Just Listen: Right Here, Right Now
Osho on Enlightened Mystic Ashtavakra
Ashtavakra was born to the famous sage Kahoda, who lived and preached in Bihar was a child prodigy, well versed in the Vedas and the scriptures even as a child. The name Ashtavakra means “crooked in eight places” referring to his physical deformity since birth. From a very young age, he lived in the hermitage of scholars learning Sanskrit, and understanding the philosophy in the scriptures.
Ashtavakra Samhita, commonly referred to as the Ashtavakra Gita is a collection of his deep philosophical teachings that reflects reality as the union of the atman, or the self, with the universe. Living in reality, according to Ashtavakra, is effortless and can be instantaneous.
Osho says, This is the first thing you need to keep in mind… such crystal clarity, an expression like an open sky with no cloud in sight, you cannot see any forms. Only when you drop all forms, become disidentified with all forms and get connected with the formless, will you be able to comprehend Ashtavakra. If you really want to understand Ashtavakra you will have to descend into the depths of meditation. No commentary, no interpretation will be of any help.
And for meditation Ashtavakra does not ask us to sit and chant “Ram, Ram.” He says that anything you do will not be meditation. How can there be meditation when there is a doer? As long as there is doing, there is illusion. As long as the doer is present, the ego is present. Ashtavakra says becoming a witness is meditation. Then the doer disappears; you remain only as a watcher, nothing but the observer. When you are nothing but the observer then only is there darshan, seeing; then only is there meditation, then only is there wisdom.
BELOVED OSHO, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE OBSERVATION OF SEEKERS THAT THE REALIZATION OF GODLINESS IS A VERY ARDUOUS PHENOMENON. BUT ENLIGHTENED ONES LIKE YOU ALWAYS EMPHASIZE THAT IT CAN HAPPEN RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. IS SAYING THIS AGAIN AND AGAIN A PROVOCATION? AND A METHOD OR DEVICE TO AROUSE THIRST IN US?
It is the truth. It is not a method, not a device. Your asking this is a method and device to save yourself. The mind is not ready to accept that godliness can be attained here and now. Why can’t it accept it? It can’t accept it because if he is available here and now and we are not attaining him, then what could be causing this? How can we explain it? If he can be attained here and now, why are we not attaining him? A great uneasiness arises: it can be attained here and now, but we are not attaining. How to explain it? It becomes a great frustration. To relieve the frustration you say he can be achieved but that you need to be worthy. Intellect always manages to find a way. Whatever complication arises, the mind finds a solution. It says, “The way has to be sought, worthiness has to be sought, you will have to become purified: then you will attain. And if Ashtavakra says he can be achieved here and now, certainly he must have a reason for it. He says it so we will start making intense effort. But we will have to make efforts.” Mind is very clever.
Ashtavakra’s statement is absolutely clear. Godliness can be found here and now, because it is not an achievement, it is your nature. His whole emphasis is simple: You are it. The very idea of attaining is wrong. When we say godliness can be attained here and now, it simply means it is already attained. Just open your eyes and see! The very language of attaining is wrong. In attaining it seems that you and existence are separate. You are the seeker and it is the objective to be sought. You are the traveller and it is the destination. No, that it can be attained here and now simply means you are that which you are seeking. Know thyself. Open your eyes and see — or close your eyes and see. But see! It is a matter of insight, not of worthiness.
Worthiness means that even godliness is a business deal. When you go to the market something is sold for a thousand rupees, something for one hundred thousand rupees, something for a million rupees. Everything has its price. Worthiness means that godliness also has its price. Whoever pays the price by proving his worth will get it. You want to make even godliness a commodity in the market: “Renounce, do austerities, then you will attain it. Pay the price and you will get it. Where can you get it for free?” You drag godliness into a shop, seal it in a box, stick on a price tag, and put it on the shelf. You say, “Do this many fasts, that many meditations, this much austerity; stand in the sun, suffer cold and heat, then you will attain it.” Have you ever thought what you are saying? You are saying that realizing godliness is related to your doing something. Whatever you do will be your doing, and your doing cannot be greater than you. Your austerity will be yours — as low as you are, as dirty as you are. Your austerity cannot be greater than you. And whatever you attain through your austerity will be limited, finite, because through the finite only the finite can be obtained, not the infinite. Through austerity you will find a projection of your mind, not God.
Ashtavakra says God already is. He is the one throbbing within you. He is the one breathing within you, the one who is born, the one who will pass away. He is eternally manifesting himself in infinite forms — here as a tree, there as a bird, somewhere else as a man. God is! There is nothing else except him. The recognition of this truth, the remembrance of this truth…If someone listens rightly, the happening takes place just by listening. This is the greatness, the glory of the Ashtavakra Gita. There is no insistence on doing anything. Just listen, just let the truth reach your heart. Don’t come in the way, just be receptive. Just listen, let the arrow reach your heart. Its impact is enough. The forgetfulness of many many lives will break open, the memory will come back: you are God.
Hence he says right here, right now. Don’t find excuses. You say, perhaps this is a method, a device, to increase urgency, to increase intensity in people.
This question is from Swami Yoga Chinmaya. With Chinmaya… in Chinmaya’s intellect there is too much effort, striving, asceticism. His understanding is like an ordinary Yogi’s. Ashtavakra’s statements are not for the ordinary yogi. They are for the extraordinary, the intelligent — those who can awaken just by listening. Chinmaya is a bit of a HATHA Yogi — he moves only after a thorough beating. He cannot move just by seeing the whip, just by seeing the shadow of the whip. Don’t laugh, because most people are just like Chinmaya. Don’t think that your laughing proves that you are different than Chinmaya. Chinmaya at least got up the courage to ask — you didn’t even ask. This is the only difference. You are just like him. If you haven’t become God by the time the Ashtavakra Gita discourses are over, then know: there is no difference, you are just like him. But if while listening you wake up and become God, then just the shadow of the whip has worked.
“It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon.” The seeker is off track from the very beginning. The very meaning of seeker assumes that God has to be sought, that he has lost God somewhere. The seeker accepts that he has lost the divine somewhere. What a strange idea. He has lost God? How can you lose him? People come to me saying they want to seek God. I say, “Alright, seek! But where did you lose him? When?” They say, “We don’t know anything about that.” Look into it first. It may be that you have not lost him at all. Sometimes it happens that your glasses are on your nose and looking through them you are searching for them. Could it not be that God is on your nose and you are searching for the same god? This is how it is.
The seeker is fundamentally mistaken. He has accepted that he has lost the divine, or has not yet found him, that God is somewhere far away and has to be found. The divine is never found by seeking. By searching and searching one learns that there is nothing in seeking. While searching, one day the very seeking drops away. As soon as the seeking drops God is found.
Buddha sought for six years, searched totally. Where can you find a greater seeker than him? Wherever he heard that someone had attained knowledge, he went there. He put his head at their feet. He did whatever the gurus, the teachers, told him. Even the teachers tired of him. Teachers never tire of students who don’t follow their instructions. They are never tired of them because they can always say, “You are not following instructions. That’s why nothing is happening. What can we do?” A teacher is relaxed when you don’t obey him — he can always say that you didn’t obey. If you had obeyed it would have happened. But with Buddha the teachers were in trouble. Buddha did whatever the gurus said. Buddha always managed to do even more than what they said. Finally the gurus told him with folded hands, “Look, go somewhere else. Whatever we have to say, we have said.” Buddha said, “But nothing has happened through it.” They said, “Nothing has happened to us either. We cannot hide it from you. Just go somewhere else.”
Faced with such an authentic man even the gurus could not be deceptive. After searching intensely in every direction, at last Buddha saw that seeking is futile, it is not found by seeking. The world already had no meaning for him; spirituality also became meaningless. Worldly pleasures had no meaning for him. The day he left the palace they had become meaningless for him, so he left. Yoga also became meaningless. Nothing left in pleasure, nothing left in Yoga. What to do now? Now there was nothing left to be done — it was no longer possible to be a doer. Understand this sutra correctly. Neither worldly pleasure nor Yoga remains, neither the world nor heaven. There is no space left for the doer. If there is something to do the doer can remain. Nothing was left to do, and that very night it happened. That evening sitting under the bodhi tree, there was nothing to do. Buddha was thrown into confusion. When he dropped the world, he grabbed hold of Yoga: when he dropped indulging he jumped into spiritualism. There was something to do — the mind remained busy. Now the mind had no space. The mind-bird began fluttering — no space! The mind needs space. The ego needs the nourishment of doing, it needs duties. If there is something to do the ego can survive. There was nothing left to do. Think about it a little. A deep indifference was born in him, what Ashtavakra calls nonattachment.
A Yogi is not detached, because a yogi seeks new pleasure: a yogi seeks spiritual pleasure. He is not indifferent, he still has the desire to enjoy. He couldn’t find it in the world, so he searches in God — but the search continues. It is not found here, so he looks there. It is not found outside, so he looks inside. But the search continues. Neither the hedonist nor the Yogi is indifferent to pleasure. Yes, they search differently for pleasure. One goes outside, one goes inside, but they both go somewhere. That night there was nowhere for Buddha to go, neither inside nor outside. Just imagine that night, bring it to life. Feel how that night must have been. For the first time he attained rest, that which Ashtavakra says — the rest in consciousness out of which one attains the truth. That day relaxation happened.
As long as there is something to do, effort continues. As long as there is something to do, tension continues. Now there was no question of tension. The body was completely exhausted, the mind was completely exhausted. Buddha collapsed under that tree and fell asleep. At dawn when his eyes opened, they opened the way everyone’s eyes should open. At dawn when he opened his eyes, those eyes opened for the first time. Those eyes that had been closed for centuries opened. At dawn when he opened his eyes, the last star of the morning was fading. He watched as the last star disappeared outside. Outside the last morning star dissolved — inside the last trace of the mind also disappeared. There was nothing, no one left inside. There was absolute silence, a void, a great void, space. It is said Buddha remained sitting that way for seven days — like a statue, without the slightest movement. They say the gods became worried and descended from heaven. Brahma, creator of the universe, descended and fell at the feet of Buddha saying, “Please speak! Such a phenomenon occurs only once in centuries, and then too with great difficulty. Please say something. We are eager to hear what has happened!”…
Buddha attained by non-doing. What happened in Buddha’s life must have happened in Ashtavakra’s life too. We do not have any story about it, no one has written it, but certainly it must have happened because whatever Ashtavakra says is just this: “You have done a lot of running — now stop. God is not attained by running, he is attained by stopping. You have sought enough, now drop the search. You cannot find truth by seeking because truth is hidden in the one who is seeking. Why are you running here and there?” Kabir says, “The musk is in the navel — that fragrance is your own.” But when fragrance emanates from the navel of a musk deer, he goes mad. He starts running here and there, searching. Where does this scent come from? Who has produced this perfume? Where does it come from?… Because whatever fragrance the deer knows comes from outside: sometimes from flowers, sometimes from something else, but always from outside. Today the fragrance comes from within, but still he thinks it must come from outside. He starts running. And the musk is in his own navel, that fragrance is his own! God resides within you. As long as you seek him outside — in Yoga, in hedonism… it is useless.
An ordinary Yogi takes you out of indulgence, Ashtavakra takes you out of indulgence and Yoga both — beyond Yoga, beyond hedonism. Hence you will find that the worldly man has an ego, but have you seen the ego of a Yogi? A worldly man gets angry. Have you heard the curse of a saint? A worldly man walks vainly with his head high, waving his flag. Have you seen the flags, the elephants, the pomp of the Yogis? An ordinary man proclaims his wealth, announces his achievements. Have you seen the Yogis boasting they have such-and-such powers, such-and-such abilities? But these things are all one and the same, there is no difference in them. Unless Yoga is transcended, unless a person is completely free of the idea “I am the doer,” nothing has happened. You have only changed color. You are a chameleon, you simply changed color. But only the color changed, not you. “It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon.” In a sense this is true. If you insist on reaching by running hard then what can anyone do? If you want to touch your nose by reaching around your head, go ahead and do it. Certainly when you touch your nose from the far side you will feel that touching one’s nose is a very arduous phenomenon. This is because of you, not because of your nose.
If you stand on your head and try to walk, it is difficult to walk even five or ten steps. Then if you say that walking is an arduous phenomenon you are not lying; what you say is right. But you are standing on your head. For those who stand on their feet walking is not a difficult thing. You fast, overheat yourself in front of a fire, unnecessarily trouble your body, torture it, do a thousand kinds of idiocies — and then you say that to realize God is a very arduous phenomenon. What you say is right. What you could have reached easily, naturally, you are reaching by becoming unnatural, so you find it difficult. Your way of reaching is wrong. But why does man choose the impossible? It has to be understood. What is the joy of walking on your head when you have feet? There is pleasure in walking on the head. It is the pleasure of the ego…
As I see it, there is no connection between arduousness and God. Arduousness is connected to the ego. The ego enjoys doing arduous things. Everyone does things the easy way. What’s the point? If you tell someone that you walk on your feet, people will say, “Have you gone mad? Everyone does.” But if you walk on your head your name will be printed in the newspapers. People will start coming to you, they will bow their heads at your feet. You have achieved something: you are walking on your head!
Ego is worshiped when you do something impossible — like when Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest, the whole world came to know about it. If you climb a small hill near Poona and plant your flag on it, and say, “No reporter is coming, no photographer is coming — what is the matter? Why this discrimination? They made so much noise over Hillary, his name is set down now in history, and nothing is happening with me. He planted a flag — I am doing the same thing!” But to climb Everest is difficult. For fifty to sixty years people tried to climb it. Then one man finally succeeded. That’s why. Eventually a road will be made. Sooner or later buses will start going there. Everest cannot keep itself safe from man for long now — when one man has reached its summit, a whole chain begins. Recently a woman reached there too. When even women reach, what is left in reaching it? Eventually everyone will be going. Within a short time there will be hotels and buses and everything else. If you go when buses have started going and plant a flag, saying, “This is the place where Hillary placed his flag. But I am being discriminated against, favoritism is being shown against me”….
Ego enjoys difficulties. Man makes many things harder so his ego can be fulfilled. We make many things difficult: the more difficult we make it the more juicy it becomes. Arduousness is not in realizing God — arduousness is juice for the ego.
What you say is right: “It has always been the observation of seekers that the realization of God is a very arduous phenomenon.” These seekers are all egoistic. And when have seekers realized God? It has happened when seeking dropped away.
You realize God only when seeking drops away, when you are not going anywhere — just sitting, at rest, in ultimate rest. It happens when the pilgrimage disappears into the void. People usually think that if they realize God the pilgrimage will end. But it is exactly the opposite. If you drop the journey, God will be realized immediately. People think, “When we reach the destination we will relax.” The situation is otherwise: if you relax, you reach the destination. Relaxation is the key to meditation and Samadhi. Effort is the key to the ego.
That’s why you will find that the more effort-oriented a religion is, the more egoistic the monks of that religion are. A Jaina monk is more egoistic than a Hindu monk. A Jaina monk says, “A Hindu monk? So what? Anybody can become one. A Jaina monk? It is a difficult thing — only one meal a day, many many fasts, all kinds of arduous practices….” Again, among Jainas there are Digambar monks and Shvetambar monks. The Digambar monks say, “What is there to Shvetambar monks? They wear clothes. The real monks are Digambaras.” Nowhere will you ever find the ego shining more than in a Digambar monk. His body will be dried out, just a skeleton — because of so much fasting, naked living, suffering in sun and fire — but his ego will be aflame. His conceit will be that of a Hillary. There are at the most twenty Digambar monks in India, five or six thousand Shvetambar monks, and five million Hindu monks. And if it is in my power I will make the whole world Sannyasin. So there can be no ego in becoming my Sannyasin. … Because I don’t say do this and do that. It is a very simple matter: put on orange clothes and you are a sannyasin!
If sannyas becomes easy then where is juice for the ego?
People come to me. They say I should make special arrangements for giving sannyas. Special arrangements for sannyas! They are right. This is what happens when a Jaina initiation takes place. Loud music is played, a horse is brought in, there is a lot of festivity. It seems as if something great is happening, somebody is being enthroned. Sannyas has become like a royal throne. People start praising, applauding this great happening. And I give sannyas so silently that no one knows — I give it even by mail. I do not know who the fellow is, nor does he know who has given it. It is good.
As I see it, sannyas should be simple. As I see it God is realized in relaxation, not by ego. It is not a doing, not a seeking. God is already attained. Be a little lighter, be a little more peaceful, just stop. Suddenly you will find he was always here.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Gautam Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune, India.
Discourse series: The Mahageeta, Vol 1
Chapter title: Strangers in a Strange Land
12 September 1976 am in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Daya, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Lalla, Magdalen, Mallibai, Meera, Nanak, Patanjali, Rabiya, Raman Maharishi, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Ashtavakra, Socrates, Teresa, Tilopa, Valmiki, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendour
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom
- Beyond Psychology
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Messiah
- The Tantra Vision