The whole ignorance of mind consists in not being in the present. Mind is always moving: into the future, or into the past. Mind is never here and now. It cannot be.
The very nature of mind is such that it cannot be in the present, because mind has to think, and in the present moment there is no possibility to think. You have to see, you have to listen, you have to be present, but you cannot think.
The present moment is so narrow that there is no space to think about. You can be, but thoughts cannot be. How can you think? If you think, it means it is already past, the moment has gone. Or you can think if it has not come yet, it is in the future. For thinking space is needed, because thinking is like a walk — a walk of the mind, a journey. Space is needed. You can walk into the future, you can walk into the past, but how can you walk in the present? The present is so close, really not even close – the present is you. Past and future are parts of time; the present is you, it is not part of time. It is not a tense: it is not at all a part of time, it doesn’t belong to time. The present is you; past and future are out of you.
The mind cannot exist in the present. If you can be here, totally present, mind will disappear. Mind can desire, can dream— dream a thousand and one thoughts. It can move to the very end of the world, it can move to the very beginning of the world, but it cannot be here and now—that is impossible for it. The whole ignorance consists in not knowing this. And then you worry about the past, which is no more—it is absolutely stupid! You cannot do anything about the past. How can you do anything about the past which is no more? Nothing can be done, it has already gone; but you worry about it, and worrying about it, you waste yourself.
Or you think about the future, and dream and desire. Have you ever observed? – The future never comes. It cannot come. Whatsoever comes is always the present, and the present is absolutely different from your desires, your dreams. That’s why whatsoever you desire and dream and imagine and plan for and worry about, never happens. But it wastes you. You go on deteriorating. You go on dying. Your energies go on moving in a desert, not reaching any goal, simply dissipating. And then death knocks at your door. And remember: death never knocks in the past, and death never knocks in the future; death knocks in the present.
You cannot say to death, “Tomorrow!” Death knocks in the present. Life also knocks in the present. God also knocks in the present. Everything that is always knocks in the present, and everything that is not is always part of past or future.
Your mind is a false entity because it never knocks in the present. Let this be the criterion of reality: whatsoever is, is always here and now; whatsoever is not is never a part of the present. Drop all that which never knocks in the now. And if you move in the now, a new dimension opens—the dimension of eternity.
Past and future move in a horizontal line: A moves to B, B to C, C to D, in a line. Eternity moves vertically: A moves deeper into the A, higher into the A, not to B; A goes on moving deeper and higher, both ways. It is vertical. The present moment moves vertically, time moves horizontally. Time and present never meet. And you are the present: your whole being moves vertically. The depth is open, the height is open, but you are moving horizontally with the mind. That’s how you miss God.
People come to me and they ask how to meet God, how to see, how to realize. That is not the point. The point is: how are you missing him? — Because he is here and now knocking at your door. It cannot be otherwise. If he is the real, he must be here and now.
Only unreality is not here and now. He is already at your door—but you are not there. You are never at home. You go on wandering into millions of words, but you are never at home. There you are never found, and God comes to meet you there, reality surrounds you there, but never finds you there. The real question is not how you should meet God; the real question is how you should be at home, so that when God knocks he finds you there. It is not a question of your finding him, it is a question of him finding you.
So it is a real meditation. A man of understanding does not bother about God or that type of matter, because he is not a philosopher. He simply tries to be at home, meditates on how to stop worrying about the future and the past, thinking about future and past; he meditates on how to settle here and now, how not to move from this moment. Once you are in this moment, the door opens. This moment is the door!
I was staying once with a Catholic priest and his family. It happened one evening that I was sitting with the family: the priest, his wife, and their young child who was playing in the corner of the room with a few blocks, making something. Then suddenly the child said, “Now everybody be quiet, because I have made a church. The church is ready, now be silent.”
The father was very happy that the boy understood that in a church one has to be quiet.
To encourage him he said, “Why is it one needs to be quiet in a church?” “Because,” said the boy, “the people are asleep.”
The people are really asleep, not only in the church, but on the whole earth, everywhere.
They are asleep in the church because they come asleep from out-side. They go out of the church, they move in sleep—everybody is a sleepwalker, a somnambulist. And this is the nature of sleep: that you are never here and now, because if you are here and now you will be awake!
Sleep means you are in the past, sleep means you are in the future. Mind is the sleep, mind is a deep hypnosis—fast asleep. And you try many ways, but nothing seems to help you because anything done in your sleep will not be of much help, because if you do it in sleep it will not be more than a dream.
I have heard that once a man came to a psychoanalyst, a very absentminded psychoanalyst—and everybody is absentminded because mind is absent-mindedness, not at home; that’s what absent-mindedness means. A man went to this very absentminded psychoanalyst and told him. “I am in great trouble. I have knocked at the doors of all types of doctors but nobody could help me, and they say that nothing is wrong. But I am in trouble. I snore so loudly in my sleep that I wake myself up. And this happens so many times in the night: the snoring is so loud that I wake myself up!
Without exactly listening to what this man was saying, the psychoanalyst said, “This is nothing. A simple thing can change the whole matter. You simply sleep in another room.”
You understand? — This is exactly what everybody is doing. You go on changing rooms, but sleep continues, snoring continues, because you cannot leave it in another room. It is not something separate from you; it is you, it is your mind, it is your whole accumulated past, your memory, your knowledge—what Hindus call samskaras, all the conditionings that make your mind. You go in another room, they follow you there.
You can change your religion: you can become a Christian from a Hindu, you can become a Hindu from a Christian—you change rooms. Nothing will come of it. You can go on changing your masters from one master to another, from one ashram to another: nothing will be of much help. You are changing rooms; and the basic thing is not to change rooms but to change you. The room is not concerned with your snoring; the room is not the cause, you are the cause. This is the first thing to be understood; then you will be able to follow this beautiful story.
Your mind, as it is, is asleep. But you cannot feel how it is asleep because you look quite awake, with open eyes. But have you ever seen anything? You look wide awake with your open ears, but have you ever heard anything?
You are listening to me so you will say, yes! But are you listening to me or listening to your mind inside? Your mind is constantly commenting. I am here, talking to you, but you are not there listening to me. Your mind constantly comments, “Yes, it is right, I agree;” “I don’t agree, this is absolutely false;” your mind is standing there, constantly commenting. Through this commentary, this fog of the mind, I cannot penetrate you. Understanding comes when you are not interpreting, when you simply listen.
In a small school the teacher found that one boy was not listening. He was very lazy and fidgety, restless. So she asked: “Why? Are you in some difficulty? Are you not able to hear me?”
The boy said, ‘Hearing is okay, listening is the problem. ‘
He made a really subtle distinction. He said, “Hearing is okay, I am hearing you; but listening is the problem”—because listening is more than hearing; listening is hearing with full awareness. Just hearing is okay, sounds are all around you—you hear, but you are not listening. You have to hear, because the sounds will go on knocking at your eardrum; you have to hear. But you are not there to listen, because listening means a deep attention, a rapport not a constant commentary inside, not saying yes or no, not agreeing, disagreeing, because if you agree and disagree, in that moment how can you listen to me?
When you agree, what I said is already past; when you disagree, it is already gone. And in the moment you nod your head inside, say no or yes, you are missing—and this is a constant thing inside you.
You cannot listen. And the more knowledge you have the more difficult listening becomes. Listening means innocent attention—you simply listen. There is no need to be in agreement or disagreement. I am not in search of your agreement or disagreement. I am not asking for your vote, I am not seeking your following; I am not in any way trying to convince you.
What do you do when a parrot starts screeching in a tree? Do you comment? Yes, then too you say, “Disturbing.” You cannot listen even to a parrot. When the wind is blowing through the trees and there’s the rustling noise, do you listen to it? Sometimes, maybe; it catches you unawares. But then too you comment, “Yes, beautiful!”
