Can the intellect be a door to enlightenment, or is enlightenment only achieved through surrender?
Enlightenment is always through surrender, but surrender is achieved through intelligence. Only idiots cannot surrender. To surrender you need great intelligence. To see the point of surrender is the climax of insight; to see the point that you are not separate from existence is the highest that intelligence can give to you.
There is no conflict between intelligence and surrender. Surrender is through intelligence, although when you surrender intelligence is also surrendered. Through surrender intellect commits a suicide. Seeing the futility of itself, seeing the absurdity of itself, seeing the anguish that it creates, it disappears. But it happens through intelligence. And especially in concern with Buddha, the path is of intelligence. The very word buddha means awakened intelligence.
In the Heart Sutra one-fourth of the words used mean intelligence. The word buddha means awake, bodhi means awakening, sambodhi means perfect awakening, abhisambuddha means the fully awake, bodhisattva means ready to become fully awake. All go back to the same root, budh, which means intelligence. The word buddhi, intellect, also comes from the same root. The root budh has many dimensions to it. There is no single English word that can translate it; it has many implications. It is very fluid and poetic. In no other language does any word like budh exist, with so many meanings. There are at least five meanings to the word budh.
The first is to awake, to wake oneself up, and to awaken others, to be awake. As such, it is opposed to being asleep, in the slumber of delusion from which the enlightened awakens as from a dream. That is the first meaning of intelligence, budh — to create an awakening in you.
Ordinarily man is asleep. Even while you think you are awake, you are not. Walking on the road, you are fully awake — in your mind. But looked at from the vision of a Buddha, you are fast asleep, because a thousand and one dreams and thoughts are clamoring inside you. Your inner light is very clouded. It is a kind of sleep. Yes, your eyes are open, obviously, but people can walk in a dream, in sleep, with eyes open. And Buddha says: You are also walking in sleep — with eyes open.
But your inner eye is not open. You don’t know yet who you are. You have not looked into your own reality. You are not awake. A mind full of thoughts is not awake, cannot be awake. Only a mind which has dropped thoughts and thinking, which has dispersed the clouds around it — and the sun is burning bright, and the sky is utterly empty of clouds — is the mind which has intelligence, which is awake.
Intelligence is the capacity to be in the present. The more you are in the past or are in the future, the less intelligent you are. Intelligence is the capacity to be here-now, to be in this moment and nowhere else. Then you are awake.
For example, you are sitting in a house and the house suddenly catches fire; your life is in danger. Then for a moment you will be awake. In that moment you will not think many thoughts. In that moment you forget your whole past. In that moment you will not be clamored at by your psychological memories — that you had loved a woman thirty years before, and boy, it was fantastic! Or, the other day you had been to the Chinese restaurant, and still the taste lingers on, and the aroma and the smell of the freshly cooked bread. You will not be in those thoughts. No, when your house is on fire you cannot afford this kind of thinking. Suddenly you will rush to this moment: the house is on fire and your life is at stake. You will not dream about the future, about what you are going to do tomorrow. Tomorrow is no longer relevant, yesterday is no longer relevant, even today is no longer relevant! — only this moment, this split moment. That is the first meaning of budh, intelligence.
And then there are great insights. A man who wants to be really awake, wants to be really a Buddha, has to live each moment in such intensity — as you live only rarely, rarely, in some danger.
The first meaning is opposite to sleep. And naturally, you can see reality only when you are not asleep. You can face it, you can look into the eyes of truth — or call it God — only when you are awake. Do you understand the point of intensity, the point of being on fire? Utterly awake, there is insight. That insight brings freedom, that insight brings truth.
The second meaning of budh is to recognize — as to become aware of, acquainted with, to notice, give heed to. And so, a Buddha is one who has recognized the false as the false, and has his eyes opened to the true as the true. To see the false as the false is the beginning of understanding what truth is. Only when you see the false as the false can you see what truth is. You cannot go on living in illusions, you cannot go on living in your beliefs, you cannot go on living in your prejudices if you want to know truth. The false has to be recognized as false. That is the second meaning of budh — recognition of the false as false, of the untrue as untrue.
For example, you have believed in God; you were born a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan. You have been taught that God exists, you have been made afraid of God — that if you don’t believe you will suffer, that you will be punished, that God is very ferocious, that God will never forgive you. The Jewish God says, “I am a very jealous God. Worship only me and nobody else!” The Mohammedan God also says the same thing: “There is only one God, and no other God; and there is only one prophet of God — Mohammed —and there is no other prophet.”
This conditioning can go so deep in you that it can go on lingering even if you start disbelieving in God.
Just the other day Mulla Nasruddin was here, and I asked him, “Mulla Nasruddin, since you have turned into a communist, you have become a comrade, what about God?”
He said, “There is no God! — and Mohammed is the only prophet.”
A conditioning can go so deep: Mohammed remains the prophet.
You have been brought up to believe in God, and you have believed. This is a belief. Whether God exists or not has nothing to do with your belief. Truth has nothing to do with your belief. Whether you believe or not makes no difference to truth. But if you believe in God you will go on seeing — at least, thinking — that you see God. If you don’t believe in God, that disbelief in God will prevent you from knowing. All beliefs prevent, because they become prejudices around you, they become thought-coverings — what Buddha calls avarnas.
The man of intelligence does not believe in anything, and does not disbelieve in anything. The man of intelligence is simply open to recognizing whatsoever is the case. If God is there he will recognize — but not according to his belief; he has no belief. Only in a nonbelieving intelligence can truth appear. When you already believe you don’t allow truth any space to come to you. Your prejudice is enthroned, already enthroned. You cannot see something which goes against your belief; you will become afraid, you will become shaky, you will start trembling. You have put so much in your belief — so much life, so much time, so many prayers, five prayers every day. For fifty years a man has been devoted to his belief; now suddenly how can he recognize the fact that there is no God? A man has put his whole life into communism, believing that there is no God; how can he come to see if God is there? He will go on avoiding.
I’m not saying anything about whether God is or is not. What I am saying is something concerned with you, not with God. A mind, a clear mind, is needed, an intelligence is needed which does not cling to any belief. Then you are like a mirror: you reflect that which is, you don’t distort it. That is the second meaning of budh.
An intelligent person is neither a communist nor a Catholic. An intelligent person does not believe, does not disbelieve. That is not his way. He looks into life, and whatsoever is there he is ready to see it. He has no barriers to his vision; his vision is transparent. Only those few people attain to truth.
The third meaning of the root budh, intelligence, is to know, to understand. The Buddha knows that which is; he understands that which is, and in that very understanding is free from all bondage — to know in the sense of to understand, not in the sense of knowledgeability. Buddha is not knowledgeable. An intelligent person does not care much about information and knowledge. An intelligent person cares much more for the capacity to know. His real authentic interest is in knowing, not in knowledge.
Knowing gives you understanding; knowledge only gives you a feeling of understanding without giving you real understanding. Knowledge is a pseudo-coin, it is deceptive. It only gives you a feeling that you know, and you don’t know at all. You can go on accumulating knowledge as much as you want, you can go on hoarding, you can become very, very knowledgeable. You can write books, you can have degrees, you can have PhD’s, DLitt’s, and still you remain the same ignorant, stupid person you have always been. Those degrees don’t change you; they can’t change you. In fact, your stupidity becomes more strong… it has degrees now! It can prove itself through certificates. It cannot prove through life, but it can prove through the certificates. It cannot prove in any other way, but it will carry degrees, certificates, recognitions from the society; people think you know, and you also think you know.
Have you not seen this? The people who are thought to be very knowledgeable are as ignorant as anybody, sometimes more ignorant. It is very rare to find intelligent people in the academic world, very rare. I have been in the academic world, and I say it through my experience. I have seen intelligent farmers; I have not seen intelligent professors. I have seen intelligent woodcutters; I have not seen intelligent professors. Why? What has gone wrong with these people?
One thing has gone wrong: they can depend on knowledge. They need not become knowers, they can depend on knowledge. They have found a secondhand way. The firsthand needs courage. The firsthand, knowing, only few people can afford — the adventurers, people who go beyond the ordinary path where crowds move, people who take small footpaths into the jungle of the unknowable. The danger is they may get lost. The risk is high.
When you can get secondhand knowledge, why bother? You can just sit in your chair. You can go to the library or to the university, you can collect information. You can make a big pile of information and sit on top of it. Through knowledge your memory becomes bigger and bigger, but your intelligence does not become bigger. Sometimes it happens when you don’t know much, when you are not very knowledgeable, that you will have to be intelligent in some moments.
I have heard…
A woman bought a tin of fruit but she could not open the tin. She did not know how to open it. So she rushed to her study to look in the cookbook. By the time she looked in the book and found out the page and reference, and came rushing back ready to open the tin, the servant had already opened it.
She asked, “But how did you do it?”
The servant said, “Madam, when you can’t read, you have to use your mind.”
Yes, that’s how it happens. That’s why farmers, gardeners, woodcutters, are more intelligent, have a kind of freshness around them. They can’t read, so they have to use their minds. One has to live and one has to use one’s mind.
The third meaning of budh is to know, in the sense of understanding.
The Buddha has seen that which is. He understands that which is, and in that very understanding is free from all bondage. What does it mean? It means you are afraid.
For example, these Heart Sutra talks are making many people feel fear. Many people have sent their messages: “Osho, no more! You make us afraid of nothingness and death.” Prageet is very afraid. Vidya is very afraid, and many more. Why? You don’t want to get rid of fear? If you want to get rid of fear you will have to understand fear. You want to avoid the fact that the fear is there, the fear of death is there.
Now Prageet, on the surface, looks a strong man — a Rolfer — but deep down he’s very much afraid of death; he is one of the most afraid persons around here. Maybe that’s why on the surface he has taken the stance of strength, power, a bully. That’s what a Rolfer is!
I have heard that recently the devil in hell is appointing Rolfers: they torture people for their own sakes, and they torture very technically. If you are afraid inside, you will have to create something strong around you, like a hard shell, so nobody comes to know that you are afraid. And that is not the only point — you also will not know that you are afraid because of that hard shell. It will protect you from others, it will protect you from your own understanding.
An intelligent person does not escape from any fact. If it is fear he will go into it – because the way out is through. If he feels fear and trembling arising in him, he will leave everything aside: first this fear has to be gone through. He will go into it, he will try to understand. He will not try how not to be afraid; he will not ask that question. He will simply ask one question: “What is this fear? It is there, it is part of me, it is my reality. I have to go into it, I have to understand it. If I don’t understand it then a part of me will always remain unknown to me. And how am I going to know who I am if I go on avoiding parts? I will not understand fear, I will not understand death, I will not understand anger, I will not understand my hatred, I will not understand my jealousy, I will not understand this and that…” Then how are you going to know yourself?
All these things are you! This is your being. You have to go into everything that is there, every nook and corner. You have to explore fear. Even if you are trembling it is nothing to be worried about: tremble, but go in. It is far better to tremble than to escape, because once you escape, that part will remain unknown to you, and you will become more and more afraid to look at it because that fear will go on accumulating. It will become bigger and bigger if you don’t go into it right now, this moment. Tomorrow it will have lived twenty-four hours more. Beware! — it will have got more roots in you, it will have bigger foliage, it will become stronger; and then it will be more difficult to tackle. It is better to go right now; it is already late.
And if you go into it and you see it… And seeing means without prejudice. Seeing means that you don’t condemn fear as bad from the very beginning. Who knows? — it is not bad. Who knows that it is? The explorer has to remain open to all the possibilities; he cannot afford a closed mind. A closed mind and exploration don’t go together. He will go into it. If it brings suffering and pain, he will suffer the pain but he will go into it. Trembling, hesitant, but he will go into it: “It is my territory, I have to know what it is. Maybe it is carrying some treasure for me? Maybe the fear is only there to protect the treasure.”
That’s my experience, that’s my understanding: if you go deep into your fear you will find love. That’s why it happens that when you are in love, fear disappears. And when you are afraid you cannot be in love. What does this mean? A simple arithmetic — fear and love don’t exist together. That means it must be the same energy that becomes fear; then there is nothing left to become love. It becomes love; then there is nothing left to become fear.
Go into fear, Prageet, Vidya, and all others who are feeling afraid. Go into it, and you will find a great treasure. Hidden behind fear is love, and hidden behind anger is compassion, and hidden behind sex is samadhi.
Go into each negative thing and you will find the positive. And knowing the negative and the positive, the third, the ultimate happens — the transcendental. That is the meaning of understanding, budh, intelligence.
And the fourth meaning is to be enlightened and to enlighten. The Buddha is the light, he has become the light. And since he’s the light and he has become the light, he shows the light to others too, naturally, obviously. He is illumination. His darkness has disappeared, his inner flame is burning bright. Smokeless is his flame. This meaning is opposite to darkness and the corresponding blindness and ignorance. This is the fourth meaning: to become light, to become enlightened.
Ordinarily you are a darkness, a continent of darkness, a dark continent, unexplored. Man is a little strange: he goes on exploring the Himalayas, he goes on exploring the Pacific, he goes on reaching for the moon and Mars; there is just one thing he never tries — exploring his inner being. Man has landed on the moon, and man has not landed yet in his own being. This is strange. Maybe landing on the moon is just an escape, going to Everest is just an escape. Maybe he does not want to go inside, because he’s very much afraid. He substitutes with some other explorations to feel good, otherwise you will have to feel very, very guilty. You start climbing a mountain and you feel good, and the greatest mountain is within you and is yet unclimbed. You start going, diving deep into the Pacific, and the greatest Pacific is within you, and uncharted, unmapped. And you start going to the moon — what foolishness! And you are wasting your energy in going to the moon, and the real moon is within you — because the real light is within you.
The intelligent person will go inwards first. Before going anywhere else he will go into his own being; that is the first thing, and it should have the first preference. Only when you have known yourself can you go anywhere else. Then wherever you go you will carry a blissfulness around you, a peace, a silence, a celebration.
So, the fourth meaning is to be enlightened.
Intelligence is the spark. Helped, cooperated with, it can become the fire, and the light, and the warmth. It can become light, it can become life, it can become love: those are all included in the word enlightenment. An enlightened person has no dark corners in his being. All is like the morning — the sun is on the horizon; the darkness of the night and the dismalness of the night have disappeared, and the shadows of the night have disappeared. The earth is again awake. To be a Buddha is to attain to a morning, a dawn within you. That is the function of intelligence, the ultimate function.
And the fifth meaning of budh is to fathom. A depth is there in you, a bottomless depth, which has to be fathomed. Or, the fifth meaning can be to penetrate, to drop all that obstructs and penetrate to the very core of your being, the heart. That’s why this sutra is called the Heart Sutra — Prajnaparamita Hridayam Sutra — to penetrate.
People try to penetrate many things in life. Your urge, your great desire for sex is nothing but a kind of penetration. But that is a penetration into the other. The same penetration has to happen into your own being: you have to penetrate yourself. If you penetrate somebody else it can give you a momentary glimpse, but if you penetrate yourself you can attain to the universal cosmic orgasm that remains and remains and remains.
A man meets an outer woman, and a woman meets an outer man: this is a very superficial meeting — yet meaningful, yet it brings moments of joy. When the inner woman meets the inner man… And you are carrying both inside you: a part of you is feminine, a part of you is masculine. Whether you are man or woman does not matter; everybody is bisexual.
The fifth meaning of the root budh means penetration. When your inner man penetrates your inner woman there is a meeting; you become whole, you become one. And then all desires for the outer disappear. In that desirelessness is freedom, is nirvana.
The path of Buddha is the path of budh. Remember that ‘Buddha’ is not the name of Gautama the Buddha, Buddha is the state that he has attained. His name was Gautam Siddhartha. Then one day he became Buddha, one day his bodhi, his intelligence bloomed.
‘Buddha’ means exactly what ‘Christ’ means. Jesus’ name is not Christ: that is the ultimate flowering that happened to him. So is it with Buddha. There have been many Buddhas other than Gautam Siddartha.
Everybody has the capacity for budh. But budh, that capacity to see, is just like a seed in you — if it sprouts, becomes a big tree, blooms, starts dancing in the sky, starts whispering to the stars, you are a Buddha.
The path of Buddha is the path of intelligence. It is not an emotional path, no, not at all.
Not that emotional people cannot reach; there are other paths for them — the path of devotion, Bhakti Yoga. Buddha’s path is pure Gyan Yoga, the path of knowing. Buddha’s path is the path of meditation, not of love.
And just like budh, there is another root, gya, at the basis of gyanam. Gyanam means cognition, knowing. And the word prajna, which means wisdom — prajnaparamita – the wisdom of the beyond, or sangya, which means perception, sensitivity, or vigyanam which means consciousness — these roots come from gya. Gya means to know.
You will find these words repeated so many times in the sutra — not only in this sutra, but in all the sutras of the Buddha. You will find a few more words, repeated very often, and those words are ved — ved means to know; from ved comes the Hindu word veda — or man, which means mind; manan which means minding; or chit, which means consciousness; chaitanya, which again means consciousness. These words are almost like paving stones on the Buddha Way. His path is that of intelligence.
One thing more to be remembered: the sutra, it is true, points to something that lies far beyond the intellect. But the way to get to that is to follow the intellect as far as it will take you.
The intellect has to be used, not discarded; has to be transcended, not discarded. And it can be transcended only when you have reached to the uppermost rung of the ladder. You have to go on growing in intelligence. Then a moment comes when intelligence has done all that it can do. In that moment say goodbye to intelligence. It has helped you a long way, it has brought you long enough, it has been a good vehicle. It has been a boat you crossed with: you have reached the other shore, then you leave the boat. Then you don’t carry the boat on your head; that would be foolish.
The Buddha’s path goes through intelligence but goes beyond it. A moment comes when intelligence has given you all that it can give, then it is no longer needed. Then finally you drop it too, its work is finished. The disease is gone, now that medicine has to go too. And when you are free of the disease and the medicine too, then only are you free. Sometimes it happens that the disease is gone, and now you have become addicted to the medicine. This is not freedom.
A thorn is in your foot and is hurting. You take another thorn so that the thorn in your foot can be taken out with the help of the other. When you have taken the thorn out you throw both; you don’t save the one that has been helpful. It is now meaningless. The work of intelligence is to help you to become aware of your being. Once that work has happened and your being is there, now there is no need for this instrument. You can say goodbye, you can say thank you.
Buddha’s path is the path of intelligence, pure intelligence, although it goes beyond it.
From The Heart Sutra, Discourse #8
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