The Alchemy of Silence

Birthday of American Writer and Orator Robert G. Ingersoll

Born on 11 August 1833, Robert G. Ingersoll was an American lawyer, politician, writer, and orator who came to be known for his lectures and his unorthodox religious views. He essentially believed that the existence and simultaneously the non-existence of God was unknowable and unverifiable. Ingersoll promoted scientific rationalism and portrayed religious beliefs as an outcome of human fear and insecurity. As a big advocate of agnosticism, he was given the nickname ‘The Great Agnostic’.

Ingersoll was a lawyer by profession in the state of Illinois and enjoyed a profitable law practice. He eventually became a politician and participated in presidential campaigns but could not retain his positions for long due to his publicized heretical and unconventional religious beliefs. Ingersoll nevertheless had a big audience for his lectures such as Some Mistakes of Moses (1879), and Why I Am Agnostic (1896).

Osho talks about Ingersoll, “A man of knowledge is a totally different phenomenon. I was saying that the man of knowledge and the knowledgeable man are not the same. The man of knowledge is what a buddha is: one who knows. But the knowledgeable man is not a buddha; he does not know. He has accumulated great information, but that information is borrowed. It is from the scriptures, from the books, from others. He has not experienced it; it is about and about. He can talk, he can write, he can sermonize, but he knows nothing. He talks ABOUT God; he has no idea what God is. He has no glimpse even — what to say about experience. The priests all over the world of all the religions are knowledgeable people. Jesus knows, but the pope is not a man of knowledge. He is a knowledgeable man, he has great information. He can quote scriptures.

One of the great thinkers of the West was Ingersoll. Whenever he would deliver discourses — and he was a great orator too — he would make a mysterious sign in the air with his finger before he would start speaking. And when he would end, after that again he would make something with his fingers — some very mysterious thing in the air. He was asked again and again, but he would laugh and he would not answer.

When he was dying somebody asked, “Now please tell us, otherwise we will be always curious and wondering — what were you doing your whole life? Is there some magic in it? Why do you make some mysterious signs before you speak and then again when you end?”

He said, “There is no magic in it, but I could not tell it before. Now I can tell it. Before I started my speech I was making the sign of inverted commas, and after I ended I had to close the inverted commas. I was saying to myself and to you too that it is all just quotation, it is not my experience. The whole thing is borrowed — it is within inverted commas.”

That is a knowledgeable man. But Ingersoll is sincere, at least honest.”

Osho Says…..

The most beautiful thing about danger is it gives you alertness, awareness; hence the people who go climbing an unknown peak, unmapped, are really searching awareness. They are not aware of what they are searching for. The people who have travelled to the North and South poles, taking all kinds of risks, the people who have gone to the moon, are not aware of what their search is really for. They are searching for awareness but their search is not conscious. A meditator goes consciously.

There is no need to go to the Himalayan peaks or to the moon because there are higher peaks within you and greater distances within you and far more significant stars within you; the whole sky is there, the whole cosmos is there. But it is far more risky than going to the moon or going to Everest.

The greatest, the most dangerous, the riskiest space, is within; hence very few people dare to go there. Falling from those peaks which are inside you, you fall into a deeper abyss than one has ever known before. When you start knowing something about bliss, at the same time you become aware that if a single step goes wrong you will fall into a darkness into which you have never been. As you move towards the positive the negative also becomes bigger. When you reach the peak the valley is the greatest that surrounds you. When you were on plain ground there was no valley at all; there was not much risk. Even if you had fallen there was not much risk — maybe a fracture or two, at the most. But if you fall from the peak you will be shattered, completely shattered.

But nobody ever falls from the peaks for the simple reason that as you move higher, you become more alert, more conscious, you become aware of the razor’s edge. You are walking on a sword. You are like a tightrope walker who has to be aware, very aware. He has to live in the moment; he cannot think of the past, he cannot think of the future. The moment is enough unto itself; he has to be herenow. Hence there is no fall, I have never heard of anybody falling from the peaks. But the danger is there, and because of the danger very few people go into the inward world, the interiority of one’s own being. They cling to whatsoever security they have got money, power, prestige, family, the Rotary Club, the Lion’s Club — where you will not find a single lion, all are sheep. But sheep like to call themselves lions, they like pretending. Comfortable, beautiful lies they live in.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Don’t take away the lies from people, otherwise they will die.” And in a way he is right that people cannot live without lies, they need comfortable lies; hence Christianity exists, Hinduism exists, Buddhism exists. All these organised religions have nothing to do with truth. Their whole existence depends on there being cowards who constantly need to be comforted, consoled. They don’t want the truth because truth means you have to go on a long pilgrimage, the longest journey. But if you have courage the journey becomes smaller.

The greater the courage, the shorter is the journey. If the courage is total then in a single step, like sudden lightning, one reaches the peak. It is worth taking all the risks, it is worth it to go into the dangerous, it is worth it to go into the uncharted sea, because it is only through that gambling that one’s soul is born, otherwise man lives without a soul. And to live without a soul is not worth anything. It is meaningless, it has no glory, no splendour, no fragrance, no beauty, no bliss.

It is monotony, sheer monotony, boredom.

The ultimate truth needs a new kind of hearing because god is constantly speaking within you. But we don’t hear, we are so full of noise. The mind continuously chatters; day in, day out, whether awake or asleep, it goes on chattering. And there is not only one mind, everybody is carrying many minds. The idea of one mind is absolutely wrong; we don’t have one mind, we have many minds. So it is not just a single mind chattering, it is many minds chattering; it is a crowd inside. They are all quarreling with each other, fighting with each other for domination. Each mind wants to be the dominant one. And in this conflict, confusion, chaos, you cannot hear the still small voice within. It is very clear but it is a whisper: soft, delicate, like a flower, like a breeze. You need a gracious hearing, you need a silence to hear it, a deep transcendence of the mind, a distance from the mind, so that the chattering goes farther and farther away. You can hear it somewhere in the neighbourhood and it goes on receding. As you become more and more silent it fades away. Finally, when you are really silent, there is no mind at all; it has gone so far away, like the farthest star. You cannot hear anything. From the mind now there is nothing, no problem. Then suddenly the heart is heard.

That is the meaning of Simone: when one listens to one’s own heart.

The heart does not speak any language; all languages belong to the mind. The heart has its own way of conveying its messages which is not intellectual but intuitive. The word “intuition” is beautiful. The mind needs tuition, it needs teachers — schools, colleges, universities. It needs tuition, it has to be trained by others by the society.

Intuition means it is already there; the master is inside you. There is no need to follow the ideas given by others, because they cannot go deeper than the mind, and mind is just the periphery of your being. And the more ideas you gather, the more clumsy you become, because more and more minds are created. A scholar is almost in a state of insanity. There are scriptures which he can quote.

There was a great orator of England, Ingersoll. He was a very famous orator, very few orators have been of that quality, and he was a very sincere man too. Before he started speaking he would always raise a hand with two fingers sticking up, and when he ended he would raise his other hand with two fingers sticking up. Everybody asked “What is this gesture? What do you mean?” And he would smile and never answer.

When he was dying one of his friends said, “Now please, it is a question of only a few minutes or at the most a few hours and you will be gone. Now tell us, what was the secret of your raising two fingers of your left hand at the beginning of each speech and two fingers of your right hand at the end? What was the meaning?” He said, “They are inverted commas, because whatsoever I was saying was not my own. I could not say that so I had to hide it, but now I can say I was just repeating others; the whole thing was borrowed.” But he was a sincere man. At least he made an effort to make it clear that whatsoever he was saying was not his own.

The mind has nothing of its own, it is always within inverted commas; whether you know or not, whether you are sincere or not, it is so. Mind is false thing, never original, always borrowed. But the heart is your own, it is your own voice, it is your very being speaking to you. But its communication is not through language. It is a silent communication. It is communion rather than communication. Once the mind is silent nothing is said but everything is heard. Without uttering a single word, for the first time you start moving in the right way, in the right direction. The heart goes on guiding you in subtle ways; you just have to be silent, that’s all. And your life is transformed through silence. I teach here only silence and nothing else, because out of silence everything else flowers. One becomes a garden and all kinds of flowers bloom. With the silence comes spring, because with silence comes joy, with silence comes love, with silence comes celebration, with silence comes god, with silence comes truth.

God can be attained through two ways: either prayer or meditation. They are different ways, diametrically opposite but, strangely leading to the same experience. If you look at the ways they look antagonistic, and if one thinks logically one will think, how can these contrary thoughts lead to the same goal? But those who have attained have seen that, ultimately, both paths lead to the same goal. And those two paths are needed because there are two types of people in the world. Humanity can be divided into two categories: the people who are more interested in love and the people who are more interested in bliss. The person who is interested in love has to follow the path of prayer. Then God is somewhere outside and you become a lover or a beloved. Both things have been done in the past.

The Indian mystics who followed the path of prayer have always thought of God as the lover and themselves as the beloved. They thought of themselves as feminine because God is the only male. That too has a beauty of its own — you are just receptive like a woman. The Sufis have done just the opposite. It is the same path but they think of themselves as lovers and God as a beloved. God is the woman — that too has its beauty. But both are on the path of love. Prayer means the highest form of love. But you have to hypothesize God somewhere outside, then you can relate. The people who are interested in bliss have no need to hypothesize God outside, they have to hypothesize God inside. Buddha, Mahavira — the whole tradition of Tao mystics and Zen mystics follows the path of meditation. In meditation, you don’t need any outside God — it is self-exploration. Now, these two things look totally opposite; one is focussed on the inside God. How can they reach to the same point? — But they do. The person who thinks of God as being on the outside dissolves himself into his God. He disappears, and the moment he disappears the ego is dropped and there is oneness. That oneness is realization.

In meditation you have to discard the ego, you have to become aware of the ego, you have to become watchful of the ego and all its tricks and strategies and cunning ways. As you watch the ego and its subtle ways it starts disappearing. It cannot exist in the light of awareness. Awareness is just like light: you bring light in and the darkness disappears. And the ego is nothing but darkness. The person following the path of love surrenders his ego to God. “I am not, you are.” But the same phenomenon happens, the ego is surrendered. And the person on the path of meditation does it through awareness. The same phenomenon happens, the ego disappears. And the moment the ego disappears you have come to find oneness with existence. So both reach the same oneness, both paths lead to the disappearance of duality; the duality is dissolved.

My feeling is that, as man becomes more and more mature, the path of meditation has to be more and more implemented. A child cannot understand the path of meditation; he can understand the path of love because love is natural. Every child knows what love is. Maybe later on he forgets what it is, but every child knows what love is; it is an intrinsic feel. Meditation is for a grown-up person. And humanity has come of age, hence meditation is going to become more significant than prayer in the future. Buddha is going to become more significant than Jesus. Zen is going to become more predominant than Sufism, Hassidism. Of course a few people will go on following those paths, and nothing is wrong in following them if they appeal to you — if they fit you. But the more intelligent you are, the more contemporary you are, more is the possibility that you will be easily moved by meditation; hence my emphasis on meditation. I help people in prayer only when I see that meditation will not be possible for a certain person. But it is becoming more secondary every day.


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

Darshan Diaries: Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Chapter #11

Chapter title: None

11 September 1980 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium


Osho has spoken on famous writers and philosophers like Albert Camus, Aristotle, Berkeley, Byron, Bukharin, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Fyodor Dostoevsky, D.H. Lawrence, H.G. Wells, Hegel, Huxley, John Milton, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Kant, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Nietzsche, Rabindranath Tagore, Schiller, Shakespeare, Socrates, Voltaire, Wittgenstein and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Come, Come, Yet Again Come
  2. The Transmission of the Lamp
  3. The Book of Wisdom
  4. The Dhammapada: the way of the Buddha Vol. 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12
  5. The Discipline of Transcendence Vol. 1, 2, 3
  6. The Last Testament Vol. 1, 3, 5
  7. The Messiah Vol. 1, 2
  8. The Art of Dying
  9. The Fish in The Sea Is Not Thirsty
  10. Light on the Path
  11. The Secret
  12. The Hidden Splendour
  13. The New Dawn
  14. Beyond Enlightenment
  15. The Golden Future
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