Now watch: whenever you comment, you fall asleep. The mind has come in, and with the mind the past and future enter. The vertical line is lost — and you become horizontal. The moment mind enters you become horizontal. You miss eternity.
Simply listen. There is no need to say yes or no. There is no need to be convinced or not convinced. Simply listen, and the truth will be revealed to you—or the untruth! If somebody is talking nonsense, if you simply listen the nonsense will be revealed to you without any commentary from the mind. If somebody is speaking the truth, it will be revealed to you. Truth or untruth is not an agreement or a disagreement of your mind, it is a feeling. When you are in total rapport, you feel, and you simply feel that it is true or it is untrue—and the thing is finished! No worrying about it, no thinking about it! What can thinking do?
If you have been brought up in a certain way, if you are a Christian, or a Hindu, or a Mohammedan and I am saying something which happens to agree with your upbringing, you will say yes. If it doesn’t happen so, you will say no. Are you here or is only the upbringing here? And upbringing is just accidental.
The mind cannot find what is true, the mind cannot find what is untrue. The mind can reason about it, but all reasoning is based on conditioning. If you are a Hindu you reason in one way, if you are a Mohammedan you reason in a different way. And every type of conditioning rationalizes. It is not really reasoning: you rationalize.
Mulla Nasruddin became very aged; he attained one hundred years. A reporter came to see him, because he was the oldest citizen around those parts. The reporter said, “Nasruddin, there are a few questions I would like to ask. One is, do you think you will be able to live a hundred years more?”
Nasruddin said, “Of course, because a hundred years ago I was not so strong as I am now.”
A hundred years before, he was a child, just born, so he said: “A hundred years ago I was not so strong as I am now, and if a small child, helpless, weak, could survive for a hundred years, why shouldn’t I?”
This is rationalization. It looks logical, but it misses something. It is a wish-fulfillment. You would like to survive longer, so you create a rationale around it: you believe in the immortality of the soul. You have been brought up in a culture which says that the soul is eternal. If somebody says, “Yes, the soul is eternal,” you nod, you say, “Yes, that’s right.”
But that’s not right — or wrong. You say yes because it is a deep-rooted conditioning in you. There are others: half the world believes, Hindus, Buddhists and Jainas believe that the soul is eternal, and there are many rebirths. And half the world, Christians, Mohammedans, Jews, believe the soul is not eternal and there is no rebirth, only one life and then the soul dissolves into the ultimate.
Half the world believes this, half the world believes that, and they all have their own arguments, they all have their own rationalizations. Whatsoever you want to believe, you will believe, but deep down your desire will be the cause of your belief, not reason. Mind looks rational, but it is not. It is a rationalizing process: whatsoever you want to believe, the mind says yes. And where does that wanting come from? It comes from your upbringing.
Listening is a totally different affair, it has a totally different quality to it. When you listen, you cannot be a Hindu, or a Mohammedan, or a Jaina, or a Christian. When you listen you cannot be a theist or an atheist; when you listen you can’t listen through the skin of your -isms or scriptures. You have to put them all aside; you simply listen.
I’m not asking you to agree, don’t be afraid! Simply listen, not bothered by agreement or disagreement, and then a rapport happens.
If the truth is there, suddenly you are drawn—your whole being is drawn as if by a magnet. You melt and merge into it, and your heart feels “This is true,” without any reason, without any arguments, without any logic. This is why religions say reason is not the way to the divine. They say it is faith, they say it is trust.
What is trust? Is it a belief? No, because belief belongs to the mind. Trust is a rapport. You simply put aside all your defense measures, your armor; you become vulnerable. You listen to something, and you listen so totally that the feeling arises in you as to whether it is true or not. If it is untrue, you feel it. Why does this happen? If it is true, you feel it. Why does this happen?
It happens because truth resides in you. When you are totally non-thinking your inner truth can feel wherever truth is—because like always feels out like: it fits. Suddenly everything fits, everything falls in a pattern and the chaos becomes a cosmos. The words fall in line… and a poetry arises. Then everything simply fits.
If you are in rapport, and the truth is there, your inner being simply agrees with it — but it is not an agreement. You feel a tuning. You become one. This is trust. If something is wrong, it simply falls from you, you never pay it a second thought, you never look at it a second time: there is no meaning in it. You never say, “This is untrue”; it simply doesn’t fit, you move! If it fits, it becomes your home. If it doesn’t fit, you move.
Through listening comes trust. But listening needs hearing plus attention. And you are fast asleep — how can you be attentive? But even fast asleep a fragment of attention remains floating in you; otherwise there would be no way. You may be in a prison, but possibilities always exist — you can come out. Difficulties may be there, but it is not impossible, because prisoners have been known to escape. A Buddha escapes, a Mahavira escapes, a Jesus escapes — they were also prisoners like you. Prisoners have escaped before — prisoners have always escaped. There remains somewhere a door, a possibility; you simply have to search for it.
If it is impossible, if there is no possibility, then there is no problem. The problem arises because the possibility is there — you are a little alert. If you were absolutely un-alert, then there would be no problem. If you were in a coma, then there would be no problem. But you are not in a coma; you are asleep — but not totally. A gap, a leakage exists. You have to find within yourself that possibility of being attentive.
Sometimes you become attentive. If somebody comes to hit you, the attention comes. If you are in danger, if you are passing through a forest at night and it is dark, you walk with a different quality of attention. You are awake; thinking is not there. You are fully in rapport with the situation, with whatsoever is happening. Even if a leaf creates a sound you are fully alert. You are just like a hare, or a deer — they are always awake. Your ears are bigger, your eyes are wide open, you are feeling what is happening all around because danger is there. In danger your sleep is less, your awareness is more, the gestalt changes. If somebody puts a dagger to your heart and is just going to push it in, in that moment there is no thinking. Past disappears, future disappears: you are here and now.
The possibility is there. If you make the effort you will catch the one ray that exists in you, and once you catch the one ray, the sun is not very far; then through the ray you can reach the sun—the ray becomes the path.
So remember: find attention, let it become a continuity in you twenty-four hours a day, whatsoever you do. Eat, but try to be attentive: eat with awareness. Walk, but walk with awareness. Love, but love fully aware. Try!
It cannot become total just in one day, but even if one ray is caught, you will feel a deep fulfillment — because the quality is the same whether you attain to one ray or the whole sun. Whether you taste a drop of water from the ocean or the whole ocean, the salty taste is the same — and the taste becomes your satori, the glimpse.
Here, listening to me, be alert. Whenever you feel that you have gone again into sleep, bring yourself back: just shake a little and bring yourself back. When walking on the street, if you feel you are walking in a sleep, shake a little; give a little shake to the whole body. Be alert. This alertness will remain only for a few moments; again you will lose it, because you have lived in a sleep for so long, it has become such a habit, that you cannot see how you can go against it.
I was traveling once from Calcutta to Bombay in a plane, and one child was creating a great nuisance, running from one corner of the aisle to the other, disturbing everybody — and then the stewardess came with tea and coffee. The boy ran into her, and everything was a mess. Then the mother of the child said, “Now listen, I have told you many times, why don’t you go outside and play there?”
Just old habit. She was sitting just by my side and was not aware of what she had said. I listened as she spoke, and she never became alert to what she had said. Only the child made her alert. He said, “What do you mean? If I go out I am finished!”
A child is more attentive of course, because he has less habits. A child is more alert because he has less armor around him, he is less imprisoned. That’s why all religions say that when a man becomes a sage he has some quality of a child: the innocence. Then habits drop. … Because habits are your prison, and sleep is the greatest habit.
From And the Flowers Showered, Discourse #7
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation
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