Consciousness has been at the center of my life for almost 50 years, as it has been for so many of us. But, I am a practical sort of guy and so am not very interested in the conceptual “consciousness.” On the contrary, the consciousness that I am interested in is the “being consciousness.” There are many neo-advaita teachers around who tell us that we are always consciousness. And, since we are always awareness, consciousness, there is nothing to be done. Osho is much more compassionate. He too tells us that we are already Buddhas but he also reminds us that the difference between us and him is that he is aware of his Buddhahood. He is experiencing his Buddhahood and we are unawake to its splendor.
In his compassion, he introduced 112 meditation techniques. He created active meditations to prepare the ground for meditation to take root and, he distilled all meditation techniques down to the key element of witnessing.
For me personally, I have found that the best way to become aware—to awaken the witness—is to begin by being aware of my unconsciousness, my unawareness, my dreaming mind.
Most every morning I wake up around 3:30 a.m., meaning at around that time I become aware that I am no longer sleeping. Immediately I begin to look at the activity of the mind, the tail end of the dreaming cycle. I find that it is this seeing the unconscious that enables becoming more conscious or we could say less unconscious.
As I continue lying in the bed, looking directly at the tail of the dream, this awakeningness becomes more pronounced. I find this to be the best time to get up and sit in meditation.
This sitting in meditation is more of the same but now I am sitting erect and perhaps more attuned to the watching.
At first while I am watching I catch thought streams, some thought about this or that, but as I watch without grasping the thought and without rejecting the thought but just looking directly at the movement of thought, it becomes less defined, more opaque.
At this point, it is the energy of the mind that is being seen rather than individual thoughts. At the same time, I am now aware of the watching itself rather than that which is being seen. With my awareness of the watchingness, the previous objects of consciousness begin to slip out of view.
This is not a permanent situation. At some point some thought appears and either I am dragged off until I remember again or I am awake enough to catch it at the beginning and again without grasping or rejecting there is the remembrance of watching and the watched subsides.
I find that the unconscious stream is in an inverse relationship to how conscious I am in that moment. The more conscious, the less of the stream. The less conscious, the more present the stream. So, it is by seeing my unconscious that I become more conscious.
My understanding of Ramana Maharshi’s method of inquiry is a thought appears, one inquires to whom does the thought appear and the answer is to me. Then one inquires more deeply “Who am I?” I see that as another way of saying what I described above.
Osho’s is even simpler, it is watching, witnessing. Watching without judgement, without jumping onto the back of the thought and without pushing away in rejection. Just watching and as we watch without reaction the other steps that I described above happen naturally. As thought becomes less, I automatically become aware of my self, provided that I haven’t fallen asleep.
“Meditation starts by being separate from the mind, by being a witness. That is the only way of separating yourself from anything. If you are looking at the light, naturally one thing is certain, you are not the light, you are the one who is looking at it. If you are watching the flowers, one thing is certain, you are not the flower, you are the watcher. Watching is the key of meditation:
Watch your mind.
Don’t do anything—no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of God—just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don’t disturb it, don’t prevent it, don’t repress it; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly, slowly mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.
As the mind becomes completely empty, your whole energy becomes a flame of awakening. This flame is the result of meditation. So you can say meditation is another name of watching, witnessing, observing—without any judgment, without any evaluation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the mind.”
-Osho, from The Invitation, Discourse 21
So, this has been my experience. By understanding and seeing my un-consciousness, un-consciousness is transformed into consciousness, from unconsciousness to consciousness. This is how I come out of mind. This is not enlightenment; it is an awakening before enlightenment. It is nothing special and we are all capable of coming out of mind. It is just a question of seeing the identification with what we are Not that we discover that which we Are.
Along the way, a couple of points have become clear and perhaps they could be helpful for someone else.
Number one and this is of course obvious but nevertheless important to state. In order for the transformation of consciousness to take place, we have to look directly at the mind. It is not enough to know about meditation, we have to meditate. We have to get to know intimately how we perpetuate unawareness. We have to meditate, did I already say that. We have to meditate.
A second point that one day became clear is, we are not to do anything with the mind, or any content of consciousness. Transformation happens but not by anything we do. Our job is to become conscious and again we do that by watching our unconscious. It is through watching the unconscious that the energy becomes conscious. I used to feel that it was the content that was important in the watching. Somewhere along the way a shift happened so that it is the watcher that is of importance not what is being watched. We watch our unconsciousness simply to become conscious.
And thirdly, it is by watching without reacting that we begin to become aware of being conscious, of awareness itself, not as an object but as a living, existential, experiencing.
Finally, these awakenings, this watchfulness that arises in meditation, has to be taken into daily life. With this watchingness, there are more moments of action and fewer of reaction, but when reaction appears, it is watched without judgment just like the watching of thought. And, it is here in this daily life that the watchingness is crystalized into Being conscious. And that truly is a splendor.
Once, I asked Chadwick, “Are you realized?” I have put this question to all of the old devotees like Muruganar, Cohen, Osborne, Sadhu Natanananda, Devaraja Mudaliar and others. None of them either said yes or no – all smiled. When I asked him whether he was realized, he did not say yes or no. Instead, he told me, “I will tell you what happened. After many years of my stay with Bhagavan – four or five years, I committed the mistake of trying to evaluate how much I have progressed spiritually. This is a thing any seeker should not do. I felt that I have not progressed. Many who saw me in Ramanasramam, looked at me like I was a sage or a saint saying, “Oh! He is so fortunate. He is so close to Bhagavan. He meditates so much. He is already in that state.” This created a contradiction in me as I personally felt that I was not progressing spiritually. However, having left the material life I could not go back to a worldly life either. I felt caught between the devil and the deep sea. I was sorrow stricken. I ran to Bhagavan’s hall. He was alone. I told him, “Bhagavan, this is my plight. I am neither here nor there and this causes much sorrow in me.” Bhagavan looked at me compassionately and said, “Chadwick, who says all this?” Immediately, there was a current like shock in my body and I literally ran to my room, shut the doors and went into a neutral state. I was not bothered whether I was spiritually maturing or whether I would be able to stay in the world. I was in a neutral state of silence. A few days passed like that wherein I was neither happy nor worried.” The only luxury that Chadwick allowed himself was taking his bath in a bath tub which he had in the verandah of his cottage. One day, shortly after the above incident, something happened unexpectedly. As Chadwick told me later, “I was taking my bath and very honestly Ganesan, I was not in a spiritual state or in a prayerful mood when it suddenly dawned – the ‘I AM’!” He experienced it – not just as words. He was so ecstatic that he did not even dry himself. He just wrapped a towel around his waist and ran to the Old Hall from where a few days back he had run away. Fortunately, this time too, Bhagavan was alone. In this spiritual ecstasy of experiencing the ‘I AM’, where there was no Chadwick, just the ‘I AM’, he asked Bhagavan, “Bhagavan, is THIS it?” Chadwick recounted, “Bhagavan gave me the most glorious smile, and then confirmed, “Yes, Chadwick, THIS is THAT!” I then asked him, “Bhagavan, is it so simple?” Bhagavan replied, “Yes it is that simple.” Since then, I’ve never had any doubt.”
From Ramana Periya Puranam
The first indication that my life was about to change was the engine in my Cadillac El Dorado blowing up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I was at the end of a road trip taking orders for waterbed products. I took a bus back to Kansas City.
The second was when I learned that while away, my friend Charlie, my parakeet, had been killed by the cat that belonged to my friends who were house-sitting.
Charlie was a real character and he used to fly out of his always-open cage and land on my nose to wake me up in the morning. That’s what did him in. Charlie had been given to me by Scottie. Scottie was my oldest friend, not that I had known him the longest, but he was over 60. I was in my early twenties. He had named Charlie after Charlie Parker, a personal friend of his. Scottie was into Jesus, Jazz, going to the horse races, and smoking pot.
The final straw, however, was that my apartment was broken into. The thieves took my stereo and speakers but very fortunately left my album collection. I could either fight or let-go and go with the stream. I decided on the latter and endeavored to get ahead of the curve.
Soon, everything that had any value, which wasn’t much, really, had been sold. It mostly consisted of the records and two Chinese rugs. The money was going to Europe with me. I was leaving behind my interest in a business that I had built up over the past two years. I wasn’t even going to tell the other principals involved; they could have what was left. I was concerned that I might be persuaded to change my mind.
We had been applying for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan in order to take our waterbed frame manufacturing business to the next level. We were getting orders, I had brought back plenty, but we needed capital in order to produce at a level that we made money on our sales. When the SBA loan fell through, I knew that meant we would have to drop back and punt. But I was burnt out. I had had a nervous breakdown at 21. I was drinking 10—12 cups of coffee a day and smoking three packs of cigarettes. If this was life, I wasn’t interested. I was ready to chuck it all in and go to Europe with whatever cash I could assemble and see what happens.
Six hundred dollars is what I would be landing in Luxembourg with after buying a cheap Icelandic Air flight. The last ride I got, hitchhiking to New York was with the equipment truck for the rock band Seals and Crofts. Here was the first sign of what lay ahead. Seals and Crofts were into Baha’i and the driver of the van was a devotee of the young Guru Maharaji.
Soon, I was lying in the grass on the side of the road waiting for the sound of a car so I could jump up and stick out my thumb. The destination for the day was not known only the direction; in the meantime I was feeling the ground beneath my back, smelling the green grass and listening to the sounds of the birds flying nearby. I was reminded of Saint Francis.
Here, in stark contrast, was the difference between becoming and being.
There may come a moment in life when the world no longer stimulates us and we feel deeply apathetic, even abandoned. This can motivate us towards the search for our real nature beyond appearances. When we no longer find interest in activities and states, when we no longer feel much pleasure in objects and human relationships, we may find ourselves asking: “Is there something wrong with this world or with my attitude towards it?” This serious doubt can lead us to ask: “What is the meaning of existence? What is life? Who am I? What is my true nature?” Sooner or later any intelligent person asks these questions.
As we live with these questions, look at them closely, we become aware that the “me” always seems to be at the center of things playing several roles: “I am cold. I am tired. I am working.” With a more open-minded alertness it becomes apparent that the body feels cold, tired, or is working, not “I.” In the same way when we look at states: “I wish. I am depressed. I remember. I am bored,” we see that we have identified ourselves with the thought or feeling. In looking at this relation between the “I” and its qualifications it becomes obvious that we have taken it for granted and believe ourselves to be this “me.”
This “me” has therefore no continual reality. It is a false appropriation. It lives only in relation to its qualifications, its objects. It is fundamentally unstable. But because we have mistaken our real self for this imposter we feel an insecurity, a doubt, a lack, a sensation of isolation. The “me” can only live in relation to objects so we spend all our energy trying to fulfill the insatiable insecurity of this me. We live in anxiety, fear and desire trying at one and the same time to be as individualistic as possible and to overcome this separateness. The “me” which appears occasionally is taken as a continuum. Actually it is only a crystallization of data and experience held together by memory. Being fractional, its viewpoint is fractional functioning through like and dislike. Its contact with its surroundings is based on this arbitrary choosing. Living in this way is miserable. The loneliness of such an existence may be temporarily camouflaged by compensatory activity but sooner or later, as we said, our real nature will make itself felt and our questioning will become more urgent. We will begin to feel that what we take for the body and mind is not the actual state of things. In deeper inquiry we feel a certain distancing between the inquirer and his environment, activities and opinions. For a time we may feel like an observer of our life, the spectator of the spectacle. Our body and mind are instruments to be used. We observe the changes of the psychosomatic structure as we grow older. We become aware that many, if not most, of our actions are mechanical reactions. All these happenings are seen from the impersonal observer. We begin to feel closer to the knower of these changes and less identified, lost in, the changing. In the end, the seeker is found to be what was sought.
Q: “What do you mean by that last statement, “the seeker is found to be what was sought?”
A: You are seeking your real nature. What you are looking for is what you are, not what you will become. What you already are is the answer and the source of the question. In this lies its power of transformation. It is reality, a present actual fact. Looking for something to become is completely conceptual, on the level of ideas. It has no reality and no effective power. The seeker will discover that he is what he seeks and what he seeks is the source of the inquiry.
Q: It seems to me that not everyone who is a seeker has experienced this deep feeling of unfulfillment or abandonment that you talk about.”
A: It’s true. There are those who, because of their past, sense the divine anchored deep within them. In these cases there is no motivation. As Meister Eckhart said, “God is seeking himself.”
You can read more from Jean Klein here.
Could you talk about listening and its origin?
To discover your innermost being you must start from where you are at this very moment, wherever that is. You cannot begin anywhere else. Whatever appears before you—your body, sensations, feelings, thoughts, etc.—must be accepted, listened to as a whole. This does not mean you should analyze, interpret, understand or look for an inner meaning. What is important is to discover listening itself, which sooner or later will be revealed to you. At first the accent is on what is listened to, the sensation, feeling or thought. But the more the listening is sustained the more the emphasis is shifted to this listening itself without a listened to. Then you are at the threshold of the source from which the listening derives. That very instant listening will become a living reality.
Real listening can be neither improved nor perfected, for it is perfection itself. It reveals itself when the mind is struck by wonder, when it no longer refers to the slightest object. This fulfillment is later erroneously attributed to an object but one who is aware of the true perspective knows that the cause of this peacefulness is not to be found in an object, but is a pure reflection of silence, of what Is.
Listening arises from wonderment, to which it also points—a state where there is no projection, where nothing appears. It is as if you had suddenly opened the windows of a dark room full of objects, and in streams daylight. Everything becomes clear in an instant.
– Jean Klein
You can read more from Jean Klein here.
Many people seem to be interested in meditation, but that interest cannot be very deep because so very few are transformed through it. If the interest is really deep, it becomes a fire by itself. It transforms you. Just through intense interest you start becoming different. A new center of being arises. So many people seem to be interested but nothing new arises in them, no new center is born, no new crystallization is achieved. They remain the same.
That means they are deceiving themselves. The deception is very subtle but it is bound to be there. If you go on taking medicine, having treatments, and the illness remains the same – rather on the contrary, it goes on increasing – then your medicine, your treatment, is bound to be false. Maybe deep down you don’t want to be transformed. That fear is very real – the fear of transformation. So on the surface you go on thinking that you are deeply interested, but deep down you go on deceiving.
The fear of transformation is just like the fear of death. It is a death, because the old will have to go and the new will come into being. You will be there no more, something totally unknown to you will be born out of you. Unless you are ready to die, your interest in meditation is false, because only those who are ready to die will be reborn. The new cannot become a continuity with the old. The old must be discontinued. The old must go. Only then can the new come into being. The new is not an outgrowth of the old, the new is not continuous with it – the new is totally new. And it comes only when the old dies. There is a gap between the old and the new – that gap gives you the fear. You are afraid. You want to be transformed but simultaneously you want to remain the old. This is the deception. You want to grow, but you want to remain you. Then growth is impossible; then you can only deceive; then you can go on thinking and dreaming that something is happening, but nothing will happen because the basic point has been missed.
So there are many people all over the world who are very interested in meditation, moksha, nirvana, and nothing is happening. There is so much noise about it but nothing real is happening. What is the matter?
Sometimes the mind is so cunning that because you don’t want to be transformed, the mind will create a superficial interest so that you can say to yourself, “You are interested, you are doing whatsoever can be done.” And you remain the same. And if nothing happens, you think that the technique you are using is wrong, the guru you are following is wrong, the scripture, the principle, the method, is wrong. You never think that even with a wrong method transformation is possible if the real interest is there; even with a wrong method you will be transformed. If you are really interested in transformation, you will become different even if following a wrong guru. If your soul and your heart is in your effort, no one can mislead you except yourself. And nothing is a barrier to your progress except your own deceptions.
When I say that even a wrong master, a wrong method, a wrong principle, can lead you to the real, I mean that the real transformation happens when you are intensely involved in it, not through any method. The method is just a device, the method is just a help, the method is secondary – your being involved in it is the fundamental thing. But you go on doing something – not even doing, you go on talking about doing. And words create an illusion: because you think so much about it, you read so much about it, you listen so much about it, that you start feeling you are doing something. So-called religious persons have developed many deception devices.
I have heard that a motorist, driving along a road, saw the school building on fire. The teacher of the small school of that small village was Mulla Nasruddin. He was sitting under a tree. The motorist called to him, “What are you doing there? The school building is on fire!” Mulla Nasruddin said, “I know about it.” The motorist was much excited. He said, “Then why are you not doing something?” Mulla Nasruddin said, “Ever since it started I have been praying for rain. I am doing something.”
Prayer is a trick to avoid meditation, and the so-called religious mind has developed many types of prayer. Prayer can also become a meditation – when it is not only a prayer, it is a deep effort, a deep involvement. Prayer can also become meditation, but ordinarily prayer is just an escape. To avoid meditation, people go on praying. To avoid doing anything they pray. Prayer means that God must do something. Someone else must do. Prayer means that we are passive – something must be done to us. Meditation is not prayer in that sense: meditation is something you do to yourself. And when you are transformed, the whole universe behaves differently to you, because the universe is nothing but a response to you, whatsoever you are. If you are silent, the whole universe responds to your silence in thousands and thousands of ways. It reflects you. Your silence is multiplied infinitely. If you are blissful, the whole universe rejects your bliss. If you are in misery, the same happens. The mathematics remains the same, the law remains the same: the universe goes on multiplying your misery. Prayer won’t do. Only meditation can help because meditation is something to be done authentically by you, it is a doing on your part.
So the first thing I would like to say to you is be constantly alert that you are not deceiving yourself. You may be doing something and still deceiving yourself.
I have heard that Mulla Nasruddin once came running into a post office, grasping the postmaster by the lapel, shook him, and said, “I have gone crazy. My wife has disappeared!” The postmaster felt sorry and he said, “Really, she has disappeared? Unfortunately this is a postal department – you have to go to the police department to report this disappearance.” Mulla Nasruddin shook his head negatively and said, “I am not going to be caught again. In the past my wife also disappeared and when I reported it to the police department, they found her. I am not going to be caught again. If you can take the report, take it, otherwise I am going.”
He wants to report to feel good, to feel that he has done whatsoever can be done. But he doesn’t want to report to the police department because he is afraid.
You go on doing things just to feel good, just to feel that you are doing something. But really you are not ready to be transformed. So all that you do just passes as useless activity – not only useless, harmful also, because it is a wastage of time, energy, and opportunity. These techniques of Shiva are only for those who are ready to do. You can ponder over them philosophically – that means nothing. But if you are actually ready to do, then something will start happening to you. They are alive methods, not dead doctrines. Your intellect is not needed; your totality of being is required. And any method will do. If you are ready to give it a chance, any method will do. You will become a new man.
Methods are devices, I will repeat again. If you are ready, then any method can do. They are just tricks to help you to take the jump, they are just like jumping boards. From any jumping board you can jump into the ocean. The jumping boards are insignificant: what color they are, which wood they are made of is irrelevant. They are simply jumping boards and you can take a jump from them. All these methods are jumping boards. Whatsoever method takes your fancy, don’t go on thinking about it, do it!
Difficulties will arise when you start doing something – if you don’t do anything there will be no difficulty. Thinking is very easy doing because you are not really traveling, but when you start doing something, difficulties arise. So if you see that difficulties have arisen, you can feel that you are on the right track – something is happening to you. Then old barriers will break, old habits will go, there will be change, there will be disturbance and chaos. All creativity comes out of chaos. You will be created anew only if all that you are becomes chaotic. So these methods will destroy you first, then only will a new being be created. If there are difficulties, feel fortunate – that shows growth. No growth is smooth… and spiritual growth cannot be smooth, that is not its nature. Because spiritual growth means growing upwards, spiritual growth means reaching into the unknown, reaching into the uncharted. Difficulties will be there. But remember that with each difficulty that is passed you are crystalized. You become more solid. You become more real. For the first time you will feel something centering within you, something becoming solid.
As you are now you are just a liquid phenomenon, changing every moment, nothing stable. Really you cannot claim any ‘I’ – you don’t have one. You are many ‘I’s’ just in a flow, a river-like flow. You are a crowd, not an individual yet. But meditation can make you an individual.
This word ‘individual’ is beautiful: it means indivisible. Right now as you are, you are divided. You are only many fragments clinging together anyhow without any center being there, without any master in the house, with only servants. And for a moment any servant can become the master.
Every moment you are different because you are not – and unless you are, the Divine cannot happen to you. To whom can it happen? You are not there. People come to me and they say, “We would like to see God.” I ask them, “Who will see? You are not there. God is always there, but you are not there to see. It is just a passing thought that you want to see God.” The next moment they are not interested; the next moment they have forgotten all about it. A persistent, intense effort and longing is needed. Then any method will do.
Now, we should enter the methods.
From The Book of Secrets, Chapter 73
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