Meditation: The Goalless Journey
Osho on Meditation
OSHO, WHAT IS THE GOAL OF MEDITATION?
THERE IS NO GOAL OF MEDITATION. Meditation is the dropping of all goals, hence it can’t have a goal of its own; that would be against its very nature. Goals exist in the future; meditation is to be in the present. There is no meeting ground between the present and the future — the future exists not — how can the non-existential meet the existential?, That is impossible. The future is our creation, it is our imagination. We create it for a certain purpose; the purpose is to avoid the present. We don’t want to be in the present, we want to escape from the present. The future gives us an escape. To live in the future is to be an escapist. Whatsoever the goal — it does not matter what that goal is — it may be God-realization, it may be attainment of nirvana — still it is a goal and any goal is against meditation.
But our whole mind exists in the future; our mind is against the present. In the present the mind dies. How can the mind exist in the present? If you are utterly now, utterly here, there is no question of mind. You cannot think because thinking needs space and the present has no space in it. It is just like a needle point: it cannot contain anything, not even a single thought. Hence if you want to live in the mind, either you have to live in the past or in the future; these are the two ways. The old-fashioned, the orthodox, the conventional — the Christians, the Mohammedans, the Hindus — they live in the past, and the so-called revolutionaries, the progressives, the avant-garde, they live in the future. The communists, the socialists, the Fabians, the utopians, all kinds of idealists, they live in the future. On the surface they seem to be very different — the Catholic and the communist seem to be antagonistic — but deep down they are not antagonistic at all. They belong to the same category, they are doing the same work: they both are escaping from the present…
Hence you will see a strange thing happening: Hindus are against me, Mohammedans are against me, Christians are against me, communists are against me. On one thing they all agree — at least on one thing they all agree. At least I am happy that I give them one point to agree about! But in fact they agree because my insistence is against the past and against the future, my insistence is on being in the present. Hence meditation cannot allow any desire for goals. I can understand your question, Prageeta, because the mind always asks, “Why are you doing it?” It can’t do anything simply, spontaneously — the “why” is always there. You don’t know any action in your life which is spontaneous, you don’t know any response. All that you do is not action in fact but reaction. You do it because there are reasons for doing it, there are motives for doing it, there are desires behind it. Something is either pushing from behind or pulling from the front. You are never acting out of freedom, you are a slave. Hence you always ask “Why?”
A man was sent by his psychiatrist to the mountains just for a change to rest, to relax, to enjoy nature. The next day his telegram arrived: “I am feeling very happy. Why?”
One cannot accept anything without asking “Why?” Now one thing about happiness has to be understood: misery may have causes, happiness has no cause. And if it has a cause it is nothing but misery masquerading as happiness.
When happiness is true — that’s what is meant by bliss — it has no cause, no causality. It is beyond cause and effect; it is beyond the chain of cause and effect. You cannot answer why.
Buddha was asked many times, “Why are you so blissful, so peaceful? He always said, “Such is the nature of awareness — TATHATA. ” Now his answer has to be deeply pondered over. He says, “There is no ‘why’ to it — such is the case. The trees are green and the flowers are red, and the man who is awakened is blissful. There is no ‘why’ to it.” But the people who were asking again and again…. I think he must have been asked the same question thousands of times by different people. The people may look different from the outside, but deep down they are all unconscious, so the same question arises again and again out of their unconscious mind: “Why? There must be some reason. Have you discovered some treasure? Have you found some Kohinoor? Have you found some alchemy so that you can transform baser metal into gold? Have you found some secret that can make you immortal? Why are you so blissful?”
The people who are asking are saying something about themselves; they are not really asking why Buddha is blissful — they can’t understand Buddha — they know only themselves. They know they are miserable and that their misery has a cause, and once in a while when they feel happy that happiness is also caused by something. You win a lottery and you are happy; without the lottery how can you be happy? And Buddha has not won any lottery. In fact he has renounced his palace and kingdom and all the riches. The people must be searching, trying to find out: “There must be something that he has found which he is hiding and not telling us. What is it? Why do you look so happy?” Prabhu Maya has asked me a question — the same question that Buddhas have always been asked is being asked again and again here too. She asks, “Osho, I have recently been discovering the phoniness behind the smile I sometimes wear. Now I wonder about you — the same face, the same smile every morning, year in, year out. Is it for real?” I can understand her question because whenever she is smiling she knows it is phony, and I am constantly smiling. Naturally, year in and year out, it must be phony; otherwise there must be some hidden cause for it which is not visible to you. Either it is phony or I have discovered something which I am not telling you, which I am hiding from you.
Even Ananda, Buddha’s closest disciple, asked one day when they were walking through a forest. It was autumn and leaves were falling from the trees and the whole forest was full of dry leaves and the wind was blowing those dry leaves about and there was a great sound of dry leaves moving here and there. They were passing through the forest and Ananda asked Buddha, “Bhagwan, one question persists. I have been repressing it, but I cannot repress it anymore. And today we are alone; the other followers have been left behind so nobody will know that I have asked you. I don’t want to ask it before others. My question is: Are you telling us all that you have discovered or are you still hiding something? — because what you are telling us does not clarify your bliss, your peace. It seems you are hiding something. “
And Buddha laughed and he showed a fist to Ananda and asked, “Ananda, do you see what it is?”
He said, “Yes, I can see it is a fist — your hand is closed.”
Buddha said, “A Buddha is never like a fist.” He opened his hand and he said, “A Buddha is like an open hand — he hides nothing. There is nothing to hide! I have said everything, I am absolutely open.”
Ananda still insisted, “But we cannot explain your constant bliss — and I have been watching you day in, day out. In the day you are blissful, in the night when you go to sleep you are blissful. Your face seems so innocent even in sleep. Even in sleep you look so peaceful, so serene, so tranquil, so calm, as if not a dream is passing within you. You are always a still pool with no ripples. How is it possible? I have also tried, but I can do only a little bit and then I feel tired. If you are trying you will feel tired. Prabhu Maya, if you try to wear a smile you will feel tired because wearing a smile means making great effort…
Meditation has no goal; it has no desire to attain anything. The dropping of the achieving mind is what meditation is all about. The understanding of desire and the understanding of the constant ambition for goals for achievement, for ambition brings you to a point, a point of tremendous awareness, when you can see clearly that all goals are false, that you need not go anywhere, that you need not attain anything to be blissful, that to be blissful is your nature. You are missing it because you are running here and there, and in that running, in that hustle and bustle, you go on forgetting yourself. Stop running here and there and discover yourself.
The discovery of yourself is not a goal. How can it be a goal? A goal needs a distance between you and itself.
The discovery of yourself is not a goal because you are already it! All that is needed is that you stop running here and there, you sit silently, you relax, you rest. Let the mind become calm and cool. When the mind is no longer running towards the past and towards the future, when all running has disappeared, when there is no mind as such, when you are simply there doing nothing just being, this is meditation. Suddenly you know who you are. Suddenly you are overflooded with bliss overwhelmed by light, by eternity. And then your life becomes a natural phenomenon.
Then you need not wear smiles — a smile becomes natural. Then you need not pretend to be happy. Only an unhappy person pretends to be happy. A happy person has no idea even that he is happy, he is simply happy. Others may think that he is happy; he has no idea. He is simply just being himself.
Yoka says: THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND ALWAYS ACT NATURALLY.
Out of his understanding his actions are natural — his laughter is natural, his smile is natural, his whole life is natural. Your whole life is artificial, arbitrary. You are always trying to do something which is not really there. You are trying to love. Now, trying to love is to start in a wrong way from the very beginning. You are trying to be happy. How can you be happy? It is not a question of trying. You are making all kinds of efforts to be graceful. Now, grace is not an effort; if there is effort, there is no grace. Grace is an effortless beauty. The really graceful person knows no effort.
Yoka says: THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND ALWAYS ACT NATURALLY. MOST MEN LIVE IN IMPERMANENCE, THE UNREAL, BUT THE MAN OF ZEN LIVES IN THE REAL.
You live in the phony, in the unreal, and when you come across a man of Zen — remember the man of Zen means the man of meditation — then there is a problem for you.
Never try to understand the man of Zen according to your ideas; they are irrelevant. You can understand the man of Zen only through meditation. Learn the art of meditation, of being here and now — not for peace, not for bliss, not for anything. Effort without goal… that’s what meditation is: effort without goal.
Now, you only know effort when there is goal. Otherwise you will ask, “This is illogical — effort without goal? Then why should we make an effort?” You have been making efforts for goals — what have you attained? It is time to try something else. Enough is enough!
Yoka says: EFFORT WITHOUT GOAL IS QUITE DIFFERENT — Quite different from all that you have done up to now. IT OPENS THE DOOR OF TRUTH WHICH LEADS TO THE GARDEN OF TATHAGATA.
The word Tathagata comes from the same word I used just a few moments ago: Tathata. Buddha says, “I am peaceful because this is my suchness, my Tathata.” Ask him anything and he always says, “This is my nature my Tathata.” Slowly slowly it became known to his disciples that Tathata is his most important word, his key word. Hence he is called Tathagata: one who lives in suchness, one who lives now and knows no other time one who lives here and knows no other space. If you can also be here and now,
IT OPENS THE DOOR OF TRUTH WHICH LEADS TO THE GARDEN OF TATHAGATA. A TRUE STUDENT OF ZEN IGNORES THE BRANCHES AND THE LEAVES, AND AIMS FOR THE ROOT.
What is the root of your misery? This goal-oriented mind. What is the root of your misery? This constant escape into goals. What is the root of your misery? Your mind is the root of your misery. But you never cut the root; you go on pruning the branches, you go on pruning the leaves. And remember, the more you prune the leaves and the branches, the thicker will be the foliage the tree will become stronger.
I have initiated more than one hundred thousand sannyasins and I have been teaching meditation for twenty years to millions of people, but not a single person has come with a root question to ask. They all come with “How to cut this branch?” and “How to cut this leaf?” Somebody says, “I am suffering from anger. What should I do with it?” And somebody says, “I am suffering from too much greed. What should I do about it? How can I drop greed?” Somebody is suffering from jealousy and somebody is suffering from something else — and these are all branches and leaves. Nobody comes and says, “I am suffering from my mind. How should I get rid of it?” And that is the root question.
The day you see the root, things are very easy. Cut the root and the whole thing withers away of its own accord. Anger and greed and sexuality and jealousy and possessiveness — everything disappears.
But you don’t want to cut the root. You are living a very paradoxical life: you go on watering the root, you go on training and refining your mind, you go on making your mind more informed, more nourished, and on the other hand you go on desiring that there should be less anger, less ambition, less greed, less ego. “How to be humble?” you ask. And you go on giving water and you go on giving fertilizers to the roots and you go on cutting the leaves. You cut one leaf and three leaves will come in its place. The tree immediately accepts your challenge and instead of one it brings three leaves!…Whatsoever you repress, whatsoever you cut, if it is not cut at the roots, it is bound to grow, it is bound to grow in subtle ways. It may start asserting itself in morbid and perverted ways.
A TRUE STUDENT OF ZEN IGNORES THE BRANCHES AND THE LEAVES, AND AIMS FOR THE ROOT. LIKE THE IMAGE OF THE MOON REFLECTED IN A JADE BOWL I KNOW THE TRUE BEAUTY OF THE JEWEL OF FREEDOM. FOR MYSELF AND FOR OTHERS.
There is only one freedom: the freedom from all goals. Prageeta, don’t ask me what the goal of meditation is. Try to understand why you are constantly hankering for goals, and in that very understanding meditation will arise in you, meditation will flower in you. Meditation is not something that you can enforce, that you can practice; it is something very mysterious, tremendously vast. It comes only when your heart opens its doors to understand everything with no prejudice, with no a priori conclusions. Being here with me, learn to be without goals. My sannyasins have to know perfectly well that we are not working for any goal at all. Our whole point is to live in the present moment so totally that all past and all future disappear. Who cares about that which is already gone? And who cares about that which has not come yet? Enough is the moment unto itself. And that is the way of meditation: enough is the moment unto itself. Living the moment in its totality, in joy, diving deep into it without holding anything back, is bliss. Getting rid of all goals — worldly and other-worldly, material and spiritual — one knows the taste of meditation. It is the taste of absolute freedom.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen
Chapter title: The Garden Of Tathagata
4 May 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Meditation, understanding, freedom, silence, awareness, happiness, bliss’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- The Invitation
- The New Dawn
- The Path of the Mystic
- Philosophia Perennis
- The Rebellious Spirit
- The Ultimate Alchemy
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
- Zen: The Path of Paradox
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- Beyond Psychology
- From Bondage to Freedom