The Osho Upanishad 37

ThirtySeventh Discourse from the series of 44 discourses - The Osho Upanishad by Osho.
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Never before have I felt so much at home with you. This place has such a beautiful vibration, and I feel a lot of it is created by your Indian disciples. Sometimes it feels that their gestures are in such a melting with your gestures and grace that I start asking myself if we, your Western sannyasins, are missing out on something. To see Indian sannyasins bowing down to you touches my heart deeply, and sometimes I feel that I am missing out. To do the bowing does not feel right, and only once in a while the bowing down happens to me – which I feel is one of the beautiful moments. Please comment.
India has a different vibe from any other land. The vibration depends on thousands of years’ constant search for one’s self. No other country is devoted to such a project; it is special and unique. Not for a single moment has the Indian consciousness wavered from its search. It has sacrificed everything for it, it has sacrificed itself for it. It has suffered slavery, poverty, sickness, death – but it has not accepted defeat in the search. The search is so ancient, it has gone into the very blood and bones and marrow of the people of this land. They may not be conscious of it, but they certainly have a different vibe: it is not their own, it is their heritage. They are born with it.
I can understand your question. The question has been asked in many ways, but you have put it very clearly: there is a distinction between the Indian disciple and the Western disciples.
The West has carried out a totally different tradition. Its basic motivation has been to explore objects. Objects are dead, and when you have been exploring dead objects for centuries, a certain kind of deadness is bound to enter into your own being. A man is known by the company he keeps.
The Western mind is surrounded by objects. It is interested in faraway stars… Only in one thing is it not interested, and that is its own being. The obvious is ignored, and the far away becomes the focus of your interest. Naturally your very being starts moving farther and farther from your center.
The Western mind lives on the periphery – that is its centuries-old concern. Naturally it has created a different kind of culture, a different kind of approach among human beings. It has created the psychology of the ego. The whole of Western education from Aristotle up to today emphasizes that your ego should be stronger. It is a natural conclusion, because you are going to be a competitor, in a world with so many people fighting for the same objects. You cannot be polite and you cannot be nice and you cannot be nonviolent. And you cannot bother about your means – you cannot think that a good end needs good means.
If the means are not good, then the end cannot be good – because it is the means that ultimately transforms into the goal, into the end. It is the path that finally becomes the goal; a wrong path cannot lead to the right goal.
But when it is a question of competition you have to be cunning, because others are cunning. You have to be more cunning than them; otherwise you will be defeated. If you want to be richer, you have to fight tooth-and-nail. You don’t have any time to think about means and ends. You have to keep your eyes only on the goal that you have to become powerful, rich, prestigious, respected. It does not matter by what means you achieve these goals.
And to achieve these goals is nothing but fulfilling your ego: “I am higher than anybody else, better than anybody else. I am the first, everybody else comes after me.” In such an atmosphere, bowing down to the feet of a master is impossible; it is against the very ego.
You can see in small things how East and West have developed – out of the same human material, the same human energy – different patterns.
In the East you welcome each other with folded hands. In the West you shake hands. Do you see the difference?
When you greet someone with folded hands you are saying, “I bow down to the divineness in you.” When you are shaking hands there is no question of divineness. In fact shaking hands was developed to be sure that you are not holding some weapon in your right hand, to be certain that you are not an enemy. You offer the right hand, you show that your right hand is empty – “I am not your enemy.” At the most, that is what it says: I am not your enemy. It does not say, “I am your friend.” And it keeps you on the same status; you both shake hands. But it has no mystery in it; it is just a strategy, a diplomacy.
The right hand is dangerous, it can hold a weapon; and if you don’t see it clearly open, hold it, feel it, then there is suspicion, the man can deceive you. This shaking of hands developed in the West out of distrust. Now the Western historians are agreed about it, about the origin of shaking of hands.
But bowing down to each other with folded hands takes you to a totally different level. It has a different context; it makes you feel respected, honored, and not in an ordinary way, but in the most extraordinary fashion. It reminds you of your divinity, of your godliness. Those folded hands are not for you or for your ego. They are for something hidden behind you, beyond your ego – your essential nature, your very soul.
Secondly, the folded hands also signify that I am bowing down to you not half-heartedly, that both sides of me are together as a totality – not as a split personality, not holding anything back – because, when you shake hands, it is only with one hand. It is only representative of one side, half of you. What about the other half? The other half may not be in agreement with the hand that you have given in friendship. It is a split, divided, half-hearted reception, and you can feel it.
When you shake hands with someone, you can feel whether the hand is cold or warm, whether the hand is alive or just like a dead branch of a tree. If it is half, it cannot be warm; if it is half, it cannot be alive. It can be only formal, just etiquette – it has no depth. Only once in a while will you find some hand with warmth, and then it generally happens that whenever the hand is full of warmth, the other hand will also come to catch hold of your hand; both your hands will be together.
Both the hands folded – in the same way that the East worships the ultimate, the absolute, with no difference at all; it receives the human with the same folded hands.
Here, to bow down to a master’s feet is a tremendous blissfulness, because those are the moments when you have put your ego aside. For those few moments you are pure being, and to be pure being is to be pure bliss.
But for the Western disciple there is a difficulty. He has been told to keep his head high. He has been educated not to surrender, in any case; it is better to die than to surrender. His whole education is nursing the ego in the name of individuality. And this is simply a deception, because individuality is a totally different phenomenon – it has nothing to do with ego. In fact the more ego you have, the less individuality you will have. If you are full of the ego, there is no space for individuality.
The ego is afraid to bow down. The individuality is not afraid, because the individuality feels enriched – it loses nothing, it gains. Flowers of blessings shower on it; it feels a newness, a coolness, a silence descending upon it. But for the ego it is death. For the individuality, it is becoming really alive.
The West has been deceived by its religions, by its educators, by its politicians to believe that “Ego is your individuality; sharpen your ego.” And certainly it helps in the market place; it helps you to fight, to compete mercilessly. It allows for a cutthroat competition. It does not matter what means you choose: your ego should be fulfilled; then everything is right.
It is not strange that two world wars have happened in this century in the West, and the West is preparing for a third world war too. It is not strange that in all the centuries of the Middle Ages the West was continually killing, murdering, burning living people in the name of God, in the name of love. It was easy for the West to spread its imperialistic desires all over the world.
In the future, minds who have known something of meditation, reading about the past, will be surprised that countries like India – so vast – were so easily conquered.
The credit does not go to the conquerors remember. The credit goes to the defeated, the conquered – because these people have lived in a totally different atmosphere, a different milieu; they have been nourished on different vibrations. Fighting and killing for land, for money, was not in their minds. They were conquered not because they were not brave enough; they were conquered because they were not foolish enough to fight. They allowed the way; they said, “A few idiots have got this idea to conquer the whole world – let them conquer. What are you going to gain by conquering, the whole world?” A totally different approach to life: that the very idea of conquering is ugly, inhuman.
But to the Alexanders, to the Napoleons, to the Hitlers, to conquer was the greatest thing in life; there was nothing more.
India knows much more. India knows that there is certainly a way of conquering – but it is not concerned with conquering others, it is concerned with conquering oneself.

Alexander was asked by a sannyasin – because Alexander wanted to take a sannyasin with him to Athens. His master, Aristotle, had asked him to bring back a sannyasin. He had heard so much about these people, and they seemed to be of a totally different quality. “So bring back at least one sannyasin.” Aristotle was interested to know what kind of vibe a sannyasin has, what it was that was keeping the whole East on a different wavelength.
The sannyasin was naked, standing by the side of a river, and Alexander introduced himself: “I am Alexander the Great, who has conquered the whole world.”
The sannyasin laughed. He said, “Don’t be foolish. Just answer me one question: have you conquered yourself?”
Alexander had never thought about it. It was so alien, so foreign a thought; it had never occurred to him that one has to conquer oneself.
And the sannyasin said, “You have some nerve. Without conquering yourself, you started conquering the whole world. Be ashamed! First conquer yourself; that is the only true victory.”

I am reminded of a small story which Western historians never mention:

When Alexander invaded India, he was camping on the bank of the river Sindhu, which was the boundary line of an Indian empire. The king of that empire was Poras. It was the rainy season, and the river Sindhu was almost like an ocean. It is a very big river, but in times of rain it becomes hundreds of times bigger. Alexander and his forces were waiting so that when the water subsided they could manage to cross it.
But one boat from Alexander’s camp was sent across the river, and the boat was carrying Alexander’s wife. It was the month of shravan. In India, in the month of shravan, the women tie a thread on their brother’s wrist – it is called rakshabandhan – and the brother promises that he will protect the sister even if he has to lose his life.
The wife of Alexander was received with great warmth and taken to the palace. Poras asked, “Why have you come? You could have called me, informed me, and I could have come to your camp. It was dangerous to cross the river.”
But Alexander’s wife said, “I had to come because it is the month of shravan. I don’t have a brother and I want to make you my brother.”
Poras said, “This is a great coincidence – I don’t have a sister. I am immensely happy to have you as a sister.” She tied a thread on his wrist, and he promised that he would protect her even if he had to lose his life.
She said, “I trust your word. Just remember, soon you will be fighting with my husband. Remember that he is your sister’s husband and don’t make me a widow.”
The time came when the river subsided, and Poras and Alexander faced each other, fought. There came a moment, because Poras was sitting on his elephant – in India the elephant was used in wars – while Alexander was sitting on his horse… A moment came when Poras killed the horse. Alexander was down flat on the earth, and Poras was just going to kill him with his spear.
At that very moment he saw the thread. A single moment, and the great Alexander would have been finished. But the thread and the promise is far more valuable to the Eastern mind than victory or defeat: he pulled his spear back.
Alexander said, “What happened? You just had to kill me and you would have been the world conqueror.”
He said, “It is impossible. I have promised your wife that as long as I am alive she will not be a widow, I will protect her. So get up. I cannot kill you.”
Poras was defeated.
You can see the difference of attitudes: he was put into chains, handcuffed, chains on his feet, and dragged into the camp where Alexander was sitting on the throne. Now this is simply an inhuman way to behave with such a man who has saved your life. But even in chains Poras was a far greater individual than Alexander. His integrity, his individuality… You cannot enslave such a person. You can put him in chains but you cannot enslave him.
And Alexander asked, “How should I treat you?”
Poras said, “Don’t you know a simple thing? An emperor should be treated like an emperor.”
Alexander had nothing to say, he was just shocked. The authority, the voice, the power of the man alone among enemies… In chains he still had the same attitude as he had in his palaces: “You should treat an emperor like an emperor.”
Alexander turned back. He did not enter further into India. No one can say exactly why he turned back – because he had won the battle; now the doors were open to the whole of India. He could have entered into other kingdoms. Poras’ kingdom was small, just on the border.
But I have a definite feeling that facing Poras he understood it: that his cunningness worked once but it might not work again and again. It was not a victory – at least to him it was clear; it may not have been clear to his armies. It was clear to him that he was facing a different kind of people.
A strange man! For just a thread he lost the whole kingdom; just for a word given to a strange woman who was just a trap, who was sent by Alexander himself.

For Alexander it was diplomacy, no question of means; the end was all in all. But to Poras it was a totally different matter. Even in his defeat I say he was victorious. And if people write history with some intelligence, then Poras should be the victor and Alexander the defeated one. But the world is strange: Poras is forgotten, and Alexander becomes the great conqueror of the world. And we know only about what happened to Poras here. We don’t know what Alexander had been doing all along the way from Athens to India.
India has certainly a different attitude, a different approach about everything. So I can understand.
A Western disciple, when he sees an Indian disciple touching the feet of the master with tears of joy, is in a strange dilemma. His whole education, conditioning says, “This is not right.” And his heart can see that this is right; these tears, this joy cannot be wrong. Between his conditioning and his actual experience here, there is a conflict. So once in a while the heart overcomes the conditioning and the Western disciple also – in spite of his mind, in spite of his whole Western heritage – bows down, touches the feet of the master and feels the tremendous joy. And a strange experience: that he is not losing his individuality, of which he was afraid, of which he has been made afraid. On the contrary, his individuality is nourished, his individuality is becoming more human, and one day it will become divine.
Yes, the ego feels hurt. The ego will try to say, “Don’t do such things.” The ego stands for all your conditioning and heritage. But the ego cannot give you any nourishment and the ego cannot give you those tears of joy and gratitude; the ego can give you only misery, anguish, tension. It is up to you to choose.
The difference is this: for the Indian there is not much problem in choosing; it comes easily, whole-heartedly. For the Westerner it comes with difficulty – the dilemma, the dichotomy between the heart and the mind: there is a struggle.
But I should remind you of one thing: for the Indian there is some other problem that you don’t have to face. They don’t have to face your problem; their problem is that touching the feet has become just formal – they touch anybody’s feet. They touch the feet of their father, mother, anybody older. So touching the feet is not something phenomenal; it is very ordinary, usual, an everyday thing.
So when they touch the feet of the master, it is possible that they may be doing it just as a formality; this is their problem. They may not get anything out of it. A formality is just a routine. It has to be done so they are doing it, and they have been doing it their whole lives. It is not something new, it does not open up a new door – it is just an exercise, just bowing down and touching the feet and finished.
So the Western disciple need not be worried that the Indian disciple is in a better position. It is not so. He has his troubles, you have your troubles.
And if you ask me, I will say your trouble is better than the trouble of the Indian disciple because the Indian disciple never becomes aware of it. Not even a single question… For thirty years I have been answering questions and not a single Indian sannyasin has asked, “How to get out of this formality? How to make it authentic, heartfelt?” They go on doing the exercise and feeling, “What more can be done?” – and they are not doing anything.

I used to go for a morning walk with one of my neighbors. He had a habit of bowing down to every temple. And in India, God has more houses than man has. After each one or two houses there is a temple; if not a temple, then underneath a tree Hanumanji is sitting, Ganeshji is sitting. And that man was continually bowing down here and there.
I said to him, “Listen, if you are going for a morning walk with me then you have to stop all this nonsense. You don’t feel anything, neither for this temple nor for that temple. When you don’t feel anything, why do you bother to do this exercise?”
He said, “What to do? It is just out of fear. Since I have been taking morning walks with you I have become aware that it is routine and once in a while I miss one Hanumanji or one Ganeshji – I just don’t look at them – but then I start feeling a deep fear in me, that if Hanumanji becomes angry… And I have not lost anything just doing a ritual. But I have to go back. When you have gone to your house, I have to go back to the Hanumanji whom I have left out to pray to him: “Just don’t get angry, I was in wrong company. That fellow suggested that I stop so I stopped; it was not my fault.”
So I said, “Then you can do it – but you cannot go for a walk with me.”
He loved to go with me, to talk with me. He was very sad. He said, “I will try – just one more chance. Tomorrow, whatever happens… What can happen? I have one wife, one child and myself – three persons. At the most these people can kill us, that’s all. If the worst comes to worst, I am not going to take care of anybody.”
He went with me not more than just one furlong, and we had passed only two or three places of his worship, and he started trembling. I took his hand in my hand. He had a fever. I said, “My God, why do you have a fever?”
He said, “Just… I am trying, but my whole being is in such fear, a nightmare. I am afraid that when I reach back home my wife will be dead, or perhaps my child will have gone mad – one knows not what is going to happen today.”
I said, “You go back and do your exercise.”
He said, “Thank you, you are such a good person. But can I come for the morning walk?”
I said, “Yes, you can come. You just do whatsoever you want to do.” And when he came back after paying his respects to the three temples that we had passed, I took his hand and the fever was gone.

The Indian has a formality which he has learned, and he goes on repeating it like a robot; he does not mean anything. Hence I have never been asked by an Indian sannyasin, “What to do with my formality? How to make it a heartfelt experience?” They are in a far more difficult situation.
From the Western sannyasins, questions have come many times – “We see Indians, we see their joy, we feel their vibe and certainly it looks like we are missing something.”
You are missing something. And if you can put aside your ego, your gain will be better and more and deeper than any Indian disciple’s for the simple reason that it will not be a formality. You have gone through a transformation to do it; it is a conscious doing. For the Indian it is an unconscious, sleepy thing. So don’t feel that you are a loser. Anyone, whether Indian or non-Indian, who cannot put his ego aside is a loser.
The whole mystery of the path is to be in a state of nothingness. And out of that nothingness comes gratitude.
The master is the closest. It is difficult for you to feel the invisible, or to touch the intangible, or to hear the music which can be heard only by the heart, but the moment you are surrendered to the master, you are surrendered to a door from where you may get a fresh breeze of the divine, a fragrance from the beyond, a glimpse of the unknown. Then tears will come to you, tears of deep thankfulness – tears, because words cannot say it.
But because you are aware, I hope you will be able to put the ego aside, just to experiment. And once you have tasted the sweetness of the beyond then there is no question of experiment, and there is no question of your ego making any trouble for you. Your ego will start disappearing in the shadows. It will haunt you till you have something of the real in your hands.
The master is the closest door. Soon you will be able to experience the same bowing down before a rosebush or before a sunset or before the sky full of stars. Once you have known, then millions of doors open.
Just open one door – that is for you to do – and then existence opens millions of doors for you, unasked, unsought. Wherever you look you find something that reminds you of godliness; that reminds you of truth, beauty, and fills you with gratitude.

When I look at my life, it seems that the first twenty-one years were spent in being programmed for an existence which was not my own. When I began to drop this programming, energy became available for the search for the truth. After fourteen years I found you, my master, and dropping this search, I received energy to explore the nature of love. Now, another seven years later, I am sharing the joy of your presence in love with a beautiful fellow disciple, and it seems I have nothing left to wish for. Will these moments of perfect contentment last forever, or are they merely preparation for something else?
There are moments on the path when one feels that this is the end of the journey – not only feels it, but wants it, because it is so tremendously blissful that one cannot conceive that anything more can be possible. You are at such a moment, and in such a moment the desire is natural that it should remain forever.
But I would like to say to you that you are asking something against yourself, because there is much more to happen. There will always be much more to happen. There will never come a point which can be said to be the full-point. Never think that this moment should last forever because if this moment lasts forever, then what about those beautiful moments that are still unexplored, still ahead?
I would like to tell you a beautiful story:

Rabindranath, one of the greatest poets the world has produced, says in one of his poems that he has been searching for God for thousands of lives. Sometimes he found his shadow near a faraway star; he had rushed toward the star, but by the time he reached there God was gone; he was always moving. Sometimes he would see God’s face somewhere far away… And again and again, the same story. Although he was coming closer, and each time he was seeing something more. From the shadow he had started seeing God himself. At first it was only a vague figure. Slowly, slowly he could see the face, the eyes, the smile… He was coming closer and closer and closer.
One day he came across a house, a beautiful golden house with a plate on the door saying: This is the House of God. He was immensely joyful. Thousands of lives’ journey, so much trouble, so much arduous, tedious… But finally he had made it. You could feel his joy – he danced, and then he went up four steps to knock on the door.
Just as he was going to knock on the door, an idea came to his mind: “If this is really the house of God and he opens the door, then what am I going to do? All I know is searching, seeking, journeying. I have become an expert in millions of lives, an expert in seeking and searching. What am I going to do sitting in this house for eternity? It may be made of gold, but this is dangerous. It is entering into your own grave; life is finished. You have met God – what more do you want? Now there is no challenge, nothing to explore, nowhere to go. Everything is finished; it is simply death.”
He became so afraid that he took his shoes off his feet so that no noise would be made, because who knows? – just a noise on the steps and God might open the door, although he had not knocked. And God will say, “Where are you going? Come in.” And then he ran away.
And in the poem he says, “Since then I have been running. And people ask me, ‘Where are you going?’ and I say, ‘I am searching for God.’ And I know where he is. There is one good thing about it,” he says, “that now I know where he is so I avoid that place. And the whole universe is available for me. God is in his house, and the whole universe, with all its beauty and all its joy and all its journey, is available to me. I don’t look in that direction and I am not going to enter that house.”

His poem has a tremendous insight.
There is no end, because every end will be death. And life knows no death; it goes on and on and on. So this is simply a preparation; it is always a preparation for a new journey.
You can have a little rest, but remember: it is just an overnight stay in a caravanserai. In the morning we have to go, so rest well, be ready. As the sun rises, our journey starts again.
Life is from eternity to eternity.

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