The Deepest Freedom – Dipa Ma

The Deepest Freedom

“Gradually I became acquainted with suffering,

the cause of suffering,

the arising of suffering,

and the end of suffering.”

DIPA MA BELIEVED, unconditionally, that enlightenment—total liberation of the mind and heart—is the purpose of human life and the primary reason for meditation practice. She never tired of reminding her students: “You must practice to know at least one stage of enlightenment. Otherwise you have not made use of your human life.”

In the Theravada tradition, little is written about the actual experience of enlightenment. The reticence of many teachers on this subject is largely to avoid setting up an attitude of striving. This chapter brings enlightenment experiences out into the open, with the aim of showing that there is nothing secret or supernatural about them. Although it might be inferred from these stories that enlightenment can happen rather easily, there are also stories of awakening taking many years or even decades.

While there is no “right way” on this path, and consequently nothing to judge, compare, or anticipate, Joseph Goldstein offers this important caveat: “The experience of enlightenment is about letting go of ‘self.’ Over the years, I’ve seen people who have experienced enlightenment use it to create more self. They attach to the experience and identify with it. This is missing the point, and it can create a lot of suffering.”

Kamikaze yogi

My first two three-month retreats were blasting through, “bliss bomb”–type retreats, where I described myself as a kamikaze yogi. But my third three-month retreat was weeping from the first day until the end. At times, I would have such incredible internal aching and tearing apart that I thought I couldn’t sit more than five minutes. At first, when I reported this to Dipa Ma, she suggested I just “note it.”

But finally there was a certain point where I really thought I was going to explode if I sat any longer. Dipa Ma sat down next to me, took my hand, held it and caressed it with love and gentleness, like caressing a baby. While she was doing this, she assured me, “If you make it through this, you will earn great merit.”

Doing this, she gave me an absolute transmission of her confidence and love. My doubt disappeared; I totally believed her words. I went back to the hall and sat on my cushion, and . . . something just opened up. I don’t know how much I should describe of it. I started to have experiences like you see in the classical texts on enlightenment. She was guiding me with special resolutions during this time.

I am grateful that she kept me practicing. Even though for two and a half months I was racked with restlessness and achiness and wanted to “roll up the mat” and go home, she kept me going.

-Anonymous

Did you get enlightened?

Dipa Ma came to teach a class at my school for three weeks. At the end of the class, we were to do a weekend intensive retreat with her. The day before the intensive she said to me, “You are going to have a ‘realization experience’.” I wondered, “What is this supposed to mean?”

That night, I meditated for a while, and then I got up because I was getting very sleepy. I went back to my room, and something shifted. I realized I needed to go back and meditate some more, so I went back to meditate, and I got extremely concentrated.

There was simply the watching of my breath. I was noting every microcosm of the rising and falling, every little bit, and I had the ability to watch the intentions of thoughts coming. It was like a bubble that would break, then the thought would be there, then it would pass, and there would be stillness, then another intention of the thought would arise, then break like a bubble on the surface of water and so on. It was not me doing this, because I absolutely had no capacity for that level of concentration. I think it was simply by Dipa Ma’s grace. There was incredible stillness, and a huge amount of space in between thoughts where nothing was going on.

Then there was a huge shift in awareness, as if I went “out” somewhere where attention reversed. There was no body anymore, just the arising and passing away of things. It completely blew me away.

The next day Dipa Ma asked me, “Well, did you get enlightened?” Later, because I was so new at meditation—I didn’t have a background or context for this experience—a lot of fear came up. First there was this incredible insight, then fear arose when I saw that everything was being annihilated moment after moment. My mind became so confused; I didn’t have the ability to watch the confusion, and it was a long time before the experience matured in me. It was three years before I had the desire to meditate again.

-Anonymous

Enlightenment was rather matter-of-fact to Dipa Ma’s Indian students. Jack Engler recalls that they practiced within the context of their families and daily life. “When Dipa Ma recognized a certain kind of ripeness in them, she would say, ‘Arrange your affairs, see if you can get two weeks off from the family, and come and stay in this room next to me and just devote yourself for ten or fourteen days to this practice.’ That’s when enlightenment happened to them. That is all the intensive practice they did, and even then, some of them had to return home during that time to take care of family matters.”

Just two or three days

I took my mother [Dipa Ma’s sister Hema] every evening to the monastery, and once I met a Burmese lady there who told me about her practice at home with her small children. She worked in the day, and she did meditation at night when her children were asleep. Within two months, she said, she finished the first stage [of enlightenment].

So I took that example while I was teaching full time and studying in my master’s program. I got up at 4 AM and meditated until 5:30 AM. I went to school until 3:30 PM, then I took my mother to the monastery. After that I would do my homework until 9 PM. Then I would do walking meditation for an hour with my dog. Then I would sit for another hour until 11 PM. At 11, I went to sleep.

All the time, on the bus to school, during my classes, everywhere, I practiced noting [mentally noting each sensory experience]. After about two or three weeks, Munindra told me to take my vacation and come and meditate. I told him it was impossible to take time off school, and he said, “Well, just two or three days will do.” So I went for Thursday through Sunday. Since there was so little time, I decided to stay up all night Thursday, and I kept meditating into Friday.

On Friday night at about 1 AM, I thought something “went wrong.” In the morning, I told my mother and Dipa Ma that something strange had happened. They started laughing and laughing. They told me it was the first stage, and they were very glad for me.

-Daw Than Myint

Okay, a tiger is coming

On the very first day I met her, Nani [Dipa Ma] gave me meditation instructions and told me, “You can practice at home.” I went home that afternoon and immediately started practicing for twenty days. During the twenty days of meditation, I felt I had a high fever, I felt like a hot iron was penetrating my body. Then I saw snakes everywhere, and tigers were jumping at me. I reported this to Nani, and she told me, “Don’t worry. Don’t take any medicine. You have a fever, but it is not a disease: it will spontaneously leave. Just be mindful of it. Just feel it and note it. When snakes or tigers come, don’t worry. Just notice, ‘Okay, a tiger is coming.’ That is all.”

Then I began having vivid pictures of dead bodies. I saw many, many dead bodies in an arid place, and I had to walk on the dead bodies. I was terrified. Nani said, “Don’t fear. Just make a mental note of ‘seeing.’ These visions are from our many births. What we have done in previous births often comes to mind in meditation.” From her instruction, I noted, “seeing a dead body,” and “walking on dead bodies.” I also kept noting, “I’m seeing in my mind.”

Soon there was just awareness, everything stopped, my mind became clear and peaceful, and I came to awaken. All my pains were eradicated. I came to understand what was my body, what was my mind, and what was the way of meditation. There was no turning back. After twenty days, I left my seat and went out into the world.

-Jyotishmoyee Barua

This most precious thing

When I was doing my research in Calcutta, Dipa Ma brought her neighbor to me, a sixty-five-year-old woman whose name was Madhuri Lata. She had raised her family, her children were gone, and, unlike most Indian families, she was alone with her husband, with no extended family living in the same household. Her husband had said to her, “You have nothing to do now. This ‘aunt’ of yours, Dipa Ma, teaches this meditation practice. Why don’t you talk with her? It’ll give you something to do.”

Madhuri, who had mild developmental delays, went to Dipa Ma, and Dipa Ma gave her the basic instructions [to place her attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation and] to note to herself “rising, falling, rising, falling.” Madhuri said, “Okay,” and started to go home, down four flights of stairs and across the alley to her apartment. She didn’t get halfway down the stairs before she forgot the instructions. So, back she came. “What was I supposed to do?” she asked. “Rising, falling, rising, falling,” said Dipa Ma. “Oh, yes, that’s right.”

Four times, Madhuri forgot the instructions and had to come back. Dipa Ma was very patient with her. It took Madhuri almost a year to understand the basic instructions, but once she got them, she was like a tiger. Before she began to practice, Madhuri was bent over at a ninety-degree angle with arthritis, rheumatism, and intestinal problems. When I met her, after her enlightenment experience, she walked with a straight back. No more intestinal problems. She was the simplest, sweetest, gentlest woman. After she told me her enlightenment story, she said, “All this time, I’ve wanted to tell someone about this wonderful thing that happened to me, and I’ve never been able to share this before, this most precious thing in my life.”

-Jack Engler

All emotion is from thinking

Despite severe emotional difficulties, a Vietnamese monk, Venerable Khippa-Panno, was able to attain insight with Dipa Ma’s encouragement. In 1969, he had gone on a retreat during which, for five days, he was unable to stop laughing and crying. His teacher, deciding Khippa-Panno had gone mad, told him to stop the retreat and return home. When Dipa Ma heard this, she invited Khippa-Panno to practice with her.

