Yoga: Self-Realization through the Body
Osho on Yoga
SINCE I HAVE BEEN HERE WITH YOU AND LISTENING TO YOU SO CLOSELY, I SEE MY BODY — AND THE FEELINGS I HAVE TOWARDS IT — CHANGING A LOT. THE WAY I WALK, THE WAY I LOOK AT MYSELF WHEN TAKING A SHOWER, THE WAY I FEEL IN MY BODY — EVERYTHING SEEMS SO DIFFERENT TO ME THAT I CAN ONLY RECOGNIZE IT WITH AN ASTONISHED FACE.
DOES THE BODY FOLLOW THE MIND, AND IS MY MIND BEING INFLUENCED BY MY HEART?
Man is not a machine but an organism, and the difference between the two is very significant to understand. The machine has parts, the organism has members.
You can take the parts apart; nothing dies. You can put the parts together again and the machine starts functioning. But in an organism if you take the members apart, something dies. You can put them together again, but the organism will not be alive again.
The organism is a living unity; everything is connected with everything else. Whatever happens to you, in the body or in the mind or in the heart or in your awareness, is going to change everything in the whole organism. You are going to be affected as a whole. The members of the organic unity are not just parts put together, there is something more. A machine is simply a sum total of its parts. An organism is something more than the sum total of its parts — and that “more” is your soul which penetrates everything in you. So every change, wherever it happens, is going to ring bells all over your being.
That’s why there are different systems. For example, yoga is one of the most prominent systems for those who are working for self-realization. But almost its whole function is with the body, the body postures. It is a tremendous research — the people who have done it, have done an almost impossible job. They have found in what postures your mind takes a certain attitude, your heart takes a certain rhythm, your awareness becomes more acute or less acute. They have developed all the body postures in such a way that just working on the body, not touching anything else, they will change your total being.
It is long, tedious, difficult work, because the body is an absolutely unconscious part of your being. To train it, and in strange postures which are not natural, is bound to be a difficult job. You will be surprised to know that because the yoga system found that this life is too short to work on all the postures of the body, to change the whole inner being, they were the first in the world to think of lengthening the life so that they can accomplish the task in this life.
The difficulty with the body is, you may have worked your whole life — sixty years, seventy years — and you may have come to a certain state, but this body will die. And when you get a new body, you will have to start from scratch; you cannot start from where you had stopped in the past life. This was such a great difficulty for the yoga system that they started looking at how to lengthen the body’s life span. They found exact ways, which are now confirmed by science from other investigations. Science is still not involved in looking at what yoga has found, but working on different things, psychologists have come to know that if you eat less, you live longer. You will be thin, you won’t look so beautiful, but your life will be lengthened. If you eat more, you may look good, but your life will be shortened. Even today there are people who eat so little that you cannot conceive how they survive, but they survive longer than anybody else — I used to know a man who died in his one hundred and fortieth year. And the whole process is just to take as little food as possible. The reason is not that they want to live long; the reason is that they have developed a system that is concerned with the body, and the body is our most unconscious part: it does not change easily. It takes a long time, but it does change.
I have found people who have done almost miracles just by body postures which look irrelevant, because consciousness is such a faraway thing. But just sitting in a certain posture you will be surprised: you can watch how you change. Everybody knows about the lotus posture in which you see Buddha sitting. That is the most famous posture. It has been found now that gravitation has the least effect on you if sit in the lotus posture with your spine absolutely straight and the whole body relaxed…Thousands of yogis have lived longer than anybody else. Just sitting in that posture, gravitation has the least effect on them.
And why does eating less or fasting help to lengthen life? The yoga system has found that when you eat, your food is doing two things. One, it is giving you nourishment. That we know; that’s why we eat. Second — of which we are not aware — is that eating is tiring your digestive system; it is becoming older. The more it has to digest the less young it is. Your life depends on your digestive system. So if you eat less, your nourishment will be less, you will be thin — you will not be a Mohammed Ali, you will not be able to do boxing — but you can live long because your digestive system will remain young, fresh, almost clean. So much work has been dropped that the digestive system can work much longer. The digestive system working longer, and gravitation having the least effect on you, can easily make your life one hundred and fifty, sixty years long. And the reason for living long was not lust for life but because they had chosen a very slow vehicle of transformation: the body.
But through the body people have reached to enlightenment. They have not done anything but change body postures. In a certain posture the mind functions in a certain way. In one posture it stops functioning, in another posture you become very alert; and you know it, but you have never cared to go deeper into it. When you go to sleep why do you lie down? That is simply changing the posture. Sitting and sleeping is difficult, standing and sleeping is more difficult, standing on your head and sleeping is almost impossible. If you are standing on your head and you try to sleep…You can make arrangements, you can tie your feet to something and have every protection so that even if you fall asleep you will not fall down on the earth — even then you will not be able to sleep, because so much blood is rushing into your head. For sleep, the blood should not be going into the head with great speed, in great amounts. It should be going less — that’s why everybody uses a pillow: it is a yoga posture.
Yoga has been thinking of every detail — like why do you want a pillow? Without a pillow it is difficult to sleep because the flood of blood remains equal in the feet and in the head. But with a pillow the head automatically receives less blood and the activity in the head slows down. Intellectuals need two pillows so that that big quantity of blood is cut off completely; otherwise they cannot sleep. You can see this happening in ordinary life also: with every mood, emotion, thought, your body takes a certain posture. If you are just watchful you will see that there is a relationship, and the relationship is such that you cannot change it. For example a person like me, if you tie down both my hands I cannot speak. I simply cannot speak. I will simply be at a loss for what to do, because my hands are so deeply connected with my expressions. And you must know that each hand is connected to one hemisphere of the mind, the left hand with the right hemisphere, the right hand with the left hemisphere. They are extensions of your mind. So whenever I speak, I am speaking through two mediums: through words and through hands. Each gesture of the hand helps me to give expression to a certain idea. If my hands are tied down, it is impossible for me to say anything. I have tried it, and I suddenly find speaking absolutely difficult. I want to say something, and I say something else. The whole thing is that the rhythm with my hands is disturbed.
I have heard about two Jews walking on a beach on a cold winter morning and one was talking great business, offering things at half price. But the other man said, “Whatever you do, I cannot speak.”
The man asked, “Why can’t you speak? I am offering you things because I want to get out of this business. I can give you even more of a discount.”
He said, “Even if you give them to me for free, at this moment it is so cold that I cannot take my hands out of my pockets, and without taking my hands out of my pockets, I cannot speak.”
From the lowest — that is the body — everything is connected. Yoga has worked on the body; it is a long, arduous process and perhaps has no future unless science joins hands with it and helps it. Then perhaps it may have an explosion. Yoga is one of the most ancient sciences developed by man. It is at least five thousand years old. If science is not going to join hands with it, then yoga is asking too much. Modern man cannot afford that much; shorter ways have to be found. If you are working with the mind… that is a shorter way than the body and the work is easier, because with the mind nothing much has to be done, only awareness, only watchfulness…
no psychoanalysis. That is again prolonging the process unnecessarily. Yoga at least comes to an end. Psychoanalysis never comes to an end because the mind goes on creating garbage every day; it is very productive. You go on sorting out dreams and it goes on creating new dreams. It is so clever that it can manage a dream in which you see that you are sleeping and having a dream, and in the dream you have fallen asleep and are again having a dream. It can be very complicated. And analyzing all this rubbish helps a little bit, gives a little relief, but it is an unending process.
Those who have really worked with the mind have worked with watchfulness, witnessing; and as you witness the mind, the mind slowly starts becoming silent, stops its gibberish, becomes calm and quiet. And as the mind becomes calm and quiet your body will go through changes, amazing changes, and that’s what is happening. You will see that the body is behaving in new ways; it has never behaved like this. It is walking differently, its gestures have changed.
You know perfectly well, just by seeing somebody walk you can say whether the man is homosexual or heterosexual. What does the walk have to do with homosexuality? But the homosexual’s mind changes his walk. Although he cannot manage to walk like a woman because he does not have a womb — without the womb he cannot walk like a woman — he cannot walk like a man either, because mentally he has dropped out of heterosexuality. He is walking in a certain way which is neither of man nor of woman — and you can see it. It is universal. Anywhere the homosexual will walk the same way, and he will be recognized by his walk…
So when your mind becomes calm and quiet, your body also starts becoming calm and quiet — a certain stillness in the body, a certain aliveness that you had never felt before. You have been in it, but you have never been in such deep touch with it because the mind was continuously keeping you engaged. It was a barrier, so your awareness was never bridged with your body.
Now that the mind is silent, the awareness for the first time becomes alert about the body. So a Buddha has his own gestures; his walk is different, his look is different. Everything is different because now there is no mind. The body is now not following the mind; mind is not in the way. Now it is following awareness, the innermost quality of your being.
So any changes that are happening in the body, watch them and rejoice. Be more alert and more changes will happen. Be more conscious and you will see that even the body starts having a consciousness of its own.
In the presence of a master you start feeling a different vibration around you. It is his awareness radiating through his body. He may speak, he may not speak, but his presence…
So be watchful of whatever happens to your body. As you are becoming more alert and more aware you will feel more loving towards your body, more compassionate towards your body; you will feel more close, more intimate, a kind of new friendship arising. Up to now you have simply used it. You have never said even a thank you to your body — and it has been serving you in every possible way. So it is a good experience. Let it become more intense and help it. And the only way to help is to become more alert.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Path of the Mystic
Chapter title: Existence has no hurry
12 May 1986 pm in Punta Del Este, Uruguay
Osho has spoken on ‘Yoga’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1, 2
- Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- I Am That
- The Psychology of the Esoteric
- The Secret of Secrets
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2
- Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
- Take It Easy, Vol 1
- Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2