From In a Thought to Out of Mind

In a thought.
Watch a thought.
Watch mind.
Out of mind!

In a thought.

Ordinarily we live in thought. So even “in ‘a’ thought” is a step, because with ‘a’ thought there is already enough awareness separate to recognize having been in ‘a’ thought. But when we are in thought we are simply lost. But it is through this recognizing “in a thought” that we are gradually gaining strength of consciousness for the next step.

 

Watch a thought.

With this newfound seeing we begin to witness, we begin with watching a thought. It is however very fleeting. Either we enter into the stream of the thought and are lost until we remember and are once again at the beginning, or by watching the thought; the thought peters out and vanishes.

Watch mind.

There is a big shift that happens when we move from watching a thought to “watching mind.” Watching mind means we are not getting into the separate thoughts but watching the energy of mind, the movement of mind. It is seen as an object, as a whole. It is in this seeing the whole of mind that we find ourselves in the next step.

Out of mind!

It is from this “out of mind” that we are able to let all the contents of mind unpack itself and still remain the witness.

The sages don’t talk of no-mind in order to create a far off goal to be reached but rather so that it can be recognized when we stumble into it.

-purushottama

More from the collected and uncollected posts of Prem Purushottama.

 

Sitting for the Sheer Joy of It

That which sees is not the mind. That is why Osho has us begin with watching anything. In the beginning it is helpful to watch the clouds passing, watch the leaves falling, watch a stream flowing or even watch the traffic of cars. This is watching the outside world but it is the beginning.

We can then move to watching the activities of the body, watching without identification. This is the magic of the walking meditation. It is allowing us to experience watching the body walking which is strengthening the watcher, the one that sees.

Watching the breath is another way to strengthen this watchingness. We watch the coming and going of the breath and we are coming out of the identification with breathing.

Moving deeper we begin to watch the comings and goings of the mind. The very effort to watch the mind while we are still identified is how we begin to come out of mind. It does not need to be a serious affair, we are not against the mind. We are just interested in finding, discovering the One who sees. This One who sees is always present in watching. The mind does not watch. The ego cannot watch. Our identification with someone who we perceive watching cannot watch. Always in the background the One who sees is present. We have the power to come out of mind because we have the power to identify with mind. It is not that some power makes us identify, we do that ourselves. Watching the activity of the mind without grasping, without rejecting, without judging we begin to become less identified. Slowly, slowly the One who sees becomes less identified.

Osho has said that if we are able to witness the mind without identification then we can easily move into watching the subtle feelings, the heart, also without grasping. Without choosing the feelings we like, without rejecting the feelings that we find hard to witness and without judging ourselves when we forget again and again.

The above description is Osho’s directions but it has also been my own experience of meditation.

Although I must say that there was a long period of time in which I thought I didn’t need to meditate regularly because I meditated all day long, that was a delusion. Although it was not harmful because it was just an extended period of watching the outside. But at some point I could no longer ignore the quiet invitation to begin to sit and watch the inner world on a regular basis. I was not watching because of some duty to practice; I was watching as an exploration as an experiment. Now I am sitting for the sheer joy of it.

So we can begin from exactly where we are, this very moment, by watching what we are capable of, and slowly, slowly the watchingness deepens. We are also very fortunate because Osho has devised his active meditations to jumpstart this awakening and he has illustrated 112 meditation techniques, that are doors in. And finally he has distilled all meditation down to the art of watching, witnessing.

This is the incredible gift that Osho has left us.

-purushottama

More from the collected and uncollected posts of Prem Purushottama.

 

 

The Journey from non-being to No-Being

We must first come to the recognition that we live outside of our center. We live outside of our body. We know our body from the exterior. We know our senses by sensing objects. Without objects we have no knowledge of ourselves. By our contact with outside objects our body exists. If we had no contact we would have no knowledge of ourselves.

Somewhere along the way our center has been touched and we have become aware of its existence. It may just be a dim flame but we know deep down that it is there. We have the power to move into our center. It is only because of what interests us that we remain on the periphery.

We can move to the center by retracing our steps out. We have made and do make the journey out all day long. Our attention moves from our center out through the senses and chases dreams. Our mind is the sixth sense. By becoming aware of the outward movement of our energy and attention it comes to a halt. When the movement is seen in awareness, the movement ceases.

From where does the thought of “I” arise. What is it pointing to? Is it pointing to this body that people see from the outside? Does it point to this collection of memories, thoughts and dreams that are circulating and referred to as “mind?” Is it not pointing to somewhere deep inside?

Let’s make contact there. Let us feel what it is like to inhabit our bodies. We need not worry about reincarnation let us first learn to incarnate this body here and now. We can move our attention to our interiority. We can feel our bodies from the inside. We can sense ourselves behind the senses. We can find ourselves behind the mind.

It is from this interior position that we are able to allow the unconscious mind to let go of all of its content. By not getting involved but remaining a witness the mind lets go of all of its collectibles, all of its memories, dreams and fears. Without either rejecting or grasping, without judging, we remain a witness and stay rooted in our center, in our interiority, in our being.

It is in this center that the witness grows, that we create our soul. Up until this point we have had no soul. We have had no center. There was not anyone home. Now the fire is lit and we are tending the flame.

The next step will be to let go of this center but we cannot let go of what we do not have. We must first become crystallized. We must first come into Being before we can let go into No-being.

-purushottama

More from the collected and uncollected posts of Prem Purushottama.

 

Meditation is the Bridge Between Yoga and Advaita

Hakuin begins his Song of Meditation, “All beings are from the very beginning Buddhas.” Nisargadatta Maharaj tells us to take as a hypothesis that we are the “absolute”, because it is not yet our experience. Osho begins his discourse series on The Heart Sutra with these words, “I salute the Buddha within you. You may not be aware of it, you may not have ever dreamed about it — that you are a Buddha, that nobody can be anything else, that buddhahood is the very essential core of your being, that it is not something to happen in the future, that it has happened already.” But he goes on to say “But you are fast asleep, you don’t know who you are. Not that you have to become a Buddha, but only that you have to recognize it, that you have to return to your own source, that you have to look within yourself.”

This paradox that we are already Buddhas but that we do not recognize it is at the heart of much confusion today. It is here where those who are professing a neo-advaitan philosophy clash with the gradualists, with the yogis. But there should be no conflict. It is just that each side is only seeing half of the situation. We Are already enlightened but it is Not yet our experience. We have not Realized our enlightenment and until we do Realize our natural state then the work continues.

It is important for the neo-advaitans to understand that just intellectually knowing that we are already enlightened does not a Buddha make. And in order to uncover that sleeping Buddha there is a transformation yet to take place. And it is also important for the yogis to understand that we are from the very beginning Buddhas and that our work is not to make us into something that we are not already, but to uncover our already existing true nature. Hence it is not a question of becoming but of uncovering.

So what is the bridge between this gulf of understanding?  What is needed for the transformation from the potential to the realized to take place? When Nisargadatta Maharaj was asked what he did before his enlightenment was realized, he said that he accepted the words of his guru “that he was the absolute” and he meditated on the “I am” for three years.  J. Krishnamurti has said that “seeing is transformation.” He says that it is the observation of the mind itself that is the transformation. And Osho’s entire life work was to illuminate ‘meditation’ as the bridge between our current state of living in the mind and the awakened life of no-mind.

So if my enlightenment is only in words, only in concepts and not in my daily life then perhaps it would be best to continue on the journey back to Self and that journey must pass through no-mind.  On the other hand if I see enlightenment as a goal in the future of becoming then too it would be good to come home to Being and out of the goals in the world of mind.

Meditation is the way in.

-purushottama

More from the collected and uncollected posts of Prem Purushottama.

Living in Consciousness

Consciousness has been at the center of my life for almost 50 years, as it has been for so many of us. But, I am a practical sort of guy and so am not very interested in the conceptual “consciousness.” On the contrary, the consciousness that I am interested in is the “being consciousness.” There are many neo-advaita teachers around who tell us that we are always consciousness. And, since we are always awareness, consciousness, there is nothing to be done. Osho is much more compassionate. He too tells us that we are already Buddhas but he also reminds us that the difference between us and him is that he is aware of his Buddhahood. He is experiencing his Buddhahood and we are unawake to its splendor.

In his compassion, he introduced 112 meditation techniques. He created active meditations to prepare the ground for meditation to take root and, he distilled all meditation techniques down to the key element of witnessing.

For me personally, I have found that the best way to become aware—to awaken the witness—is to begin by being aware of my unconsciousness, my unawareness, my dreaming mind.

Most every morning I wake up around 3:30 a.m., meaning at around that time I become aware that I am no longer sleeping. Immediately I begin to look at the activity of the mind, the tail end of the dreaming cycle. I find that it is this seeing the unconscious that enables becoming more conscious or we could say less unconscious.

As I continue lying in the bed, looking directly at the tail of the dream, this awakeningness becomes more pronounced. I find this to be the best time to get up and sit in meditation.

This sitting in meditation is more of the same but now I am sitting erect and perhaps more attuned to the watching.

At first while I am watching I catch thought streams, some thought about this or that, but as I watch without grasping the thought and without rejecting the thought but just looking directly at the movement of thought, it becomes less defined, more opaque.

At this point, it is the energy of the mind that is being seen rather than individual thoughts. At the same time, I am now aware of the watching itself rather than that which is being seen. With my awareness of the watchingness, the previous objects of consciousness begin to slip out of view.

 

This is not a permanent situation.  At some point some thought appears and either I am dragged off until I remember again or I am awake enough to catch it at the beginning and again without grasping or rejecting there is the remembrance of watching and the watched subsides.

I find that the unconscious stream is in an inverse relationship to how conscious I am in that moment. The more conscious, the less of the stream. The less conscious, the more present the stream. So, it is by seeing my unconscious that I become more conscious.

My understanding of Ramana Maharshi’s method of inquiry is a thought appears, one inquires to whom does the thought appear and the answer is to me. Then one inquires more deeply “Who am I?” I see that as another way of saying what I described above.

Osho’s is even simpler, it is watching, witnessing. Watching without judgement, without jumping onto the back of the thought and without pushing away in rejection. Just watching and as we watch without reaction the other steps that I described above happen naturally. As thought becomes less, I automatically become aware of my self, provided that I haven’t fallen asleep.

“Meditation starts by being separate from the mind, by being a witness. That is the only way of separating yourself from anything. If you are looking at the light, naturally one thing is certain, you are not the light, you are the one who is looking at it. If you are watching the flowers, one thing is certain, you are not the flower, you are the watcher. Watching is the key of meditation:

Watch your mind.

Don’t do anything—no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of God—just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don’t disturb it, don’t prevent it, don’t repress it; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly, slowly mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.

As the mind becomes completely empty, your whole energy becomes a flame of awakening. This flame is the result of meditation. So you can say meditation is another name of watching, witnessing, observing—without any judgment, without any evaluation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the mind.”

-Osho, from The Invitation, Discourse 21

So, this has been my experience. By understanding and seeing my un-consciousness, un-consciousness is transformed into consciousness, from unconsciousness to consciousness. This is how I come out of mind. This is not enlightenment; it is an awakening before enlightenment. It is nothing special and we are all capable of coming out of mind. It is just a question of seeing the identification with what we are Not that we discover that which we Are.

Along the way, a couple of points have become clear and perhaps they could be helpful for someone else.

Number one and this is of course obvious but nevertheless important to state. In order for the transformation of consciousness to take place, we have to look directly at the mind. It is not enough to know about meditation, we have to meditate. We have to get to know intimately how we perpetuate unawareness. We have to meditate, did I already say that. We have to meditate.

 

A second point that one day became clear is, we are not to do anything with the mind, or any content of consciousness. Transformation happens but not by anything we do. Our job is to become conscious and again we do that by watching our unconscious. It is through watching the unconscious that the energy becomes conscious. I used to feel that it was the content that was important in the watching. Somewhere along the way a shift happened so that it is the watcher that is of importance not what is being watched. We watch our unconsciousness simply to become conscious.

And thirdly, it is by watching without reacting that we begin to become aware of being conscious, of awareness itself, not as an object but as a living, existential, experiencing.

Finally, these awakenings, this watchfulness that arises in meditation, has to be taken into daily life.  With this watchingness, there are more moments of action and fewer of reaction, but when reaction appears, it is watched without judgment just like the watching of thought. And, it is here in this daily life that the watchingness is crystalized into Being conscious. And that truly is a splendor.

-purushottama

This has been published in the Viha Connection Magazine, March/April 2019, Volume XXX II-Two and also in Osho News.

 

 

 

Don’t Fight the River

The first indication that my life was about to change was the engine in my Cadillac El Dorado blowing up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was at the end of a road trip taking orders for waterbed products. I took a bus back to Kansas City.

The second was when I learned that while away, my friend Charlie, my parakeet, had been killed by the cat that belonged to my friends who were house-sitting.

Charlie was a real character and he used to fly out of his always-open cage and land on my nose to wake me up in the morning. That’s what did him in. Charlie had been given to me by Scottie. Scottie was my oldest friend, not that I had known him the longest, but he was over 60. I was in my early twenties. He had named Charlie after Charlie Parker, a personal friend of his. Scottie was into Jesus, Jazz, going to the horse races, and smoking pot.

The final straw, however, was that my apartment was broken into. The thieves took my stereo and speakers but very fortunately left my album collection. I could either fight or let-go and go with the stream. I decided on the latter and endeavored to get ahead of the curve.

Soon, everything that had any value, which wasn’t much, really, had been sold. It mostly consisted of the records and two Chinese rugs. The money was going to Europe with me. I was leaving behind my interest in a business that I had built up over the past two years. I wasn’t even going to tell the other principals involved; they could have what was left. I was concerned that I might be persuaded to change my mind.

We had been applying for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan in order to take our waterbed frame manufacturing business to the next level. We were getting orders, I had brought back plenty, but we needed capital in order to produce at a level that we made money on our sales. When the SBA loan fell through, I knew that meant we would have to drop back and punt. But I was burnt out. I had had a nervous breakdown at 21. I was drinking 10—12 cups of coffee a day and smoking three packs of cigarettes. If this was life, I wasn’t interested. I was ready to chuck it all in and go to Europe with whatever cash I could assemble and see what happens.

Six hundred dollars is what I would be landing in Luxembourg with after buying a cheap Icelandic Air flight. The last ride I got, hitchhiking to New York was with the equipment truck for the rock band Seals and Crofts. Here was the first sign of what lay ahead. Seals and Crofts were into Baha’i and the driver of the van was a devotee of the young Guru Maharaji.

Soon, I was lying in the grass on the side of the road waiting for the sound of a car so I could jump up and stick out my thumb. The destination for the day was not known only the direction; in the meantime I was feeling the ground beneath my back, smelling the green grass and listening to the sounds of the birds flying nearby. I was reminded of Saint Francis.
Here, in stark contrast, was the difference between becoming and being.

-purushottama

This story is from a collection of stories and essays from along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.

Kopan and Kathmandu

It was the most amazing New Year ever, crossing into Nepal in a bullock cart at sunrise. The sky was ablaze, the haze and dust in the air heightened the reds and oranges of the sun. It was New Year’s Day, 1976, sure to be a super year, and as it turned out, it was.

During that last term in Madagascar I heard from my friend Peter. He was now in Nepal studying Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Yeshe at the Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Randy Dodge, who was still living at the house, was attracted to going to India and Nepal. He had been practicing Yoga for several years and was also interested in Buddhism. I was interested in Nepal but somehow fearful of India. I knew deep down that it could grab me and not let me go. By this time, Voahangy had gone to Brussels to join her U.N. boyfriend. Rickey was making arrangements to go to university in France. Randy and I were busy changing Malagasy francs into U.S. dollars with the Indian money changers and making preparations for our trip to the sub-continent.

Randy and I had discovered that there was an Indian passenger ship that traveled from Mauritius to Bombay and so made plans to go to Mauritius and leave for India from there. I said goodbye to my home for two years and a people that will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Thirty-three years after first arriving in Madagascar, I finally made a trip back with my wife, Amido in 2006. She loves the place as much as I do. Many things looked the same, although Tana was a bit of a shock. In 1975, the population of Madagascar was around eight million; in 2006, it was sixteen million and most of those are now in Tana. I have never seen so many kids.

The ship we took had several classes of travel. I think Randy and I took the next to last. It was not too bad really, dormitory style with bunk beds. The food was good. There was both a vegetarian line and a non-vegetarian line. We used the vegetarian line for lunch and dinner and the non-veg for breakfast because we wanted eggs. The trip took several days and on the way we were treated to Indian movies. That was the first time I had ever seen a Bollywood production. Treated is probably not very accurate because the sound system was terrible and it was way too loud. The days were spent on the deck watching the sea go by and reading Herman Hess’s The Glass Bead Game. So, after another trip across the Indian Ocean we arrived in Bombay, India.

In Bombay, we stayed at the Salvation Army Hostel. On the streets were quite a few wasted westerners wandering around. We didn’t really expect that to be our fate but it was a good heads up. We were both interested in getting up to Nepal as soon as possible and decided to take a train out to a good place to begin hitchhiking from. We didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t hitch in India. On our very first ride we had a surprise. A truck stopped. It was open in the back and we just needed to climb up and jump in. We threw our backpacks over the rail and climbed up and landed in a truck bed of manure. It wasn’t very wet so we just shrugged our shoulders and we were on our way.

After a couple of days traveling, we were ready to enter Nepal. We had arrived in the border town too late to be able to cross that day. We would have to wait for the next day. It just happened to be New Year’s Eve. I don’t think we made any festivities but just awaited our trip into Nepal in the morning.

After arriving in Kathmandu, we found our way to Freak Street where I knew Peter was staying in a guest house. Randy and Peter had never met. Peter had already left Madagascar by the time Randy showed up. Peter was very much into his exploration into Tibetan Buddhism. He was involved in a course that was being offered at the Kopan Monastery on the outskirts of the city. One day we went with him to visit and had a short chat with Lama Yeshe over a cup of tea. He offered his cup which we shared. He was a very kind man with a boyish grin. There were many westerners involved in the meditation teachings at the time but for some reason I wasn’t drawn to joining.

Randy and I went on to Pokhara in order to do a trek. In those days Pokhara hadn’t really become a big scene like it is today. On the sides of Lake Phewa were a few guest houses. Nearby was a Tibetan refugee camp and so a few Tibetans would set up on the paths and sell their goods. I bought a Tibetan mala and some pieces of coral with holes drilled in them for stringing on a mala. The guest house was very simple but I remember a nice garden and of course the views were incredible of both the lake and the mountains, a truly idyllic scene. There was a Japanese couple staying in the guest house that I noticed. She was very sweet and soft and he was intense with the stern look of a samurai. I would meet this couple again and they would get new names and become Geeta and Asanga.

-purushottama

This story is from a collection of stories and essays from along the Way titled From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva.