You said one night that awareness brings knowledge and knowledge makes man aware of many problems and sufferings within himself. But isn’t it true that awareness and knowledge give more richness, growth and depth to man’s life?
Please explain about this dialectical situation in man and the way to transcend the knowledge as well.
Ignorance is blissful because in it one is not aware of any problem. But one is not aware of the blissfulness either. It is a bliss such as when you are in a deep sleep. No suffering is there, no anxiety is there, because no problems are possible when you are asleep. With knowledge one begins to be aware of many problems, and much suffering happens. This suffering will remain unless one transcends knowledge also.
So these are three states of the human mind: the first is ignorance, in which you are blissful but not aware; the second is knowledge, in which you are aware but not blissful; and the third is Enlightenment, in which you are awake and blissful. In one sense, Enlightenment is just like ignorance and in another sense just like knowledge. In one sense, it is like ignorance because it is blissful, and unlike knowledge because there is no suffering. In another sense, it is like knowledge because there is awareness, and unlike ignorance because ignorance is an absolute absence of awareness.
Enlightenment is blissfulness with awareness. Knowledge is a passage; it is a journey. You have left ignorance, but you have not achieved Enlightenment. You are in between. That is why knowledge is a tension. Either you fall back from knowledge or you go beyond. And falling back is not possible. You have to struggle to go beyond.
It is asked whether knowledge also gives richness, growth and depth to man’s life. Of course, it gives! It gives a richness because the moment you become aware, with the expanding awareness you are expanded, with widening awareness you go on becoming greater and greater – because you are your awareness. When ignorant, you are as if you are not. You do not know that you are. Existence is, but without any depth, without any height. With knowledge you begin to feel your multi-dimensional being, and richness is given by suffering.
Suffering is not something contrary to richness. Suffering makes you rich. Suffering is painful, but suffering gives you depth. Someone who has not suffered at all will be just superficial. The more you suffer, the more you have touched deeper realms. That is why a more sensitive man suffers more and a less sensitive man suffers less. A shallow mind will not suffer at all. The deeper the mind, the deeper becomes your suffering. So suffering is also richness.
Animals cannot suffer: only man suffers. Animals can be in pain, but pain is not suffering. When the mind begins to feel the pain and to think about it, to think about the meaning of it and the possibility to go beyond it, then it becomes suffering. If you simply feel pain, it is a very shallow thing.
It has been observed that rats have a four-minute range of thinking. They can think four minutes into the future and they can think four minutes back into the past. Beyond four minutes there is nothing for them. Their range of thinking is that much. There are other mammals whose range is twelve hours. Monkeys have a range of twenty-four hours. So the world that was twenty-four hours before, drops from their consciousness, and the world that may be twenty-four hours ahead is not. Their minds have a twenty-four-hour limit, so they cannot go deep.
Man has a very wide range. From childhood to death, the whole life is his range. And for those who are more sensitive, for them the range is still greater. They can remember their past lives and they can predict events beyond this life in the future. With this range depth is gained, but also suffering.
If a rat cannot go beyond four minutes, to suffer for the future is impossible, to suffer for the past is impossible. Within three or four minutes the whole world exists, so if there was pain four minutes before, it disappears after four minutes; no memory can be maintained. If there is fear four minutes ahead, it cannot be thought about, cannot be contemplated, cannot be perceived. It is not.
With man, suffering deepens because mind can move to the past and conceive of the future. Not only that: the mind can feel someone else suffering also. Animals cannot feel this. Higher animals have certain glimpses which lower animals cannot feel. In lower animals, if some member of the group dies they just forget about it. They will move on. Death is not a problem. Neither can they conceive of their own death, nor can they conceive that something has happened to some member of their group. It is impossible. It is as if it is not. But man conceives, feels, contemplates his own suffering and also others’ suffering.
With a more sensitive mind, the sympathy can even become empathy. You are in deep pain: I feel that you are in pain; I understand; I am sympathetic. But if my mind is even more keen, more sensitive, I may begin to feel the same pain. Then it is empathy.
Ramakrishna was crossing the Ganges one day in a boat and suddenly he began to scream and cry, “Do not beat me!” No one was beating him. All those who were present with him were his disciples, devoted disciples. They said, “What are you saying? Who is beating you? Who can beat you?” Tears were coming down from his eyes and he was crying, “Do not beat me!” They were all puzzled, and then Ramakrishna showed them that just on the other bank one man was being beaten by a crowd. Then he showed his back: his back had the marks of having been beaten. They reached to the other shore and they went to the man who was beaten there. They saw his back also. They were just wonderstruck. It was a miracle. The same marks were on his back as on Ramakrishna’s back.
This is empathy. Ramakrishna suffers more than you because now it is not only his suffering. In a very subtle way, the whole world’s suffering has become his own. Wherever suffering is, Ramakrishna will suffer it. But this will give depth to Ramakrishna. Suffering itself is depth. So knowledge gives suffering and knowledge gives depth. It gives richness to life.
Socrates is reported to have said, “Even if a pig is absolutely happy, I would still prefer to be a Socrates and unhappy than to be a pig and happy.”
Why? If a pig is happy then be a pig. Why be a Socrates and unhappy? The reason is depth. A pig is just without any depth. Socrates has suffering – more than anyone else – but still he chooses to be a Socrates with his suffering. This suffering too has a richness. A pig is just poor.
It is like this: someone is in a coma, unconscious; he has no suffering. Would you like to be unconscious in a coma? Then you will be without suffering. If that is the choice, then you will choose to be yourself, whatsoever the suffering may be. Then you will say, “I will remain conscious and suffer rather than be in a coma and not suffer, because that ‘not suffering’ is just like death.” Suffering is there, but still a richness – the richness of feeling, the richness of knowing, the richness of living. [. . . .]
Love has its own suffering. Really, a life without love has less suffering, so if you can avoid love, you can avoid much suffering. If you are vulnerable to love, you will suffer more. But love gives depth, richness, so if you have not suffered love, you have not really lived. Love is a deeper knowledge.
The knowledge which we call knowledge is just acquaintance – knowing someone, something, from the outside. When you love someone, you will know him from the inside. Now it is not acquaintance. Now you have gone deeper into someone and now you will suffer more, but love will give you a new dimension of life.
So a person who has not loved has not really lived on the human plane, and because love brings so much suffering we avoid it. Everyone is avoiding love. We have invented many tricks to avoid love because love brings suffering. But then if you are successful in avoiding love, you have succeeded in avoiding a certain depth that only love can bring to your life.
Grow in knowledge and you will grow in suffering. Grow in love and you will grow more in suffering – because love is a deeper knowledge. Richness will be there, but this is the paradox – and it is to be understood deeply: whenever you become more rich, you become aware of more poverty. Whenever you feel richness, you will also feel yourself more poor. Really, a poor man – a really poor man – never feels himself to be poor. Only a rich man begins to feel a deeper poverty. If you look at a beggar, he is happy with his small coins, very happy. You cannot even conceive of how he is happy. He gathers only a few coins in the whole day, but he is so happy.
Look at a rich man! He has gathered so much that he cannot use it even, but he is not happy. What has happened? The greater your riches, the more you begin to feel yourself poor. And this happens in every direction. When you know more, you feel more that you are ignorant. A person who doesn’t know anything never feels that he is ignorant. He never feels it! It is impossible because that feeling is part of knowing. The more you know, the more you become aware that much is to be known. The more you know, the more you feel that whatsoever you have known is nothing.
Newton is reported to have said: “I have been just standing on the seashore, and whatsoever I have gathered is sand in my fist – nothing more. This is a great infinite expanse. Whatsoever I have known is just a few particles of sand in my hand, and what I do not know is this infinite expanse of the ocean!” So Newton feels more ignorant than you can feel, because that feeling is part of knowledge.
If you can love, then you can feel the impossibility of love. Then you can feel that it is virtually impossible to love someone. But if you do not love anyone, you will never become aware that love is a very arduous journey – because when you go into something, only then do you become aware of your finite capacity and the infinite encounter. When I move out of my house, then I encounter the sky. If I go on remaining in my house there is no encounter, and I may finally come to believe that this is the whole universe.
The less you know, the more confident you are. The more you know, the less is your confidence. The greater the knowledge, the more will be the hesitance of the mind even to assert, even to say, what is right or what is wrong. The less the knowledge, the more you are totally certain. Just fifty years before, science was totally certain, absolutely certain. Everything was clear and categorized.
And then came Einstein who was perhaps the first scientific mind to encounter the full expanse of the world, of the universe. Then everything became uncertain. Einstein said, “To be certain about anything shows that you are ignorant. If you know, you can at the most be relatively certain.” “Relatively certain” is just another name for uncertain. “When everything is relative,” Einstein says, “then science can never again be absolute.” And now we have come to know so much knowledge that everything is disturbed and shattered. All certainties have gone.
Mahavira, one of the most penetrating minds in the whole history of man, will not assert any statement without using “perhaps” in the beginning. If you ask him, “Is there a God?” he will say, “Perhaps God is and perhaps He is not.”
Even if you ask him, “Are you real?” he will say, “Perhaps I am real and perhaps I am not real, because in a certain sense I am real and in a certain sense I am not real. When I am going to die, how can I say that I am real? One day I will just evaporate, and you will not even be able to find out where I have disappeared. How can I say that I am real?
I will disappear just as a dream disappears in the morning. But even then, I cannot say that certainly I am unreal – because even to assert that I am unreal, a reality is needed. Even to dream, someone is needed to dream who is real.” So he will say, “Perhaps I am real and perhaps I am not real.”
Because of this, Mahavira could not gather many followers. How can you gather followers if you yourself are so uncertain? Followers need certainty, absolute dogmatism. Say: “This is right and that is wrong.” Whether “that” is right is another thing – but be confident, and then you create confidence in your followers: because they have come to know, not to inquire. They have come to feel certainties. They have come for dogmas, not for real inquiry. So a lesser mind than Mahavira will gather more followers. Really, the lesser the mind, the easier it is to become a leader, because everyone is in need of certainty; then they can feel secure.
With Mahavira everything will look uncertain. And he was so emphatic that if you asked him one question, he would give seven answers. He would give you seven answers, each answer contradicting the previous one. Then the whole thing would become so complex that you would return more ignorant than you had come.
With Einstein, for the first time the genius of Mahavira has been introduced in science. Relativity is Mahavira’s concept. He says that everything is related, nothing is absolute. And that even the diametrically opposite is also true in a certain sense. But then his statements become so qualified, so bracketed, that you cannot feel certainty with them.
That is why, in India, only 2,500,000 Jains exist. If Mahavira had converted only twenty-five families, by now they would have become 2,500,000 just by reproduction! Only 2,500,000 after twenty-five centuries? What happened? Mahavira could not convert really. Such a keen mind cannot convert. It needs a lesser mind to create followers. The more stupid the leader, the better – because he can say yes or he can say no with much confidence and without knowing anything.
What really happens when you gain knowledge? You become aware of ignorance. And, really, richness means: with polarities. You cannot be rich if you know only one part. When you know both the polar opposites, when you move in both the extremes, then you become rich.
For example, if you know only beauty and you are not aware of ugliness, your sense of beauty cannot be very deep. How can it be? It is always proportionate. The more you begin to feel beauty, the more you will begin to feel ugliness. They are not two things but a movement of one sense in two directions. But the sense is one. You cannot say that “I am aware only of beauty.” How can you be? With this sense, with the aesthetic sense of the feeling of beauty, the feeling of ugliness will come in. The world will become more beautiful, but at the same time more ugly. That is the paradox.
You begin to feel the beauty of the sunset, but then you also begin to feel the ugliness of the poverty all around. If a person says, “I feel the beauty of the sunset and I do not feel the ugliness of poverty and the slums,” he is just deceiving either himself or others. It is impossible! When a sunset becomes beautiful, slums become ugly. And against a sunset, when you look at the slums, you will be in heaven and hell simultaneously. Everything is this way and everything is bound to be this way. One thing will create its opposite.
So if you are not aware of beauty, you will not be aware of ugliness. If you are aware of beauty, you have become aware of ugliness also. You will enjoy, you will feel the bliss of beauty, and then you will suffer. This is part of growth. Growth always means the knowledge of the extremes which constitute life. So when man becomes aware, he also becomes aware that he is not aware of many things and that because of that he suffers.
Many times, I have seen, observed, persons coming to me for meditation. They say, “I am very much disturbed, with pains inside, sufferings. Somehow, help me to still my mind.” I suggest to them something to do, then in a week they come back and say, “What have you done? I have become more disturbed!”
Why did it happen? Because when they begin to meditate, when they begin to feel a certain silence, they begin to feel the disturbance more. Against that silence, the disturbance is felt more keenly. Before they were simply disturbed, without any silence inside. Now they have something to judge against, to compare against. Now they say, “I am going mad.”
So whenever someone begins meditation, he will become aware of many things of which he was not previously aware, and because of that awareness he will suffer. This is how things are, and one has to pass through them.
So if you start meditation and you do not suffer, it means it is not meditation, but just a hypnosis. That means you are just drugging yourself. You are becoming more unconscious. With a real, authentic meditation you will suffer more, because you will become more aware. You will see the ugliness of your anger, you will feel the cruelty of your jealousy, you will now know the violence of your behavior. Now, in every gesture, you will begin to feel somewhere a hidden animal in you, and you will suffer. But this is how one grows. Growth is a painful birth. The child suffers when it comes out of the womb, but that is part and parcel of growth.
So it is right that awareness and knowledge bring more richness and growth and depth in man’s life – not because man doesn’t suffer, but because man suffers.
If someone has led just a smug existence – as it happens in rich families – you will feel, you will observe, that if a person is born rich, if he has lived without knowing suffering, without knowing the pain of living, without knowing anything, then whenever there is a demand, even before the demand the supply is there. He has not suffered hunger, he has not suffered love, he has not suffered anything. Whatsoever is demanded is supplied – rather. it is supplied even before the demand is there. But then look in the eyes of that man: you will not find any depth. It is as if he has not lived. He has not struggled; he does not know what life is.
That is why it is always very difficult to find any depth in such men. They are superficial. If they laugh, their laughter is superficial. It just comes from the lips, never from the heart. If they weep, that weeping is superficial. It is not from the depths of the being: it is just a formal thing. The more the struggle, the more the depth.
This depth, this richness, this knowledge, will create such a complexity that you would like to escape from it. When you suffer, you want to escape from it. If you are looking to escape from suffering, then alcohol can become appealing or LSD or marijuana or something else.
Religion means not escaping from suffering but living with it: living with it, not escaping! And if you live with it, you will become more and more aware. If you want to escape, then you will have to leave awareness. Then, somehow, you will have to become unconscious.
There are many methods. Alcohol is the easiest, but not the only method and not even the worst. You can go and listen to music and become absorbed in it; then you are using music as alcohol. Then for the time being, your mind is diverted toward music and you have forgotten everything else. Music is working as alcohol for everything else. Or you can go to a temple, or you can do japa. You can use these things as alcohol, as an intoxicant.
Anything which makes you less aware of your suffering is antireligious. Anything that makes you more aware of your suffering, and which helps you encounter it without escaping, is religious. That is what tapas – austerity – means. Tapas means this: not escaping from any suffering, but remaining there and living with it with full awareness. If you do not escape, if you remain there with your suffering, one day suffering will disappear and you will have grown into more awareness.
Suffering disappears in two ways. You become unconscious; then suffering disappears for you. But really, suffering remains there. It cannot disappear. It remains there! Really, your consciousness has disappeared, so you cannot feel it, you cannot be aware of it. If you become more conscious, in the meantime you will have to suffer more.
But accept suffering as a part of growth, as a part of training, as just a discipline, and then one day, when your consciousness has gone beyond your suffering, suffering will disappear not just for you – it will disappear objectively. Use suffering as a stepping-stone; do not escape from it. If you escape from it, you are escaping from your destiny, from the possibility of going beyond knowledge by using suffering as a device.
Mahavir has said, “Sometimes it happens that there is no suffering. Then create suffering, but do not lose any moment to create more awareness.” Mahavir would go on long fasts in order to create suffering, to encounter it, because through encounter awareness grows. He would live naked. It may have been summer, it may have been winter, it may have been the rainy season, but he would live naked, he would move naked. In every village, when he would move naked, everyone would become his enemy. They would create many sufferings for him, but he would not speak. For twelve years he was totally silent. If someone beat him, he would not speak. One could do whatsoever one liked, but he would not react. These were consciously created sufferings.
Buddha was not in agreement with Mahavira’s ideology, but even then, Buddha has called him mahatapaswi – the great ascetic. Really, no one is comparable to Mahavir in creating conscious suffering for himself. Why? When you can live with suffering consciously, you grow, you transcend it. Really, whenever you are in suffering you have an opportunity, so use it. Whenever you are not in suffering, this time will ultimately prove to be just a wastage. Only the moments when you are in suffering can be used. But, unfortunately. we try to escape suffering. We have been doing that for lives and lives.
Make an experiment, any experiment, and see what happens. The night is cold and you are on the terrace standing naked: feel the coldness; do not escape from it. Let it be there, and you remain there. Feel it, move with it, live with it, and see what happens: Beyond a certain point coldness will be there, you will be there, but there will be a gap between you and the coldness. Now the coldness cannot penetrate to you. You have transcended.
You are hungry: remain in it, and beyond a point you will know that you are not hungry. Hunger is somewhere else, and there is a gap between you and the hunger. When you begin to feel the gap, you will transcend it.
But there is no need to create suffering because suffering is already so much there. There is no need! Every day there is suffering. Suffer it consciously; do not try to escape. Then you have a key, a secret key to transform your suffering into a blessing.
This is what tapas means. It is an alchemical process. Then you transform the lower into the higher, the base metal into gold. But the baser metal has to pass through fire and the false must burn. Only then can the authentic emerge out of it. So knowledge is a fire. The ignorant soul must pass through this fire, and only then will the pure gold come out of it.
That pure gold is Enlightenment. When you have faced every suffering with consciousness, suffering will dissolve, disappear, because the very reason for it will have disappeared. You will go on and on, and suffering will be left behind and you will become a peak. This peak will have gone beyond it. This is Enlightenment.
There are three states: ignorance, knowledge, Enlightenment. Go beyond ignorance, but do not forget that knowledge is not the end. That is only the means. You have to go beyond it also. And when someone goes beyond knowledge, he becomes a Buddha. Then he is wise, not learned; wise, not more informed. It is not that he is more knowledgeable: he is simply wise, simply more aware.
So knowledge is good because it brings you out of ignorance, and knowledge is bad if you begin to cling to it. If it becomes a clinging, it is bad. Use knowledge to go beyond ignorance, and then through knowledge go beyond it.
Buddha tells a story which he liked very much. He reported this story thousands and thousands of times. He says knowledge is like a raft. You cross a river on a raft, and then you leave the raft and the river, and you move on.
Buddha says that there were five very learned men. They crossed the stream on a raft, and then they thought and pondered: “Because this raft has helped us to cross this stream, we must carry this raft on our heads. Now how can we be ungrateful? This is simply gratitude.”
So those five learned men carried that raft on their heads into the market. Then the whole village gathered and asked, “What are you doing? This is something new.”
They said, “Now we cannot leave this raft. This raft has helped us to cross the stream, and these are the days of rains and the river is flooded. It was impossible without this raft. This raft is a friend, and we are just being grateful.”
The whole village laughed. They said, “Yes, this raft was a friend, but now this raft is an enemy. Now you will suffer because of this raft, now it will be a bondage. Now you cannot move anywhere, now you cannot do anything else.”
Knowledge is a raft to go beyond ignorance, but then you must not begin to carry it on your head as these learned persons carried it. Really, it is not right to say “carry it”, because the burden becomes so much that you cannot even move. Throw this raft! It is difficult to throw because it has saved you. You have come across a stream with it.
And your logic may run in this way; “If we throw this raft, then we will be again in the same situation in which we were before, before the raft was used.” This looks logical, but it is not – because when there was no raft you were on one bank of the stream; when you have used the raft you have come to another bank of the stream, and if you throw it you will not be in the same situation again.
Man is afraid of throwing knowledge because he fears that he will again become ignorant. You cannot become ignorant again. A person who has known cannot fall back into ignorance. But if he now clings to this knowledge, he cannot go beyond either. Throw it! You are not going to fall back into ignorance. You will rise into Enlightenment.
One rises into knowledge by throwing ignorance, and then one rises into Enlightenment by throwing knowledge. So it is good to teach knowledge to the ignorant, and it is good to teach again a different kind of ignorance to the knowledgeable ones. One has to become ignorant in a different dimension, with a different quality, just by throwing knowledge.
So it is inevitable that one must come to knowledge, but then it is not inevitable that one must remain there. You must pass through it. That is a must, it cannot be avoided; but you must not remain there. You must move – move from knowledge: this is what is meant.
How to transcend this knowledge? As I said, if you become aware of suffering, you transcend it. If you become aware of your knowledge, you transcend knowledge. Awareness is the only technique of transcendence, whatsoever may be the problem. Awareness is the only technique of transcendence!
You know many things; then you become identified with your knowledge. Then if someone denies your knowledge or contradicts it, you feel hurt, as if he has denied you or as if he has contradicted you. Your knowledge is something different from you. Feel the gap. You are not your knowledge.
The moment you can feel this, that “I am not my knowledge,” then try to be aware of it. Be aware that “This I know, this I do not know, and that which I know may be right or may not be right.” Do not become mad with it, do not become involved.
Socrates used to say, he would say always, “As far as my knowledge goes this seems to be true – only seems to be true. And that is only as far as my knowledge goes. It may not be true because knowledge can go further; it may not be true because it only appears to be true to me.” Then if someone contradicts him, he cannot feel hurt. Rather, that person is helping him. Why should he feel hurt?
If someone says, “You are wrong,” he is giving you more knowledge – something more, something different., If you are not identified, you will feel grateful; if you are identified, you will feel hurt. Then it is not a question of knowledge: it is a question of an egoist cycle. Then it is not that he has said, “Whatsoever you say is wrong.” Really, he has said, “you are wrong.” You feel it that way. If you feel it that way, then you can never be aware of your knowledge. Be aware! It is an accumulation, but it has helped. It has utility.
The Buddhist, the Zen Buddhist word for knowledge is upaya. They call it is just an instrument. Use it, but do not be mad, do not become obsessed with it, do not be identified with it. Remain aloof, remain detached. This aloofness, this remaining detached, is the first necessity. And then be aware. Whenever you are saying something, say it with a clear awareness that it is not you, but only your knowledge. This awareness will lead you beyond it.
So whatsoever may be the problem, being identified with it will create unconsciousness, and you will fall back. Being aware of it will create consciousness, and you will go beyond.
From The Ultimate Alchemy, V.2 #9, Q1
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 in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.