For a whole month, I practiced at her house. She advised me, “You will overcome this difficulty. If everything is noted, all your emotional difficulties will disappear. When you feel happy, don’t get involved with the happiness. And when you feel sad, don’t get involved with it. Whatever comes, don’t worry. Just be aware of it.” On a later retreat, when I felt the craziness come, I remembered her words. I had so much difficulty with the emotions that I wanted to leave the retreat, but I remembered her faith in me, and her saying, “Your practice is good. Just note everything, and you will overcome the difficulty.” With this knowledge of her confidence in me, my concentration got deeper. Soon I came to see that all emotion was from thinking, nothing more. I found that once I knew how to observe the thoughts that led to the emotions, I could overcome them. And then I came to see that all thoughts were from the past or the future, so I started to live only in the present, and I developed more and more mindfulness. . . . I had no thoughts for a period of time, just mindfulness, and then all my emotional difficulties passed away. Just like that! And then I had an experience. I wasn’t sure what it was. It was only a moment, and there wasn’t anyone to confirm it at the time. My emotional problems have never returned. Later, in 1984, when I saw Dipa Ma in America, she took me aside and asked about my meditation. When I told her, she told me that I had completed the first stage [of enlightenment]. She told me like a mother would tell a child. -Venerable Khippa-Panno

From Dipa Ma, Chapter Six, Schmidt, Amy. Windhorse Publications Ltd. Kindle Edition.

 

Meditation is Love – Dipa Ma

Meditation is love.” Dipa Ma

Dipa Ma Barua was a Buddhist Icon and Master Teacher.

Dipa Ma was a woman of extraordinary wisdom, concentration, and loving kindness. She was a rare example of a mother and grandmother who became a realized Buddhist Master through her unwavering determination and heart. Dipa Ma taught many of the Vipassana Buddhist teachers in the West, and the stories about her continue to inspire Buddhists and spiritual seekers today.

 

About Dipa Ma

Born 1911- Died 1989

Taught Vipassana Buddhism in Myanmar/Burma, India and USA.

Gotama Buddha’s familiar story follows the archetypal hero’s journey: he left behind wife and child and renounced the ordinary world to seek the holy life. Dipa Ma followed a similar path, but with an unexpected turn. Ultimately she took her practice home again, living out her enlightenment in a simple city apartment with her daughter. Her responsibilities as a parent were clarified by her spiritual practice; she made decisions based not on guilt and obligation but on the wisdom and compassion that arose from meditation. Instead of withdrawing to a cave or a forest hermitage, Dipa Ma stayed home and taught from her bedroom—appropriately enough, a room with no door.

Nani Bala Barua, later known as Dipa Ma, was born in 1911 in a village on the plains of Chittagong in what is now Bangladesh. The indigenous Buddhist culture there traces its lineage in an unbroken line back to the Buddha. By the time Dipa Ma was born, meditation practice had almost disappeared among her clan, but they continued to observe Buddhist rituals and customs.

Though intensely interested in Buddhism from a young age, like most Asian women of her era Dipa Ma had little opportunity to undertake serious spiritual training. However, by midlife she came to devote herself fully to meditation, attaining profound levels of insight in only a short time. She found a way to incorporate her family into her spiritual journey and went on to teach specific techniques for practicing mindfulness in the midst of everyday activities.

Dipa Ma’s influence has been widely felt in the West, in part due to her relationship with the three founders of the Insight Meditation Society. She was a primary teacher of Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, as well as one of Jack Kornfield’s teachers. Kornfield recalls that Dipa Ma’s first questions were always, “How are you feeling? How is your health? Are you eating well?” No matter who showed up or what state they were in, Dipa Ma reached out to them with love. Both Salzberg and Goldstein call her “the most loving person I have ever met.”

IMS teacher Michele McDonald-Smith considers meeting Dipa Ma a turning point in her life. “At the time I met her,” McDonald-Smith says, “there were mostly male role models—male teachers, male buddhas. To meet a woman householder who lived with her daughter and grandson—and who was that enlightened—it was more profound than I can put into words. She embodied what I deeply wanted to be like. For me as a woman householder, I immediately felt, ‘If she can do this, I can do this, too.’”

For lay people who are committed to dharma practice but unlikely to leave home, work and family to live in a temple or monastery, Dipa Ma is a vivid example of what is possible. Even the name she went by suggests her identity as an enlightened householder. After giving birth in middle age to a much-longed-for child, a daughter named Dipa, Nani Bala Barua got the nickname “Dipa Ma,” meaning “mother of Dipa.” The word dipa means “light or lamp of the dharma,” thus the name “mother of light” united the two salient features of her life—dharma and motherhood.

Dipa Ma’s early life followed the expected path of a village girl in East Bengal. At age twelve, she married Rajani Ranjan Barua, an engineer twice her age, who left one week after their wedding to take a job in Burma. After two lonely years in her in-laws’ home, she was sent to Rangoon to join her husband. To the couple’s great disappointment, the young Dipa Ma was unable to become pregnant and to add to this difficulty, her mother died while she was still adjusting to her new life. Although she was eventually able to bear children, she lost two as infants and then fell seriously ill herself. Through it all, Rajani was patient, loving, and wise. The couple adopted her much younger brother, Bijoy, and Rajani suggested to his grieving wife that she treat every person she met as her own child.

Dipa Ma raised her younger brother, gave birth to Dipa, and looked after her husband. However, in her mid-forties, after Bijoy had grown up and left home, Rajani died suddenly, leaving Dipa Ma devastated. For several years she was confined to her bed with heart disease and hypertension, scarcely able to care for herself and her young daughter, and she believed she would soon die if she did not find a way to free herself from her burden of grief. She resolved to learn meditation, convinced it was the only way she could save herself. Soon after, she dreamed of the Buddha softly chanting these verses from the Dhammapada:

Piyato jayati soko,
piyato jayati bhayam
piyato vippamuttassa,
natthi soko kuto bhayam.

Clinging to what is dear brings sorrow.
Clinging to what is dear brings fear.
To one who is entirely free from endearment
There is no sorrow or fear.

Awakening from the dream, Dipa Ma felt a calm determination to devote herself fully to meditation practice. She turned over everything she had been left by her husband to a neighbor, whom she asked to care for her daughter, and arranged to go to the Kamayut Meditation Center in Rangoon, intending to spend the rest of her life there.

Early in the morning during her first day at the center, Dipa Ma was given a room and basic instructions and told to report to the meditation hall late that afternoon. As she sat in meditation through the day, her concentration rapidly deepened. Later, on her way to the meditation hall, she suddenly found herself unable to move. For several minutes, she couldn’t even lift a foot, which puzzled her. Finally she realized that a dog had clamped its teeth around her leg and wouldn’t let go. Amazingly, her concentration had become so deep even in those first few hours of practice that she had felt no pain. Eventually, the dog was pulled away by some monks. Dipa Ma went to a hospital for rabies injections and then returned home to recuperate.

Once home, her distraught daughter would not allow her to leave again. With her characteristic practicality and resourcefulness, Dipa Ma recognized that her spiritual journey would have to take a different form. Using the instructions given at her short retreat, she patiently meditated at home, committing herself to the diligent practice of awareness, moment by moment.

After several years, Munindra, a family friend who lived nearby, encouraged Dipa Ma, then fifty-three years old, to come to the meditation center where he was studying under the renowned teacher Mahasi Sayadaw. By her third day there, Dipa Ma entered into much deeper concentration. Her need for sleep vanished, along with her desire to eat. In the following days, she passed through the classic phases of the “progress of insight,” which precede enlightenment. On reaching the first stage, her blood pressure returned to normal, her heart palpitations decreased dramatically, and the weakness that had made her unable to climb stairs was replaced with a healthy vigor. Finally, as the Buddha had predicted in her dream, the grief she had carried for so long vanished.

For the rest of the year, Dipa Ma went back and forth between home and the meditation center, where she rapidly progressed through further stages of enlightenment. (As described in the Visuddhimagga, the Theravada tradition recognizes four such stages, each producing distinct, recognizable changes in the mind.) People who knew her were fascinated by her change from a sickly, grief-stricken woman to a calm, strong, healthy, radiant being.

Inspired by this transformation, Dipa Ma’s friends and family including her daughter, joined her at the meditation center. One of the first to arrive was Dipa Ma’s sister, Hema. Although Hema had eight children, with five still living at home, she managed to make time to practice with her sister for almost a year. During school breaks, the two middle-aged mothers would have as many as six children between them. They lived together as a family, but followed strict retreat discipline, practicing silence, no eye contact, and no eating after noon.

In 1967, the Burmese government ordered all foreign nationals to leave the country. The monks assured Dipa Ma that she could get special permission to stay, an unprecedented honor for a woman and single mother, someone with essentially no standing in society. However, though she wanted to stay in Rangoon, Dipa Ma decided to go to Calcutta, where her daughter would have better social and educational opportunities.

Their new living conditions were modest, even by Calcutta standards. They lived in a small room above a metal-grinding shop in the center of the city. They had no running water, their stove was a charcoal burner on the floor, and they shared a toilet with another family. Dipa Ma slept on a thin straw mat.

Soon word spread in Calcutta that an accomplished meditation teacher had come from Burma. Women trying to fit spiritual training in between the endless demands of managing their households appeared at Dipa Ma’s apartment during the day, seeking instruction. She obliged by offering individualized teaching tailored to full lives—but with no concessions to busyness.

Dipa Ma’s long career of guiding householders had already begun in Burma. One of her first students, Malati, was a widow and a single mother who was caring for six young children. Dipa Ma devised practices Malati could do without leaving her children, such as bringing complete presence of mind to the sensation of her infant nursing at her breast. Just as Dipa Ma had hoped, by practicing mindfulness when she nursed her baby Malati attained the first stage of enlightenment.

In Calcutta, Dipa Ma addressed similar situations again and again. Sudipti was struggling to run a business while caring for a mentally ill son and an invalid mother. Dipa Ma instructed her in Vipassana practice, but Sudipti insisted that she couldn’t find time for meditation because she had so many family and business responsibilities. Dipa Ma told Sudipti that when she found herself thinking about family or business, she could simply think about them mindfully. “Human beings will never solve all their problems,” she taught. “The only way is to bring mindfulness to whatever you are suffering. And if you can manage only five minutes of meditation a day, you should do that.”

At their first meeting, Dipa Ma asked Sudipti if she could meditate right then and there for five minutes. “So I sat with her for five minutes,” Sudipti recalls. “Then she gave me instructions in meditation anyway, even though I said I had no time. Somehow I found five minutes a day, and I followed her instructions. And from this five minutes, I became so inspired. I was able to find longer and longer times to meditate, and soon I was meditating many hours a day, into the night, sometimes all night, after my work was done. I found energy and time I didn’t know I had.”

Another Indian student, Dipak, remembers Dipa Ma teasing him: “Oh, you are coming from the office; your mind must be very busy.” But then she would fiercely command him to change his mind. “I told her that working in a bank there was a lot of calculating, and that my mind was always restless,” said Dipak. “It was impossible to practice; I was too busy.” Dipa Ma was firm, however, insisting that, “If you are busy, then busyness is the meditation. And when you do calculations, know that you are doing calculations. Meditation is always possible, at any time. If you are rushing to the office, then you should be mindful of rushing.”

Householder practice under Dipa Ma could be as demanding as monastic life. Loving but tough, Dipa Ma asked that students follow the five precepts and sleep only four hours a night, as she did. Students meditated several hours a day, reported to her several times a week, and at her instigation undertook self-guided retreats. Joseph Goldstein recalls how the last time he saw Dipa Ma, she told him he should sit for two days—meaning not a two-day retreat but one sitting for two days straight. “I started to laugh, because it seemed so beyond my capacity. But she looked at me with deep compassion, and she just said, ‘Don’t be lazy!’”

Dipa Ma’s path wasn’t attached to a particular place, teacher, lifestyle, or the monastic model. The world was her monastery; mothering and teaching were her practice. She embraced family and meditation as one, in a heart that steadfastly refused to make divisions in life. “She told me, ‘Being a wife, being a mother—these were my first teachers,’” recalls Sharon Kreider, a mother who studied with Dipa Ma. “She taught me that whatever we do, whether one is a teacher, a wife, a mother—they are all noble. They are all equal.”

Dipa Ma became not only the “patron saint of householders,” as one student called her, but also the embodiment of being the practice rather than doing the practice. For Dipa Ma there was simply the practice of being present, being fully awake, all the time, in every situation; she was a living demonstration that the real nature of mind is presence. Joseph Goldstein said that with Dipa Ma there was no sense of someone trying to be mindful; there was just mindfulness doing itself.

“Her mind didn’t make distinctions,” says meditation teacher Jacqueline Mandell. “Meditation, mothering, and practice all flowed into each other in an effortless way. They were all the same. They were one whole. There were no special places to practice, no special circumstances, no special anything. Everything was dhamma.” She urged her students to make every moment count and emphasized bringing mindfulness to cooking, ironing, talking, or any other daily activity. She often said that the whole path of mindfulness is simply awareness of whatever you are doing. “Always know what you are doing,” she would say. “You cannot separate meditation from life.”

While some teachers make the greatest impact through their words, with Dipa Ma it was, Mandell says, “her natural agile attention: shifting from teaching meditation to parenting to grand-parenting to serving tea. A simple presence: all seemed quite ordinary within her completely natural way.” Though Dipa Ma was generous with her instruction, she was often silent or spoke only a few simple words; her students found refuge in her silence and in the unshakeable peace that surrounded her.

By the time she died in 1989, Dipa Ma had several hundred Calcutta students and a large group of Western followers. A continual stream of visitors came to her apartment from early morning until late at night. She never refused anyone. When her daughter urged her to take more time for herself, Dipa Ma would reply, “They are hungry for the dhamma, so let them come.”

Dipa Ma is remembered not only for her seamless mindfulness and her direct instruction, but also for transmitting dharma through blessings. From the moment she arose each morning she blessed everything she came in contact with, including animals and even inanimate objects. She blessed every person she met from head to toe, blowing on them and chanting and stroking their hair. Her students remember being bathed in love, a feeling so strong and deep they didn’t ever want it to end. To this day, one of Dipa Ma’s students, Sandip Mutsuddi, carries her picture in his shirt pocket over his heart. Several times a day, he pulls the picture out to help him remember her lessons and to offer his respect. He has been doing this every day since her death.

Lay practitioners often feel torn between spiritual practice and the requirements of family, work, and social life. We know that our recurrent dilemmas cannot be resolved by separating parts of our lives and weighing one against the other, yet we become easily lost in that moment of dilemma. Perhaps the image of Dipa Ma can reside in our hearts as a reminder that we do not have to choose. Each dilemma can be accepted as a gift, challenging us to find, again and again and yet again, the middle way in which nothing is outside of our compassion. And perhaps the very process of opening to such challenges will produce a form of family practice that reflects how the dharma can be lived in our particular time and place.

(Originally published in Buddhadharma Magazine, Spring 2003, by Amy Schmidt and Sara Jenkins) http://www.lionsroar.com/mother-of-light-the-inspiring-story-of-dipa-ma/

All of this and more can be found at dipama.com.

Religion Takes a Quantum Leap – Osho

Religion takes a Quantum Leap

With Gautam Buddha religion took a quantum leap. God became meaningless and only meditation was important. Now, twenty-five centuries after Buddha, again religion is taking the quantum leap in your presence becoming religiousness. Please talk about this phenomenon.

The credit of bringing a quantum leap in religion goes back twenty-five centuries before Gautam Buddha to Adinatha, who for the first time preached a religion without God. It was a tremendous revolution because nowhere in the whole world had it ever been conceived that religion could exist without God.

God has been an essential part–the center–of all the religions: Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism. But to make God the center of religion makes man just the periphery. To conceive of God as the creator of the world makes man only a puppet.

That’s why in Hebrew, which is the language of Judaism, man is called Adam. ‘Adam’ means mud. In Arabic man is called ‘admi’; it is from Adam, again it means mud. In English, which has become the language of Christianity by and large, the word human comes from ‘humus’ and humus means mud.

Naturally if God is the creator he has to create from something. He has to make man like a statue, so first he makes man with mud and then breathes life into him. But if this is so man loses all dignity, and if God is the creator of man and everything else, the whole idea is whimsical because what has he been doing for eternity before he created man and the universe?

According to Christianity he created man only four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ. So what was he doing all along through eternity? So it seems whimsical. There cannot be any cause, because to have a cause for which God had to create existence means there are powers higher than God, there are causes which can make him create. Or there is a possibility that suddenly desire arose in him. That too is not very philosophically sound, because for eternity he was desireless. And to be desireless is so blissful that it is impossible to conceive that out of an experience of eternal blissfulness a desire arises in him to create the world. Desire is desire, whether you want to make a house or become the prime minister or create the world. And God cannot be conceived as having desires. So the only thing that remains is that he is whimsical, eccentric. Then there is no need for cause and no need for desire — just a whim.

But if this whole existence is just out of a whim it loses all meaning, all significance. And tomorrow another whim may arise in him to destroy, to dissolve the whole universe. So we are simply puppets in the hands of a dictatorial god who has all the powers but who has not a sane mind, who is whimsical.

To conceive this five thousand years ago Adinatha must have been a very deep meditator, contemplative, and he must have come to the conclusion that with God there is no meaning in the world. If we want meaning in the world then God has to be disposed of. He must have been a man of tremendous courage.

People are still worshipping in the churches, in the synagogues, in the temples; yet that man Adinatha five thousand years before us came to a very clear-cut scientific conclusion that there is nothing higher than man and any evolution that is going to happen is within man and in his consciousness.

This was the first quantum leap–God was disposed of.

Adinatha is the first master of Jainism. The credit does not go to Buddha because Buddha comes twenty-five centuries later than Adinatha. But another credit goes to Buddha. Adinatha disposed of God but could not manage to put meditation in its place. On the contrary, he created asceticism, austerities, torturing the body, fasting, remaining naked, eating only once a day, not drinking in the night, not eating in the night, eating only certain foods. He had come to a beautiful philosophical conclusion but it seems the conclusion was only philosophical, it was not meditational.

When you depose God you cannot have any ritual, you cannot have worship, you cannot have prayer; something has to be substituted. He substituted austerities, because man became the center of his religion and man has to purify himself. Purity in his conception was that man has to detach himself from the world, has to detach himself from his own body. This distorted the whole thing. He had come to a very significant conclusion, but it remained only a philosophical concept.

Adinatha disposed of God but left a vacuum, and Buddha filled it with meditation. Adinatha made a godless religion, Buddha made a meditative religion.

Meditation is Buddha’s contribution. The question is not to torture the body; the question is to become more silent, to become more relaxed, to become more peaceful. It is an inward journey to reach to one’s own center of consciousness, and the center of one’s own consciousness is the center of the whole existence.

Twenty-five centuries have again passed. Just as Adinatha’s revolutionary concept of godless religion got lost in a desert of austerities and self-torture, Buddha’s idea of meditation—something inner, that nobody else can see ; only you know where you are, only you know whether you are progressing or not—got lost into another desert, and that was organized religion.

Religion says that single individuals cannot be trusted, whether they are meditating or not. They need communities, masters, monasteries where they can live together. Those who are on a higher level of consciousness can watch over others and help them. It became essential that religions should not be left in the hands of individuals, they should be organized and should be in the hands of those who have arrived at a high point of meditation.

In the beginning it was good; while Buddha was alive there were many people who reached self-realization, enlightenment. But as Buddha died and these people died, the very organization that was supposed to help people to meditate fell in the hands of a priesthood, and rather than helping you to meditate they started creating rituals around the image of Buddha. Buddha became another God. Adinatha disposed of God, Buddha never accepted that God exists, but this priesthood cannot exist without a God. So there may not be a God who is a creator, but Buddha has reached godhood.

For others the only thing is to worship Buddha, to have faith in Buddha, to follow the principles of Buddha, to live life according to his doctrine; and Buddha got lost in the organization, the imitation. But they all forgot the basic thing which was meditation. My whole effort is to create a religionless religion.

We have seen what happened to religions which have God as the center. We have seen what happened to Adinatha’s revolutionary concept, godless religion. We have seen what happened to Buddha — organized religion without God.

Now my effort is: just as they dissolved God, dissolve religion also. Leave only meditation so it cannot be forgotten in any way. There is nothing else to replace it. There is no God and there is no religion. By religion I mean an organized doctrine, creed, ritual, priesthood. And for the first time I want religion to be absolutely individual, because all organized religions, whether with God or without God, have misled humanity. And the sole cause has been organization, because organization has its own ways which go against meditativeness. Organization is really a political phenomenon, it is not religious. It is another way of power and will to power.

Now every Christian priest hopes someday to become a bishop at least, to become a cardinal, to become a pope. This is a new hierarchy, a new bureaucracy, and because it is spiritual nobody objects. You may be a bishop, you may be a pope, you may be anything. It is not objectionable because you are not going to obstruct anybody’s life. It is just an abstract idea.

My effort is to destroy the priesthood completely. It remained with God, it remained with godless religion, now the only way is that we should dispose of God and religion both so that there is no possibility of any priesthood. Then man is absolutely free, totally responsible for his own growth. My feeling is that the more a man is responsible for his own growth, the more difficult it is for him to postpone it for long. Because it means if you are miserable, you are responsible. If you are tense, you are responsible. If you are not relaxed, you are responsible. If you are in suffering, you are the cause of it. There is no God, there is no priesthood that you can go to and ask for some ritual. You are left alone with your misery, and nobody wants to be miserable.

The priests go on giving you opium, they go on giving you hope, “Don’t be worried, it is just a test of your faith, of your trust; and if you can pass through this misery and suffering silently and patiently, in the other world beyond death you will be immensely rewarded.” If there is no priesthood you have to understand that whatever you are, you are responsible for it, nobody else.

And the feeling that “I am responsible for my misery,” opens the door. Then you start looking for methods and means to get out of this miserable state, and that’s what meditation is. It is simply the opposite state of misery, suffering, anguish, anxiety. It is a state of a peaceful, blissful flowering of being, so silent and so timeless that you cannot conceive that anything better is possible. And there is nothing which is better than the state of a meditative mind.

So you can say these are the three quantum leaps: Adinatha drops God because he finds God is becoming too heavy on man; rather than helping him in his growth he has become a burden—but he forgets to replace him with something. Man will need something in his miserable moments, in his suffering. He used to pray to God. You have taken God away, you have taken his prayer away and now when he will be miserable, what will he do? In Jainism meditation has no place.

It is Buddha’s insight to see that God has been dropped; now the gap should be filled, otherwise the gap will destroy man. He puts in meditation—something really authentic which can change the whole being. But he was not aware—perhaps he could not be aware because there are things you cannot be aware of unless they happen—that there should be no organization, that there should be no priesthood, that as God is gone religion should also be gone. But he can be forgiven because he had not thought about it and there was no past to help him to see it, it came after him.

The real problem is the priest, and God is the invention of the priest. Unless you drop the priest, you can drop God, but the priest will always find new rituals, he will create new gods.

My effort is to leave you alone with meditation, with no mediator between you and existence. When you are not in meditation you are separated from existence and that is your suffering. It’s the same as when you take a fish out of the ocean and throw it on the bank — the misery and the suffering and the tortures he goes through, the hankering and the effort to reach back to the ocean because it is where he belongs, he is part of the ocean and he cannot remain apart. Any suffering is simply indicative that you are not in communion with existence, that the fish is not in the ocean.

Meditation is nothing but withdrawing all the barriers, thoughts, emotions, sentiments, which create a wall between you and existence. The moment they drop you suddenly find yourself in tune with the whole; not only in tune, you really find you are the whole.

When a dewdrop slips from a lotus leaf into the ocean it does not find that it is part of the ocean, it finds it is the ocean. And to find it is the ultimate goal, the ultimate realization, there is nothing beyond it.

So Adinatha dropped God but did not drop organization. And because there was no God, the organization created rituals.

Buddha, seeing what had happened to Jainism, that it had become a ritualism, dropped God. He dropped all rituals and single-pointedly insisted on meditation, but he forgot that the priests who had made rituals in Jainism are going to do the same with meditation. And they did it, they made Buddha himself a God. They talk about meditation but basically Buddhists are worshipers of Buddha—they go to the temple and instead of Krishna or Christ there is Buddha’s statue. There was no statue of Buddha for five hundred years after Buddha. In Buddhist temples they had just the tree under which Buddha became enlightened, engraved on marble, just a symbol. Buddha was not there, only the tree.

You will be surprised that the statue of Buddha that we see today has no resemblance at all to Buddha’s personality, it resembles the personality of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great came to India three hundred years after Buddha. Till then there was no statue of Buddha. The priests were in search because there was no photograph, there was no painting, so how to make a statue of Buddha? And Alexander’s face looked really superhuman, he had a beautiful personality, the Greek face and physiology; they picked up the idea of Buddha’s face and body from Alexander. So all the statues that are being worshipped in Buddhist temples are statues of Alexander the Great, they have nothing to do with Buddha. But the priests had to create the statue—God was not there, ritual was difficult, around meditation ritual was difficult. They created a statue and they started saying — in the same way all religions have been doing — have faith in Buddha, have trust in Buddha, and you will be saved. Both the revolutions were lost. I would like that what I am doing is not lost. So I am trying in every possible way to drop all those things which in the past have been barriers for the revolution to continue and grow. I don’t want anybody to stand between the individual and existence. No prayer, no priest, you alone are enough to face the sunrise, you don’t need somebody to interpret for you what a beautiful sunrise it is.

It is said that every morning Lao Tzu used to go for a walk in the hills. One friend asked him, “Can I come with you one day? I would particularly like to come tomorrow, because I have a guest who is very much interested in you, and he will be immensely glad to have the opportunity to be with you for two hours in the mountains.”

Lao Tzu said, “I have no objection, just one simple thing has to be remembered. I don’t want anything to be said because I have my eyes, you have your eyes, he has his eyes, we can see. There is no need to say anything.”

The friend agreed, but on the way when the sun started rising the guest forgot. It was so beautiful by the side of the lake, the reflection of all the colors, the birds singing and the lotuses blossoming, opening, he could not resist, he forgot. He said, “What a beautiful sunrise.”

His host was shocked because he has broken the condition. Lao Tzu did not say anything, nothing was said there. Back home he called his friend and told him, “Don’t bring your guest again. He is too talkative. The sunrise was there, I was there, he was there, you were there — what is the need to say anything, any comment, any interpretation?”

And this is my attitude: you are here, every individual is here, the whole existence is available. All that you need is just to be silent and listen to existence. There is no need of any religion, there is no need of any God, there is no need of any priesthood, there is no need of any organization.

I trust in the individual categorically. Nobody up to now has trusted in the individual in such a way. So all things can be removed. Now all that has been left to you is a state of meditation which simply means a state of utter silence. The word meditation makes it look heavier. It is better to call it just a simple, innocent silence and existence opens all its beauties to you.

And as it goes on growing you go on growing, and there comes a moment when you have reached the very peak of your potentiality—you can call it Buddhahood, enlightenment, bhagwatta, godliness, whatever, it has no name, so any name will do.

-Osho

From The Last Testament, Volume Five

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