Thus, by meditation, they achieve the ultimate reality, which is unthinkable, unmanifest, the one of endless forms, the ever-auspicious, the peaceful, the immortal, the origin of the creator, the one without a beginning, a middle and an end, the only one, the non-dual, the all-pervading, the consciousness, the bliss, the formless, the wonderful.
This sutra is basically concerned with meditation: What is to be attained by meditation? What is meditation, and for what does it stand?
The Hindi word for meditation is dhyana; the connotation is very different. By meditation, one thing is meant in English; by dhyana something else is meant. So first we must understand the basic difference between these two words. Meditation is not a right translation, because by meditation thinking is implied. When we say someone is meditating, it means someone is thinking about something. In meditation an object is implied. In dhyan, no-object is a basic condition. By dhyan is meant a meditative mood without any object.
Objects must cease, mind must become just a pure mirror – a mirroring, not mirroring anything – just a mirror without any object in it, a pure mirror. By dhyan, this purity of the mind is indicated.
So first, no object should be in the mind. Mind must remain alone without thinking about anything – with no thought, just a consciousness, just an awareness, just an alertness. This alertness without any object is meditation.
So go on dropping objects. Even if one has to use some object as a help to withdraw other objects from the mind, that one object has to be dropped ultimately. Unless that is dropped, it is not meditation.
For example, there are many thoughts in the mind. You can use a mantra; so now there are not many thoughts, just one thought. You can use a name – Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Maria, anything. You go on repeating, “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama.” Between two “Ramas” no gap should be left, because only from that gap a thought enters. If your “Ramas” go on overlapping each other there will be no gap for any thought to enter. Now you have a mind with one thought. It is still not meditation, it is still thinking – thinking one thought. Ultimately this “Rama” has to be dropped. When you have become attuned with one thought and other thoughts are not entering the mind, then drop it and remain without thought. Many thoughts have been dropped except one; then drop the one, so you come to a state of no-thought.
This state of no-thought is meditation.
This is dhyana, this is pure consciousness.
In this pure consciousness is achieved that which is known as Brahman. This sutra is concerned with the definition of that indefinable.
It cannot be defined, because definition needs something which becomes impossible with the ultimate reality – definition needs comparison. You cannot define anything without comparing it. That divine is non-dual; it is one, so no comparison is possible. How to define it?
Can you say that the divine is man, or woman? You cannot say, though many religions have defined it in that way. Some religions are man-oriented, so they define God as father. Some religions are woman-oriented, so they define God as mother. But He cannot be defined, because “man” and “woman”… these words are relevant in human language; they become irrelevant for the whole universe. The whole universe is neither male nor female. How to define it? What to say about it?
The moment we use any word to define it, it looks absurd, because every human word implies the contrary also. If you say, “He is light,” then where to put darkness? Then what is darkness? Either you will have to deny darkness absolutely from divine nature, or you will have to imply it somewhere; He must comprehend darkness also. So what to say about Him? – light or darkness? If you say both, they become meaningless. He is both, and He is not both. That is the problem; that’s why He cannot be defined. Every word implies duality: the polar opposite must be there to make the word meaningful. Every word, with the total existence, becomes meaningless.
But this sutra tries to define the indefinable – this is only an effort, it never succeeds. But it has to be made. Even in its unsuccessfulness it helps, it indicates. It may not be able to define the divine; it is capable of indicating it.
Wittgenstein has said somewhere, “There are experiences which cannot be said, but which can be shown.” And he is right. There are experiences – you cannot say what they are, but still, you can indicate them. This sutra is an indication.
Some terms have been used; one is: thus by meditation they achieve the ultimate reality, which is unthinkable – which cannot be thought. Why? – because thinking is not, is not something. It is a process of the known; it never leads to the unknown. The unknown is always beyond thinking: You can think something you know; how can you think something which you don’t know?
And then the whole of thinking becomes absurd. If you can think only that which you know, what is the use of it? You know already, so what is the use of thinking it? If only the known can be thought, then the whole process becomes circular: it leads nowhere, you go on in a circle. You know and you think; and you think and you cannot think the unknown. So you go on in a circle – mind works in a circle.
The mind never achieves anything from the unknown. So mind must cease, thinking must cease; this circle must be broken! You must come to a standstill: not thinking, not thinking at all. And the moment you are in a no-thinking state, suddenly you enter the unknown.
It is not only unknown but unknowable also, because even if you have known it, you cannot make it known to others. By your being, they may feel it – by your movements, by your gestures, by your eyes, by your very presence, they may feel it – but still you cannot make it known to them. You may create a thirst in them for it, but you cannot give them a definition. You may lead them towards it, but you cannot make it known to them – unless they know themselves.
This knowing of the unknown is basically, foundationally, an individual affair. It can never be made collective. You cannot go to it en masse. Alone one has to reach it; alone one has to drop oneself. Alone one has to enter it; alone one encounters it. It becomes known to you, but you cannot make it known to others.
That is the basic difference between science and religion.
A scientist discovers something, and then the discovery becomes that of the whole of humanity. But a religious mystic discovers, and the discovery remains his own. It never becomes a collective phenomenon. A Jesus knows, a Boehme knows, an Eckhart knows, but they are helpless; they cannot make it a common property. It cannot become an object of common knowing; humanity remains in the some grip of ignorance. Each one has to approach it by oneself.
The opening is individual; that’s why it is not only unknown by unknowable. And for one reason more, and that reason is still deeper: even if one comes to know it, one never knows it totally. Even when one comes to know it, no one knows it totally! So the unknowable is infinitely unknowable.
Even if you are satisfied, even if your thirst is no more, the infinite unknowability remains – that’s why it is mysterious. And it is good, and it is beautiful that it is so. Because if you can know the divine totally – if the very moment the divine has been known, you have known it totally – it becomes meaningless.
