The Deepest Freedom – Dipa Ma

The Deepest Freedom

“Gradually I became acquainted with suffering,

the cause of suffering,

the arising of suffering,

and the end of suffering.”

DIPA MA BELIEVED, unconditionally, that enlightenment—total liberation of the mind and heart—is the purpose of human life and the primary reason for meditation practice. She never tired of reminding her students: “You must practice to know at least one stage of enlightenment. Otherwise you have not made use of your human life.”

In the Theravada tradition, little is written about the actual experience of enlightenment. The reticence of many teachers on this subject is largely to avoid setting up an attitude of striving. This chapter brings enlightenment experiences out into the open, with the aim of showing that there is nothing secret or supernatural about them. Although it might be inferred from these stories that enlightenment can happen rather easily, there are also stories of awakening taking many years or even decades.

While there is no “right way” on this path, and consequently nothing to judge, compare, or anticipate, Joseph Goldstein offers this important caveat: “The experience of enlightenment is about letting go of ‘self.’ Over the years, I’ve seen people who have experienced enlightenment use it to create more self. They attach to the experience and identify with it. This is missing the point, and it can create a lot of suffering.”

Kamikaze yogi

My first two three-month retreats were blasting through, “bliss bomb”–type retreats, where I described myself as a kamikaze yogi. But my third three-month retreat was weeping from the first day until the end. At times, I would have such incredible internal aching and tearing apart that I thought I couldn’t sit more than five minutes. At first, when I reported this to Dipa Ma, she suggested I just “note it.”

But finally there was a certain point where I really thought I was going to explode if I sat any longer. Dipa Ma sat down next to me, took my hand, held it and caressed it with love and gentleness, like caressing a baby. While she was doing this, she assured me, “If you make it through this, you will earn great merit.”

Doing this, she gave me an absolute transmission of her confidence and love. My doubt disappeared; I totally believed her words. I went back to the hall and sat on my cushion, and . . . something just opened up. I don’t know how much I should describe of it. I started to have experiences like you see in the classical texts on enlightenment. She was guiding me with special resolutions during this time.

I am grateful that she kept me practicing. Even though for two and a half months I was racked with restlessness and achiness and wanted to “roll up the mat” and go home, she kept me going.

-Anonymous

Did you get enlightened?

Dipa Ma came to teach a class at my school for three weeks. At the end of the class, we were to do a weekend intensive retreat with her. The day before the intensive she said to me, “You are going to have a ‘realization experience’.” I wondered, “What is this supposed to mean?”

That night, I meditated for a while, and then I got up because I was getting very sleepy. I went back to my room, and something shifted. I realized I needed to go back and meditate some more, so I went back to meditate, and I got extremely concentrated.

There was simply the watching of my breath. I was noting every microcosm of the rising and falling, every little bit, and I had the ability to watch the intentions of thoughts coming. It was like a bubble that would break, then the thought would be there, then it would pass, and there would be stillness, then another intention of the thought would arise, then break like a bubble on the surface of water and so on. It was not me doing this, because I absolutely had no capacity for that level of concentration. I think it was simply by Dipa Ma’s grace. There was incredible stillness, and a huge amount of space in between thoughts where nothing was going on.

Then there was a huge shift in awareness, as if I went “out” somewhere where attention reversed. There was no body anymore, just the arising and passing away of things. It completely blew me away.

The next day Dipa Ma asked me, “Well, did you get enlightened?” Later, because I was so new at meditation—I didn’t have a background or context for this experience—a lot of fear came up. First there was this incredible insight, then fear arose when I saw that everything was being annihilated moment after moment. My mind became so confused; I didn’t have the ability to watch the confusion, and it was a long time before the experience matured in me. It was three years before I had the desire to meditate again.

-Anonymous

Enlightenment was rather matter-of-fact to Dipa Ma’s Indian students. Jack Engler recalls that they practiced within the context of their families and daily life. “When Dipa Ma recognized a certain kind of ripeness in them, she would say, ‘Arrange your affairs, see if you can get two weeks off from the family, and come and stay in this room next to me and just devote yourself for ten or fourteen days to this practice.’ That’s when enlightenment happened to them. That is all the intensive practice they did, and even then, some of them had to return home during that time to take care of family matters.”

Just two or three days

I took my mother [Dipa Ma’s sister Hema] every evening to the monastery, and once I met a Burmese lady there who told me about her practice at home with her small children. She worked in the day, and she did meditation at night when her children were asleep. Within two months, she said, she finished the first stage [of enlightenment].

So I took that example while I was teaching full time and studying in my master’s program. I got up at 4 AM and meditated until 5:30 AM. I went to school until 3:30 PM, then I took my mother to the monastery. After that I would do my homework until 9 PM. Then I would do walking meditation for an hour with my dog. Then I would sit for another hour until 11 PM. At 11, I went to sleep.

All the time, on the bus to school, during my classes, everywhere, I practiced noting [mentally noting each sensory experience]. After about two or three weeks, Munindra told me to take my vacation and come and meditate. I told him it was impossible to take time off school, and he said, “Well, just two or three days will do.” So I went for Thursday through Sunday. Since there was so little time, I decided to stay up all night Thursday, and I kept meditating into Friday.

On Friday night at about 1 AM, I thought something “went wrong.” In the morning, I told my mother and Dipa Ma that something strange had happened. They started laughing and laughing. They told me it was the first stage, and they were very glad for me.

-Daw Than Myint

Okay, a tiger is coming

On the very first day I met her, Nani [Dipa Ma] gave me meditation instructions and told me, “You can practice at home.” I went home that afternoon and immediately started practicing for twenty days. During the twenty days of meditation, I felt I had a high fever, I felt like a hot iron was penetrating my body. Then I saw snakes everywhere, and tigers were jumping at me. I reported this to Nani, and she told me, “Don’t worry. Don’t take any medicine. You have a fever, but it is not a disease: it will spontaneously leave. Just be mindful of it. Just feel it and note it. When snakes or tigers come, don’t worry. Just notice, ‘Okay, a tiger is coming.’ That is all.”

Then I began having vivid pictures of dead bodies. I saw many, many dead bodies in an arid place, and I had to walk on the dead bodies. I was terrified. Nani said, “Don’t fear. Just make a mental note of ‘seeing.’ These visions are from our many births. What we have done in previous births often comes to mind in meditation.” From her instruction, I noted, “seeing a dead body,” and “walking on dead bodies.” I also kept noting, “I’m seeing in my mind.”

Soon there was just awareness, everything stopped, my mind became clear and peaceful, and I came to awaken. All my pains were eradicated. I came to understand what was my body, what was my mind, and what was the way of meditation. There was no turning back. After twenty days, I left my seat and went out into the world.

-Jyotishmoyee Barua

This most precious thing

When I was doing my research in Calcutta, Dipa Ma brought her neighbor to me, a sixty-five-year-old woman whose name was Madhuri Lata. She had raised her family, her children were gone, and, unlike most Indian families, she was alone with her husband, with no extended family living in the same household. Her husband had said to her, “You have nothing to do now. This ‘aunt’ of yours, Dipa Ma, teaches this meditation practice. Why don’t you talk with her? It’ll give you something to do.”

Madhuri, who had mild developmental delays, went to Dipa Ma, and Dipa Ma gave her the basic instructions [to place her attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen with each inhalation and exhalation and] to note to herself “rising, falling, rising, falling.” Madhuri said, “Okay,” and started to go home, down four flights of stairs and across the alley to her apartment. She didn’t get halfway down the stairs before she forgot the instructions. So, back she came. “What was I supposed to do?” she asked. “Rising, falling, rising, falling,” said Dipa Ma. “Oh, yes, that’s right.”

Four times, Madhuri forgot the instructions and had to come back. Dipa Ma was very patient with her. It took Madhuri almost a year to understand the basic instructions, but once she got them, she was like a tiger. Before she began to practice, Madhuri was bent over at a ninety-degree angle with arthritis, rheumatism, and intestinal problems. When I met her, after her enlightenment experience, she walked with a straight back. No more intestinal problems. She was the simplest, sweetest, gentlest woman. After she told me her enlightenment story, she said, “All this time, I’ve wanted to tell someone about this wonderful thing that happened to me, and I’ve never been able to share this before, this most precious thing in my life.”

-Jack Engler

All emotion is from thinking

Despite severe emotional difficulties, a Vietnamese monk, Venerable Khippa-Panno, was able to attain insight with Dipa Ma’s encouragement. In 1969, he had gone on a retreat during which, for five days, he was unable to stop laughing and crying. His teacher, deciding Khippa-Panno had gone mad, told him to stop the retreat and return home. When Dipa Ma heard this, she invited Khippa-Panno to practice with her.

For a whole month, I practiced at her house. She advised me, “You will overcome this difficulty. If everything is noted, all your emotional difficulties will disappear. When you feel happy, don’t get involved with the happiness. And when you feel sad, don’t get involved with it. Whatever comes, don’t worry. Just be aware of it.” On a later retreat, when I felt the craziness come, I remembered her words. I had so much difficulty with the emotions that I wanted to leave the retreat, but I remembered her faith in me, and her saying, “Your practice is good. Just note everything, and you will overcome the difficulty.” With this knowledge of her confidence in me, my concentration got deeper. Soon I came to see that all emotion was from thinking, nothing more. I found that once I knew how to observe the thoughts that led to the emotions, I could overcome them. And then I came to see that all thoughts were from the past or the future, so I started to live only in the present, and I developed more and more mindfulness. . . . I had no thoughts for a period of time, just mindfulness, and then all my emotional difficulties passed away. Just like that! And then I had an experience. I wasn’t sure what it was. It was only a moment, and there wasn’t anyone to confirm it at the time. My emotional problems have never returned. Later, in 1984, when I saw Dipa Ma in America, she took me aside and asked about my meditation. When I told her, she told me that I had completed the first stage [of enlightenment]. She told me like a mother would tell a child. -Venerable Khippa-Panno

From Dipa Ma, Chapter Six, Schmidt, Amy. Windhorse Publications Ltd. Kindle Edition.

 

Meditation is Love – Dipa Ma

Meditation is love.” Dipa Ma

Dipa Ma Barua was a Buddhist Icon and Master Teacher.

Dipa Ma was a woman of extraordinary wisdom, concentration, and loving kindness. She was a rare example of a mother and grandmother who became a realized Buddhist Master through her unwavering determination and heart. Dipa Ma taught many of the Vipassana Buddhist teachers in the West, and the stories about her continue to inspire Buddhists and spiritual seekers today.

 

About Dipa Ma

Born 1911- Died 1989

Taught Vipassana Buddhism in Myanmar/Burma, India and USA.

Gotama Buddha’s familiar story follows the archetypal hero’s journey: he left behind wife and child and renounced the ordinary world to seek the holy life. Dipa Ma followed a similar path, but with an unexpected turn. Ultimately she took her practice home again, living out her enlightenment in a simple city apartment with her daughter. Her responsibilities as a parent were clarified by her spiritual practice; she made decisions based not on guilt and obligation but on the wisdom and compassion that arose from meditation. Instead of withdrawing to a cave or a forest hermitage, Dipa Ma stayed home and taught from her bedroom—appropriately enough, a room with no door.

Nani Bala Barua, later known as Dipa Ma, was born in 1911 in a village on the plains of Chittagong in what is now Bangladesh. The indigenous Buddhist culture there traces its lineage in an unbroken line back to the Buddha. By the time Dipa Ma was born, meditation practice had almost disappeared among her clan, but they continued to observe Buddhist rituals and customs.

Though intensely interested in Buddhism from a young age, like most Asian women of her era Dipa Ma had little opportunity to undertake serious spiritual training. However, by midlife she came to devote herself fully to meditation, attaining profound levels of insight in only a short time. She found a way to incorporate her family into her spiritual journey and went on to teach specific techniques for practicing mindfulness in the midst of everyday activities.

Dipa Ma’s influence has been widely felt in the West, in part due to her relationship with the three founders of the Insight Meditation Society. She was a primary teacher of Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg, as well as one of Jack Kornfield’s teachers. Kornfield recalls that Dipa Ma’s first questions were always, “How are you feeling? How is your health? Are you eating well?” No matter who showed up or what state they were in, Dipa Ma reached out to them with love. Both Salzberg and Goldstein call her “the most loving person I have ever met.”

IMS teacher Michele McDonald-Smith considers meeting Dipa Ma a turning point in her life. “At the time I met her,” McDonald-Smith says, “there were mostly male role models—male teachers, male buddhas. To meet a woman householder who lived with her daughter and grandson—and who was that enlightened—it was more profound than I can put into words. She embodied what I deeply wanted to be like. For me as a woman householder, I immediately felt, ‘If she can do this, I can do this, too.’”

For lay people who are committed to dharma practice but unlikely to leave home, work and family to live in a temple or monastery, Dipa Ma is a vivid example of what is possible. Even the name she went by suggests her identity as an enlightened householder. After giving birth in middle age to a much-longed-for child, a daughter named Dipa, Nani Bala Barua got the nickname “Dipa Ma,” meaning “mother of Dipa.” The word dipa means “light or lamp of the dharma,” thus the name “mother of light” united the two salient features of her life—dharma and motherhood.

Dipa Ma’s early life followed the expected path of a village girl in East Bengal. At age twelve, she married Rajani Ranjan Barua, an engineer twice her age, who left one week after their wedding to take a job in Burma. After two lonely years in her in-laws’ home, she was sent to Rangoon to join her husband. To the couple’s great disappointment, the young Dipa Ma was unable to become pregnant and to add to this difficulty, her mother died while she was still adjusting to her new life. Although she was eventually able to bear children, she lost two as infants and then fell seriously ill herself. Through it all, Rajani was patient, loving, and wise. The couple adopted her much younger brother, Bijoy, and Rajani suggested to his grieving wife that she treat every person she met as her own child.

Dipa Ma raised her younger brother, gave birth to Dipa, and looked after her husband. However, in her mid-forties, after Bijoy had grown up and left home, Rajani died suddenly, leaving Dipa Ma devastated. For several years she was confined to her bed with heart disease and hypertension, scarcely able to care for herself and her young daughter, and she believed she would soon die if she did not find a way to free herself from her burden of grief. She resolved to learn meditation, convinced it was the only way she could save herself. Soon after, she dreamed of the Buddha softly chanting these verses from the Dhammapada:

Piyato jayati soko,
piyato jayati bhayam
piyato vippamuttassa,
natthi soko kuto bhayam.

Clinging to what is dear brings sorrow.
Clinging to what is dear brings fear.
To one who is entirely free from endearment
There is no sorrow or fear.

Awakening from the dream, Dipa Ma felt a calm determination to devote herself fully to meditation practice. She turned over everything she had been left by her husband to a neighbor, whom she asked to care for her daughter, and arranged to go to the Kamayut Meditation Center in Rangoon, intending to spend the rest of her life there.

Early in the morning during her first day at the center, Dipa Ma was given a room and basic instructions and told to report to the meditation hall late that afternoon. As she sat in meditation through the day, her concentration rapidly deepened. Later, on her way to the meditation hall, she suddenly found herself unable to move. For several minutes, she couldn’t even lift a foot, which puzzled her. Finally she realized that a dog had clamped its teeth around her leg and wouldn’t let go. Amazingly, her concentration had become so deep even in those first few hours of practice that she had felt no pain. Eventually, the dog was pulled away by some monks. Dipa Ma went to a hospital for rabies injections and then returned home to recuperate.

Once home, her distraught daughter would not allow her to leave again. With her characteristic practicality and resourcefulness, Dipa Ma recognized that her spiritual journey would have to take a different form. Using the instructions given at her short retreat, she patiently meditated at home, committing herself to the diligent practice of awareness, moment by moment.

After several years, Munindra, a family friend who lived nearby, encouraged Dipa Ma, then fifty-three years old, to come to the meditation center where he was studying under the renowned teacher Mahasi Sayadaw. By her third day there, Dipa Ma entered into much deeper concentration. Her need for sleep vanished, along with her desire to eat. In the following days, she passed through the classic phases of the “progress of insight,” which precede enlightenment. On reaching the first stage, her blood pressure returned to normal, her heart palpitations decreased dramatically, and the weakness that had made her unable to climb stairs was replaced with a healthy vigor. Finally, as the Buddha had predicted in her dream, the grief she had carried for so long vanished.

For the rest of the year, Dipa Ma went back and forth between home and the meditation center, where she rapidly progressed through further stages of enlightenment. (As described in the Visuddhimagga, the Theravada tradition recognizes four such stages, each producing distinct, recognizable changes in the mind.) People who knew her were fascinated by her change from a sickly, grief-stricken woman to a calm, strong, healthy, radiant being.

Inspired by this transformation, Dipa Ma’s friends and family including her daughter, joined her at the meditation center. One of the first to arrive was Dipa Ma’s sister, Hema. Although Hema had eight children, with five still living at home, she managed to make time to practice with her sister for almost a year. During school breaks, the two middle-aged mothers would have as many as six children between them. They lived together as a family, but followed strict retreat discipline, practicing silence, no eye contact, and no eating after noon.

In 1967, the Burmese government ordered all foreign nationals to leave the country. The monks assured Dipa Ma that she could get special permission to stay, an unprecedented honor for a woman and single mother, someone with essentially no standing in society. However, though she wanted to stay in Rangoon, Dipa Ma decided to go to Calcutta, where her daughter would have better social and educational opportunities.

Their new living conditions were modest, even by Calcutta standards. They lived in a small room above a metal-grinding shop in the center of the city. They had no running water, their stove was a charcoal burner on the floor, and they shared a toilet with another family. Dipa Ma slept on a thin straw mat.

Soon word spread in Calcutta that an accomplished meditation teacher had come from Burma. Women trying to fit spiritual training in between the endless demands of managing their households appeared at Dipa Ma’s apartment during the day, seeking instruction. She obliged by offering individualized teaching tailored to full lives—but with no concessions to busyness.

Dipa Ma’s long career of guiding householders had already begun in Burma. One of her first students, Malati, was a widow and a single mother who was caring for six young children. Dipa Ma devised practices Malati could do without leaving her children, such as bringing complete presence of mind to the sensation of her infant nursing at her breast. Just as Dipa Ma had hoped, by practicing mindfulness when she nursed her baby Malati attained the first stage of enlightenment.

In Calcutta, Dipa Ma addressed similar situations again and again. Sudipti was struggling to run a business while caring for a mentally ill son and an invalid mother. Dipa Ma instructed her in Vipassana practice, but Sudipti insisted that she couldn’t find time for meditation because she had so many family and business responsibilities. Dipa Ma told Sudipti that when she found herself thinking about family or business, she could simply think about them mindfully. “Human beings will never solve all their problems,” she taught. “The only way is to bring mindfulness to whatever you are suffering. And if you can manage only five minutes of meditation a day, you should do that.”

At their first meeting, Dipa Ma asked Sudipti if she could meditate right then and there for five minutes. “So I sat with her for five minutes,” Sudipti recalls. “Then she gave me instructions in meditation anyway, even though I said I had no time. Somehow I found five minutes a day, and I followed her instructions. And from this five minutes, I became so inspired. I was able to find longer and longer times to meditate, and soon I was meditating many hours a day, into the night, sometimes all night, after my work was done. I found energy and time I didn’t know I had.”

Another Indian student, Dipak, remembers Dipa Ma teasing him: “Oh, you are coming from the office; your mind must be very busy.” But then she would fiercely command him to change his mind. “I told her that working in a bank there was a lot of calculating, and that my mind was always restless,” said Dipak. “It was impossible to practice; I was too busy.” Dipa Ma was firm, however, insisting that, “If you are busy, then busyness is the meditation. And when you do calculations, know that you are doing calculations. Meditation is always possible, at any time. If you are rushing to the office, then you should be mindful of rushing.”

Householder practice under Dipa Ma could be as demanding as monastic life. Loving but tough, Dipa Ma asked that students follow the five precepts and sleep only four hours a night, as she did. Students meditated several hours a day, reported to her several times a week, and at her instigation undertook self-guided retreats. Joseph Goldstein recalls how the last time he saw Dipa Ma, she told him he should sit for two days—meaning not a two-day retreat but one sitting for two days straight. “I started to laugh, because it seemed so beyond my capacity. But she looked at me with deep compassion, and she just said, ‘Don’t be lazy!’”

Dipa Ma’s path wasn’t attached to a particular place, teacher, lifestyle, or the monastic model. The world was her monastery; mothering and teaching were her practice. She embraced family and meditation as one, in a heart that steadfastly refused to make divisions in life. “She told me, ‘Being a wife, being a mother—these were my first teachers,’” recalls Sharon Kreider, a mother who studied with Dipa Ma. “She taught me that whatever we do, whether one is a teacher, a wife, a mother—they are all noble. They are all equal.”

Dipa Ma became not only the “patron saint of householders,” as one student called her, but also the embodiment of being the practice rather than doing the practice. For Dipa Ma there was simply the practice of being present, being fully awake, all the time, in every situation; she was a living demonstration that the real nature of mind is presence. Joseph Goldstein said that with Dipa Ma there was no sense of someone trying to be mindful; there was just mindfulness doing itself.

“Her mind didn’t make distinctions,” says meditation teacher Jacqueline Mandell. “Meditation, mothering, and practice all flowed into each other in an effortless way. They were all the same. They were one whole. There were no special places to practice, no special circumstances, no special anything. Everything was dhamma.” She urged her students to make every moment count and emphasized bringing mindfulness to cooking, ironing, talking, or any other daily activity. She often said that the whole path of mindfulness is simply awareness of whatever you are doing. “Always know what you are doing,” she would say. “You cannot separate meditation from life.”

While some teachers make the greatest impact through their words, with Dipa Ma it was, Mandell says, “her natural agile attention: shifting from teaching meditation to parenting to grand-parenting to serving tea. A simple presence: all seemed quite ordinary within her completely natural way.” Though Dipa Ma was generous with her instruction, she was often silent or spoke only a few simple words; her students found refuge in her silence and in the unshakeable peace that surrounded her.

By the time she died in 1989, Dipa Ma had several hundred Calcutta students and a large group of Western followers. A continual stream of visitors came to her apartment from early morning until late at night. She never refused anyone. When her daughter urged her to take more time for herself, Dipa Ma would reply, “They are hungry for the dhamma, so let them come.”

Dipa Ma is remembered not only for her seamless mindfulness and her direct instruction, but also for transmitting dharma through blessings. From the moment she arose each morning she blessed everything she came in contact with, including animals and even inanimate objects. She blessed every person she met from head to toe, blowing on them and chanting and stroking their hair. Her students remember being bathed in love, a feeling so strong and deep they didn’t ever want it to end. To this day, one of Dipa Ma’s students, Sandip Mutsuddi, carries her picture in his shirt pocket over his heart. Several times a day, he pulls the picture out to help him remember her lessons and to offer his respect. He has been doing this every day since her death.

Lay practitioners often feel torn between spiritual practice and the requirements of family, work, and social life. We know that our recurrent dilemmas cannot be resolved by separating parts of our lives and weighing one against the other, yet we become easily lost in that moment of dilemma. Perhaps the image of Dipa Ma can reside in our hearts as a reminder that we do not have to choose. Each dilemma can be accepted as a gift, challenging us to find, again and again and yet again, the middle way in which nothing is outside of our compassion. And perhaps the very process of opening to such challenges will produce a form of family practice that reflects how the dharma can be lived in our particular time and place.

(Originally published in Buddhadharma Magazine, Spring 2003, by Amy Schmidt and Sara Jenkins) http://www.lionsroar.com/mother-of-light-the-inspiring-story-of-dipa-ma/

All of this and more can be found at dipama.com.

He is the Breath Inside the Breath – Osho

Kabir says, ‘Student, tell me, what is God?

He is the breath inside the breath.’

Whenever you ask about God you ask as if God is there like a problem to be encountered. You ask as if you are standing outside God and speculating, observing Him. You ask as if God is an object. God is not an object, God is your subjectivity. God is not there outside, God is your interiority, your innerness. That is the meaning when Kabir says:

He is the breath inside the breath. 

Watch your breath and you will come to know what he means – you will see one thing which cannot be seen unless you watch your breath. Buddha made it a great technique for meditation, watching the breath, because through watching it you will come to know the breath inside the breath.

The word ’breath’ means life. In Sanskrit the word for breath is prana: prana means life. In Hebrew the word for breath means spirit. In all the languages of the world, breath is thought to be synonymous with life or spirit or soul. But breath is not the real soul – you will come to this experience only when you watch.

Try a small experiment: sitting silently, just start watching your breath. The easiest way to watch is from the entrance of the nose. When the breath comes in, feel the touch of the breath at the entrance of the nose – watch it there. The touch will be easier to watch, breath will be too subtle; in the beginning just watch the touch. The breath goes in, and you feel it going in: watch it. And then follow it, go with it. You will find there comes a point where it stops. Just somewhere near your navel it stops – for a tiny, tiny moment, for a pal, it stops. Then it moves outwards again; then follow it – again feel the touch, the breath going out of the nose. Follow it, go with it outside – again you will come to a point, the breath stops for a very tiny moment. Then again the cycle starts.

Inhalation, gap, exhalation, gap, inhalation, gap. That gap is the most mysterious phenomenon inside you. When the breath comes in and stops and there is no movement, that is the point where one can meet God. Or when the breath goes out and stops and there is no movement.

Remember, you are not to stop it; it stops on its own. If you stop it you will miss the whole point, because the doer will come in and witnessing will disappear. You are not to do anything about it. You are not to change the breath pattern, you are neither to inhale nor to exhale. It is not like pranayama of yoga, where you start manipulating the breath; it is not that. You don’t touch the breath at all – you allow its naturalness, its natural flow. When it goes out you follow it, when it comes in you follow it.

And soon you will become aware that there are two gaps. In those two gaps is the door. And in those two gaps you will understand, you will see, that breath itself is not life – maybe a food for life, just like other foods, but not life itself. Because when the breathing stops you are there, perfectly there – you are perfectly conscious, utterly conscious. And the breath has stopped, breathing is no more there, and you are there.

And once you continue this watching of the breath – what Buddha calls vipassana or anapanasati you – if you go on watching it, watching it, watching it, slowly, slowly you will see the gap is increasing and becoming bigger. Finally it happens that for minutes together the gap remains. One breath goes in, and the gap… and for minutes the breath does not go out. All has stopped. The world has stopped, time has stopped, thinking has stopped. Because when the breath stops, thinking is not possible. And when the breath stops for minutes together, thinking is impossible, absolutely impossible – because the thought process needs continuous oxygen, and your thought process and your breathing are very deeply related.

When you are angry your breath has a different rhythm, when you are sexually stimulated you have a different breath rhythm, when you are silent a different breath rhythm again. When you are happy a different breath rhythm, when you are sad a different rhythm again. Your breathing goes on changing with the moods of the mind. The vice versa is also true – when the breath changes, the moods of the mind change. And when breath stops, mind stops.

In that stopping of the mind the whole world stops – because the mind is the world. And in that stopping you come to know for the first time what is the breath inside the breath: life inside life. That experience is liberating. That experience makes you alert of God – and God is not a person but the experience of life itself.

-OSHO

From The Revolution, Chapter Three

The Revolution

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

Here you can listen to the discourse excerpt He is the Breath Inside the Breath.

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.

And Being IS Meditation – Osho

I thought that meditation was a simple thing. But seeing people doing Vipassana, I am losing all hope of ever becoming a successful meditator. Please give me a little encouragement.

Meditation is simple. Precisely because it is simple, it looks difficult. Your mind is accustomed to dealing with difficult problems, and it has completely forgotten how to respond to the simple things of life. The more simple a thing is, the more difficult it looks to the mind, because the mind is very efficient in solving difficult things. It has been trained to solve difficult things; it does not know how to tackle the simple. Meditation is simple, your mind is complex. It is not a problem that meditation is creating. The problem is coming from your mind, not from meditation.

Vipassana is the most simple meditation in the world. It is through Vipassana that Buddha became enlightened, and it is through Vipassana that many more people have become enlightened than through any other method. Vipassana is the method. Yes, there are other methods also, but they have helped only very few people. Vipassana has helped thousands, and it is really very simple; is not like yoga.

Yoga is difficult, arduous, complex. You have to torture yourself in many ways: distort your body, contort your body, sit this way and that, torture, stand on your head – exercises and exercises…but yoga seems to be very appealing to people.

Vipassana is so simple that you don’t take any note of it. In fact, coming across Vipassana for the first time, one doubts whether it can be called a meditation at all. What is it? – no physical exercise, no breathing exercise; a very simple phenomenon: just watching your breath coming in, going out…finished, this is the method; sitting silently, watching your breath coming in, going out; not losing track, that’s all. Not that you have to change your breathing – it is not pranayam; it is not a breathing exercise where you have to take deep breaths, exhale, inhale, no. Let the breathing be simple, as it is. You just have to bring one new quality to it: awareness.

The breath goes out, watch; the breath comes in, watch. You will become aware: the breath touching your nostrils at one point, you will become aware. You can concentrate there: the breath comes in, you feel the touch of the breath on the nostrils; then it goes out, you feel the touch again. Remain there at the tip of the nose. It is not that you have to concentrate at the tip of the nose; you have just to be alert, aware, watchful. It is not concentration. Don’t miss, just go on remembering. In the beginning you will miss again and again; then bring yourself back If it is difficult for you – for a few people it is difficult to watch it there – then they can watch the breath in the belly. When the breath goes in, the belly goes up; when the breath goes out, the belly goes in. You go on watching your belly. If you have a really good belly, it will help.

Have you watched? If you see Indian statues of Buddha, those statues don’t have real bellies – in fact, no belly at all. Buddha looks a perfect athlete: chest coming out, belly in. But if you see a Japanese statue of Buddha you will be surprised: it does not look buddhalike at all – a big belly, so big that you cannot see the chest at all, almost as if Buddha is pregnant, all belly. The reason why this change happened is that in India, while Buddha was alive, he himself was watching the breath at the nose, hence the belly was not important at all. But as Vipassana moved from India to Tibet to China to Korea to Burma to Japan, slowly, slowly people became aware that it is easier to watch in the belly than at the nose. Then Buddha statues started becoming different, with bigger bellies.

You can watch either at the belly or at the nose, whichever feels right for you or whichever feels easier for you. That it be easier is the point. And just watching the breath, miracles happen.

Meditation is not difficult. It is simple. Precisely because it is simple you are feeling the difficulty. You would like to do many things, and there is nothing to do; that is the problem. It is a great problem, because we have been taught to do things. We ask what should be done, and meditation means a state of non-doing: you have not to do anything, you have to stop doing. You have to be in a state of utter inaction. Even thinking is a kind of doing – drop that too. Feeling is a kind of doing – drop that too. Doing, thinking, feeling – all gone, you simply are. That is being. And being is meditation. It is very simple.

In your mother’s womb you were in the same space. In Vipassana you will be entering again into the same space. And you will remember, you will have a déjà vu. When you enter into deep Vipassana, you will be surprised that you know it, you have known it before. You will recognize it immediately because for nine months in your mother’s womb you were in the same space, doing nothing, just being.

You ask me, “I thought that meditation was a simple thing, but seeing people doing Vipassana I am losing all hope of ever becoming a successful meditator.”

Never think about meditation in terms of success, because that is bringing your achieving mind into it, the egoistic mind into it. Then meditation becomes your ego trip. Don’t think in terms of success or failure. Those terms are not applicable in the world of meditation. Forget all about that. Those are mind terms; they are comparative. And that’s the problem: you must be watching others succeeding, reaching, ecstatic, and you will be feeling very low. You will be feeling silly, sitting and looking at your breath, watching your breath. You must be looking very silly and nothing is happening. Nothing is happening because you are expecting something to happen too much.

-Osho

From The Guest, Chapter Fifteen

The Guest

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

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Meditation is Your Mastercard – Osho

The other night during darshan, listening to your answer to Nivedano’s question, I had tears running down my face. For the first time in the seven years I’ve been with you, I could not only intellectually understand, but really feel that to look inside oneself is the only way to find the real treasures of life. Even though I am feeling this so strongly, it doesn’t make it easier to meditate, to look inside. 

In the past my favorite subject for you to talk about has always been love and relationships. Now, I can’t get enough of hearing you talk about meditation. Beloved Master, could you please speak about Vipassana meditation?

Prem Sampurna, there are hundreds of methods of meditation, but perhaps vipassana has a unique status; just the same way as there have been thousands of mystics, but Gautam Buddha has a uniqueness of his own. In many ways he is incomparable, in many ways he has done more for humanity than anybody else. In many ways his search for truth was more sincere, more authentic than anybody else’s.

Why am I reminded of Gautam Buddha? I am reminded of Gautam Buddha because you have asked a question about vipassana meditation. That is the meditation through which Gautam Buddha became enlightened.

The very word vipassana in Pali, the language in which Gautam Buddha spoke… he was perfectly acquainted with Sanskrit; as a prince he was well educated in the highest literature of those days. But when he started speaking he never used Sanskrit because Sanskrit was the language of the intellectuals, of the brahmins, of the priests, not of the people.

It has never been a living language. It has a uniqueness among all the languages of the world – it has been spoken only by the learned, by the scholarly amongst themselves; and because of its unknowability, the masses have been mystified by it. Translated, it contains nothing special, and sometimes it contains nothing but bullshit, but it has a very musical sound.

Its construction is the most perfect of any language in the world. It is very exhaustive – fifty-two letters in the alphabet, English has only twenty-six; it means the other twenty-six sounds are unavailable in English. Sanskrit is twice as rich because it can express all possible sounds; it has not left a single sound out of its alphabet. Subtle nuances have also been taken into account – sounds which are very difficult to pronounce, sounds which are rarely used by anyone, but which are possible to use, have been included.

But Gautam Buddha decided to speak in the language of the masses. It was a revolutionary step, because the languages of the masses are not grammatically right. Just by use, by ordinary people changing their tone, their sound, the words become easier; they are not complicated.

We have seen this happen to English in India. English was the language of the bureaucracy, of the people who were in power, of the British Empire. But a few words were bound to enter into the local people’s languages. And the transformation is worth seeing; it will explain to you the difference between a language which is really living, alive, because rough people use it… it has the quality of a wildflower, the quality of a forest, not of a well-clipped British garden.

People have an uncanny sense to change words into their simplest form; for example, the English word ‘report’. Even the faraway villagers who don’t come in contact with educated people have to use that word – once in a while they have to go to the police station. But in the villages of India the word ‘report’ has become ‘rapat’. Report is a little difficult, rapat is more alive.

‘Station’ is a word that is bound to be used by the people of the lowest education or no education. In Punjab it has become ‘satation’; in other parts it has become ‘teshan’, but nowhere is it ‘station’.

Pali is a language of the simple and in a way, innocent and ignorant people. Vipassana is their word. In Sanskrit it has its parallel, which the public has changed according to their convenience. In Sanskrit it is ‘vipashyana’ – that is a little difficult. But in Pali it is simply vipassana. The meaning is the same. The meaning – the literal meaning – of the word is ‘to look’, and the metaphorical meaning is ‘to watch, to witness’.

Gautam Buddha has chosen a meditation which can be called the essential meditation. All other meditations are different forms of witnessing, but witnessing is present in every kind of meditation as an essential part; it cannot be avoided. Buddha has deleted everything else and kept only the essential part – to witness.

There are three steps of witnessing – Buddha is a very scientific thinker. He begins with the body, because that is the easiest to witness. It is easy to witness my hand moving, my hand being raised. I can witness myself walking on the road, I can witness each step as I walk. I can witness while I am eating my food.

So the first step in vipassana is witnessing the actions of the body, which is the simplest step. Any scientific method will always begin from the simplest.

And while witnessing the body, you will be amazed at the new experiences. When you move your hand with witnessing, watchfulness, alertness, consciousness, you will feel a certain grace and a certain silence in the hand. You can do the movement without witnessing; it will be quicker, but it will lose the grace.

The Buddha used to walk so slowly that many times he was asked why he was walking so slowly.

He said, “This is part of my meditation: always to walk as if you are walking in winter into a cold stream… slowly, alert, because the stream is very cold; aware because the current is very strong; witnessing each of your steps because you can slip on the stones in the stream.”

The method remains the same, only the object changes with each step. The second step is watching the mind. Now you move into a more subtle world – watching your thoughts. If you have been successful in watching your body, there is not going to be any difficulty. Thoughts are subtle waves – electronic waves, radio waves – but they are as material as your body. They are not visible, just as the air is not visible, but the air is as material as the stones; so are your thoughts, material but invisible.

That is the second step, the middle step. You are moving towards invisibility, but still it is material… watching your thoughts. The only condition is, don’t judge. Don’t judge, because the moment you start judging you will forget watching.

There is no antagonism against judging. The reason it is prohibited is that the moment you start judging – “This is a good thought” – for that much space you were not witnessing. You started thinking, you became involved. You could not remain aloof, standing by the side of the road and just seeing the traffic.

Don’t become a participant, either by appraising, valuing, condemning; no attitude should be taken about what is passing in your mind. You should watch your thoughts just as if clouds are passing in the sky. You don’t make judgments about them – this black cloud is very evil, this white cloud looks like a sage. Clouds are clouds; they are neither evil nor good.

So are thoughts – just a small wavelength passing through your mind. Watch without any judgment and you are again in for a great surprise. As your watching becomes settled, thoughts will come less and less. The proportion is exactly the same: if you are fifty percent settled in your witnessing, then fifty percent of your thoughts will disappear. If you are sixty percent settled in your witnessing, then only forty percent of thoughts will be there. When you are ninety-nine percent a pure witness, only once in a while will there be a lonely thought – one percent, passing on the road – otherwise the traffic is gone. That rush-hour traffic is no longer there.

When you are one hundred percent non-judgmental, just a witness, it means you have become just a mirror, because a mirror never makes any judgments. An ugly woman looks into it – the mirror has no judgment. A beautiful woman looks into the mirror, it makes no difference. Nobody looks into it… the mirror is as pure as when somebody is being reflected in it. Neither reflection stirs it, nor no-reflection. Witnessing becomes a mirror.

This is a great achievement in meditation. You have moved halfway, and this was the hardest part. Now you know the secret, and the same secret has just to be applied to different objects.

From thoughts you have to move to more subtle experiences – emotions, feelings, moods… from the mind to the heart, with the same condition: no judgment, just witnessing. And the surprise will be that most of your emotions, feelings and moods which possess you…

Now, when you are feeling sad, you become really sad, you are possessed by sadness. When you are feeling angry, it is not something partial. You become full of anger; every fiber of your being is throbbing with anger.

Watching the heart, the experience will be that now nothing possesses you. Sadness comes and goes; you don’t become sad. Happiness comes and goes; you don’t become happy either.

Whatever moves in the deep layers of your heart does not affect you at all. For the first time you taste something of mastery. You are no longer a slave to be pushed and pulled this way and that way, where any emotion, any feeling, anybody can disturb you for any trivia. […]

People become disturbed with absolute trivia, meaningless things. Somebody just passes by you, twitching his eye. He has not done anything. It is his eye; he has every right to twitch it. It is his constitutional right. Nobody can prevent anybody from twitching his eyes – but why do you get disturbed? And if he makes it a practice that whenever he sees you he twitches his eyes, you will start becoming enraged. Our consciousness is so small, it gets overpowered and possessed by anything – any mood, any feeling, any emotion.

When you become a witness of the third step, you will become, for the first time, a master: nothing disturbs you, nothing overpowers you, everything remains far away, deep below, and you are on a hilltop.

These are the three steps of vipassana. Vipassana has many kinds of methods – this is only one method. Because Buddhism spread all over Eastern Asia, the Far East vipassana has a different structure. In Japan, it is watching the belly as you breathe in and out. That’s why the Japanese statues of Buddha have big bellies. No Indian statue of Buddha will have a big belly; that is un-athletic, does not look beautiful.

But the Japanese Buddha has to have it, because the whole method of vipassana is to practice the belly coming up, not the chest. The chest remains silent, unmoving; only the belly goes up as you breathe in and the belly goes in as you breathe out. Watching it is a single-step vipassana prevalent in Japan.

In Ceylon there are two steps: first watching the same breathing, not at the belly point, but at the nose point. When you breathe in, the air touches your nostrils; be aware of it. And when the hot air goes out, be watchful. This is the first step.

And the second step: when you breathe in, there is a gap before the breath returns – just a rest period, a few seconds. Watch those few seconds when the breath is not moving. If you become capable of watching those moments, you will be able to watch them outside also. When the breath goes out, before it comes in, there is a small interval – the same interval as inside. Watch that too, just be aware of it.

In Tibet they have a different way, in Korea another way, in China another way, but the essential point is to be a witness. And my feeling is that what I have described as three steps is the most easy, most simple – everybody can do it. It needs no scholarship, no austerity, no great understanding.

And after these three steps comes the real experience. These three steps take you to the door of the temple, which is open.

When you have become perfectly watchful of your body, mind and heart, then you cannot do anything more, then you have to wait. When perfection is complete on these three steps, the fourth step happens on its own accord as a reward. It is a quantum leap from the heart to the being, to the very center of your existence. You cannot do it; it happens – you have to remember that.

Don’t try to do it, because if you try to do it your failure is absolutely certain. It is a happening. You prepare three steps, the fourth step is a reward from existence itself; it is a quantum leap.

Suddenly your life force, your witnessing, enters into the very center of your being. You have come home. You can call it self-realization, you can call it enlightenment, you can call it ultimate liberation, but there is nothing more than that. You have come to the very end in your search, you have found the very truth of existence and the great ecstasy that it brings as a shadow, by and around itself.

The Jew and the Irishman are arguing about sex. The Irishman says that, according to his priest, sex is work and solely for the purpose of procreation.

“No,” says the Jew, ”my rabbi says sex is pleasure. If it was work we would let the Irish do it.”

Meditation is not work.

Meditation is purest blissfulness.

As you go deeper, you come across more and more beautiful spaces, more and more luminous spots. They are your treasure… deeper and deeper silences, which are not only the absence of noise, but the presence of a soundless song – musical, alive and dancing.

As you reach to the ultimate point of your being, the center of the cyclone, you have found god; not as a person, but as light, as consciousness, as truth, as beauty – as all that man has been dreaming of for centuries. And those dreamed-of treasures are hidden within himself.

It is not a troublesome, torturous, ascetic practice; it is very pleasant, musical, poetic, and it goes on becoming more and more of a sheer joy. It is not work, it is prayer – the only prayer I know of. To me prayer means: when you have achieved your being, you feel a tremendous gratitude towards existence. That gratitude is the only real, authentic prayer; all other prayers are fake, pseudo, manufactured. This gratitude will arise within you just like a fragrance arising out of roses.

It is good that you are dropping your childish questions about boyfriend, girlfriend, your so-called relationships; you don’t know yourself and you have started relating with another!

It is good that you are asking about meditation. That will not only bring transformation to you, it will also bring transformation to your relationships. It will also bring an authentic overflow of love, and only then will you be able to see that what you used to call love was not love; it was simply lust, biological lust, based on your hormones. Only a meditator knows a love that is not biological, that comes as a spiritual abundance, with a great urge to share – because the more you share it, the more you have it.

A Jewish swami, Goldstein, takes a gorgeous ma out to dinner. They go to the most expensive restaurant in Poona and feast on Italian spaghetti, Japanese sushi and French wine. For dessert they choose German chocolate cake and finish with Brazilian coffee.

When the waiter brings them the bill, Goldstein finds he has left his wallet at home. So he takes out his picture of Rajneesh and hands it to the waiter.

“What is this?” demands the waiter.

“My mastercard,” replies Goldstein.

Meditation is your mastercard!

-Osho

From The Rebel, Chapter 17

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

 

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Meditate Constantly – Osho

Meditate constantly.

The person who is a seeker will not really be interested in getting only philosophical answers from others; he will be interested in knowing on his own. He will not be interested in philosophy; he will be interested in religion. That is the difference between philosophy and religion. Philosophy is juggling with words, the art of hairsplitting, arguing endlessly about abstract ideas, arriving nowhere. Religion is more like science: it experiments, it emphasizes experience. Science is the religion of the objective world, and religion is the science of the subjective world.

Philosophy is going to die one day; it is already on its deathbed. You can go to the universities and see: every year less and less people are turning to the departments of philosophy. Many philosophy departments are empty, deserted. People are going to science or to religion. Those who are interested in knowing the truth about the world are going to scientific inquiries, to physics, to chemistry, to mathematics, to biology. Or, people who are interested in their own interiority, in their own subjectivity, in their own consciousness, are moving towards religion, more and more towards religion.

Religion is the science of the inner. Philosophy is neither: it is neither the science of the outer nor the science of the inner; it is just in between. It only thinks; it thinks about everything — about science, about religion — but it only thinks. And just by thinking, nothing ever happens. You can make very clever answers, but they are not going to solve your real problems; the problems are real and the answers are just abstract. Real problems can be solved only by real answers.

Hence Buddha says: The seeker can be persuaded to meditate — only the seeker can be persuaded to meditate. Meditation means you start changing your inner world. You start removing dust from the inner world, you start removing all that is unnecessary in the inner world. You remove all that clutter, all the rubbish you are full of. Meditation means emptying yourself of all that the society has put inside you so that you can have a clean, clear vision, so that you can have a mirror-like quality. When a mirror is without any dust it reflects reality; so is the case with meditation.

Meditation means making your consciousness a mirror. Thoughts are like dust, they have to be removed. And thoughts contain everything belonging to the mind: desires, ambitions, memories, fantasies, dreams… all mindstuff is different forms of thoughts, different kinds, different layers of dust. And the dust is so thick that the mirror is not functioning at all — hence you have to ask others. Once the dust is removed you need not ask anyone, you yourself can see. Existence has given you the magic mirror — it is within you.

I have heard a beautiful parable; it must be a parable, it cannot be an historical phenomenon:

When Alexander the Great came to India he collected many valuable treasures. And when he was leaving he came across a fakir, a naked fakir. He asked him, “Do you see my treasures? Have you ever seen anybody with so many treasures?”

The fakir said, “All your treasures are nothing, but I can give you one thing that will really make you rich!”

Alexander could not imagine what this naked fakir could give him. In his begging bowl he had a small mirror. He gave the mirror to Alexander.

Alexander said, “This mirror will make me the richest man in the world? You must be mad!”

The fakir said, “First look in the mirror.”

And Alexander looked into the mirror: it did not show his face — it showed his inner being, it showed his interiority, it showed his subjectivity. His being was reflected in the mirror. He touched the feet of the fakir and said, “You are right — all my treasures are nothing before this mirror.”

And it is said he kept that mirror continuously with him.

The parable is beautiful. That mirror represents meditation. The fakir must have given him some meditation because only meditation can make you aware of who you are.

But Buddha says meditation has to become something constant. Buddha brings a totally new vision of meditation to the world. Before Buddha, meditation was something that you had to do once or twice a day, one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, and that was all. Buddha gave a totally new interpretation to the whole process of meditation. He said: This kind of meditation that you do one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening, you may do five times or four times a day, is not of much value. Meditation cannot be something that you can do apart from life just for one hour or fifteen minutes. Meditation has to become something synonymous with your life; it has to be like breathing. You cannot breathe one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, otherwise the evening will never come. It has to be something like breathing: even while you are asleep the breathing continues. You may fall into a coma, but the breathing continues.

Buddha says meditation should become such a constant phenomenon; only then can it transform you. And he evolved a new technique of meditation.  His greatest contribution to the world is vipassana; no other teacher has given such a great gift to the world. Jesus is beautiful, Mahavira is beautiful, Lao Tzu is beautiful, Zarathustra is beautiful, but their contribution, compared to Buddha, is nothing. Even if they are all put together, then too Buddha’s contribution is greater because he gave such a scientific method — simple, yet so penetrating that once you are in tune with it, it becomes a constant factor in your life.

Then you need not do it; you have to do it only in the beginning. Once you have learned the knack of it, it remains with you; you need not do it. Then whatsoever you are doing, it is there. It becomes a backdrop to your life, a background to your life. You are walking, but you walk meditatively. You are eating, but you eat meditatively. You are sleeping, but you sleep meditatively. Remember, even the quality of sleep of a meditator is totally different from the quality of the sleep of a non-meditator. Everything becomes different because a new factor has entered which changes the whole gestalt.

Vipassana simply means watching your breath, looking at your breath. It is not like Yoga Pranayama: it is not changing your breath to a certain rhythm — deep breathing, fast breathing. No, it does not change your breathing at all; it has nothing to do with the breathing. Breathing has only to be used as a device to watch because it is a constant phenomenon in you. You can simply watch it, and it is the most subtle phenomenon. If you can watch your breath then it will be easy for you to watch your thoughts.

One thing immensely great that Buddha contributed was the discovery of the relationship between breath and thought. He was the first man in the whole history of humanity who made it absolutely clear that breathing and thinking are deeply related. Breathing is the bodily part of thinking and thinking is the psychological part of breathing. They are not separate; they are two aspects of the same coin. He is the first man who talks of body-mind as one unity. He talks for the first time about man as a psychosomatic phenomenon. He does not talk about body and mind; he talks about body-mind. They are not two; hence no ‘and’ is needed to join them. They are already one – body-mind — not even a hyphen is needed; bodymind is one phenomenon. And each body process has its counterpart in your psychology and vice versa.

You can watch it, you can try an experiment. Just stop your breathing for a moment and you will be surprised: the moment you stop your breathing, your thinking stops. Or you can watch another thing: whenever your thinking is going too fast your breathing changes. For example, if you are full of sexual lust and your thinking is getting too hot, your breathing will be different: it will not be rhythmic; it will lose its rhythm. It will be more chaotic, it will be unrhythmic.

When you are angry your breathing changes because your thinking has changed. When you are loving your breathing changes because your thinking has changed. When you are peaceful, at ease, at home, relaxed, your breathing is different. When you are restless, worried, in turmoil, in anguish, your breathing is different. Just by watching your breath you can know what kind of state is happening in your mind.

Meditators come across a point: when the mind really completely ceases, breathing also ceases. And then great fear arises — don’t be afraid. Many meditators have reported to me, “We became very much afraid, very much frightened, because suddenly we became aware that the breathing has stopped.” Naturally, one thinks that when breathing stops death is close by. It is only a question of moments — you are dying. Breathing stops in death; breathing also stops in deep meditation. Hence deep meditation and death have one thing similar: in both the breathing stops. Therefore, if a man knows meditation he has also known death. That’s why the meditator becomes free of the fear of death: he knows breathing can stop and still he is.

Breathing is not life; life is a far bigger phenomenon. Breathing is only a connection with the body. The connection can be cut; that does not mean that life has ended. Life is still there; life does not end just by the disappearance of breathing.

Buddha says: Watch your breathing; let it be normal, as it is. Sitting silently, watch your breath. The sitting posture will also be helpful; the Buddha posture, the lotus posture, is very helpful. When your spine is erect and you are sitting in a lotus posture, your legs crossed, your spine is aligned with the gravitational forces, and the body is at its best relaxed state. Let the spine be erect and the body be loose, hanging on the spine — not tense. The body should be loose, relaxed, the spine erect, so gravitation has the least pull on you.

Have you watched it? If you want to go to sleep you have to lie down, for the simple reason that when you are lying down flat on the ground you are in touch with the gravitational forces at the maximum, because all over the body the gravitational pull works, it pulls you. You immediately start falling asleep. It is difficult to fall asleep standing. The most difficult posture to fall asleep in is the lotus posture. The body is so relaxed there is no need to fall asleep, and the gravitational forces are at the minimum; hence they cannot pull you downwards; they can’t make you heavy and dull and lethargic. You are bright, you are full of life. You are more intelligent in the lotus posture than you can ever be in any other posture. The body affects your mind.

Scientists now agree with this: that it is only because a few of the monkeys somehow… they have not been able to find the reason why and how it happened, and monkeys are monkeys — it may have just happened out of curiosity, a few monkeys tried to stand on two legs and these are the monkeys who became the original men; they were the originators. That was the greatest innovation; nothing else has been greater than that. A few monkeys standing erect on their two legs created a great revolution; the revolution happened in the growth of the mind. The erect posture helped the mind to come out of sleep. It became more intelligent, it became more alert, it became more conscious.

Other animals who move on their four legs have not been able to develop intelligence, although many of them have a mind of almost the same capacity as man. For example, the elephant has a mind of almost the same capacity as man, but has not been able to develop it and I don’t think it is ever going to happen. In circuses they try hard to teach the elephant to sit in a chair or to stand even for a few seconds on two feet, but the body is so heavy the elephant cannot manage to be on two feet. Hence the brain remains clouded; the gravitational pull keeps it unconscious.

Hence this lotus posture is something valuable. It is not just a body phenomenon; it affects the mind, it changes the mind. Sit in a lotus posture — the whole point is that your spine should be erect and should make a ninety-degree angle with the earth. That is the point where you are capable of being the most intelligent, the most alert, the least sleepy.

And then watch your breath, the natural breath. You need not breathe deeply, you don’t change your breathing; you simply watch it as it is. But you will be surprised by one thing: the moment you start watching, it changes — because even the fact of watching is a change and the breathing is no more the same.

Slight changes in your consciousness immediately affect your breathing. You will be able to see it; whenever you watch you will see your breathing has become a little deeper. If it becomes so of its own accord it is okay, but you are not to do it by your will. Watching your breath, slowly, slowly, you will be surprised that as your breath becomes calm and quiet your mind also becomes calm and quiet. And watching the breath will make you capable of watching the mind.

That is just the beginning, the first part of meditation, the physical part. And the second part is the psychological part. Then you can watch more subtle things in your mind — thoughts, desires, memories.

And as you go deeper into watchfulness, a miracle starts happening: as you become watchful less and less traffic happens in the mind, more and more quiet, silence; more and more silent spaces, more and more gaps and intervals. Moments pass and you don’t come across a single thought. Slowly, slowly, minutes pass, hours pass….

And there is a certain arithmetic in it: if you can remain absolutely empty for forty-eight minutes, that very day you will become enlightened, that very moment you will become enlightened. But it is not a question of your effort; don’t go on looking at the watch because each time you look, a thought has come. You have to again count from the very beginning; you are back to zero. There is no need for you to watch the time.

But this has been the experience in the East of all great meditators: that forty-eight minutes seems to be the ultimate point. If this much of a gap is possible, if for this much of a gap thinking stops and you remain alert, with no thought crossing your mind, you are capable of receiving God inside. You have become the host and the guest immediately comes.

-Osho

From The Dhammapada, the Way of the Buddha, V. 11, Chapter Five

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

The Dhammapada

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.

Three Steps of Vipassana – Osho

How to become more aware?

Pankaj, by becoming more aware, one BECOMES more aware. There is no other method to it. It is a simple process. Whatsoever you are doing, do it with such consciousness as if it is a question of life and death; as if a sword is hanging over you.

There is an ancient story in India:

A great sage sent his chief disciple to the court of King Janak to learn something which was missing in the young man.

The young man said, “If you can’t teach me, how can this man, this Janak, teach it to me? You are a great sage, he is only a king. What does he know about meditation and awareness?”

The great sage said, “You simply follow my instructions. Go to him, bow down to him; don’t be egoistic, thinking that you are a sannyasin and he is only an ordinary householder. He lives in the world, he is worldly and you are spiritual. Forget all about it. I’m sending you to him to learn something; so for this moment, he is your master. And I know, I have tried here, but you cannot understand — because you need a different context to understand it. And the court of Janak and his palace will give you the right context. You simply go, bow down to him. For these few days, he will represent me.”

Very reluctantly, the young man went. He was a Brahmin of high caste, and what was this Janak? He was rich, he had a great kingdom, but what could he teach a Brahmin? Brahmins always think that they can teach people. And Janak was not a Brahmin, he was a Kshatriya, the warrior race in India. They are thought to be second to Brahmins; the brahmins are the first, the foremost, the highest caste. To bow down to this man? This has never been done. A Brahmin bowing down to a Kshatriya is against the Indian mind.

But the master had said it so it had to be done. Reluctantly he went, and reluctantly he bowed down. And when he bowed down, he was really feeling very angry with his master, because the situation in which he had to bow down to Janak was so ugly in his eyes.

A beautiful woman was dancing in the court and people were drinking wine. And Janak was sitting in this group. The young man had such condemnation, but still he bowed down. Janak laughed and said, “You need not bow down to me when you are carrying such condemnation in you. And don’t be so prejudiced before you have experienced me. Your master knows me well, that’s why he has sent you here. He has sent you to learn something, but this is not the way to learn.”

The young man said, “I don’t care. He has sent me, I have come. But by the morning I will go back, because I can’t see that I can learn anything here. In fact, if I learn anything from you, my whole life will be wasted. I have not come to learn drinking wine and seeing a beautiful woman dance and all this indulgence.”

Janak still smiled and he said, “You can go in the morning. But since you have come and you are so tired… at least rest for the night, and in the morning you can go. And who knows — the night may become the context of the learning for which your master has sent you to me.”

Now, this was very mysterious. How could the night teach him anything? But okay, he had to be here for the night, so don’t make much fuss about it. He remained. The king arranged for him to have the most beautiful room in the palace, the most luxurious. He went with the young man, took every care about his food, his sleep and when he had gone to bed, Janak left.

But the young man could not sleep the whole night, because as he looked up, he could see a naked sword hanging with a thin thread just above his head. Now, it was so dangerous that at any moment the sword could fall and kill the young man. So he remained awake the whole night, watchful, so he could avoid the catastrophe if it was going to happen.

In the morning, the king asked, “Was the bed comfortable, the room comfortable?”

The young man said, “Comfortable? Everything was comfortable — but what about the sword? And why did you play such a trick? It was so cruel! I was tired, I had come on foot from the faraway ashram of my master in the forest, and you played such a cruel joke. What kind of thing is this, to hang a naked sword with so thin a thread that I was afraid that a small breeze… and I am gone, and I am finished. And I have not come here to commit suicide.”

The king said, “I want to ask only one thing: you were so tired, you could have fallen asleep very easily, but you could not fall asleep. What happened? The danger was great, it was a question of life and death. Hence you were aware, alert. This is my teaching too. You can go, or if you want, you can stay a few more days to watch me.

“Although I was sitting there in the court, where a beautiful woman was dancing, I was alert to the naked sword above my head. It is invisible; its name is death. I was not looking at the young woman. Just as you could not enjoy the luxury of the room, I was not drinking wine. I was just aware of death which could come any moment. I am constantly aware of death. Hence, I live in the palace and yet I am a hermit. Your master knows me, understands me. He understands my understanding too. That’s why he has sent you here. If you live here for a few days, you can watch on your own.”

You asked me, Pankaj, how to become more aware. Become more aware of the precariousness of life. Death can happen any moment. The next moment, it may knock on your door. You can remain unaware if you think you are going to live forever. How can you live unaware if death is always close by? Impossible! If life is momentary, a soap bubble — just a pin prick and it is gone forever — how can you remain unaware?

Bring awareness to each act. Walking on the road, walk fully alert; eating, eat with awareness. Whatsoever you are doing, don’t let the past and the future interfere. Be in the present. That’s what awareness is all about. Taking a shower, just take the shower. Don’t let the mind go far away, into the past, into the future. Don’t allow the mind these faraway excursions, these journeys. Taking a shower, just take the shower.

Bokuju, a great Zen master, was asked, “What is your fundamental teaching? What is your fundamental practice? How did you become enlightened?”

He said, “My teaching is simple: When hungry, eat; when sleepy, sleep.”

The man was puzzled. He said, “I have never heard of such a practice. I am asking about the fundamental practice and you are talking about ‘When hungry, eat and when sleepy, sleep.’ What kind of teaching is this?”

Bokuju said, “That I don’t know, but that’s how I became enlightened, and that’s how many of my disciples are becoming enlightened. You can go and ask them.”

But the man said, “That’s what we all do. Hungry, we eat. Sleepy, we sleep.”

Bokuju said, “No, there is a difference and a great difference. When I am eating, I am simply eating and doing nothing else. When you are eating, you are doing a thousand and one things in your head — except eating; you are doing everything else. Eating is done mechanically. When you are sleeping, are you really asleep? How can you be asleep when you are dreaming? Dreaming so many dreams, the whole night; waves upon waves of dreams go on coming. Only for a few minutes, here and there, dreaming stops and you fall into deep sleep; otherwise, dreaming continues. Dreaming is a sleep distraction: you are distracted by a thousand and one things. But you are not asleep. You are not doing one thing only.”

To be aware, Pankaj, one needs to do one thing at a time. And do it with full awareness, watchfulness.

A progressive kindergarten teacher wanted her charges to learn about life through firsthand experiences. So after much red tape, she was able to persuade her superiors to let her take the class of all boys to a horse racing track to learn about the pitfalls of gambling.

After they had been there a while, several of the children asked to go to the boys’ room. She escorted them there under the guidance of a track employee who guarded the door for them. She saw to it that the boys had no problems and in some cases had to help them unbutton their trousers. As she moved helpfully down the line, she suddenly saw something that made her do a double take. “Are you only five years old?” she gasped.

The object of her contentions replied, “What do you mean, lady? I am riding Dandy Charger in the third race.”

People go on doing things almost in a sleep. Just become a little more alert. Do whatsoever you are doing, but bring the quality of consciousness to your actions — there is no other method. And you can bring that quality to small things and that is helpful. Sitting, just watch your breathing. The breath goes in, watch; the breath goes out, watch. Just go on watching your breathing. And it is of great help because if you watch your breathing, thinking stops.

This is something to be understood. Either you can think or you can watch your breathing. You can’t do both together. Breathing and thinking are such processes that only one can exist in you — in awareness. In unawareness, both can continue: you can go on breathing and you can go on thinking. But if you become aware, either you can think or you can breathe; and when you breathe with awareness, thinking disappears. Your whole consciousness becomes focused on breathing. And breathing is such a simple process: you need not do it, it is already happening. You can just bring your consciousness to it.

Buddha became enlightened through this simple method. He calls it vipassana, insight. Breathing brings great insight and when you are aware of breathing, the whole thought process simply comes to a stop — and great stillness arises. After watching your breathing, it will be easy to watch your thinking directly, because breathing is a little gross.

Thinking is more subtle. Thoughts have no weight, they are weightless; they can’t be measured, they are immeasurable. That’s why the materialists cannot accept them. Matter means measure — that which can be measured is matter. So thought is not matter because it cannot be measured. It is, and yet it cannot be measured; hence it is an epiphenomenon. The materialist says, “It is only a by-product, a side effect, a shadow phenomenon” — just as you walk in the sun, a shadow follows you. But the shadow is nothing. You walk in life and thinking arises, but it is only a shadow. If you watch this shadow, this epiphenomenon, these thoughts and the processes of thought… it is going to be a more subtle phenomenon because it is not as gross as breathing.

But first, learn the process of awareness through breathing and then move to thinking. And you will be surprised: the more you watch your thinking… again, either you can watch or you can think. Both cannot be done simultaneously. If you watch, thinking disappears.

If thinking appears, watching disappears. When you have become alert enough to watch your thoughts and let them disappear through watching, then move to feeling — which is even more subtle. And these are the three steps of vipassana. First breathing, second thinking, third feeling. And when all these three have disappeared, what is left is your being.

To know it is to know all. To conquer it is to conquer all.

-Osho

From The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Volume Six, Chapter 6

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.