Fire of Witnessing

13th December 1797 is the birthday of the German poet and writer Heinrich Heine. Many of Heine’s works were banned by the German authorities for being radical, though this only added to his fame. He left Germany at the age of 34 settling in France, which had recently undergone the French Revolution of 1830. He was enthused with the prospect of meritocracy in the new political order and hoped to side-step German censorship. Though his utopian dream proved naïve and the conservative order of the times remained intact, he nonetheless gained acclaim for his work in France.

Nietzsche praised Heine saying that the highest conception of the lyric poet was given to me by Heinrich Heine.. He possessed that divine malice without which I cannot imagine perfection… And how he employs German! It will one day be said that Heine and I have been by far the first artists of the German language!

Heine was prophetic about the emergence of a vicious political order in Germany nearly 99 years before the Nazis seized power. No wonder he was abhorred by the Nazis. In 1834 in his book, “The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany” he wrote that the tenuous hold of Christianity over the German mind will snap and the brutal Germanic love for war will resurge. A play will be performed in Germany that will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll.

Heine was all-out discredited by the Nazis and his works were amongst thousands of other books that the Nazis burnt in Bebel Platz in 1933. To mark this tragic event, the following words from Heine’s play Almansor (1821) were engraved at the site – That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people.

Without any fight, just being a witness, mind disappears. Before the fire of witnessing, there is no possibility of mind remaining within you even for a single second. Create the fire of witnessing, create the flame of awareness. This is done by the arhatas, bodhisattvas and the buddhas without any distinction.

WHEN YOUR MIND DOES NOT STIR INSIDE, THE WORLD DOES NOT ARISE OUTSIDE. This is a beautiful statement, immensely pregnant. It is saying the world outside is nothing but your projection. When your mind stirs inside, the world is created outside.

Once it happened that a German poet, Heinrich Heine, got lost in the forest. He had gone hunting, but lost his way and lost his companion. And for three days he did not come across any human being. He was utterly tired, hungry and continuously worried about the wild animals. In the night he used to climb a tree to somehow protect himself from the wild animals. The third night was a full-moon night and he was sitting up in a tree. Three days of hunger and tiredness; he had not slept. And he saw the beautiful moon. He had written so many beautiful poems about the moon, but this day was different because his mind was in a different situation. Instead of seeing the moon, he saw a loaf of bread moving in the sky. In his diary he wrote, “I could not believe my eyes. I have always seen my beloved’s face in the moon. I have never even thought that a loaf of bread …!”

But a man who has been hungry for three days …his mind is projecting one thing, and that is food. The moon disappeared and a loaf of bread was floating in the sky.

What you see is not what is there. What you see is what your mind projects… Mind has started creating its own reality. Now it does not care at all what is actually fact; now it is creating its own fiction. Because it has not been with a woman for four weeks, there is a certain hunger, biological hunger, and that hunger is creating a loaf of bread. It is not coincidental that people call beautiful woman “dishes,” “delicious dishes.” Why is a woman, a beautiful woman, in almost all languages, called a “beautiful dish”? Perhaps because, just as food is a hunger and biological, so is sex a hunger and biological. Both are different hungers, but both are hungers.

The world that you see all around you is mostly a projection of your mind. When the mind disappears completely, you will see a totally different world. With all projections gone, then only the real – the objectively real – remains.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Chuang Tzu Auditorium, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune, India.

Discourse series: Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master

Chapter #10

Chapter title: Not to be in the mind is everything

9 July 1987 pm in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium


Osho has spoken on eminent poets like Byron, Coleridge, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, Heinrich Heine, John Ruskin, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Keats, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Milton, Oscar Wilde, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Rumi, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, Shelley, William Blake, Wordsworth and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Book of Wisdom
  2. The Sword and The Lotus
  3. Returning to the Source
  4. Light on the Path
  5. The Secret
  6. The Hidden Splendour
  7. The New Dawn
  8. Beyond Enlightenment
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