in the universe, in existence, because divineness is something like a perfume that comes out of the whole. It is not mathematical; it is organic. It is not mechanical; it is alive. You can divide me into parts; then put back all those parts, but I will not be found there. You have put everything again in its place; but I am not a mechanical device, I am not just parts accumulated and arranged. Something more is there, more than all the parts – that something is lost.

Life can never be known by analysis.

Analysis can only know the material, never the spiritual. These are the two dimensions of knowing. So if someone concludes that there is nothing except matter, that only means that he has used the analytical method – nothing else. When someone says there is no matter, but only consciousness, it only shows that he has used the method of synthesis – not analysis.

Freud used analysis as a methodology; then he couldn’t conceive that there is any soul, any divine element in man. But another psychologist, Assagioli, is now using synthesis as a method, and he says: There is no body, only the spirit, only the consciousness. Whenever someone asserts matter or consciousness, it means a particular method for the search has been used.

Logic is analysis – love is synthesis.

That’s why religion has always been illogical, and science always loveless.

To be identified with something which you are not, is the formation of the ego. Ego means to be identified with something you are not.

Whatsoever one is needs no identification.

You need not be identified with it: You are already it.

So whenever there is any identification, it means with something else – that you are not. One can be identified with the body, with the mind. But the moment one is identified, one is lost to oneself. This is what ego means. This is how ego is formed and becomes crystallized.

Whenever you assert “I,” there is identification with something – with some name, with some form, with some body, with some past; with mind, with thoughts, with memories. There is some deep identification: only then you can assert “I.” If you are not identified with anything else and can remain with yourself, then you cannot say “I”; the “I” just drops.

“I” means identity.

Identity is the basis of all slavery:

Be identified and you will be in a prison.

The very identity will become your prison. Be non-identified, remain totally yourself, and then there is freedom. So this is what bondage is: Ego is the bondage, and egolessness is freedom. And this ego is nothing but to be identified with something that you are not. For example, everyone is identified with his name; and everyone is born without any name. Then the name becomes so significant that one can die for his name’s sake.

What is a name? But the moment you are identified, it becomes very meaningful. And everyone is born without any name – nameless. Or, you take form; everyone is identified with one’s own form. Every day you are standing before your mirror. What are you seeing? – Yourself? No. No mirror can mirror you, just the form you are identified with. But such is the stupidity of the human mind that every day the form is changing constantly, but you are never disillusioned.

When you were a child, what was your form? When you were in your mother’s womb, what was your form? When you were in your parents’ seed, what was your form? Can you recognize – if a picture is produced for you – the egg in your mother’s womb? Will you be able to recognize and say, “this is ‘I’”? No, but you must have been identified with this egg somewhere back…. You were born – and if the first scream can be reproduced for you, will you be able to recognize it and say, “this is my scream”? No, but it was yours, and you must have been identified with that.

If an album can be produced before a dying man…. A constant changing form – there is a continuity but still every moment a change…. The body is changing every seven years, completely, totally; nothing remains the same, not a single cell. Still, still we think, “this is my form, this is me.” And consciousness is formless. The form is just something outside that goes on changing and changing and changing – just like clothes.

This identification is ego. If you are not identified with anything – with name or with form or anything – then where is the ego? Then you are, and still you are not. Then you are in your absolute purity, but with no ego. That’s why Buddha called the self, no-self; he called it anatta, anatma. He said, “There is no ego, so you cannot call yourself atma even. You cannot call yourself ‘I’; there is no ‘I.’ There is pure existence.” This pure existence is freedom.

This term avidya really cannot be translated. It is not synonymous with ignorance; it is not ignorance… because ignorance is just negative. You don’t know something, you are ignorant. But this avidya is not something negative, it is very positive. It is not that you don’t know something; it is rather, on the contrary, that you know something which is not. This avidya is, rather, a positive projection of something which is not.

The “I” is not – the ego is the most non-existential thing in the world.

It looks very substantial, and is absolutely empty.

Avidya means the projective source in you of this ego, of this identified image of yourself. Avidya is a projective force within you. It is not just ignorance, it is not that you don’t know something; it is that you can create something which is not. You can dream something which is not, you can project something which is not.

When the mind is projecting something which is not, it is avidya .When this mind destroys all projections, all identifications, remains without any projective activity, then this method of destroying all projections, all that is not, but appears to be – is called vidya. Vidya is not knowledge; again, vidya is a positive force to destroy all that which avidya creates. Vidya is untranslatable. Vidya means a positive force in you which can destroy ego formation. Both are positive: avidya creates that which is not, and vidya destroys that which is not. So vidya means yoga, vidya mean the science of religion.

-Osho

From That Art Thou, Chapter Three

That Art Thou

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.

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

 

 

The Witness and the Illusion – Osho

How may one enter into that supreme truth, how may one know that supreme mystery which is so near and yet remains unknown; which is forever with us and yet is lost? How may we reach it, how has anyone ever reached it? In these sutras is the explanation of that science, the process of that path.

Let us first understand a few things about illusion. Illusion means to see as it is not. Truth means to see as it is. Whatsoever we see is illusion, because we involve ourselves in our seeing; our experience does not remain objective, it becomes subjective. Whatsoever is out there, it does not reach us as it is. Our mind distorts it, embellishes it, ornaments it, prunes it – making it bigger or smaller and changing it into many, many forms.

The biggest change and the deepest illusion is that we associate ourselves with everything, which in fact we are not associated with at all. As soon as we are associated the reality is lost and the dream projection starts appearing true. For example, we call a thing ‘mine’ – ‘my house’… the house which was there when we were not and which will still be there when we will be no more. Something that can be before I am, and will continue after I am not, which does not disappear with my disappearance – how can it be ‘mine’? If I die this moment my house does not collapse or disappear, in fact it will not even know that I have died – then what kind of association can there be between myself and that house? What is the relationship? Tomorrow someone else will live in that same house and call it ‘mine’. Yesterday somebody else was living in it and he was calling it ‘mine’. Who knows how many people have stuck their ‘I’ on that house, and have passed away? But that ‘I’ never sticks onto the house, and that house does not belong to anybody; the house belongs to itself.

In this world everything belongs to its own self. If we can understand this properly, we shall be able to shatter the illusions easily.

There is a piece of land. You call it ‘my field’, or ‘my garden’. If not today, tomorrow there will be claims advanced about the moon – America will say it is ’ours’, Russia will say it is ’ours’. Until yesterday the moon did not belong to anybody; it simply was. It simply belonged to itself. But now someone or other will claim the moon and sooner or later there will be struggles and confrontations. Up to now the sun belonged to itself, but tomorrow the sun may also be claimed.

Wherever man puts his feet he labels it with his ‘I’. Nature does not accept his labels, but other human beings have to, otherwise there will be confrontation. Others have to accept the labels because they want to put their own labels on things. So the house becomes somebody’s and the piece of land becomes somebody else’s. Why are we so impatiently eager to stick this label of ‘I’ somewhere? The eagerness is because the more places and things on which we stick this label, or make our signatures, the bigger the circle of ‘mine’ grows and the bigger the ‘I’ is developed within us.

‘I’ is as big as the number of things that carry its label. If someone says that he has one acre of land, how can his ‘I’ be as big as that of another person who says, “I have one thousand acres of land”?

With the expansion of the ‘mine’, the ‘I’ feels as if it is growing bigger. If the expanse of ‘mine’ decreases, the ‘I’ also shrinks. So every brick of ‘I’ is made up of ‘mine’. Thus the more ways I can say ‘mine’, the higher rises the palace of ‘I’. Hence our whole life we remain in only one race – how many things we can stick our labels on and say, “It is mine.” In so doing, while we continue to label things, one day we die and wherever we had put our labels, someone else begins to stick his labels on the things we had called ‘mine’.

Things belong to themselves, not to any person. They can be used, but there can be no ownership. Ownership is an illusion, and while we are using them we should have a sense of gratitude because we are using something that does not belong to us. But when we say ‘mine’, all sense of gratitude disappears and a new world of ‘mine’ is created. That includes money, position, prestige, education and everything. For these things it may be okay, but what is more surprising is that things which have nothing to do with ‘I’ also get included. We say: my religion, my god, my deity, my temple – with whom ‘I’ can have no relationship whatsoever. And if it can, then there is no possibility of freeing oneself from the world. If religion can also be mine and thine, if God can also be mine and thine, then there is no hope; where shall we then find a way out of ‘mine’? If God also falls within its jurisdiction, then there remains no space left anywhere for the ‘I’ to go away to. But we put the label of ‘mine’ on temples and mosques and on God as well.

Wherever man goes he reaches there with his ‘mine’. Try to understand the implications: ‘I’ actually becomes bigger through ‘mine’, but the greater the expanse of ‘mine’, the greater the unhappiness. The increase in ‘I’ is the increase of unhappiness, because ‘I’ is a wound. And the greater the ‘I’, the bigger the area vulnerable to hurt, so that more hurt can be inflicted upon it. It is like someone having a large physical wound which tends to get hurt every now and then; any move the person makes and it gets hurt. The wound is big, its area large, and any little touch becomes a hurt. The bigger the ‘I’, the bigger the hurt and the greater the pain.

With the expansion of ‘mine’, the ‘I’ expands. As the ‘I’ grows, the pain also grows. On one hand one feels that happiness is on the increase, on the other hand the unhappiness also goes on increasing. The more we increase this happiness, the more unhappiness goes on increasing – and between the two an illusion is carried on. Where there is no possibility of saying ‘mine’, there too we go on saying ‘mine’ falsely, un-meaningfully. This hand you call ‘mine’, this body you call ‘mine’, are also not yours. When you were not, even then the bones, the skin, the blood of this hand existed somewhere; and they will exist even after you. The bones in your body, they have been bones in so many other earlier bodies. The blood in your body has flowed in the body of some animal yesterday and in some tree the day before. Who knows how long, how many billions and trillions of years, the journey has been? Even when you won’t be, not a single particle of your body will be annihilated. It will all exist. It will flow in some other bodies.

Understand it this way: the breath you took in just now, a moment ago it was inside the person sitting next to you. A moment ago he was calling it “my breath,” and a moment later it does not belong to him anymore, it has become somebody else’s.

Life does not accept anybody’s claim over it and goes on flowing each moment. But we go on claiming. This illusion of claim, this is man’s deepest illusion.

So whenever a person says ‘mine’, he is falling in ignorance. This sutra is to break this very illusion. Not only the land is not mine, the house is not mine, the money is not mine; even the body is not mine. Your body is made up from the atoms of your parents. Those atoms existed before you were, and they are coming to you after a long journey. Before your parents, they were in the bodies of their parents. These atoms have had a long journey of millions of years; now they constitute your body. That body too is a field, a land in which you are rooted, but you are not it. You are not the body, you are separate from it.

This sutra says a man is not only not the body, it goes even deeper and says man is not even the mind, because mind is also an accumulation.

Do you have a single thought which may be yours, which you can say is yours? There are none. Some have come from tradition, some from scriptures, some from hearing someone, some from your reading – they have come from one or the other external sources. If you search for the birth chart of your every single thought, if you look at the journey of every single thought, you will find you don’t have a single thought of your own, they are all borrowed; they have come to you from somewhere.

No thought is ever original, all thoughts are borrowed. But we claim even a thought to be ‘mine’.

Remember, even a breath cannot be called ‘mine’; thought is a much more subtle matter. Going deeper and deeper into this analysis, where does one come to? Where have the Upanishads come to? Where does Buddha come to? Where does Mahavira come to? Continuing this analysis, using the negation: “I am not this, I am not this”; when in the end nothing remains to be negated, when nothing remains about which I can even think whether it is mine or not, that which remains even then…. When there is nothing left to cut, when all relations are broken and none remains that can still be broken, that which remains even then is what the Upanishads have called sakshi, the witness.

There is a big world around me – it is not mine. Shrinking I come closer – this body is not mine. Descending deeper into it – the mind is not mine. Then who is there whom I can call ‘I’? Or is there nothing in me which I can call ‘I’? Am I, or am I not? Cutting away ‘mine’ in its entirety, what purest thing remains within? Only one thing remains which is not discarded; there is no way it can be discarded.

In the West there was a philosopher named Descartes – a deep thinker. He decided not to accept anything until he found the truth which cannot be doubted, so he began to reflect. He labored hard and he felt everything was doubtful. One may say “God is,” but a doubt can be raised about it. God may or may not be, but a doubt can always be created. “There is heaven,” “There is liberation” – it can all be doubted. Descartes said, “I will believe only in a thing which cannot be doubted, not something that can be proved, or argued in favor of, no. Something that cannot be doubted, something which is inevitable, indubitable… only then I will accept it.”

He searched and searched. However he too stopped at one point. He denied God, heaven, hell, and everything else, but he got stuck at one point – “Am I or not?” Descartes said, “This cannot be doubted, because even if I say ‘I am not,’ then too I am needed to be able to say this.” It is like a person who is in the house and who answers the caller, “I have gone out,” or “Right now I am not in the house. Come back in a little while and then I may meet you because by then I will be back home.” His very telling this will be the proof of his being at home. So the fact of my being is indubitable. This much is clear, that I am. Though what I am is not so clear. Am I a body, or a mind, or what? – This is not so clear.

This is what the Upanishads are in search of. One after another everything is eliminated, just as one would remove layer after layer of an onion. If you go on peeling an onion, finally nothing will be left of it in your hand. An onion is nothing but layers upon layers of skin – clothing over clothing – and there is nothing to be found if you go on undressing it. It is as if someone may have made a cloth-doll and we remove the cloths one by one. The first layer removed, the second layer is revealed; the second layer removed, the third layer is revealed; and so on, until all layers of cloths have finally been removed – and there remains no doll any more, just a nothingness in your hand.

So the biggest search of man is to find out if he too is nothing but an accumulation of many, many layers that we can go on peeling off and in the end there is nothing in our hand. If we go on denying and saying, “I am not the body,” “I am not the mind,” “I am not this,” “I am not that,” it may turn out to be the story of the onion and in the end nothing may remain of which one may say that “This is me.”

But the Upanishads say that even if it is so, yet it is necessary to know the truth; even if it is true that there is nothing within, yet it is worth knowing it, because the outcome of knowing the truth is very significant. But on searching deeply, however, it is found in the end that no, man is not just an accumulation of clothing, man is not just layers upon layers upon layers, there is something within the layers which is different. But we only come to know of that when by removing all the layers we arrive within ourselves. That element which remains in the end is called by the Upanishads sakshi, the witness.

This word sakshi is very beautiful and very valuable. The whole philosophy, genius and wisdom of the East is implied in this small word. The East has contributed no other more important word than sakshi, the witness, to the world. What does sakshi mean? Sakshi means the seer, the witness. Who is this who is experiencing that “I am not the body?” Who is this who is experiencing that “I am not the mind?” Who is this who goes on denying that “I am not this, I am not this?” There is an element of seeing, of watching, of the watcher within us which sees, which observes everything. This seer is the sakshi, the witness. What is seen is the world. The one who is seeing is who I am, and what is being seen is the world. Adhyas, the illusion, means that the one who is seeing misunderstands himself to be all that is seen. This is the illusion.

There is a diamond in my hand: I am seeing it. If I start saying that I am the diamond that is an illusion. This illusion has to be broken and one has to come, finally, to that pure element which is always the seer and is never the seen. This is a little difficult. The one who is the seer can never be seen, because by whom will it be seen? You can see everything in the world except yourself. How will you see yourself? – Because two will be needed for seeing, one who sees and the other who is seen. We can grab everything with a pair of tongs except the tongs themselves. That effort will fail. We may find it puzzling that when the tongs grab everything, why can they not grab themselves?

We see everything, but we are not able to see ourselves. And we will never be able to. Whatsoever you can see, know well that that is not you. Thus take one thing to be certain, that whatsoever you are able to see is not you. If you are able to see God, then one thing has become certain, that you are not God. If you have seen light within you, one thing is conclusive, that you are not light. If you have an experience of bliss within you, one thing is determined, that you are not bliss. Whatsoever has been experienced, you are not that. You are that which experiences.

So whatsoever becomes your experience, you are beyond it. Therefore it will be useful to understand one difficult point here, that spirituality is not an experience. Everything in the world is an experience, but not spirituality. Spirituality is reaching towards that which experiences all, but which itself never becomes an experience. It always remains the experiencer, the witness, the seer.

I see you: you are on one side; I am on the other side. You are there, the one who is being seen; I am here, the one who is seeing. These are two entities. There is no way of dividing oneself into two so that one part sees and the other part is seen. Even if it was possible to divide, then the part that would be seeing is myself, the part that would be seen would not be myself. The matter is finished.

This is the whole process or methodology of the Upanishads: neti, neti – neither this nor that.

Whatsoever can be seen, say that you are not that. Whatsoever can be experienced, say that you are not that. You can go on stepping backwards, until nothing remains that can be denied or eliminated. A moment comes when all scenes are lost. A moment comes when all experiences are dropped – all!

Remember, all! The experience of sex is of course dropped; the experiences of meditation are also dropped. The experiences of the world, of love and hate are dropped; the experiences of bliss and enlightenment are also dropped. Only the pure seer remains. Nothing is there to be seen; only emptiness remains all around. Only the watcher remains and the empty sky all around. In the middle stands the seer, the watcher, who sees nothing because everything has been denied and eliminated that could be seen. Now he experiences nothing. He has removed all experiences from his way. Now he remains alone, the one who was experiencing.

When there is no experience, there is no seeing; there is nothing seen and there is no object to be seen, and the witness alone remains. It becomes very difficult to express in language what really happens because we have no other word except ‘experience’ in our language, therefore we call it ‘self-experience’ or ‘self-realization’. The word experience is not right. We say “experience of consciousness” or “experience of the Brahma, the absolute,” but none of these expressions are right, because the word experience belongs to that same world which we have eliminated. The word experience does have a meaning in the world of duality, where there was ‘the other’ too. Here it has no meaning at all. Here only the experiencer remains, the witness remains.

The search for this witness is spirituality.

Remember: the search for God is not spirituality. In the ancient yoga sutras God is not discussed, not even mentioned. There was no need. Later, even when the sutras mentioned God, they called God a means in the journey of spirituality and not a goal. It is said God is useful in the spiritual practice, in the spiritual search, hence it is good to accept it, but it is only a means, a device, that’s all.

Buddha and Mahavira also denied God. They invented new devices. This device is not needed, they said. If God is nothing but a device, then other devices will serve the purpose as well.
But both Buddha and Mahavira cannot deny sakshi, the witness. They can deny God, they can deny everything else, but when it comes to sakshi, it is religion. If there is no mention of the witness, understand it well that the whole thing has nothing to do with religion. Everything else is secondary. Everything else may be useful, may not be useful, there can be differences of opinion about everything else, but not regarding the witness.

Therefore, if some day in this world a science of religion is created, there will be no mention of God, soul or Brahma. These are all local matters – some religions believe in them, some do not – but the sakshi will certainly be mentioned because it is not a local issue.

There can be no religion without the witness. So the witness alone is the scientific basis for all religious experiences – of all religious search and journeying. And it is on this and around this sakshi that all the Upanishads revolve. All principles and all indicators are for pointing out the witness.

Let us try to understand this a little further. It is not difficult to understand the meaning of the word witness, but it is a complex thing in actual practice.

Our mind is like an arrow, sharpened on one end. You may have seen an arrow: it cannot be shot from both its ends; an arrow will only go in one direction. It can’t travel in opposite directions simultaneously; it will go only towards its target in one direction.

So, when the arrow is on the bow and then it is shot, there are two aspects to be considered – when it leaves the bow on which it was set it begins to move away from it; and it begins to come closer towards the target, where it was not earlier. One state was that the arrow was on the bow, and far away on a tree was sitting a bird. The arrow was still on the bow and had not yet pierced the bird. Then the arrow left the bow, started moving away from it and coming closer to the bird. And then comes the state when the arrow has pierced the bird; the bow remains vacant and the arrow is in the chest of the bird.

This is what we are doing with our awareness the whole time. Whenever the arrow of our awareness leaves us, the bow within becomes vacant and the arrow, on reaching the object, is attached to it. A face looked beautiful to you; the arrow of your awareness is released. Now that arrow is not within you, the awareness is not within you. The awareness raced away and attached itself to the beautiful face.

There is a diamond lying on the road; the arrow is released from the bow. Now the awareness is not within you, now the awareness moves and, reaching the diamond, pierces its heart. Now your awareness is with the diamond and no longer within you. Now the awareness is somewhere else. So all the arrows of your awareness have reached out and pierced somewhere else – and somewhere else, and somewhere else. You have no awareness within you any more, it is always going out. An arrow can only go in one direction but awareness can be bi-directional – and when that happens, the witness is experienced. The arrow of awareness can go in both directions; it can be two-edged.

When your awareness is drawn somewhere, if you can manage only this much, then one day the witness will happen within you. When your attention is drawn outside – say a beautiful young woman passed by or a beautiful young man passed by, your awareness was caught there and now you have completely forgotten yourself, the awareness is no longer within. Now you are not conscious, now you have become unconscious because your consciousness has traveled to someone else, now your consciousness has become the shadow of that person or object – now you are no longer conscious.

Now, if you can do this one thing: you saw someone beautiful; your awareness was drawn there. If in that same moment you can be aware of the bow within from where this arrow has been shot, if you can simultaneously see them both – the source from where the awareness is shooting forth and the object where awareness is going to – if they can both come into your attention simultaneously, then you will experience for the first time what is meant by the witness. From where the awareness is arising, from where the awareness is shooting away – that source has to be found.

We see a tree – we see its branches, its foliage, its leaves and flowers, its fruits, but we are not able to see the roots. The roots are hidden in the darkness underneath. But the tree is taking its nourishment from the roots. Your awareness expands and travels all around, a big tree of the world is created, but the source from where the awareness emanates, that oceanic consciousness remains unnoticed. What is needed is that the roots are also seen at the same time; both the roots and the tree are seen simultaneously.

Understand it this way: when I am speaking, your awareness is on my words. Make this a double pointed arrow… it can become so right now, this very moment. When I am speaking, do not only listen to what I am saying, also remain aware simultaneously that you are listening. The speaker is someone else, he is speaking; I am the listener, I am listening. If even for a moment, now, here, you can manage both things simultaneously – listening as well as remembering the listener, this remembrance within that, “I am listening” – then there is no need to repeat the words. If you repeat the words, “I am listening,” you will not be able to listen at the same time; you will miss what I said. There is no need to form the words inside, “I am listening, I am listening.” If you did that, you would be deaf for that period of time to what I was saying. In that moment when you heard your own voice saying, “I am listening,” you wouldn’t hear what I was saying.

It is a simultaneous experience of listening to what I am saying and also being aware that you are listening. The feeling, the realization, the experience that you are the listener is the second aspect.

Achieving awareness of the second aspect is difficult. If you can manage it, becoming aware of the third aspect is very easy.

The third aspect is this: if the speaker is A, the listener is B, then who is the one that is experiencing them both, the speaker as well as the listener? That one is the third, and this third point is the witness. You cannot go beyond this third. This third one is the last point. And these are the three points of the triangle of life: the two are the object and the subject, and the third point is the witness of these two, the experiencer of these two, the seer of these two.

-Osho

From Finger Pointing to the Moon, Chapter Three

Finger Pointing to the Moon

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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Death is the Master – Osho

The Upanishads are unique scriptures on this Earth about the mysteries of life, and the Kathopanishad is unique amongst all the Upanishads. Before we enter into this Upanishad, it will be good to understand the inner current that is underlying this Kathopanishad.

The first thing is that in this world, one who wants to know life must himself go through the experience of death. Except for this there is no other way.

To know life one has to learn the art of dying. And the one who is afraid of death will remain unacquainted with life also, because death is the innermost and the most mysterious center of life. Only those who enter into death consciously, with awareness and a welcoming heart, can know this life.

Everyone dies, but not everyone is able to know life just by dying. You have also died many times, and there is the fear that you will still be dying many times more. But death happens to you involuntarily: you do not want to die but you have to die. That is why death is a sorrow, a pain, an anguish. And the pain of death is so intense that the only way to bear it is to become unconscious. Hence, just before dying, you become unconscious, you go into a coma. Surgeons have discovered only recently that becoming unconscious is a way to avoid feeling intense pain—but nature has always known it. The mind goes into unconsciousness; consciousness is lost because of this fear and the pain of death.

You will die in unconsciousness. Many times you have died unconsciously; hence you have no memory of it. You have also been born many times, but unconsciously; and you have no memory of your birth either, so there is no question of remembering past births. This much is certain, that you have been born this time!—but you also have no memory of this birth.

To one whose death happens in unconsciousness, his birth also will happen in unconsciousness, because death and birth are simply two sides of the same coin. One who is unconscious on one side will be unconscious on the other side also. One who dies unconsciously is born unconsciously. That is why you have no memory of your birth. You have heard that you were born—your parents say so, your family says so. It is you who have been born but you don’t have any memory of your own birth. And everybody dies, but unconsciously. Hence you remain deprived of what can be learned from death.

Religion is the art of dying consciously. Religion is the science of entering into death in total understanding and awareness. And the person who enters death consciously, for him death disappears forever because by dying consciously he knows that he is not dying at all. Dying consciously, he knows that what is dying is the body—it is not more than when you discard old clothes—but his inner flame of consciousness is burning bright even in death; even the storm of death is unable to blow it out.

For the person who is awake and full of awareness in death, death does not exist. Death exists only for one who dies in unconsciousness. One who dies consciously, for him there is no death; for him, death becomes a door to the deathless, to the eternal.

One who dies consciously is born consciously. And one who is born consciously, the whole quality of his life becomes different—then he also lives consciously. Every fiber of his being, every part of his consciousness becomes filled with light, with wisdom, with buddhahood.

For one who is born consciously, there will be no death anymore. There will be no new birth for him either. Then he will simply leave the body, only his merging with the cosmic consciousness will survive. The seers have called it nirvana, moksha, kaivalya: the merging with the ultimate reality.

One who has known death consciously and realized the deathless, the eternal, has no more reason to be bound to the body. You become identified with the body because you are unconscious. Your unawareness is the bridge, the connection with the body. With awareness the identification is broken—you become separate from the body. As the realization of this separation deepens, death disappears—because it is the body that dies and it is the body that is born. The one who is hidden in the body, the bodiless one, is neither born nor does it die. It is the very life itself. How can life die? And the one who dies, his life was only a deception, and illusion, something borrowed. His life does not mean anything.

It is a very interesting thing that man is a combination of two entities: one is the mortal body which is already dead, and the other is the immortal soul which is life itself. It is only because of the proximity of the soul that the body appears to be alive. But the aliveness of the body is borrowed; it is a reflected phenomenon. It is as if you stand before a mirror and see yourself in it: the reflection that appears in the mirror is a borrowed phenomenon, it is not real. The moment you step away from the mirror the image will disappear. It is just a reflection, it is not a reality. It is an indication of the real, and it also hints towards the real—but the one who takes it to be real will go astray. He will be disconnected from the real forever.

The body only gives a hint of the life that is hidden within. The body appears alive only because of its nearness, its proximity, to the soul. The aliveness of the soul is so profound that even the material body seems to be alive. But one who takes the life of the body to be life itself will never know the soul.

To enter into death means to move from the mirror and to enter into the original reality. This is the essence of this Upanishad.

-Osho

Excerpt from The Message Beyond Words: A Dialogue with the Lord of Death, Chapter One

The Message Beyond Words

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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The Ultimate Awakening (A Tale of Two Tails) – Osho

There is a story famous in the Upanishads and sometimes mentioned by you, of two birds, who live together on the same tree. One eats the sweet fruits of this tree, while the other eats none of the fruits and remains there witnessing. The bird who revels in eating the fruits experiences much misery in his attachment to them, but when he finally looks up and sees the other bird sitting high in the tree – and sees his glory – he too goes beyond the misery. Will you please explain the significance of this story to us?

 All the agony of life, all its anguish, and also the possibility of all the blessings of life that become available to the man who has attained samadhi are hidden in this story. In this anecdote are contained all the agony and the ecstasy possible to the man. Let us understand first the agony of life and then the ultimate bliss of life; then the meaning of this story will become clear on its own.

Asleep at night you dream that you have lost your way in a dark forest. You search and search, but you cannot find the path. You want to ask somebody the way, but there is nobody there. You are thirsty too, and hungry, but there is no trace of either any spring of water or any fruit as far as you can see. In deep agony you cry and weep so much so that you wake up. And in that waking, everything changes in an instant. Where there was sorrow, laughter prevails; and you start to smile, seeing that your agony was only a dream.

But how is it that the dream touched you so deeply? How is it that the dream felt to be so real?

Why did you get so lost in the dream? Why could you not remember in the dream that this was only a dream? Why did this awareness not arise in you that it was not real, that it was only your imagination? But no, your awareness did not arise, because even during your waking hours it is difficult to be a witness; how could you possibly be a witness in your sleep, in your dream? When even during our waking hours we become the doer, it is a matter of certainty that the same shall be the case in our dreams. And it is this becoming the doer that is our agony in life – that is the whole trouble.

To be the doer means that we assume ourselves to be doing things that are happening on their own. Whatever is happening to our sense organs we assume it is happening to “me”; whatever is happening on the outside, we assume it is happening to our interiority. To be the doer means that where you are only a witness, where your presence is only that of a watcher, you have fallen into the illusion that you are actually a character in the drama you are watching. The one who lost his way in the dream is certainly not you, because you were asleep in bed the whole time! The one wandering in the forest is only a creation of your mind.

I have heard: a man’s wife died. When she was alive she fettered him in every conceivable way, not allowing him the slightest possibility of movement. And the husband was very compliant. Rather than assert himself he would argue within, “Why make an issue of it?” and he just agreed with whatsoever his wife said. Before she died, his wife warned him never to so much as look at another woman; otherwise, she threatened him, she would return as a ghost to haunt him. The man was frightened – and a frightened man is quite capable of conjuring up ghosts. The fear itself becomes the ghost.

For a few days after she had died the man controlled himself – out of fear. And be aware: the control born of fear is no real control; most of your sadhus and holy men are maintaining control over themselves out of fear. They fear they may go to hell, that they may be caught by God in the act of doing something wrong and have to suffer the consequences, so they control themselves. Exactly like this was the control of this widower.

The control based on fear is not only unreal, it is also a great act of self-deception which keeps you from attaining to real control. But still, it can serve for a few days.

So this man managed – but for how long could he maintain it? The desires within him began to argue, “Are you crazy? When she was alive you were afraid, and now even after her death you go on fearing her. Do you really think she can become a ghost? Do you really think it is in her hands to make that decision?”

So he found himself a woman and began to play the lover. That night, when he returned home, he found his wife sitting on the bed waiting for him. He began to tremble so violently with fear that he collapsed. His wife said, “I know where you have just come from!” and then proceeded to tell him the name and address of the woman he had spent the evening with, and every detail of what had passed between them. Now the man was in no doubt. Not only was his wife here as a ghost, but she could repeat to perfection every word he had whispered to his new love, and describe her house, her furniture, and her appearance exactly as they were. And this was only the beginning. Every night his dead wife would appear to torment him. He became very unhappy.

Eventually, in desperation, he went to visit a Zen Master, Nan-in.

When Nan-in heard the man’s story he began to roar with laughter. “This wife who harasses you is not alive,” he said, “but she is no different from those living wives who nag their husbands. All wives are ghosts and all husbands too! Only the mind gives them the appearance of reality. In this world, whatever we give our minds to appears real, but the moment you withdraw your mind, that thing becomes unreal.”

The widower complained to Nan-in that he had not come to listen to clever arguments and knowing words. “You don’t know the trouble I am in,” he said. “The moment I arrive home she is there waiting for me at the door, and my whole body trembles with fear. I was never as terrified of her when she was alive as I am now that she is dead. And I know that she is here too, listening to us, and if you tell me some trick to get rid of her, she will say to me tonight, ’So you have been to see Nan-in, haven’t you, to try to get rid of me!’ What can I do? I want you to tell me how I can get rid of her, but whatever you tell me, she would have heard it too and I am sure it won’t work for me.”

