Drop Conscience, become Conscious

Osho on Consciousness

One of the great poets of India was always complaining about his sons because they were not listening to him and they were not following him. And he was a well-respected man; he was known as the national poet. He was Maitreya’s friend, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.

Tired of his continuous talking about his sons, that they didn’t listen, I asked him, “Did you ever ask them before giving birth to them, ‘Do you want to be born?’” He said, “WHAT?”

I said, “Have you asked them? It is your responsibility, not their responsibility. You brought them on the earth and now you go on imposing every kind of responsibility on them: ‘I am your father; you have to respect me, and you have to do things according to me.’

Why should they? In the first place you forced them to come into the world without their permission, and now you want them to continue to follow you — and you want them to feel guilty about it.

“You again and again are asking me… for what reason? You want me to tell your sons, ‘This is your responsibility.’ I cannot say that. You lived your life the way you wanted. Now let them live their life the way they want. Why are you interfering? And they are not children.”

He looked at me for a few moments. He said, “So, you are also with them?” I said, “No, I am not with them. I have never seen them; I have never met them. But if you want, then next time I come to Patna, arrange a meeting.” He said, “No, I don’t want any meeting with you — you will spoil them more. You are saying that it is my responsibility that I have given birth to them?” I said, “Then whose responsibility is it? Mine? And even after giving birth to them, into this miserable world, you want them still to follow you? It is enough that they don’t kill you!”

That was the last time…. After that I used to inquire, “What about your sons?” And he would say, “Never mind my sons! Don’t bring that subject up at all; I have dropped that subject. At least with you I am not going to discuss that subject.”

Fathers and mothers go on forcing on children that, “this is your responsibility.” They have given the word responsibility a strange turn. It simply means response-ability. Break it in two: not responsibility, but response-ability, your ability to respond. That means you have to drop all your conscience, things that people have told you are right and wrong. It may have been right and wrong for them; you have nothing to do with that.

Drop your conscience, which is imposed, and become conscious of every situation that faces you. And every moment there is a situation that faces you; become conscious of it, and out of that consciousness, act. And whatever you do out of consciousness is right. And whatever you do unconsciously is wrong. So, to me the act itself is not right or wrong. To me it depends on you — your consciousness, the quality of awareness that you bring to the act. Then everything has a different perspective.

I will tell you a few Zen anecdotes. One is: A great Zen Master had this habit, that once in a while he would just raise his finger towards the sky for no apparent reason. Talking of something else, without any relevance, not in context, suddenly he would raise his finger towards the sky, as if there was some undercurrent also going on of which nobody was aware.

One of his young disciples was just a little boy of twelve years old who used to stand by his side to fan him because it was too hot. He also saw this finger, and he learned to imitate it because he was standing at the side a little back; the Master could not see him.

Once in a while, just while fanning the Master… and then everybody would start laughing, and he would start fanning him again. The Master could not figure out what was happening, why people started to laugh, and from where it came. And that boy was just waving his fan again, and once in a while…. Finally the Master found out.

One day when the boy did it, the Master caught hold of his finger — he had a knife with him — and he cut off the boy’s finger completely! It was a shock. Nobody could have even imagined that the Master would do that. He cut the finger completely off! And not only that, he said, “Now, point it again!” The boy was in such a shock — the blood was falling from his finger, and the finger was already on the ground, but the Master said “Point!” And the boy pointed the finger which was no longer there.

For a moment there was great silence. And then the boy came in front, bowed down, touched the Master’s feet and said, “I had never thought… I have been listening, standing there, knowing that it is not for me, but then… no thought, no mind, and bliss started showering. “When you shouted at me I was full of pain, but I forgot it when you shouted, ‘Now point your finger!’ And you pulled me in front and I pointed my finger which was not there. And because my finger was not there and I was pointing it, suddenly my whole thinking stopped. My mind could not make any sense out of it, what was happening?”

It was so sudden — the cutting of the finger and the shouting of the Master, everybody in shock, blood on the floor, the finger on the floor… and he says, “Now point it!”

And the boy said, “At that moment, just for a split second, there was no mind. I was not there. Just as my finger was not there, I was not there, and there was no mind. And you are right, Master, blessings started falling on me.”

Now cutting off anybody’s finger, is it right or is it wrong? — moral or immoral? Very difficult to say. If a Zen Master does it, you cannot say it is wrong. And the result shows it is not wrong: that boy became his Master’s successor. That cutting of the finger began a process in his life of which he was not aware at all. He was just a servant, he was not even part of the congregation. It is difficult to decide just on the act itself. The question is, what do you make of it? The question is, who does it? From what consciousness does it come? and to what result does it lead?

It came from a pure, conscious mind, and it led to a moment of pure consciousness. The cutting of the finger means nothing. If the Master had cut off the whole hand even then it would not have been bad. Even to cut off the head and give a chance for a moment to pass without a thought, without a mind, to make time stop…. Even if the man is beheaded the act is absolutely right. I am not saying that you should start beheading people. My emphasis is that the act is unimportant. That’s what all religions have been trying to teach: The act is right or wrong. If you do it, you are responsible; if you don’t do it, you are irresponsible.

I am changing the emphasis from the act to the actor. It is you who are right or wrong, it is never the act. It is always my consciousness which is decisive. The act in other hands may be immoral, but in the hands of a conscious mind it changes its very quality. Consciousness is the only magic there is. So I call responsibility ‘action with awareness’.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse series: From Misery to Enlightenment Chapter #11

Chapter title: Consciousness: the only criterion of virtue

8 February 1985 pm in Lao Tzu Grove



Osho has spoken on ‘consciousness, awareness, responsibility’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Art of Dying
  2. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  3. From Darkness to Light
  4. The Invitation
  5. The Path of the Mystic
  6. That Art Thou
  7. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
  8. Sat Chit Anand


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