A Cloud of Unknowing – Author Unknown

How a man’s love is wonderfully transformed in the interior experience of this nothingness and nowhere.

How wonderfully is a man’s love transformed by the interior experience of this nothingness and this nowhere. The first time he looks upon it, the sins of his whole life rise up before him. No evil thought, word, or deed remains hidden. Mysteriously and darkly they are burned into it. No matter where he turns, they confront him until after great effort, painful remorse, and many bitter tears he has largely rubbed them away.

At times the sight is as terrible as a glimpse of hell and he is tempted to despair of ever being healed and relieved of his sore burden. Many arrive at this juncture in the interior life but the terrible, comfortless agony they experience facing themselves drives them back to thoughts of worldly pleasures. They seek without for relief in things of the flesh, unable to bear the spiritual emptiness within. But they have not understood that they were not ready for the spiritual comfort which would have succored then had they waited.

He who patiently abides in this darkness will be comforted and feel again a confidence about his destiny, for gradually he will see his past sins healed by grace. The pain continues yet he knows it will end for even now it grows less intense. Slowly he begins to realize that the suffering he endures is really not hell at all, but his purgatory. Then will come a time when he recognizes in that nothingness no particular sin but only the lump of sin itself, which though but a formless mass is none other than himself; he sees that in himself it is the root and pain of original sin. When at other times he begins to feel a marvelous strengthening and untold delights of joy and goodness, he wonders if this nothingness is not some heavenly paradise after all. And finally, there will come a moment when he experiences such peace and repose in that darkness that he thinks it must be God himself.

Yes, he will suppose this nothingness to be one thing and another, yet to the last it will remain a cloud of unknowing between him and his God.


From The Cloud of Unknowing, Chapter 69

Osho says about The Cloud of Unknowing:

“One of the most important statements about mysticism in the Western hemisphere is the book called The Cloud of Unknowing. The name of the author is not known; it is good that we don’t know who wrote it. It indicates one thing: that before he wrote it he had disappeared into a cloud of unknowing. It is the only book in the Western world which comes close to the Upanishads, The Tao Te Ching, The Dhammapada. There is a rare insight in it.

First he calls it a cloud. A cloud is vague, with no definable limits. It is constantly changing; it is not static – never, even for two consecutive moments, is it the same. It is a flux, it is pure change. And there is nothing substantial in it. If you hold it in your hand just mist will be left, nothing else. Maybe your hands will become wet, but you will not find any cloud in your fist.”


From Theologia Mystica, Discourse #11


A Being Energy – Osho

We all think we are aware; that is one of our unawarenesses. We are only functionally aware.

We have learned to do things, to go to bed, to get up early in the morning, to go to the job. Everything has been learned. Even a robot can do the whole process. You are not needed. And that’s exactly what has happened to humanity. It is a robot humanity. You have learned everything that is necessary and given it to your robot mind who goes on doing things on your behalf. And giving the charge to the mind you have gone to sleep.

The whole effort of the buddhas is to bring out your consciousness and to make you clearly aware of the distinction between functioning consciousness and a pure consciousness which has no function, just a mirror. The mirror has no function, it has utility, but even while you are looking in the mirror, the mirror does not do anything. The reflection is spontaneous. Even if you don’t want the reflection, still it will reflect – and the mirror is not in need of you to stand before it.

The way Zen expresses it is this: The full moon shines in the lake. Neither the full moon desires to be reflected – but it is reflected – nor does the lake want to reflect it, but it does reflect it. Both are not at all doing any active work in this reflection. Both are just being themselves and the reflection comes on its own accord. You do your things and only in doing your things can you separate the functioning consciousness and the pure consciousness.

When you walk, do you know you are walking? When you are silent, are you aware that you are silent? When you are eating, is there any awareness standing by the side, watching your function of eating? That awareness is the great enlightenment. It has no function, it has no utility, it is not a means to some end. It is enough unto itself. It is such a contentment, such deep satisfaction with oneself and the cosmos, such a strong let-go, that you don’t have to do anything. Just being is more than you can have conceived – the joy of just being, the blissfulness of just being.

I pass every day Mukta’s pond, and those two swans are just twenty-four hours a day enjoying, doing nothing. And they look so dignified, so utterly contented… not even a shadow around them of any desire or any ambition, or of any position, of any success. All those are stupid things. They are enjoying every moment, just sitting in the pond.

A consciousness is just like what Basho calls, “Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” What he is saying is, “As far as I am concerned, I am not doing anything, neither am I desiring anything. The spring comes on its own accord, uninvited. The grass starts growing without any effort on my part. I am just a watcher, sitting silently, doing nothing.”

This non-doing awareness, which has no function in the world but is simply a blissfulness, an ecstasy, a drunkenness utterly centered in the present moment… That is the whole idea of the buddhas: to make you aware that something is hiding inside you. But because it is of no use, you don’t care about it.

The world consists of utility, and your consciousness is of no utility. You cannot earn by it, you cannot sell it, you cannot do anything by it. It is not a doing energy. It is simply being – a being energy that stands just like an Everest, silently, for centuries.


Excerpt from Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky, Discourse #6

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt A Being Energy.

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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

A Revolution in Religion – Osho

When I first heard you say, “Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself,” my Western mind thought this was a metaphor, and sought to find the meaning. Then I thought you really meant to sit silently—and I felt it was impossible. Now, sitting silently in your presence, doing nothing I find is pure hedonism—and the grass is growing by itself. Beloved Master, I am amazed, and my gratitude is beyond words.

The East and the West have gone so far away from each other that there is always misunderstanding: neither the East understands the West nor the West understands the East. But in the final reckoning, the West is the loser.

For ten thousand years the East has chosen a path which is not of the mind – which is not intellectual, which is not rational, which is not logical, which is not scientific. And the West has chosen just the opposite.

The West is still far away from reaching the final heights of rational flight. And perhaps it will never be able to reach the end, because its enquiry is about the objects outside you. There is an infinity of universe, and the deeper science goes the more it finds that it knows nothing. Its knowledge only helps it to know that much more is to be known and there seems to be no end in view.