Anything known totally becomes a thing. Anything known totally creates boredom. Anything known totally will again create a new thirst to know something else.
But once the divine is known, no desire to know anything remains – because you can go on in your knowing . . . deeper, deeper, deeper, infinitely deeper; the abyss is endless. You have a beginning in it, but no end. You drop into it, and then you go on dropping, and there comes no substratum, no bottom where you can stand again and say, “Now the dropping has ended.”
This is the mystery. That’s why this sutra says: the formless, the wonderful . . . the mysterious – God is a mysterium. And when I way a mysterium, I mean that you can know it, but still you cannot say, “I have known it.” You can only say, “I have dropped into it”; you can only say, “I have ceased to be”; you can only say, “Now I am no more and He is.” But you cannot say, “I have known it.”
For one reason more it remains unknowable: because the knower is lost. The moment you enter the divine you don’t enter as a knower; you enter as a drop of water entering the ocean. You become one with it. The knower is not separate, so how can you say, ”I have known it”? How can you say that “I am,” still? You are not; only He is.
This is one of the riddles of religious experience: when the knower is lost, the known is known. When the knower is lost, only then knowledge happens.
Kabir has said, “I was searching and searching and searching. Now He is found but the searcher is not. Now He is there but where is Kabir?” The seeker is no more. There has never been a meeting between the seeker and the sought. Never a meeting! – because the two cannot be together. The seeking ends only when the seeker is lost, and only then the sought is found. You are, then He is not. When you are not, then He is; there is no meeting – or you can call this the meeting. This is the riddle of religious experience.
. . . which is unthinkable, unmanifest, the one of endless forms, the ever-auspicious, the peaceful, the immortal, the origin of the creator, the one without a beginning, a middle and an end, the only one, the non-dual, the all-pervading, the consciousness, the bliss, the formless, the wonderful . . . is known through meditation.
These are just indications, and every indication is a negative. Remember that – every indication is a negative. He is unthinkable – you cannot think about it. He is formless – he is without forms. He has no beginning, no middle, no end. He is non-dual – not two. All these are negatives.
Why use so much negativity for such a positive phenomenon as God? He is the positivity; He is the only positive force. Then why use so many negatives? – without form, without the other, everything – everything that has been used to indicate Him, has remained always negative. Why?
There are reasons. The moment you use a positive word, you create a limitation. If I say that He is beautiful, then the ugly is denied. If I say that He is light, then the darkness is denied. If I say that He is good, then the evil is denied. Whatsoever I say positively will deny something.
To use a negative term is to say that He is so infinite that we cannot use any positive term, because positivity becomes a limitation. We cannot say, “He is one”; rather, it is good to say, “He is not two.” It is better to say that He is not two; then He is left totally without any positive demarcation. If we say, “He is one,” then we have encircled Him.
In meditation, the deeper you go, the more deeply you will come to the positive. But when you want to express it, more and more you will have to use negative terms. The ultimate in using negative terms is Buddha. He has used for this ultimate experience the word nirvana. Nirvana simply means cessation. He has not used moksha, liberation, because it is positive; it says something. He has not used brahmalok; it is positive, it says something. He has not used bliss, consciousness – these are positive. He has simply said, nirvana – cessation of everything, nothingness. And he is right, absolutely right. In meditation you will achieve a positive experience. But when you are expressing it, you will have to use absolute negatives.
If we can create a world consciousness about this use of negatives, there will be no fight between religions. Every fight is because a religion has used something positive. This is strange, but one has to understand it. If you use the negative, then two negatives are never in conflict; but if you use two positives, then two positives are always in conflict.
For example, if Islam says that He is one, and Hinduism says that He is all, one begins to feel some conflict somewhere. Use negatives, and then there is no conflict. If you say that He is not two, then He can be both – He can be one and He can be all. When I say He is not two, I don’t deny that He is not all – He can be all. “He is not two” – He can be all. “He is not two” – He can be one. In saying He is not two, both ends – one and all – are implied. If religions are created around negatives, there will be less fight and more understanding.
In the West, all the three religions which have come out of Jewish mystics have all used positives. Christianity, Islam, and the Jewish religion have all used positives. That is one of the reasons they are mostly fighting religions – too much fighting, too much arrogance. They have never used negatives; they have used positive terms. A linguistic factor has created so much violence . . .
All the Indian religions have used negatives, more and more negatives. And Buddhism is exceptional; Buddhism has used absolute negatives. That’s why Buddhism has been one of the most non-fighting religions.
If you use a negative term to indicate the divine, there is no fight. If you use a positive term, a fight is bound to happen. Someone using another… then two positives are always in conflict. Two negatives are never in conflict. That’s why one other strange phenomenon can be understood: Two theists will always be in a fight, but two atheists will never be in a fight, so there are three hundred types of theists in the world, but only one type of atheist.
What is the reason? An atheist anywhere is the same. What is the reason? – the negative, because he stands only with one statement: that there is no God. So how can there be many types of no- Gods? Only one type, one negative, implies everything. The negative is a universal thing: an atheist anywhere – in Tibet, in Germany, in Japan, in China, anywhere – an atheist is simply an atheist. He stands on a negative.
But theists differ. village to village, neighborhood to neighborhood, theists differ. There are so many brands, and so many types, and so many creeds. Why? The moment you use a positive you have defined an area, and all else is excluded. Unless theists also begin to use negatives more, there will not be a universal religion. If theism also bases itself on a negative definition of the divine, then there can be a universal brotherhood.
Meditation leads you to all. But never define it as positive; always define it as nothingness. […]
From That Art Thou, Discourse #23
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