What is Meditation?
Once you start doing something either you go into contemplation or you go into concentration or you go into action — but you move away from your center. When you are not doing anything at all — bodily, mentally, on no level — when all activity has ceased and you simply are, just being, that’s what meditation is. You cannot do it, you cannot practice it; you have only to understand it. Whenever you can find time for just being, drop all doing. Thinking is also doing, concentration is also doing, contemplation is also doing. Even if for a single moment you are not doing anything and you are just at your center, utterly relaxed — that is meditation.
And once you have got the knack of it, you can remain in that state as long as you want; finally you can remain in that state for twenty-four hours a day.
Once you have become aware of the way your being can remain undisturbed, then slowly you can start doing things, keeping alert that your being is not stirred. That is the second part of meditation. First, learning how just to be, and then learning little actions: cleaning the floor, taking a shower, but keeping yourself centered. Then you can do complicated things. For example, I am speaking to you, but my meditation is not disturbed. I can go on speaking, but at my very center there is not even a ripple; it is just silent, utterly silent. So meditation is not against action. It is not that you have to escape from life. It simply teaches you a new way of life: You become the center of the cyclone. Your life goes on, it goes on really more intensely — with more joy, with more clarity, more vision, more creativity — yet you are aloof, just a watcher on the hills, simply seeing all that is happening around you. You are not the doer, you are the watcher. That’s the whole secret of meditation, that you become the watcher.
Doing continues on its own level, there is no problem: chopping wood, drawing water from the well. You can do all small and big things; only one thing is not allowed and that is, your centering should not be lost. That awareness, that watchfulness, should remain absolutely unclouded, undisturbed. Meditation is a very simple phenomenon. Concentration is very complicated because you have to force yourself; it is tiring. Contemplation is a little better because you have a little more space to move. You are not moving through a narrow hole which is going to become more and more narrow. Concentration has tunnel vision. Have you looked in a tunnel? From one side, where you are looking, it is big. But if the tunnel is two miles long, the other side is just a small round light, nothing else: the longer the tunnel, the smaller will be the other end. The greater the scientist, the longer the tunnel. He has to focus, and focusing is always a tense affair.
Concentration is not natural to the mind. Mind is a vagabond. It enjoys moving from one thing to another. It is always excited by the new. In concentration mind is almost imprisoned. In the second world war, I don’t know why, they started calling the places where they were keeping the prisoners “concentration camps.” They had their own meaning — they were bringing all kinds of prisoners and concentrating them there. But concentration is actually bringing all the energies of your mind and body and putting them into a narrowing hole. It is tiring.
Contemplation has more space to play around, to move around, but still it is a bounded space, not unbounded. Meditation, according to me and my religion, has all the space, the whole of existence available. You are the watcher, you can watch the whole scene. There is no effort to concentrate on anything, there is no effort to contemplate about anything. You are not doing all these things, you are simply there watching, just aware. It is a knack. It is not a science, it is not an art, it is not a craft; it is a knack. So you have to just go on playing with the idea. Sitting in your bathroom, just play with the idea that you are not doing anything. And one day you will be surprised: just playing with the idea, it has happened — because it is your nature. Just the right moment…. You never know when the right moment is, when the right opportunity is, so you go on playing.
Somebody asked Henry Ford — because he had given a statement that: “My success is through nothing but catching the right opportunity at the right moment. People either think of opportunities which are in the future — you cannot catch hold of them — or they think of opportunities which are past. When they are gone and only dust is left on the road, then they become aware that the opportunity is passed.”
Somebody asked, “But if you don’t think of an opportunity in the future and you don’t think of an opportunity which has passed, how suddenly can you get hold of it when it comes? You have to be ready.”
He said, “Not ready — you have to be just jumping. One never knows when it comes. When it comes, just jump upon it!”
What Henry Ford said has tremendous meaning. He said, “You simply keep on jumping. You don’t wait; don’t bother whether an opportunity is there or not: just go on jumping. One never knows when it comes. When it comes jump upon it and be gone. If you go on looking into the future: ‘When is the opportunity coming?…” The future is unpredictable. If you wait, thinking “When it comes I will catch hold of it,” by the time you become aware that it is there, it is gone. Time is fleeting, so fast, only dust will be there.
“Rather, forget about opportunities, simply learn jumping, so whenever it comes….”
That’s what I say to you: just go on playing with the idea. I am using the word playing, because I am a non serious man and my religion is non-serious. Just go on playing — and you have enough time. Anytime — lying in your bed, if sleep is not coming, play with the idea. Why bother about sleep? — it will come when it will come. You cannot do anything to bring it; it is not in your hands, so why bother about it? Something which is not in your hands, forget about it. This time is in your hands, why not use it? Lying in your bed, on a cold night under your blanket, cozy and enjoying — just play with the idea. You need not sit in the lotus posture. In my meditation you need not torture yourself in any way.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
From Misery to Enlightenment
Chapter title: Meditation — jumping board to your being
30 January 1985 pm in Lao Tzu Grove
Osho has spoken on ‘meditation, awareness, watchfulness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 1, 3, 5, 6
- Dogen, the Zen Master: A Search and a Fulfillment
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- From the False to the Truth
- The Hidden Harmony
- Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
- The Invitation
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- The Path of the Mystic
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
- The Transmission of the Lamp