Enlightenment: The By-Product of Staying in the Present – Osho

Before I came to know you, I had never heard about enlightenment. But I was searching for something. Now, after years of living in a commune, I feel further away from reaching somewhere than ever before. I’m grateful to be here and to feel your friendship and compassion. Is enlightenment still the goal? Is there any goal at all?

This is a troublesome question.

Enlightenment has never been the goal. Its very nature prohibits making it a goal. The goal is always in the future somewhere; and enlightenment is always now and here. Enlightenment is an experience in the present.

But this is one of the troubles of the mind, that it makes goals out of everything. If you love the idea of enlightenment, then immediately the mechanism of the mind makes it a goal: you have to achieve it – and that’s where you go on the wrong path.

Enlightenment is a by-product of the understanding that to live in the past is foolish, because it is simply memory. But millions of people are wasting their time in memories. Millions of others are living in the future. You cannot live in the future; it is making castles in the air.

To understand that past and future are both nonexistential… all that you have got is a very small moment: this very moment. You don’t even get two moments together. When one moment is gone, you get another moment. You always have only one moment in your hands; and it is so small and so fleeting, that if you are thinking of the past and the future, you will miss it. And that is the only life and the only reality there is.

Understanding this whole process, one thing becomes certain: why the mind avoids the present, which is the real, and why it tries to get involved with past and future, which are not real. As one tries to understand that, one thing becomes clear: that in the present moment, mind cannot exist.

Mind is simply a collection of memories of the past, and – out of those memories – imagination about the future.

Mind does not know three tenses. It knows only two: past and future.

Present is nonexistential to the mind. The existential is nonexistential to the mind; and the non-existentials are existential to the mind. Hence the whole effort is how to get out of the mind, how to get out of the non-existentials and to stand in the middle – where existence is.

How to be in the present? – That is the whole knack of meditation. And the moment you are in the present, enlightenment is its by-product.

Don’t give it to the mind – the mind will immediately make it a goal. Mind cannot do anything else. It cannot put it in the past because you have never experienced it, so the past is closed. You have yet to experience it; naturally, it has to be put somewhere in the future. And it always happens in the present.

So forget about enlightenment. It is a by-product; you cannot do anything about it. This is the beauty of by-products: you have to do something else, and the by-product comes in. You have to learn to be in the present more and more. In other words: you have to learn to be in a state of no-mind more and more.

It was for a certain reason that mystics called meditation “no-mind”: if you call it meditation, again the mind makes a goal out of it. Then you have to achieve meditation. So it makes no difference whether the goal is enlightenment or meditation, the goal remains, the future remains, and goes on destroying the present.

The mystics time changed from meditation to no-mind for the first time had a tremendous insight. Now no-mind cannot be made a goal: mind cannot make it a goal. It is simply absurd – how can mind make a goal of no-mind? It will simply say it is not possible; mind is all, there is no no-mind.

This was a strategy not to allow you to make it a goal. Very few people have understood the strategy, that that’s why they have called it no-mind – to prevent the mind from making it a goal.

So be more and more in a state of no-mind. Just go on removing memories, imagination, to clean and clear the present moment. And as it deepens, as you become more and more capable of no-mind, enlightenment comes of its own accord.

Enlightenment is simply recognizing your being, recognizing the eternity of your being, recognizing that there has been no death before, nor is there any death to come – that death is a fiction. Seeing your being in its utter nakedness, in its absolute beauty, its grandeur, its silence, its blissfulness, its ecstasy – all that is involved in the word “enlightenment.”

Once you have experienced that juice, mind starts losing its grip on you because you have found something which is qualitatively so high, so fulfilling, such a tremendous contentment, that mind feels its function is finished. It looks ugly, because it has only given you misery, worries, anxiety. What has been its contribution to you? Its grip loosens; it starts hiding in the shadows, and by and by it falls away.

You continue to live, but now your living is moment to moment; and what you have got as a by-product in that small gap of no-mind goes on growing. There is no end to that growth.

Enlightenment only begins, it never ends.

Nobody has said this before. They have all said that it is perfect – but perfection means it cannot grow. It has happened once, and all growth, all evolution, is finished.

But as far as my experience is concerned, I can say very authoritatively that anything that you are stuck with permanently cannot remain ecstatic, cannot remain blissful. You will start taking it for granted.

It was ecstatic because you had lived in agony; compared to that agony it was ecstatic. You have lived in pain, in wounds; against that, it was contentment, fulfillment. But now, day after day, month after month, year after year, life after life, you have forgotten agony, the taste of pain. And with that forgetfulness, your enlightenment will become just ordinary – something that you take for granted, dull and dead. The ecstasy is the same but you cannot feel it the same. There has come a full stop, and life knows no full stop.

But why have all these mystics insisted that it is perfect? – Because they were afraid. Logically they were not able to face the philosophers, the critics… because if you say it is imperfect, that means something more has to happen. You have not attained the goal – something is still missing. So it is partial, what you have attained. If it is not perfect, it is partial.

To avoid calling it partial, they said that it is perfect. But they forgot that someday somebody can raise a question against perfection. It has not been raised yet, but I am raising it: perfection is going to be dead; it cannot be living, because nothing is going to happen. It will be the same tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, for eternity.

You will get utterly bored with your ecstasy, with your contentment, and there is no going back. You cannot find that agony again, those moments of misery again, because all that has fallen out of your being. There is no way back, and in the future, for as far as you can see, it will remain the same.

I deny perfection. Enlightenment appears perfect because nothing seems to be missing at the moment. All that you have ever dreamed – it is much more than that. All that you could have ever conceived – it is much more than that. So it appears absolute, perfect, ultimate; but this is a fallacy. It will grow, it will become vast. New qualities will be added to it; and each time it is going to be a surprise because you have never thought about this quality.

So I want it to be clearly understood by my people, that enlightenment is only a beginning, the beginning of tremendous evolution, that has no limits. Only then can you remain dancing, singing. And you can remain thrilled every moment, because one never knows what the next moment is going to bring – new insights, new visions, new experiences.

And there is no limitation to it. There never comes a point when you can say the journey has ended. The journey only begins, it never ends.

Other mystics have not said it because they were afraid that if you say to people that the journey only begins and never ends, they will never begin it. What is the point of a journey that begins and never ends? Then do something else. Why waste your life in such a journey, where nowhere you will find a place where you can say, ”I have come home”?

But I want to be absolutely truthful about enlightenment. And I want it to be an excitement that it does not end. It is not something against it, it is something favorable about it – that everything goes on expanding, everything goes on growing, everything goes on getting higher; and still the infinite sky is there, the infinite universe is there.

And if the universe can be infinite, which is inconceivable for the mind… you cannot conceive the universe as infinite. Mind cannot conceive infinity, for the simple reason that mind functions through logic. It will say, “It may be far away, but somewhere it has to end. How can it go on and on and on? We may never reach the end; we may never find the boundary line where the universe ends – that is possible because we are limited – but that does not mean that the universe is unlimited.

Logic cannot conceive it, thinking cannot have any justification for it. And if you start thinking, you cannot believe it. You can push on the boundary as far as you can but the boundary remains.

But the truth is, the boundary cannot be there, because a boundary always needs two things: one on this side and one on the other side. You cannot make a boundary with only one side. You have a fence around your house because there is a neighbor’s house. Your fence is not the end – it is simply the beginning of another house.

So if sometime logic forces you to conclude there must be a boundary, it has to be asked: What will be beyond the boundary? There must be something. Even though it is going to be nothing, that nothing will also be part of the universe. Why are you creating a boundary? That emptiness will also be the universe.

Once you understand that every boundary needs two things – something that it closes and something that it opens – then you can have some idea that a finite universe is impossible. Only an infinite universe is possible.

But for the infinite universe you need an infinity of growth, because if you come to a point where you think you have become perfect, you fall out of tune with the universe.

The same logic has to be understood about evolution. It has to be forever and forever – because again there is the question of a boundary.

You cannot make any boundaries in existence.

Boundaries do not belong to reality.

One of my professors, Doctor S.S. Roy, had written a doctoral thesis on Bradley and Shankara – both are absolutists, both believe in perfection. And his doctoral thesis was accepted, he got the Ph.D.

But I told him, “You may have got the Ph.D., but if I had been one of the examiners of your thesis, you would not have got it, because Shankara and Bradley are preaching – and you are trying to make a comparative study, that they are saying the same thing – that there is a boundary at perfection. And you are saying it with so much emphasis that it seems you also believe in it.”

He said, “Yes, I have been studying Shankara and Bradley my whole life, and they have left an immense impact on me. They both are the greatest philosophers in the world.”

But I said, “They are just childish, that both believe there is a boundary at perfection. Then there is no growth possible. Perfection is death and life is growth.”

And I asked him directly, “Would you like to be perfect and dead, or imperfect and alive? That is the choice.”

He said, “I have never thought about it – that perfection means death, and imperfection means growth. But when you say it, it sounds correct.”

And I said, “You just think: For how long has existence been there? It has not yet reached perfection. Growth has not stopped, evolution has not stopped, and existence has been for eternity. So what reason can there be to think that tomorrow it will be perfect?

“The whole of eternity in the past has failed to make it perfect. What reason is there to think that just one day more is needed, or a few days, or a few years? We are always in the middle.” I told him, “We are always in the middle. We will never know the beginning because there has never been one, and we will never know the end because there is not going to be any.”

We are always in the middle, growing. It is eternal growth, in all the dimensions.

And the same applies to enlightenment.

-Osho

From Light on the Path, Chapter 36

Light on the Path

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

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A Downhill Task – Osho

From recognition of an internal, unwavering witness, to worship of an external God for whom people kill – Can we really make the journey back to the witness again within a split second, with just one step? Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you, remembering to witness seems such an uphill task! 

Maneesha, it is not an uphill task, it is a downhill task! The ego is always ready for an uphill task; it is a question of downhill. To be just natural, simple, nobody, cannot be an uphill task. So first change the idea: it is not an uphill task, it is downhill.

And secondly you say, “Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you, remembering to witness seems such an uphill task!”

You are making it uphill. If it is possible in front of me, what prevents you when you are not sitting in front of me? If it is possible in front of me, then it is possible anywhere.

And you say, “Unless I’m actually sitting in front of you…” But how can you be certain that I am actually here? You don’t have any proof of my being here. You cannot believe your eyes – they deceive you many times. It may be simply just that the whole assembly has fallen asleep and you are all dreaming me; I am the dream of you all.

You cannot determine whether anything outside your witnessing has any reality or not.

Because of this, the great philosopher Shankara continuously insisted and proved to the whole of India that the outside world is just a dream, maya, illusion. And there are parallels in the West: Bradley and Bosanquet both tried the same idea – that you cannot say whether the outside is real or unreal, because in a dream you start believing in the dream.

Your believing is not very reliable. In a dream, do you ever doubt, “Perhaps I am in a dream”? In a dream you are so deeply involved that the dream becomes actual, so actual that if you are having a nightmare, and a lion or a dragon is just sitting on your chest, you will wake up out of fear, and you will experience a great relief that it was a dream. But even the dream has its effects: your breathing shows as if you have been running fast, your perspiration shows that your body has believed, your mind has believed, that the dragon was a reality.

There is no way to prove that the outside is not another dream – maybe a little longer, seventy years long; maybe a special dream that when you go to sleep it waits for you, and when you wake up it continues again. But there is no way to prove rationally that the outside is really there. It may be, it may not be.

So don’t be worried about my actuality. I may be just a device… in fact, I am a device. If you can become a witness in front of me, you know that you have the capacity to become a witness. Then there is no reason to make it an uphill task. Just be playful about it.

I know in the beginning you will forget many times. Just try to understand this simple thing: when you forget, don’t be bothered; otherwise, what happens is you forget witnessing, and then you remember, “My God, I forgot!” – And now you start repenting. That is also forgetting again. What you have forgotten is forgotten. Now you have remembered, continue.

Never repent for those moments which have gone. They are gone. If you start repenting, you will be destroying more moments. And man’s mind is such that it can forget. Now that I have said, “Don’t repent!” it will repent, and then it will repent that it has repented, and the witnessing will be far away.

So just make it simple: when you forget, you forget. That chapter is closed. Now you are remembering – remember, witness. Slowly, slowly the gaps of forgetting will become smaller, fewer. It needs a little time. You are not seasonal flowers which appear in a few days and disappear in a few days. You are flowers of eternity.

So there is no need to worry about it; if for a few moments you forget witnessing, it is perfectly okay.

Now, witness! Don’t give a single thought for that which is gone. It is natural, don’t feel guilty. I never want anyone who belongs to me to feel guilty for anything. Whatever has happened, so be it! Now you are aware, witness. You will fall again, many times you will forget; many times you will wake up. This is the natural process. It is nothing personal; it has to happen to everybody.

So take it easy, and just go on growing, more and more witnessing and less and less forgetting. A time comes – has to come – when even if you want to forget, you cannot. Then you will be angry with me – really angry that, “Now I want to forget and I cannot forget!” Now you are very happily trying to witness, but the day you will be a perfect witness, you will be angry at me, because there is some beauty in forgetting a few things. But you cannot forget… your witnessing has become so solid that you cannot take even a holiday. Holidays are not for saints.

-Osho

From Rinzai: The Master of the Irrational, Chapter Eight

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

 

All Dreams Must Cease – Osho

Mind has only one capacity and that is to dream. And this dreaming continues even while you are awake. That’s the reason Sosan or Jesus won’t believe that you are ever awake, because dreaming has one quality: that it can happen only in sleep.

These two things have to be understood first: mind is the source of all dreaming, but dream can happen only in sleep. And if you are dreaming twenty-four hours a day, one thing is absolutely certain: that you are fast asleep. Close the eyes any moment and the dream is there; it continues as an undercurrent. Even while you are engaged, for all outward purposes you seem to be awake, but deep down a current of dreaming goes on and on and on.

Any moment, close the eyes and it is there. It is not interrupted by your occupations. You walk on the street, you drive the car, you work in a factory, in the office – it continues. You go to sleep, then you can feel it more because, unoccupied, the whole attention comes to the mind.

It is just like the stars. In the day you cannot see stars in the sky. They are there, because where can they go? But because of the light of the sun you cannot see them. If you go in a deep well, two hundred feet down, from there you can see stars in the sky even in the day. They are there, but because of so much light you cannot see them. Darkness is needed for them to be revealed.

The same happens with dreaming; dreams are there in the day also, but darkness is needed so that you can see them. It is just like when you go to a theater. If the doors are open the film may continue but you cannot see. Close the doors, make the room dark, and you can see.

Dreaming is your continuity, and unless this continuity is broken you cannot know what truth is. The question is not whether truth is very far away or near, the question is whether the mind is in a dream or not.

So the basic problem is not how to seek the truth; you cannot seek with a dreaming mind, because whatsoever will come before you, your dreams will be imposed on it. Your dreams will be projected on it, you will interpret it. You will not be able to see as it is. You will see according to your dreams, you will falsify it. Truth IS there, because only truth can be – untruth cannot be.

So another thing before we enter the sutra: Shankara has divided reality in three categories, and those categories are beautiful to understand. One category is the category of the truth: that which is. In fact nothing else is possible; only truth is and only truth can be.

The second category is of that which is untruth, which cannot be. No possibility of its being there, because how can untruth be? For being, truth is needed. So untruth is non-being, truth is being. Then Shankara finds a third category that he calls dreaming, appearance, illusion, maya: that which appears to be but is not.

So three categories. Truth, that which is. If your eyes are clear, unclouded, if the mind is not dreaming, then there is only one category – truth. But if your mind is dreaming then two other categories come into existence.

Dream is, in a certain sense, because you dream it. And it is not, in a different certain sense, because it corresponds to no reality. You dream in the night that you have become a king. In the morning you find you are just the same beggar. The dream was false, but the dream was, so it has a quality of truth about it because it happened. And in those moments when it was happening you completely believed in its truth, otherwise it would have stopped immediately.

If you become aware that “I am dreaming and this is false,” the dream is broken, you are awake already. The dream existed for a few hours; it had one quality of truth, that it existed. But it is not true because in the morning you find it was not. It was just a thought, a wave in the air, a flower in the sky – appeared to be true but was untrue.

Truth is being, untruth is non-being, and between the two there is a world of dreaming – it carries the qualities of both. And mind is the source of dreaming, so mind IS illusory. Mind is the source of all maya.

You may be thinking that if you leave the world and go to the Himalayas you will attain to truth. You are wrong, because your house is not maya, your wife is not maya, your children – no. Your mind is maya. And how can you leave the mind here and go to the Himalayas? The mind is within you. If you can drop it, you can drop it anywhere. If you cannot drop it, you cannot drop it whether you go to the Himalayas or not.

The wife, the children, the house, the world, is called maya, illusion, in a secondary sense – because the wife exists, she has a being. She is a Brahma in her own right, she is truth – not as a wife, but as a soul.

Your mind interprets her as wife: “She is my wife.” Then a dream is created. She is there, absolutely true! You are here, absolutely true! And between the two a dream happens. You call her your wife, she calls you her husband. Now a dream exists between the two, and dreams always become nightmares. So all relationships ultimately become nightmares, because you cannot tolerate an illusion very long. An illusion is temporary; sooner or later it has to disappear. It cannot be eternal, it cannot be permanent.

You love a woman, a dream is created. But how long can you dream? By the time the honeymoon is finished the dream is gone – even before. Then what will you do? Then you will pretend, because now you are a slave of your own promises.

You will pretend that you still love, you will pretend that “You are still beautiful,” you will pretend that “There exists no person like you.” But now everything is a pretension. And when you pretend, and the dream is broken, and you still carry the dream, it becomes a burden and nightmarish. That’s why you live in such suffering.

The suffering is nothing but broken dreams, broken rainbows, broken illusions, appearances. And you have invested in them so much you cannot look at the truth: that from the very beginning they were dreams.

Rather than looking at the truth you will throw the responsibility on the other. You will say, “This wife has deceived me. She was not as good as she appeared. She deceived me, she didn’t reveal her true reality.” And you will not see that that is not the point at all. You were creating a dream around her, and because of that dream you couldn’t see the reality. She was also creating a dream around you.

So whenever two persons fall in love there are not two persons, there are four: one the lover, another, the beloved, and between these two the beloved that is a creation of the mind of the lover, and the lover that is a creation of the mind of the beloved. These two are dreams, and these two go on moving.

Sooner or later, when the dream is broken, you are two not four. Whenever you are two there will be difficulty. Then you would like to throw the responsibility on the other: “It is because of the other.” You have missed the point again. That means you will create the same dream around another woman because you will think, “This woman is not going to deceive me, and now I am more clever also.”

But mind is never clever. The essence of mind is foolishness, so mind can never be clever. It can be cunning, cunning in its foolishness, but it can never be wise. That is not its nature, because wisdom happens only when dreaming leaves. So if dreaming is the basic reality of the mind then it can never be wise.

A Buddha is wise because now there is no mind. A Sosan is wise because now he lives in no-mind, now all dreams stop. He looks at things as they are. You never look at things as they are; you mix with your illusions. And you are so afraid to look straight because you know, unconsciously, deep down somewhere you know, that things are not as you look at them.

But you think if you look at the reality of things it will be too much, too heavy – you may not be able to stand it. You mix it with dreams just to make it a little sweeter. You think it is bitter so you coat it with sugar. You coat a person in dreams and you feel the person has become sweet? No, you are simply deceiving yourself, nobody else. Hence, so much misery.

It is out of your dreams that the misery has happened, and one has to be aware of this phenomenon. Don’t throw responsibility on the other; otherwise you will create other dreams. Look that it is you who are projecting, but it is difficult to look.

In a theater, in a cinema hall, you look at the screen, you never look at the back – the projector is at the back. The film is not there really on the screen; on the screen it is just a projection of shadow and light. The film exists just at the back, but you never look at that. And the projector is there. Your mind is at the back of the whole thing, and the mind is the projector. But you always look at the other because the other is the screen.

When you are in love the person seems beautiful, no comparison. When you hate, the same person seems the ugliest, and you never become aware of how the same person can be the ugliest and the same person can be the most beautiful. When you are in love the same person is a flower, a rose, a rose garden with no thorns. When you dislike, when you hate, flowers disappear, there are only thorns, no more a garden – the ugliest, the dirtiest, you would not like even to see. And you never become aware of what you are doing. How can roses disappear so soon, in a single minute? Not even a gap of a single minute is needed. This moment you are in love and the next moment you are in hate; the same person, the same screen, and the whole story changes.

Just watch and you will be able to see that this person is not the point, you are projecting something. When you project love the person looks lovely, when you project hate the person looks ugly. The person is not; you have not seen the real person at all. You cannot see the reality through the eyes of the mind.

If you really want to know what the truth is, scriptures won’t help. Neither will going to the Himalayas be of any help. Only one thing can help: start looking at things without the mind. Look at the flower and don’t allow the mind to say anything. Just look at it. It is difficult because of an old habit of interpreting. You go on interpreting and interpretations differ. Interpretations depend on the mind.

Mulla Nasruddin asked the court for a divorce. He said to the judge, “Now it is impossible. Every day I come back home and I find my wife is hiding some man or other in the closet.” Even the judge was shocked and he said, “Every day?” Nasruddin said, “Every day! And not the same person either – every day a new person.”

Just to console Nasruddin the judge said, “Then you must be very much hurt. You come home tired and you think the wife must be waiting for you, to receive and welcome and be loving. And you come home and you find a new man is hiding in the closet every day. It is very Nasruddin said, “Yes, I feel very hurt – because I never had any room to hang my clothes.”

It depends on the mind how you interpret things.

Then Nasruddin deserted his wife and ran away. He was caught, again brought to the court. The judge said, “You are a deserter and you have to be punished.”

Nasruddin said, “Wait! Before you decide you must see my wife. If you see my wife you will never say that I am a deserter. You will simply say, ’Nasruddin, you are a coward!’ And that I accept. I am not a deserter, simply a coward. But first look at my wife.”

How you look at things depends on you, not on things. Unless you come to a point where you drop the interpreting mind and look direct, look immediate, mind is your mediator. It brings you things distorted, it brings you things mixed with interpretations. They are not pure.

So the only way to reach to truth is: how to learn to be immediate in your vision, how to drop the help of the mind… This agency of the mind is the problem, because mind can create only dreams. But beautiful dreams mind can create, and you can get so excited. Through your excitement the dream starts looking like reality. If you are too excited then you are intoxicated, then you are not in your senses. Then whatsoever you see is just your projection. And there are as many worlds as there are minds, because every mind lives in its own world. You can laugh at others’ foolishness, but unless you start laughing at your own you will not be able to become a man of Tao, the man of nature, the man of truth. So what to do?

Try in small things not to bring the mind in. You look at a flower – you simply look. You don’t say, “Beautiful! Ugly!” You don’t say anything! Don’t bring words, don’t verbalize. Simply look. The mind will feel uncomfortable, uneasy. The mind would like to say something. You simply say to the mind, “Be silent! Let me see. I will just look.”

In the beginning it will be difficult, but start with things in which you are not too much involved. It will be difficult to look at your wife without bringing words in. You are too much involved, too much emotionally attached. Angry or in love, but too much involved. Look at things which are neutral – a rock, a flower, a tree, the sun rising, a bird in flight, a cloud moving in the sky. Just look at things with which you are not much involved, with which you can remain detached, with which you can remain indifferent. Start from neutral things and only then move towards emotionally loaded situations.

People start from the loaded situations; they fail, because it is almost impossible. Either you love your wife or you hate, there is no in between. If you love you are mad, if you hate you are mad – and both ways the words will come. It is almost impossible not to allow the words, difficult, because of so much practice in saying something continuously.

One day I was at Mulla Nasruddin’s house in the morning. They were taking tea when I arrived. The wife said, “Darling, in the night while you were asleep, you were saying many nasty things about me.” Nasruddin looked at me and said, “Who says I was asleep? I cannot say things while awake, that’s why I was pretending sleep.”

Even in sleep, or awake, when you are emotionally too much involved, it is difficult to put the mind aside. It will come in. So look at unloaded situations first. When you have the feeling that, yes, you can look at certain things without the mind coming in, then try with loaded relationships. By and by one becomes efficient. It is just like swimming: in the beginning you feel afraid and in the beginning you cannot believe how you will survive. And you have been working with the mind so long you cannot think that without the mind you can exist for a single moment. But try!

And the more you put the mind aside, the more light will happen to you, because when there are no dreams, doors are open, windows are open, and the sky reaches to you, and the sun rises and it comes to the very heart, the light reaches you. You become more and more filled with truth as you are less and less filled with dreaming.

And if while you are awake dreaming stops, by and by when you are asleep dreaming will stop there also, because it can exist only as a continuous circle. If it is broken anywhere, by and by the whole house disappears. You take out one brick and the whole house is already on the way towards being a ruin.

If during the day you can look at things without dreaming, then in the night less and less dreams will be there, because your night is nothing but a reflection of the day, a continuity of the same. When the day is different the night is different. When you are awake – and by ‘awake’ is meant when you are not dreaming, not that you are sitting with open eyes…

Jesus goes on saying to his disciples, “Be awake!” Were they sleeping before him always, continuously? Because he is every day saying, “Be awake!” Buddha teaching his disciples every day, “Be awake!” Why? They were with open eyes, as alert as you are, but Buddha and Jesus go on saying, “Be awake!” They mean, “Don’t dream, just be here! Don’t go anywhere else!” In the memories, in the past, and you dream; in the future, in imagination, and you dream. Be here-now – only then is there no dream.

In the present there is no dream. In the present there is no mind. In the present YOU are there and the truth is there. And then there is no gap between you and truth – -because both are true and there is no boundary. You melt into truth and truth melts into you. You become Brahma, Brahma becomes you. Dreaming is creating a fence around you, very invisible but subtle, powerful.

-Osho

From Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing, Chapter Seven

Hsin Hsin Ming

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

 

Conscious While Dreaming – Osho

Will you please explain to us what are some of the other factors which can make one conscious while dreaming?

This is a significant question for all those who are interested in meditation, because meditation is really a transcending of the process of dreaming. You are constantly dreaming – not only in the night, not only while you are asleep; you are dreaming the whole day. This is the first point to be understood. While you are awake you are still dreaming.

Just close your eyes at any time of the day. Relax the body and you will feel that the dreaming is there. It never disappears; it is only suppressed by our daily activities. It is like the stars in the day. In the night you see the stars. In the day you cannot see them, but they are there always. They are simply suppressed by the sunlight.

If you go into a deep well, then you can see the stars in the sky even in the day. A certain darkness is needed to see the stars. So go into a deep well and look from the bottom, and you will be able to see the stars in the day also. The stars are there. It is not that in the night they are there and in the day they are not, they are always there. In the night you can see them easily. In the day you cannot see them because the sunlight becomes a barrier.

The same is true with dreaming. It is not that you dream while you are asleep. In sleep you can feel dreams easily because the activity of the day is no more there; thus that inner activity can be seen and felt. When you get up in the morning, the dreaming continues inside while you start acting on the outside.

This process of activity, of daily activity, simply suppresses the dreaming. The dreaming is there. Close your eyes, relax in an armchair, and suddenly you can feel: the stars are there; they have not gone anywhere. The dreams are there always. There is a continuous activity.

The second point. If the dreaming continues, you cannot be said to be really awake. In the night you are more asleep, in the day you are less asleep. The difference is relative, because if the dreaming is there you cannot be said to be really awake. Dreaming creates a film over the consciousness. This film becomes like smoke – you are surrounded by it. You cannot be really awake while you are dreaming, whether in the day or in the night. So the second thing: you can only be said to be awake when there is no dreaming at all.

We call Buddha the awakened one. What is this awakening? This awakening is really the cessation of inner dreaming. There is no dream inside. You move there, but there is no dream. It is as if there were no star in the sky; it has become pure space. When there is no dreaming, you become pure space.

This purity, this innocence, this non-dreaming consciousness, is what is known as enlightenment – the awakening. For centuries spirituality all over the world, East or West, has said that man is asleep. Jesus says this, Buddha says this, the Upanishads talk about this: man is asleep. So while you are asleep in the night you are just relatively more asleep; in the day you are less asleep. But spirituality says that man is asleep. This has to be understood.

What is meant by this? Gurdjieff, in this century, emphasized this fact that man is asleep. “In fact,” he said, “man is a sort of sleep. Everyone is deeply asleep.”

What is the reason for saying that? You cannot know, you cannot remember who you are. Do you know who you are? If you meet a person in the street and you ask him who he is and he cannot reply, what will you think? You will think that he is either mad, intoxicated, or just asleep. If he cannot answer who he is, what are you going to think about him? On the spiritual path everyone is like that. You cannot answer who you are.

This is the first meaning when Gurdjieff or Jesus or anyone says that man is asleep: you are not conscious about yourself. You do not know yourself; you have never met yourself. You know many things in the objective world, but you do not know the subject. Your state of mind is as if you had gone to see a film. On the screen the film is running, and you have become so absorbed in it that the only thing you know is the film, the story, whatsoever is appearing on the screen. Then if someone asks you who you are, you cannot say anything.

Dreaming is just the film – just the film! It is the mind reflecting the world. In the mirror of the mind the world is reflected; that is what dreaming is. And you are so deeply involved in it, so much identified with it, that you have completely forgotten who you are. This is what being asleep means: the dreamer is lost in the dreaming. You see everything except yourself; you feel everything except yourself; you know everything except yourself. This self-ignorance is the sleep. Unless dreaming ceases completely, you cannot awaken unto yourself.

You might have felt it sometimes while looking at a film for three hours, and suddenly the film stops and you come back to yourself. You remember that three hours have passed, you remember that it was just a film. You feel your tears… you have been weeping because the film was a tragedy to you, or you were laughing, or you were doing something else, and now you laugh about yourself. What nonsense you were doing! It was just a film, just a story. There was nothing on the screen – just a play of light and shadow, just an electrical play. Now you laugh: you have come back to yourself. But where were you for these three hours?

You were not at your center. You had moved completely to the periphery. There, where the film was moving, you had gone. You were not at your center; you were not with yourself. You were somewhere else.

This happens in dreaming; this is what our life is. The film is only for three hours, but this dreaming is running for lives and lives and lives. Even if suddenly the dreaming stops you will not be able to recognize who you are. Suddenly you will feel very faint, even afraid. You will try to move again into the film because that is known. You are acquainted with it; you are well adjusted to it.

For when the stopping of the dreaming happens there is a path, particularly in Zen, which is known as the path of sudden enlightenment. There are techniques in these one hundred and twelve methods, there are many techniques which can give you sudden awakening. But it can be too much, and you may not be capable of bearing it. You may just explode. You may die even, because you have lived with dreaming so long that you have no memory of who you are if there is no dreaming.

If this whole world should suddenly disappear and you alone are left, it would be such a great shock that you would die. The same would happen if suddenly all dreaming disappeared from the consciousness. Your world will disappear, because your world was your dreaming.

We are not really in the world. Rather, “the world” consists not of outside things to us, but of our dreams. So everyone lives in his own dream world.

Remember, it is not one world that we go on talking about. Geographically it is, but psychologically there are as many worlds as there are minds. Each mind is a world of its own. And if your dreaming disappears, your world disappears. Without dreams it is difficult for you to live. That is why sudden methods are not used generally, only gradual methods are used.

It is good to note this: gradual methods are used not because there is any need of gradual processes. You can suddenly jump into realization this very moment. There is no barrier; there has never been any barrier. You are already that realization, you can jump this very moment. But that may prove dangerous, fatal. You may not be capable of bearing it. It is going to be too much for you.

You are attuned only to false dreams. Reality you cannot face; you cannot encounter it. You are a hothouse plant – you live in your dreams. They help you in many ways. They are not just dreams, for you they are the reality.

Gradual methods are used not because realization needs time. Realization needs no time! Realization needs no time at all. Realization is not something to be attained in the future, but with gradual methods you will attain it in the future. So what are the gradual methods doing? They are not really helping you to “realize realization,” they are helping you to bear it. They are making you capable, strong, so that when the happening happens you can bear it.

There are seven methods through which immediately you can force your way into enlightenment. But you will not be capable of bearing it. You may go blind – too much of light. Or you may suddenly die – too much of bliss.

This dreaming, this deep sleep we are in, how can it be transcended? This question is meaningful in transcending it:

Will you please explain to us what are some of the other factors which can make one conscious while dreaming?

I will talk about two methods more. One we discussed yesterday. Today, two more that are even easier.

One is to start acting, behaving as if the whole world is just a dream. Whatsoever you are doing, remember this is a dream. While eating, remember this is a dream. While walking, remember this is a dream. Let your mind continuously remember while you are awake that everything is a dream. This is the reason for calling the world maya, illusion, dream. This is not a philosophical argument.

Unfortunately, when Shankara was translated into English, German and French, into Western languages, he was understood to be just a philosopher. That has created much misunderstanding. In the West there are philosophers – for example, Berkeley – who say that the world is just a dream, a projection of the mind. But this is a philosophical theory. Berkeley proposes it as an hypothesis.

When Shankara says that the world is a dream it is not philosophical, not a theory. Shankara proposes it as a help, as a support for a particular meditation. And this is the meditation: if you want to remember while dreaming that this is a dream, you will have to start while you are awake. Normally, while you are dreaming you cannot remember that this is a dream; you think that this is a reality.

Why do you think that this is a reality? Because the whole day you are thinking everything is a reality. That has become the attitude, a fixed attitude. While awake you were taking a bath – it was real. While awake you were eating – it was real. While awake you were talking with a friend – it was real. For the whole day, the whole life, whatsoever you are thinking, your attitude is that this is real. This becomes fixed. This becomes a fixed attitude in the mind.

So while you are dreaming in the night, the same attitude goes on working, that this is real. So let us first analyze. There must be some similarity between dreaming and reality; otherwise this attitude would be somewhat difficult.

I am seeing you. Then I close my eyes and I go into a dream, and I see you in my dream. In both seeings there is no difference. While I am actually seeing you, what am I doing? Your picture is reflected in my eyes. I am not seeing you. Your picture is mirrored in my eyes, and then that picture is transformed through mysterious processes – and science is still not in a position to say how. That picture is transformed chemically and carried somewhere inside the head, but science is still not able to say where – where exactly this thing happens. It is not happening in the eyes; the eyes are just windows. I am not seeing you with the eyes, I am seeing you through the eyes.

In the eyes you are reflected. You may be just a picture; you may be a reality, you may be a dream. Remember, dreams are three-dimensional. I can recognize a picture because a picture is two dimensional. Dreams are three-dimensional, so they look exactly like you. And the eyes cannot say whether whatsoever is seen is real or unreal. There is no way to judge; the eyes are not the judge.

Then the picture is transformed into chemical messages. Those chemical messages are like electrical waves; they go somewhere in the head. It is still unknown where the point is that the eyes come in contact with the surface of seeing. Just waves reach to me and then they are decoded. Then I again decode them, and in this way I know what is happening.

I am always inside, and you are always outside, and there is no meeting. So whether you are real or just a dream is a problem. Even this very moment, there is no way to judge whether I am dreaming or you are really here. Listening to me, how can you say that really you are listening to me, that you are not dreaming? There is no way. That is why the attitude which you maintain the whole day is carried over into the night. And while you are dreaming you take it as real.

Try the opposite; that is what Shankara means. He says that the whole world is an illusion, he says the whole world is a dreaming – remember this. But we are stupid people. If Shankara says, “This is a dream,” then we say, “What is the need to do anything? If this is just a dream, then there is no need to eat. Why go on eating and thinking that this is a dream? Don’t eat!” But then remember – when you feel hunger, it is a dream. Or eat, and when you feel that you have eaten too much, remember, this is a dream.

Shankara is not telling you to change the dream, remember, because the effort to change the dream is again falsely based on the belief that it is real; otherwise there is no need to change anything. Shankara is just saying that whatever is the case is a dream.

Remember this: do not do anything to change it, just remember it constantly. Try to remember for three weeks continuously that whatsoever you are doing it is just a dream. In the beginning it is very difficult. You will fall again and again into the old pattern of the mind, you will start thinking that this is a reality. You will have to constantly awaken yourself to remind yourself that “This is a dream.” If for three weeks continuously you can maintain this attitude, then in the fourth or fifth week, any night while dreaming you will suddenly remember that “This is a dream.”

This is one way to penetrate dreams with consciousness, with awareness. If you can remember in the night while dreaming that this is a dream, then in the day you will not need any effort to remember that this is also a dream. You will know it then.

In the beginning, while you are practicing this, it will be just a make-believe. You start just in faith… “This is a dream.” But when you can remember in dreaming that this is a dream, it will become a reality. Then in the day, when you get up you will not feel that you are getting up from sleep, you will feel you are simply getting up from one dreaming to another. Then it will become a reality. And if the whole twenty-four hours becomes dreaming, and you can feel and remember it, you will be standing at your center. Then your consciousness will have become double-arrowed.

You are feeling dreams, and if you are feeling them as dreams you will start to feel the dreamer – the subject. If you take dreams as real, you cannot feel the subject. If the film has become real, you forget yourself. When the film stops and you know that it was unreal, your reality erupts, breaks out; you can feel yourself. This is one way.

This has been one of the oldest Indian methods. That is why we have insisted on the world being unreal. We do not mean it philosophically; we do not say that this house is unreal so you can pass through the walls. We do not mean that! When we say that this house is unreal, it is a device. This is not an argument against the house.

So Berkeley proposed that the whole world is just a dream. One day, in the morning, he was walking with Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson was a hardened realist, so Berkeley said, “Have you heard about my theory? I am working on it. I feel that the whole world is unreal, and it cannot be proved that it is real. And the burden of proving it is on those who say that it is real. I say it is unreal – just like dreams. Johnson was not a philosopher, but he had a very astute logical mind.

They are on the street, just walking in the morning on a lonely street. Johnson then takes one stone in his hand and hits Berkeley’s leg. Blood oozes out, and Berkeley screams. Johnson says, “Why are you screaming if the stone is just a dream? Whatsoever you say, you believe in the reality of the stone. What you are saying is one thing, and your behavior is something different and contrary. If your house is just a dream, then to where are you returning? Where are you returning after the morning walk? If your wife is just a dream, you will not meet her again.”

Realists have always argued this way, but they cannot argue this way with Shankara because his is not a philosophical theory. It is not saying anything about the reality; it is not proposing anything about the universe. Rather, it is a device to change your mind, to change the basic fixed attitude so that you can look at the world in a different, an altogether different way.

This is a problem, continuously a problem for Indian thought – because for Indian thought everything is just a device for meditation. We are not concerned about its being true or untrue. We are concerned about its utility in transforming man.

This is emphatically different from the Western mind. When they propose a theory they are concerned with whether this is true or untrue, whether this can be proved logically or not. When we propose anything we are not concerned about its truth; we are concerned about its utility, we are concerned about its capacity, its capability to transform the human mind. It may be true, it may not be true. Really, it is neither – it is simply a device.

I have seen flowers outside. In the morning the sun rises and everything is just beautiful. You have never been outside, and you have never seen flowers, and you have never seen the morning sun. You have never seen the open sky; you do not know what beauty is. You have lived in a closed prison. I want to lead you out. I want you to come out under the open sky to meet these flowers. How am I to do it?

You do not know flowers. If I talk about flowers, you think, “He has gone mad. There are no flowers.” If I talk about the morning sun, you think, “He is a visionary. He sees visions and dreams. He is a poet.” If I talk about the open sky, you will laugh. You will start laughing, “Where is the open sky? There are only walls and walls and walls.”

So what am I to do? I must devise something which you can understand and which helps you to go out, so I say that the house is on fire and I start running. It becomes infectious: you run after me and go out. Then you will know that what I said was neither true nor false. It was just a device. Then you will know flowers and then you can forgive me.

Buddha was doing that, Mahavir was doing that, Shiva was doing that, Shankara was doing that. We can forgive them later on. We have always forgiven them because once we go out we know what they were doing. And then we understand that it was useless to argue with them because it was not a question of arguing. The fire was nowhere, but we could not understand only that language. Flowers were, but we could not understand the language of the flowers, those symbols were meaningless for us.

So this is one way. Then there is a second method at the other pole. This method makes one pole; the other method makes another pole of the same thing. One method is to start feeling, remembering, that everything is a dream. The other is not to think anything about the world, but just to go on remembering that you are.

Gurdjieff used this second method. This second method comes from the Sufi tradition, from Islam. They worked on it very deeply. Remember “I am” – whatsoever you are doing. You are drinking water, you are eating your food – remember, “I am.” Go on eating and go on remembering, “I am, I am.” Do not forget it! It is difficult because you already think that you know you are, so what is the need to go on remembering this? You never remember it, but it is a very, very potential technique.

When walking remember, “I am.” Let the walking be there, go on walking, but be constantly fixed in this self-remembering of “I am, I am, I am.” Do not forget this. You are listening to me – just do it here. You are listening to me. Do not be so much merged, involved, identified. Whatsoever I am saying, remember, go on remembering. Listening is there, words are there, someone is talking, you are – “I am, I am, I am.” Let this “I am” be a constant factor of awareness.

It is very difficult. You cannot remember continuously even for a single minute. Try it. Put your watch before your eyes and look at the hands moving. One second, two seconds, three seconds… go on looking at it. Do two things: look at the movement of the hand which is showing seconds, and continuously remember “I am, I am.” With every second go on remembering “I am.” Within five or six seconds you will feel that you have forgotten. Suddenly you will remember that “Many seconds have passed and I have not remembered ‘I am.’”

Even to remember for one complete minute is a miracle. And if you can remember for one minute, the technique is for you. Then do it. Through it you will be capable of going beyond dreams and of knowing that dreams are dreams.

How does it work? If the whole day you can remember “I am,” then this will penetrate your sleep also. And when you will be dreaming, continuously you will remember, “I am.” If you can remember “I am” in the dream, suddenly the dream becomes just a dream. Then the dream cannot deceive you, then the dream cannot be felt as reality. This is the mechanism: the dream is felt as reality because you are missing the self-remembering; you are missing ”I am.” If there is no remembering of oneself, then the dream becomes reality. If there is the remembering of oneself, then reality, the so-called reality, becomes just a dream.

This is the difference between dreaming and reality. For a meditative mind, or for the science of meditation, this is the only difference. If you are, then the whole reality is just a dream. If you are not, then the dreaming becomes reality.

Nagarjuna says, “Now I am, for the world is not. While I was not, the world was. Only one can exist.” That doesn’t mean that the world has disappeared. Nagarjuna is not talking about this world, he is talking about the world of dreaming. Either you can be or the dreams can be – both cannot be.

So the first step will be to continue remembering ”I am” constantly; simply, ”I am.” Do not say “Ram,” do not say “Shyam.” Do not use any name, because you are not that. Simply use, “I am.”

Try it in any activity and then feel it. The more real you become inside, the more unreal becomes the surrounding world. The reality becomes “I”, and the world becomes unreal. The world is real or the “I” is real – both cannot be real. You are feeling that you are just a dream now; then the world is real. Change the emphasis. Become real, and the world will become unreal.

Gurdjieff worked on this method continuously. His chief disciple, P. D. Ouspensky, relates that when Gurdjieff was working on him with this method, and he was practicing for three months continuously this remembering of “I am, I am, I am,” after three months everything stopped. Thoughts, dreaming, everything stopped. Only one note remained inside like eternal music: “I am, I am, I am, I am.” But then this was not an effort. This was a spontaneous activity going on: “I am.” Then Gurdjieff called Ouspensky out of the house. For three months he had been kept in the house and wasn’t allowed to move out.

Then Gurdjieff said, “Come with me.” They were residing in a Russian town, Tiflis. Gurdjieff called him out and they went into the street. Ouspensky writes in his diary, “For the first time I could understand what Jesus meant when he said that man is asleep. The whole city looked to me as if it was asleep. People were moving in their sleep; shopkeepers were selling in their sleep; customers were buying in their sleep. The whole city was asleep. I looked at Gurdjieff: only he was awake. The whole city was asleep. They were angry, they were fighting, they were loving, buying, selling, doing everything.”

Ouspensky says, “Now I could see their faces, their eyes: they were asleep. They were not there. The inner center was missing; it was not there.” Ouspensky said to Gurdjieff, “I do not want to go there anymore. What has happened to the city? Everyone seems asleep, drugged.”

Gurdjieff said, “Nothing has happened to the city, something has happened to you. You have been undrugged; the city is the same. It is the same place you moved around in three months ago, but you couldn’t see that other people are asleep because you were also asleep. Now you can see because a certain quality of awareness has come to you. With three months of practising “I am” continuously, you have become aware in a very small measure. You have become aware! A part of your consciousness has gone beyond dreaming. That is why you can see that everyone is asleep, dead, moving, drugged, as if hypnotized.”

Ouspensky says, “I couldn’t bear that phenomenon – everyone asleep! Whatsoever they are doing, they are not responsible for it. They are not! How can they be responsible?” He came back and he asked Gurdjieff, “What is this? Am I deceived somehow? Have you done something to me that the whole city seems asleep? I cannot believe my own eyes.”

But this will happen to anyone. If you can remember yourself, then you will know that no one is remembering himself, and in this way each goes on moving. The whole world is asleep. But start while you are awake. Any moment that you remember, start “I am.”

 

I do not mean that you have to repeat the words “I am,” rather, have the feeling. Taking a bath, feel ”I am.” Let there be the touch of the cold shower, and let yourself be there behind, feeling it and remembering “I am.” Remember, I am not saying that verbally you have to repeat “I am.” You can repeat it, but that repetition will not give you awareness. Repetition may even create more sleep. There are many people who are repeating many things. They go on repeating “Ram, Ram, Ram…” and if they are just repeating without awareness then this ”Ram, Ram, Ram…” becomes a drug. They can sleep well through it.

That is why Mahesh Yogi has so much appeal in the West, because he is giving mantras for people to repeat. And in the West sleep has become one of the most serious problems. Sleep is totally disturbed. Natural sleep has disappeared. Only through tranquilizers and drugs can you sleep; otherwise sleep has become impossible. This is the reason for Mahesh Yogi’s appeal. It is because if you constantly repeat something, that repetition gives you deep sleep; that is all.

So the so-called transcendental meditation is nothing but a psychological tranquilizer. It is nothing – just a tranquilizer. It helps, but it is good for sleep, not for meditation. You can sleep well, a more calm sleep will be there. It is good, but it is not meditation at all. If you repeat a word constantly it creates a certain boredom, and boredom is good for sleep.

So anything monotonous, repetitive can help sleep. The child in the mother’s womb sleeps for nine months continuously, and the reason for this you may not know. The reason is only the “tick-tock, tick-tock” of the heart of the mother. Continuously there is the beat, the heartbeat. It is one of the most monotonous things in the world. With the same beat continuously repeating, the child is drugged. He goes on sleeping.

That is why whenever the child is crying, screaming, creating any problem, the mother puts his head near her heart. Then suddenly he feels good and goes into sleep. Again it is due to the heartbeat. He becomes again a part of the womb. That is why even if you are not a child and your wife, your beloved puts your head on her heart, you will feel sleepy from the monotonous beat.

Psychologists suggest that if you cannot sleep, then concentrate on the clock. Just concentrate on the clock’s tick-tock, tick-tock. It repeats the heartbeat, and you can fall asleep. Anything repetitive will help.

So this “I am,” the remembering of “I am,” is not a verbal mantra. It is not going to be repeated verbally – feel it! Be sensitive to your being. When you touch someone’s hand do not only touch his hand, feel your touch also, feel yourself also – that you are here in this touch, present totally. While eating, do not only eat, feel yourself eating as well. This feeling, this sensitivity must penetrate deeper and deeper into your mind.

One day, suddenly, you are awake at your center, functioning for the first time. And then the whole world becomes a dream, then you can know that your dreaming is a dreaming. And when you know that your dreaming is a dreaming, dreaming stops. It can continue only if it is felt as real. It is stopped if it is felt as unreal.

And once dreaming stops in you, you are a different man. The old man is dead; the sleepy man is dead. That human being which you were, you are no more. For the first time you become aware; for the first time in the whole world that is asleep, you are awake. You become a buddha, an awakened one.

With this awakening there is no misery, after this awakening there is no death, through this awakening there is no more fear. You become for the first time free of everything. To be free of sleep, to be free of dreaming, is to be free of everything. You attain freedom. Hate, anger, greed disappear. You become just love. Not loving, you become just love!

-Osho

From The Book of Secrets, Chapter Six

The Book of Secrets

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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

Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.

 

 

 

Synthesis of the Opposites (Two Tales of a Tale) – Osho

Buddha used to tell the story of a man who met a tiger in the jungle. The man ran for his life, and the tiger came after him. Suddenly the man came to huge ravine and found himself standing at the top of a sheer cliff. In desperation – the tiger hot on his heels – the man climbed over the edge of the cliff, and caught hold of the root of a tree so that he was just hanging over the abyss. Above his head was the tiger, peering over the cliff’s edge and waiting. The trembling man looked down and saw yet another tiger waiting for him at the foot of the cliff, and when he glanced at the tree root to which he was clinging, he saw that it was being gnawed away by two rats – a black one and a white one! In this same moment the man noticed a ripe fruit growing there on the cliff. He somehow managed to hang on to the root with just one hand and plucked the fruit with the other. How sweet and delicious was the taste of this fruit!

Could you please explain to us the meaning of this story?

The story is even older than Buddha, but the meaning that Buddha gave to it was entirely his own. Both his meaning and the older meaning are worth understanding. The story represents the essence of the Hindu thinking. But Buddha gave it a totally new meaning, and that gave the story a completely new dimension. The way Buddha defined the story is really unique.

So first we will look into the story from the Hindu point of view. That has its own significance. And then we will also be able to see how the same symbol can become the basis for two different viewpoints. If our way of looking changes, then what we are looking at also changes. The world is in our vision, not in the objects themselves. The way the world is perceived depends entirely on the one who is looking at it.

The basis of Hindu thinking is that the world is maya – illusion. The happiness found in it are ephemeral, they are not real; one moment they are here, the next moment they are gone. Death will wipe clean the slate of life, and in fact it is doing so each moment. Those two rats, the black one and the white one, are day and night, they are eating away at the root of life. All the time we are living we are dying too; the death process begins with birth itself. No sooner is a child born than it begins to die – the two rats have begun gnawing into its life. The infant’s roots have hardly begun to develop, yet already their ending has begun. Here, life and death are together. Birth is one step, and death is the very next step – so what we call our birthday is also our ‘deathday’. Yes, there may be a certain distance in between – seventy years, or even one hundred years – but the actual distance still involves only two steps.

Birth and death are truly of the same nature. Hindus say that whatever is born will die. So whoever can see deeply will see death within birth itself. Hence birth is not really a happy event – or, if it is, then death is not to be mourned over. That you rejoice over birth and weep over death simply shows that you are blind.

Time is eating away at your roots, and with every moment that passes there is a little less of you. And Hindus say that there is no way to save yourself; nothing in the world can help you because the world is only an extension of death. No matter where you run, no matter where you hide, death will find you out. Mind thinks it will be able to find some way to be saved – in some shelter, some security, some mountain in which to hide. So the mind creates walls made of wealth, prestige and position; or knowledge, science and technology, and thinks it is safe. Man thinks there will be some way to avoid death.

But the Hindu view is that there is no way to protect yourself against death, because death is the very nature of this world. Wherever you run, death will be at your heels. The tiger in the story is death. He is after you, and sometime – today or tomorrow – you will arrive at a place where there will be no path ahead of you, and you will have to stop running away. You have reached the impasse – ahead of you is the abyss, and behind you is the tiger. And if you peer over the edge of the cliff you see death awaiting you there too. To jump off the cliff means certain death, just as the tiger means certain death, though there is still a ray of hope in the possibility of climbing down the cliff face. But then you see that another tiger awaits you at the foot of the cliff……….

Hindus say that life is surrounded by death – all the escape routes are covered, there is no way out. You can run if you want to, but it will not help; you will only exhaust yourself and reach a place where you will have to stop. And still man goes on trying! Death is there at the top of the cliff, and at the foot of the cliff, and a single slip of the hand means death. But still man tries – and he will go on searching for a way out until the very last moment of his life. He will cling to the tree root, in itself not so strong because it is being chewed away by the two rats. But man’s hope is such that he will seek aid even from a grass leaf, and find companionship even in a dream. Where nothing is possible, there too mind imagines and says that something will be possible. It is a characteristic of mind to go on hoping.

In the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the poet asks the sages, the wise ones, the knowledgeable ones: Why is it that this life, in which all seem to be unhappy, does not come to a stop? What makes it go on and on and on, although no one is happy? What is the secret?

There was no response from any source. So many scholars and learned people, but there was no answer. Then the poet asks the sky, since the sky has always been present. Everything else has changed – people have come and gone, great civilizations have lived and died, and all this the sky has seen. There is no greater witness than the sky. So the poet asks the sky, “What is the secret of life? Why does it continue?” And a voice comes from the sky, “Because of hope!”

There may be an abundance of sufferings, but hope is even larger than all of them put together. Life does not continue of happiness – happiness hardly exists at all. And if there was only suffering, then too life would break down, you would commit suicide. This is why every thinking person, at some point or other in his life, contemplates suicide; he considers closing the chapter on this life: “What is the point in every day just getting up in the morning and going to bed at night? The same meals, the same clothes, the same routine of work! There seems to be no purpose at all in constantly revolving on the same wheel. And if one is to die anyway in the end, what is so bad about dying right now? After thirty years or forty years of spinning on the same wheel one has to die, and if the abyss of death is going to engulf me anyway, why not surrender myself to it this very day? Why go through so much worry, anguish and turmoil in the meanwhile?”

So sometime or other, every sensitive person thinks of suicide. Only the stupid never think that this life is worth ending. But the thinkers, the sensitive ones, arrive many times at the point where they think of destroying themselves: “If it has to end, let it be by my own hand!”

So, suffering pervades life abundantly, with not even a trace of happiness anywhere, and yet hope says: “Tomorrow! What you cannot get today you will get tomorrow.” So suicide has to wait, not because of the quality of life, but because of hope – the hope that tomorrow the doors of heaven may open, the hope that the very next moment may bring the treasures of life. The next moment is so tempting! That is why we all live in tomorrow.

Mind is another name for hope in tomorrow. Death is hovering over our head, death is lurking beneath our feet, and we are hanging in between, clinging to roots that can give way at any moment – and even if the roots don’t break, our hands can hold on only for so long, they will soon grow tired. Yet still hope is there. Something can be done – time is still there, and thus the hope continues. In such a moment of hope a fruit, a wild strawberry is seen, or some other kind of fruit, and everything is forgotten – all the nightmarish situation you are surrounded by is forgotten.

Pleasure is ephemeral but it manages to make you forget everything else. It has a deep intoxication of its own. The taste will last only for a moment, but its unconsciousness is supreme. In that one moment it makes you forget the whole world – all the sufferings, all the troubles of the journey, all the anguishes that are past, all the anguishes that are to come. It makes you forget them all. Pleasure is momentary but it obscures the whole truth, the whole reality of Brahman.

Hindus used this story to warn you not to get lost in momentary pleasures. Remain aware, don’t try to forget death; no taste of any fruit can save you from death. Don’t give life any opportunity to make you forget its reality – neither through taste nor through greed. Don’t let life be clouded by any of your senses.

Taste is only one of the senses. The same thing could have happened through any of them. The story could well have been that the man saw a beautiful woman, or a dancing peacock, or a spectacular sunrise, or a rainbow spread across the sky – and in that moment everything was forgotten. Or the man might have suddenly caught the fragrance of an opening flower, forgetting everything as his nostrils filled with the waves of its sweet perfume. The story is only symbolic of how your senses can help you to forget. All the senses are in fact ready to go unconscious – their interest is in unconsciousness. When you are aware, the senses are dead; when the senses are awake, you are unconscious. In your unconsciousness is the awakening of the senses, in the unconsciousness of the senses is your awakening. So one of the senses arose and the taste filled up the mind, and in that moment everything within went unconscious – and in such a critical situation, when death was hovering over the man! […]

Whenever any desire catches hold of the mind, consciousness falls asleep. Or it can be said the other way round: whenever consciousness falls asleep, only then some desire catches hold of the mind. They are both interrelated. Taste is just symbolic; the opening of the door to any of the senses is the closing of the door to consciousness.

Hindus have told this story so that you don’t get lost in the momentary and forget the eternal. Does the moment have the capacity to drown the eternal in forgetfulness? This has been a matter of great debate among Hindu thinkers. They ask, “How is it that maya – the illusory – can obscure Brahman, the ultimate reality? How is it that darkness, the unreal, can cover up the light? How is it that rootless ignorance set the supreme conscious and blissful soul wandering? How could this ever have happened? If maya is illusion, how have we remained lost because of it?”

This is exactly what has happened, and you will understand it if you understand this story. Brahman disappears in the same moment precisely that we disappear. Our sleep is its disappearance. It is just like closing the eyes when the sun is rising. Compared to the sun, the eye has very little power, but even, in its powerlessness it can shut out the sun. Can the power of the eyelids be compared to that of the sun? They are so small, but they can shut out the sun! Close the eyes, and the sun disappears. You can face the Himalayas, but the moment you close your eyes, the Himalayas disappear. A tiny dust particle can cause the eyes to close – a tiny particle can bring about the disappearance of the Himalayas!

Brahman is in its place, but for us it disappears when our eyes are closed. And all our sense organs are ways to make us go to sleep. The interest of the senses is in sleep, in unconsciousness. That is why there is such objection to tamas, the state of unconscious living.

Tamas means the attitude of sleepiness; it means the sleepy state, or unconscious living. Anything that draws you into tamas enhances the world for you. The moment the man in the story tasted the fruit was the moment of his drowning in tamas. Now his consciousness is covered up – lost in taste. Except for taste everything disappeared for him – Brahman, truth, the reality that is present all around; nothing could be seen by him any more. And it often happens that when life is pain and misery, we seek unconsciousness. This is why there is such a pull for alcohol all over the world. And no matter how much the preachers go on preaching against alcohol, it does not help people at all to stop drinking, because there is so much sorrow in his life, and the preachers’ sermons do not in any way remove it. And the sorrow is so much that if a man cannot try to escape from it, what else is he supposed to do? He must either go beyond suffering, which becomes possible only once in a while for some buddha, or he must try to forget it, which is possible through alcohol. In fact all the numerous ways to get intoxicated do the same thing.

Any kind of sensuality is intoxication. When you see a beautiful woman or a beautiful man, for a moment you are in the grip of intoxication. And when I say this I don’t mean it only symbolically; now psychologists and scientists are discovering that when you look at a beautiful woman or man, the balance of hormones in your body changes. There are glands which release intoxicants into your bloodstream – so in looking at a beautiful woman, you become intoxicated. Hence it may happen that you go after her, forgetting the world and its codes of conduct, its laws and morality, and even attack her. In the law court you may maintain that you did not do anything – and this too will be true. Your body was so overwhelmingly intoxicated from within you that you did not do anything, you were not the master of the act, it just happened on its own. You did not take a conscious decision to do it, the responsibility rests with the hormones, with your body’s chemistry. Or, seeing money may drive you crazy, so much so that you may completely forget what you are doing.

Hindus used this story to indicate that even a moment of sensuality hides the eternal Brahman. But Buddha used the story quite differently. It will help if you understood some of the basic differences between Hindu and Buddhist thinking.

Hindus say that the moment is untrue; it is the eternal which is true. They say that the moment is only a dream, because “the moment” means that a moment ago it was not and a moment later it will not be. Hindu thought contends that if anything was not there the previous moment and will not be there the next moment, then its being now cannot be real. Something which was unreal at both ends cannot be real in the middle. The real – and this is the Hindu definition of truth – is only that which is eternal; that which always is, always was, and always will be; that which cannot perish and cannot be destroyed.

But the Buddhist definition is different. Hindus are eternalists, Buddha is a momentist. Buddha says that it is the moment that is true. Nothing is permanent, nothing is eternal; permanence is only a thought, an invention, a hypothesis of the philosophers; the moment alone is real. Only that which is here and now is true, there is no other truth than the moment. Buddha’s meaning is to guide us into the present. The real is here and now! This is what Buddha means by truth. There is no other time than the moment; it is always this moment that is available to us. Eternity is a concept, the moment is the reality.

What is so interesting about these two diametrically opposite points of view is that the end result of both of them is one and the same.

So let us come now to an understanding of the reality of the moment and this story as it is presented by Buddha.

Buddha says, you are running through a jungle, chased by a tiger. With death on your heels, you find yourself at the edge of a cliff, at the foot of which another tiger awaits you. Buddha does not wish to frighten you with all this. This, he says, is the very nature of life. In the Hindu explanation of the story, there is a shadow of fear in it – it has to be so because only if you fear the world of maya will you set out in search of the Brahmans. But Buddha says, “Here there is no brahma to be sought. And this alone is, whether you call it maya or whatever else. It is a fact of life that death is following you. It is your mind that causes the fear. Otherwise you will simply take it as the very nature of life, that either way death is there and we have arrived at the impasse of the cliff.”

According to Buddha, you are always at the cliff’s edge. There is never any road ahead. Movement is possible only if two moments are available. If there is only enough ground for you to stand on, where will be the road? For movement, space is needed. For the mind to move, time is needed. And this very moment is all.

So, where can you go? Where can you walk to? At the most you can be jumping up and down on the same spot, but there is no coming and going anywhere. According to Buddha, there is no journey. You are simply jogging on the spot! Buddha says you have only this moment, and in it your mind goes on jumping up and down. This is how it is that you are standing always with no road ahead anywhere. The day you see it you will stop; all your futile jumping up and down will cease.

The world is nothing but the futile jumping up and down of man’s mind and no solution comes out of it. Lives upon lives we have been doing this. Running so much, but never reaching anywhere! Walking so much, but arriving to no destination. And yet we never stop to look at what we have been doing all this time, to consider the possibility that we could have been jogging on the same spot. Otherwise one ought to reach somewhere after so much walking!

Man travels throughout his whole life, only to find himself exactly where he was at the moment of his birth. This whole journey seems to be dream stuff. It is as though, asleep at night, you dreamt that you boarded a plane and flew to New York. This is a great journey to have made, involving all kinds of preparations and procedures; but when you wake up in the morning and find yourself at home in bed, then you say it was all a dream. Why do you say it was only a dream? Because you didn’t really go anywhere. If you opened your eyes and found you were actually in New York, then you could not say it was all a dream. The very meaning of dreaming is that all the movement happens, and yet you go nowhere. Then, in the morning, you say, “It was only a dream.” If you could be tricked, so that, having dreamed of flying to New York, you awoke in the morning to find that you were actually in New York, then you would be in a dilemma! Now you would not be able to call your dream a dream, because it would be reality!

Buddha says, “The real is that which, when you walk upon it, brings you to your destination. The unreal is that which will never bring you to your destination. The unreal is that which will never bring you anywhere, no matter how far you walk upon it.” Only when your eyes are opened can you see that this long journey reaches nowhere, and that you have not moved at all! This is what Buddha means when he says that the world is a dream. Buddha also calls this world maya, illusion, but not in opposition to Brahman. For Buddha there is no Brahman at all – only maya is. And it is worth understanding.

Buddha is saying that Brahman, too, is only a new hope of your mind. You think you have dropped hoping because you have given up your hopes in wealth and the world, but really you have only transferred them to Brahman. You have come to understand that the world is worthless and offers you nothing worth having, and all of a sudden everything that is worth having is there instead in Brahman.

Previously the world was to be achieved, now the Brahman is to be achieved, but your mind has not deviated from achieving. And Buddha says that as long as there is anything to be achieved the mind is still there.

This is why Buddha says, “Spare the Brahman! Don’t bring him in, because you will turn him also into an object of your race of desires.” Until yesterday you were going towards the marketplace, now you will go towards the temple, but the going continues. Until yesterday you were accumulating wealth – counting the piles of money again and again everyday – now you will accumulate virtue, but the accumulation continues. Virtue is as much of a wealth to you as money.

And remember, just as money is also a social recognition and virtue is also a social recognition. That one hundred rupee bill of yours is a one hundred rupee bill because the society recognizes that it is so. Tomorrow if the society says, the state declares, that one hundred rupee bills are invalid; its value is not even a paise then. What we call virtue is also nothing but society’s recognition.

In India, to marry one woman is a virtue. If you marry four, you will be in trouble. So if a Hindu marries one woman it is a virtue, because without marriage you won’t be free of paternal debt – you will have no children so how can you be free of paternal debt? A Hindu marrying four women is a sin. If a Mohammedan marries four women, it is a virtue; there is no sin in it at all. The currency of four wives is recognized by Mohammedans, not by Hindus.

Virtue and sin are also currencies; they too are recognized by society. If you are alone in a jungle, what is a virtue and what is a sin there? And what will you make of your hundred rupee bill there? What is the use of your one rupee bill there? In the jungle the hundred rupee bill is nothing but a piece of paper. Your virtue is a piece of paper there, your sin a piece of paper there. Howsoever good a person you may be, you cannot earn any goodness in the forest. And how will you become good in the forest? There is no one there on whom you may bestow your kindness; there is no one there whom you may serve. How will you become bad there? There is no one there you may call names or murder. You are alone there so the sin and virtue have both disappeared. Sin and virtue are coins of the society.

So man first accumulates wealth, enlarges his bank balance; and with that too he announces only his ego: “Look how much wealth I have!” Then when he moves away from that, Buddha says, then he accumulates virtue; then he creates a bank balance of virtue. And remember, this is a matter of far more cleverness, because the ordinary bank balance may be left behind here, but the bank balance of virtue, it is hoped, will go along with you; death won’t be able to separate you from that it.

I was in a town. A sect of Mohammedans in the town believes that when their priest writes down a slip showing how many virtuous deeds a person has done, how many donations he has given in charity, and puts his signature on it, then if this slip is kept with the man in his grave when he dies, the slip travels with him and he can show it to God as a testimonial of all his good deeds and virtues.

Buddha says, do not fall into such stupidity, because this God of yours will be nothing but an extension of your own business mentality, and your ego is neither disappearing because of this nor even getting any less. Now it is attaching itself to Brahman, now you will have to achieve Brahman at any cost. Now you won’t be at rest until Brahman is in your hand, until you are able to declare, that “Look, I have not only conquered the world, I have also brought home Brahman with me.”

Your ‘I’ does not allow you to see anything else but you. Your Brahman is confined with you, your wealth confined within you; your desire will be confined with you, your prayer is confined within you.

I have heard: A rich Jew went to a Hassid mystic and said, “I want to pray, but however much I try my desires don’t leave me alone. I want to give, I want to donate in charity, but even behind this charity my greed is present, my desire to gain is present. I can forfeit but that too is a bargain, hope to get something, a hope to get even more; then I can forfeit. And however much I close my eyes, I don’t see any God. I remain full of my ‘I’. What should I do? And what is the reason for all this trouble?”

The mystic said, “You come with me.” Then he led the rich man to a window. There is clear glass on the window; outside there are trees, birds, white herons flying in the sky; the sun is shining and a few clouds are also floating in the sky. He said, “Look outside. Do you see everything?”

The rich man said, “I see everything. The glass on the window is so clear and transparent.”

Then the mystic took the man to another wall by which a mirror was hanging. He asked the man, “Do you see any difference between this glass and the previous one?”

The rich man stood in front of the mirror and nothing except his own figure was visible in the glass.

“Both are glasses;” said the mystic, “what is the difference then?”

The rich man started laughing. He said, “I get it! The difference is of a thin silver layer. On that glass there is no silver layer, on this glass there is a silver layer on its back. Because of that layer nothing is seen through it, only my own figure is seen in it. I get it! A silver layer is all around me. This is why whenever I look, nothing, no God, no Brahman is seen; only I am seen.”

This silver can be of many kinds. It can be worldly, it can be spiritual. But as long as there is any layer of desire on you – and that is the silver – you are surrounded by yourself.

Buddha made a profound declaration in the purest form ever on earth: that your Brahman is nothing but an extension of your own ego. And this is why Buddha also said that, there is no Brahman. Do not deduce by this that there is no Brahman. Because Buddha said there is no God, do not take this to mean – otherwise it will be a mistake – that Buddha denied God. When Buddha said there is no God, there is no Brahman, what he really was saying is that as far as your God, your Brahman is concerned, it is nothing more than you, it is your own game. It is a new door, a new extension, a new expansion to your own ego; there too you have set out to propagate only yourself.

This is why Buddha is so hard, because his compassion is great. He says: Neither there is any God nor any soul nor any liberation. There is nothing. Only this moment is everything. And if you come to understand Buddha’s statement that this moment is everything, and there is no time ahead, no time behind – no eternal, no timeless – then where will you go? Where will be the space for your desires to run? All means have been taken away, all passages demolished, all bridges dismantled. You will be simply standing here.

Death exists in the past, according to Buddha, because death has to precede birth. Had you not died first, how would you be born? Just as there is death after birth, so is it before birth. Death and birth are two sides of the same coin. You died in the past life, so you are born in this life. You are born in this life, so you will die again. No sooner do you die, than you will be born again. If death is one step, the other step is always present there. If birth is one step, the other step is always present there. So Buddha says: Death in the back, death in the front, in between is the birth. Between two deaths is a birth; between two births is a death. Wherever you are standing there is death on both sides – in the front as well as in the back. This is the situation. You are hanging over cliffs and ravines, and suddenly you see a beehive – in Buddha’s story it is not a fruit, it is a beehive – and a drop of honey is hanging from it which can fall any moment. Your eyes are caught with it, you have opened your mouth and you are waiting for it – and then the drop falls and Buddha says you feel: How sweet! How tasty!

If you can forget both the deaths – this is the meaning of Buddha’s story. Your hands are growing weaker and weaker and your grip is loosening; if not today then tomorrow you will lose your grip on the roots you are hanging onto – you can forget even all this and the taste in this moment can be so intense in you that nothing else remains in this moment but the taste. When you forget death, you forget yourself too. So when neither there is death, nor time, nor are you aware of the surroundings, this taste has become your enlightenment, this taste has become your meditation. And in this very moment you have become liberated; in this very moment you have known what Brahman is.

So for Buddha this story carries a very different meaning. For Buddha the very meaning of meditation is to live moment to moment, and to taste each moment with such totality that even the taster does not remain within – because that too hinders the totality. If when the drop of honey falls in your mouth and you too are present in that moment, the tasting won’t be total. No, only the taste remains, only the sweetness of the honey spreading in your mouth remains; your whole being becomes nothing but the sweetness of the honey. Nothing else remains there: no knower, no experiencer, no doer, nobody, only the sweetness of the honey goes on spreading – in that moment is enlightenment.

So, Buddha says, each sense can become a door to enlightenment. According to Buddha the trouble is not in the senses, it is in the ego. If ego uses the senses, every sense becomes a bondage. And if the ego within has faded away, then every sense becomes a liberation.

These are very contradicting things, but the ultimate result of them both is one. Whatever feels right to you. I don’t want to put you in confusion but it is necessary to tell you both the meanings of the story. Then you can yourself choose. If the first idea appeals to you, then the path of your life will be completely different. Then you will have to travel a different route. Call it the path of austerity; call it the path of will – that is the path you will have to travel: the struggle. To denounce the senses one by one and to awaken oneself from each sense. Then absorption, merging, won’t be your path; your path will be of struggle, of total will to protect and establish oneself. And the biggest difficulty that you will face in the end is that when you have gone past all the senses and no sense has any influence over you, you will find that this ’I’ which has survived in its purest form, how to merge this into Brahman? Because in fighting with each sense your ‘I’ will go on becoming stronger and purer.

This is the why in the Hindu system of spiritual discipline the last problem that arises is that how is the ascetic to dissolve his ego? – Because the ego of an ascetic is very solidified. What has an ordinary worldly person got in the name of ego? But an ascetic has……

Hindu spiritual discipline is very easy in the beginning stages, because fighting is always an easy thing. We are always to fight. We very much want to fight – fight either with others or with ourselves. Violence comes easily. Chopping off, beating up, all these make sense. We are all eager to destroy. In destruction lies our interest. So asceticism deeply appeals to us. Seeing somebody lying in a bed of thorns you too stop to look, you too get filled with awe. Somebody is standing and has not sat down since years; seeing him your head bows down. Somebody is fasting, has not drunk even water for months; you feel like going and being lost at his feet. Asceticism appeals because it is like self-torture in order to destroy oneself. But the one who is destroying is himself getting crystalized within. The body will be destroyed but the ego will be strengthened.

Hindu spiritual discipline is very easy at the first step but very difficult at the last step, because the final jump will have become an accumulated thing. That ego which you preserved and practiced for so many days, ornamented, decorated, polished and purified it so much that it has become like a clear and solid crystal – had you thrown it away on the very first day when it was like an uncut stone, then, perhaps there would have been no difficulty in throwing it away then. But now after so much asceticism you have purified it so much that there will be great difficulty in dropping it. So a Hindu seeker experiences great difficulty at the final step – how to drop this clear crystal in the feet of god?

Buddhist spiritual discipline is very difficult in the beginning – because to make the taste of senses a meditation is an arduous task. The very nature of the senses is unconsciousness, and what is meant by meditation is consciousness. So, to indulge in the pleasure of senses consciously, to indulge so totally that no ego remains within, that no indulger remains, is arduous because the senses make us go to sleep; it is for the purpose of falling asleep that we take shelter in them. And Buddha says to stay awake from the very beginning, and that one has not to control the senses with the ego but the very ego itself has to be removed. This is why Buddha says neither is there any soul inside nor any ‘I-ness’ – There simply is none within. Only you as a chariot are; there is no other charioteer within you. Move on with this very understanding.

So the beginning is very arduous, but the end is easy – Because whosoever will proceed with this understanding will not come to a day when all of a sudden he will have to throw away his enhanced ego into God. Such a man will slowly discover one day that the ego is no more there.

His disappearance will be so easy. One day he will suddenly find that “I am not, only Brahman, the ultimate reality, is.” This state Buddha has called nirvana.

But if we look at the system of spiritual discipline as a whole then both are the same. Whether it is difficulty in the beginning and easiness in the end, or easiness in the beginning and difficulty in the end, altogether both are the same thing. Both weigh equal.

Hence every seeker has to think for himself. If you want to walk with Buddha the difficulty is at the very beginning; if you want to walk with Shankara the difficulty is at the end. So it all depends on you. The difficulty itself is there, that you will have to cross over. It all depends on you – on your own inclination, your own attitude, your own life, your own type of personality. Understand them clearly and proceed accordingly – you will reach to the same place. Buddha calls it nirvana, Shankara calls it Brahman. Shankara takes you there through refining the eternal; Buddha takes you there through refining the moment.

This is why Buddha’s thinking could not take roots in India because there was a long tradition of Hindu thinking here and Hindu thinking had opposed the moment so much that it was difficult to even conceive that one can attain to truth through the moment. And Hindu thinking had opposed and controlled the senses so much – because the very definition Patanjali gave to yoga was: Chittavritti nirodhah, controlling the dispositions of the senses. This was nothing less than putting chitta, the mind, and vritti, the dispositions, into fight. There was a long tradition of it. Buddha’s statements looked contradictory to this stream and it appeared as if they would shatter the whole edifice of Hindu thinking.

Hence Hindus saw in Buddha the kind of enemy they have not been able to see in anybody else. Hindus did not oppose Mahavira that much – that is why Jainas could survive in India – because Mahavira’s spiritual discipline also is of will, of overcoming the senses. Its basic form is Hindu. Hence there is no basic gap between Jainas and Hindus. There may be differences in an ideological conversation but their structure of the personality is the same. This is why Jainas could survive in India, but it became impossible to let Buddhists survive. Buddha had to be uprooted. There was reason to uproot him: his view of the spiritual journey was absolutely contrary. That drop of honey that has dripped, one has to be dissolved in its taste so absolutely that the very drop of honey becomes Brahman. Here, in the Hindu concept, the drop of Honey which represents the senses is an illusion. In Buddha’s concept, the very drop of honey is Brahman, the ultimate truth.

Both are right. And when I say both are right, this creates even greater difficulty. It is always easy to say one right and the other wrong, because the two look opposites. And the greatest art of religion is wherever you find opposites, don’t be in a hurry to call one wrong. Religion is nothing but a name of the synthesis of the opposites. So don’t be in a hurry. The mind wants to call the opposite wrong. According to mind only one of the two can be right – how can both be right?

Life is much vaster than the mind. Mind is very narrow. In it, only one of the opposites can be right. In life, both can be right. Intellect is very small. There is no place in it to accommodate the opposites. Existence is vast, and in it are contained all opposites; there the opposites are side by side. The more your spiritual vision sharpens the more you will find that all opposites merge.

-OSHO

From Nowhere to Go But In, Chapter Eight    Nowhere to Go But In

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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There is No Ladder – Osho

Every day you talk about the ‘Earth’ and about the ‘Sky’ – About the potential and about the ultimate. But what is the ‘ladder’ in between? What is the process that happens in between? Why do you not talk about the ‘ladder’?

The ladder exists not. There is no ladder. There is no in between. There is not any gap, it is all one. The earth and sky are not disconnected. They are already joined together. They are in a deep union, communion. The very idea of the ladder arises because we have been taught that there is a gap between this world and the other. There is none. It has not to be bridged. The other shore is in this shore. You are not to go anywhere; you are not to do anything. The potential is actual, and the first step is the last step. But the mind boggles down, the mind cannot conceive it. Mind always wants to have steps, ladders.

Mind can cope with a ladder; mind cannot cope with a quantum leap. Mind can cope with evolution, mind cannot cope with revolution. That’s why mind is never revolutionary; it is always orthodox, it is always conventional. Mind cannot be revolutionary by its very nature.

You have been taught again and again that the body and soul are two, that God and the world are two. And you have been taught that you have to find God against the world, you have to go beyond the world to find God.

I am giving you a totally new message you are not to go beyond, you are to go within. The beyond is within, and the within is the beyond. All is here-now. In this very moment the whole existence is present in all its possibilities. It is only a shift of consciousness, not a ladder. It is a change of gestalt, not a ladder. Nothing changes, all remains the same – just a leap happens within you. Suddenly you start seeing things which you were not seeing but they were already present; they have always been present.

Have you looked in some gestalt psychology books? – There are pictures. A famous picture is one picture where there is an old woman, and also, hidden in the same lines, is a young woman. You can see the old woman; if you go on looking and looking and looking, suddenly a moment will come and the consciousness will shift to another gestalt and you will start seeing the young woman. If you go on looking at the young woman long enough, suddenly something will change and you will start seeing the old woman again. When you have seen both and you know perfectly well that both are there, even then you cannot see both together. Because the old woman consists of the same lines, the young woman also consists of the same lines; you can see only one at one time. At another time you can see the other, but you cannot see both together, simultaneously.

If you see the world, you cannot see God, that’s true – but God is not opposite to the world, it is just another gestalt. If you see God the world disappears. It doesn’t mean that you have transcended the world. It is the same world; just your vision has made a new gestalt. That’s why you will find it again and again, down the ages, Charavakara, Epicurus, Karl Marx – all the materialists of the world say that only matter exists, consciousness is a by-product, an epi-phenomenon. Consciousness is illusory, the real thing is matter: this is one gestalt. They are not wrong.

Then there is another tradition: Shankara, Vedantins, Berkeley, they say the world exists not, only God is; only consciousness is. Matter is illusory, Maya. They are also not wrong; that is another gestalt – but no one is absolutely true either.

The real man of understanding will say that God can be looked at as the world; the world can be looked at as God.

William James is reported to have said, “Mind is one way in which the world is assembled and things put together; matter is another” – just ways of putting and assembling things together. Neither does matter exist against mind, nor does mind exist against matter. You are body – this is a gestalt; you are soul – that is another gestalt. There is no ladder in between, because these are two gestalts.

Remember the picture again: is there a ladder between the old woman and the young woman? There is no ladder because they consist of the same lines. Nothing changes, the picture remains the same and you don’t go anywhere… but a shift, a flick in consciousness. You see things in one way, you assemble things in one way, then you see things in another way, you assemble things in another way. Neither are materialists right, absolutely right – they are not, they are partially true; nor are Vedantins right – they are partially true. They both suffer from partiality. That’s why their argument can continue forever, it will never be decisive.

Just think of two persons arguing: “In this picture there is a young woman”, and another man says “There is an old woman.” They can go on arguing forever because they have partial truth, and it can never be decisive. They will never be able to commune with each other; they will never be able to understand what the other is saying, because how can one who has seen the young woman believe that the old woman exists there in the picture? And vice- versa. The materialist and the spiritualist go on arguing.

I am neither. I am simply saying to you that which is. Both exist, but both are not separate. We call them two because we can see them in two ways.

You ask me about the ladder – there is no ladder. I am not proposing any gradual, slow progress for you here. That’s how you have lived for many lives: thinking that gradually, gradually, slowly, slowly, you will attain. If you see my point you attain right now!

But you are looking for a ladder.

Somebody has asked, “Osho, these talks are supposed to be on Sufism, but you are not saying anything about Sufism, You are saying many beautiful things but they are not Sufism.”

I am not talking about Sufism, that is true. I talk Sufism, not about Sufism! I am a Sufi, so whatsoever I say is Sufism. I am not giving you steps to move to the beyond, I am simply making my own experience available to you. I am simply sharing my being with you. This is not a message, it is a sharing. It is not a teaching, it is imparting. Being with me can reveal to you that nothing has to be achieved, that all goals are false, that all is already achieved.

I don’t want you to BECOME enlightened. I declare that you are enlightened! But you are not courageous enough; you say, “How can I be enlightened? I will have to wait. Someday I will become enlightened.” You are so cowardly – that’s why you need time even to recognize your Godhood. You have condemned yourself so much that you cannot conceive that you can be a God. Because you cannot conceive that you can be a God, you cannot conceive how Buddha can be a God, how Christ can be a God.

When Christ declares “I am God”, he’s simply saying to you “You are God. Look! I have the courage to declare. You also participate. See the point. I am as much of the flesh as you are; I am as much the body as you are.” There is nothing special about Christ; the only special thing is his courage. Otherwise he is just like you. I am just like you; the only thing is that I respect myself and you don’t respect yourself, I love myself and you don’t love yourself.

You are also very suspicious. That’s why I call myself Bhagwan. There are questions: “Why?”

Because I am! And you are also, but you are not courageous. This Buddhafield is being created so that you can gather courage, so that you can become bold, so that you can say things as they are and you can see things as they are.

I’m not supplying you with any ladder. You would like it very much, because then you can postpone. I am simply saying to you, jump… and be! Have a quantum leap!

There are not stations between you and God. The moment you are concentrated in your courage, suddenly the gestalt changes – God is revealed in millions of forms. And the moment you become God, the whole existence becomes God. If somebody says “I am God and you are not God”, then he is a cheat, he is a charlatan, he is playing a game, he is on an ego-trip.

-Osho

From The Wisdom of the Sands, Volume One, Chapter Eight

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