Infinite within Finite
4th December is the birthday of the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle. He is famous for his “Great Man Theory” which states that the history of the world is but the biography of great men. In his book, On Heroes, Hero-worship and the Heroic in History, Carlyle reasons that heroes shape history through both their personal attributes and divine inspiration. By studying lives of great men, one can uncover something about one’s own true nature.
A philosopher extraordinaire, Carlyle called Time, the Conflux of Eternities. He said that at any given moment, we are at a centre in which all forces to and from eternity unite. Always in the present moment, never in the past or future, are we closer to eternity than we ever can be. Carlyle also coined the phrase Centre of Immensities to signify that wherever any one is, s/he is in touch with the whole universe of being. His emphasis was that the present moment, if man were to know it, places man as close to the heart of the whole universe as anywhere else he can be.
OSHO says, “What is the function of the words of a Master? These words are to provoke you, to seduce you for a journey of wordless silence. And that is my situation too. I’m like Carlyle, who they say wrote fifty volumes on the value of silence. Silence is so vast; even fifty volumes won’t do justice to it. Five hundred volumes; even that will not be enough. Five thousand volumes and then too nothing has been said. Silence is so vast.Can you paint the sky? Yes, you can paint it, but the painted sky will be a very, very tiny portion. You can go on painting and you can go on painting, but you cannot exhaust the sky, because to exhaust the sky you will need a canvas as big as the sky — which is not possible. Where will you keep that canvas? You will need another sky, and there is none. So is truth: no word can contain it. But words are the only communication left between man and man. So the Master has to use words and still he has to continuously remind you that words are meaningless.”
MAN is a quest — not a question but a quest. A question can be solved intellectually, but a quest has to be solved existentially. It is not that we are seeking some answers to some questions, it is that we are seeking some answer to our being. It is a quest because questions are about others. A quest is about oneself. Man is seeking himself. He knows he is, but he also knows that he does not know who he is.
Hence from the very birth a great enquiry starts rising in the innermost core of man. We can repress that enquiry, we can divert that enquiry, we can change that enquiry for substitute enquiries, but he cannot kill it. There is no way to kill it because it is intrinsic to human nature. It is intrinsic to consciousness to know what it is.
That enquiry is man’s very nature, and unless it is resolved, man remains searching. Of course, there are nine hundred and ninety-nine ways to go wrong, and there is only one way to go right — so the search is full of hazards. It is not simple; it is very complex — and it is very rare that a man reaches. But unless you reach, you will continue in agony, in turmoil. You will remain a cry in the wilderness. You will not know what joy is. Not knowing yourself, how can you be joyous? And you will not know what benediction is. Not knowing yourself, there is no benediction.
You will hear words like ‘contentment’, ‘blissfulness’, but they will remain words. They won’t have any content for you. The content has to be supplied by your experience. They will remain empty words. They will create much noise around you but they will not mean anything.
Search is intrinsic to human nature. But then arises the problem that there are many ways to go wrong, How to find the right path?
This small parable is of immense significance. Each word of it has to be understood.
Carlyle has said, ‘The misfortune of man has its source in his greatness. For there is something infinite in him and he cannot succeed in burying himself completely in the finite.’
There is something in man which is higher than man, bigger than man, and there is no way to bury it somewhere in the finite. You can see. You can seek money and power, but each time you succeed, you will find that you have failed. Each time you succeed, the success will bring nothing but the awareness of the failure.
Money is there but you are as dissatisfied as ever, or even more so. Power is there and you are as impotent as ever.
Nothing makes man more aware of powerlessness than power. Nothing makes man more aware of inner poverty than riches — because of the contrast. You can see that there are riches outside but inside you are a beggar, still desiring and asking and hankering and searching.
From one side this seems to be a misfortune — the misery of man. From another side it is his greatness. Carlyle is right when he says, ‘The misfortune of man has its source in his greatness.’ What is this greatness? This greatness is his capacity to surpass himself, to go beyond himself, to make a ladder of his life, to jump out of himself. Unless that jump has happened, you live in a wasteland; nothing will ever bloom there.
You can make all the efforts possible but the desert will remain a desert; you will not come across any flowers.
Those flowers start happening only when you have started reaching somewhere close to truth. That is the quest. The quest is that man longs to become God. The quest is that man wants to become truth. ‘AN-EL-HAQ!’ Man wants to feel it — that ‘I am truth.’ Nothing less than that will ever satisfy him.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
Chapter title: A Silent Shrine
10 September 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assaguoli, Aristotle, Berkeley, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Laing, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Socrates, Wittgenstein and many others in many of His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Hidden Splendor
- The New Dawn
- This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Beyond Psychology
- Light on The Path
- The Dhammapada
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Darkness to Light
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
- From Personality to Individuality
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4