Magic of Awareness



One of the most difficult things, but one of the most fundamental things in life, is not to divide life into beautiful and idiotic things — not to divide life at all. They are all part of one whole. It needs just a little sense of humor. And to me the sense of humor is very essential for a person to be whole.

What is wrong in some small idiotic things? Why can’t you laugh and enjoy them? All the time you are judging what is right, what is wrong. All the time you are sitting in the seat of a judge, and that makes you serious. Then flowers are beautiful, but what about the thorns? They are part of the existence of flowers. The flowers will not exist without the thorns. The thorns are protective; they have a function, a purpose, a meaning. But you divide: then flowers are beautiful and thorns become ugly. But in the tree itself it is the same juice that goes into the flower and into the thorn. In the existence of the tree there is no division, no judgment.The flower is not favored, the thorn is not tolerated. They are both accepted totally. And this should be our approach in our own life.

There are things, small things, which if you judge, look stupid, idiotic. But it is because of your judgment; otherwise they also fulfill something essential. Nobody looks into small things very deeply without any judgment. If you observe… that is not judgment; you are simply a witness while smoking — if you observe, you can see a few things: What are the situations when you smoke? What are the situations when the urge comes to you? And you will be surprised that those are the situations when you are tense, worried, nervous… you don’t have anything to do. And we have been brought up by the society to believe that the empty mind is the devil’s workshop. Something has to be done — you are not to be empty. You have to fill yourself.

A cigarette comes in handy: it gives you something to do, and something really significant — because it relaxes you. It has nicotine in it which helps you to become non-tense. It helps you for the moment to forget your worries. For the moment, the cigarette gives to a simple, ordinary person a little space you can only call contemplative. He knows it harms, so later on he judges, then condemns it, condemns himself: “I am stupid, doing something that is not good for me.”But he never observes the whole process. If he observes the whole process then he should not condemn it; rather he should learn how to relax, how not to be nervous, how not to be tense. And he will find fewer and fewer opportunities for smoking. And when these superficial opportunities are dissolved, he will come to the rock bottom of the fact: smoking is some kind of substitute. It is the mother’s breast. Every child has been taken away from the mother before he wanted to be taken away. For example, in aboriginal tribes, smoking is not a problem because children go on using the mother’s breast for feeding themselves as long as they want. It is only up to them to decide when they want to change and go to solid food.

But in civilized societies… the more civilized a society, the more there will be smoking — for the simple reason that every child is taken away from the breast too early. The reason is clear: if the child goes on feeding from the mother’s breast, the breast loses its shape, the woman loses some beauty; she starts looking older before she is old. The very modern women simply never feed the child from the breast. Now, the breast is not only just giving milk — because milk can be given by a bottle. It is also giving warmth, love, concern for the child. Humanity has forgotten a few very basic things; for example, touching and its tremendous importance in your life. If the mother has not taken you close to her body, to her warmth, you will remain cold your whole life; you will not be able to give love and warmth to any woman, because you never received any. You don’t know that anything like that even exists. The breast keeps you close to the mother’s warmth, makes you feel one with the mother’s body.

In nature, the break between the mother and the child does not come drastically-the child is not taken away from the mother when it is born. No, the break comes very slowly and very naturally; it comes only in its own time. When the child is mature enough he will not be interested in smoking. Smoking is very similar to breast-feeding. The cigarette represents the nipple of the mother, and the warm smoke represents the warm milk flowing through the mother’s breast. So you may be even fifty, or sixty, or seventy, but somewhere, in some corner of your being, you have remained retarded. The day you were taken away from the mother’s breast… something in you is still ungrown and wants to be fulfilled.

To many sannyasins I have suggested that whenever you feel like smoking, just try a bottle of milk, warm milk. They laughed at the idea. I said, “You can laugh at the idea, but just try and enjoy it.”They said, “But what will people say? In the office we cannot use a small child’s bottle.”I said, “You can start trying it at night, in your bed. But give it a try and see how it changes your smoking pattern.”And they were surprised, they loved it! And their smoking was reduced; slowly, slowly it disappeared. A certain need — -but you judge it as idiotic. It looks idiotic on the surface, but nothing is idiotic. Somewhere there must be some existential reason for it.

So don’t judge anything; rather, change your approach from judgment to observation. Howsoever stupid a thing it may be, just observe it without any prejudice. Not with the idea that it is stupid — then you cannot observe. Without any judgment and without any prejudice, simply observe it. Go deeper into it, find reasons why it is there. You will find one day the rock bottom, and the whole thing will disappear. Awareness is magic. It can make things disappear — you just have to be very persistent in not judging but just being aware. Go deeper and deeper into it, whatever it brings, and then things will be clear to you, what has to be done.

Take any small thing that you go on doing, approach it with awareness to its very roots, and it starts disappearing. The basic thing is learning not to judge, because the moment you judge, your observation is clouded. Then you can never see clearly; you have already concluded. You have not been scientific, you have been already carrying a belief…

When anything that you are doing makes you feel that something is wrong, don’t be too hasty to call it wrong; there must be a long chain of causes.

You have to watch the whole thing. And until you reach to the basic root, it is going to remain. And this is what I call the magic of awareness: the moment you reach the basic root of anything it disappears, it simply disappears. You don’t have to drop it, you don’t have to take a vow, “I will not smoke again.” It simply drops of its own accord because you have become aware of the whole process.

Now you will rather try to learn something that makes you relaxed, helps you not to be nervous.

I have seen people strangely… I used to know one of the speakers of the state assembly. He must have been seventy, and he must have been speaking for fifty years at least. He was the speaker of the assembly, but each time he stood to speak, he was so nervous that he used to keep his hands in his pockets. Those hands were just trembling. He was also the vice-chancellor of my university, where I was teaching. One day he was inaugurating a new library building, and as he started speaking with his hands in his pockets, I approached with a piece of paper with some note on it. He had to take his hands out, he had to take the paper, and the paper went like this… and the whole audience was laughing. And there was nothing on it, just unreadable scribble.

He was very angry. He called me after the meeting into his office, and he said, “What was the need to expose me?”I said, “It was absolutely necessary. You are seventy, you are a public speaker — forty years or more you have been speaking — and your hands tremble. Do you think nobody knows? Your hands are trembling in your pockets also. Anybody who has a keen observation can see that they are inside and trembling. I simply wanted you to be aware that hiding won’t help. Why are you so nervous?

“You are not an amateur. A new person facing an audience may feel afraid perhaps, may wonder perhaps whether he proves up to the standard of the people and their expectations or not. But you are a well-know speaker. You have proved yourself; now there is no need to be afraid. But you have been hiding your fear for these fifty years — not from other people but from your own consciousness, from your own awareness. What is the problem?”Next time you try it: let your hands tremble but let them come out, they should not be in your pocket; otherwise I am going to come with a piece of paper again, and you will have to receive the paper, either with your mouth or with your hands.

“If you receive it with your mouth, you cannot speak; if you receive it with your hands the whole audience will see. It is better, if I am present that your hands are out of your pockets. But I would like you to go deeper into this stupid habit.”He became silent. He had been angry, but now he was not angry because I had not done any wrong to him; I had brought something to his notice which he had been denying to himself and to the whole world. Now he was seventy and soon he would be dying. I said, “You think about it. I am available to help you — I can come anytime you want — but first you go through it from the very beginning, how it started and why you have not been able to change it your whole life. And it doesn’t look right for a well-known speaker, the speaker of the assembly.”

I said, “I will be coming tomorrow. You just look into it. Rather than avoiding it, face it! Don’t condemn it. It is condemnation which has caused the whole problem.”And the next day when I reached him, he said, “You are right. It was my father: because when, for the first time, in my high school days, I went to speak in a competition between two schools, I was preparing my speech, and my father was a man who wanted everything to be perfect — a real perfectionist.”

Perfectionists are always neurotic, because in life nothing can be perfect, and they are always miserable because life is never as they want it.

So he told the boy, “You repeat your speech again and again. Go to the bathroom, stand before the mirror, repeat your speech, and see that no nervousness is there.”The vice-chancellor said to me, “Even in my bathroom, although there was nobody, I could feel great nervousness coming to me, and particularly to my hands. I tried again and again, but the more I tried, the more my hands were trembling. I went to my father and told him — he was a very prominent military officer. He said, “If your hands tremble, keep them in your pockets. Nobody should know about them; otherwise you will become a laughingstock.”

I said, “If I had been your father I would have told you to use your hands and their energy as gestures, because there are things which cannot be said by words but can be indicated by the hands. In fact, to keep your hands in your pockets cuts off almost half of your communication, because words are not complete; they need much support from your hands, your eyes, your voice, your tone. Even the silences between your words are expressive.

“So rather than using the energy of the hands in gestures, you have been repressing it — and energy cannot be repressed. Your father had no idea that your hands are joined with your mind. Hands are extensions of the mind: your left hand is the extension of the right side of your mind; your right hand is the extension of the left side of your mind.

“If the mind is functioning perfectly, then your hands are certainly going to move with the movement of the mind. Stopping the hands, you are cutting off your own possibility of expressing more clearly, more penetratingly, more emphatically. You will remain a poor speaker. And you may be hurt,” I told him, “that although you are the speaker of the assembly and a well-known speaker, I want you to know that you are a poor speaker.

“Your speech has no juice in it, no gusto in it, no emphasis in it. It is flat, as if you are reading — there are no gaps. You are not communicating with people, you are really avoiding the people. You are saying things but there is no joy in saying it, there is no music in it. Release your hands.”…

I never tell anybody to change anything by force, because anything changed by force is never changed. And the more you use force to change things, the more you are imprisoned by your own force. My approach is absolutely nonviolent. Just watch, and watch to the very root cause. The whole life can be an organic whole of beauty.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Kathmandu, Nepal 

Discourse Series: Light on the Path
Chapter title: Awareness is Magic
1 January 1986 pm in Kathmandu, Nepal


Osho has spoken on ‘relaxation, awareness, witnessing’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Secret
  2. Zen: The Quantum Leap From Mind to No-Mind
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  5. The Path of the Mystic
  6. The Hidden Splendor
  7. Sermons in Stones
  8. Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
  9. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
  10. The Beloved, Vol 1
  11. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 7
  12. Light on the Path
  13. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 5
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