Understanding is Enough
THE WAY OF THE BUDDHA is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the term, because it has no belief-system, no dogma, no scripture. It does not believe in God, it does not believe in the soul, it does not believe in any state of moksha. It is a tremendous unbelief — and yet it is a religion. It is unique. Nothing has ever happened before like that in the history of human consciousness, and nothing afterwards. Buddha remains utterly unique, incomparable. He says that God is nothing but a search for security, a search for safety, a search for shelter. You believe in God, not because God is there; you believe in God because you feel helpless without that belief. Even if there is no God, you will go on inventing. The temptation comes from your weakness. It is a projection. Man feels very limited, very helpless, almost a victim of circumstances — not knowing from where he comes and not knowing where he is going, not knowing why he is here. If there is no God it is very difficult for ordinary man to have any meaning in life. The ordinary mind will go berserk without God. God is a prop — it helps you, it consoles you, it comforts you. It says, “Don’t be worried — the Almighty God knows everything about why you are here. He is the Creator, He knows why He has created the world. You may not know but the Father knows, and you can trust in Him.” It is a great consolation.
The very idea of God gives you a sense of relief — that you are not alone, that somebody is looking after the affairs; that this cosmos is not just a chaos, it is REALLY a cosmos; that there is a system behind it, that there is logic behind it; that it is not an illogical jumble of things, that it is not anarchy. Somebody rules it; the sovereign King is there looking after each small detail — not even a leaf moves without His moving it. Everything is planned. You are part of a great destiny. Maybe the meaning is not known to you, but the meaning is there — because God is there. God brings a tremendous relief. One starts feeling that life is not accidental; there is a certain undercurrent of significance, meaning, destiny. God brings a sense of destiny. Buddha says: There is no God — it simply shows that man knows not why he is here. It simply shows man is helpless. It simply shows that man has no meaning available to him. By creating the idea of God he can believe in meaning, and he can live this futile life with the idea that somebody is looking after it…God is not a discovery, it is an invention. And God is not the truth — it is the greatest lie there is. That’s why I say Buddhism is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the term. A God less religion — can you imagine? When for the first time Western scholars became aware of Buddhism, they were shocked. They could not comprehend that a religion can exist — and without God! They had known only Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All these three religions are in a way very immature compared to Buddhism. Buddhism is religion come of age. Buddhism is the religion of a mature mind…
Buddha is the most shattering individual in the whole history of humanity. His whole effort is to drop all props. He does not say to believe in anything. He is an unbeliever and his religion is that of un-belief. He does not say “Believe!” he says “Doubt!”Now, you have heard about religions which say “Believe!” You have never heard about a religion which says “Doubt!” Doubt is the very methodology — DOUBT to the very core, doubt to the very end, doubt to the very last. And when you have doubted everything, and you have dropped everything out of doubt, then reality arises in your vision. It has nothing to do with your beliefs about God. It is nothing like your so-called God. Then arises reality: absolutely unfamiliar and unknown.
But that possibility exists only when all the beliefs have been dropped and the mind has come to a state of maturity, understanding, acceptance that “Whatsoever is is, and we don’t desire otherwise. If there is no God, there is no God, and we don’t have any desire to project a God. If there is no God, then we accept it.” This is what maturity is: to accept the fact and not to create a fiction around it; to accept the reality as it is, without trying to sweeten it, without trying to decorate it, without trying to make it more acceptable to your heart. If it is shattering, it is shattering. If it is shocking, it is shocking. If the truth kills, then one is ready to be killed.
Buddha is merciless. And nobody has ever opened the door of reality so deeply, so profoundly as he has done. He does not allow you any childish desires. He says: Become more aware, become more conscious, become more courageous. Don’t go on hiding behind beliefs and masks and theologies. Take hold of your life into your own hands. Burn bright your inner light and see whatsoever is. And once you have become courageous enough to accept it, it is a benediction. No belief is needed. That is Buddha’s first step towards reality: all belief-systems are poisonous; all belief-systems are barriers. He is not a theist. And remember: he is not an atheist either — because, he says, a few people believe that there is God and a few people believe that there is no God, but both are believers. His non-belief is so deep that even those who say there is no God, and believe in it, are not acceptable to him. He says that just to say there is no God makes no difference. If you remain childish, you will create another source of God…
The mature mind is one who can remain without any search even if there is no ultimate explanation of things. That’s why Buddha says: I am not a metaphysician. He has no metaphysics. Metaphysics means the ultimate explanation about things — he has no ultimate explanation. He does not say, “I have solved the mystery.” He does not say, “Here I hand over to you what truth is.” He says, “The only thing that I can give to you is an impetus, a thirst, a tremendous passion, to become aware, to become conscious, to become alert; to live your life so consciously, so full of light and awareness, that YOUR life is solved.” Not that you come to some ultimate explanation of existence — nobody has ever come. Buddha denies metaphysics completely. He says metaphysics is a futile search. So the first thing: he denies God.
THE SECOND THING: he denies MOKSHA, paradise, heaven. He says: Your heaven, your paradise, are nothing but your unfulfilled sexual desires, unfulfilled instincts, being projected into the other life, the life beyond, the life after death. And he seems to be absolutely true…Now, this is simple psychological analysis — that man is unfulfilled in life. And he goes on. His whole life he goes on trying to fulfill it, still he finds it cannot be fulfilled, so he has to project in the future. Not that in the future it can be fulfilled — desire as such is unfulfillable.
Buddha has said: The very nature of desire is that it remains unfulfilled. Whatsoever you do, regardless of what you do about it, it remains unfulfilled — that is the very intrinsic nature of desire. Desire as such remains unfulfilled. So you can sit under a wish-fulfilling tree — it doesn’t make any difference. You can feel many times it is being fulfilled, and again it arises. Ad infinitum it will go on arising again and again and again.
The Christian, the Muslim, the Jewish, the Hindu — all heavens and paradises, are nothing but unfulfilled projected desires, repressed desires, frustrated desires. Of course, they console man very much: “If you have not been able to fulfill here — there. Sooner or later you will reach to God; the only thing you have to do is go on praying to Him, go on bowing down before some image or some idea or some ideal, and keep Him happy, keep God happy, and then you are going to reap a great crop of pleasures and gratifications. That will be His gift to you — for your prayers, for your appreciation, for continuous surrender, for again and again touching His feet, for your obedience — that is going to be the reward.”…
Buddha says: Look into the nature of desire. Watch the movement of desire — it is very subtle. And you will be able to see two things: one, that desire by its very nature is unfulfillable; and second, the MOMENT you understand that desire is unfulfillable, desire disappears — and you are left desireless. That is the state of peace, silence, tranquillity. That is the state of fulfilment! Man never comes to fulfilment through desire; man comes to fulfilment only by transcending desire. Desire is an opportunity to understand. Desire is a great opportunity to understand the functioning of your own mind — how it functions, what the mechanism of it is. And when you have understood that, in that very understanding is transformation. Desire disappears, leaves no trace behind. And when you are desireless, not desiring anything, you are fulfilled. NOT that desire is fulfilled, but when desire is transcended there is fulfilment.
Now see the difference: other religions say, “Desires can be fulfilled in the other world.” The worldly people say, “Desires can be fulfilled here” — the communists say, “Desires can be fulfilled here. Just a different social structure is needed, just the capitalists have to be thrown, the proletariat has to take over, the bourgeoisie has to be destroyed, that’s all — and desires can be fulfilled here, the heaven can be created on this earth here.” The worldly people say, “You can fulfil your desires — struggle hard.” That’s what the whole West goes on doing: “Struggle, compete, cheat, by any means and methods! Acquire more wealth, more power!” That’s what the politicians all over the world go on doing: “Become more powerful and your desires can be fulfilled.” That’s what scientists say, that only a few more technologies have to be invented and the paradise is just by the corner. And what do your religions say? They don’t say anything different. They say, “Desires can be fulfilled, but not in this life — after death.” That is the only difference between the so-called materialists and so-called spiritualists.
To Buddha, both are materialists; and to me also, both are materialists. Your so-called religious people and your so-called irreligious people are both in the same boat. Not a bit of difference! Their attitudes are the same, their approaches are the same. Buddha is really religious in this way, that he says: Desire CANNOT be fulfilled…
Desire always goes ahead of you. Desire is always in the future. Desire is a hope. Desire cannot be fulfilled because its very nature is to remain unfulfilled and projected in the future. It is always on the horizon.
You can rush, you can run towards the horizon, but you will never reach: wherever you reach you will find the horizon has receded back. And the distance between you and the horizon remains absolutely the same…
A few people desire before death, a few people desire after death, but what is the difference? — that does not make any difference. They desire the same things — THEY DESIRE! The desire is the same, Buddha went to many teachers and was frustrated. He could not see religion flowering anywhere, blossoming — they were all materialistic people. They were great ascetics: somebody was fasting for months, somebody was standing for months, somebody had not slept for years — they were just skeletons. You could not call them worldly and materialistic if you looked at their bodies; but look at their mind, ask them, “Why are you fasting? Why are you trying so hard? For what?” and there arises the desire to attain to paradise to heaven, to have eternal gratification in the afterlife…You call these people religious people? They seem to be even more worldly than the so-called worldly; they are more materialistic than the materialists. Of course, their materialism is garbed in a disguise; their materialism has a flavour of spiritualism — but it is a deception. It is as if on a dung-heap you have thrown some beautiful perfume. The dung-heap remains the dung-heap; the perfume can only deceive fools. Buddha was not fooled, he could see through and through. And he could always see that the desire is there. If desire is there you are a materialist and you are worldly. So he is not preaching any paradise to you, he does not believe in any paradise. Not that he does not believe in blissfulness, no. He believes in blissfulness, but that is not a belief:
when all paradises are lost, when all desires drop, suddenly it is your innermost nature to be blissful. For it, nothing is needed — no virtue is needed, no asceticism is needed, no sacrifice is needed. Just understanding is enough. The Way of the Buddha is the way of understanding.
AND THE THIRD THING BEFORE WE ENTER IN THE SUTRAS: He does not believe in the soul — no God, no paradise, no soul. Now, this seems to be very difficult. We can accept there is no God — maybe it is just a projection; who has seen it? We can accept there is no paradise — maybe it is just our unfulfilled desire dreaming about it. But no soul? Then you take the whole ground from underneath. No soul? — then what is the point of it all? If there is no soul in man, if there is nothing immortal in man, then why make so much effort? why meditate? for what?
Buddha says this idea of the self is a misunderstanding. You are, but you are not a self. You are, but you are not separate from the universe. The separation is the root-idea in the concept of self: if I am separate from you then I have a self; if you are separate from me then you have a self. But Buddha says: Existence is one. There are no boundaries. No-body is separate from anybody else. We live in one ocean of consciousness. We ARE one consciousness — deluded by the boundaries of the body, deluded by the boundaries of the mind. And because of the body and the mind, and because of the identification with the body and mind, we think we are separate, we think we are selves. This is how we create the ego.
It is just like on the map you see India, but on the earth itself there is no India — only on the map of the politicians. On the map you see the American continent, the African continent as separate, but deep down, down under the oceans, the earth is one. All continents are together, they are all one earth. We are separate only on the surface. The deeper we go, the more separation disappears. When we come to the very core of our being, suddenly it is universal, there is no selfhood in it, no soul there. Buddha has no belief for God, for soul, for MOKSHA. Then what is his teaching? His teaching is a way of life, not a way of belief. His teaching is very scientific, very empirical, very practical. He is not a philosopher, not a metaphysician. He is a very down-to-earth man. Buddha says: You can change your life — these beliefs are not needed. In fact, these beliefs are the barriers for the real change. Start with no belief, start with no metaphysics, start with no dogma. Start absolutely naked and nude, with no theology, no ideology. Start empty! That is the only way to come to truth.
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 3
Chapter title: You Are Always on the Funeral Pyre
21 October 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Buddha, understanding, transformation, fulfillment’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Heart Sutra
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Buddha: The Emptiness of the Heart
- Take It Easy, Vol 1, 2
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1, 2
- The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
- Sat Chit Anand
- The New Dawn
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
- The Razor’s Edge