Ah, This! – Osho

 In the question “Who am I?” What does “I” mean? Does it mean the essence of life?

“Who am I?” Is not really a question because it has no answer to it; it is unanswerable. It is a device, not a question. It is used as a mantra. When you constantly inquire inside, “Who am I? Who am I?” you are not waiting for an answer. Your mind will supply many answers; all those answers have to be rejected. Your mind will say, “You are the essence of life. You are the eternal soul. You are divine,” and so on and so forth. All those answers have to be rejected: NETI NETI — one has to go on saying, “Neither this nor that.”

When you have denied all the possible answers that the mind can supply and devise, when the question remains absolutely unanswerable, a miracle happens: suddenly the question also disappears. When all the answers have been rejected, the question has no props, no supports inside to stand on any more. It simply flops, it collapses, it disappears. When the question also has disappeared, then you know. But that knowing is not an answer: it is an existential experience. Nothing can be said about it, or whatever will be said will be wrong. To say anything about it is to falsify it. It is the ultimate mystery, inexpressible, indefinable. No word is adequate enough to describe it. Even the phrase “essence of life” is not adequate; even “God” is not adequate. Nothing is adequate to express it; its very nature is inexpressible.

But you know. You know exactly the way the seed knows how to grow — not like the professor who knows about chemistry or physics or geography or history, but like the bud which knows how to open in the early morning sun. Not like the priest who knows about God; about and about he goes, around and around he goes.

Knowledge is beating around the bush: knowing is a direct penetration. But the moment you directly penetrate into existence, you disappear as a separate entity. You are no more.

When the KNOWER is no more then the knowing is. And the knowing is not ABOUT something — you are that knowing itself.

So I cannot say, what “I” means in the question “Who am I?” It means nothing! It is just a device to lead you into the unknown, to lead you into the uncharted, to lead you into that which is not available to the mind. It is a sword to cut the very roots of the mind, so only the silence of no-mind is left. In that silence there is no question, no answer, no knower, no known, but only knowing, only experiencing.

That’s why the mystics appear to be in such difficulty to express it. Many of them have remained silent out of the awareness that whatsoever you say goes wrong; the moment you say it, it goes wrong. Those who have spoken, they have spoken with the condition:

“Don’t cling to our words.”

Lao Tzu says: “Tao, once described, is no more the real Tao.” The moment you say something about it you have already falsified it, you have betrayed it. It is such an intimate knowing, incommunicable.

“Who am I?” functions like a sword to cut all the answers that the mind can manage. Zen people will say it is a koan, just like other koans. There are many koans, famous koans.

One is: “Find out your original face.” And the disciple asks the Master, “What is the original face?” And the Master says, “The face that you had before your parents were born.”

And you start meditating on that: “What is your original face?” Naturally, you have to deny all your faces. Many faces will start surfacing: childhood faces, when you were young, when you became middle-aged, when you became old, when you were healthy, when you were ill…. All kinds of faces will stand in a queue. They will pass before your eyes claiming, “I am the original face.” And you have to go on rejecting.

When all the faces have been rejected and emptiness is left, you have found the original face. Emptiness is the original face. Zero is the ultimate experience. Nothingness – or more accurately NO-THINGNESS — is your original face.

Or another famous koan is: “The sound of one hand clapping.” The Master says to the disciple, “Go and listen to the sound of one hand clapping.” Now this is patent absurdity: one hand cannot clap and without clapping there can be no sound. The Master knows it, the disciple knows it. But when the Master says, “Go and meditate on it,” the disciple has to follow.

He starts making efforts to listen to the sound of one hand clapping. Many sounds come to his mind: the birds singing, the sound of running water…. He rushes immediately to the Master; he says, “I have heard it! The sound of running water — isn’t that the sound of one hand clapping?”

And the Master hits him hard on the head and he says, “You fool! Go back, meditate more!”

And he goes on meditating, and the mind goes on providing new answers: “The sound of wind passing through the pine trees — certainly this is the answer.” He is in such a hurry! Everybody is in such a hurry. Impatiently he rushes to the door of the Master, a little bit apprehensive, afraid too, but maybe this is the answer….

And even before he has said a single thing the Master hits him! He is very much puzzled and he says, “This is too much! I have not even uttered a single word, so how can I be wrong? And why are you hitting me?”

The Master says, “It is not a question of whether you have uttered something or not. You have come with an answer — that is enough proof that you must be wrong. When you have REALLY found it you won’t come; there will be no need. I will come to you.”

Sometimes years pass, and then one day it has happened, there is no answer. First the disciple knew that there was no answer to it, but it was only an intellectual knowing. Now he knows from his very core: “There is no answer!” All answers have evaporated. And the sure sign that all answers have evaporated is only one: when the question also evaporates. Now he is sitting silently doing nothing, not even meditating. He has forgotten the question: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” It is no more there. It is PURE silence.

And there are ways…there are inner paths which exist between a Master and a disciple.

And now the Master rushes towards the disciple. He knocks on his door. He hugs the disciple and says, “So it has happened? This is it! No answer, no question: this is it. Ah, this!”

-Osho

From Ah This!, Chapter Two

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.

Awareness is Free – Nisargadatta Maharaj

Questioner: I have just arrived from Sri Ramanashram. I have spent seven months there.

Maharaj: What practice were you following at the Ashram?

Q: As far as I could, I concentrated on the ‘Who am l’?

M: Which way were you doing it? Verbally?

Q: In my free moments during the course of the day. Sometimes I was murmuring to myself ‘Who am l?’ ‘I am, but who am l?’ Or, I did it mentally. Occasionally I would have some nice feeling, or get into moods of quiet happiness. On the whole I was trying to be quiet and receptive, rather than labouring for experiences.

M: What were you actually experiencing when you were in the right mood?

Q: A sense of inner stillness, peace and silence.

M: Did you notice yourself becoming unconscious?

Q: Yes, occasionally and for a very short time. Otherwise I was just quiet, inwardly and outwardly.

M: What kind of quiet was it? Something akin to deep sleep, yet conscious all the same. A sort of wakeful sleep?

Q: Yes. Alertly asleep. (jagrit-sushupti).

M: The main thing is to be free of negative emotions — desire, fear etc., the ‘six enemies’ of the mind. Once the mind is free of them, the rest will come easily. Just as cloth kept in soap water will become clean, so will the mind get purified in the stream of pure feeling.

When you sit quiet and watch yourself, all kinds of things may come to the surface. Do nothing about them, don’t react to them; as they have come so will they go, by themselves. All that matters is mindfulness, total awareness of oneself or rather, of one’s mind.

Q: By ‘oneself’ do you mean the daily self?

M: Yes, the person, which alone is objectively observable. The observer is beyond observation. What is observable is not the real self.

Q: I can always observe the observer, in endless recession.

M: You can observe the observation, but not the observer. You know you are the ultimate observer by direct insight, not by a logical process based on observation. You are what you are, but you know what you are not. The self is known as being, the not-self is known as transient. But in reality all is in the mind. The observed, observation and observer are mental constructs. The self alone is.

Q: Why does the mind create all these divisions?

M: To divide and particularise is in the mind’s very nature. There is no harm in dividing. But separation goes against fact. Things and people are different, but they are not separate. Nature is one, reality is one. There are opposites, but no opposition.

Q: I find that by nature I am very active. Here I am advised to avoid activity. The more I try to remain inactive, the greater the urge to do something. This makes me not only active outwardly, but also struggling inwardly to be what by nature I am not. Is there a remedy against longing for work?

M: There is a difference between work and mere activity. All nature works. Work is nature, nature is work. On the other hand, activity is based on desire and fear, on longing to possess and enjoy, on fear of pain and annihilation. Work is by the whole for the whole, activity is by oneself for oneself.

Q: Is there a remedy against activity?

M: Watch it, and it shall cease. Use every opportunity to remind yourself that you are in bondage, that whatever happens to you is due to the fact of your bodily existence. Desire, fear, trouble, joy, they cannot appear unless you are there to appear to. Yet, whatever happens, points to your existence as a perceiving centre. Disregard the pointers and be aware of what they are pointing to. It is quite simple, but it needs be done. What matters is the persistence with which you keep on returning to yourself.

Q: I do get into peculiar states of deep absorption into myself, but unpredictably and momentarily. I do not feel myself to be in control of such states.

M: The body is a material thing and needs time to change. The mind is but a set of mental habits, of ways of thinking and feeling, and to change they must be brought to the surface and examined. This also takes time. Just resolve and persevere, the rest will take care of itself.

Q: I seem to have a clear idea of what needs be done, but I find myself getting tired and depressed and seeking human company and thus wasting time that should be given to solitude and meditation.

M: Do what you feel like doing. Don’t bully yourself. Violence will make you hard and rigid. Do not fight with what you take to be obstacles on your way. Just be interested in them, watch them, observe, enquire. Let anything happen — good or bad. But don’t let yourself be submerged by what happens.

Q: What is the purpose in reminding oneself all the time that one is the watcher?

M: The mind must learn that beyond the moving mind there is the background of awareness, which does not change. The mind must come to know the true self and respect it and cease covering it up, like the moon which obscures the sun during solar eclipse. Just realise that nothing observable or experienceable is you, or binds you. Take no notice of what is not yourself.

Q: To do what you tell me I must be ceaselessly aware.

M: To be aware is to be awake. Unaware means asleep. You are aware anyhow; you need not try to be. What you need is to be aware of being aware. Be aware deliberately and consciously, broaden and deepen the field of awareness. You are always conscious of the mind, but you are not aware of yourself as being conscious.

Q: As I can make out, you give distinct meanings to the words ‘mind’, ‘consciousness’, and ‘awareness’.

M: Look at it this way. The mind produces thoughts ceaselessly, even when you do not look at them. When you know what is going on in your mind, you call it consciousness. This is your waking state — your consciousness shifts from sensation to sensation, from perception to perception, from idea to idea, in endless succession. Then comes awareness, the direct insight into the whole of consciousness, the totality of the mind. The mind is like a river, flowing ceaselessly in the bed of the body; you identify yourself for a moment with some particular ripple and call it: ‘my thought’. All you are conscious of is your mind; awareness is the cognisance of consciousness as a whole.

Q: Everybody is conscious, but not everybody is aware.

M: Don’t say: ‘everybody is conscious’. Say: ‘there is consciousness’, in which everything appears and disappears. Our minds are just waves on the ocean of consciousness. As waves they come and go. As ocean they are infinite and eternal. Know yourself as the ocean of being, the womb of all existence. These are all metaphors of course; the reality is beyond description. You can know it only by being it.

Q: Is the search for it worth the trouble?

M: Without it all is trouble. If you want to live sanely, creatively and happily and have infinite riches to share, search for what you are.

While the mind is centred in the body and consciousness is centred in the mind, awareness is free. The body has its urges and mind its pains and pleasures. Awareness is unattached and unshaken. It is lucid, silent, peaceful, alert and unafraid, without desire and fear. Meditate on it as your true being and try to be it in your daily life, and you shall realise it in its fullness.

Mind is interested in what happens, while awareness is interested in the mind itself. The child is after the toy, but the mother watches the child, not the toy.

By looking tirelessly, I became quite empty and with that emptiness all came back to me except the mind. I find I have lost the mind irretrievably.

Q: As you talk to us just now, are you unconscious?

M: I am neither conscious nor unconscious; I am beyond the mind and its various states and conditions. Distinctions are created by the mind and apply to the mind only. I am pure Consciousness itself, unbroken awareness of all that is. I am in a more real state than yours. I am undistracted by the distinctions and separations which constitute a person. As long as the body lasts, it has its needs like any other, but my mental process has come to an end.

Q: You behave like a person who thinks.

M: Why not? But my thinking, like my digestion, is unconscious and purposeful.

Q: If your thinking is unconscious, how do you know that it is right?

M: There is no desire, nor fear to thwart it. What can make it wrong? Once I know myself and what I stand for, I do not need to check on myself all the time. When you know that your watch shows correct time, you do not hesitate each time you consult it.

Q: At this very moment who talks, if not the mind?

M: That which hears the question, answers it.

Q: But who is it?

M: Not who, but what. I’m not a person in your sense of the word, though I may appear a person to you. I am that infinite ocean of consciousness in which all happens. I am also beyond all existence and cognition, pure bliss of being. There is nothing I feel separate from, hence I am all. No thing is me, so I am nothing.

The same power that makes the fire burn and the water flow, the seeds sprout and the trees grow, makes me answer your questions. There is nothing personal about me, though the language and the style may appear personal. A person is a set pattern of desires and thoughts and resulting actions; there is no such pattern in my case. There is nothing I desire or fear — how can there be a pattern?

Q: Surely, you will die.

M: Life will escape, the body will die, but it will not affect me in the least. Beyond space and time I am, uncaused, uncausing, yet the very matrix of existence.

Q: May I be permitted to ask how did you arrive at your present condition?

M: My teacher told me to hold on to the sense ‘I am’ tenaciously and not to swerve from it even for a moment. I did my best to follow his advice and in a comparatively short time I realised within myself the truth of his teaching. All I did was to remember his teaching, his face, his words constantly. This brought an end to the mind; in the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am — unbound.

Q: Was your realisation sudden or gradual.

M: Neither. One is what one is timelessly. It is the mind that realises as and when it gets cleared of desires and fears.

Q: Even the desire for realisation?

M: The desire to put an end to all desires is a most peculiar desire, just like the fear of being afraid is a most peculiar fear. One stops you from grabbing and the other from running. You may use the same words, but the states are not the same. The man who seeks realisation is not addicted to desires; he is a seeker who goes against desire, not with it. A general longing for liberation is only the beginning; to find the proper means and use them is the next step. The seeker has only one goal in view: to find his own true being. Of all desires it is the most ambitious, for nothing and nobody can satisfy it; the seeker and the sought are one and the search alone matters.

Q: The search will come to an end. The seeker will remain.

M: No, the seeker will dissolve, the search will remain. The search is the ultimate and timeless reality.

Q: Search means lacking, wanting, incompleteness and imperfection.

M: No, it means refusal and rejection of the incomplete and the imperfect. The search for reality is itself the movement of reality. In a way all search is for the real bliss, or the bliss of the real. But here we mean by search the search for oneself as the root of being conscious, as the light beyond the mind. This search will never end, while the restless craving for all else must end, for real progress to take place.

One has to understand that the search for reality, or God, or Guru and the search for the self are the same; when one is found, all are found. When ‘I am’ and ‘God is’ become in your mind indistinguishable, then something will happen and you will know without a trace of doubt that God is because you are, you are because God is. The two are one.

Q: Since all is preordained, is our self-realisation also preordained? Or are we free there at least?

M: Destiny refers only to name and shape. Since you are neither body nor mind, destiny has no control over you. You are completely free. The cup is conditioned by its shape, material, use and so on. But the space within the cup is free. It happens to be in the cup only when viewed in connection with the cup. Otherwise it is just space. As long as there is a body, you appear to be embodied. Without the body you are not disembodied — you Just are.

Even destiny is but an idea. Words can be put together in so many ways! Statements can differ, but do they make any change in the actual? There are so many theories devised for explaining things — all are plausible, none is true. When you drive a car, you are subjected to the laws of mechanics and chemistry: step out of the car and you are under the laws of physiology and biochemistry.

Q: What is meditation and what are its uses?

M: As long as you are a beginner certain formalised meditations or prayers may be good for you. But for a seeker for reality there is only one meditation — the rigorous refusal to harbour thoughts. To be free from thoughts is itself meditation.

Q: How is it done?

M: You begin by letting thoughts flow and watching them. The very observation slows down the mind till it stops altogether. Once the mind is quiet, keep it quiet. Don’t get bored with peace, be in it, go deeper into it.

Q: I heard of holding on to one thought in order to keep other thoughts away. But how to keep all thoughts away? The very idea is also a thought.

M: Experiment anew, don’t go by past experience. Watch your thoughts and watch yourself watching the thoughts. The state of freedom from all thoughts will happen suddenly and by the bliss of it you shall recognise it.

Q: Are you not at all concerned about the state of the world? Look at the horrors in East Pakistan [1971, now Bangladesh]. Do they not touch you at all?

M: I am reading newspapers; I know what is going on! But my reaction is not like yours. You are looking for a cure, while I am concerned with prevention. As long as there are causes, there must also be results. As long as people are bent on dividing and separating, as long as they are selfish and aggressive, such things will happen. If you want peace and harmony in the world, you must have peace and harmony in your hearts and minds. Such change cannot be imposed; it must come from within. Those who abhor war must get war out of their system. Without peaceful people how can you have peace in the world? As long as people are as they are, the world must be as it is. I am doing my part in trying to help people to know themselves as the only cause of their own misery. In that sense I am a useful man. But what I am in myself, what is my normal state cannot be expressed in terms of social consciousness and usefulness.

I may talk about it, use metaphors or parables, but I am acutely aware that it is just not so. Not that it cannot be experienced. It is experiencing itself! But it cannot be described in the terms of a mind that must separate and oppose in order to know.

The world is like a sheet of paper on which something is typed. The reading and the meaning will vary with the reader, but the paper is the common factor, always present, rarely perceived. When the ribbon is removed, typing leaves no trace on the paper. So is my mind — the impressions keep on coming, but no trace is left.

Q: Why do you sit here talking to people? What is your real motive?

M: No motive. You say I must have a motive. I am not sitting here, nor talking: no need to search for motives. Don’t confuse me with the body. I have no work to do, no duties to perform. That part of me which you may call God will look after the world. This world of yours, that so much needs looking after, lives and moves in your mind. Delve into it, you will find your answers there and there only. Where else do you expect them to come from? Outside your consciousness does anything exist?

Q: It may exist without my ever knowing it.

M: What kind of existence would it be? Can being be divorced from knowing? All being, like all knowing, relates to you. A thing is because you know it to be either in your experience or in your being. Your body and your mind exist as long as you believe so. Cease to think that they are yours and they will just dissolve. By all means let your body and mind function, but do not let them limit you. If you notice imperfections, just keep on noticing: your very giving attention to them will set your heart and mind and body right.

Q: Can I cure myself of a serious illness by merely taking cognisance of it?

M: Take cognisance of the whole of it, not only of the outer symptoms. All illness begins in the mind. Take care of the mind first, by tracing and eliminating all wrong ideas and emotions. Then live and work disregarding illness and think no more of it. With the removal of causes the effect is bound to depart.

Man becomes what he believes himself to be. Abandon all ideas about yourself and you will find yourself to be the pure witness, beyond all that can happen to the body or the mind.

Q: If I become anything I think myself to be, and I start thinking that I am the Supreme Reality, will not my Supreme Reality remain a mere idea?

M: First reach that state and then ask the question.

-Nisargadatta Maharaj

From I Am That, Chapter 48

For more posts on Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/category/nisargadatta-maharaj/

To read more from Nisargadatta Maharaj see:   https://o-meditation.com/jai-guru-deva/some-good-books/downloadable-books/nisargadatta-maharaj/

Osho asks “Who am I?”

I used to ask myself, “Who am I?” It is impossible to count how many days and nights I passed in this query. The intellect gave answers heard from others, or born of conditioning. All of them were borrowed, lifeless. They brought no contentment. They resonated a little at the surface, and then disappeared. The inner being was not touched by them. No echo of them was heard in the depths. There were many answers to the question, but none was correct. And I was untouched by them. They could not rise to the level of the question.

Then I saw that the question came from the center but the replies touched only the periphery. The question was mine, but the answers came from outside; the question arose from my innermost being, the replies were imposed from outside. This insight became a revolution. A new dimension was revealed.

The responses of the intellect were meaningless. They had no relevance to the problem. An illusion had shattered. And what a relief it was!

It seemed as if a closed door had been flung open, filling the darkness with light. The intellect had been providing the answers – that was the mistake. Because of these false answers, the real answer could not arise. Some truth was struggling to surface. In the depths of consciousness some seed was seeking the way to break open the ground in order to reach the light. Intellect was the obstruction.

When this was made plain, the answers began to subside. Knowledge acquired from outside began to evaporate. The question went ever deeper. I did not do anything, only kept on watching.

Something novel was happening. I was speechless. What was there to do? I was, at the most, simply a witness. The reactions of the periphery were fading, perishing, becoming nonexistent. The center now began to resonate more fully.

“Who am I?” My entire being was throbbing with this thirst.

What a violent storm it was! Every breath quaked and trembled in it.

“Who am I?” – Like an arrow, the question pierced through everything and moved within.

I remember – what an acute thirst it was! My very life had turned into thirst. Everything was burning. And like a flame of fire the question stood forth, “Who am I?”

The surprise was that the intellect was completely silent. The incessant flow of thoughts had stopped. What had happened? The periphery was absolutely still. There were no thoughts, no conditioning of the past.

Only I was there – and there was the question too. No, no – I myself was the question.

And then the explosion. In a moment, everything was transformed. The question had dropped.

The answer had come from some unknown dimension.

Truth is attained through a sudden explosion, not gradually.

It cannot be compelled to appear. It comes.

Emptiness is the solution, not words. Becoming answer-less is the answer.

Someone asked yesterday – and someone or the other asks every day – “What is the answer?”

I say, “If I mention it, it is meaningless. Its meaning lies in realizing it oneself.”

-Osho

From Seeds of Wisdom #13

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

You can read the entire book online at 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.

Who Am I?

My father is the sky in which I breathe
My mother is the earth on which I walk
I know their son but I am not he.

Then, who am I?

My heart is love
My head insight
I am both, no neither.

So, who am I?

When I close my eyes, the whole world disappears
When I open my eyes, I am reborn
I witness all of life.

But, who Is this I?

-purushottama

This post is from a collection of essays, stories, insights and poems that have occurred to me along the Way titled Here to Now and Behind.

Osho on “Who am I?”

Would you please talk about the sadhana based on holding as much as possible to the “I” thought or the sense “I AM” and on asking oneself the questions, “Who am I?” or “From where does the ‘I’ arise?” In what way does this approach to meditation differ from that of watching the gaps between one’s in-breath and out-breath? Does it make any difference whether one witnesses the breath focusing on the heart center or on the lower belly center?

It is an ancient method of meditation, but full of dangers. Unless you are alert, the greater possibility is that you will be led astray by the method rather than to the right goal. The method is simple—concentrating yourself on the concept of I, closing your eyes and inquiring, “Who am I?”

The greatest problem is that when you ask “Who am I”… who is going to answer you? Most probably the answer will come from your tradition, from your scriptures, from your conditioning. You have heard that “I am not the body, I am not the mind. I am the soul, I am the ultimate, Brahma, I am God” — all these kinds of thoughts you have heard before.

You will ask a few times, “Who am I? Who am I?”—And then you will say, “I am ultimate, BRAHMA.” And this is not a discovery, this is simply stupid. If you want to go rightly into the method, then the question has not to be verbally asked. “Who am I?” has not to be repeated verbally. Because as long as it remains a verbal question, you will supply a verbal answer from the head. You have to drop the verbal question. It has to remain just a vague idea, just like a thirst. Not that “I am thirsty,”—can you see the difference? When you are thirsty, you feel the thirst. And if you are in a desert, you feel the thirst in every fiber of your body. You don’t say, “I am thirsty, I am thirsty.” It is no longer a linguistic question, it is existential.

If “Who am I?” is an existential question, if you are not asking it in language but instead the feeling of the question is settling inside your center, then there is no need for any answer. Then it is none of the mind’s business. The mind will not hear that which is non-verbal, and the mind will not answer that which is non-verbal.

All your scriptures are in the mind, all your knowledge is gathered there.

Now you are entering an innocent space. You will not get the answer. You will get the feel, you will get the taste, you will get the smell. As you go deeper, you will be filled more with the feeling of being, of immortality, blissfulness, silence… a tremendous benediction.

But there is no answer like, “I am this, I am that.” All that is from the scriptures. This feeling is from you, and this feeling has a truth about it. It is a perfectly valid method.

One of the great masters of this century, Raman Maharshi, used only this method for his disciples: “Who am I?” But I have come across hundreds of his disciples—they are nowhere near the ultimate experience. And the reason is because they know the answer already.

I have asked them, “Do you know the answer?”

They said, “We know the answer.”

I said, “If you know the answer, then why are you asking? And your asking cannot go on very long—do it two or three times and the answer comes. The answer was already there, before the question.” So it is just a mind game. If you want to play it, you can play it. But if you really want to go into it as it was meant by Raman Maharshi, and by all the ancient seers, it is a nonverbal thirst.

Not knowing oneself hurts, it is a wound. Not knowing oneself makes the whole of life meaningless. You may know everything, only you do not know yourself—and that would be the first thing to know. So if you can avoid the danger of falling into a verbal question, it is perfectly good, you can go ahead.

You have also asked about witnessing, watching the breath and where one should watch. Anywhere—because the question is not where you are watching, the question is that you are watching. The emphasis is on watching, watchfulness. All those points are just excuses. You can watch the breath at the tip of the nose where the breath goes in, you can watch it while it is going in, you can watch it when it returns—you can watch it anywhere. You can watch thoughts moving inside. The whole point is not to get lost in what you are watching, as if that is important. That is not important. The important thing is that you are watchful, that you have not forgotten to watch, that you are watching… watching… watching.

And slowly, slowly, as the watcher becomes more and more solid, stable, unwavering, a transformation happens. The things that you were watching disappear. For the first time, the watcher itself becomes the watched; the observer itself becomes the observed. You have come home.

-Osho

From Beyond Enlightenment, Chapter Nine  

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An 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.