Beyond Enlightenment

Osho on Beyond Enlightenment

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 painting, 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. … … 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. … …

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.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse series: The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2 Chapter #2

Chapter title: Love is the only friend

28 August 1978 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on ‘Enlightenment, Zen, Meditation’ in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Ah, This!
  2. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  3. Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
  4. The Great Zen Master Ta Hui
  5. The First Principle
  6. A Bird on The Wing
  7. Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
  8. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  9. The Invitation
  10. Zen: The Path of Paradox
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