Awareness: The Decisive Factor
Osho on Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna was a Buddhist Mystic and a philosopher with a great intellect. Very few philosophers could be compared with the level of intellectuality of Nagarjuna, he was really that sharp in his field of thinking. Osho says Nagarjuna is a great philosopher, one of the greatest of the world. Only a few people in the world, very few, have that quality of penetration that Nagarjuna has. So, his way of talking is very philosophical, logical, absolutely logical. Nagarjuna is one of the greatest disciples of Buddha, and one of the most penetrating intellects ever. Only very few people — once in a while, a Socrates, a Shankara — can be compared with Nagarjuna. He was very, very intelligent. The uttermost that the intellect can do is to commit suicide; the greatest thing, the greatest crescendo that can come to the intellect is to go beyond itself — that’s what Nagarjuna has done. He has passed through all the realms of intellect, and beyond.
Osho further says about Nagarjuna He has contradicted everything. He has debated against everything. He has criticized all theories. And people were puzzled. They would ask: Okay, whatsoever you say is okay, but what is YOUR standpoint? He would say: I don’t have any standpoint. I am here just to destroy theories, I don’t have a theory to replace them with. Whatsoever is your theory — Come! And I will criticize it and destroy it. But don’t ask for a substitute because I have none. You become empty, that’s perfect, there is no need to do anything.
Nagarjuna has written a book, Osho praises his writing and says Nagarjuna, a disciple of Buddha, has written a shastra called, MOOL MADHYAMIC KARIKA. This book has no equal in the world. Naturally, for it is next to impossible to find, again, a person like Nagarjuna. He has proved in this book that nothing exists. Neither you nor I, nor the mundane world — nothing is.
IN JAPAN THERE IS AN ANCIENT FORM OF THEATER, WHICH I STUDIED FOR A SHORT TIME, CALLED NOH. IN IT, THE ACTOR MOVES SLOWLY FORWARDS, ONE STEP AT A TIME; SIMULTANEOUSLY HE FOCUSES INSIDE, AND WITH HIS ENERGY CREATES A PATH BEHIND HIM. IF THE AUDIENCE IS REALLY IN TUNE WITH HIM, THEY CAN ALSO SEE BOTH HIS PHYSICAL MOVEMENT FORWARD AND THE PATH HE IS CREATING BEHIND HIM.
OSHO, YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU WILL BE IN THE NEXT MOMENT, YOU DON’T CARE WHERE YOUR FEET WILL BE NEXT. MY CONCERN IS THAT I BE ABLE TO SEE CLEARLY, EVERY MOMENT, THE PATH THAT YOU ARE CREATING BEHIND YOU.
WHAT A WONDERFUL JOURNEY TO BE WITH YOU, OSHO! WE GO WHEREVER EXISTENCE LEADS US.
The moment you trust in let-go, the moment you stop struggling against existence, you need not worry about anything; existence takes care. The whole trouble with the human mind is, it is constantly fighting, it is trying to go against the current.
There is a reason why it does so: only by going against the current does it feel the ego. Just going with the flow of life — without any struggle, letting life lead you wherever it wants to — your ego will disappear. You will be, you will be more than you are now — more authentic, more true — but there will be no sense of I. And then you will be able to see where you are going. Even the path that is created as you move can be seen by those who have no egos. You can even see the footprints of the birds flying in the sky. They don’t make any footprints but if the mind is clear of the ego, the whole being becomes such a clean mirror that even those footprints reflect in it.
The Japanese form of drama called Noh is a by-product of Zen experience. Zen has given birth to many things. No other religious movement in the world has been so creative, so productive. It has created art — which has a quality of its own — it has created poetry, it has created literature, it has created drama, it has created sculpture. Whatever it has created, it has left unmistakably the mark of meditativeness on it; it has turned things into meditation which nobody has ever imagined can even be associated with meditation. For example, swordsmanship. Who can think that swordsmanship can be a discipline for meditation?
And drama. All other religions have condemned the whole world as drama. Zen has used even drama. And if the actor moves, focusing his whole energy just under the navel — two inches under the navel, where according to Zen is the point hara, our life source — if he concentrates inside on the hara and moves slowly step by step, those who are silent enough in the audience will see, behind him, a path is being created. His energy is moving forward leaving a certain imprint which can be read only by those who are capable of some silent awareness. It is tremendously beautiful, the whole drama. It is not like any other drama in the world, they have changed the whole character; they have made it sacred. The audience is not sitting in a theatre but in a temple, and the actors are not just acting, they are meditating.
Zen painting or Zen poetry, they have the same quality;
Zen has transformed the whole meaning of any art that it has touched. No religion has been able to do that; in fact, no religion has been creative. They have all been destructive. Zen is the very essence of creativity. You can do anything and yet your action can be sacred. The question is not what you do; the question is whether you do it with awareness or unawareness. They have shifted the whole question. Every religion thinks, “This is wrong, that is right. Do this, don’t do that.” They are pointing towards certain acts which are wrong, certain acts which are right — which is a very childish thing, because an act can be right in one context and the same act can be wrong in another context. You cannot stamp a certain act as wrong or right. Then how to decide what is moral, what is immoral, what has to be done and what has not to be done? Zen does not decide. Zen simply says, “Just be aware, whatever you are doing. If your awareness remains unwavering while doing it, it is right. If you have to lose your awareness — only then you can do it — then it is wrong.” The decisive point has gone inward; not to the object, but to your subjectivity. And the same you have to understand here with me — no act in itself is right or wrong, no person is good or bad. It all depends on awareness.
I am reminded of one great mystic, Nagarjuna. He used to live naked. He had only a begging bowl; that was his only possession. But perhaps he was the greatest genius that has been born on this earth, as far as intelligence is concerned — his sharpness is incomparable. Great kings, queens, great philosophers were his students. One queen was very much devoted to him, and when he came to her capital she had made a golden begging bowl studded with diamonds. And when he came to the palace to beg, she said, “First you have to give me a promise.” He said, “You are asking a promise from a naked man who has nothing but his begging bowl.” She said, “That will do. I’m just asking for the begging bowl.” He said, “You can take it.” She said, “That is only half. I will replace it, and you will have to take my begging bowl.” He said, “There is no problem, any begging bowl will do.” He was not at all aware of what she was hiding. It was a golden begging bowl studded with very valuable diamonds.
He took it. As he was going back to the ruins of the monastery where he was staying, one thief saw him and could not believe his eyes. The begging bowl was shining like stars and he is a naked man — of course very beautiful, magnificent; but what is the begging bowl doing with this naked man? And how long can he keep it? Somebody is going to take it away, so why not I?
He followed Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna went inside a room, which was a little shed with just the walls left. The whole monastery was in ruins, and there was a window by the side, and the thief was hiding outside the window knowing that Buddhist monks eat only once a day. Now he will eat, and then he will have a little sleep — just a nap. And that will be the right moment. In this monastery nobody lives. It is thousands of years old. But before giving him a chance to steal the bowl, Nagarjuna ate his food and threw the bowl out of the window where the thief was sitting. The thief could not believe it. He was really shocked. For a moment he could not think what to do; what kind of man is he? He has eaten his food and thrown away this immensely valuable bowl as if it is of no use — and exactly where I am sitting.
He stood up and he asked Nagarjuna, “Can I come in just to ask one question?” Nagarjuna said, “To bring you in, I had to throw the bowl out. Come in. The bowl is yours; don’t be worried. I have given it to you so you will not be a thief. It is a gift, a present. I am a poor man. I don’t have anything else, only that bowl; and I know I cannot keep it for long because I will have to sleep, somebody will take it away and you have taken so much trouble. From the capital you followed me, and I have been watching. And it is a hot summer day. Please don’t refuse. Take it.” The thief said, “You are a strange man. Don’t you know how costly it is?” Nagarjuna said, “Since I have known myself nothing is costly.” The thief looked at Nagarjuna and said, “Then give me one present more: how can I know myself in comparison to which this precious bowl is nothing?” He said, “It is very simple.” But the thief said, “Before you say anything I want to introduce myself. I am a well-known thief.”
Nagarjuna said, “Who is not? Don’t be concerned with trivia. In this world everybody is a thief because everybody comes naked without anything, and then everybody has something or other. All are thieves, so don’t be worried. That’s why I live naked. It is perfectly okay. Whatever you are doing, do it well. Just do one thing: when you are stealing be aware, be alert, be watchful. If you lose watchfulness then don’t steal. That is a simple rule for you.” The thief said, “It is very simple. When I can see you again?” He said, “I will be here for two weeks. You can come any day, but first try it.”
For two weeks he tried, and he found that it is the most difficult thing in the world. Once he reached even into the palace, opened the door of the treasures, but when he will try to take something he will lose his awareness. And he was an honest man. So he will leave that thing — that cannot be taken. But it was difficult: when he was aware, there was no desire to take anything; and when he was not aware, he wanted to take the whole treasure. Finally he came empty-handed to Nagarjuna and he said, “You have disturbed my whole life. Now I cannot steal.” Nagarjuna said, “That is not my problem. Now it is your problem. If you want to steal forget all about awareness.” But the thief said, “Those few moments of awareness were so valuable. I have never felt so at ease, so peaceful, so silent, so blissful — the whole treasure of the kingdom was nothing compared to it. Now I understand what you mean by saying that once you have known yourself nothing else is costly. I cannot stop practicing awareness. I have tasted just a few drops of the nectar which you must be tasting every moment. Will you allow me to be a disciple and follow you?” Nagarjuna said, “I knew it that very day. I had initiated you already when you followed me. You were thinking you are going to steal the begging bowl and I was thinking how to steal you. We are both in the same business.”
Never be bothered about anything else, only one thing — one thing is the whole religion, and that is awareness, and then you will be able to see where your life is going, where all of life is going. And you will be able to feel that this is the only way to be at ease and in harmony with existence, the only way to dissolve yourself into the whole. So just remember one thing, whatever you are doing — it may be drama, it may be cooking in the kitchen, it may be washing the dishes…Each moment, whatever you are doing, do it with full awareness, with totality, intensity, love; and do it as if it is the greatest thing in the world to do. Make it an art, so that each moment of your life becomes the life of an artist. Enlightenment will come on its own accord without even knocking on your doors. One day suddenly you will see that your joy, your ecstasy, never leaves you; whether you are awake or asleep, it is within you.
For days you have not been miserable, for days you have not felt any agony, for days you have not felt anger, jealousy, competitiveness, for days you have not felt yourself as an I. This is the whole work of the mystery school, to let your ego dissolve and to help you into a deep let-go with existence.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Transmission of the Lamp
Chapter title: Footprints in the sky
31 May 1986 pm in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Meher Baba, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Zarathustra, Nagarjuna and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses: