Enlightenment: An Absolute Reality
Osho on Enlightenment
I SEE YOU HERE EVERY DAY, SO RADIANT, SO FULL OF LIGHT, SO FAR AWAY FROM THE EVERYDAY REALITY OF MY LIFE. YOU ARE A SHINING BEACON SHOWING THE WAY, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF SOMETHING MORE THAT CAN HAPPEN IN ME. YEARS AGO, HERE WITH YOU, I USED TO FEEL THAT ENLIGHTENMENT WAS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. NOW IT SEEMS A MILLION MILES AWAY. IT DOESN’T SEEM TO MATTER REALLY ANY MORE: EACH DAY SEEING YOU AGAIN IS ENOUGH IN ITSELF.
MASTER, IS THIS WHOLE IDEA OF `ENLIGHTENMENT’ JUST ANOTHER DEVICE? I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ANYMORE. YOU, YOUR PRESENCE, AND THE TEARS IN MY EYES ARE ALL I HAVE.
Anand Somen, enlightenment is not a device. All devices are for enlightenment, but enlightenment itself is an absolute reality. You think it is now miles away while before it used to be just around the corner. That was a device — to make you feel that it is just around the corner. It is certainly miles away, but those miles are very relative — they depend upon the intensity of your longing. They can be longer, they can be shorter; you can go on for lives searching for it, and you can find it today. You have to understand the idea of relativity. Those miles are not a reality in themselves — they depend on you. If your longing is just lukewarm, then those miles are very long — perhaps too long. Perhaps it may not be possible for you to reach it. But if your longing is a flame in your heart and you are afire with it, it is a question of life and death, then those miles miraculously become very short — sometimes so short that a master can say, “You can have it right here and now,” and they disappear completely.
But the problem is to have a longing so deep, so total, so intense that it becomes your very life, your very heartbeat; that you are surrounded by it twenty-four hours a day, that you breathe it in, you breathe it out. Whatever you are doing does not matter, an undercurrent of a deep search continues. Even while you are asleep, the undercurrent of the search does not stop. You go to sleep with the longing, you wake up with the same longing; and between these two points you may have been asleep, but the longing has continued in your unconscious.
I have been telling you that enlightenment is just around the corner; that is certainly a device. For most of you it is not just around the corner, but a few of you can make it just around the corner by how much you love it….There are so many categories: somebody is simply curious, he has no longing, he has become curious because others are searching for it. He starts thinking that there must be something in it if so many people are searching, but no bell rings in his own heart, nothing clicks within his being. Then it is millions of miles away. A few are just students — they are studying it as subject matter to increase their knowledge, to become more knowledgeable. They don’t have a desire to achieve it, they don’t have a desire to become pilgrims. They want to know everything about it — perhaps sometime it may be useful.
One great sage in Sri Lanka was dying. All his disciples… and they were in the thousands because the man was over a hundred years old; he had lived long, he had been a man of charisma, and he had attracted many. Hearing that he was going to leave the body, they had all gathered from different parts of the country to have his last darshan, to be in his presence for the last time, to feel that silence, that celebration, that fragrance that was always around him.
Before dying, the old man opened his eyes and said, “You have loved me, and you have loved whatever I have been teaching you. Now I am leaving the body… if somebody wants to come with me, he can stand up.” Masters are crazy and strange people. Now everybody started looking at each other, thinking, “He is a very old disciple — perhaps he wants to go,” but everybody was looking at each other, and nobody was standing up.
And the old man said, “The one who will be ready to go with me will go enlightened. He will not go in his ordinary consciousness; he will go fully conscious.” But there was such a great silence over that crowd of thousands of disciples. Finally one man raised his hand, but he was afraid that he might be misunderstood so he said, “Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not standing up, I am simply raising my hand. I would like to know what is this enlightenment, what is death?”
The old man said, “I am ready to take you with me; you can have the experience yourself of both enlightenment and death.”
He said, “I would have liked to come with you very much, but there are so many things incomplete. My wife is sick, my children are not grown up, my daughter is going to be married; so just now it is not possible for me. But I want to inquire so that I can remember, and when it becomes possible for me, I can follow the way.”
The old man laughed. He said, “You have been with me for almost forty years, and all these forty years I have been talking about nothing but enlightenment, in different ways, from different aspects. And in forty years you have not been able to complete your things… how many more years will you take?”
He said, “Forgive me. In fact, I’m only a student. There is no longing in me to become enlightened; I don’t want to take such a risk — and that, too, with death. But I’m very interested in knowing about it. You can trust my sincerity as far as knowing about it is concerned.” This is a category.
Then there are people who really want… who are not just students, who are disciples; and nobody can doubt their intentions, but they want enlightenment to be given to them. They are waiting for some savior. They themselves are not ready to travel the path; that seems too arduous. Why not wait till the savior comes? Millions of Buddhists are waiting for the savior, millions of Christians are waiting for the savior, millions of Hindus are waiting for the savior. That, too, is a very tricky strategy of the mind to postpone; neither does the savior come, nor do you have to go through a dangerous experience. It is beautiful to talk about it, it is beautiful to read about it, it is beautiful to know about it; it is also beautiful if somebody else can simply give it to you. But
enlightenment is not one of those things that can be given — you have to get it, you have to move, you have to evolve, you have to grow. You cannot remain as you are and become enlightened. You have to deserve it.
You have to purify your consciousness, you have to deepen your meditation, you have to make your lovingness unconditional. And you have to move beyond the mind, beyond the body, to a point within yourself which is the center of your being, which is going to become enlightened. For that a very deep desire is needed, a desire for which you can risk everything, a desire for which you can be ready to die. Then enlightenment is just by the corner… even the corner is too far away. Perhaps to the man of total longing, enlightenment is just within him;
hence I say it is a relative phenomenon, it is very elastic. Those miles can be long, those miles can be very small — ultimately it all depends on you.
Anand Somen, you are saying, “I see you here every day, so radiant, so full of light, so far away from the everyday reality of my life.” Don’t take it for granted, because one day you will not see me. And then you will repent for all those old days when I was alive and available, and could have helped you in every possible way. It is a strange thing about the human mind that you become aware of things only when you have lost them. When you have them, you tend to forget them — they become too obvious.
You are saying, “You are a shining beacon showing the way, and the possibility of something more that can happen in me.”How long are you going to see me just as a shining beacon showing the way? It is time. You should walk on the way; otherwise, what purpose is my beckoning, my shining, my calling you forth, if you don’t move a single inch? Just don’t get lost in enjoying my presence; it has to become your experience too, and for that, you have to walk the way. Gautam Buddha is reported to have said, “Buddhas can only show the way, they cannot walk for you.” Nobody can do that. It is just not part of the nature of things.
You say, “Years ago, here with you, I used to feel that enlightenment was just around the corner…”You were new, and for the new people I have to be seducing. Unless I say, “It is near the corner, by the corner,” they are not going to be bothered about enlightenment. They have too many things to do in life… futile, but in their consciousness in this moment they seem to be very significant. But if I say, “It is just by the corner,” even a man who has no great desire to be enlightened may think, “What is the harm? Just have a look… it is just by the corner.” But once you have moved that much, things start changing. Just a slight movement in your consciousness, and then you cannot stop because new experiences start exploding.
Enlightenment may not be by the corner, but there are things which are tremendously beautiful, peaceful, silent, very fulfilling. And by the time you reach to the corner, you will experience all those things and you will forget your past engagements, occupations. A great desire is bound to arise to go a little more, a little deeper; perhaps things are more juicy — and things are juicier the deeper you go. And as the taste becomes your taste, not just my word, then it takes you. Even if the goal is miles away, a slight taste of evolving consciousness is enough seduction to follow the path. But even when it was just around the corner, you did not explore the corner. On the contrary, you accepted the idea that it is just by the corner so what is the hurry? We can continue to be as we are. Any time, any day, when you don’t have anything else to do — when the girlfriend has escaped, when you have been thrown out of your job, when there is a strike in the office — you can have a look by the corner. But that moment never comes; one girlfriend leaves, and before she has even left the other has already arrived…
One problem leaves, and ten others are standing in a queue by your door. You were thinking that there will be some time left to inquire into enlightenment, but these problems go on growing — they are unending. Even when you are dying, you will have to leave things half done — many problems untouched. And now, because I cannot go on telling you that it is by the corner… sooner or later I have to tell you the fact that it is a long journey, long because of you. Seeing your approach, it is millions of miles long. You can bring it back to the corner, but you have to create the passion. People are running after power, money, prestige — and they devote their whole lives to it. And things like enlightenment they want to get free. They don’t want to pay anything for them — not even a little walk.
Now you are saying, “It does not seem to matter really anymore, each day seeing you again is enough in itself.” That is a very dangerous conclusion, because one day certainly you will not see me. I cannot help it. I would love to remain with you forever, but that is not how things happen. Today I’m with you, tomorrow is uncertain, and the day after tomorrow it is certain that I will have to leave. You can be nourished by my presence, you can drink me, you can allow yourself to be showered by me; but all these things should create a passion to reach to the same state in which I am. Otherwise, you will not be able to console yourself — your misery will be great because you have made me something ultimate. My presence is momentary. We are together for the moment — for a few moments at the most — and then we have to depart. And this departure cannot be canceled. So enjoy it, but don’t be contented with it. The enjoyment of my presence and your love for me should be shown by your passionate search for enlightenment. There is no other way.
And just to console yourself, you are asking, “Is this whole idea of `enlightenment’ just another device?” You would love it if I were to say to you, “Yes, Somen, it is only just a device. Relax, you don’t have to go anywhere, you don’t have to grow.” But I cannot say that to you. I love you; that’s why I cannot say anything just to console you, just to make you happy for the moment, and destroy your possibilities for the future.
Enlightenment is not a device. Every device is for enlightenment.
You are saying, “I don’t really know what to believe anymore. You, your presence, and the tears in my eyes are all I have.” You are not expected to believe in anything, because I am not here creating believers;
I want inquirers. I am not here creating obedient followers. I want rebellious seekers, not people who are incapable of saying, “No!” — because to me unless you are able to say no, your yes is meaningless. Unless you can doubt, you cannot find authentic trust. It is only through doubt, and the dark night of doubt, that you reach to a state of finding something which is indubitable. Then trust arises.
There is no need to be worried about what to believe anymore.
It is good that you say, “You, your presence, and the tears in my eyes are all I have.” That is your knowledge, superficially. If you go deeper into your being, into meditation, you will have much more. You will not lose my presence; in fact it will become deepened. You will be able to feel it in many more dimensions than you are doing now. You will be able to see it with more clarity, with more understanding, and it will be more nourishing. And your tears will become more and more of joy, blissfulness, gratitude. They will become finally your prayers, because
unless a man knows how to pray with tears, he does not know what prayer is. Prayers made of words are not prayers, because words come from the head and the head has no understanding of gratitude. Tears come from a deeper source, from your heart; and they say much more, they contain much more. Words are empty, tears are immensely significant.
Your tears will become more and more joyful, more and more musical, more and more full of songs, more and more a dance unto themselves. But don’t stay in the same place: where the morning finds you, the evening should not find you; you should have moved. Where the evening leaves you, the morning should not find you there; you should have moved.
Life is small and the journey is tremendous, with so many treasures. And unless you make it your only passion, you will not be able to reach to enlightenment. But anyway, it is by the corner.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Rebel
Chapter title: Enlightenment is not a device
2 June 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on ‘enlightenment, consciousness, meditation, trust, prayer’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Osho Upanishad
- The Path of the Mystic
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- From the False to the Truth
- The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 3
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- The Beloved, Vol 2
- The Messiah, Vol 2
- The Secret
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 2
- The Hidden Splendor