On the other hand, the East has reached its goal: it has attained to the ultimate consciousness. In a certain way, it has reached inner perfection. This creates new difficulties of misunderstanding, because the East speaks from the heights of final realization and the West can understand only relative truths which are changing every day.

They have also chosen to speak in different ways. The East speaks in poetic metaphors; the West speaks in terms of mathematics. The East speaks intuitively; the West, only intellectually.

It is one of the greatest problems to be solved – how East and West can come together. Their meeting is absolutely necessary; otherwise, whatever has been attained in the East, or in the West, will all disappear into nuclear smoke.

I can understand Kaveesha’s question. When she first heard the famous haiku – “Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself” – it was natural for her to understand it as poetry, as metaphoric expression. The mind trained in the Western way cannot think otherwise. It is impossible to think this is a description of a reality.

There is no metaphor involved. It is not poetry. Haiku is not poetry. Its formation is poetic, but what it contains is reality. Only its container is poetic, but the content is absolute reality.

But it is difficult, for the simple reason… first, sitting silently is against the Western mind. The West has the proverb, “The empty mind is the devil’s workshop.” Sitting silently, you will be empty. And from your childhood you have heard that the empty mind is the devil’s workshop. The East knows something totally different. It is a workshop – not of the devil but of the divine.

The first sentence creates great hurdles. Everybody in the West is taught to think, and thinking pays in life – sitting silently won’t pay. It is not a qualification; maybe it can be called a dis-qualification. If you apply for a job and tell the employer that your qualification is sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself, he will be simply amazed! They will simply throw you out of the office – “You sit somewhere else, because we don’t want the grass to grow here!” In their eyes, you must be mad.

The West has never developed any meditation – it is poor in that way, very poor. It knows only prayer, which is not even a faraway echo of meditation. Even the so-called prophets and saviors and messiahs have never been able to go beyond prayer – prayer is the last thing, because God is the ultimate goal.

Meditation is a revolution in religion.

It simply drops God, without even arguing against it. It is not even worthy of that, because it is a hypothesis – unproved, unexperienced; it does not deserve to be considered.

I had a friend, Professor Wilson, who was teaching in a theological college in Jabalpur. He could not understand that there can be a religion which has no God, which has no prayer. The West, for the last four or five centuries, has never conceived that religion is possible without God, without prayer. In fact it is only possible without them. They are the disturbances, obstructions on the way to religious revolution. They are the enemies.

The devil has not done any wrong in the world – he does not exist. God also does not exist, but he has done immense harm. God has kept man’s mind focused on something outside, and when you are focused on the outside, you remain in the mind. Meditation cannot be focused outside; only mind has the capacity to be focused outside. Mind cannot be focused inside; only meditation can do that. So meditation and mind go diametrically opposite ways.

It is not without reason that people of meditation have called their path the path of no-mind. But with the mind being dropped, gods, all kinds of theologies, devils, heaven and hell and their details, the ideas of sin and virtue – they are all dropped because they are all part of the mind. And the West has remained mind-obsessed – as if you are only mind and nothing more, your existence consists of mind-body, and that’s all.

Trained in the Western ways, Kaveesha thought that it must be some metaphor, or perhaps there is some meaning in it. ‘Meaning’ is a mind word: if there is some meaning in it, then think about the meaning, find out the meaning of it.

You cannot find any meaning in it. It comes from an inner source of your being, where meaning itself has no meaning, where things simply are – with great splendor, with tremendous beauty, but no meaning. Meaning is a logical concept, and logic is a mind product. Existence knows nothing about it.

So first she thought it may be a metaphor. Obviously, this will come to the Western mind. But a metaphor also has to have some meaning. It must indicate towards something; it must be a metaphor for something, a representative, a pointer. But what meaning is there? Seen with an attitude which is searching for meaning, the haiku is meaningless. It is an experience. And it actually describes everything that happens to consciousness – just in those few words.

And that is the beauty of haiku. It uses the minimal amount of words. You cannot take a single word out of it, it has been already taken: only the most essential has been left.

Sitting silently – there are two words. It starts with sitting, it starts with the body. If the body can sit restfully, relaxed, it helps immensely for the mind to become silent. If the body is restless, tense, then the mind cannot be silent. So the haiku is starting from the very foundation: “sitting” simply means relaxed, restful, at ease, at home, no tensions.

You see millions of statues of Buddha all over Asia – and Buddha himself said before he died, “Don’t make a statue of me.” For almost three hundred years the disciples, generation after generation, resisted the temptation. But as the physical presence of Buddha became far away – four hundred years, five hundred years – the temptation to have at least a marble statue sitting in the same posture as Buddha… It does not matter whether it is a photographic representation or not; that is irrelevant. What matters is that it will help to give you inspiration, understanding of how to sit.

And for that, the marble statue is even better than a real Buddha, because it is completely relaxed – no tensions, no movement. They gave it such proportion, such beauty, such aesthetic sensibility, that if you sit by the side of a Buddha statue, you would like to sit in the same way. And the miracle you will feel is that as you start sitting in the same way, the mind starts settling… as if the evening has come and the birds are coming back to their homes, to their trees. Soon it will be night and all the birds will have settled in their nests, fallen asleep.

And if you are fortunate to be in the presence of a living, awakened being, his restful body will create a synchronicity with your bodies, because it is of the same matter. All bodies are made of the same matter and function on the same wavelength.

If the sitting is right, silence descends on you just as the evening comes and then all becomes dark.

Sitting silently… The second thing is the mind. The body should be non-tense, and the mind should be without any thought.

Sitting silently, doing nothing… This is very significant to understand. Even the idea that you are doing meditation is a disturbance, because every “doing” makes the mind active. Mind can remain passive only when you are in a state of non-doing, doing nothing…

This small haiku contains the whole philosophy of the Eastern approach. It is not even a meditation; you are not doing anything, you are simply rejoicing in rest. You are enjoying the peace that comes on its own; it is not your doing. You are simply waiting, not doing… waiting for things to happen. There is no hurry, there is no worry.

The Spring comes… Remember, existence has no obligation to fulfill your desires; hence, the sentence, the Spring comes… You may be in a different season, and the grass may not grow. Don’t complain that “I was sitting silently and the grass was not growing.” You were out of tune with existence.

You have to follow existence. The spring comes – you have to wait for the spring to come, you cannot bring it, you cannot manufacture it; it is not in your hands. The spring comes – it comes – and the grass grows by itself. And suddenly everything becomes green; suddenly, everywhere grass is growing. Nobody is doing anything, just the spring has come and its coming is enough for the grass to grow.

You are sitting silently, doing nothing, simply waiting for the spring to come. Just as the outside spring comes, the inside spring also comes. There are inner seasons of life. So don’t be worried – the spring is bound to come.

And at the time the haiku was written, the spring used to come exactly the same day every year; for centuries that had been the routine. In my childhood in India, every season was coming exactly on the same day. There was no question about what day the rains would begin, on what day the rains would end. But because of atomic explosions… they have disturbed the whole ecology. Now nothing is certain: sometimes rains come, sometimes they don’t come at all; sometimes they come too much, too early. The old rhythm, the old balance, is there no more.

But fortunately, atomic explosions cannot disturb your inner world. They cannot reach there. There, the spring comes exactly when you are ready. The Egyptian saying is, “When the disciple is ready, the master appears.” The master has to appear when the disciple is ready. The disciple need not worry about the master; he has just to be ready. His readiness is enough to give a call to the master.

And it is absolutely true: the master appears when the disciple is ready. Sitting silently, doing nothing, you are getting ready. No desire, no worry whether the spring will come or not – it always comes, it has never been otherwise. The moment you are ready, it is there.

And when the spring comes to your inner world, as if thousands of flowers have opened up, the whole air changes: it is fresh and fragrant, the birds start singing. Your inner world becomes a music unto itself, a fragrance unto itself – and the grass grows by itself.

By “the grass” is indicated your life, your life force. Green is the symbol for the living. In connection with spring, everything becomes green. And once you have experienced this phenomenon, you have known the greatest secret there is – that there are things which you cannot do, but can only allow to happen.

So it is possible, Kaveesha: sitting here just doing nothing, the spring may come at any moment, and for the first time you will understand the significance of the haiku, because something in you starts growing, so alive – it is pure life. It is you, it is your being. But there is no way to intellectually understand it.

In the East for thousands of years, disciples have been sitting by the side of the master, just doing nothing. It looks strange to the Western mind: what is the point of sitting there? If you go to a Sufi gathering, the master is sitting in the middle and all around his disciples are sitting silently – nothing is happening, the master is not even saying anything. Hours pass…

But something transpires – they all feel a fulfillment. When they come out, they are radiant. The master has not done anything; neither have they done anything. They just fall in tune because both were not doing anything, both were silent.

It is possible that now you understand the haiku. Sitting here every day, just listening to me, a silence descends on you and suddenly there is spring and the grass is growing.

The East has to be understood in its own ways. If somebody tries to interpret it intellectually, he has missed the point from the very beginning.


From The Path of the Mystic, Discourse #24

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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

A Bigger Container – Charlotte Joko Beck

At the age of ninety-five Genpo Roshi, one of the great Zen masters of modern times, was speaking of the “gateless gate,” and he pointed out that there truly is no gate through which we must pass in order to realize what our life is. Still, he said, from the standpoint of practice we must go through a gate, the gate of our own pride. And every one of us here, since the time we got up this morning, has in some way or another met our pride—every one of us. To go through this gate that is not a gate we have to go through the gate of our own pride.

Now the child of pride is anger. By anger I mean all kinds of frustration, including irritation, resentment, jealousy. I talk so much about anger and how to work with it because to understand how to practice with anger is to understand how to approach the “gateless gate.”

In daily life we know what it means to stand back from a problem. For example, I’ve watched Laura make a beautiful flower arrangement: she’ll fuss and fiddle with the flowers, then at some point she’ll stand back and look, to see what she has done and how it balances out. If you’re sewing a dress, at first you cut and arrange and sew, but finally you get in front of the mirror to see how it looks. Does it hang on the shoulders? How’s the hem? Is it becoming? Is it a suitable dress? You stand back. Likewise, in order to put our lives into perspective, we stand back and take a look.

Now Zen practice is to do this. It develops the ability to stand back and look. Let’s take a practical example, a quarrel. The overriding quality in any quarrel is pride. Suppose I’m married and I have a quarrel with my husband. He’s done something that I don’t like—perhaps he has spent the family savings on a new car—and I think our present car is fine. And I think—in fact I know—that I am right. I am angry, furious. I want to scream. Now what can I do with my anger? What is the fruitful thing to do? First of all I think it’s a good idea just to back away: to do and say as little as possible. As I retreat for a bit, I can remind myself that what I really want is to be what might be called A Bigger Container. (In other words I must practice my ABCs.) To do this is to step into another dimension—the spiritual dimension, if we must give it a name.

Let’s look at  a series of practice steps, realizing that in the heat of anger it’s impossible for most of us to practice as the drama occurs. But do try to step back; do and say very little; remove yourself. Then, when you’re alone, just sit and observe. What do I mean by “observe”? Observe the soap opera going on in the mind: what he said, what he did, what I have to say about all that, what I should do about it . . . these are all a fantasy. They are not the reality of what’s happening. If we can (it’s difficult to do when angry), label these thoughts. Why is it difficult? When we’re angry there’s a huge block that stands in the way of practice: the fact that we don’t want to practice—we prefer to cherish our pride, to be “right” about the argument, the issue. (“Do not seek the Truth—only cease to cherish opinions.”) And that’s why the first step is to back away, say little. It may take weeks of hard practice before we can see that what we want is not to be right, but to be A Bigger Container, ABC. Step back and observe. Label the thoughts of the drama: yes, he shouldn’t do that; yes, I can’t stand what he’s doing; yes, I’ll find some way to get even—all of which may be so on a superficial level, but still it is just a soap opera.

If we truly step back and observe—and as I said, it’s extremely difficult to do when angry—we will be capable in time of seeing our thoughts as thoughts (unreal) and not as the truth. Sometimes I’ve gone through this process ten, twenty, thirty times before the thoughts finally subside. When they do I am left with what? I am left with the direct experience of the physical reaction in my body, the residue, so to speak. When I directly experience this residue (as tension, contraction), since there is no duality in direct experience, I will slowly enter the dimension (samadhi) which knows what to do, what action to take. It knows what is the best action, not just for me but for the other as well. In making A Bigger Container, I taste “oneness” in a direct way.

We can talk about “oneness” until the cows come home. But how do we actually separate ourselves from others? How? The pride out of which anger is born is what separates us. And the solution is a practice in which we experience this separating emotion as a definite bodily state. When we do, A Bigger Container is created.

What is created, what grows, is the amount of life I can hold without it upsetting me, dominating me. At first this space is quite restricted, then it’s a bit bigger, and then it’s bigger still. It need never cease to grow. And the enlightened state is that enormous and compassionate space. But as long as we live we find there is a limit to our container’s size and it is at that point that we must practice. And how do we know where this cut-off point is? We are at that point when we feel any degree of upset, of anger. It’s no mystery at all. And the strength of our practice is how big that container gets.

As we do this practice we need to be charitable with ourselves. We need to recognize when we’re unwilling to do it. No one is willing all the time. And it’s not bad when we don’t do it. We always do what we’re ready to do.

The practice of making A Bigger Container is essentially spiritual because it is essentially nothing at all. A Bigger Container isn’t a thing; awareness is not a thing; the witness is not a thing or a person. There is not somebody witnessing. Nevertheless that which can witness my mind and body must be other than my mind and body. If I can observe my mind and body in an angry state, who is this “I” who observes? It shows me that I am other than my anger, bigger than my anger, and this knowledge enables me to build A Bigger Container, to grow. So what must be increased is the ability to observe. What we observe is always secondary. It isn’t important that we are upset; what is important is the ability to observe the upset.

As the ability grows first to observe, and second to experience, two factors simultaneously increase: wisdom, the ability to see life as it is (not the way I want it to be) and compassion, the natural action which comes from seeing life as it is. We can’t have compassion for anyone or anything if our encounter with them is ensnarled in pride and anger; it’s impossible. Compassion grows as we create A Bigger Container.

When we practice we’re cutting deep into our life as we’ve know it, and the way this process unfolds varies from person to person. For some people, depending on their personal conditioning and history, this process may go smoothly, and the release is slow. For others it comes in waves, enormous emotional waves. It’s like a dam that bursts. We fear being flooded and over whelmed. It’s as though we’ve walled off part of the ocean, and when the dam breaks the water just rejoins that which it truly is; and it’s relieved because now it can flow with the currents and the vastness of the ocean.

Nevertheless I think that it’s important for the process not to go too fast. If it’s going too fast I think it should be slowed down. Crying, shaking upset, are not undesirable things. That dam is beginning to break. But it’s not necessary that it break too fast. Better to slow it down, and if it breaks rapidly, that also is OK—it’s just that it doesn’t have to be done that way. We think we’re all the same; but probably the more repressive and difficult the childhood has been, the more important it is for the dam to give way slowly. But no matter how smooth our life may have been, there’s always a dam that has to busts at some point.

Remember also that a little humor about all this isn’t a bad idea. Essentially we never get rid of anything. We don’t have to get rid of all our neurotic tendencies; what we do is begin to see how funny they are, and then they’re just part of the fun of life, the fun with living with other people. They’re all crazy. And so are we, of course. But we never really see that we’re crazy; that’s our pride. Of course I’m not crazy—after all, I’m the teacher!

-Charlotte Joko Beck

From Everyday Zen, pages 49-52

The Fire of Attention – Charlotte Joko Beck

Back in the 1920’s, when I was maybe eight or ten years old, and living in New Jersey where the winters are cold, we had a furnace in our house that burned coal. It was a big event on the block when the coal truck pulled up and all this stuff poured down the coal shute into the coal bin. I learned that there were two kinds of coal that showed up in the coal bin: one was called anthracite or hard coal, and the other was lignite, soft coal. My father told me about the difference in the way those two kinds of coal burned. Anthracite burns cleanly, leaving little ash. Lignite leaves lots of ash. When we burned lignite, the cellar became covered with soot and some of it got upstairs into the living room. Mother had something to say about that, I remember. At night my father would bank the fire, and I learned to do this too. Banking the fire means covering it with a thin layer of coal, and then shutting down the oxygen vent to the furnace so that the fire stays in slow-burning state. Overnight the house becomes cold, and so in the morning the fire must be stirred up and the oxygen vent opened; then the furnace can heat up the house.

What does all this have to do with our practice? Practice is about breaking our exclusive identification with ourselves. This process has sometimes been called purifying the mind. To “purify the mind” doesn’t mean that you become holy or other than you are; it means to strip away that which keeps a person—or a furnace—from functioning best. The furnace functions best with hard coal. But unfortunately what we’re full of is soft coal. There’s a saying in the Bible: “He is like a refiner’s fire.” It’s a common analogy, found in other religions as well. To sit through sesshin is to be in the middle of a refining fire. Eido Roshi said once, “This zendo is not a peaceful haven, but a furnace room for the combustion of our egoistic delusions.” A zendo is not a place for bliss and relaxation, but a furnace room for the combustion of our egoistic delusions. What tools do we need to use? Only one. We’ve all heard of it, yet we use it very seldom. It’s called attention.

-Charlotte Joko Beck

From Everyday Zen, pages 31-32

He Understands Zen Intellectually – Osho

If I understand him rightly, Hubert Benoit seems to think that one does not need a Master to learn how to let go. He writes, “I have need of a Master to learn some movements that I wish to make with my limbs, but I have no need to learn how to decontract my muscles. I have need of a professor of philosophy, or of poetry in order to learn how to think in the truest or most beautiful way; I have no need of such a person if I wish to learn not to think.”

Would you please comment?

Maneesha, the content of Hubert Benoit’s statement is absolutely true, but in practice it does not happen so. It is true that if you want to learn philosophy you need a professor, but if you don’t want to learn you don’t need a professor. He has forgotten one thing, and that is: you have already learned a philosophy; now what to do with that philosophy? You will need a professor to help you to get rid of that philosophy. In practice, nobody is unconditioned, hence, somebody is needed to indicate that your mind is conditioned, and a conditioned mind cannot know the truth.

So in content, he is right, but in practice, he is just philosophizing. He understands Zen intellectually, and perhaps he has written the most complete treatise on Zen, but what he is writing, he himself has not practiced.

Practice is a totally different phenomenon from learning. You will have to be told how to relax, although you don’t need to be told. But if you don’t need – according to this man who has written extensively on Zen… If nobody needs to relax, if nobody needs to be told to relax, why are people tense? If nobody needs to be told to unlearn, then why are there not innocent people? In practice, things take a totally different standpoint.

I will agree with him philosophically, but I know practically – you have to be told how to relax. You have to be told how to unlearn. You need a master. In reality, there is no need, because you are the Buddha. But who is going to remind you? You have forgotten it for so long that you have become accustomed to the idea that you are not the Buddha.

Maneesha, even beautiful things can be said, but only with intellectual understanding. It is not Hubert Benoit’s experience. His intellectual grasp is clear, but his existential experience is missing.


From The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself, Discourse #4

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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

Zen is a Deprogramming – Osho

In his book, ‘The Way of Zen,’ Alan Watts writes, “One must not forget the social context of Zen. It is primarily a way of liberation for those who have mastered the discipline of social convention, of the conditioning of the individual by the group. Zen is a medicine for the ill effects of this conditioning, for the mental paralysis and anxiety which come from extensive self-consciousness.”

Beloved Master, First, I don’t see any need to master social conventions to be ready for the way of Zen. On the contrary, trying to master dead, old rules shows stupidity. Why not drop them immediately?

Second, do you see Zen as a medicine for the ill effect of conditioning?

Whenever you are reading a book, remember the man who is writing it, because those words are not coming from the sky, they are coming from an individual mind.

Alan Watts was a trained Christian missionary. That training continues to affect his effort to understand Zen. And finally, when he came a little closer to Zen, the Christian church expelled him. That brought a crisis in that man’s life. He was not yet a man of Zen, and he had lost his credibility as a Christian. Under this stress he started drinking wine, became an alcoholic and died because of alcoholism. If you know this man you will understand why he is saying what he is saying.

His statement that “One must not forget the social context of Zen,” is simply saying something about himself – that if he had not forgotten the social context and remained a docile Christian, things would have been better. His interest in Zen, rather than bringing him freedom, brought him catastrophe. But Zen is not responsible for it; he could not go the whole way.

He tried somehow to make a Christian context for Zen. Neither did Christians like it, nor the men of Zen. They don’t need any Christian context; they don’t need any social context. It is an individual rebellion. Whether you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian does not matter. Whatever load you are carrying, drop it. Whatever the name of the load, just drop it.

Zen is a deprogramming.

You are all programmed – as a Christian, as a Catholic, as a Hindu, as a Mohammedan… everybody is programmed. Zen is a deprogramming. So it does not matter what kind of program you bring; what kind of cage you have lived in does not matter. The cage has to be broken and the bird has to be released. There is no social context of Zen. Zen is the most intimate and the most individualistic rebellion against the collective mass and its pressure.

Alan Watts is not right. His understanding of Zen is absolutely intellectual. He says, “It is primarily a way of liberation for those who have mastered the discipline of social convention.” All nonsense. It has nothing to do with social convention. There is no need to master something which you have to drop finally. There is no point in wasting time. In other words, he is saying, “First, get into a cage, become a slave of a certain conventionality, a certain religion, a certain belief system, and then try to be free of it.”

He is simply showing his mind, unconsciously. He was encaged, and for years trained as a Christian priest. You can expel a Christian, but it is very difficult for the Christian to expel the Christianity that has gone deep into his bones, into his blood. He could not expel it, hence his advice for others who may follow: “It is primarily a way of liberation for those who have mastered the discipline of social convention, of the conditioning of the individual by the group.” Absolutely no.

It does not matter whether you are conditioned this way or that way. Conditioned fifty percent, sixty percent, or one hundred percent – it does not matter. From any point freedom is available. And you will have to drop it, so the less you are conditioned the better, because you will be dropping a small load. It is better if your cage is very small. But if you have a palace and an empire, then it is very difficult to drop it.

When Jesus asked the fishermen to drop their jobs and “come follow me,” they really dropped. There was nothing much to be dropped – just a fisherman’s net, a rotten net. A good bargain: dropping this net and following this man, you will enter into the kingdom of God. But when he asked the rich young man to drop everything and “come and follow me,” the rich man hesitated and disappeared into the crowd. The less you have, as far as conditioning is concerned, the easier it is to drop it.

And he is asking that first you should be conditioned by the group, and master the discipline of social convention. Strange… Do you have to become first a soldier just to get retired from the army? If you don’t want to fight, you don’t have to become a soldier. Why not be fresh? But he was not fresh.

He was contaminated by Christianity, and he hopes – according to his programming – that everybody first should be conditioned, chained, handcuffed, put into a jail, so that he can enjoy freedom one day. A strange way of experiencing freedom!

When you are free there is no need of being conditioned by any group, by any belief. There is no need. As you are, you are already too conditioned. Society does not allow their children to grow like the lilies in the field, pure, uncontaminated. They pollute them with all their conditionings, centuries old. The older the conditioning, the more precious it is thought to be.

And contradictorily… the second statement he makes: “Zen is a medicine for the ill effects of this conditioning.”

Zen is not a medicine. Zen is the explosion of health. Medicine is needed only by sick people, but health is needed by everyone – more health, a more juicy life. Zen is not a medicine; Zen is the inner explosion of your wholeness, your health, your ultimate immortality.

The questioner has said, “Beloved Master, first, I don’t see any need to master social conventions to be ready for the way of Zen” – you are right. ”On the contrary, trying to master dead, old rules shows stupidity” – you are again right. ”Why not drop them immediately?” That’s what Zen is asking you: “Why not drop it immediately? Why go part by part?”

I have told you a story in Ramakrishna’s life….

A man had gathered ten thousand golden rupees. And at that time, the rupee was really gold; the word ‘rupee’ simply means gold. And this was his desire – that one day when they were ten thousand, he would offer them to Ramakrishna, of course, to gain virtue in the other life. When small donations are given and people are getting great virtues… for ten thousand gold pieces you can purchase even God’s own house!

He went, dropped his bags of golden coins, and told Ramakrishna, “I want to offer them to you.

Please accept them.”

Ramakrishna was a strange man. Ordinarily, a traditional sannyasin would not have accepted.

He would have said, “I have renounced the world, I cannot accept.” But Ramakrishna was not a conventional type. He said, “Okay, I accept. Now do me a favor.”

The man said, “I am at your feet. Whatever you want.”

“Take all these coins to the Ganges” – which was just behind the temple where Ramakrishna lived – “and drop all the coins into the Ganges.”

The man could not believe it. “What kind of… ten thousand gold pieces?” But now he cannot say that this is not right, he has already lost possession of them. Now they belong to Ramakrishna, and Ramakrishna is saying, “Go and drop them. Just do me a favor.”

Hesitantly, reluctantly, the man went. Hours passed. Ramakrishna said, “What happened to that man? He should have come back within five minutes.”

So Ramakrishna sent a sannyasin to look for him….

The man had gathered a big crowd. He was first checking each golden coin on a stone, and then he would throw them one by one. And people were jumping into the Ganges and collecting, and it had become a great show, and the man was enjoying.

When informed, Ramakrishna said, “That man is an idiot. Just tell him: when you are collecting something you can count them, but when you are throwing, what is the point of wasting time? Just drop the whole load.”

Ramakrishna was, in a simple way, indicating that when you are dropping your conditioning, your mental conceptions, your beliefs, don’t drop by and by. They are all interconnected; drop them all. If you cannot drop them all in a single moment, you will not be able to drop them at all. Either now, or never.

Secondly, the questioner has asked, “Do you see Zen as a medicine for the ill effect of conditioning?”

I don’t see Zen as a medicine, because a medicine sooner or later becomes useless. When your cold is over, you don’t go carrying on with the Greek aspirin!

Mukta keeps them for everybody; she has taken the responsibility. By being Greek she has to carry Greek aspirins. And everybody knows, so whenever somebody needs one, they look for Mukta.

If Zen is a medicine, when you are cured, what will you do with Zen? You will have to throw it away, or give it to the Lions Club. But Zen cannot be thrown away, nor can it be given to the Lions Club. In the first place, there is not a single lion.

Zen is your very nature; there is no way of throwing it away. All that you can do with Zen is two things: you can remember, or you can forget. This is the only possibility. If you forget your nature, your buddhahood… this is the only sin in the world of Zen: forgetfulness.

Gautam Buddha’s last words on the earth have to be remembered: sammasati. Sammasati means right remembrance. His whole life is condensed into a single word, remembrance, as if on dying, he is condensing all his teachings, all his scriptures into a single word. Nobody has uttered a more significant word when dying. His last message, his whole message: sammasati, remember. And when you remember, there is no way to throw your consciousness away.

Zen is not a meditation. Zen is exactly sammasati – remembrance of your ultimateness, remembrance of your immortality, remembrance of your divineness, of your sacredness.

Remembering it, and rejoicing it, and dancing out of joy that you are rooted, so deeply rooted in existence that there is no way for you to be worried, to be concerned.

Existence is within you and without you – it is one whole.


From The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself, Discourse #4

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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.


The Key is to be Delivered – Osho

Buddha had many enlightened people around him, yet he felt something special for this one enlightened person. Is there something different in enlightenments?

Yes, Buddha, had many enlightened persons around, but the key can be given only to such a person who can become a master in his own right, because the key is to be delivered on and on. It has to be kept alive. It was not going to become a treasure for Mahakashyap; it was a great responsibility, it had to be given to somebody else.

There were other enlightened persons but the key couldn’t be given to them; the key would be lost with them. Really, Buddha chose the right person, because the key is still alive. Mahakashyap did well. He could find another person who would transfer it to somebody else. The question is to find the right person. Just enlightened is not enough — not all enlightened persons are masters — a distinction has to be made.

Jainas have a beautiful distinction; they have two types of enlightened persons. One enlightened person is known as kaivali, one who has attained to absolute aloneness. He has become perfect but he cannot be a teacher, he cannot give this perfection to somebody else. He is not a master, he cannot guide; he himself has become an ultimate peak, but whatsoever he knows he cannot transmit in any way.

The other type of enlightened person is called tirthankara, one who becomes a vehicle for others. He is enlightened, but he is also a master of a certain art of communicating through words and communicating through silence. He can deliver the message. Others can be enlightened through him. Buddha said, “Whatever can be said by words I have told you. That which cannot be said by words I give to Mahakashyap.”

Mahakashyap was the master of silence. Through his silence he could teach. Others were masters of words, and through their words they could teach and carry on the work. It was not so essential, it was on the periphery; but that too was needed because Buddha’s words had to be recorded. What Buddha did had to be recorded and transferred from generation to generation. This, too, was essential, but it existed on the periphery. His scholars, Moggalayan, Sariputta, Ananda, would record everything. That is a treasure.

Buddha was really happy: all should be recorded, not a single word should be left, because, who knows, that single word may become enlightenment to someone. But the silence also had to be carried. So two traditions exist — the tradition of the scripture and the tradition of silence. Then many can become enlightened. And the moment they become enlightened they become so silent, so content that not even the desire to help others arises in them.

But Jainas say that the tirthankara is a person who has gathered some karma — and this is strange – and has to fulfill this karma by conveying the message to others. It is not a very good thing; karma is not a very good thing. In his past life he has gathered karma to be a master. It is not a good thing, because something has to be done, something has to be completed, and he must do it; then his karmas are fulfilled, then he is relieved completely. The desire to help others is still a desire; compassion towards others is still energy moving towards others. All desires have disappeared but one, to help others. That too is a desire, and unless this desire also disappears this man will have to come back.

So a master is one who has become enlightened, but one desire is left. That desire is not a trouble in becoming enlightened — to help others helps to become enlightened — but you will still be attached to the body. Only one stream, all sources cut, but one bridge is there.

There were other enlightened persons, but the key could not be given to them; it had to be given to Mahakashyap, because he had an inner desire to help — his past karmas. He could become a tirthankara; he could become a perfect master. And he did well. Buddha’s choice was perfectly right — because there was one other of Buddha’s disciples who could have been given the key. His name was Subhuti. He was as silent as Mahakashyap, even more. It will be difficult for you — how silence, how perfection, can be more — but it is possible. It is beyond ordinary arithmetic. You can be perfect, and you can be even still more perfect, because perfection has growth, it goes on growing infinitely.

Subhuti was the most silent man around Buddha, even more than Mahakashyap. But the key could not be given to him because he was so silent. It will be difficult now: you are entering a very complex phenomenon. In the first place, he would not laugh, and the key could not be given to him because he would not laugh. He was not there. He was so silent, he was not there to laugh, he was not there to contain or not to contain. Even if Buddha had called, “Subhuti, come!” he would not have come. Buddha would have had to go to him.

It is related of Subhuti that one day he was sitting under a tree, when suddenly out of season flowers started falling on him. So he opened his eyes: What is the matter? The tree was not in blossom, the season was not there; then from where, suddenly, these millions of flowers? He looked and he saw many deities all around, above the tree, in the sky, dropping flowers. He would not even ask the deities what was the matter. He closed his eyes again.

Then those deities said to Subhuti, “We are thanking you for the sermon you have given on emptiness.” And Subhuti said, “But I haven’t said a single word, and you say you are thanking me for the sermon that I have given on emptiness! I have not spoken a single word.”

The deities said, “You have not spoken and we have not heard — that is the perfect sermon on emptiness.” He was so empty that the whole cosmos felt it, and gods had to come to shower flowers on him.

This Subhuti was there, but he was so silent that he was not there. He was not even bothered why Buddha was sitting with the flower. Mahakashyap was — not like the others, but still in a way. He looked at Buddha, he felt the silence, he felt the absurdity, but there was one who was feeling. Subhuti must have been there somewhere, sitting. There arose no idea why Buddha was sitting silently today, why he was looking at the flower; then there was no effort to contain it, then there was no explosion.

Subhuti was there as if absolutely absent. He would not laugh, and if Buddha had called he would not have come; Buddha would have had to go to him. And no one knows — if the key had been given to him, he might have thrown it away. He was not a man meant to be a tirthankara, he was not a man meant to be a teacher or a master. He had no past karmas. He was perfect, so perfect, and whenever something is so perfect it becomes useless. Remember, a person so perfect is useless, because you cannot use him for any purpose.

Mahakashyap was not so perfect. Something was lacking and he could be used, so in that gap the key could be put. The key was delivered to Mahakashyap because he could be relied upon to deliver it to somebody else. Subhuti was not reliable. Perfection, when absolute, just disappears. It is not there in the world. You can shower flowers on it but you cannot use it. That’s why many enlightened persons were there, but only one in particular, Mahakashyap, was chosen. He was a man who could be used for this great responsibility.

This is strange. That’s why I say ordinary arithmetic won’t help, because you will think that the key should be given to the most perfect. But the most perfect will forget where he had put the key. The key should be given to one who is almost perfect, just on the brink where one disappears. And before he disappears he will hand over the key to somebody else. To the ignorant the key cannot be given, to the most perfect the key cannot be given. Someone has to be found who is just on the boundary, who is passing from this world of ignorance to that world of knowing, just on the boundary. Before he crosses the boundary this time can be used and the key delivered. To find a successor is very difficult, because the most perfect is useless.

I will tell you one event that happened just recently: Ramakrishna was working on many disciples.  Many attained, but nobody knows about them. People know about Vivekananda, who never attained; the key was given to Vivekananda who was not the most perfect, and not only was he not the most perfect, but Ramakrishna wouldn’t allow him to be perfect. And when Ramakrishna felt that Vivekananda was going to enter into the perfect samadhi, he called him and said, “Stop! Now I will keep the key with me for this final entry, and only before your death, three days before, the key will be returned to you.” And only three days before Vivekananda died, did he have a first taste of ecstasy, never before.

Vivekananda started crying and weeping and said, “Why are you so cruel to me?”

Ramakrishna replied, “Something has to be done through you. You have to go to the West, to the world; you have to give my message to people, otherwise it will be lost.” There were others, but they were already in; he could not call them out. They would not be interested in going to the West or around the world. They would say that this was nonsense — they were just like Ramakrishna. Why would he not go himself? He was already in, and somebody had to be used who was out.

Those who are far out cannot be used; those who are almost in, just near the door, can be used; and before they enter they deliver the key to somebody else. Mahakashyap was just near the door, fresh, entering into silence. Silence became celebration and he had a desire to help. That desire has been used. But Subhuti was impossible. He was the most buddhalike, the most perfect, but when somebody is buddhalike he is useless. He can give himself the secret key; there is no need to give it to him. Subhuti never made anybody a disciple. He lived in perfect emptiness, and gods had to serve him many times. And he never made a disciple; he never said anything to anybody, everything was so perfect. Why bother? Why say anything?

A master is fulfilling his past karmas. He has to fulfill them. And when I have to find a successor, many will be there who will be like Subhutis: they cannot be given the key. Many will be there who are like Sariputtas: only words can be given to them. Somebody has to be found who is entering silence, celebrating, and has been caught just near the door. That is why.


From A Bird on the Wing, Discourse #10

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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.


Notes from Yoga Beyond Meditation – Vimala Thakar

Pratyahara, dharana, dhyanam, and samadhi

Pratyahara is the state of the individualised mind where the movement of memory and the movement of the senses has discontinued.  So the mind is inwardly and outwardly surrounded by space.

Pratyahara equips the mind with the capacity to bring in dharana.  It enables the mind to be in the state of dharana.

The individualised mind is held by the inner and outer space:  that is dharana.

The individualised mind in its purified form, in its purified condition is there but now all its energy is focused on the inner and outer space.  Its attentivity is related to the inner and the outer space.  It is as if enveloped in space, in emptiness, in silence.  It has not yet assimilated the state of emptiness and peace as its experience, but it is held there.

If that state of the mind is sustained, then the individualised mind converts that state of being embraced, enveloped, wrapped in peace and emptiness into an experience and that experiencing of emptiness and peace is called dhyanam.

So there is only the experiencing of space, emptiness, silence.

In this state of the experience of silence, but still in its very subtle form, in a very purified state, the individualised mind is still there.  The subtle consciousness of “I am” or “I am experiencing space”, “I am experiencing peace or silence”, “I am in the state of dhyanam meditation” is still there.

When that consciousness disappears, there is the state of samadhi.

Though it is a very subtle, harmless centre, because it is not running in the past, with the past or running outside your body it is harmless but yet it is the individualised mind, it is not yet that universal mind stuff – the drashta, the authentic seer.  There are still the thoughts “I am”, “I am experiencing meditation”, “I am in the state of meditation”.  But when that disappears, when that gets dissolved, there is the state of samadhi.

Beyond meditation, beyond dhyanam, is the dissolution of the individualised mind.

So samadhi is now a new dimension:  in that state of meditation the sense of “I am” totally gets wiped out – the sense of “I am experiencing meditation” – that last segment gets wiped out.

Now the silence and the space have penetrated the sense of “I am” and dissolved it – that is samadhi.

-Vimala Thakar

From Yoga Beyond Meditation

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

Here you can find some downloadable books of Vimala Thakar.

Mutation of Mind – Vimala Thakar

The conscious mind, realizing its own limitations, becoming aware that it hasn’t got any other channel or groove to function in, can become spontaneously quiet.

When all this investigation creates a humility in the conscious mind, and an awareness of its own limitations, awareness of the fortress in which it is imprisoned and which it cannot transcend, then that humility does create a silence in the mind.  This is not the silence of suppression or repression, compulsion or paralysis.  It is not an induced silence, whether that inducement comes through ideas, ideals, emotions or chemicals.

The immensity of the contents of the unconscious brings about a sense of humility in the conscious mind.  And a silence of the conscious mind flows out of that humility.  The next step is not going to be taken by the conscious mind at all.

We are saying that the very awareness of its own limitations can bring about a state of silence.

Then a direct communion with reality becomes possible.  In fact, that state defies verbalization.  The realm of the unknown defies verbalization.  Self-knowing is the essence.  Self-knowing is the maturity which one has to attain.  So we have been struggling with the limitations of the mind, but for the struggle we employ the mind.  Struggling against the limitations of the mind by employing the mind and exercising the will is not the right way perhaps.

When you realize that the mind is not equal to the task of communing with reality, the mind relaxes in silence.

It needs alertness; it needs intensity, which we lack.  Our energy is so much scattered, that this inquiry of truth becomes one of the many desires.  When one starts living every moment in the light of that inquiry, then the illumination dawns upon the heart. This creative understanding dawns upon the human heart, when the inquiry of truth becomes the top priority; when it becomes the all-consuming flame, in the light of which one lives.  It is not a pastime, a hobby, an amusement.  (The challenge needs to be formulated, then realised, then begun.)

The problem is how to break away completely from the conditioning in which the mind has been cultivated.

Truth (requires) the right approach, start, foundation.  We must become free from the urge for security; acquisition, accumulation, preservation is a hindrance to this transformation.  Emotions, feelings, thoughts and memories are mechanical actions, inevitable reflex actions according to conditioning.  The mind names, identifies, compares, judges on the basis of memory.

Mind becomes silent, temporarily, only when it is confronted with something which it cannot interpret, something unprecedented.  Realizing its own limitations, understanding that truth and reality are something very vast, immeasurable by the human mind and that the mystery of life cannot be discovered by ideas and concepts, the mind becomes silent.

The mind could understand its own nature, find out the conflicts between the conscious and the unconscious; find out the impossibility of a total action on the mental plane; realize the limitations and become quiet.

Whether you try to influence the mind through ideas and concepts, or through discipline and vows, or through drugs, you are trying to stimulate artificially a state of silence.  Perhaps if we are friendly with the mind, if we watch the mind, if we understand the mind, if we let it wander, let it roam about wherever it wants, let it exhaust its momentum by wandering, without scolding, without praising, without condemning it might exhaust its momentum and arrive at the simple innocent silence.

The subconscious and the unconscious contain the known.  The implication of the words total silence is silence of the subconscious and the unconscious and the conscious.  We will have to allot some time in the beginning to sit by ourselves and find out if the mind can be silent.

All our emotions and thoughts are conditioned reflexes, reactions.

This non-identification with ones reactions … brings about a sudden change in the level of consciousness.  This non-identification with the subconscious world, non-identification with the momentum of the whole subconscious and unconscious results in creative silence.  The creative alternative is to refuse to identify oneself with the mind.  This cannot blossom in a day, if we do not know what mind is.

One has to begin with being introduced to one’s own mind.  To watch how the mind works, to watch how we live second-hand through emotions, feelings and sentiments.  How we call them our own and identify ourselves with them. To watch all this, will be the beginning of meditation.

-Vimala Thakar

From Mutation of Mind

For more posts on Vimala Thakar look here.

Here you can find some downloadable books of Vimala Thakar.