Paradox of Self-Remembering

Osho on Sufism

SUFISM IS NOT A DOCTRINE BUT A DISCIPLINE, A METHOD OF inner transformation, an alchemical device — to change the lower into the higher, to change the baser metal into gold. It does not believe in talking about God. Rather, It believes in creating God. It does not believe in great philosophical argumentation — that is all rubbish. Its whole emphasis is on how to destroy man’s mechanicalness, how to de-automatize man, how to release awareness in him. Self-remembering is its only and its whole philosophy. If you can understand one word, ‘self-remembering’, you have understood all that Sufism consists of.

Man lives, but without any remembrance of who he is. Then you can go on doing a thousand and one things, but failure is going to be your fate. You are doomed to fail, because unconsciousness fails.

Only consciousness succeeds, because it is only through consciousness that you become part of the divine cosmos. Unconscious, you remain apart. Unconscious, you are confined by your ego, you are like an island. Conscious, the ego melts, you become one with the whole, the harmony of the whole. The part is going to fail. The part cannot succeed. Only the whole succeeds.

That is the meaning of the ancient statement: SATYAM EVAM JAYATE — it is only truth that wins. Why is it only truth that wins? Because to be true is to be with God; to be true is to be with the ultimate law of existence, is to be in tune with Tao. And the whole cannot fail. The individual is bound to fail. And unless you remember, you will remain an individual.

The moment you remember, the miracle happens, the paradox happens: in self-remembering, self disappears; only remembering is left. In non-self-remembering, there is no remembering, but the self continues. The self and remembering cannot exist together; their co-existence is not possible.

Sufism can be reduced to a single method: self-remembering. A man who remembers himself functions in a different way. Never imitate anybody, because by imitation you are not going to reach. If by chance you are fortunate and blessed and you come across a Buddha, learn how to remember. Don’t imitate him. If you imitate a Buddha, you will be just a dummy Buddha, a false entity, of no worth. And you will become more and more stupid — imitators always become stupid. Intelligence never grows by imitation: intelligence grows by experimentation. Intelligence grows by taking challenges. Intelligence grows by accepting questions and endeavoring to find their answers. Imitation means the question has not yet even arisen, and you have accepted the answer. If the question has not arisen then the season is not ripe — don’t sow the seeds, they will die. It will be sheer wastage.

But it happens: if you come across a Buddha, his being, his presence is magnetic — you would like to be like him. His grace enchants you. You would like to learn his way of life. You will start imitating unconsciously. That too happens unconsciously. He looks so beautiful, he looks so silent and so blessed — who would not like to imitate him? But

if you imitate, you miss, because consciousness cannot be imitated. It has to be created. You have to become the lab. You have to become the experiment. You have to create the fire. You have to create the patience. You have to create many things which are ingredients for the inner chemistry, and then the flame comes one day. Then you are a Buddha in your own right.

Not a copy! not a carbon copy.

Your innermost being will be exactly like the Buddha, but your outer personality will be different. A Jesus is a Jesus, a Krishna is a Krishna, a Rumi is a Rumi, a Mansoor is a Mansoor. From the periphery they are as different as people can be different, but from the innermost core their taste is one, similarly one. What is that taste? That is the taste of self-remembering.

The body is different. Buddha has a different shape, Mohammed has certainly a different shape; their eyes, their noses, their faces, their hands, are different; their languages are different, their characters are different. Mohammed has a sword in his hand and Buddha will not touch a sword, never. Krishna has a flute — you cannot visualize Mahavira having a flute. It is impossible. Jesus is on the cross, in that deep agony of humanity, as if all the agony of all the human beings has centered into the being of Jesus. And Krishna is dancing, as if all the ecstasies of all possible human beings are gathered together. But if you look deep, in the agony of Jesus and in the ecstasy of Krishna, the taste is the same. Dancing, Krishna is remembering. Dying, Jesus is remembering. Buddha is sitting silently under his tree, with utter self-remembering, and Meera is dancing, with great abandon, but deepest at the core there is the flame of self-remembering.

Self-remembering is the soul of religion.

But we always see the periphery. If you come to me, you will see my periphery, you will not see my center. That is not available to ordinary eyes. Unless you grow the eyes of a disciple, you will not be able to see it. Unless you grow the inner eye you will only see my circumference. And I am not my circumference: I am my center. The circumference is accidental, but the center is not accidental — it is essential. The same center can exist in different circumferences. But the ordinary eyes will see only the outer, and will become obsessed with the outer and will start imitating it — in the hope that “Maybe someday, imitating, and imitating more perfectly, we will arrive at the center.” There is no way from the periphery to the center!

Let this be remembered by you always and always: there is no way from the periphery to the center. There is certainly a way from the center to the periphery. If the inner changes, the outer changes of its own accord — but not vice versa. Just by changing the outer, you will not be able to change the inner. In fact, by changing the outer you will become a hypocrite. By changing the outer, you will become split, you will become two. Rather than becoming one, you will be divided. And all divisions bring misery.

And this is the greatest division: when somebody’s center speaks one language and the circumference another, he starts falling into a kind of schizophrenia. These two poles will become farther and farther apart, and he will not be able to keep himself together. Sooner or later he will fall into fragments. That’s what madness is. Never imitate, otherwise you are on the path of being mad. UNDERSTAND, but never imitate. When a Master speaks, whatsoever he is saying is true in HIS context. Don’t take his statements out of his context, otherwise you have missed the meaning. And I know: even out of context those statements LOOK meaningful, but they are no more meaningful. Meaning is never in the words but always in the context. In that way, all dictionaries are false, because in a dictionary there are only words without context. You read a word ‘love’. Now what meaning can the word ‘love’ have? It can have a thousand and one meanings, and it can have a thousand and one meanings because it has no meaning in itself. It depends on the user and the context.

A man says to a woman, “I love you.” And another man says, “I love ice-cream.” Is the meaning the same? And Jesus says, “Love is God.” When Jesus says, “Love is God,” and you say, “I love ice-cream, ” is the meaning the same? Then God’s taste will be the taste of ice-cream. No, it is not. The meaning of the word depends on the context. And the context is a huge phenomenon. In the context, the person who has made the statement is deeply involved. If he is a man of presence, his presence is involved. If he is a Buddha or a Christ, if he is a Sufi, then all that he has known and seen is involved in it. Don’t take statements of Buddhas ordinarily. Till you have understood the quality of the Buddha, his mindfulness, his awareness, you will go on misunderstanding. And whatsoever you will do out of your misunderstanding will create more misery, complexity, turmoil, in your life. Rather than becoming a blessing, it will become a curse. That’s what has happened to humanity at large.

Millions are there who are Christians, and they don’t know what Christ-consciousness is, and they go on reading the Bible. And millions are there who are Buddhists, and they don’t know what Buddha-consciousness is, and they go on reading the Diamond Sutra. And millions are there who are Hindus, and they don’t know what Krishna-consciousness is, and they go on reading the Gita. Hence the confusion in the world. Hence so much stupidity in the world, unintelligence in the world, mediocrity in the world. People read the Sermon on the Mount, or the Bible, or the Gita, or the Dhammapada, but the meaning? — the meaning is going to be yours. Meaning cannot be that of Jesus or Krishna or Mohammed Always remember: when you are reading the Bible, be very conscious, cautious, that it is your meaning that you are reading there. You cannot read what Jesus means. You can read that only when you have attained something of Jesus’ self remembering.

THIS IS THE KEY-WORD IN SUFISM: self-remembering. It is not a doctrine; it is a discipline. It is not magic, ritual; it is science, it is REAL psychology. That is the literal meaning of the word ‘psychology’: the science of the soul…The Eastern psychology, which is REALLY psychology, says unless you understand Buddha you will not understand man — because man is just a seed. How can you understand the seed unless you have seen a tree? fully grown, with foliage, with flowers, with fruits? Unless the seed has manifested itself totally and has come to be actual, is not only potential, you will not be able to understand it. If you want to understand the seed, go and study the tree. By studying the tree you will know what the seed is and what the seed can be. In the East we understand Buddha to understand man. In the West you understand rats to understand man. This is humiliating. This is insulting. Western psychology is not psychology yet. It should drop the name! It is only a study of outer behavior, but not of the inner consciousness. It denies that there is anything inner.

Sufism is psychology in the true sense of the word. It depends on the inner. But then one problem arises: when you listen to the statements of the Sufis, be very alert. Don’t translate them according to YOUR understanding, otherwise you will miss the import. Rather than bringing the statements of the Sufis to your understanding, you will have to rise in your awareness and go closer to the Sufis. These are the two ways to understand. For example, you are here with me. One way is: whatsoever I say, you translate it, reduce it, to YOUR understanding. That is one way to understand it. In fact, it is a way of misunderstanding it. The other way is the right way to understand: when you fall in love with something that I say, then try to come closer to my awareness. Then meditate more. Then become more self-aware. Then witnessing has to be grown. Then more energy has to be poured into observation, so that you can rise a little higher from your ordinary plane of understanding. Then you will be able to see the point.

The problem becomes very complicated because Sufis use very simple language. You can understand it. As far as language is concerned there is no problem. But as far as the MESSAGE IS concerned, there is a great problem. The statements of the Sufis are coded messages — simple on the surface but carrying great treasure in them. Sufism is not a doctrine, hence it is not intellectual. It is existential. It is total. Intellect is only a tiny part. But somehow this calamity has happened, that the intellect has become dictatorial, that it has usurped all the power that you have, that it has become totalitarian, that it has become the master. Sufis say the intellect is a great servant, a good servant, very useful, but a bad master. It can’t be the master.

In fact, no PART can be the master. Neither can the heart be the master. Neither the hands nor the feet, nor the kidneys, nor the lungs — NO PART can be the master. The mastery belongs to the organic unity. Man’s being should be a democracy in which every part has its say, and where every part functions at its maximum, is not hindered, and out of the harmony of all the parts arises self-remembering. So one thing to be reminded of: Zen is anti-intellectual; it is not so with Sufism. Zen is irrational; it is not so with Sufism. Sufism is a very balanced view. It is neither intellectual nor anti intellectual ; it is neither rational nor irrational.

Sufism says: Intellect has its own place; it is a good machine. It has to be used, but only as a machine. The machine has not to become a master. This vision of man functioning as an organic unity is one of the greatest contributions to human consciousness from Sufism. Neither the heart nor the head nor anything else has to become the boss. There is no need for any boss in your being. All have to function; nobody’s functioning has to be hindered. And out of the harmony of all the parts functioning arises that great grace called self-remembering. It is neither of the mind nor of the soul nor of the body, but of all. It is a trinity. It is total.

Zen is a little bit extremist. It goes from intellect to the diametrically opposite extreme. Sufism is far more balanced, moderate. It remains in the middle. It says there is no need to take any standpoint. Use all that God has given to you, but use it in such a way, in such an artful way, that your life becomes an orchestra. And the melody that will come out of that orchestra is self-remembering. That self-remembering reveals to you all the mysteries there are. Intellect has a part to play; intellect has to serve. Its contribution is significant, for two reasons. One: while you are moving on the path, intellect helps you to avoid the falls. Intellect cannot deliver you the truth — it is too big, it is beyond intellect. It is the capacity of the total only. But intellect can still do some great work, spade work. It can show you what is false, it can show you what is wrong. It can show you where not to go. It can help you eliminate. And that is great work. When you are standing at a crossroad and there are four roads, three have to be eliminated — intellect will do that. It cannot absolutely say to you, “This is true. Follow this.” It cannot directly guide you, but it can say to you, “This does not seem to be true.” Why? Because intellect’s whole capacity is that of doubt. Its function is that of doubt. It can doubt! So it can show you what is false. It cannot trust, so it cannot show you what is right, but in an indirect way, if the false is eliminated you are coming closer to the true.

When ALL that is false is eliminated, and only that which is truth is left, intellect becomes silent. If it is not the master, it becomes silent. If it is the master, it goes on repeating the old gramophone saying, “This is false, this is false….” If it is just a slave, then it goes on saying, “This is false, this is false, this is false,” and a moment comes when it faces the truth… it simply remains silent. It cannot say, “This is true.” That is not the capacity of the intellect. But when the intellect is silent you can move on to the truth. To find a real Master you will have to use your intellect. There is nothing else that you can use. And this is the way to use it: don’t allow it to be your master. It is a beautiful computer, bio-computer, very delicate, very complex, of immense value. Millions of years have been wasted by nature to create it — don’t just throw it in the dustbin. Use it! Its capacity to doubt, its skepticism, is of immense value…Intellect has to be used, Sufis say, but as a slave not as a master. Then, when it confronts truth, it falls silent. This is one, and the first, purpose of intellect.

The second purpose is: when you have found the truth, it is through the intellect that there is some possibility to share it with others. When you have found it, it is through the intellect that you can devise methods, techniques, situations, so that others can also be led into it. Intellect is not the enemy — it can be used. Before attainment it can be helpful in rejecting the false; after attainment it can be helpful in indicating the truth, hinting at the truth — it can become a finger pointing to the moon.

So remember, Sufis are not against intellect, not at all. But still, don’t forget: intellect has not to be the master of the house. Nobody has to be the master of the house. Your whole unity has to function in harmony. And then when there is nobody master in you, the real Master descends. That is God.

If you have a master of your own, it prevents the real Master from coming in. It may be the intellect, it may be the heart, it may be logic, it may be faith — anything — but if you have a master of your own, the true Master will not be able to enter in you. There is no space for the true Master to come in. And the true Master is only one: the true Master is God.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: The Perfect Master, Vol 2

Chapter #3

Chapter title: Out of Context

3 July 1978 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on ‘Sufism, self-remembering, transformation, consciousness, intelligence, understandingin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Perfect Master, Vol 1, 2
  2. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
  3. Unio Mystica, Vol 1, 2
  4. Until You Die
  5. The Wisdom of the Sands, Vol 1, 2
  6. Rinzai: Master of the Irrational
  7. The Sword and the Lotus
  8. Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
  9. The Book of Wisdom
  10. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
  11. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 6
  12. Beyond Psychology
  13. Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4

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