Zen: An Effortless Effort

Osho on Silence and Dynamic Meditation




Meditation is an energy phenomenon. One very basic thing has to be understood about all types of energies. This is the basic law: energy moves in a dual polarity. That is the only way it moves; there is no other way for its movement. It moves in a dual polarity. For any energy to become dynamic, the anti-pole is needed. It is just like electricity moving with negative and positive polarities. If there is only negative polarity, electricity will not happen; or if there is only positive polarity, electricity will not happen. Both the poles are needed. And when both the poles meet, they create electricity. Then the spark comes up. And this is so for all types of phenomena.

Life goes on…between man and woman, the polarity. The woman is the negative life-energy; man is the positive pole. They are electrical, hence so much attraction. With man alone, life would disappear; with woman alone, there could be no life, only death. Between man and woman there exists a balance. Between man and woman — these two poles, these two banks — flows the river of life. Wherever you look you will find the same energy moving into polarities, balancing itself.

This polarity is very meaningful for meditation, because mind is logical, and life is dialectical. When I say mind is logical, it means mind moves in a line. When I say life is dialectical, it means life moves with the opposite, not in a line. It zig-zags from negative to positive, positive to negative, negative to positive. It zig-zags. It uses the opposites. Mind moves in a line, a simple, straight line. It never moves to the opposite. It denies the opposite. It believes in one and life believes in two. So whatsoever mind creates, it always chooses the one. If mind chooses silence, if mind has become fed up with all the noise that is created in life and it decides to be silent, then the mind goes to the Himalayas. It wants to be silent. It doesn’t want anything to do with any type of noise. Even the song of the birds will disturb it; a breeze blowing through the trees will be a disturbance. The mind wants silence. It has chosen the line. Now the opposite has to be denied completely. But this man living in the Himalayas, seeking silence, avoiding the other, the opposite, will become dead, he will certainly become dull. And the more he chooses to be silent, the duller he will become — because life needs the opposite, the challenge of the opposite.

There is a different type of silence which exists between two opposites. The first is a dead silence, the silence of the cemetery. A dead man is silent, but you would not like to be a dead man. A dead man is absolutely silent, nobody can disturb him. His concentration is perfect, you cannot do anything to distract his mind. His mind is absolutely fixed. Even if, all around, the whole world goes mad, he will remain in his concentration. But still, you would not like to be a dead man. Silence, concentration, or whatever it is called, you would not like to be dead — because if you are silent when dead, the silence is meaningless.

Silence must happen while you are absolutely alive, vital, bubbling with life and energy. Then silence is meaningful. But then silence will have a different, altogether different quality to it. It will not be dull, it will be alive. It will be a subtle balance between two polarities. Then such a type of man, who is seeking a live balance, a live silence, would like to move to the market and to the Himalayas both. He would like to go to the market to enjoy noise, and he would also like to go to the Himalayas to enjoy silence. And he will create a balance between these two polar opposites, and he will remain in that balance. And that balance cannot be achieved through linear efforts.

That is what is meant by the Zen technique of effortless effort. It uses contradictory terms — effortless effort, or gateless gate, or pathless path. Zen always uses the contradictory term immediately, just to give you the hint that the process is going to be dialectical, not linear.

The opposite is not to be denied but absorbed. The opposite is not to be left aside, it has to be used. Left aside, it will always be a burden on you. Left aside, it will hang with you. Unused, you will miss much. The energy can be converted and used. And then, using it, you will be more vital, more alive.

The opposite has to be absorbed, then the process becomes dialectical. Effortlessness means not doing anything, inactivity — AKARMA. Effort means doing much, activity — KARMA. Both have to be there. Do much, but don’t be a doer — then you achieve both. Move in the world, but don’t be a part of it. Live in the world, but don’t let the world live in you. Then the contradiction has been absorbed. Then you are not rejecting anything, not denying anything. Then the whole God has been accepted.

And that’s what I’m doing. Dynamic meditation is a contradiction. The dynamic means effort, much effort, absolute effort. And meditation means silence, no effort, no activity. You can call it a dialectical meditation. Be so active that the whole energy becomes a movement, no energy is left static in you. The whole energy has been called forth, nothing is left behind. All the frozen parts of energy are melting, flowing. You are not a frozen thing now; you have become dynamic. You are not like substance now; you are more like energy. You are not material; you have become electrical. Bring total energy to work, to be active, moving. When everything is moving and you have become a cyclone, then become alert. Remember, be mindful — and in this cyclone suddenly you will find a center which is absolutely silent. This is the center of the cyclone. This is you — you in your divinity, you as a god.

All around you is activity. Your body has become an active cyclone — everything moving fast, faster. All the frozen parts have melted, you are flowing. You have become a volcano, fire, electricity. But just in the center, amidst all this movement, there is a non-moving point, the still point. This still point is not to be created. It is there! You are not to do anything about it. It has always been there. It is your very being, the very ground of your being. This is what Hindus have been calling the ATMA, the soul. It is there, but unless your body, unless your material existence, becomes totally active, you will not be aware of it. With total activity the totally inactive becomes apparent. The activity gives you a contrast. It becomes the blackboard, and on the blackboard is the white dot.

On a white wall you cannot see a white dot; on a blackboard the white dot appears to you. So when your body has become active, dynamic, a movement, suddenly you become aware of a point which is still, absolutely still — the unmoving centre of the whole moving world. That is effortless. No effort is made for it. No effort is needed, it is simply revealed. Effort on the part of the periphery, no effort on the part of the center. Movement on the periphery, stillness at the center. Activity on the periphery, absolute inactivity at the center. And between these two….This will be a little difficult, because you may get identified with the center Hindus have called atma, the soul. If you get identified with the center which is still, you have again chosen something between the two. You have again chosen something and rejected something.

There is a very subtle Eastern discovery, and that is: if you get identified with the still point you will never know God; you will know the self but you will never know God. And there are many traditions, particularly Jainas, who became too identified with the self — so they say there is no God, the self is the only God. Hindus, who have penetrated really deep, they say about this still point and this activity on the periphery, that either you are both or you are none.

Either you are both or you are none! Both mean the same. These are the two poles. These are the two dialectical poles, the thesis and the antithesis. These are the two banks, and you are somewhere between these two — neither moving nor non-moving.

This is the ultimate transcendence. This is what Hindus call the BRAHMA. Effort and effortlessness, movement and no movement, activity and no activity, matter and the soul — these are the banks. And between these two flows the invisible. These two are visibles. Between these two flows the invisible. That you are. TATTWAMASI SWETKETU, says the Upanishad. That which flows between these two banks, that which cannot be seen, that which is really a subtle balance, nothing else, between these two, that art thou. That has been called the Brahma, the supreme self.

A balance has to be achieved. And balance can be achieved only when you use both the polarities. If you use one you become dead. Many have done that — even whole societies have become dead. This has happened to India. If you choose one, then unbalance, lopsidedness, happens. It happened in India, in the East, that the silent part, the still point, was chosen and the active part denied. So the whole East became dull. The sharpness was lost. The sharpness of intelligence, the sharpness of body vigor, everything was lost. The East became more and more dull, ugly, as if life was just a burden to be carried somehow and dropped, a duty to be fulfilled, a karma to be suffered — not an enjoyment, not a vigorous dance, but a dull, lethargic movement.

And it had its consequences. The East became weak, because with a still point you cannot remain strong forever, for long. Strength needs activity, strength needs movement. If you deny activity, strength disappears. The East lost its muscles completely; the body became flabby. So anybody who desired to could conquer the East. For thousands of years, slavery was the only destiny for the East. Anyone who had just an idea to make anybody a slave would turn towards the East. The East was always ready to be conquered, because the Eastern mind had chosen a point AGAINST the polar opposite. The East became silent, but dead and dull also. This type of silence is not worth anything. The opposite is happening in the West. It has happened in other societies also. They have chosen the active part, the periphery, and they think that there is no soul. They think this activity is all, and to be active and to enjoy, and to achieve and to be ambitious and to conquer is all that life consists of. The ultimate result is going to be more and more madness in the West — because without that still point you cannot remain sane. You will become insane. With only the still point, you cannot remain alive, you become dead; with only the active, you become insane. People who are insane, what has happened to them? They have lost all contact with their still point. That’s what their insanity is.

The West is turning into a big madhouse. More and more people are being psychoanalyzed, psychiatrically treated; more and more people are being put into madhouses. And those who are out, they are out, not because they are sane, but only because so many people cannot be put in houses for the insane; otherwise, the whole society would have to be put in a prison. They are normal, workably normal. But Western psychology says that now it is difficult to say that any man is normal. And they may be right. In the West it has happened: no man is normal. Activity alone creates madness — balance is impossible. Active civilizations become mad in the end. Inactive civilizations become dead. This happens to societies, this happens to individuals.

To me, balance is all. Don’t choose, don’t reject. Accept both — and create an inner balance. Dynamic meditation is an effort towards that balance. Active…enjoy it, be ecstatic, be fully with it. Then silent…enjoy it, be ecstatic about it. Move between these two as freely as possible and don’t create any choice.

Don’t say: I am this or that. Don’t get identified. Say: I am both. Don’t be afraid of contradicting yourself. Contradict, BE BOTH, and move easily. And when I say this, I say it unconditionally — not only for activity and inactivity. Whatsoever is called bad and good, that too is included; whatsoever is called the devil and the divine, that too is included. Always remember: everywhere there are banks, and if you want to be a river use both the banks — unconditionally. Don’t say: Because I was active, how can I be inactive? Don’t say: Because I was inactive, now how can I be active? Don’t say: I am this, so how can I be that? You are BOTH and there is no need to choose. The only thing to remember is to be balanced between the two. Then you will transcend both. Then the devil and the divine will both be transcended. When both are transcended, that is Brahma. Brahma has no polarity against him, because he is just a balance between two polarities. There is no anti-pole to it.

Move in life as freely as possible. And use both the opposites, both the banks, as much as possible. Don’t create any contradiction. They are not contradictory, they only appear to be contradictory. Deep down they are one. They are just like your legs, right and left. You use the right, you use the left. While you raise the right, the left is waiting on the earth, helping. Don’t become addicted. Don’t be a rightist or a leftist. Both legs are yours, and in both legs your energy flows — undivided! Have you ever felt that the right leg has one energy and the left leg some other energy? You are flowing in both. Close your eyes: left disappears, right disappears. They are both you, and while moving, you can use them. Use both! If you become addicted to the right, as many people have become, then you will be crippled, you cannot use the left. Then you can stand, but you will be crippled, and by and by you will become dead.

Move and constantly remember the unmoving center. Do and constantly remember the non-doer. Make effort and remain effortless. Once you know this secret alchemy of using the opposite, the contradictory, you are free. Otherwise, you create inner imprisonments. There are people who come to me and say: How can I do this? I have never done this. Just the other day there was somebody who said to me: How can I do active meditation, because for many years I have been sitting silently? He has chosen, and he has reached nowhere. Otherwise there was no need to come to me. But he cannot do the active meditation because he has become identified with an inactive posture. This is getting frozen.

Become more movement. Be moving and allow life to flow. Once you know that between the opposites balance is possible, once you have a glimpse of it, then you know the art. Then everywhere in life, in every dimension of life, you can attain that balance very easily. Really, to say that you can attain is not good. Once you know the knack of it, whatsoever you do, the balance follows you like a shadow. This inner balance between the opposites is the most significant thing that can happen to a man.


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

Discourse Series: My Way: The Way of the White Clouds

Chapter #4

Chapter title: All Hopes are False

13 May 1974 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on dynamic meditation, active meditation, transcendence, silence, energyin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Supreme Doctrine
  2. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 5, 8
  3. Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy
  4. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 7
  5. From Death to Deathlessness
  6. Light on the Path
  7. Sat Chit Anand
  8. Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
  9. Philosophia Perennis, Vol 1, 2
  10. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1, 2
  11. Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
  12. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
  13. The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 2
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1 Comment

  • Someshwar
    Posted March 10, 2022 10:40 am 0Likes

    Thank you Master!

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