Buddha: The Eternal Flame of Consciousness
I love Gautama the Buddha because he represents to me the essential core of religion. He is not the founder of Buddhism — Buddhism is a byproduct — but he is the beginner of a totally different kind of religion in the world. He’s the founder of a religionless religion. He has propounded not religion but religiousness. And this is a great radical change in the history of human consciousness.
Before Buddha there were religions but never a pure religiousness. Man was not yet mature. With Buddha, humanity enters into a mature age. All human beings have not yet entered into that, that’s true, but Buddha has heralded the path; Buddha has opened the gateless gate. It takes time for human beings to understand such a deep message. Buddha’s message is the deepest ever. Nobody has done the work that Buddha has done, the way he has done. Nobody else represents pure fragrance.
Other founders of religions, other enlightened people, have compromised with their audience. Buddha remains uncompromised, hence his purity. He does not care what you can understand, he cares only what the truth is. And he says it without being worried whether you understand it or not. In a way this looks hard; in another way this is great compassion. Truth has to be said as it is. The moment you compromise, the moment you bring truth to the ordinary level of human consciousness, it loses its soul, it becomes superficial, it becomes a dead thing. You cannot bring truth to the level of human beings; human beings have to be led to the level of truth. That is Buddha’s great work. Twenty-five centuries ago, just some day early in the morning — just like this day — this sutra was born. Twelve hundred and fifty monks were present. It happened in the city of Sravasti. It was a great city of those days. The word Sravasti means the city of glory. It was one of the glorious cities of ancient India; it had nine hundred thousand families in it. Now that city has completely disappeared. A very very small village exists — you will not find even its name on any map; even the name has disappeared. Now it is called Sahet-Mahet. It is impossible to believe that such a great city existed there. This is the way of life — things go on changing. Cities turn into cemeteries, cemeteries turn into cities… life is a flux.
Buddha must have loved this city of Sravasti, because out of forty-five years of his ministry he stayed in Sravasti twenty-five years. He must have loved the people. The people must have been of a very evolved consciousness. All the great sutras of Buddha, almost all, were born in Sravasti. This sutra — The Diamond Sutra — was also born in Sravasti. The Sanskrit name of this sutra is Vajrachchedika Prajnaparamita Sutra. It means perfection of wisdom which cuts like a thunderbolt.
If you allow, Buddha can cut you like a thunderbolt. He can behead you. He can kill you and help you to be reborn. A buddha has to be both — a murderer and a mother. On the one hand he has to kill, on the other hand he has to give new being to you. The new being is possible only when the old has been destroyed. Only on the ashes of the old the new is born. Man is a phoenix. The mythological bird phoenix is not just a mythology, it is a metaphor. It stands for man. That phoenix exists nowhere except in man. Man is the being who has to die to be reborn…
The ego has to die for the essential being to surface. That is the meaning of Vajrachchedika Prajnaparamita. It cuts like a thunderbolt. In one stroke it can destroy you. It is one of the greatest sermons of Buddha. Get in tune with it. Before we enter into the sutra, a few things to be understood that will help you to understand it. Gautama the Buddha has started a spirituality that is nonrepressive and nonideological. That is a very rare phenomenon. The ordinary kind of spirituality, the garden variety, is very repressive. It depends on repression. It does not transform man, it only cripples man. It does not liberate man, it enslaves man. It is oppressive, it is ugly…Remember this: Buddha is nonrepressive. And if you find Buddhist monks to be repressive, remember, they have not understood Buddha at all. They have brought their own pathology into his teachings. And Buddha is non-ideological. He gives no ideology, because all ideologies are of the mind. And if ideologies are of the mind, they cannot take you beyond the mind. No ideology can become a bridge to reach beyond the mind. All ideologies have to be dropped, only then the mind will be dropped.
Buddha believes in no ideals either — because all ideals create tension and conflict in man. They divide, they create anguish. You are one thing and they want you to be something else. Between these two you are stretched, torn apart. Ideals create misery. Ideals create schizophrenia. The more ideals there are, the more people will be schizophrenic, they will be split. Only a nonideological consciousness can avoid being split. And if you are split how can you be happy? how can you be silent? how can you know anything of peace, of stillness? The ideological person is continuously fighting with himself. Each moment there is conflict. He lives in conflict, he lives in confusion, because he cannot decide who really he is — the ideal or the reality…ideology as such is a disease, exactly a dis-ease, because you become two: the ideal and vou. And the you that you are is condemned and the you that you are not is praised. Now you are getting into trouble. Now sooner or later you will be neurotic, psychotic or something.
Buddha has given a nonrepressive way of life, and nonideological too. That’s why he does not talk about God, he does not talk about heaven, he does not talk about any future. He does not give you anything to hold onto, he takes everything away from you. He takes even yourself. He goes on taking things away, and finally he takes even the idea of self, I, ego. He leaves only pure emptiness behind. And this is very difficult. This is very difficult because we have completely forgotten how to give. We only know how to take. We go on taking everything. I TAKE the exam and I TAKE the wife and even I TAKE the afternoon nap — a thing which cannot be taken, you have to surrender to it. Sleep comes only when you surrender. Even a wife, a husband, you go on taking. You are not respectful. The wife is not a property. You can take a house — how can you take a wife or a husband? But our language shows our mind. We don’t know how to give – how to give in, how to let go, how to let things happen.
Buddha takes all ideals away, the whole future away, and finally he takes the last thing that is very very difficult for us to give — he takes your very self, leaves a pure, innocent, virgin emptiness behind. That virgin emptiness he calls nirvana. Nirvana is not a goal, it is just your emptiness. When you have dropped all that you have accumulated, when you don’t hoard anymore, when you are no longer a miser and a clinger, then suddenly that emptiness erupts.
It has always been there. Hakuin is right: “From the very beginning, all beings are buddhas.” That emptiness is there. You have accumulated junk so that emptiness is not visible. It is just like in your house you can go on accumulating things; then you stop seeing any space, then there is no more space. A day comes when even to move in the house becomes difficult; to live becomes difficult because there is no space. But space has not gone anywhere. Think of it, meditate over it. The space has not gone anywhere; you have accumulated too much furniture and the TV and the radio and the radiogram and the piano and everything — but the space has not gone anywhere. Remove the furniture and the space is there; it has always been there. It was hidden by the furniture but it was not destroyed. It has not left the room, not for a single moment. So is your inner emptiness, your nirvana, your nothingness.
Buddha does not give you nirvana as an ideal. Buddha liberates instead of coercing. Buddha teaches you how to live — not for any goal, not to achieve anything, but to be blissful herenow — how to live in awareness. Not that awareness is going to give you something — awareness is not a means to anything; it is the end in itself, the means and the end both. Its value is intrinsic. Buddha does not teach you otherworldliness.
This has to be understood. People are worldly; the priests go on teaching the other world. The other world is also not very otherworldly, it cannot be, because it is just an improved model of the same world. From where can you create the other world? You know only this world. You can improve, you can decorate the other world better, you can remove a few things that are ugly here and you can replace a few things which you think will be beautiful, but it is going to be a creation out of the experience of this world…
Buddha does not talk of otherworldliness or the other world. He simply teaches you how to be here in this world; how to be here alert, conscious, mindful, so that nothing impinges upon your emptiness; so that your inner emptiness is not contaminated, poisoned; so that you can live here and yet remain uncontaminated, unpolluted; so that you can be in the world and the world will not be in you. The otherworldly spirituality is bound to be oppressive, destructive, sado-masochistic — in short, pathological.
Buddha’s spirituality has a different flavor to it — the flavor of no ideal, the flavor of no future, the flavor of no other world. It is a flower here and now. It asks for nothing. All is already given. It simply becomes more alert so you can see more, you can hear more, you can be more.
Remember, you are only in the same proportion as you are conscious. If you want to be more, be more conscious. Consciousness imparts being. Unconsciousness takes being away. When you are drunk you lose being. When you are fast asleep you lose being. Have you not watched it? When you are alert you have a different quality — you are centered, rooted. When you are alert you feel the solidity of your being, it is almost tangible. When you are unconscious, just dragging by, sleepy, your sense of being is less. It is always in the same proportion as the consciousness is. So Buddha’s whole message is to be conscious. And for no other reason, just for the sake of being conscious — because consciousness imparts being, consciousness creates you. And a you so different from you that you are, that you cannot imagine. A you where ‘I’ has disappeared, where no idea of self exists, nothing defines you… a pure emptiness, an infinity, unbounded emptiness.
This Buddha calls the state of meditation — SAMMASAMADHI, right state of meditation, when you are all alone.
But remember, aloneness is not loneliness. Have you ever thought about this beautiful word, alone? It means all one. It is made of two words — all and one. In aloneness you become one with the all.
Aloneness has nothing of loneliness in it. You are not lonely when you are alone. You are alone but not lonely — because you are one with the all;
how can you be lonely? You don’t miss others, true. Not that you have forgotten them, not that you don’t need them, not that you don’t care about them, no. You don’t remember others because you are one with them. All the distinction between one and all is lost. One has become the all and all has become one. This English word alone is immensely beautiful. Buddha says sammasamadhi is aloneness. The right meditation is to be so utterly alone that you are one with all.
Let me explain it to you. If you are empty your boundaries disappear because emptiness can have no boundaries. Emptiness can only be infinite. Emptiness cannot have any weight, emptiness cannot have any color, emptiness cannot have any name, emptiness cannot have any form. When you are empty, how will you divide yourself from others? — because you don’t have any color, you don’t have any name, you don’t have any form, you don’t have any boundaries. How are you going to make any distinctions? When you are empty you are one with all. You have melted into existence, existence has merged with you. You are no more an island, you have become the vast continent of being.
Buddha’s whole message is condensed in this one word — sammasamadhi, right meditation. What is right meditation and what is wrong meditation? If the meditator exists then it is wrong meditation. If the meditator is lost in meditation then it is right meditation. Right meditation brings you to emptiness and aloneness.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Diamond Sutra
Chapter title: That Realm of Nirvana
21 December 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Buddha, religion, consciousness, nirvana’ in many of His discourses. More on them can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Heart Sutra
- No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- The White Lotus
- The Ultimate Alchemy
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- The Tantra Vision
- From Darkness to Light
- From Ignorance to Innocence