“Don’t worry,” said Nan-in, “I will show you a trick that will work anyway.” There was a pile of seeds lying nearby that someone had presented to Nan-in. Nan-in took a handful, gave them to the widower, and said, “Take these home in your closed fist, and when your wife appears you let her say all she has to say. And then you ask her, ‘How many seeds are there in my fist?’ If she cannot tell you the right number, then you will know that your ghost is all nonsense.”

The man ran home, and when his wife appeared, as usual she recounted to him everything that had passed ”I know very well that you went to see Nan-in,” she said, ”and that he told you to ask me how many seeds are there in your fist. But your little trick won’t work!”

At these words the man became terrified, but still he plucked up the courage to make this last attempt to be rid of her, and asked, “How many seeds are there then?” And the ghost disappeared!

Astonished, the man returned to Nan-in and asked him what the secret was.

“The secret,” said Nan-in, “is that the ghost can only tell you that which is already known to your mind. If you do not know, the ghost cannot tell, because the ghost is only an extension of your mind. If you had counted the seeds in your fist, then your ghost would have been able to tell you the answer. That ghost was your own shadow, your own projection.”

But we do fear ghosts – are already afraid of them in fact. What Shankara means when he calls the world maya, illusion, is that this whole world is a ghost. The world is not, yet it seems to be. It is not, yet it seems to be. It is not and it is. But all its isness is poured into it by you. First you fill it with isness, and then you get caught up and bound by what you have created. You have the power to convert dreams into reality. You get lost in it, you simply forget that you are. Your body experiences hunger, and you think you are hungry. This is illusion. The body may be hungry, but you are never hungry. You cannot be hungry.

It is true you are very close to your body; there is virtually no gap between you and your body but still you are separate. The illusion of identification begins because you are standing too close to your body.

The old scriptures say that if you keep a piece of glass close to a sapphire, the glass also flashes blue. Of course it has not turned blue; it simply falls within the shadow of the sapphire’s blueness. So it is with you and your body. You stand very close to it, but you are not it. But being so close, whatever happens to your body, the shadow of that happening falls on you. You say that you are hungry, but this is an illusion, and in this illusion the world of maya begins. It is the body that hungers, and you say it is you. It is the body that suffers, and you say it is you. When the body grows old, again you say that you have grown old. And when this body is on the verge of death, you say that you are on the verge of death. The mistake has begun.

If only if you could see that the body is hungry and you are seeing this and knowing this; if only you could see that the body is sick, that it is old, that it is on the verge of death and all this you are seeing and knowing as a witness…. You are the witness to all these happenings. The whole drama is enacted in the body, as though the body were a vast stage, and all the characters projections of the mind within that body. And you – you view it all from a distance; you are the audience! There is in you a doer-ness, by which the world is created, and there is in you a witnessing too, through which Brahman is seen. Asleep you cannot remember this; even awake during the day you keep forgetting. The moment your body is hurt, you forget that it is the body, not you, who has been hurt, and that you have simply known the happening.

This is the essence of all sadhana that the moment the doer takes up the space, wake up! Don’t allow him to fill the space. Leave all the actions – the desires, the hungers and thirsts – to the body; let the body do the deeds, and you only keep the capacity to know with you, just the awareness, just the art of seeing.

This is why in India have called philosophy, darshan – seeing. You just protect your ability to see. The moment you are able to see, you will find that all your dreams have disappeared – the ghosts have vanished, the world is not, the dreams have dissolved. You have awakened!

This ultimate awakening we call Buddhahood – buddha means the awakened one – and in this ultimate awakening we attain to the supreme bliss. Sleeping we attain only to agony and anxiety. There is only one agony, and that is to forget the reality of the self, and there is only one bliss – to regain that reality. You can call it whatsoever sounds beautiful to you – self-realization, Brahman realization or samadhi or nirvana – the essence is one.

This is a short anecdote from a Upanishad: there is a tree on which two birds are living. The tree has been since ancient times a symbol of life. Just as the tree reaches out of its seed, spreading its branches out and up towards the open sky, full of the hope and promise that it will touch the sky, so does life grow out from a tiny seed, sprouting with great desires and unending ambitions, to fill the whole sky and span the furthest horizons. The tree is of life and on this life tree sit two birds. One tastes the fruit, indulging in its sweetness; the other only watches – he never tastes, he never enters the field of action, he never becomes a doer. The indulging bird sits on the lower branches of the tree; the witnessing bird sits on the higher branches.

The end result of indulgence is always agony. One finds pleasure in it, but it is always interwoven with misery, because every pleasure brings its own unique misery. And while the pleasures last only momentarily, they leave behind a long trail of miseries. In finding a single pleasure we have to go through many sufferings. And if the pleasures are analyzed in detail they prove to be only illusory.

Viewed closely, it is very doubtful whether what we have called our moments of pleasure were really so! Look back over your life, over forty, fifty, sixty years, and can you really find in all these sixty years a moment of true happiness?

Socrates used to say, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” But if you examine your life, you will be surprised to find that nothing in it can survive close scrutiny. Just turn back and look: where are the moments when you really found happiness? Yes, at first you may recall a few precious moments like when you fell in love for the first time. The memory is very blurred now, and you will have to wipe the dust off those recollections. But if you do this and recapture those moments, you will begin to tremble with the realization that those moments too only gave the illusion of happiness, not happiness itself. And the deeper into those memories you look, the more their so-called happiness will disappear.

Whoever truly reflects finds that life is empty. So the seeker always comes to the experience of his own emptiness. Only fools think that their lives are full. They go through life carrying bags full of stones, and believe them to be jewels. They have only to empty out their baggage and look at their contents to discover the utter barrenness of their lives. To the man who has not seen the emptiness, the door of religion is closed. A man only turns inwards when he finally sees that all his pleasure-seeking is in vain.

There is not a single moment of true happiness, and yet in attempting to find that moment we suffer so much unhappiness.

With great difficulty a man builds himself the house he really wants, and when he finally moves in, he asks where the happiness is – and sets about finding something else with which to continue his search. If he has ten rupees, he devotes his energy to turning it into ten thousand rupees, and when he comes to rest and relax, his task accomplished, he cannot find any happiness in the ten thousand rupees that are now his. But even in this situation we do not allow our mind to really see this fact. It feels so dangerous to do so that we immediately commit ourselves to turning the ten thousand into ten million. This is the way the mind works – and even if we make the ten million we will not be happy; instead we will be busy turning the ten million into ten billion! And the last thing we have any intention of doing is leaving ourselves any space to be able to look back and assess what we are doing, to reflect and meditate on whether we have actually experienced any happiness in pursuing or achieving our goals.

If you face your desires, and all the efforts you have exerted in attempting to achieve them, you will be in trouble. Much effort is there in, but the gain is nil. There is no lack of effort on your part – in fact there is so much of it that you have become completely lost in it! But you fear the examination – and your fear is that you will have to see that your work has been in vain, that you have gained nothing. The fear of failure is indeed great.

I have heard, two beggars were chatting by the roadside. One of them, weeping and bemoaning the hardships of his life – as beggars are apt to do whether they are poor beggars or rich ones – was complaining to the other that his profession was doomed. “I’m not getting any work done – no one wants to give, and half the time people treat me as though I’m invisible. I can’t get people to notice me, and if they do, instead of giving me a few paise they are very generous with advice. The whole world is going to the dogs. The public seems to have no wish to show kindness or be charitable, or demonstrate any love for humanity. People are just out to make money, and unwilling to give even a single paise. I’m fed up! Traveling from one place to another, with nothing to show for my effort – and even traveling is becoming an ordeal; shoved around by the crowds, thrown out of trains one station after another for having no ticket, and everywhere the police on my heels as though they have been appointed especially for this purpose. Life has become intolerable.”

Listening to all this, the other beggar looked at him and asked, “Well, why don’t you give it up then?”

“What!” replied the first one, with an air of indignation, “And accept that I am a failure?”

Where even the beggar is unwilling to accept his failure, how can you possibly do so? It is because the ego is unwilling to accept failure that it is not ready to look at life the way it really is, because to do so is to see the long trail of failures. Everything, without exception, has been a failure. There is no happiness at all but a big crowd of miseries.

This is the lifestyle of the first bird, the indulger. This is his way of life – underneath everything a great agony prevails in him, a profound sorrow. And then in some moment he raises his head and looks at the other bird.

These two birds are so alike – they are twins, born simultaneously, each in the form of the other. But the other – the witnessing bird – sits perfectly still in peace and bliss, with not a trace of unhappiness about him. He is the sun of bliss, perpetually rising, never setting.

What is the secret of his bliss? It is that he is not a doer; he is not after pleasure and enjoyment. He simply sits there on his high branch, watching the games of those below. And when you are not on the merry-go-round, when you are not seeking indulgence, then the happiness may not be yours, but neither is the unhappiness. It is in desiring to make happiness your own that you inevitably make unhappiness yours. It is in saying farewell to happiness by remaining a witness to it that you bid all your unhappiness goodbye. Of course, we all want to bid farewell to unhappiness, but only to our unhappiness! The happiness we want to keep, and go on enjoying. So it is in the unhappiness that people want to be a witness.

Many unhappy people come to me, and tell me that they are witnessing to the best of their ability, but with no result. I tell them to stop witnessing when they are unhappy, and to start witnessing when they are happy. Only if you can successfully witness when you are feeling happy will you be able to witness your unhappiness. It is everybody’s wish to be free from unhappiness – this is in no way a religious penance. But when there is some happiness in your life, then is the time to just witness it, to remain aloof from it. And when your life is peaceful, then too you should try to sit alone and be detached.

If you are practicing meditation and someday the divine peace starts showering on you, immediately disidentify yourself from it. It will not be easy. People generally think that it is bodily indulgences one has to keep a distance from. No, indulgence with meditation is indulgence as well. Someday, dissolved in prayer, a fragrance spreads around you, as though a lotus has blossomed out of nowhere, or a lamp has suddenly begun to glow in darkness, and you are blissed out detach yourself in the same moment. You have to detach yourself not only from all the pleasures you find in women or good food or fine clothes – even in good health – but also from the happiness you find in meditation. Wherever you find happiness, become the witness, not the indulger.

Yes, then you have laid the foundation for changing your life. Suddenly you will find that unhappiness no longer touches you. Unhappiness can only touch the one who seeks happiness. To identify with happiness is to invite unhappiness. And you are all so eager to catch hold of happiness, although it is always the unhappiness that comes into your grasp. You never think that whenever you embrace happiness it turns into unhappiness even as you hold it. You have never taken this into account. You are moving so fast in your search for new happiness, you are in such a hurry that to take stock of the past is to you only wasting time.

Whenever some moment of happiness starts descending upon you, the dance bells start echoing deep within you, gather your awareness at once. This is the real meditation.

To remain aware in the midst of happiness is the real meditation, but it is not easy. You have struggled so long to find this bliss, and now, when bliss descends on you, you are being asked to separate yourself from it. And it is so rare! Thus it is that whenever I ask my sannyasins not to identify with whatever meditation brings them, they look at me as if to say “What! Abandon this hard-earned ecstasy?” And when I look into their eyes I see that what they really want to say is: “Not so soon! Allow me to enjoy this blessing for a little while, allow us to drown in it for a while! This is exactly what we came here looking for, and to ask you how we could extend it beyond the moment – how we could make this happiness of a moment eternal. And you are asking us to let it go!”

But the fact is that I am asking you to separate yourselves from your bliss just because this is the very way to make it eternal! If you are unable to stand aloof from it, then what you have found will also disappear, and tomorrow will find you empty and unhappy once again. This is what happens to meditators. They find a little joy, and the next day they are miserable because they are unable to recapture it. Then they ask, “When is the happiness going to return? How can that door be opened again? Is there no trick that the door remains open and never closes again?” Now, this is the way into misery. Whoever seeks to capture happiness falls into unhappiness; whoever hankers for the repetition of the joys, whatever he had also disappears.

There is a saying of Jesus: ‘Those who have it, it will be taken away from them; those who don’t have it, it will be given to them’. Keep it in your mind in relation to happiness. Any type of happiness is bound to fade away. So don’t cling – let the joys go, throw your happiness away lightly, then nobody will be able to take it from you. And in doing this you will find bliss over and over again. If you go on throwing it away whenever it comes to you, it will be yours a thousand and one times over.

A moment comes when you understand that happiness is an art of throwing away, and unhappiness is the art of holding on. The more you hold onto the more unhappy you are. The unhappiness of those who live in hell is that they are holding onto too many happinesses. The happinesses of those who live in heaven is that they have dropped their hold on all kinds of happiness. If you understand this, you will see that happiness is freedom, while unhappiness is dependency. This is why the ultimate bliss is called moksha – liberation.

Moksha means absolute freedom, where everything has been dropped.

The bird sitting on the higher branch of the tree of life is sitting within you too. He is sitting on your tree. Sometimes, when you are a witness, when your consciousness moves away from the lower bird and becomes one with the higher one, you get a glimpse of him. You catch sight of the blue sky.

The clouds have all disappeared. You may recognize it, you may not; you may understand what you have seen and you may not, but it is rare to find anyone who has never actually known a moment of witnessing. Whenever you have known such a moment, bliss has showered upon you, a gust of cool breeze has come and everything all around you has become alive.

Our experience as a doer is a twenty-four hour thing. Round the clock we are identified with the lower bird, and in so doing, suffer our unhappiness. Now the time has come to raise your eyes and look up at the bird on the higher branch. Since eternity he has been sitting on your tree, waiting for you to cast off your sorrowful state. But you don’t look upwards, you just go on suffering. It seems that you really enjoy your unhappiness – it actually seems that there is a certain happiness for you in remaining unhappy. You have some kind of an investment in your unhappiness. So you go on saying how much you wish to cast off your misery, but the fact of the matter is that you cling on to it. Even if you come to the people in whose presence you can easily throw off your misery, you don’t come totally. Perhaps you leave your soul at home, and come only partially to meet them. You have some vested interest in your unhappiness.

I knew a woman who only complained about her husband whenever she came to see me. She complained about his gambling, his drinking, his laziness, his every action in fact – complaining, endlessly complaining was all she knew. In her husband were contained all the vices, while she worked hard to keep the house in order and to look after him. And certainly, she was very overworked, because there was also a crippled daughter who was bed-ridden and needed assistance even just to eat her meals. With so many burdens imposed upon herself, this woman was truly living the life of a martyr.

Whenever she came to see me she would come out with the same string of complaints against her husband, but when I looked deep into her eyes, it was obvious that she derived some joy from the whole situation. What was clear was that her husband’s drinking and gambling habits gave her ego immense satisfaction – because by comparison with her worthless husband, she had become a priceless diamond!

We live by comparisons. If the husband is the greatest, then his wife has to be ordinary. But in this case the woman was the shining star, and through her husband’s dissipated way of life she found admiration and sympathy for herself throughout the town. Of course, she maintained to one and all that she was deeply distressed and unhappy, but actually the last thing she would want would be to find herself free of the situation in which she lived; because getting rid of the situation would also mean getting rid of all the praise and glory in which she reveled. The crippled girl too was only an instrument with which she could enhance her air of martyrdom – ”Just see how I tend her, comforting her in her sickness and meeting her every need!”

People love suffering because it gives them the opportunity to become martyrs. This lady was not really complaining, she was advertising her virtues. Eventually, the poor crippled girl died. With her death half the woman’s sorrows should have disappeared. In fact she should have found much happiness in the girl’s freedom from a life of suffering, and her own freedom from the cares and anxieties of looking after her. And when her husband finally ran away, this should have brought an end to all her remaining unhappiness. She often used to say to me if he were to die, or leave forever, it would be a blessing. I don’t want to have to see him!

But when he did run off, never to return, her distress was even greater All the color drained from her face, and a deep melancholy settled over her life, as though her whole interest in life had disappeared – which it had: her drinking and gambling husband provided the essence of her life. In her condemnation of his habits lay all the meaning, the purpose, the promise in her life. Now, with him gone, all that sustained her was gone. She was reduced to the stature of an ordinary woman. Now nobody sings her praises, nobody proclaims her long-suffering virtues. When I saw her last it was apparent that she would soon die, because the mechanism that kept her going is no longer there.

Just consider a little how, whenever you talk about your unhappiness, you are playing the martyr behind your words. See how you find happiness in your so-called distress. Man is such a clever decorator! He decorates even his sorrows, converting them into ornaments with his cunning workmanship. And then arises a new difficulty for him; how to cast off the decoration and ornamentation he has created. Had you not decorated your misery, you would have been able to cast it away long ago – you would have walked out of your prison. But through your own devices you have mistaken your prison for your home. Only you are holding yourself in chains, but you have taken the chains for ornaments.

This is why the witnessing bird waits – and probably laughs – watching you suffering below and declaring to the world your great tragedies. And you know very well that that bird is laughing, sitting within you! Sometimes you catch a glimpse, inevitably, because he is your very nature. How can you be entirely oblivious to him? Sometime or other his image must arise in you. Some moment or other you must feel his peace and hear his harmony. In some unsuspecting moment of relaxation he will fill you. But you are avoiding him. You are so involved in being a doer that you are avoiding being a witness. Your enjoyment is in carrying the load of your misery – and in advertising that you are doing so. Your unhappiness has not yet reached boiling point. When it does so you will finally raise your head and look upwards. And once you do so, it will be with amazement that you discover that all the unhappiness you have been suffering, life after life through countless births and deaths, amounts to no more than a nightmare. Your true nature has always been separate from that misery.

This is why Hindus say that you are the eternal bliss, the Brahman, that you have never committed a single sin nor perpetrated any evil act against anyone and cannot do so, because it is not in your nature to create unhappiness.

When Westerners translated the Upanishads they found it difficult to accept this doctrine, and wondered how these could possibly be called religious scriptures. They knew only one religion – Christianity – and the whole of Christian teaching is founded on guilt and sinfulness. You are the sinner, and your struggle is to redeem yourself from your sins. You have strayed, come back to the path. You have been thrown out of the kingdom of heaven, and your task is to please God by confessing all your sins and repenting, so that you can return.

Repentance is the very basis of Christianity, but these Upanishads declare that you have committed no sins at all, and cannot do so even if you want to, because by the very nature of things you are not a doer. You can only dream that you have sinned, or are sinning, but you cannot commit the sin. And no matter how much you wish it, you cannot stray out of God’s kingdom, because there is nothing else but his kingdom. You can be thrown out of this garden where we sit, but you cannot be thrown out of God’s garden, because anywhere you might be thrown to will be his garden.

The Christian garden of Eden must have been very small; the Hindu garden of Eden is vast.

Hinduism knows no space that is not part of the garden – there is nowhere you could be sent to that is not his garden. Even if God wanted to cast you out, where could he send you? He alone is. So wherever you find yourself, you will still be in him! And he is as much in one place as he is in any other – he cannot be more here and less there.

Understand this a little. Of everything else, there may be more or less – the quantity may change – but not of existence. If something is, then it is no more nor less than anything else. This is a tree, is green; another tree is yellow – the colors differ. This bird here is small while another is large – they differ in size. One man has a small intellect, another has a great intellect, and in this they differ. But the tree is, the bird is, the man is, the stone is, and there is no quantative difference in their isness.

Existence knows no small or large, more or less. In terms of existence, all things are equal. The stone exists as much as you do; your forms of existing may differ, but you each exist as much as the other. That existing, that isness, we call Brahman.

When the Upanishads first went to the West, it was very difficult for Westerners to accept them as religious writings. What kind of religion is this? They thought. They regarded the Upanishads as dangerous. If people believe that they have never sinned, and are incapable of sinning, then how will they confess? How will they repent? And without repentance, how will they enter the divine kingdom? And if the sinner accepts himself as Brahman, then what use will he have for the priest? What will the priest be able to preach? Who will he be able to save? Who will he be able to look after? The church will disappear!

It may surprise you to learn that the Hindu religion is the only religion that has no ministry, no ecclesiastical organization, no priesthood. In the Hindu temple you will find no one like the priest, and no management. It is a religion that proceeds on the basis of individual and personal understandings, and without any organizational structure. There is no governing of affairs; the religion functions through personal, intrinsic experience. The Hindu religion is like a flowing river. Christianity is like the railway train, running on tracks, everything managed and organized. The Hindu religion is an anarchy – and religion can only be anarchic, because religion is not an empire; it is supreme freedom, and this is only possible in a situation of anarchy.

The statement that you have never done anything, and even if you want to you never will do anything, is very anarchic. It is saying that your existence is an ultimate purity. You don’t have to strive for purity, because you have never been impure; you simply have to recognize your essential purity. This is why in India we are not searching for Brahman, all we are doing is trying to regain our memory of Brahman. This is what the mystics mean by smriti – remembrance. This is all we need – a remembering. Kabir calls it surati, which is nothing but the rounded form of the word smriti. It is just like an emperor’s son who might be out begging, and suddenly he realizes what nonsense he is doing, and all begging will cease at once. With this single act of remembrance, the whole quality of his consciousness will change.

The day you have enough of your unhappiness and your interest in it drops, only then the change can happen in your life. And until you are interested in it, who am I to stop you from it? As long as you are interested in it, remain in your unhappiness. Nothing can happen out of hurrying; the fruit will only fall when it is ripe, and it is foolish to pick unripe fruit.

So if you are still interested in your unhappiness, immerse yourself in it, let it be your very destiny. Don’t be in a hurry, don’t drop your journey in the middle just because of hearing something from others; otherwise you will have to start again and complete the journey at some other time in the future. There is no way to bypass it. No growth can be a borrowed phenomenon in this world. So if you find that your interest is still in misery, then accept that this is so, and let your misery come to its climax so that you can be finished with it. If you have to drink poison, then drink it to the dregs and swallow it all so that when you drown in it you can surface again. Your difficulty is that neither do you move towards the nectar nor do you drink the poison fully; hence you are stuck in the middle. You want to drink the poison – this really interests you! – but you don’t want the suffering it is going to bring you, and thus you go on trying to achieve the impossible – to drink poison and feel as though you have drunk nectar! This is not going to come about, because this is not in the nature of things. If you drink nectar bliss is yours; if you take poison misery is yours. So if your taste is for poison, then drink it till you can drink no more, so that your misery becomes complete, so that your misery makes you mature. Your anguish ripens you, your misery prepares you for the ultimate leap. A day will come when you will look upwards and find the other bird sitting there.

And remember this too, that the stories you have heard from others about this bird will be of no use to you – you have to see it yourself. No matter how much the Upanishads tell you about it, still they are like looking at a painting of the Himalayas in which you can see the lofty snow-capped peaks glittering in the sun, but you cannot feel the cool serenity of them Those lines and colors on the canvas – how can they even compare with all that one has known and experienced in being in the Himalayas? You can sit holding the painting close and imagine that you have reached the Himalayas and have found their kingdom of peace and happiness, but in doing so your journey will have come to an end before it has even begun; you will not even stir from your seat.

I have heard: there was once an ass who unfortunately acquired an education. Asses generally have good memory, and this one was brought up in Kashi which is a center of learning full of pundits, and thus it came about that this ass, living in such an atmosphere of scholarliness, soon became himself a pundit. He could recite the scriptures by heart.

You may have noticed that memory is a substitute for intelligence. People with high intelligence tend to be very forgetful, while stupid people, unable to sustain any performance of true intelligence, resort to the use of memory to manage their lives.

This ass had an excellent memory – whatever he read he knew by heart, and he improved himself by listening to the conversations of the pundits and sitting at their feet. Eventually he came to know of marijuana – or bhang, which is so prevalent in Kashi, and he was very enticed by the blissful, cosmic effects it seemed to have on those who took it. Those mind-blowing discussions! Those visions of Brahman! It became obvious to him that bhang was the gateway to Brahman; the way these pundits were affected was just as the scriptures described the great glory of Brahman! He decided he must go in search of bhang.

A few days later, passing an old bookshop, he came across a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He flipped through its pages, and there was a picture of the very plant he was now seeking. He absorbed every detail of the picture, and armed now with the knowledge he needed, he was convinced that the whole glory of bhang was now his. After all, he had seen the behavior of the bhang addicts, and looked into their stoned eyes! He even knew what kind of conversation to hold.

In fact, as far as was possible with words, he was already familiar with bhang. And now he even knew what it looked like, and all that remained was to find the plant. He would start his search right away.

On the banks of the Ganges he found a plant that looked just like the picture in the Encyclopedia Britannica. But how to be sure that it really was the same plant? The ass decided to consult the plant itself – yes, this was the thing to do. As a matter of fact, the plant was not bhang at all; it was just a very common weed, quite useless – a plant that gardeners pull up and throw out whenever they come across it.

The ass approached the plant: “My dear plant,” he said, “are you the very plant, bhang, of which I am in deep search? The very same that is revered in the scriptures? I have seen your picture in the Britannica, and if my memory serves me right, you are the very same plant which I search!”

The plant was just an ordinary weed – nobody had ever before shown it such attention, nobody had regarded it ever with such reverence and given it such a high status. True, its devotee was only an ass, but even the praise of an ass is welcome to the ego! The ego never cares who it is who praises; otherwise praise would disappear from the world. For a moment the plant shrank, delaying the passing of its moment of glory and having to confess that it was not the celebrated bhang plant. But suddenly, impelled by the rare opportunity – a chance that would never come again – the plant said, “Yes, I am the very same. It is I whom you seek!”

Immediately the ass performed all the rituals he had learnt from the bhang experts, and swallowed the plant. Where was the trance? The ass waited, but felt not even the flicker of expanding consciousness. He decided that he must not have studied enough, but decided to try acting like the bhang experts. He made himself wobble about on his legs, and even began giggling and pouring out meaningless words. But inside himself he was dubious. “I’m doing alright,” he thought, “but this is all superficial. Maybe the Encyclopedia Britannica got its information wrong.” Then he thought again: “Maybe the bhang experts are acting just as superficially as I am.” And finally, after a long pause, he thought: “Maybe the plant fooled me.”

He made every effort to convince himself that everything was going alright, but from within he knew that it was all false and nothing was alright.

You can devour all the scriptures and fill yourself up with the knowledge of Brahman, you can listen to the Upanishads telling the story of the witnessing bird, you can learn all the parables by heart, you can even begin to behave as a sannyasin should, and learn to walk and talk as a sannyasin should, but deep within your own intuitive voice will go on insisting that something is wrong. Without your own experiencing of the self, without your own knowing of the self, everything is meaningless. Nothing will be understood by understanding the Upanishadic story. Only when your own inner story unfolds and you are able to see the other bird sitting on your tree of life, will you be able to understand the Upanishad, not before that.

Can you appreciate my difficulty? I explained this story to you knowing well you wouldn’t understand it; knowing well that if you take my words to be your understanding, then the harm is done. But yet I explained the story so that at least you might know that this too is a possibility. Right now it is better that you don’t accept that there is a witness sitting behind you. Who knows, the Upanishads may be wrong, Britannica may have published the wrong picture, the plant may be befooling you! Who knows?

So don’t be in a hurry to assume understanding, because the one who believes quickly is deprived of the knowing. My whole effort is to create the understanding that it is a possibility. That whatever you are is not your whole being, something more is possible; that wherever you are standing, further movement is possible; that your journey is not at an end. That what you have attained is not all there is to be attained, there is something more too. Even if you get only a faint idea of it, there is no harm; in fact, the idea has to be only faint. I am talking to you in order to create this very idea in you. Once the idea has taken root in you, two possibilities are open for you. One is that you can go on reciting and memorizing this idea itself; then even without testing the real thing you can make your legs wobble and manage a reasonable trance within just a few days of practice. Of course, your ecstasy will be unreal, your wobbliness will be fake and you have gone astray.

The other course is that it becomes clear to you that there is a possibility of something else that can open up; that this book is not yet completed, that there are still a few remaining chapters in it; that you have not yet explored your whole house, that there are still some basements unexplored which might contain the treasure – this idea. But don’t let this idea become your knowledge; let it become your life’s search. Don’t accept it and sit tight; don’t make an intellectual exercise of it, rather let it lead you towards meditation and samadhi.

There are a few points that will help you in looking at the bird sitting on the upper branch of the tree. The first is that you are the first bird sitting on the lower branch. Get yourself acquainted thoroughly with this bird. Suffer its miseries to the fullest; experience its jealousies and its traumas totally. Let the sting of its thorns coming from all directions go deep in you so that their total pain surrounds your heart. And don’t create false, intoxicating ways to forget it – you have so many tricks! You say that you are suffering because of your karmas of previous lives, not because of the karmas of this life.

And why do you say this? What consolation you get out of it? One consolation do you get is that nothing can now be done about the karmas from previous lives. Whatever has happened has happened, and one has to suffer. But if I say that your suffering is caused by your doings in this life, then the matter is close at hand and something can be done. And if I say that it is just because of you becoming the doer in this very moment, then the matter becomes very difficult for you.

The Karma theory is useful – it keeps the whole affair at a comfortable distance, it relegates everything to the past. No, you are not in misery because of karma; you are in misery because you are the doer. You were the doer in your previous lives, you are suffering for that; you are the doer in this life, you are suffering for that. But the reason for your suffering is not what you did, the reason is your identification with the doing. And this you can drop this very moment.

So, slowly, slowly learn to be less of the doer. Instead of searching for that second bird, bring some changes in yourself right where you stand. Start being less of a doer and bring more emphasis on being a witness. In every situation, these two ways are open to you – to become the doer or to become the witness. Try to become the witness.

Sitting here, I am speaking and you are listening. If you are only listening, then you have become the doer; the listening is your doing. If you become the witness, then as I speak you are listening, and you are aware of the act of listening as well. And if the witness in me is awake and the witness in you is awake, then there are four people here where there were only two – one speaker and a witness to his speaking, one listener and a witness to his listening. So you listen as well as witness your listening. You can become the witness this very moment, nothing has to be arranged for it. You hear me speaking – hearing is happening in your body and mind. Now watch this hearing happening! Stand behind the hearing and watch it happening. Even if you get a glimpse of it, you will find that your unhappiness disappears this very moment, that all disharmony evaporates, that all tension vanishes.

So whenever the chance arises to become the doer or the witness, choose the witness. The doer in you is part of a long, old chain of conditioning, and it takes only a small lapse on your part for the doer to overtake. But nothing to worry about because no matter how deep the conditionings of the doer are in you, they are all false, illusory, and the false has no weight, no value, no matter how great its magnitude.

Though you may have forgotten, witnessing is your essential nature. For this reason it is not so very difficult to attain to the witness – it can be reawakened. Whenever you are doing anything – eating a meal, walking along the road, taking a bath – let your emphasis be on watching not on the doing. Taking a shower, watch the body showering; eating, watch the body eating: and soon you will find that the witnessing bird in you has started fluttering its wings. Sensing the ruffling of its feathers, you will become more and more aware of its presence on the tree. And as the sense of its presence grows in you, the presence of the lower bird will gradually disappear.

And let me tell you what the story does not: that finally one day, when your experience of witnessing is total, the lower bird – the doer – will disappear completely, and you will find that there is only one bird on the tree. For the ignorant too there is only one bird – the doer; he cannot see the other one. For the awakened one too there is only one bird – the witness; he cannot see the other one. The Upanishad talks of two birds to encompass the understanding of both, the ignorant and the awake. But in reality there are not two birds; for the ignorant there is one – the doer, and for the knower there is one – the witness. The reason that two birds are talked of in the Upanishad is because there the knower is talking to the ignorant. The knower is presenting his experience and the experience of the ignorant as well. Unless the experience of the ignorant is also taken into account, he won’t begin the journey. A moment will come when you too will see that there is only one bird. And the day there remains only one bird, you have attained to the experience of advait – nonduality. The name of that one bird is advait.

-Osho

From Nowhere to Go But In, Chapter Nine   Nowhere to Go But In

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