Concentration, Attention, and Awareness – Vimala Thakar

Mount Abu; July 12, 1973

Let us begin our inquiry by considering concentration, attention, and awareness. Concentration is attention that is limited by motive, by direction, and by time duration. Motive gives direction and thereby creates the boundaries of attention. Concentration is attention that has chains on its hands and feet as it were.

You can have a motive in relation to known things: things that are known to you, to your family, to your community, to your fellow countrymen, or to the human race at large. You can have a motive in relation to things that have been experienced by people all over the world. But a motive in relation to the unknown is impossible. You can have a motive in relation only to that which has been known, experienced, measured, evaluated, and judged, either by you or by your family or community, and so on, and so on. That is how we have been brought up.

Now, divinity (call it divinity, call it God, call it reality, call it the universal intelligence, call it cosmic consciousness, call it the totality of existence: give it any name) is not in the category of the known, the experienced, the compared, the evaluated, and the judged. The human race has inhabited the globe for millions of years, but there are things that have not been adequately verbalized yet, like truth, beauty, love, and freedom. And silence has not yet been measured. It has not been grasped by the mind and put into the framework of time and space. So in relation to the known, there can be motives. Concentration is an activity always in relation to the known. Either you want it or you want to give it up.

There is another kind of mental activity that is called attention. Attention is the involuntary reflex action of the brain, of the cerebral organ. When your eyes are open, they see things. You may not look at things, but the involuntary action of the eyes is to see objects; the involuntary action of the ears is to hear sounds; the involuntary action of the nose is to smell odors, scents, perfumes, fragrances. The involuntary action, the action built into the very structure of the skin, is to feel the touch, the hot, the cold, the pleasant, and the unpleasant. In the same way, the human brain has been made sensitive in such a way that its built-in action is to attend to things, even without a motive.

Concentration, which is based upon motive, gives direction and limits attention. Attention is an involuntary cerebral activity. You can’t change it, you can’t suppress it, you can’t inhibit it, unless you use violence against yourself. You use violence in many forms. Either you dull the brain with medicines, with drugs, or you dull the brain by repetition of certain words, chanting them over and over again so that the brain moves in a channel and can’t move outside of the channel. It is the built-in action of the brain to attend to things. Your eyes are closed and there is a bird chirping somewhere on some branch of some tree and the brain attends to it. Being a cultured and civilized human being, your brain immediately distinguishes the sound of the horn of a car from the sound of the call of a bird: it says, that is the horn of a car. A person who has lived in deep jungles or forests somewhere in Africa or in Australia will not be able to recognize the noise of the jet plane flying over a city. It may not be possible for the person living in a village to distinguish the sound of a transistor, a tape recorder, a radio, and so on. So civilization has developed certain powers, cultivated certain powers, and now they are built into your brain and my brain. That is our inheritance. The cultivated brain is our inheritance, and people living in countries where science and technology have advanced to a very considerable extent have very sophisticated brains.

So the brain attends to a sound. And what does “attending to” imply? Recognizing. First, cognition: there is a sound. The brain cognizes. Then recognition: the brain recognizes, that is to say, it identifies and gives the sound a name, distinguishing it from others. That is what naming implies. You give a name to distinguish one thing as separate and independent of the other, separate from the other. There is a car passing by, there is a child shrieking, and so on. So attention means cognition, identification, recognition, and naming.

All this goes on and I don’t think it is bondage. The naming and the indentifying process in the brains of cultured and civilized people is a very harmless, innocent cerebral activity. It goes on. The brain attends to it. It is not concentration. The mind has not come into play to focus all the brain’s energy on a certain purpose in order to gain something from it. It is just simple, innocent, bare attention, which is bound to go on as long as you and I are alive. And I think that is the beauty of human life. Attention is different from concentration, and yet it is an activity of the brain.

Now from attention we move to awareness. Awareness is the nature of intelligence. It has nothing to do with the brain, with intellect, with naming, with identifying. So first of all, when one sits down in silence, one plunges into an unconditional relaxation. One comes face-to-face with this deep-rooted habit of concentrating on things. One says, I am sitting down in silence, but the bird disturbs me. The bird won’t disturb me unless I concentrate upon it. I attend to it and call it a disturbance the moment I judge it, evaluate it, the moment I have concentrated upon it. So I say, It disturbs me, it distracts me. The moment I say that it distracts me or it disturbs me, it indicates that I have been resisting.

Resistance is inverted concentration. Resistance as a form of concentration has got to be unmasked. Before one can proceed toward meditation, it is absolutely necessary to unmask various activities. Resistance is a form of concentration: otherwise, why should it disturb me? The fact that it disturbs me implies that I have formed a relationship with it, a relationship of resistance. It is as if the bird is singing in order to disturb me, as if the car is passing by in order to distract me. I relate myself in that way. Resistance implies relationship. A relationship that has the friction of resistance leads to disharmony.

I wish that you could see the beauty of this. Unless you form a relationship of resistance, there cannot be disturbance and distraction. And one speaks this out of personal experience. For the past thirty or forty years that one has lived, one has not come across things and individuals who could disturb, who could distract. To be disturbed or distracted by something means it irritates me, it annoys me. I want to do something, and it does not allow me to do it. You build up a relationship with disturbance or distraction.

When you are attending—that is to say, when the brain is attending—to objects and there is no resistance built up by the mind, due to certain motives, for certain purposes, the attention burns as brightly as a flame. This is again a cerebral activity. This is a habit of the brain to attend to things. In that state of attention, whatever flows is allowed to flow, allowed to come in and move out, allowed to come up from within and subside. Thus in the mirror of attention it becomes possible for you to look at yourself: the feelings, the thoughts, the sentiments, and the emotions. You are looking at yourself. When you stand before the mirror you are looking at yourself. There seems to be the other, and yet there is no other. There is only you yourself and there is the mirror and there is the activity of looking at yourself.

This metaphor is very important for what we are going to talk about. We have to deal with things invisible, intangible, and so we will need the help of metaphors without stretching them too far, without making them ugly. So attention enables you to be in a state where thoughts, experiences, and memories are looked at. Yet you are looking at them, but not concentrating upon them. The moment that you begin to analyze them, you are concentrating upon them. The moment that you compare and evaluate them, you slip from the state of attention into the state of concentration.

It is a slippery ground between attention and concentration. If, for the fun of it, you sit before a mirror and look at your hands, nose, clothes, and the shape of your body, you are looking at particular parts of yourself. The relation is in duality. But you can look at your own body—you see your image, you see your reflection—but you are not looking at particular parts of your body. You are not looking at the clothes, the feet, the hands: it is just seeing and not looking. Then you are aware. When you are not looking at particular parts of the body, you are aware of the shape of the mirror, you are aware of things that are behind you getting reflected into the mirror. You are aware of the light of the sun coming through the window toward the mirror, and of the play of the light and the dance of the light in the mirror and in the room: you are aware of the whole room. The moment that looking at particular parts of the body is over, you are in the state of seeing. Seeing enables you to be aware of yourself, of the reflection, of the mirror, and of the ceiling, do you see? Frontiers are widening, horizons of attention begin to widen.

Concentration is a relationship with the particular, and attention is a relationship with the whole. And then, as before, your seeing goes on widening and widening and you are aware. It is not a cerebral activity any more. As long as you were looking at it, it was a cerebral activity, but later on you see the mirror, the walls and the reflection. You are not looking at anything. You are just seeing. And the seeing changes into being aware.

Awareness is the nature of intelligence that vibrates in the universe. Awareness is the purest movement of energy. We have talked about the physical, we have talked about the cerebral, and now we come to awareness, which is a movement of intelligence contained in your whole being. When you listen to music, you do not hear only with the ears. First of all, you listen with the ears to the melody, the notes, the volume, the frequency of sound vibrations. Then the listening widens into hearing. You are aware of the notes, the overtones, and the undertones: the whole person is singing. You are aware of the movement of singing in the person and the movement that music has brought about within you. So listening grows into awareness: awareness of the musician, awareness of the listener, awareness of the surroundings. So awareness is a movement of the sensitivity, of the intelligence, that is vibrating in the whole of you. When you are near a forest, mountain, hill, lake, beautiful field, or seashore, your whole being becomes aware of the scenery. Those who look only with the eyes will get bored with the mountains, the river, or the Himalayas in no time. Because they look only through the eyes, and hear only through the ears, they do not allow the looking and listening to grow into awareness. Concentration and attention and then unresisted attention—unmutilated attention—develops into awareness. It is no longer a cerebral activity: it has become the movement of your total sensitivity, of your intelligence, of your whole being. It is a happening in your totality. And yet I say that this is not meditation.

Awareness has a movement, the movement of intelligence, which is the nature of energy outside you and within you. This is not yet meditation. But it leads you to the threshold of the state of meditation. Intelligence is the movement of energy. It is the purest form of movement, not contaminated by the cerebral structure, the thoughts, the feelings, the sentiments, the habits, the values, or ideologies. It is untouched by the human mind, and yet it is a movement of energy. Tomorrow morning we will see how energy is the property of matter. But even the movement of intelligence, even the state of awareness, is not the state of meditation, because you are still in the field of very subtle matter. Energy and movement go together; energy is the property of matter. Movement is an indication that we are still in the field of matter. We are proceeding very slowly and very gradually, because we are dealing with meditation, which is a new dimension of consciousness. The whole human race is struggling emotionally and intellectually to grow into an entirely new dimension of life. So this is not a game of words; this is not speculation; this is not sentimentalism. This is something that you have to explore within the laboratory of your own mind and body.

From concentration you move to attention. In the state of attention, there are no frontiers; there is no direction; there is no motive; but still there is you looking at yourself, which is a cultivated duality, a conceptual duality. From attention you grow into the state of awareness, where there is no “I” and “it,” there is no “me” and “you”: there is only a movement of intelligence vibrating. The person is living and therefore vibrates with intelligence. That is the sensitivity contained in his or her body. Concentration involves mind, memory, experience, and energy. Every attention involves the habit pattern of the cerebral organ. Awareness implies and involves sensitivity of the totality and yet there is movement. And wherever there is movement, there is energy. Energy is the property of matter, and therefore a person living in the state of awareness of the totality is not yet in the state of meditation.

Those of you who have been with me in Norway, the Netherlands, or California know very well that I am interested in this subject from an educational point of view, that is, the education of the human psyche, the human race trying to educate itself and grow into a new dimension. So I deal with meditation as far as words can carry us rationally, scientifically, and sanely. As long as the brain can work, we have to move with the brain. If you deny the brain, then there will be an inhibition and every inhibition is an intrusion and is an obstruction. If you go against the brain, if you deny the brain, if you deny yourself, or if you deny sentiments, the emotions, then every suppression will lead to a psychosomatic obstacle. So we are not going to do that. We will go with reason as far as it takes us. This helps the inquirer to maintain his freedom, his initiative, and his balance of mind.

If you surrender your freedom and expect everything to be done for you by others, then you give up your initiative and you give up the balance of your mind. Man has struggled for freedom in the political and economic field. He should be careful not to throw away his psychic freedom. There will be exchanges, there will be communications, there will be discussions with persons who have made the inner journey, but the exchanges will be in the atmosphere of friendship and not in the atmosphere of authority. Man has struggled for freedom for so many centuries: witness the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Indian Revolution under Gandhi, The African-Americans struggling for freedom under the guidance of Martin Luther King Jr., the Africans struggling under the leadership of Kenneth Kuanda and Jomo Kenyata. So if you value economic, political, and social freedom, don’t give up your psychic freedom in a minute in exchange for a few shabby experiences. Those who say that without the relationship of authority, spiritual exploration cannot take place, are doing damage to the human mind. I say to you, it is possible. It has been possible. If it is possible in the life of an average person—Vimala, who sits before you—then it can happen in your own life. It can happen provided there is an inquiry, provided the inquiry is correlated with your whole life, and provided the inquiry is allowed to grow, blossom, and bring about changes in your life.

This is something very serious that I am communicating every day. Bit by bit, step by step, we will go into the deeper regions of the human psyche.

– Vimala Thakar

From Blossoms of Friendship. Motilal Banarsidass, 1973. Rodmell Press, 2003.

Here you can find Vimala’s talk on the next day The Movement of the Mind.

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The Movement of the Mind – Vimala Thakar

Mount Abu; July 13, 1973

The brain, or the mind, is a sense organ like any other sense organ in the human body. And thinking, feeling, or willing, or, for that matter, any and every cerebral activity, is a sensual activity. This sense organ, the cerebral structure, is invisible; it is invisible but not intangible; it can be touched and felt through machines maneuvered by man. Thus thinking is as much a material activity or physical activity as any other known and identified physical activity. Just as you hear the sound of cars or perceive objects with the eyes and the optical nerves, and you call it audition or perception, in the same way the brain responds to the challenges and the situations that emerge in daily life. That response is called thinking, feeling or sentiment, according to its functional nature.

There is movement in the cerebral organ when you think or feel, when you experience emotions or sentiments. When you remember, recollect, contemplate, ponder, or think, there is a very subtle cerebral movement that spreads all over the body and affects the nervous system of the whole being. It is a movement. It is an activity. It consumes energy. It stimulates energy. So in concentration or in the state of attention or observation, a very subtle kind of movement goes on. It is not meditation. The state of experiencing is not the state of meditation; the state of thinking or feeling is not the state of meditation and in the same way, the state of observation or the state of bare, simple attention is still not the state of meditation.

We saw yesterday that movement indicates energy and energy is the property of matter. Energy exists in matter. If you analyze matter into atoms, electrons, and molecules, you will find that there is energy contained in the finest particle of matter. It is impossible to come across a particle of matter that has no energy and therefore no movement. Matter has energy and energy has movement. Thought is matter. Thinking is a material, sensual activity and has tremendous energy. It has a movement that has been measured by man, qualified, modified, sophisticated, regulated, and controlled by man. Culture and civilization regulate and control cerebral activity and, indirectly, psychophysical and physical activity. They regulate and control psychological and biological movement. The content of culture and civilization is to give cerebral activity a direction, to regulate it, to modify it, so sophisticate it, and so on, and so on. Thus in the state of attention, the brain is moving. The built-in movement of cognition goes on. As the eyes involuntarily see and the ears involuntarily hear, the brain involuntarily is in the state of attention. You may not look at an object, you may only see it, and yet your brain registers the form, the shape, the color, and tells you the name of the object according to your education, culture, and civilization. An Indian villager, for example, will not know what to call a spacecraft or spaceship. He will see a form in the sky. So the brain of a simple villager in India will register the shape, the color, perhaps the material of the spacecraft, but not the name. The villager has not had the education or the cultural upbringing. He does not know the thing. But still the brain registers the color, the shape, the size, the mass, the volume.

If a person does not know Indian music, he will not be able to tell you the raga, the melody, the tila, the time beats, and so on. The person will feel only the volume and perhaps the pitch, if he has the sensitivity. So the registration, the naming, the cognition by the brain take place according to the person’s education, culture, or the context of his life: urban life or agrarian life. But it is an involuntary activity of the brain. So the brain is in the state of attention, and whether you want it to or not, it identifies the shape, the size, the color, and perhaps the name. In other words, it is a response of the brain to the movement of life outside the skin. You don’t make an effort, but yet there is a movement, movement of the energy contained in the brain.

I am trying to share with you something that I have seen. We have been going step by step for the past couple of days into this very complex and subtle region of the human psyche. The brain indicates the color, the shape, the size, and even the name, but the sting of reaction, that is to say, the activity of the ego, the self, the me, does not take place. The distinction between concentration and attention has to be understood and grasped very clearly. In a state of concentration, you react. You resist. But in a state of attention there is no resistance. There is no analysis. There is no reaction of the ego.

In experiencing, the reactions are very gross and understandable by anyone. In concentration, the reactions are subtle, but still noticeable. In attention, there is no reaction, but movement is still there. When a human being sustains the state of attention and the intensity thereof for some time, intelligence begins to unfold itself. Just as out of a bud the flower blossoms and unfolds itself, so, too out of unconditional relaxation (the state of attention that is the involuntary cerebral activity through which one has to go), intelligence begins to unfold itself. Intelligence is the sensitivity of the whole body. Attention is a cerebral activity. Concentration includes psychological reaction in addition to cerebral activity. When the attention is sustained, the sensitivity of the whole body begins to unfold itself, to operate and function, so that there is no longer a cerebral activity, but the total existence becomes eloquent.

Awareness is the existential eloquence of the person, and yet the sensitivity, the intelligence expressing itself in awareness, is not meditation. I am aware of the things around me; I am aware of the stillness of my body; I am aware of the state of attention contained in me; I am aware of the vibrations outside and inside me. That is to say, the I, or the state of awareness, and the surroundings, or the life of which I am aware, are distinctly different from each other. In the state of attention, the brain is active; now the whole being acts and yet there is a distinction. I am aware of the totality, but even then I stand outside the totality to be aware of it.

You may be a witness to the whole universe. It indicates that you are trying to stand outside the universe to be aware of it. Thus awareness is still an individual movement: the individual stands apart from the universe; the individual stands apart from the cosmos. That movement of the individual may be in harmony with the universal movement, and it may be in harmony with the cosmic movement, but there is still movement taking place within the individual. The complex consciousness that man has enables him to be aware that he is in the state of awareness. In awareness, you feel the presence of the life around you; you feel the presence of the life within you. You feel the presence not of specific objects that you would count, compare, and evaluate, but you feel the presence of the totality within you and the totality outside you. You feel the coexistence of the individual totality, that is to say, the universe condensed in the human form; after all, that is what you are. So one is aware of the totality contained in the human form existing side by side with the totality outside the skin.

We are now in the region of what is most difficult to verbalize. When you say I am in the state of awareness, there is no attention or observation. They are left behind. Even in the state of awareness, it seems to me, movement is taking place in the individual. And movement, indicating energy contained in certain forms of matter, is within the field of time and space, and life is much vaster than time and space. Time and space are contained in life. Movement takes place within time and space. But life also exists outside time and space. The is-ness, the to-be-ness of life, has no movement in it. So human consciousness can take you from the field of experiencing, doing, concentrating, observing, and paying attention, to the state of awareness. The human consciousness, or psyche, can carry you up to the region of awareness. Beyond the state of awareness, there is no consciousness, no movement, no time and space. Perhaps that is the state that could be called the state of meditation, the state of samadhi. In meditation, there is no movement. Life has no movement: it is only matter that has movement. Movement and energy are the property of matter. Life is is-ness without any movement whatsoever. That which remains without movement can be called neither individual nor universal. It has no center and no circumference. Intellectual activity has a center, the me, the self, the ego. Awareness as the activity of the intelligence has the whole human body, the human individual, as the center. Beyond awareness, the individual is not at the center. Nothing moves out of the individual. Nothing emanates or radiates from the person. Just as in the state of observation there is no ego-centered activity, so in the state of awareness, the whole cerebral organ does not function. Beyond awareness, the individual entity and the movements contained in the individual entity are simply not there. I wish that I could verbalize this more fully.

In the state of meditation, the ocean of is-ness is left without a ripple. Even that metaphor is imperfect. If I liken it to vast space, even that metaphor does not satisfy me. Because compared to life, space is gross; compared to life, time is gross. The is-ness, the to-be-ness, the suchness of life is something for which one will have to find words to communicate. Mind you, this talk is not an effort to expound anything. This is only a very friendly sharing of something that one sees and something that one lives. But we will proceed with this tomorrow. We talked about concentration, attention, and awareness yesterday. We might talk about movement, vibration, and vibrationless is-ness tomorrow.

– Vimala Thakar

From Blossoms of Friendship. Motilal Banarsidass, 1973. Rodmell Press, 2003.

See Vimala’s next day talk.

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Consciousness Is Matter – Vimala Thakar

I wonder whether it will be possible for me to communicate through words what I would like to share with you this morning, whether it will be possible for me to communicate it in terms that will make some sense to you. Yet there is an urge to share this unusual approach to meditation.

We saw yesterday that the state of awareness is a state of the whole being in which intelligence functions. Intelligence, being the sensitivity, the uncontaminated movement, of the basic energy contained in the being, is not conditioned by knowledge and experience. Intelligence is neither individual nor collective. Knowledge can be individual as well as collective. There can be individual experiences and collective experiences. Like love, sensitivity, truth, and beauty, intelligence is neither individual nor collective; it is neither personal nor impersonal. Thus it is not conditioned by knowledge and experience. It is unmutilated. It is an undivided whole.

This intelligence begins to operate in the state of awareness. Intelligence is the movement of unconditioned energy, but still it is energy. So in the state of awareness, the movement of unconditioned energy goes on. And there is an intercourse between the movement of awareness in the individual and the movement of intelligence outside the individual in the universe. The cosmic intelligence, the cosmic energy, and the unconditioned energy contained in the individual meet together. There is a kind of consummation. Those energies meet without reservation. There is an unconditional encounter between the intelligence contained in the individual and the intelligence contained in the universe. In other words, the individual unconditioned consciousness and the universal, or cosmic, consciousness meet together, in the state of awareness. They are in a deep embrace as it were. That is what the mystics call the marriage between the individual and the universal. The mystical marriage with the beloved, with God, with the divinity, is what Indians call the marriage between Shiva and Shakti. But still it is the meeting between the unconditioned individual energy and the unconditioned energy outside it.

That is a happening that takes place. In the state of awareness there may not be experiences, but there are happenings. Thus when Jesus of Nazareth came down from the mountain after forty days of solitude, his Apostles could not recognize him. A psychic marriage between the individual and the universal consciousness had taken place. He came down with light shining upon the forehead and speaking in terms indescribably simple and elegant. That very simplicity baffled his followers. He had gone through the happening.

After forty-eight days of fasting and penance under the bodhi tree, Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha. Something happened within him; something happened in the unconditioned part of his consciousness. Something happened in the sphere of intelligence contained in his being. And that day is still marked in history as the day of Buddha’s self-realization, the day of Buddha’s nirvana.

After twelve long years of penance and austerity, there took place a happening in the life of Mahavira, the so-called founder of the Jain religion. On the plane of intellect, experiences take place. On the plane of intelligence and awareness, happenings take place: Happenings that cannot be interpreted into the language of the known, happenings that cannot be captured in the framework of an ego-centered experience. And yet a happening is a movement that takes place in the psyche of the individual. Self-realization as a happening took place in the Buddha’s life. One can say that after such a happening, there was light. There was illumination.

The substratum of intelligence is the intellect. The substratum of awareness and intelligence, the substratum of the unconditioned energy, is the conditioned energy, the passively alert brain. It may be passively alert or it may be in choiceless awareness, but it is there as the substratum. You know, in the conditioned psyche, you have the conscious, the subconscious, and the unconscious. Now these three, after becoming a homogeneous whole, go into abeyance, but they are there. Whatever happens on the level of intelligence or awareness has the whole conditioned psyche as the substratum. Otherwise, verbalization of the happening would be impossible. Memory of the happening would be impossible. So the individual as an entity separate from the universe is there. The unconditioned psyche in the individual and unconditioned psyche in the universe meet together, on the soil of the conditioned total human psyche, the racially conditioned psyche.

There have been efforts to verbalize such happenings. Like Aurobindo, you may call it the descent of the divine taking place in the individual psyche. You may call it the moment of illumination in the life of Ramakrishna, when the image of the Mother Kali disappeared while he was sitting before it with a sword in his hand, yearning and pining in agony for realization. The sword dropped from his hands and the only description we got from his lips afterward was “There was light, light, and light.” So at the moment in the psyche of Ramakrishna, something took place.

There is a ripple. There is a happening. Awareness has a movement of unconditioned energy, and energy is the property of matter. Thus even at that level, whatever takes place is not beyond time and space, though it is unrelated to time and space. It is unrelated to time and space in the sense that it cannot use them to bring about this happening. It may be a very significant event because the individual changes. The union with the universal energy, the cosmic consciousness, transforms the individual in many ways. It brings about great changes in his physical and cerebral quality.

And yet I dare say to you, my friends, that this is not silence. And this is not meditation. It is a very significant, romantic thing that can happen to a human being. Man has indulged enough in this romance with the unconditioned energy, the unknown, the unexperienced, the unnamed. He has indulged in this experience, in the East as well as the West, for thousands of years. It has its own beauty. It has its own grandeur. Sensual experience and psychological ecstasy have altogether different qualities from the happening on the level of intelligence or sensitivity. And yet in a way, they are the movements that take place in the individual as an entity separate from the universe. You will be surprised that I call the conditioned psyche the substratum—the undercurrent—of intelligence, or awareness. Why do I call it this? Because those individuals who have gone through such happenings have tried to verbalize them and have said, “It is immeasurable; it is unknowable.” Unless there is a consciousness of the measurableness of a thing, how do you call something immeasurable? People have been trying to describe divinity as that which is unknowable, that which is immeasurable and unnameable; but unless I am conscious of the memory, of the activity of naming, the name and nameableness, how can I call something unnameable and immeasurable? I hope that you see my point that the substratum of the conditioned psyche recognizes the names and the nameableness; the known and the knowableness; the measures and the measurableness. One is aware of all that. Therefore, man has been trying to say, “God is immeasurable, the divinity is unknowable.”

The illusion that there is a dichotomy between the known and the unknown, the measurable and the immeasurable, has been persisting in the human mind for thousands of years. Thus even the state of awareness is not the state of silence. It is a state of quietness, no doubt. It is a state of peacefulness, no doubt. It is a state of the ego, with the whole paraphernalia of knowledge and experience going into abeyance. Yet it is not silence. The state of awareness is a state of passive receptivity for the cosmic consciousness to work upon. It has been called peaceful alertness or choiceless awareness. Krishnaji (Krishnamurti) is the only person in the world today, who brings his audiences to the threshold of the known and points out the direction toward the unknown and unknowable; who points out the frontiers of all human measurements and brings his audiences with terrible intensity to the doorstep of the immeasurable.

As long as it is possible to describe something as immeasurable, unknowable, and unnamable, you are within the frontiers of time and space. So it may be unconditioned energy, but still it is energy with very subtle matter around it. It is only when the state of awareness subsides completely, when there is neither an awareness of the universe around you nor an awareness of the intelligence, sensitivity, or unconditioned energy within yourself, that silence as a dimension comes to life. The conditioned human psyche and the unconditioned human psyche both become quiet. If the conditioned human psyche is quiet and the unconditioned psyche is in a state of passive alertness and choiceless awareness, happenings are bound to take place. I have nothing against these experiences or happenings. Please do not misunderstand me. But one has to see the facts as they are. Just as visions and experiences are the projections of the cosmic and the universal into the individual. Until the state of meditation is reached, one is not in a new dimension of life.

Meditation is a new dimension of life altogether. There one is entirely free of consciousness, which is energy—a very subtle matter contained in the human brain. It is a very daring thing to say that the whole human psyche is very subtle matter, and yet I say that consciousness, whether conditioned or unconditioned, is matter.

– Vimala Thakar

From Blossoms of Friendship. Originally published by Motilal Banarsidass. Recently by Rodmell Press.

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Osho and the 16th Karmapa

16th Karmapa performing Black Crown Ceremony

The first time I heard the name Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was on a bus from Pokhara to Kathmandu. My friend Randy (who had traveled with me to India and Nepal from Madagascar) and I were trekking on the Annapurna route and reached the point where we decided to turn around. Ben and his girlfriend Kathy (actually I’m not sure of their names but will refer to them as Ben and Kathy from here on out) were coming down the path and said they had run into snow. Being ill-equipped, without even sleeping bags, the decision was choiceless. We all spent the night in a teahouse.

There seemed to be some tension between Ben and Kathy. They were both involved in Tibetan Buddhist practice but it seemed that Ben was keener than Kathy and this was causing some friction.

On the bus ride back to Kathmandu, Ben and I sat together and Randy and Kathy sat together with a growing chemistry. Ben told me about his experience doing a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat at the Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. Randy and I had visited Kopan a week or so earlier with another friend from Madagascar and had had the good fortune to have a cup of tea with the head lama, Lama Yeshe. He was a very sweet man and enormously generous. But as I explained to Ben, I wasn’t finding myself attracted to the Tibetan Buddhist practice. In fact, the words that I heard come out of my mouth as we talked were, “I’m looking for something more universal and more personal.” For one thing, it was the limitation of the “ism” in Buddhism that turned me away. My own intuitive spiritual sky was wide open and did not want to be confined to a container, however much I respected the teachings.

Ben told me that I should pay a visit to the ashram of a guru in India named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and proceeded to give me the address. Ben had met one of Rajneesh’s sannyasins recently while he was on a visa run and so was visiting Nepal in order to return to India with a new visa. This sannyasin named Devanand had impressed him, and what he heard about Rajneesh interested him, but he was quite immersed in the Tibetan Buddhist dharma. So, I put the piece of paper with the address away in my wallet. The bus ride took a few hours and so Ben and I had quite a long chat. He was a sincere practitioner, perhaps I thought, a bit too serious, but regardless we had a very nice connection.

When we arrived back in Kathmandu, both Ben and Kathy returned to Kopan to continue their practice and Randy and I stayed in a guest house. Randy and I were intending to spend a couple more weeks in Kathmandu and so found a room in a private house. It was a lovely situation because the house had a walled garden and so offered a retreat from the daily busyness of the city. This house was closer to the Tibetan Swayambhu Monastery which we liked to visit.

We had learned that a very important Tibetan Buddhist teacher was coming to Kathmandu soon to perform an Empowerment Ceremony and this event was to take place at Swayambhu. I wasn’t really sure what an Empowerment Ceremony was but it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, we also learned that it was only open to practicing Buddhists.

The day of the event I spent meditating in our room. It was a silent, cool oasis. We were close enough to the monastery to hear the Tibetan horns, and in my meditation, I felt a humming sensation in the area of my heart.

During our time in Kathmandu both Randy and I became interested in Satya Sai Baba. He was quite popular with the Hindu Nepalis and his photo and books were everywhere. I was intrigued by the possibility of a “living” Master. I had been introduced to Meher Baba seven years before, six months, however, after he had passed away, so the idea of meeting a living Buddha very much appealed to me.

Randy and I decided to end our traveling partnership. We had different schedules. I wanted to go to India and head south and possibly meet Sai Baba. Randy wanted to do the same, but he had become involved in a torrid affair with Kathy that hadn’t burned itself out. We bid our farewells with the idea that we would meet up at the Sai Baba ashram which was in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
Note: I will now intersperse my story with a letter I received from my friend Randy (Narayanadeva) after sharing what I had written of our journey in Nepal and India.

Dear Purushottama,
    What a flash from the past. Thank you for this. It brings so much back. Your memory is like a video recording. My memory is patchy with particular moments fuzzily framed. If you don’t mind, I want to share what I can.

    I believe if we hadn’t stopped where we had at that last village at 10,000 feet that we would have gotten into serious trouble. There was a group with a broken leg still on the snowed-in trail was the story.
I remember the couple. The name Ben comes to mind and I can’t remember the name of the girl, Kathy is very close. This was a significant time.

    She was from the east coast, living in an artists and musicians commune, a photographer and roadie with Jethro Tull, I think. The social and other experiments she participated in at such a tender age, this boy from Nebraska was challenged to comprehend. In this respect she was much more worldly, wiser than me, an elder in a killer 20 something body.

    She was also the first lover in my life where the center of gravity and conversations were about spirituality, Buddha’s teachings in particular, and how to reconcile our limited understanding with what we saw in the monasteries and monks, which was then followed by the most present lovemaking for me up to that time. We flew high, were consumed with each other, and parted consciously in mid bubble, purposely in crescendo. I review that time with joy and sadness. It is hard to think of that extraordinary woman and time without sometimes tearing. She was finished traveling, wanted to return to her art. I knew I didn’t want to go back to anything. I was sure I wanted to go forward. We knew but unspoken that to go further would have brought reality into the mix. We wanted to say goodbye in full bloom. Things like that were easier in your 20’s. I must say probably the most bittersweet, intense affair I ever remember in a life riddled with less meaningful affairs.

    I remember spending the winter in Kathmandu immersing myself in everything I could about the Buddha’s teaching, going to the temples, hanging with the monks, partaking in the local produce followed by the pie shops. I was completely blown away and still am today about the psychology, the profound understanding of the science of the mind, but could not get my head around the asceticism. Why the monks, western included had to walk around in winter without shoes or why the poor food needed to be covered in flies. Also, the live translations of the Lama’s discourses by some very severe and grim western types. If there was any juice in the teaching, these translators sucked it out and everything was completely lost in translation. I knew for me to go deeper I needed to be able to listen and speak about all this in my tongue.

    This is also where the timing gets confused. I do not remember you during that winter. I remember attending the Karmapa’s Black Hat ceremony after spending those cold months in study. This is when I had the most profound experience with him.

    The ceremony lasted several days. There were many westerners mingled with the overflowing crowds of Tibetans. The first few days I could not get into the hall but stood outside with the multitudes listening and catching glimpses through the barred windows of the pageantry.

    There was one day that I did get in and sat with a few other westerners along with it seemed several hundred monks with the Karmapa on a podium doing chants and mudras. The monks deep toned chanting in response, the horns, the incense, I got completely stoned. When it was over, I lingered. The hall was clearing out. I stood in the middle looking up at all the hanging tangkas. I turned around, a few people parted and there was the Karmapa sitting alone on his dais looking at me with an inviting smile a few meters away. I was so shy and not sure what to do. I smiled, bowed and retreated.

    The next day I could not get in. I was peering through the open-air barred window being jostled back and forth by the crowds feeling the music and chanting; suddenly the Karmapa was at the window looking directly at me about 50 centimeters away. He had been making the rounds inside, blessing everyone in the hall. He looked in my eyes and smiled. He threw water on my face and these words came into my head “Don’t worry, this path is not for everyone” Then he was gone. I was so shocked. This was the confirmation. Whenever I think of this, I feel I was blessed by this very extraordinary being. How he got those words clearly into a very confused mind was magical.

    It was not long afterward that I headed south and planned to go to Sai Baba’s ashram as we had planned, on my way to Madras before heading back to the states. As you remember we gave Sai Baba magical powers and were convinced he was going to help us financially.

    I got to Bombay and stayed at the Salvation Army behind the Taj Mahal hotel. The very place you and I stayed on our first nights in India coming by boat for 10 days from Madagascar and Mauritius. Do you remember waking up to the Shiva Babas with their pythons and cobras, the junkies some dyed from head to toe in blue, including one with a blue dog, the color of the local antiseptic? What a circus before we took a train to the edge of town and hitched our way to Nepal. Do you remember the time a truck stopped for us and we threw our packs into the back, climbed up and jumped into a truck full of cow shit along with our packs? Do you remember all the chillum brakes at the roadside temples? Or the nights in small villages waking up to thousands of the same face staring at us with vacant eyes and all with small pocked scars, village after village the same?

When I was in New Delhi, I heard that there was a Meher Baba center and so I visited during one of their open evenings. Upon hearing I was on my way to visit Satya Sai Baba, an older Baba lover suggested that I go see a rebel of a guru named Rajneesh. I remembered the name and said I did have in mind possibly stopping there as well. He told me the Rajneesh ashram was in Poona, just a couple of hours by train from Bombay. He also said although Satya Sai Baba was not in Poona, there was some kind of Baba center there. At this point, it became clear to me I would indeed head to Poona.

Walking out of the Poona train station, I found a rickshaw and told the driver to take me to the Sai Baba center. I said, “Sai Baba center, not Rajneesh ashram.” “Yes, yes,” he replied. I had decided that I would first go to the Sai Baba center and then check out the Rajneesh ashram.
As we got nearer and nearer to our destination, I saw increasing numbers of young western people dressed in orange clothes. By this time, I had been exposed to a couple of Rajneesh sannyasins and so recognized what I was seeing. We arrived at a large gate and on the top was written Shree Rajneesh Ashram. A large, blonde, German fellow greeted me and I heard myself say, “I don’t think I am where I was going, but I know that I’m in the right place.”

The first thing I read from Osho (I will now begin to refer to Rajneesh by the name he took only a few months before leaving this planet) spoke directly to me. There was no space, no separation between the words and my self, an immediacy. It was clear within days that I would not be going on to the Sai Baba ashram; I had found the living Master I was looking for. I arrived just weeks before a major celebration day, March 21st, honoring Osho’s day of Enlightenment. I took initiation, became a sannyasin and did a couple of groups. During this time, I read one of Osho’s books called The Silent Explosion. At the very end of the book was the story of an Indian sannyasin who had gone to Sikkim and visited the Karmapa at his Rumtek Monastery. This was the same Lama that had been in Kathmandu months earlier. I had learned that he was highly respected in the Tibetan Buddhist community and was on par with or even more highly regarded than the Dalai Lama.

This is the story that was recounted:
    In 1972, Swami Govind Siddharth, an Osho sannyasin, visited the Tibetan Lama Karmapa, who had fled from Tibet and who at that time lived in his Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. When Siddharth arrived, accompanied by his wife and two young daughters, the monastery was completely closed. In an interview at the time, he told of his initial disappointment at not meeting the Karmapa. Then all of a sudden, one monk came running out to tell him that he was immediately wanted inside by His Holiness. He went in and was greeted by the Karmapa as if he was expected there. The Karmapa never even knew anything about him beforehand as he had not made an appointment . . . he knew nothing about him except that he was dressed in the faded orange of early neo-sannyas.

    Of Lama Karmapa, it was said he was a ‘Divine Incarnation,’ a Bodhisattva. In Tibet, they believe that whosoever attains to Buddhahood, and then by their own wishes is born again to help people in the world is a divine incarnation — Bodhisattva. His Holiness was said to be the sixteenth incarnation of Dsum Khyenpa, the first Karmapa, who was born about 1110 AD.

    When Swami Siddharth first entered, the Karmapa immediately told him that he knew where he was from. He said, “I am seeing that you have somewhere some photograph or something which is printed on two sides, of your Master.” Siddharth answered that he had nothing like that which is printed on two sides. He had completely forgotten about the locket hanging from his mala with Osho’s photograph on both sides! There was an English woman who was acting as an interpreter since the Lama Karmapa did not speak English. She immediately saw his mala and said, “What is this?” He then remembered that the locket was printed on two sides and he said, “This is the photograph of my Master.” She was curious to see it, so Siddharth took it off and showed it to her.

    Immediately, the Karmapa said, “That is it.” He took the locket of Osho in his hand and he touched it to his forehead and then said: “He is the greatest incarnation since Buddha in India — he is a living Buddha!” The Karmapa went on to say, “You may be feeling that he is speaking for you, but it is not only for you that he speaks. Rajneesh speaks for the Akashic records also, the records of events and words recorded on the astral planes. Whatever is spoken is not forgotten. That is why you will find that he goes on repeating things and you will feel that he is doing this for you, but, as a matter of fact, he speaks only for a few people.  Only a few people realize who Rajneesh is. His words will remain there in the Akashic records, so that they will also be helpful to people in the future.”

     The Karmapa went on to say that Osho had been with Siddharth in past lives. “If you want to see one of Rajneesh’s previous incarnations — who he was in Tibet — you can go to Tibet and see his golden statue there which is preserved in the Hall of Incarnations.” He continued to chat about Osho and his work, “My blessings are always there, and I know that whatever we are not going to be able to do to help others, Rajneesh will do.” He explained that one of the main aims of the Lamas in coming to India was to preserve their occult sciences. Osho from his side also confirmed this in his Kashmir lectures given in 1969. He said then, “The Dalai Lama has not escaped only to save himself, but to save the Tibetan religion, the meditation secrets and the occult sciences.”

     The Karmapa went on to explain, “We have gotten these things from India in the past, and now we want to return them back. Now we have come to know that here is an incarnation, Rajneesh, who is doing our job in India and the world, and we are very happy about it. The world will know him, but only a few people will realize what he actually is. He will be the only person who can guide properly, who can be a World Teacher in this age, and he had taken birth only for this purpose.”

When I read this story, I was very skeptical because all devotees of gurus like to exaggerate the importance of their teachers. Although I believed the story must be based on some truth, I could not be sure what the Karmapa thought about Osho.

In the meantime, I had written to my friend Randy to tell him about Osho and the ashram and had sent it to American Express, Delhi, where I knew he would pick up mail. One day I went into the ashram office to check for a response and as I was walking down the steps leaving, coming through the gate was my friend Randy. He had never received my letter but had learned of Osho on his own.

Narayanadeva’s letter continues:

    Anyway, I returned to Bombay to catch a boat to Goa and then planned to go to Sai Baba by land. I needed to get something to read. The best bookstore I knew was at the Taj Mahal Hotel. I went to the section on psychology and religion. I was browsing when I swear this book fell on my big toe. Archarya Rajneesh was the title. The first page mentioned that he gave lectures in English and lived in Poona only one day away.

    Getting there, first person I meet is you. And our stories join and the rest is history.

    Brother, we shared some amazing times together. I have forgotten so many of them. It is a complete delight to hear from you with your photographic memory of those days. We were so lucky. I am so grateful for that time.

Much Love to you my fellow traveler.
Narayanadeva a.k.a. Randy

I had by this time realized my time traveling outside of the States was coming to an end. Taking sannyas was a new beginning for me and to be honest I wanted to return to my hometown and share this remarkable discovery. I had received a name for a meditation center that I would start. Randy (whose name had become Narayanadeva by this point) and I said our farewells again with approximately the same plans to return to the States by going east from India through Thailand but with slightly different time frames.

On the plane from Bombay to Calcutta, I sat next to a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He didn’t speak a word of English but there we were — he in his maroon robes and me in my orange clothes.

It might have been the first or second night of my stay in a Sutter Street guesthouse in Calcutta when in walked Ben, the American Tibetan Buddhist who had given me the contact info for Osho. I was very happy to see him. I had thought about him many times and was so grateful for his sharing and I wanted to tell him what I had found. We talked a bit and then he told me that coincidentally the Karmapa was in Calcutta and he was going to see him the next day at the Oberoi Hotel. He invited me to go with him. I was delighted. For one thing in the back of my mind was the Rumtek story and so I thought I would be able to see what the Karmapa actually did think about Osho for myself.

The Karmapa’s room was a corner one and Ben and I approached from one hallway. As we neared, we could see an Indian sannyasin couple in orange approaching from the other direction. He was dressed in a lungi and had a very long beard and long hair. She was dressed in an orange sari. They were Osho sannyasins and ran the Calcutta Osho center.
We all entered the room and were shown to seats just in front of the Karmapa, who was seated on a sofa. He was immensely childlike, full of love and innocence and looked to be always on the verge of a good chuckle. He sat stroking the beard of the Indian sannyasin who was sitting slightly to his right. This in itself would have been enough to let me know what he thought of Osho but it was not all. Sitting next to him on the sofa, he had propped up a copy of Sannyas Magazine (published at the ashram) with a photo of Osho beaming out on to our group.
At that point it did not matter whether the story I had read was factual or not, I could see the connection between the Karmapa and Osho. That space out of which the Karmapa and the photo of Osho appeared was One.

Of course, I had related the story to Ben when we met in Calcutta, but after the meeting at the Oberoi, we didn’t talk of it again. We were invited to a private Black Crown (Empowerment) Ceremony that was taking place at the home of a wealthy Indian woman later that evening. This is the same ceremony that took place months earlier at the Swayambhu Monastery in Kathmandu that I had not been able to attend.

One of the first people I met after arriving at the house was the Tibetan monk who had sat next to me on the flight. As it turned out, he had been traveling to join up with the Karmapa and return with him to Rumtek. He was as surprised as I was.

The ceremony was penetrating; to be in a room with Tibetan horns blaring is in itself a transformative experience. After the ceremony the few westerners that were there, I think we were maybe five, were invited into a side room where the Karmapa gave a teaching on Tilopa’s Song of Mahamudra. This is the most important text of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Osho had himself given a discourse series published as Tantra: The Supreme Understanding on this text and I was traveling with the book.

Because the Karmapa didn’t speak English, he had a translator, but his translator told us he was having a very difficult time translating this teaching into English. He was frustrated but the Karmapa was understanding and compassionate. This experience highlighted for me one of the advantages of having a teacher who spoke English. Osho’s words did not need to be translated and we were able to hear them directly without a filter.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to first spend some time with the Karmapa and then to take part in this mysterious ceremony. It was the only time I met the Karmapa. But my wife Amido and I did have a chance in 2006 to visit the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, where his relics are housed today.

Rumtek Monastery

This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.

Here you can read the entire interview: The 16th Karmapa speaks to Govind Siddharth about Osho.

Another post related to Govind Siddharth’s visit with the Karmapa is Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami.

And another: The Enlightenment of Govind Siddharth.

Link to site for Tibetan Black Crown Ceremony.

Buddha and the Knotted Handkerchief – Osho

I am reminded of a story. Gautam the Buddha one day comes into his morning discourse; ten thousand sannyasins are waiting for him, just like every day. But today there is something surprising.

Everybody is puzzled and looking at each other, because Buddha is coming with a handkerchief, it is very costly – perhaps some king has presented it to him.

But he does not accept that kind of thing, so everybody is looking, thinking, what is the matter?

And why should he bring it just in his hand ahead of himself almost saying to everybody, “Look, look well”? And then he comes and sits; and keeping the handkerchief in his hand, says to his sannyasins, “Look very carefully.”

They all look. There is nothing to look at, just a beautiful silken handkerchief.  And then Buddha starts putting knots in the handkerchief; he puts five knots in it. There is immense silence… everybody is simply watching what he is doing. Then Buddha asks them, “Is this the same handkerchief the same that I had brought with me, or is it a different handkerchief?”

Sariputta, one of his chief disciples, stands up and says, “Why are you joking with us? You have never done such a thing. This is the same handkerchief.”

Buddha says, “Sariputta, think once again – because the handkerchief that I brought had no knots, and this has five knots. How can this be the same?”

Sariputta could see the point. He said, “I am sorry. I do understand. Although it is the same handkerchief now it is in a very knotted condition – such as a man in anguish. He is the same man; a man in suffering is the same man but in knots.”

Buddha said, “Exactly right. That’s what I want to show to you: that the man who is in suffering is not different from Gautam the Buddha. I am just a handkerchief without knots. You are a handkerchief with five knots.” Of course Buddha has his philosophy of five basic problems that trouble man: violence, greed, untruthfulness, unawareness, and the ego. You can find many more knots; these are just the main ones according to him.

Secondly he said, “I would like to ask you one thing more. I am trying to open these knots. Look at me – will this help to open the knots?” He pulled both the ends of the handkerchief; the knots became smaller and tighter. Somebody shouted, “What are you doing? This way those knots will never open. Such fine silk and you are pulling so hard! The knots are becoming so small that it will become almost impossible to open them again.”

Buddha said, “You can understand about this handkerchief so clearly – can’t you understand yourself? Can’t you see yourself in the same, understanding way? Have you been pulling your knots or not? Otherwise why do they go on becoming smaller and smaller, and tighter and tighter?

“A child is loose, relaxed. Look at the old man, just knots and knots. Certainly, whatever you are doing is wrong. You are pulling the handkerchief. You are trying hard; your intention is good, you want to open the knots. You are taking much trouble – but your doing is your very undoing. You are making things more and more complicated, worse and worse. And the more complicated they become, the harder you pull, because you think, what else to do?”

Buddha asked, “Then I would like to ask you, what do you suppose I should do?”

One monk stood up and he said, “I would like to come close, and first I would like to see how the knots have been put together.”

Buddha said, “That’s a scientific way. Before you can undo something, you have to know how it has been done, because if you know how it has been done, you have already known all that is needed to undo it; you have just to reverse the process.”

The monk looked at the handkerchief and he said “The knots have been done in such a way that if we relax the handkerchief and allow the knots to become looser rather than tighter, and help them to become loose, it is not going to be very difficult. They are simple knots.”

Buddha gave the handkerchief to him and the man opened the knots one by one. Buddha said, “Today’s sermon is finished. I am not going to speak anymore today. Just go and meditate about your knots, and how you have managed to make them so tight. And just do the reverse.”

Any small problem, just look at it, at how you have been trying to solve it and it goes on becoming worse and worse. Certainly in your doing there is something which is becoming a  nourishment to it rather than a killer. You are not poisoning it; you are nourishing it, feeding it. And don’t try to work on so many knots together. Just choose one small knot, the smallest you can find in yourself; by smallest, I mean the most insignificant.

People have the tendency to choose the most significant; even when they are choosing to solve their problems, they choose the greatest problem first. Now, that is simply foolish. Just become a little aware, alert. Start from the small things, very small things.

In one sermon Buddha was speaking, and a man sitting in front of him was moving his toe continuously. Buddha was not like me; otherwise he would have stopped him immediately. He tolerated it, tolerated it, tolerated it – but it was too much, because the man was just in front of him and he went on, went on, went on.

At the end Buddha said, “What is wrong with your toe?” The moment he said, “What is wrong with your toe?” the man stopped. Buddha said, “This is what is wrong with your toe: you are not aware of it. You were not doing it, it was happening almost unconsciously. It is just a habit; you must be doing it everywhere you are sitting. Now it goes on doing it by itself knowing that the master needs it. The master is not even aware that it is happening, because the moment I asked you about it, it stopped immediately. That means the moment your awareness went to the toe there was a complete break.”

Now, start with such small things which have not much investment in them. People start with their ego – they want to become egoless. Now, you are taking on such a big problem. You are so small, and the problem is so big, that you are going to fail.

In fact that’s why you have chosen the big problem, because you want to fail, you don’t want to succeed. Perhaps this too is the way of the ego, to choose the biggest problem. You are no ordinary man trying to change small things here and there; when you want to change, you want to change the real problem. Perhaps this is the ego coming in from the back and deceiving you.

Now choose something very insignificant, which makes not much difference. But the beauty is, the smallest problem has the same properties as the biggest problem, the same ingredients as the biggest problem and the same solution as the biggest problem.

All problems are one problem.

If you can solve a small problem – dissolve it, get rid of it, be finished with it – you know the master key.

Now you can go on opening all the locks in your house. And there is not going to be any trouble.

The basic key is awareness.

And while solving a small problem, you are starting to learn the ABC of awareness.

Choose something meaningless with no investment; it will be easier to work with. And once you have worked with it, you will be surprised: you have the secret, the whole secret of your puzzled, knotted life.

Solve it, then man is born in you. Before that, you are only a problem.


Taken from the series From Misery to Enlightenment, Discourse #19.

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

Seeing From Behind – Jean Klein

The following is an excerpt from a dialog held at Joshua Tree, California, May 25, 1995

What do you mean by seeing from behind?

You feel yourself behind and look from behind, hear from behind. It gives you a new quality. First you must know how to see yourself from behind, and then you will know yourself in front.

Does feeling from behind take you out of the forebrain?

Yes. You don’t feel yourself located in the object. You have the sensation of expansion behind you. You are not identified with the object. You have the feeling that the perceiver is behind you, that you are no longer stuck to the object. Body, senses and mind are all objects, objects that need a perceiver to be known. A perceiver can never be known, only what is perceived can be known.

When you knowingly say, “I am not the body, senses and mind, because these do not exist on their own, they need consciousness to be known,” you become integrated; it gives you enormous distance. Then you perceive and live with the surroundings free from psychological involvement. You see facts as they are, free from bad and good. This is whole seeing, global seeing. You know when you are psychologically involved in daily life. But here there is no interpretation, there is only seeing facts as they are. It is important to see how this way of living, this way of seeing, this way of touching, acts on you, how you feel. Then you have a functional relation with your surroundings, also aesthetic and ethical. You see the truth, you see the beauty, you see the functional. Our seeing mainly refers to the ego. You do not see the situation in its verite. When you are appropriate to the situation, then you observe what is aesthetic, ethical and functional. It belongs to you, but this doesn’t mean it is appropriated to your ego. You are taken by the seeing. One can say it is not you who sees it, it is the seeing who sees it.

Taken From The Book of Listening. Non-Duality Press 

To read more from Jean Klein see:

Enlightenment is Popping Up Everywhere – Osho

The following was excerpted from Glimpses of a Golden Childhood:

The day my Nani became enlightened, I remember – I have noted it down, it will be somewhere – it was the sixteenth of January, 1967. I say without hesitation that she was my first sannyasin; and not only that, she was my first enlightened sannyasin.

You are both doctors, and you know Doctor Ajit Saraswati well. He has been with me for almost twenty years, and I don’t know anybody else who has been so sincerely with me. You will be surprised to know he is waiting outside… and there is every possibility that he is almost ready to be enlightened. He has come to live here in the ashram. It must have been difficult for him, particularly as an Indian, leaving his wife, his children, and his profession. But he could not live without me. He is ready to renounce all. He is waiting outside. This will be his first interview, and I can feel that this is going to be his enlightenment too. He has earned it, and earned it with great difficulty. To be an Indian and to be totally with me is not an easy job…

The following day Osho continues:

…The first words that Ajit Saraswati uttered to me last night were, “Osho, I never expected that I would ever make it.” Of course those who were present thought he was talking about coming to live in the ashram. And that too is in a way true, relevant, because I remember the first day he came to see me twenty years ago. He had to ask permission from his wife just to see me for a few minutes. So those who were present must have understood, naturally, that he had never expected to move in, leaving his wife and children and a very good business. Renouncing all, just to be here with me… in a true sense of renunciation. But that was not what he meant, and I understood.

I said to him, “Ajit, I am also surprised. Not that I never expected it; I had always expected it, hoped and longed for this moment, and I am happy that you have come.”

Again, the others must have thought I was talking about his coming here to live. I was talking about something else, but he understood. I could see it in his eyes, which have been becoming more and more childlike. I saw that he had understood what coming to a Master really means. It means coming to one’s self. It cannot mean anything else other than self-realization. His smile was absolutely new.

I had been worried about him: he was becoming more serious every day. I was really concerned, because to me seriousness has always been a dirty word, a disease, something far more cancerous than cancer can ever be, and certainly far more infectious than any disease.

But I breathed a great sigh of unburdening; a load disappeared from my heart. He is one of those few people that if I had to die without them becoming enlightened, then I would have had to turn the wheel again, I would have had to be born again. Although it is impossible to turn the wheel… and I know nothing of the mechanics of turning a wheel, particularly the wheel of time. I am not a mechanic, I am not a technician, so it would have been very difficult for me to turn the wheel again… and it has not moved since I was twenty-one.

Twenty-eight years ago the wheel stopped, now everything must be rusted. Even if you poured oil on to it, it would not help. Even my sannyasins could do nothing about it – it is not the wheel of a Rolls Royce. It is the wheel of karma, of action, and the consciousness implied in every action. I am finished with it. But for a man like Ajit, I would have tried to come back again whatever the cost.

I am determined that I will leave this body only when at least one thousand and one of my disciples are enlightened, not before that. Raj Bharti, remember it! It is not going to be difficult – the basic work has been done – it is just a question of a little patience.

Gudia just said as I was coming in, on hearing that Ajit had become enlightened, “It is strange, Enlightenment is popping up everywhere.” It has to pop up everywhere, that’s my work. And those one thousand and one people are almost ready to pop at any moment. Just a little breeze and the flower opens… or the first ray of the sun and the bud opens her heart to it – just anything. Now, what was it that helped Ajit?

In these twenty years that I have known him, I have always been loving towards him. I have never hit him – there has never been a need. Even before I said anything to him, he received it already. Before saying, he heard it. In these twenty years he has been following me as closely as it is possible. He is my Mahakashyapa.

What caused the thing last night? It was just because he had been thinking of me every moment. The moment he saw me, all that thinking disappeared – and that was the only thinking that had been surrounding him, like a cloud. And I don’t think that he understood the exact meaning of his words!

It takes time. And the words come so suddenly. He just said, as if in spite of himself, “I had never expected, Osho, that I would be able to make it.”

I said, “Don’t be worried. I was always certain it was going to happen sooner or later, but it was going to happen.”

He looked a little puzzled. He was talking about coming and I was talking about happening. Then, just as if a window opened and you see – just like that – a window opened and he saw. He touched my feet with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. To see tears and smiles mixing and merging is beautiful. It is an experience in itself…

…He has been, without interfering in any way, present, just around the corner, waiting, only waiting. Such trust is rare, although with me there are thousands of sannyasins with the same kind of reverence. Knowing it or not, that does not matter; what matters is the presence of reverence.

Ajit Saraswati has a Hindu background, so naturally it is easier for him to have that kind of reverence, trust. But he was educated in the West; perhaps that is why he could come close to me. A Hindu background and a western scientific mind. Having these two things together is a rare phenomenon, and he is a unique man.

And, Gudia, more are to follow. Yes, they are going to pop! Here, there, and everywhere. They have to pop quickly because I don’t have much time. But the sound of a man popping into existence is not the sound of pop music, it is not even classical music; it is pure music, not capable of being classified… not even to be heard but only to be felt.

Now, do you see the nonsense? I am talking of a music that has to be felt and not heard. Yes, that’s what I am talking about; that’s what enlightenment is. All becomes silent, as if Basho’s frog had never jumped into the ancient pond… never, never… as if the pond has remained without any ripples, forever reflecting the sky, undisturbed.

This haiku of Basho is beautiful. I repeat it so many times because it is always so new, and always pregnant with a new meaning. It is for the first time that I am saying that the frog has not jumped, and there is no plop. The ancient pond is neither ancient nor new; it knows nothing of time. There are no ripples on its surface. In it you can see all the stars more glorified, more magnificent, than they are in the sky above. The depth of the pond contributes immensely to their richness. They become more of the same stuff dreams are made of.

When one pops into enlightenment, then one knows the frog had not jumped… the ancient pond was not ancient. Then one knows what is.


From Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Chapter 16

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Maitreya: Where Trust and Meditation Meet – Osho

This is a special evening, because one of us has left for the other shore. Swami Anand Maitreya was certainly a man of tremendous courage. He met me sometime near 1960. He had already been a member of parliament for twelve years and he was very close to the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. But the moment he heard me he simply dropped his whole political career.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru tried to persuade him, saying, “There is every chance for you to become the chief minister of your state.” — He was from Bihar, the land of Buddha.

But Maitreya said, “I want one thing understood clearly: ambition is hell and I am not going to look back; politics is finished for me. All ambitions are finished for me.” And since then he has been with me.

He has never asked a single question. He has never doubted, his trust was absolute. In these years, thousands of people have come to me; many have been lost, but he remained unwavering. He could not conceive how people can find contradictions in my statements.

Sometime in 1984 Maitreya became enlightened, but he had chosen to remain silent, so he remained silent. He did not even tell me what had happened to him. But the day it happened I called a small meeting of a few sannyasins in Rancho Rajneesh in America. I declared that there were going to be three special committees: one of Mahasattvas, the great beings who are destined to become enlightened in this very life; the second of Sambuddhas, who have already become enlightened; and the third of Bodhisattvas, who will also become enlightened … but perhaps they will take a little longer than the other two categories, but certainly before their death.

Because I had included Maitreya’s name, he was shocked. He wanted to keep it completely to himself, not to say anything about enlightenment to anybody. As he left the meeting, he told a few people outside, “It is very strange, I have not said — I have been trying to hide it – but somehow he has seen it. And not only has he seen it, he has declared me enlightened.”

And his response was truly a response of great love. He said, “Osho is really a rascal.”

All these years before his enlightenment and after his enlightenment, he just remained absolutely ordinary, with no ego, with no desire, with no greed.

Just before I came back to Poona, Maitreya told me in Bombay, “I have got ten thousand rupees in a post office deposit in Patna, Bihar; that’s all I have, but now I will not need it.”

Certainly he was becoming aware that his time of departure was coming closer. And he transferred the money to Neelam for the ashram. He died without anything, any possessions.

And he slipped very slowly, very silently, from sleep into eternal sleep.

I am saying this evening is special, because one of us has moved from the world of mortals to the world of immortals. He will not be born again. He has attained to the freedom and the liberation we have been talking about.

This is a moment of great celebration and rejoicing. It happens very rarely. In millions of people perhaps one comes to this silent explosion of light and disappears into the ocean of consciousness that surrounds existence.

I would like these talks to be dedicated to Swami Anand Maitreya, who slipped from sleep into eternal sleep. But he was not asleep! He has gone in full awakening. He has gone with full awareness. You will keep him in your memories because he has shown the path to you, too. He lived joyously, although he had nothing, and he died peacefully, blissfully.

That’s what attaining to one’s destiny means. Those who live in misery and die in misery go on missing their destiny. They are failures, and because they have failed so many times, they become accustomed to failing again and again. But even if one person amongst you succeeds, it is your success, too. He has proved that what we have been talking about is not mere philosophy — it is an authentic path to self-realization.

Maitreya will be missed. Just the other night, when I last saw him, I had a certain strange feeling … as if he is going to depart very soon. And this feeling happened to many other people too; it was as if he was gathering himself and preparing for the eternal pilgrimage. He has gone the way a man should go — joyously, ecstatically.

You have to remember that his whole experience was based on two things: one, that he has fallen in trust with me … It is a strange language that I am using. You may not have ever heard the phrase ‘falling in trust’. Falling in love happens every day. Falling in trust happens only once in a while.

And secondly, not for a single moment since he has met me has he missed entering into meditation as much as possible. His death was not an end to life, but the ultimate culmination of a tremendous trust and meditativeness. Where trust and meditation meet, one attains to one’s potential in its whole glory and splendor.


From The Great Master Ta Hui, Discourse #6

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An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

Being God

It is time for humanity to grow up and take responsibility for its own divinity, time to stop shifting the responsibility onto some other. We are divine and we need to start acting like it.

The second coming of Christ is Christ coming out in each of us. The coming of Maitreya is Maitreya’s coming out in all of us. Every part of the globe has been reached by the teachings of His emissaries now it is our time to step up to the plate.

Nietzsche was right when he said God is dead. The god of the past is dead and we can celebrate his passing. Now is the time for the living god, God in the living. We are the representatives and it is a tremendous responsibility. We must prepare ourselves. We must clean ourselves of confusion and childish thinking. Meditation is the cleaning tool.

We do not need intermediaries standing between the divine and ourselves. Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within, then why are we looking without. Buddha said “Be a light unto yourself” then why are we searching for a lamp. We find the way by walking. There is no path to follow. We will be making the path with each of our steps. But we must start walking. We have to take courage.

We have to bring home, reel in, and withdraw all of the projections we have made to create a God. We are the creator. Let’s bring that entire energy home and let it start living as God.

God is here and now as us Being God. Hallelujah. Amen.


This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Order the book Here.


Why Meditation? – Osho

What is the best way to encourage people in meditation?

The first thing: for a patient to go to the doctor you must make him realize that he is sick; otherwise there is no need to go to the doctor.

So the people you want to encourage into meditation: first you have to make them aware that they are frustrated, perhaps for so long that they have forgotten that they are sad. They cannot remember when they laughed from their very hearts. They have become robots – they do things because they have to be done but there is no joy in doing them.

They are living an accidental life. Their birth is accidental, their marriage is accidental, their children are accidental, their job is accidental. Their life has no sense of intrinsic growth and direction. That’s why they cannot feel like rejoicing.

So first you have to make them aware where they are – and almost everybody is in the same situation. Death is coming close – you cannot even rely on your being here tomorrow. And your life is an absolute desert – it has not found any oasis, it has not felt any meaning, any significance – and death may destroy all possibilities in the future.

So first you have to make them aware of their meaningless, accidental, frustrated life. They know it, but they try to suppress their knowing in many ways, because to know it continuously is a torture. So they go to the movies to forget it. They go to parties, they go to picnics, they drink alcoholic beverages; they do everything – just to somehow not remember the reality of their life, their hollowness, futility.

This is the most important part – to remind them. And once a person remembers all this, then to lead him towards meditation is a very simple thing, because meditation is the only answer to all the questions of man. It may be frustration, it may be depression, it may be sadness, it may be meaninglessness, it may be anguish: The problems may be many but the answer is one.

Meditation is the answer.

And the simplest method of meditation is just a way of witnessing. There are one hundred and twelve methods of meditation, but witnessing is an essential part of all one hundred and twelve methods. So as far as I am concerned, witnessing is the only method. Those one hundred and twelve are different applications of witnessing.

The essential core, the spirit of meditation is to learn how to witness.

You are seeing a tree: You are there, the tree is there, but can’t you find one thing more? – that you are seeing the tree, that there is a witness in you which is seeing you seeing the tree.

The world is not divided only into the object and the subject. There is also something beyond both, and that beyond is meditation.

So in every act… and I don’t want people to sit for one hour or half an hour in the morning or in the evening. That kind of meditation is not going to help, because if you meditate for one hour, then for twenty-three hours you will be doing just the opposite of it.

Meditation can be victorious: witnessing is such a method that can spread over twenty-four hours of your day.

Eating, don’t get identified with the eater. The food is there, the eater is there, and you are here, watching. Walking, let the body walk but you simply watch. Slowly, the knack comes. It is a knack, and once you can watch small things….

This crow, crowing… you are listening. These are two – object and subject. But can’t you see a witness who is seeing both? – The crow, the listener, and still there is someone who is watching both. It is such a simple phenomenon. Then you can move into deeper layers: you can watch your thoughts; you can watch your emotions, your moods.

There is no need to say, “I am sad.” The fact is that you are a witness that a cloud of sadness is passing over you. There is anger – you can simply be a witness. There is no need to say, “I am angry.” You are never angry – there is no way for you to be angry – you are always a witness. The anger comes and goes; you are just a mirror. Things come, get reflected, move – and the mirror remains empty and clean, unscratched by the reflections.

Witnessing is finding your inside mirror.

And once you have found it, miracles start happening. When you are simply witnessing the thoughts, thoughts disappear. Then there is suddenly a tremendous silence you have never known. When you are watching the moods – anger, sadness, happiness – they suddenly disappear and an even greater silence is experienced.

And when there is nothing to watch – then the revolution. Then the witnessing energy turns upon itself because there is nothing to prevent it; there is no object left. The word “object” is beautiful. It simply means that which prevents you, objects you. When there is no object to your witnessing, it simply comes around back to yourself – to the source. And this is the point where one becomes enlightened.

Meditation is only a path: the end is always Buddhahood, enlightenment. And to know this moment is to know all.

Then there is no misery, no frustration, no meaninglessness; then life is no longer an accident. It becomes part of this cosmic whole – an essential part. And a tremendous bliss arises that this whole existence needs you.

Man’s greatest need is to be needed. If somebody needs you, you feel gratified. But if the whole existence needs you, then there is no limit to your bliss. And this existence needs even a small blade of grass as much as the biggest star.

There is no question of inequality. Nobody can substitute for you. If you are not there, then existence will be something less and will remain always something less – it will never be full. That feeling – that this whole immense existence is in need of you – takes all miseries away from you.

For the first time, you have come home.


From Light on the Path, Discourse #1

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

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