Osho on Awareness
JOSHU, THE ZEN MASTER, ASKED A NEW MONK IN THE MONASTERY, “HAVE I SEEN YOU BEFORE?”
THE NEW MONK REPLIED, “NO SIR.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.”
JOSHU THEN TURNED TO ANOTHER MONK, “HAVE I SEEN YOU HERE BEFORE?
THE SECOND MONK SAID, “YES SIR, OF COURSE YOU HAVE.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.”
LATER THE MANAGING MONK OF THE MONASTERY ASKED JOSHU, “HOW IS IT YOU MAKE THE SAME OFFER OF TEA TO ANY REPLY?”
AT THIS JOSHU SHOUTED, “MANAGER, ARE YOU STILL HERE?”
THE MANAGER REPLIED, “OF COURSE, MASTER.”
JOSHU SAID, “THEN HAVE A CUP OF TEA.
The story is simple, but difficult to understand. It is always so.
The more simple a thing the more difficult it is to understand. To understand, something complex is needed; to understand, you have to divide and analyze. A simple thing cannot be divided and analyzed; there is nothing to divide and analyze — the thing is so simple. The simplest always escapes understanding, that is why God cannot be understood. God is the simplest thing, absolutely the simplest thing possible. The world can be understood; it is very complex. The more complex a thing is, the more the mind can work in it. When it is simple there is nothing to grind, the mind cannot work.
Logicians say simple qualities are indefinable. For example, somebody asks you what yellow is. It is such a simple quality, the color yellow, how will you define it? You will say, “Yellow is yellow.” The man will say, “That I know, but what is the definition of yellow?” If you say yellow is yellow you are not defining, you are simply repeating the same thing again. It is a tautology…
That is why God has been missed. Intellect denies it, reason says no.
God is the simplest denominator in existence — the simplest and the most basic. When the mind stops there is nothing other than God, so how to define God? He is alone in the room.
That is why religions try to divide, then definition is possible. They say, “This world is not that; God is not the world, God is not matter, God is not body, God is not desire.” These are ways to define. You have to put something against something, then a boundary can be drawn. How do you draw a boundary if there is no neighbor? Where do you place the fence of your house if there is no neighborhood? If there is no one beside you how can you fence in your house? Your house boundary consists of the presence of your neighbor. God is alone, he has no neighbor. Where does he begin? Where does he end? Nowhere. How can you define God? Just to define God, the Devil was created. God is not the Devil — at least this much can be said. You may not be able to say what God is but you can say what he is not: God is not the world…
The first thing to be understood is that complex things can be understood, simple things cannot. A simple thing is alone. This Joshu story is very simple. It is so simple it escapes you: you try to grip it, you try to grab it — it escapes. It is so simple that your mind cannot work on it. Try to feel the story. I will not say try to understand because you cannot understand it — try to feel the story. Many things are hidden if you try to feel them; if you try to understand it nothing is there — the whole anecdote is absurd.
Joshu saw one monk and asked, “Have I seen you before?”
The man said, “No sir, there is no possibility. I have come for the first time, I am a stranger — you could not have seen me before.
Joshu said, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.”
Then he asked another monk, “Have I seen you before?”
The monk said, “Yes sir, you must have seen me. I have always been here; I am not a stranger.”
The monk must have been a disciple of Joshu’s, and Joshu said, “Okay, then have a cup of tea.”
The manager of the monastery was puzzled: with two different persons responding in different ways, two different answers were needed. But Joshu responded in the same way — to the stranger and to the friend, to one who has come for the first time and to one who has been here always. To the unknown and to the known Joshu responded in the same way. He made no distinction, none at all. He didn’t say, “You are a stranger. Welcome! Have a cup of tea.” He didn’t say to the other, “You have always been here, so there is no need for a cup of tea.” Nor did he say, “You have always been here so there is no need to respond.”
Familiarity creates boredom; you never receive the familiar. You never look at your wife. She has been with you for many, many years and you have completely forgotten that she exists. What is the face of your wife? Have you looked at her recently? You may have completely forgotten her face. If you close your eyes and meditate and remember, you may remember the face you looked on for the first time. But your wife has been a flux, a river, constantly changing. The face has changed; now she has become old. The river has been flowing and flowing, new bends have been reached; the body has changed. Have you looked at her recently? Your wife is so familiar there is no need to look. We look at something which is unfamiliar; we look at something which strikes us as strange. They say familiarity breeds contempt: it breeds boredom.
I have heard one anecdote: two businessmen, very rich, were relaxing on Miami Beach. They were lying down, taking a sunbath. One said, “I can never understand what people see in Elizabeth Taylor, the actress. I don’t understand what people see, why they become so mad. What is there? You take her eyes away, you take her hair away, you take her lips away, you take her figure away, and what is left, what have you got?”
The other man grunted, became sad and replied, “My wife — that’s what’s left.”
That is what has become of your wife, of your husband — nothing is left. Because of familiarity, everything has disappeared. Your husband is a ghost; your wife is a ghost with no figure, with no lips, with no eyes — just an ugly phenomenon. This has not always been so. You fell in love with this woman once. That moment is there no longer; now you don’t look at her at all. Husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. I have stayed with many families and watched husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. They have created many games to avoid looking; they are always uneasy when they are left alone. A guest is always welcome; both can look at the guest and avoid each other.
Joshu seems to be absolutely different, behaving in the same way with a stranger and a friend. The monk said, “I have always been here sir, you know me well.”
And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.” The manager couldn’t understand. Managers are always stupid; to manage, a stupid mind is needed. And a manager can never be deeply meditative. It is difficult: he has to be mathematical, calculating; he has to see the world and arrange things accordingly. The manager became disturbed. What is this? What is happening? This looks illogical. It’s okay to offer a cup of tea to a stranger but to this disciple who has always been here? So he asked, “Why do you respond in the same way to different persons, to different questions?”
Joshu called loudly, “Manager, are you here?”
The manager said, “Yes sir, of course I am here.”
And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.” This asking loudly, “Manager, are you here?” is calling his presence, his awareness. Awareness is always new, it is always a stranger, the unknown. The body becomes familiar not the soul — never. You may know the body of your wife; you will never know the unknown hidden person. Never. That cannot be known, you cannot know it. It is a mystery; you cannot explain it. When Joshu called, “Manager, are you here?” suddenly the manager became aware. He forgot that he was a manager, he forgot that he was a body; he responded from his heart. He said, “Yes sir.”
This asking loudly was so sudden, it was just like a shock. And it was futile, that’s why he said, “Of course I am here. You need not ask me, the question is irrelevant.” Suddenly the past, the old, the mind, dropped. The manager was there no more — simply a consciousness was responding.
Consciousness is always new, constantly new; it is always being born; it is never old.
And Joshu said, “Then have a cup of tea.” The first thing to be felt is that for Joshu, everything is new, strange, mysterious. Whether it is the known or the unknown, the familiar or the unfamiliar, it makes no difference. If you come to this garden every day, by and by you will stop looking at the trees. You will think you have already looked at them, that you know them. By and by you will stop listening to the birds; they will be singing, but you will not listen. You will have become familiar; your eyes are closed, your ears are closed. If Joshu comes to this garden — and he may have been coming every day for many, many lives — he will hear the birds, he will look at the trees. Everything, every moment, is new for him.
This is what awareness means. For awareness everything is constantly new. Nothing is old, nothing can be old. Everything is being created every moment — it is a continuous flow of creativity. Awareness never carries memory as a burden. The first thing: a meditative mind always lives in the new, in the fresh. The whole existence is newly born — as fresh as a dewdrop, as fresh as a leaf coming out in the spring. It is just like the eyes of a newborn babe: everything is fresh, clear, with no dust on it. This is the first thing to be felt. If you look at the world and feel everything is old, it shows you are not meditative. When you feel everything is old, it shows you have an old mind, a rotten mind. If your mind is fresh, the world is fresh. The world is not the question, the mirror is the question. If there is dust on the mirror the world is old; if there is no dust on the mirror how can the world be old?
If things get old you will live in boredom; everybody lives in boredom; everybody is bored to death.
Look at people’s faces. They carry life as a burden — boring, with no meaning. It seems that everything is just a nightmare, a very cruel joke, that somebody is playing a trick, torturing them. Life is not a celebration, it cannot be. With a mind burdened by memory life cannot be a celebration. Even if you laugh, your laughter carries boredom. Look at people laughing: they laugh with an effort. Their laugh may be just to be mannerly, their laugh may be just etiquette.
I have heard about one dignitary who went to Africa to visit a community, a very old, primitive community of aborigines. He gave a long lecture. He told a very long anecdote — for almost half an hour the anecdote continued — then the interpreter stood up. He spoke only four words and the primitives laughed heartily. The dignitary was puzzled. He had been telling the anecdote for half an hour, how could it be translated in four words? It seemed impossible. And people understood; they were laughing, a belly laugh. Puzzled, he said to the interpreter, “You have done a miracle. You have spoken only four words. I don’t know what you said but how can you translate my story, which was so long, into only four words?”
The interpreter said, “Story too long, so I say, ‘He says joke — laugh.’ “
What type of laughter will come out? Just mannerly etiquette will come out, and this man has been laboring for half an hour. Look at people’s laughter. It is a mental thing, they are making an effort; their laughter is false. It is painted, it is just on the lips, it is an exercise of the face. It is not coming from their being, from the source, it is not coming from the belly; it is a created thing. It is obvious that we are bored, and whatsoever we do will come out of this boredom and will create more boredom. You cannot celebrate.
Celebration is possible only when existence is a continuous newness, and existence is always young. When nothing grows old, when nothing really dies — because everything is constantly reborn — it becomes a dance. Then it is an inner music flowing. Whether you play an instrument or not is not the point, the music is flowing.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: A Bird on the Wing
Chapter title: Have a Cup of Tea.
13 June 1974 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Awareness, consciousness, new, creativity, celebration, music, laughter’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4, 5, 9, 10
- The Great Zen Master Ta Hui
- The Hidden Splendor
- Sat Chit Anand
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4, 6, 8, 10, 11
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- The Guest
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- Om Mani Padme Hum
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose