To Hell with Enlightenment

Osho on Enlightenment




Prem Dipamo, you are saying something significant, but you have to understand that life is not a rational thing; it is very irrational, because it is mysterious. The contradiction that you see in my statements is not a contradiction. It appears like contradiction, something inconsistent, but I will try to explain to you that there is no contradiction at all. But you will come across in my statements many times the same things, and the reason is that you have never gone beyond the ordinary mind and its consistency. I remember Oscar Wilde as saying, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” A little imagination is needed to understand that the contradictory is complementary. For example, before I take your question… Some examples are needed from your ordinary life experience; otherwise you will never be able to understand it.

Can you deliberately make any effort to sleep? When sleep is not coming, what are you supposed to do? Thousands of tricks have been suggested; nothing works. People say to drink a glass of hot milk. You can drink, but the hot milk will make you even more awake. People have been told to take a bath, but a good bath will make you more fresh, and less sleepy. People have been told to jog, to jump… all kinds of things; nothing helps. Sleep comes only when you completely forget about it. You just lie down, and you don’t try in any way to bring sleep in; it is not in your power. You have to completely forget everything, and it comes. It comes only when you are not desiring it. Now there are two problems: first you have to desire; otherwise, why should you go to sleep? You have to have a certain need, a desire, a longing for sleep; otherwise why…? So in the beginning a desire is needed, but in the final stage the very desire becomes the disturbance. So first you have to desire, and then you have to forget all about it. This is how sleep comes.

Your question is, “I feel really confused about this whole enlightenment business.” It is a confusing business, but those who can manage to pass through it become the most unconfused people in the world. “On the one hand, you say, `Be thoroughgoing in your search for enlightenment.'” Yes, it is true. First I have to create a longing for enlightenment; otherwise, enlightenment is non-existent on your laundry list. Nobody wants enlightenment; people are wanting all kinds of things, but enlightenment is a very rare variety. Only very unique people even become interested in it. So first I have to insist: “Be thoroughgoing in your search for enlightenment.” First I have to create the desire, the longing, the passion, so strong that you drop all other small things and put your total energy into the search for enlightenment. Once you have done this, half of the process is complete. Then begins the other half: “But on the other hand, the very desire to become enlightened prevents it.” When you have been very thoroughgoing in your desiring, in your search, you will not find enlightenment. The more you search, the more you will be frustrated, because it is not something outside you that you can find. It is not something that you have to travel to, it is something within you. So when you have become thoroughly a seeker, a searcher — frustrated, so utterly in a state of defeatism that you have lost everything else; you staked everything else for enlightenment, and there seems to be no sign anywhere — then you have been thoroughgoing. Unless you are thoroughgoing, you will come to this frustration because you will know that you are not thoroughgoing — perhaps that’s why you are missing.

So first be thoroughgoing. Your total energy should be involved in the search; then comes frustration. At that moment the master says, “Now you have done enough search. Now drop all searching; just sit silently.” And you can sit silently only if you have been running so long and you are tired, your mind is tired. And when the master says, “Now, sit down silently. Doing nothing the spring comes, and the grass grows by itself — no desire, no demand,” there is no contradiction — this is the whole process. Half the process is to bring your whole energy into the search, and the second part is to make you sit down and drop the whole search. And suddenly it is there because it is your innermost core — no search is needed. But without this thoroughgoing search, you would not have been able to sit down silently. To make you sit down silently, you have to be made to run for miles. Only when you are utterly tired and frustrated, then you can drop even the idea of finding enlightenment. Then you are utterly silent. You have forgotten about property, money, possessions, power, prestige, long before, because you staked everything for enlightenment. Now, the only thing to be dropped that you still have is the desire for enlightenment — that is the last desire to be dropped. But first it has to be created.

This is the trouble that is creating confusion in you: if you don’t desire, how are you going to drop it? You have to desire so totally that you can drop it totally too. And this is the mystery of enlightenment… Ask, do everything that is possible, and then finally — tired, exhausted — you need to relax; you even let go of the idea of enlightenment, it is all futile. In this silence, when there is no desire stirring your mind, you suddenly find you are the enlightened one. That enlightenment was not somewhere else, it was within you. But it needed utter silence, no desire. How to create this state of no desire?

I used to stay in a house with a friend; he had a child — very charming, but very active, constantly asking questions, constantly doing this and that, too full of energy. He was the first child. The mother was tired, the father was tired; the child was able to tire anybody. He started doing his exercise on me too, but I said, “Listen, I have a certain condition.”

He said, “What is the condition?”

“That I only answer any question if you fulfill the condition.”

He said, “I am ready.”

I said, “You just go around the block seven times as fast as you can. And don’t try to deceive me, because I know exactly whether you have been deceiving or not. When you come back I will see if you are perspiring… perhaps tears have come to your eyes. Then I will answer.”

He said, “Okay.”

He went round the block. It was a big house, and for this little boy, seven rounds were too many. When he came back he simply fell down. I said, “Rest a little, and then you can ask.”

He said, “I have forgotten all questions. Just don’t harass me; just let me rest.”

I said, “That’s perfectly okay.”

He fell asleep. His mother came; she said, “This is strange. He tires us all. What did you do? He is fast asleep.”

I said, “I have my own ways of making people enlightened!” I have learned a secret: first exhaust the energy which has become their infatuation, their greed, their ego, their lust for power, and all kinds of things. First exhaust it.” So first I teach a thoroughgoing search. And once you have been around the block seven times, and tears are coming to your eyes, and you have not found enlightenment, I will say to you, “Just rest a little; then we can discuss enlightenment.”

And you will say, “I don’t want even to discuss this business of enlightenment; I am utterly tired.” Just rest, and in that very rest, you become aware of your inner flame. So there is no contradiction, it is simply the strategy. Unless you are exhausted you will remain interested in something or other. When you are exhausted all your interest disappears; all that you want is to be silent, at ease, relaxed — and that is the moment when enlightenment happens. It is not an object to be found; it is a realization of a silent being.

That’s how it happened to Gautam Buddha. For six years he was thoroughgoing in his search; perhaps nobody has been so thoroughgoing. He did everything that anybody suggested. He fasted for months; he became almost a skeleton. There exists a statue of the days when he was fasting — he was fasting under a master. The fast was a special way where you have to reduce to smaller quantities every day. Unless you come to one grain of rice as your whole food for twenty-four hours — and he had come to one grain of rice, just one single grain… if you see that statue you will be surprised how thoroughgoing he was. All flesh has disappeared; you can see all his bones. His whole skeleton is simply covered by the skin. You can see that he has exhausted every possibility; if he goes a little further he will be dead. That very day, when he had come to the point of one grain of rice a day, he had gone to take a bath in the River Niranjana. It is a small river; I have been to the place. But even in that small river, he was so weak that the current of the river was more powerful. I have been there; the current is almost nonexistent. But in his situation it must have been so much that he could not gather energy enough. Energy comes from your food, and for months he had been cutting down on food. Now he had come to the last point — his whole reservoir…. That’s what your flesh is. So when you fast, in the beginning your weight goes down by two pounds per day.

Addressing a conference of vegetarians, I told them that fasting is a kind of cannibalism. They were very shocked — fasting, and I am calling it cannibalism? I said, “It is cannibalism because where do those two pounds disappear to? You have eaten them; you have used your own meat. Because you are not eating meat you think you are not using meat, but it is your own, and inside.” Just in the sheer activity of living, one pound, two pounds, is gone. After seven days your activities become less; then you lose one pound per week. Gautam Buddha must have come to the point where there was nothing to lose; he was just bones. And the statue is tremendously significant. It is a bronze statue showing every bone. You can count all the ribs; they are just covered with dried skin, because the skin also needs nourishment. He could not get out of the river; he was so weak that he was hanging on to a root, just to protect himself from the current of the river. At that moment, hanging on to the root of a tree, he came to think, I have become so weak that I cannot even cross a small river… And in India, the world is thought to be a great ocean — bhavsagar, the ocean of being — and you have to cross it. Only then will you become enlightened. He thought, It is beyond me, this enlightenment business. I cannot cross this poor River Niranjana; how can I cross the ocean of being? — I am finished. I dropped all desires; today I drop the desire for enlightenment too. I don’t have any energy for any desire.

That night he slept without any desire. He had no idea what he was going to do tomorrow morning. For six years he was so much involved in searching for enlightenment, but now he had no energy even to think what he was going to do tomorrow morning. He slept one of the deepest sleeps of his life — no desires, no dreams, no thought. And when in the morning he opened his eyes, the last star was disappearing. It was still a little dark, a little before the sun would be rising. As the last star was disappearing, he simply watched it disappearing — utter silence all around. And suddenly he became aware of his own light. He heard for the first time the still small voice that there is no need to search anywhere: You are it. But without those six years of thoroughgoing search this moment would not have arrived. Do you see that there is any contradiction? Contradiction only appears; deep down there is a great coherence. You can say both things. That’s why there are two divisions of Buddhists: one says enlightenment happened because of six years of thoroughgoing search, and the other one says enlightenment happened because he dropped even the desire for enlightenment. But as far as I am concerned, I don’t belong to any sect, to any religion, to any party; hence, I can see clearly without any prejudice that both the schools are only half right. Those six years of thoroughgoing search created the space to be silent — so silent that even interest in enlightenment is no longer there. That’s why enlightenment happened. He became aware of his own inner being. All outside search has disappeared; hence, the one hundred and eighty degree turn. His consciousness turns inwards, because there is no goal outside, there is no way, and there is nothing to be done.

Your question is significant, Dipamo, but remember: there is no contradiction; both are essential parts of a single process. But first start with thoroughgoing search. Don’t from the very beginning think that if it has to be dropped, why not drop it from the very beginning? — you cannot. First you have to have it. Then why at all desire from the very beginning? — because you will be desiring other things. The problem is first to give you a great desire for enlightenment, so all other desires become combined into a single, one-pointed goal. And then when you get frustrated… because you are bound to get frustrated, nobody can find enlightenment with thoroughgoing search. But by thoroughgoing search one finds frustration — such utter frustration that one becomes silent. One wants just to rest, not to do anything. Even if enlightenment knocks on the door, one is not interested. One has no energy even to open the door. In that moment, your inner flame is seen for the first time. And this seeing of the light inside you is the ultimate experience. It is the most beautiful, and the most glorious, the greatest splendor there is. Enlightenment as such is already there.

You are a buddha, but you are not aware of it. How to make you aware of it? Down the ages, this has been the way, and I don’t see there is any other possibility. You will become aware of it only in utter silence. But the utter silence, a state of no-mind, a pure space, needs all your desires to be exhausted — so it is a device. Gather all your desires, make your life one-pointed towards enlightenment — and I assure you, you will not find it! But without this, nobody has found it either. One day when you get frustrated, you say, “To hell with enlightenment!” That is the day the miracle is going to happen. It happens always only in that moment


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse name: The Invitation Chapter title: To hell with enlightenment! Chapter #5

23 August 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium


Osho has spoken on enlightenment, no-mind, silence, awarenessin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Divine Melody
  2. The Osho Upanishad
  3. The Great Zen Master Ta Hui
  4. Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
  5. From Misery to Enlightenment
  6. God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
  7. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 5
  8. The Grass Grows By Itself
  9. The Great Secret
  10. Beyond Enlightenment
  11. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  12. Sat Chit Anand
  13. The Path of the Mystic
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