Think the Unthinkable

Birthday of John Keats

Born on October 31, 1795, in London, Keats was an English Romantic lyric poet who devoted his short life to the perfection of a poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal, and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. Although his poems had been published for only four years when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, they were indifferently received in his lifetime, but his fame grew rapidly after his death. By the end of the century he was placed in the canon of English literature and had become an inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, strongly influencing many writers.

Keats had a style “heavily loaded with sensualities”, notably in the series of odes. Typical of the Romantics, he accentuated extreme emotion by emphasising natural imagery. Today his poems and letters remain among the most popular and analysed in English literature. Especially acclaimed are “Ode to a Nightingale”, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, “Sleep and Poetry” and the sonnet “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”.

Osho was all for creativity and liked poets, and their poetry, but at the same time his emphasis is on awareness. Osho says “There are two types of poets. One who is still dreaming and creating poetry out of his dreams — a Byron, a Shelley, a Keats. Then there is another type of poet, a rishi, who is no longer dreaming — he looks at the reality, and out of the reality poetry is born. Heraclitus is a rishi, a poet who is no longer dreaming, who has encountered existence.”


The first thing, Buddha says, is to think the thought that is unthinkable. It is a contradiction, a paradox. Now, no logician will ever utter such nonsense. It is from the very beginning nonsensical. That’s why logicians go on saying that Buddha, Jesus, Bodhidharma, Lao Tzu, Zarathustra — these people are all nonsense. Their propositions are meaningless — because they say one thing and in the next breath they contradict. Now look at this sentence: MY SIDDHANTA IS TO THINK THE THOUGHT THAT IS UNTHINKABLE….

Now just in a small sentence absolute contradiction — to think the unthinkable. How can you think the unthinkable? If it is really unthinkable you cannot think. If you can think then how can it be unthinkable? Simple, illogical — but what Buddha means has to be understood. Don’t be in a hurry; that’s why I say go patiently. When he means… when he wants to say something, he means it. He is saying there is a way to know things without thinking. There is a way to know things without mind. There is a way to see into reality directly, immediately, without the vehicle of thought. You can be connected with reality without any agent of thinking — that is what he is saying. He is saying that the mind can completely cease its activity, completely can drop its activity and yet be — still, a reservoir — and see into reality. But you will have to experience it, only then you will be able to understand.

Sometimes try just to see. Sitting by the side of a rosebush, just look at the rose flower; don’t think, don’t even give names. Don’t even classify. Don’t even say that this is a rose — because a rose is a rose is a rose; whether you call it rose or something else makes no difference. So don’t label it, don’t give it a name, don’t bring language in. Don’t bring any symbol in, because symbol is the method of falsifying reality. If you say this is a rose, you have already missed. Then you have brought in some past experience of other roses, which are not. Now your eyes are full of roses — rows of roses. In your life you must have come across many types of roses — white and black and red; all those roses are there floating in your eyes. Now you are crowded by your past memories. And then, beyond all those memories is this rose which is real. Now the crowd of the unreal is so much you will not be able to reach and touch the real.

When Buddha says drop thinking he means, don’t bring the past in. What is the point of bringing it in? This rose is here, you are here. Let it be a deep meeting, a communion, a connection. Melt a little with this rose, let this rose melt a little in you. The rose is ready to share its fragrance, you also share your being, your consciousness, with it. Let there be a handshake with reality.

Let there be a little dance with this rose… dancing in the wind. You also move, be, look, feel, close your eyes, smell, touch, drink. This beautiful phenomenon that is facing you… don’t go here and there — just be with it. No more right and left, just be direct like an arrow moving towards the target. If you bring words, language, you bring society, you bring past, you bring other people.

Tennyson has said something about the rose. Shelley has said something about the rose. Shakespeare has said something about the rose, or Kalidas. Once you bring language, Shakespeare and Kalidas and Bhaubhuti and Shelley and Keats — they are all standing there. Now you are too full of your own ideas, now you are in a crowd, lost. You will not be able to see the simple truth. The truth is so simple. Yes, it is just like a rose flower in front of you. It is utterly there. Why go somewhere else? Why not move into this reality? Why go and find past and future? Don’t say this rose is beautiful, because this rose needs no compliments from you. Let it be a feeling. This rose does not understand human language, so why puzzle this rose? Why say it is beautiful? Because this rose knows nothing of beauty and nothing of ugliness. For this rose, life is not divided and split; this rose is not schizophrenic. This rose is simply there, with no idea of what beauty is and what ugliness is. Don’t call it beautiful. When you call it beautiful you have brought a concept. The mind has started functioning. Now, you may have a little experience of the rose, but it will not be true — your mind will be a distortion. You will think of this rose just as a representative of all other roses.

Plato says that every real thing is just a representative of something ideal. Plato says that there with god exists the idea of rose — that is real. The idea of rose is real and this rose is just a reflection of that idea. This is nonsense, this is really absurd. This rose exists herenow with god. There is no idea in the mind of god. God has no mind as such. God is without mind. God is not a human being, and god has not been trained by any parents, and god has not been educated by any university. God has not been conditioned. There is no idea in the mind of god — and this rose is a real rose. God exists with this rose and this rose exists with god, and god has no barrier with this rose, no mind barrier.

But for Plato, the reality is unreal and ideas are real. For Buddha it is just the opposite: the reality is the real and ideas are unreal. If you follow Plato you will become a philosopher. If you follow Buddha you will become a religious man. Religion is not a philosophy, religion is an experience.

So try it. Sometimes allow your no-mind to function. Sometimes push aside all your thinking. Sometimes let reality penetrate you. Sometimes let there be a blessing from reality. Allow it to deliver its message to you. But we go on living in words, and we pay too much attention to the words.

I had a teacher in the university and we used to go for a walk together. After few days I said, ‘I will not come. Better I should go alone.’

He said, ‘Why?’ Because he was so much obsessed with names. Every tree which he would see he had to say to which species it belonged. Every flower — what it contains, its history. If he would see a rose, he would not see a rose, he would see the whole history of rose: how it came from Iran, in what century, who brought it to India — it is not an indian flower.

Now, he would never look at the flower, and I would pull him again and again back — ‘This flower is enough. What is the point? Flowers don’t have histories, only human beings have. This flower does not bother whether it is in Iran or in India. This flower has no idea of any past, it lives just herenow. It is neither Hindu nor Mohammedan, nor Indian nor Iranian. It is simply there. It is not even a rose!’

But it was difficult for him. Any bird he would see he would say, ‘Wait, let me listen. What species of bird is this? From where has it come? Has it come from Siberia? Or from Middle Asia? Or is it a himalayan bird?’ After a few days I said, ‘You excuse me. You go alone. Because I am not interested from where this bird has come. This bird is here, it is enough. I am not interested in the scientific, historical explanation.’

Explanation, to a few people, is almost a disease. Through their explanations they try to explain away everything. They are obsessed with explanation. They think that if they can name a thing, label a thing, they know it. They are very uneasy unless they can label a thing, know a thing by name, categorize it, pigeonhole it — unless they do it they are very uncomfortable. It seems as if a certain thing is just offending them — why are you there without any classification? Once they have categorized it, pigeon-holed it, put a label on it, then they are at ease. They have known it. They are finished with the thing…But by calling names, it changes nothing. What you call is absolutely irrelevant. Whatsoever is, is! By your giving it a name it never changes. But for you it changes. Just by giving a name, reality becomes different to you…

It may make a difference to you by calling names, but it does not make any difference to reality. It may make a difference to you because you live surrounded by your language, concept, verbalization. You immediately go on translating everything into language.

De-language yourself — that’s what Buddha means. Un-mind yourself, un-wind yourself — that’s what Buddha means. Otherwise you will never know what is true.


You cannot think about reality. There is no way to think about it. All thinking is borrowed. No thinking is ever original. All thinking is repetitive, all thinking is mechanical. You can go on chewing and re-chewing the same things again and again and again, but nothing new ever arises out of thinking. Thinking is old, rotten. It is a junk-yard.

You cannot think about reality because reality is every moment original. It is every moment so new that it has never been like that before. It is so absolutely fresh that you will have to know it. There is no other way to know it than knowing it. The only way to know love is to love. The only way to know swimming is to swim. The only way to know reality is to be real. Mind makes you unreal. Mind makes you too much like thoughts — mindstuff, words, concepts, theories, philosophies, doctrines, scriptures, isms. Mind does not give you the real thing, it gives you only reflections — and those reflections are also distorted.

Buddha says attain to a clarity. Just see, just be. And then you will be able to think that thought which is unthinkable. You will be able to have a meeting with reality, a date with god. THE THOUGHT THAT IS UNTHINKABLE — only that is worth thinking. All else is just wasting life energy.


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

Discourse Series: The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 2
Chapter #9
Chapter title: The discipline beyond discipline
8 September 1976 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on distinguished poets like Byron, Coleridge, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, Heinrich Heine, John Ruskin, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Keats, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Milton, Oscar Wilde, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Rumi, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, Shelley, William Blake, Wordsworth and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Book of Wisdom
  2. The Sword and The Lotus
  3. Returning to the Source
  4. Light on the Path
  5. The Secret
  6. The Hidden Splendour
  7. The New Dawn
  8. Beyond Enlightenment
  9. From Bondage to Freedom
  10. The Golden Future
  11. Take It Easy, Vol 1
  12. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4, 5
  13. Theologia Mystica
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