What is Joshu’s single note? This is the single note – emptiness. This is the lotus flower that Buddha transmitted to Mahakashyap. And this is what all of the Buddhas have been teaching through the ages – be empty. The ego wants to be All. The All happens, but it happens through emptiness, and therein lies the difficulty, the impossibility of it. You can become perfect, but if perfection is the ideal, then you will miss it. You can become perfect through being totally empty. That seems inconceivable for the mind, because the mind says: To be perfect one has to make much effort, to be perfect one has to create an ideal in the future, and one has to make effort to reach the goal. The goal happens.
Perfection comes to man, man need not go there. The goal comes to you. Nobody has ever gone to the goal. It has always been otherwise; the goal comes to you when you are empty. And to be empty is just the opposite, just the opposite of all efforts towards perfection, because perfection means you would like to be God himself. Perfection means you would like yourself eternally, infinitely, spread all over. Emptiness is just the opposite – you have to destroy yourself utterly. Not even a trace should be left behind. When your house is empty, the guest comes. When you are no more, the goal has been attained.
So don’t make perfection your goal, the goal happens indirectly. You be empty, and you have created the situation for it to come. Because nature abhors emptiness, nothing can remain empty. If you empty yourself completely, you will be filled by the Unknown. Suddenly, from all directions the Divine rushes towards you. You have created the situation; it has to be filled. When you are not, God is.
So remember, there cannot be any meeting between you and God. There has never been, and there will never be. When you are not, God is; when you are, God is not. They both cannot be together.
Here you disappear, and suddenly the Total, the Perfect, the Whole appears. It has always been there. But you were filled by yourself so much that there was no space for it to come in. It was all around, but you were not empty.
You are just like a house without doors – just walls and walls and layers and layers of walls. And remember, a house is in fact not the walls but the doors. Lao Tzu says: What is a door? – A door is nothing, it is an emptiness; and from the door you enter. The wall is something, the door is nothing.
And have you observed that the house is not the walls but the emptiness within? The very word ‘room’ means emptiness, space. You don’t live in the walls, you live in the space, in the emptiness.
All that exists, exists in emptiness. All that lives, lives in emptiness.
You are not your body. Within your body, just like within your house, space exists. That space is you. Your body is just the walls. Think of a person who has no eyes, no ears, no nose, no windows, no doors in the body – he will be dead. Eyes and ears and nose and mouth, they are the doors, they are emptinesses. And through that emptiness, existence enters into you. The outer and the inner meet, because the outer space and the inner space are not two things, they are one. And the division is not a real division.
It is just like, you can go to the river, and you can fill an earthen pot with water. When the water is moving in the earthen pot, the river outside and the water inside the pot are the same. Only an earthen wall exists, and even that earthen wall is porous; water is continuously flowing out and in.
Your body is also porous; existence is continuously flowing in and out. What is your breathing? – It is existence coming in and going out. And scientists say, millions of holes in the skin are continuously breathing in and out. You are porous. If your whole body is painted thickly, and only the nose is allowed to remain open, you can go on breathing, but within three hours you will be dead. Because the whole body breathes – it is porous. Existence continuously renews you.
And inside who are you? Inside is an emptiness. When one realizes this emptiness, the ego simply disappears – it is a myth, it is a dream, it is a fallacy. Because you have never looked within, you have created a false ego.
There is a necessity, because no man can live without a center. And you don’t know your own center. So the mind creates a false center; that false center is the ego. When you move inwards and look for the ego, you will never find it there. The deeper you go, the more you will laugh because the ego is not there. You are not there. Sometimes, just close your eyes and look for the ego. Where are you? Who are you? And emptiness surrounds you from everywhere; nobody is there inside. And this moment is the most beautiful and ecstatic moment possible when you feel that there is no ego.
When there is no ego, you are empty. And when you are empty, the Divine rushes towards you. You have created the situation.
From Returning to the Source, Chapter Two
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation
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.
There may come a moment in life when the world no longer stimulates us and we feel deeply apathetic, even abandoned. This can motivate us towards the search for our real nature beyond appearances. When we no longer find interest in activities and states, when we no longer feel much pleasure in objects and human relationships, we may find ourselves asking: “Is there something wrong with this world or with my attitude towards it?” This serious doubt can lead us to ask: “What is the meaning of existence? What is life? Who am I? What is my true nature?” Sooner or later any intelligent person asks these questions.
As we live with these questions, look at them closely, we become aware that the “me” always seems to be at the center of things playing several roles: “I am cold. I am tired. I am working.” With a more open-minded alertness it becomes apparent that the body feels cold, tired, or is working, not “I.” In the same way when we look at states: “I wish. I am depressed. I remember. I am bored,” we see that we have identified ourselves with the thought or feeling. In looking at this relation between the “I” and its qualifications it becomes obvious that we have taken it for granted and believe ourselves to be this “me.”
This “me” has therefore no continual reality. It is a false appropriation. It lives only in relation to its qualifications, its objects. It is fundamentally unstable. But because we have mistaken our real self for this imposter we feel an insecurity, a doubt, a lack, a sensation of isolation. The “me” can only live in relation to objects so we spend all our energy trying to fulfill the insatiable insecurity of this me. We live in anxiety, fear and desire trying at one and the same time to be as individualistic as possible and to overcome this separateness. The “me” which appears occasionally is taken as a continuum. Actually it is only a crystallization of data and experience held together by memory. Being fractional, its viewpoint is fractional functioning through like and dislike. Its contact with its surroundings is based on this arbitrary choosing. Living in this way is miserable. The loneliness of such an existence may be temporarily camouflaged by compensatory activity but sooner or later, as we said, our real nature will make itself felt and our questioning will become more urgent. We will begin to feel that what we take for the body and mind is not the actual state of things. In deeper inquiry we feel a certain distancing between the inquirer and his environment, activities and opinions. For a time we may feel like an observer of our life, the spectator of the spectacle. Our body and mind are instruments to be used. We observe the changes of the psychosomatic structure as we grow older. We become aware that many, if not most, of our actions are mechanical reactions. All these happenings are seen from the impersonal observer. We begin to feel closer to the knower of these changes and less identified, lost in, the changing. In the end, the seeker is found to be what was sought.
Q: “What do you mean by that last statement, “the seeker is found to be what was sought?”
A: You are seeking your real nature. What you are looking for is what you are, not what you will become. What you already are is the answer and the source of the question. In this lies its power of transformation. It is reality, a present actual fact. Looking for something to become is completely conceptual, on the level of ideas. It has no reality and no effective power. The seeker will discover that he is what he seeks and what he seeks is the source of the inquiry.
Q: It seems to me that not everyone who is a seeker has experienced this deep feeling of unfulfillment or abandonment that you talk about.”
A: It’s true. There are those who, because of their past, sense the divine anchored deep within them. In these cases there is no motivation. As Meister Eckhart said, “God is seeking himself.”
From I Am, pp.67-68
Could you talk about listening and its origin?
To discover your innermost being you must start from where you are at this very moment, wherever that is. You cannot begin anywhere else. Whatever appears before you—your body, sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.—must be accepted, listened to as a whole. This does not mean you should analyze, interpret, understand or look for an inner meaning. What is important is to discover listening itself, which sooner or later will be revealed to you. At first the accent is on what is listened to, the sensation, feeling or thought. But the more the listening is sustained the more the emphasis is shifted to this listening itself without a listened to. Then you are at the threshold of the source from which the listening derives. That very instant listening will become a living reality.
Real listening can be neither improved nor perfected, for it is perfection itself. It reveals itself when the mind is struck by wonder, when it no longer refers to the slightest object. This fulfillment is later erroneously attributed to an object but one who is aware of the true perspective knows that the cause of this peacefulness is not to be found in an object, but is a pure reflection of silence, of what Is.
Listening arises from wonderment, to which it also points—a state where there is no projection, where nothing appears. It is as if you had suddenly opened the windows of a dark room full of objects, and in streams daylight. Everything becomes clear in an instant.
– Jean Klein
From I Am
Many people seem to be interested in meditation, but that interest cannot be very deep because so very few are transformed through it. If the interest is really deep, it becomes a fire by itself. It transforms you. Just through intense interest you start becoming different. A new center of being arises. So many people seem to be interested but nothing new arises in them, no new center is born, no new crystallization is achieved. They remain the same.
That means they are deceiving themselves. The deception is very subtle but it is bound to be there. If you go on taking medicine, having treatments, and the illness remains the same – rather on the contrary, it goes on increasing – then your medicine, your treatment, is bound to be false. Maybe deep down you don’t want to be transformed. That fear is very real – the fear of transformation. So on the surface you go on thinking that you are deeply interested, but deep down you go on deceiving.
The fear of transformation is just like the fear of death. It is a death, because the old will have to go and the new will come into being. You will be there no more, something totally unknown to you will be born out of you. Unless you are ready to die, your interest in meditation is false, because only those who are ready to die will be reborn. The new cannot become a continuity with the old. The old must be discontinued. The old must go. Only then can the new come into being. The new is not an outgrowth of the old, the new is not continuous with it – the new is totally new. And it comes only when the old dies. There is a gap between the old and the new – that gap gives you the fear. You are afraid. You want to be transformed but simultaneously you want to remain the old. This is the deception. You want to grow, but you want to remain you. Then growth is impossible; then you can only deceive; then you can go on thinking and dreaming that something is happening, but nothing will happen because the basic point has been missed.
So there are many people all over the world who are very interested in meditation, moksha, nirvana, and nothing is happening. There is so much noise about it but nothing real is happening. What is the matter?
Sometimes the mind is so cunning that because you don’t want to be transformed, the mind will create a superficial interest so that you can say to yourself, “You are interested, you are doing whatsoever can be done.” And you remain the same. And if nothing happens, you think that the technique you are using is wrong, the guru you are following is wrong, the scripture, the principle, the method, is wrong. You never think that even with a wrong method transformation is possible if the real interest is there; even with a wrong method you will be transformed. If you are really interested in transformation, you will become different even if following a wrong guru. If your soul and your heart is in your effort, no one can mislead you except yourself. And nothing is a barrier to your progress except your own deceptions.
When I say that even a wrong master, a wrong method, a wrong principle, can lead you to the real, I mean that the real transformation happens when you are intensely involved in it, not through any method. The method is just a device, the method is just a help, the method is secondary – your being involved in it is the fundamental thing. But you go on doing something – not even doing, you go on talking about doing. And words create an illusion: because you think so much about it, you read so much about it, you listen so much about it, that you start feeling you are doing something. So-called religious persons have developed many deception devices.
I have heard that a motorist, driving along a road, saw the school building on fire. The teacher of the small school of that small village was Mulla Nasruddin. He was sitting under a tree. The motorist called to him, “What are you doing there? The school building is on fire!” Mulla Nasruddin said, “I know about it.” The motorist was much excited. He said, “Then why are you not doing something?” Mulla Nasruddin said, “Ever since it started I have been praying for rain. I am doing something.”
Prayer is a trick to avoid meditation, and the so-called religious mind has developed many types of prayer. Prayer can also become a meditation – when it is not only a prayer, it is a deep effort, a deep involvement. Prayer can also become meditation, but ordinarily prayer is just an escape. To avoid meditation, people go on praying. To avoid doing anything they pray. Prayer means that God must do something. Someone else must do. Prayer means that we are passive – something must be done to us. Meditation is not prayer in that sense: meditation is something you do to yourself. And when you are transformed, the whole universe behaves differently to you, because the universe is nothing but a response to you, whatsoever you are. If you are silent, the whole universe responds to your silence in thousands and thousands of ways. It reflects you. Your silence is multiplied infinitely. If you are blissful, the whole universe rejects your bliss. If you are in misery, the same happens. The mathematics remains the same, the law remains the same: the universe goes on multiplying your misery. Prayer won’t do. Only meditation can help because meditation is something to be done authentically by you, it is a doing on your part.
So the first thing I would like to say to you is be constantly alert that you are not deceiving yourself. You may be doing something and still deceiving yourself.
I have heard that Mulla Nasruddin once came running into a post office, grasping the postmaster by the lapel, shook him, and said, “I have gone crazy. My wife has disappeared!” The postmaster felt sorry and he said, “Really, she has disappeared? Unfortunately this is a postal department – you have to go to the police department to report this disappearance.” Mulla Nasruddin shook his head negatively and said, “I am not going to be caught again. In the past my wife also disappeared and when I reported it to the police department, they found her. I am not going to be caught again. If you can take the report, take it, otherwise I am going.”
He wants to report to feel good, to feel that he has done whatsoever can be done. But he doesn’t want to report to the police department because he is afraid.
You go on doing things just to feel good, just to feel that you are doing something. But really you are not ready to be transformed. So all that you do just passes as useless activity – not only useless, harmful also, because it is a wastage of time, energy, and opportunity. These techniques of Shiva are only for those who are ready to do. You can ponder over them philosophically – that means nothing. But if you are actually ready to do, then something will start happening to you. They are alive methods, not dead doctrines. Your intellect is not needed; your totality of being is required. And any method will do. If you are ready to give it a chance, any method will do. You will become a new man.
Methods are devices, I will repeat again. If you are ready, then any method can do. They are just tricks to help you to take the jump, they are just like jumping boards. From any jumping board you can jump into the ocean. The jumping boards are insignificant: what color they are, which wood they are made of is irrelevant. They are simply jumping boards and you can take a jump from them. All these methods are jumping boards. Whatsoever method takes your fancy, don’t go on thinking about it, do it!
Difficulties will arise when you start doing something – if you don’t do anything there will be no difficulty. Thinking is very easy doing because you are not really traveling, but when you start doing something, difficulties arise. So if you see that difficulties have arisen, you can feel that you are on the right track – something is happening to you. Then old barriers will break, old habits will go, there will be change, there will be disturbance and chaos. All creativity comes out of chaos. You will be created anew only if all that you are becomes chaotic. So these methods will destroy you first, then only will a new being be created. If there are difficulties, feel fortunate – that shows growth. No growth is smooth… and spiritual growth cannot be smooth, that is not its nature. Because spiritual growth means growing upwards, spiritual growth means reaching into the unknown, reaching into the uncharted. Difficulties will be there. But remember that with each difficulty that is passed you are crystalized. You become more solid. You become more real. For the first time you will feel something centering within you, something becoming solid.
As you are now you are just a liquid phenomenon, changing every moment, nothing stable. Really you cannot claim any ‘I’ – you don’t have one. You are many ‘I’s’ just in a flow, a river-like flow. You are a crowd, not an individual yet. But meditation can make you an individual.
This word ‘individual’ is beautiful: it means indivisible. Right now as you are, you are divided. You are only many fragments clinging together anyhow without any center being there, without any master in the house, with only servants. And for a moment any servant can become the master.
Every moment you are different because you are not – and unless you are, the Divine cannot happen to you. To whom can it happen? You are not there. People come to me and they say, “We would like to see God.” I ask them, “Who will see? You are not there. God is always there, but you are not there to see. It is just a passing thought that you want to see God.” The next moment they are not interested; the next moment they have forgotten all about it. A persistent, intense effort and longing is needed. Then any method will do.
Now, we should enter the methods.
From The Book of Secrets, Chapter 73
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation
Today you said that the way to enlightenment is long and arduous, and also that it is here and now, now or never. As it is here-now, how can it be long and arduous?
That’s why it is long and arduous – because you are not here-now. You are far away from here now. You will have to come, you will have to journey.
When I say truth is not far away, I mean TRUTH is here-now – I don’t mean you are not far away from truth. YOU are far away from truth. Truth is not far away from you, God cannot be far away from you. God exists in you as you. God exists as eternity, not as past or future. God simply is. How can God be far away? There is no place for him to be far away. He is all over the place. He is everywhere… in your breathing, in your heartbeat. But you are not here.
God has not gone away: you have gone away from him.
You have to understand this. For example, in the night you sleep and you dream – you dream you have gone to the moon. You are here, but the dream has taken you far away. In the morning when you awake, you will not find yourself on the moon – you will be here in Poona. But in the dream you were far away from your reality. You have to come back from your dreams… and the journey is arduous because you have invested so much in those dreams, and you are hoping to gain so much from those dreams, and you have lived in those dreams for so long that they have become reality, your reality.
The East calls this dreaming state of mind maya – illusion. And then you can go on searching for God in your illusions and you will not find him. You have to awake. And to be awake is arduous because a thousand and one dreams will be shattered. And in those dreams all your joys, all your so-called successes, ambitions, are involved. Your whole ego is involved. The ego will be shattered.
You are here but the ego has gone to the moon – and the ego can only live through dreams, it can only live through illusions. It is nourished by illusions. The more illusions you have, the more grandiose an ego you have. The greater your illusions, the bigger your ego. It is very difficult to renounce those dreams.
In the East this is called sannyas: to renounce those dreams. When it is said, “Renounce the world,” it is not meant the actual world – the wife, the husband, the children, the house, the marketplace. No, not at all. What is really meant is this dream world in which you go on constantly moving away from yourself and away from reality. Renounce the dreams! And that is arduous.
Now, let me read your question again:
Today you said that the way to enlightenment is long and arduous, and also that it is here and now, now or never. As it is here-now, how can it be long and arduous?
That’s why. You are not to go anywhere, you have to come here! You have already gone somewhere. You have moved away from your innermost core. You never come home. And God exists there, but you keep God at your back. Your eyes are roaming far away in distant stars; they never come back. From one star to another you go on hopping. Your mind is a vagabond.
So it is arduous and yet it is easy. The contradiction is only apparent. It is arduous because of you: it is easy because of God. If you think of God you can take it very easily, you can relax. If you depend on yourself, it is very arduous.
That’s why I say if you depend on yourself, if you depend on your effort, you may never come back – because it is through effort that you have gone away. You have to surrender. In that very surrendering, grace descends.
And what can you surrender? What have you got? Why are you so afraid of surrendering? You have got only dreams and nothing else, just soap-bubbles.
Surrender your dreams and the truth is here-now. That’s why I say NOW OR NEVER – – because existence always exists in the now, and the mind exists in the then. Existence is here and the mind is always there, and they never meet. Here and there never meet; now and then never meet. Just look deep down in your mind: it is very rare to come across a contemporary.
Somebody is living five thousand years back; he is still part of the days of Rig Veda. He is still reading Rig Veda. He is still following the Vedic ritual. Five thousand year have passed, but he has not come here, now. He lives there – in the dead, in the gone, in the memory.
Why do you call yourself a Hindu or a Christian, or a Mohammedan or a Jain? To call yourself these things simply means you cling to the past. These are names that come from the past. Here-now you are only a consciousness, neither Hindu, nor Mohammedan, nor Christian. If you get entangled with the past, you are a Hindu, or a Brahmin or a Sudra. Or there are a few other people who think they are very progressive: communists, socialists. They are involved in the future, hence they think they are very progressive. But to be in the past is to be as far away from the present as to be in the future. It makes no difference.
There are two kinds of mind in the world. One: involved with the past, the orthodox mind; and the other: involved in the future, the so-called revolutionary mind – but both are minds. The orthodox thinks the golden age has passed, the Ram-Rajya has passed. And the revolutionary, the so-called revolutionary, thinks the golden age has to come, the Utopia has yet to happen. His eyes are there on the distant future. But there is no difference between these two; they are the same kind of people. Both are avoiding the present, both are escaping from the present, both are denying reality. So a communist or a Mohammedan, a socialist or a Hindu, to me are all in the same boat – the boat of time.
Whom do I call religious? The man who is not more in the boat of time, who starts living in eternity, who lives in the now, who has no past and no future. Who does not go to the Rig Veda and who does not go to Das Kapita – who simply goes in himself. Who looks at the sun that is there on the horizon, and who listens to the birds that are singing right NOW, who looks at the trees that are blooming. Just see that quality of being; here, that collectedness, that integrity, that centering I call religiousness.
Religion does not mean affiliation. Religion means being in reality without any dreams. Dreams come either from the past or from the future. A religious man is an empty man, a hollow bamboo. He allows the reality to live through him, he flows with it. He has no goals, he is not going anywhere. He is just being here, as God is just being here… hence the meeting.
That’s why I say now or never. Now is eternity. By ‘never’ I am denying time: I am saying you will not find God in time.
The present is not part of time that has to be remembered. Ordinarily you have been taught that time has three tenses: past, present, future. That is absolutely wrong. It has no understanding about time. Time has only two tenses – past and future. The present is not part of time: the present is part of eternity. The present is that which abides, which is always. To relax into it is meditation, or call it prayer. And to know it is celebration. Infinite joy starts showering on you, great benediction descends – because with the past and the future all worries disappear, all dreams disappear.
That’s what Ikkyu means when he says the original mind is clean, clean of all ideas. It is a mirror without dust. It simply mirrors that which is.
From Take It Easy, V.1, Chapter Four
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation