From Head to Heart to Navel
Osho on Chinese politician Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong was a Chinese Marxist revolutionary, theorist, and statesman. He was the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 to 1976, during which he founded and established the People’s Republic of China, amongst other things. Mao and his associates formed a doctrine named Maoism – a combination of Marxism and Leninism and all the military strategies and political theories of Mao. The doctrine viewed the peasantry as an embryonic but tappable resource to mark a socialist revolution throughout society.
Mao is one of the most controversial political figures of the 20th century. His revolutions brought sovereignty to China and achieved proper appropriation of lands to the underdeveloped agro industry. On the flip side, Mao exercised authoritarian practices (such as state media control) to execute his plans, creating a tremor of fear and suffering amongst the population. His actions and legacy get harder to defend and appreciate post-1957, despite deeply influencing the trajectory of China.
Osho mentions Mao, “…. And in future people will be reading about Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Ayatollah Khomeini. It is all absolutely irrelevant. The basic education is missing. The first thing to be taught is meditation, the art of going in, because only out of that arises a discipline. The word ‘discipline’ is beautiful; it means the capacity to learn. A disciplined man is always ready to learn more. He is never closed, he never claims that he knows everything. He knows what he knows, and he also knows what he does not know — and what he knows is very small, and what he does not know is immense. He cannot brag about his knowledge. In fact the more he knows the more he becomes aware of the uncharted, of the unmapped, of the unknown; and not only of the unknown but the unknowable. The more and more he feels the mystery of existence, the more and more he wonders. That is true knowledge, true education, true culture.”
My Beloved Ones,
In this first meeting of the meditation camp, I would like to talk about the first step for a meditator, a seeker. What is the first step? A thinker or a lover follow certain paths but a seeker has to travel on a totally different journey. For a seeker, what is the first step on the journey?
The body is the first step for a seeker — but no attention or thought has been given to it. Not only at certain times, but for thousands of years, the body has been neglected. The neglect is of two kinds. Firstly, there are the indulgent people who have neglected the body. They have no experience of life other than eating, drinking and wearing clothes. They have neglected the body, misused it, foolishly wasted it — they have ruined their instrument, their veena. If a musical instrument — for example, a veena — is ruined, music cannot arise out of it. Music is an altogether different thing from the veena — music is one thing, the veena is another, but without the veena music cannot arise.
Those people who have misused the body through indulgence are one type and the other type of people are those who have neglected the body through yoga and renunciation. They have tortured the body, they have suppressed it and they have been hostile towards it. And neither the people who have indulged the body nor the ascetics who have tortured the body have understood its importance. So there have been two kinds of neglect and torture of the veena of the body: one by the indulgers and another by the ascetics. Both have done harm to the body. In the West, the body has been harmed in one way and in the East, in another way, but we all are equal participants in harming it. The people going to the whorehouses or to the pubs harm the body in one way, and the people standing naked in the sun or rushing into the forests harm the body in another way.
Only through the veena of the body can the music of life arise. The music of life is an altogether different thing from the body — it is totally different, something else — but only through the veena of the body is there a possibility of attaining it.
No proper attention has yet been given to this fact.
The first step is the body and the proper attention of the meditator towards the body. In this first meeting I want to talk to you about this point. A few things need to be understood. The first thing:
the soul has a connection with the body at some centers — our life energy comes from these connections. The soul is closely related to these centers; from them our life energy flows into the body. The seeker who is not aware of these centers will never be able to attain to the soul.
If I ask you which is the most important center, which is the most important place in your body, you will probably point to your head. Man’s very wrong education has made the head the most important part of the human body. The head or brain is not the most important center of life-energy in man. It is like going to a plant and asking it what its most important and vital part is. Because the flowers can be seen at the top of the plant, the plant and everybody else will say that the flowers are the most important part. So although the flowers seem to be the most important they are not, the most important part are the roots, which are not visible.
The brain is the flower on the plant of man, it is not the root. Roots come first; flowers come last. If the roots are ignored the flowers will wither away because they have no separate life of their own. If the roots are taken care of, the flowers get taken care of automatically; no special effort is needed to care for them. But looking at a plant it seems that the flowers are the most important part and in the same way it seems that, in man, the brain is most important. The brain is the final development in man’s body; it is not the root. Mao Zedong has written a memoir of his childhood. He wrote, “When I was small, there was a very beautiful garden near my mother’s hut. The garden was so beautiful, it had such beautiful flowers, that people from distant places used to come to see them. Then my mother became old and fell sick. She was neither worried about her sickness nor about her old age. Her only worry was about what would happen to her garden.” Mao was young. He said to his mother, “Don’t be worried, I will take care of your garden.”
And Mao took care of the garden, working from the morning till the evening. After one month his mother got better, and as soon as she could walk a little she came into the garden. Seeing the condition of the garden she was shocked! The garden was ruined! All the plants had dried up. All the flowers had withered and fallen away. She became very much disturbed and said to Mao, “You idiot! You were in the garden the whole day. What did you do here? All these flowers are destroyed. The garden has withered away. All the plants are about to die. What were you doing?”
Mao started crying. He himself was troubled. Every day he used to work all day, but for some reason the garden went on drying out. He started crying and he said, “I took great care. I used to kiss each flower and love it. I used to clean and wipe off the dust from each and every leaf, but I don’t know what happened. I was worried also, but the flowers went on withering away, the leaves went on drying out and the garden went on dying!” His mother started laughing. She said, “You are an idiot! You don’t know yet that the life of the flowers is not in the flowers and the life of the leaves is not in the leaves!”
The life of a plant is in a place that is not at all apparent to anyone. It is in the roots which are hidden beneath the ground. If one does not take care of those roots, the flowers and the leaves cannot be taken care of; howsoever much they may be kissed, howsoever much they may be loved, howsoever much the dust on them may be cleaned, the plant will wither away.
But if one does not bother about the flowers at all and takes care of the roots, the flowers will take care of themselves. The flowers come out of the roots, not the other way round.
If we ask somebody which is the most important part in a human body then unknowingly his hand will point towards the head and he will say that the head is the most important. Or, if it is a woman, then maybe she will point towards her heart and say that the heart is the most important.
Neither the head nor the heart is the most important. Men have emphasized their heads and women have emphasized their hearts. But by emphasizing these two parts the society so formed is continuously being ruined every day, because neither of these parts are the most important part in a human body. Both are very late developments. Man’s roots are not in them.
What do I mean by the roots of man? Just as the plants have roots in the earth from which they draw their life-energy and life juices and live, similarly, in the human body, there are roots at some point which draw life-energy from the soul. Because of this the body remains alive. The day those roots become feeble, the body begins to die. The roots of plants are in the earth; the roots of the human body are in the soul. But neither the head nor the heart is the place from where man is connected to his life-energy — and if we do not know anything about those roots then we can never enter the world of a meditator.
Then where are the roots of man? Perhaps you are not aware of the place. If even simple and common things are not given any attention for thousands of years, they are forgotten. A child is born in the womb of a mother and grows there. Through which part is the child connected to its mother? Through the head or through the heart? No, it is connected through the navel. The life-energy is available to it through the navel — the heart and the brain develop later on. The life-energy of the mother becomes available to the child through the navel. The child is connected to his mother’s body through his navel. From there the roots spread out into the mother’s body and also, in the opposite direction, into his own body as well.
The most important point in the human body is the navel. After that the heart develops and after that the brain. These are all branches which develop later. It is on them that the flowers blossom. Flowers of knowledge blossom in the brain; flowers of love blossom in the heart. It is these flowers which allure us, and then we think that they are everything. But the roots of man’s body and his life-energy are in the navel. No flowers blossom there. The roots are absolutely invisible, they are not even seen. But the degeneration that has happened to human life in the past five thousand years is because we have placed all our emphasis either on the brain or on the heart. Even on the heart we have placed very little emphasis; most of the emphasis has gone to the brain.
From early childhood, all education is an education of the brain; there is no education of the navel anywhere in the world. All education is of the brain so the brain goes on growing larger and larger and our roots go on becoming smaller and smaller. We take care of the brain because the flowers blossom there, so it becomes larger — and our roots go on disappearing. Then the life-energy flows more and more feebly and our contact with the soul becomes weak. Slowly, slowly we have even come to a point where man is saying, “Where is the soul? Who says there is a soul? Who says there is a God? We do not find anything.” We will not find anything. One cannot find anything. If somebody searches all over the body of the tree and says, “Where are the roots? I cannot find anything,” then what he is saying is right. There are no roots anywhere on the tree.
And we have no access to the place where the roots are; of that place we have no awareness. From early childhood, all training, all education is of the brain, of the mind, so our whole attention gets entangled and ends up focused on the brain. Then for our whole life we wander around the brain. Our awareness does not ever go below it.
The journey of a meditator is downwards — towards the roots. One has to descend from the brain to the heart, and from the heart to the navel. Only from the navel can anybody enter into the soul; before that, one can never enter it. Normally the movement of our life is from the navel towards the brain. The movement of a seeker is exactly opposite. He has to descend from the brain to the navel.
In these three days I will be talking to you and showing you, step by step, how to descend from the brain to the heart and from the heart to the navel — and then how to enter the soul from the navel. Today it is necessary to say a few things about the body. The first thing to understand is that the center of man’s life-energy is the navel. Only from there does the child acquire life; only from there do the branches and sub-branches of his life start spreading; only from there does he get energy; only from there does he get vitality. But our attention is never focused on that energy center — not even for a minute! Our focus is not on the system through which we get to know that energy center, that center of vitality; instead our whole attention and our whole education is focused on the system that helps to forget it! That is why our whole education has gone wrong. Our whole education is taking man slowly, slowly towards madness. The brain alone will only take man towards madness.
Do you know that the more a country becomes educated the more the number of mad people increases there? America has the highest number of mad people today. It is a matter of pride. It is proof that America is the most educated, the most civilized country. American psychologists say that if the same system continues for another hundred years, it will be difficult to find a sane man in America. Even today the minds of three out of four people are in a shaky condition.
In America alone, three million people are consulting psychoanalysts every day! Slowly, slowly in America the number of physicians is becoming less and psychoanalysts are increasing. The physicians also say that eighty percent of man’s diseases are of the mind, not of the body. And as the understanding grows this percentage increases. First they used to say forty percent, then they started saying fifty percent, now they say that eighty percent of diseases are of the mind, not of the body. And I assure you that after twenty to twenty-five years they will say that ninety-nine percent of diseases are of the mind, not of the body. They will have to say so because our whole emphasis is being given to man’s brain. The brain has become insane.
You have no idea that the brain is a very delicate, a very fragile, a very subtle thing. Man’s brain is the most delicate machine in the world. So much stress is being imposed on this machine that it is a wonder that it does not completely break down and become mad! The whole burden of life is on the brain, and we have no idea how delicate a thing it is. We have hardly any idea of how fine and delicate the nerves in the head are which have to carry all the burden, all the anxiety, all the suffering, all the knowledge, all the education… the whole weight of life. Perhaps you may not know that in this small head there are about seventy million nerves. Just by their number you can tell how tiny they are. There is no machine or plant more delicate than this. The fact that there are seventy million nerves in the small head of man shows how delicate it is. There are so many nerves in a single man’s head that if they were spread out one after the other, they would encircle the whole earth.
In this small head there is such a subtle mechanism, such a delicate mechanism. In the past five thousand years all the stress of life has been placed on this delicate brain alone. The result was inevitable. The result is that the nerves have started breaking down, becoming insane, going mad. The burden of thoughts cannot take man anywhere else other than into madness.
Our whole life-energy has started moving around the brain. A meditator has to bring this life-energy deeper, more downwards, more towards the center; he has to turn it back. How can it be turned back? To understand this we must understand something about the body — the ‘first sutra’.
The first thing: the body is not seen as a temple nor as a path for the spiritual journey nor as a passage for discovering the center of life-energy. The body is looked at either from the point of view of indulgence or from the point of view of renunciation. Both of these approaches are wrong. The path to whatsoever is great in life and whatsoever is worth attaining, is within the body and goes through the body. The body should be accepted as a temple, as a spiritual path — and as long as this is not our attitude we are either indulgers or we are renouncers. In both cases our attitude towards the body is neither right nor balanced.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Inner Journey
Chapter title: Body: The first step for a seeker
3 February 1968 am in Ajol Meditation Camp
Osho has spoken on many politicians and rulers like Abraham Lincoln, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kennedy, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Alexander, Napoleon, and more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Path of the Mystic
- From False to Truth
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap, Zing
- Beyond Psychology
- Live Zen
- The Invitation
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 3
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness