Beyond Enlightenment

Birthday of Indian Philosopher Sri Aurobindo

Today is the day when a great Indian philosopher, freedom fighter, poet and yogi Shri Aurobindo, was born. He was the man of great intelligence and intellectual. His contribution to the world is extraordinary and unique. His theory of superhuman and different levels of consciousness, the expansion of supreme consciousness, transformation of matter to higher consciousness and the light body activation are incomparable. No one had done such a work before or after him.

Many years of his early life he dedicatedly served the country for freedom struggle and he had a great role in Indian freedom movement. After this, in his midlife he totally got shifted towards his inner journey of meditation. His literary contribution is truly beautiful e.g. ‘Integral Yoga’, ‘‘Synthesis of Yoga’, ‘Savitri’, ‘The Life Divine’, ‘The mind of light’ and ‘The Mother’ are some of his great works.

Osho has said that Aurobindo was a great man of knowledge but not the awakened one. Osho also opposes the theory that god descends and he says I think that is a very wrong idea. It is true God descends, but he descends only on those who ascend to him. A great deal depends on the individual and his efforts. Divine energy descends on those who prepare themselves for it, who deserve it. And there is no reason for God to be collectively available to one and all. In fact, God is always available, but only to those who aspire and strive for him. And it is always the individual, not a collective or a society, who walks the path to God. And he has to go all alone.

But Osho supports Aurobindo poetic form and says But there is another side of Arvind which is poetic. He is not only an intellectual but also a great poet. As a poet he is not less than Rabindranath Tagore. If he failed to receive the Nobel Prize, it was not because he did not deserve it, but because his poetry is much too complex and difficult to understand. His Savitri ranks among the great epics of the world; there are hardly ten great epics of the stature of Savitri. And unlike the scholar, the poet in Arvind is quite capable of seeing Krishna’s visions. Ironically, Arvind has expressed this experience strictly in terms of logic and reason, which is of course natural. And his account of the experience does not have the flavor of the transconscious.

Osho Says……




Sri Aurobindo is a strange case. He knows everything about enlightenment, but he is not enlightened. He is one of the greatest scholars of this age, a genius; vast is his knowledge. But his knowing is nil. He knows about the scriptures, and he knows better than anybody else. His interpretation is profound, very logical, but heartless. It is dead; it is not coming out of his own realization. This is one of the great problems for all seekers of truth: one can get lost in knowledge without knowing anything about the reality. He knows all the theories, all the philosophies, but he is just a blind man who knows everything about light but has not seen the light himself. And it is possible to remain in a deception for your whole life — because you know so much, and people start worshipping you, people start believing you. And belief has its own psychology: if many people believe in you, you are bound to believe in yourself.

I have often told a small story about a great journalist who died and reached the doors of heaven. The doors of heaven and hell are not far apart; they are just opposite each other. The distance is not much, and naturally one would like to enter heaven. So he knocked on the door. The doorkeeper opened a small window in the door and asked, “What do you want?”

He said, “I am a great journalist. I have just died, and I want to enter.”

The doorkeeper said, “I am sorry but I have to refuse you — because we have a quota; we can have only twelve journalists in heaven. That quota has been filled for centuries — for centuries, no new journalist has entered. And anyway, even those twelve are utterly useless because nothing happens in heaven. They tried to publish a newspaper, but only one issue appeared — because there are only saints here — no murder, no suicide, no crime, no politics, no struggle for power… no change ever happens; everything is eternally the same. From where can you get news?” “And,” the doorkeeper said, “you must have heard the definition of news: when a dog bites a man it is not news, but when a man bites a dog it is news. So nothing sensational happens here, no love affair… When people get bored, they read the first issue that was published centuries ago.

“You should go to hell. Every moment tremendous things happen there. All the active people of the world, all the creative people of the world are there — painters, musicians, poets, actors, dancers, thieves, murderers, rapists, psychoanalysts, philosophers — you will find every variety.

“Heaven is monotonous. Only dull, dead saints — skeletons. Their only quality is that they don’t do anything. So just go to hell and enjoy. You will find everything that you may have missed on earth — because for centuries upon centuries, all the juicy people have collected there. In fact, I myself want to go… but once you get into heaven, you cannot escape. So I am stuck here. My suggestion is that you just go.”

But journalists are stubborn people. He said, “I have a suggestion, and I think you must be compassionate enough to do it for me. Just give me twenty-four hours’ entry. If I can convince one of the journalists inside to go to hell then you can put me in the quota; twelve journalists will remain twelve.” The gatekeeper said, “It is unheard of, there is no precedent. But I cannot say no to you. Go in, have a try. But remember, after twenty-four hours…. I am taking a risk. After twenty-four hours, come back.”

After twenty-four hours he came back. In those twenty-four hours he had created a rumor among all the journalists: “A big newspaper is going to be started in hell and there is great need for editors, sub-editors, story writers, all kinds of journalists. The salaries are great. So what are you doing HERE?” After twenty-four hours when the journalist came to the gate, the gatekeeper said, “Go back. You cannot go out now.” The journalist said, “Why not?” The gatekeeper said, “I have kept my word, and you have to keep your word. You were very convincing. All twelve journalists have gone. I tried hard to explain that `This is just a rumor; don’t spoil your heaven.’ But they wouldn’t listen.”

The man himself had created the rumor, but he had started thinking perhaps there was something in it; otherwise twelve persons wouldn’t go to hell for no reason. He said, “Just open the door!” He was convinced by others being convinced. And this happens to millions of people.

When you see that seven hundred million people are convinced that Catholic Christianity is the only religion, it is difficult to say that those seven hundred million people can be wrong. The sheer number has such weight. That’s why all the religions go on trying to increase their numbers. They have their methods to increase their numbers because the more you increase the numbers the more you convince those who are not in your fold that they are wrong and you are right. Your sheer majority is an argument; it validates anything you say.

Sri Aurobindo was a great intellectual, a very convincing, rational philosophical genius. He convinced many people, and those many people convinced him that he was enlightened. He knows nothing of enlightenment. It is true that there is something more in existence than the enlightenment Gautam the Buddha achieved. But it is Gautam the Buddha himself who, for the first time in the world, indicated the possibility of the beyond. Naturally, nobody else can say that there is something beyond — unless they reach that boundary. So when Sri Aurobindo says there is something more than the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha, he is hiding the fact that it was Gautam Buddha himself who was the first man in the whole of history to say that “This is not all; there is something beyond.”

Buddha says — and you can see the sincerity of the man — that “A man who has entered the path, srotapanna, who has entered the stream that leads to the ocean, is millions of times more respectable than anybody else, just because he has entered the path in search of the truth. He has not found, but just the urge, just the effort, the first step, and he has become millions of times more honorable than all your respectable generals, kings, emperors and world conquerors. “The person who has reached the point from which he will not turn back, anagamin, is millions of times more honorable than the srotapanna, than the one who has entered the stream. And the man who has become enlightened, who has become a buddha, is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return.”

The point of no return is something worth understanding. Many people start the search and then drop out. It is arduous, it is moving into the unknown; nobody knows whether there is anything like enlightenment or just a fiction created by a few people like Gautam Buddha. Perhaps they are not lying, perhaps they themselves are deceived — who knows? There is no guarantee. So many start, but very few remain.

Most of them return to the world. Sooner or later, finding that they are going into an unknown territory without a map, without any guide, they start feeling crazy. Because the whole world is going in a totally different direction, and they are left alone. Their whole strength was in the crowd. Alone, a thousand and one doubts arise. Alone, one starts feeling that millions of people cannot be wrong, “And I am alone, thinking that I am right — I must be getting crazy.”

Anagamin is one who has come to a point from where he cannot return. He is not enlightened but he has seen, from far away, the possibility. He has not reached the peak; he is still in the dark valley. But he can see the sunlit peak; it is a reality, it is not a fiction. Now there is no force in the world which can make him go back. Buddha says, “But the one who has become enlightened is millions of times more honorable than the person who has reached the point of no return.” And here is the sincerity of the man — he says: “The man who has transcended buddhahood, who has gone beyond enlightenment, is millions of times more honorable than anyone who is enlightened.” He is not claiming that he has gone beyond; he is simply saying “I can see from my place that faraway star.” And he was the first to see that faraway star: beyond enlightenment.

Sri Aurobindo is not sincere. He never quotes this passage, which was his duty to quote. He tries to convince his readers and followers that he is working to open the door beyond enlightenment. He is not even courageous enough to declare himself… to say that he is enlightened. He never declared that. But only indirectly… he is assuming that you will understand that he is enlightened because he is trying to open the door beyond enlightenment. Naturally he must be enlightened, but he is not saying it. To declare it needs courage, not scholarship. He gives a hint, as if he is enlightened and he is working for others so that they can also go beyond enlightenment. They have not even reached enlightenment. It is hilarious, the very idea that he is trying to open the door… his whole life’s aspiration.

All his aspirations were stupid. This is stupid because others will need that door only if they have become enlightened. First help people to become enlightened! Rather than helping people to become enlightened, you are devoting your whole energy to opening the door beyond enlightenment. And it is not only on this point that he was talking nonsense, he was talking nonsense on many points. Another of his aspirations was physical immortality; he was working so that man can become physically immortal. Naturally you will think he has become physically immortal — these are natural assumptions. And his followers all over the world started spreading the great news, the good news, that Sri Aurobindo had become physically immortal: “Now he is trying to find the right techniques so that every human being can become physically immortal.” And then one day he died.

One of my friends was living in Sri Aurobindo’s ashram. I phoned him immediately and asked him, “What happened?” But such is blindness… he said, “Here in the ashram everybody was shocked. But the mother of the ashram told us that he has simply gone into a long samadhi. He is not dead; it is part of his project to find immortality. He has found all, but just for the last, missing link he has to go into deep samadhi, to dive deep into the ocean.” And he told me that everybody believed it!

For three days they did not cremate his body or bury his body because they believed that he would be coming back. But in three days the body started stinking. Then they became afraid that if the news spread that the body was stinking…The man was dead, he was not going to come back. After three days they put his body into a marble grave. Still they did not burn his body because he might come back at any moment. The really faithful ones still believe that one day he will come back. And the whole belief shifted towards the mother — she was the co-partner in the business of finding immortality for humanity. And it looked as if she had found it, because she lived for almost a century. It seemed probable; perhaps she had found it. And she was saying that she was going to live forever.

Now this is the beautiful thing about spirituality: I can say to you that I am going to live forever and tomorrow I can die — who are you going to argue with? And one day the mother died. Again the same thing: they waited for three days, and when the body started stinking, she was put into another marble grave next to Sri Aurobindo. And the faithful ones still sit beside the graves every day, waiting for them to return. Slowly slowly, the number of faithful ones is lessening. The hope is turning into hopelessness, into despair. Perhaps they have not yet found the missing link together. It is enough that man has an immortal soul, an immortal consciousness, an immortal life principle. But Sri Aurobindo was obsessed with the idea that he had to bring some original contribution to the spiritual progress of humanity. That the human soul is immortal is as ancient an experience as humanity itself. Even the VEDAS, five thousand years old, declare man as amritasya putrah — “you are sons of immortality.” Something new, something original… and this was a great original idea, that your body can be immortal. One cannot conceive how intelligent people can get caught up in such absurd ideas.

Sri Aurobindo was a child, he became a young man, he became old. If the human body is immortal, then you will have to say at what age it is going to be immortal. As a child? As a young man? As an old man? Or as a dead man? The last seems to be the only possibility.

“As a dead man, the human body is immortal” — and certainly it is, because all the elements of the human body disperse into nature. Nothing is going to die, everything is going to merge — the earth into earth, the water into water, the air into air… all the elements will go to their sources. In that sense the human body has always been immortal. Not only the human body — buffaloes, donkeys, monkeys, everybody is immortal. It does not need a Sri Aurobindo to declare that his body is immortal. Gautam Buddha is the rarest human being in that he recognizes that there is still something more, he has not reached the end of evolution.

In Japan, they had a beautiful collection of paintings called “Ten Zen Bulls.” It is a series of paintings depicting the whole story of the search.

In the first, a man is looking here and there… his bull is lost. You see forest all around, ancient trees, and the puzzled man standing there looking, and he cannot see the bull.

In the second painting, he looks a little happier because he has seen the bull’s footprints. It is the same painting, the same forest. Just one thing he has discovered in this painting and that is, he has seen the bull’s footprints, so he knows where he has gone.

In the third painting he moves and sees the backside of the bull — because it is standing by the side of a tree, and the man is behind him — so he looks… and just the backside is shown in the painting.

In the fourth he has reached the bull; he sees the whole bull.

In the fifth he has caught hold of the bull by the horns.

In the sixth he is riding on the bull. It is difficult, the bull is trying to throw him off.

By the eighth he is returning home, the bull is conquered.

In the ninth the bull is back in the stall and the man is playing on a flute.

In the tenth, there is no question of the bull at all. The man is seen in the marketplace with a bottle of wine, drunk.

Buddhists were very much embarrassed about the tenth painting. It does not seem to be Buddhist at all — and there is no connection, because nine seems to be perfect; there is no need for the tenth. So in the Middle Ages they dropped the tenth painting, and they started talking of the nine paintings. Only recently has the tenth painting been discovered again in the ancient scriptures with its description — because each painting has a description of what is happening. The bull is lost, your soul is lost — the bull represents your soul, your energy, your spirit. When the bull is found, you have become a realized soul. You are singing a song on the flute — that is the stage of enlightenment. What about the tenth? That is the stage when you go beyond enlightenment; you become ordinary again. Now there is no split between this world and that, now there is no split between good and bad. Now all opposites have joined together into one single harmony; that’s what is represented by the bottle of wine, a bottle of wine in the hands of a buddha. Sri Aurobindo never talked about the Ten Bulls because that again would have destroyed his originality. The paintings of the Ten Bulls are at least fifteen centuries old. The Buddhists in the Middle Ages were cowardly; they could not understand the tenth.

But as far as I am concerned, I can see a natural growth from the ninth to the tenth, from enlightenment to beyond enlightenment.

Enlightenment makes you special. That means something of the ego in some subtle form still remains. Others are ignorant, you are a knower; others are going towards hell, your paradise is guaranteed. These are the last remnants of a dying ego. And when this ego also dies the buddha becomes an ordinary human being, not knowing at all that he is holier than thou, higher than thou, special in any sense — so ordinary that even a bottle of wine is acceptable. The whole of life is acceptable; the days and the nights, the flowers and the thorns, the saints and the sinners — all are acceptable, with no discrimination at all. This ordinariness is really the greatest flowering of human reality.

Sri Aurobindo will be remembered as a great philosopher — should be remembered as a great philosopher — a man of tremendous insight into words, scriptures; immensely articulate in bringing meanings, interpretations to them; novel, original…. But he was not a man of realization. And he is not sincere, he is not an authentic man. He had a great desire to prove himself, to prove that he is greater than Gautam Buddha. That was his ego. To go beyond enlightenment is not to become greater than Gautam Buddha.

To go beyond enlightenment is to become an ordinary human being. To forget all about enlightenment and all about great spiritual aspirations and to live simply joyously, playfully… this ordinariness is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the world.

But you will not be able to recognize him. Up to Gautam Buddha you will be able to recognize, but as a person moves beyond Gautam Buddha, he will start slipping out of your hands. Those who have recognized him as an enlightened being may remain aware of who he is, but those who come new will not be able to recognize him at all, because he will be simply a very innocent, ordinary human being — just like a child collecting seashells on the beach, running after butterflies, gathering flowers. No division of body and soul, no division of matter and spirit, no division of this life and that — all that is forgotten; one has relaxed totally.

If Sri Aurobindo had known even the meaning of what it is to go beyond realization, beyond enlightenment, he would not have even thought about it. He was thinking that going beyond enlightenment is something greater than Gautam Buddha. He was continuously in a inner jealousy, and of course the jealousy was of Gautam Buddha. And he wanted to come up with some original ideas so that he could prove them, but he has not proved anything. I respect Sri Aurobindo as a scholar — but scholars are just scholars, a dollar a dozen.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Beyond Enlightenment

Chapter #17

Chapter title: The point of no return

19 October 1986 pm


Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assaguoli, Aristotle, Sri Aurobindo, Berkeley, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Laing, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Socrates, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Hidden Splendour
  2. The New Dawn
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  5. Beyond Enlightenment
  6. Beyond Psychology
  7. Light on The Path
  8. The Discipline of Transcendence
  9. From Bondage to Freedom
  10. From Darkness to Light
  11. From Ignorance to Innocence
  12. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
  13. From Personality to Individuality
  14. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  15. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
  16. Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
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