Osho discourse on Unconsciousness

Osho : Consciousness means living with a witness; unconsciousness means living without a witness. When you are walking on the road, you can walk consciously — that’s what Buddha says one should do — you are alert, deep down you are aware that you are walking; you are conscious of each movement.

You are conscious of the birds singing in the trees, the early morning sun coming through the trees, the rays touching you, the warmth, the fresh air, the fragrance of newly opening flowers. A dog starts barking, a train passes by, you are breathing… you are watching everything. You are not excluding anything out of your alertness; you are taking everything in. The breath goes in, the breath goes out… you are watching everything that is happening.

It is not concentration, because in concentration you focus on one thing and you forget everything else. When you are concentrating you will not listen to the humming of the bees or to the singing of the birds; you will only see what you are concentrating upon.

Concentration is narrowing down your consciousness to a point. It is good in archery: you have a target and you have to see only the target and you have to forget everything else. In MAHABHARATA, one of the ancient scriptures of this country, this story occurs: Drona, a great archer, is teaching his disciples archery.

Arjuna wins finally, for the simple reason that his concentration is the most acute. A bird is sitting on a tree, and Drona tells all his disciples to take their bows and arrows, focus on the bird, and get ready to shoot it. Then he comes close to each disciple and whispers a question in his ear, “What are you seeing?”

One disciple says, “I see many trees and the bird and the eyes of the bird.” Drona moves to another disciple. He says, “I see only one tree and the bird sitting on it and his eyes.”

He moves to the third. He says, “I see only the bird.” He moves to the fourth. He says, “I see only the two eyes of the bird.” And Drona had said that the right eye has to be penetrated; that is the target. Then he comes finally to Arjuna and he asks him.

Arjuna says, “I see only the right eye of the bird and nothing else.” In a sense Arjuna is the most concentrated, but he has become unconscious of the whole — just a pinpoint of consciousness.

When I talk about consciousness it is not the consciousness that is needed in archery. I am talking about a totally different phenomenon: a diffused consciousness, not concentrated, because concentration is tiring, tense, and sooner or later you will fall into unconsciousness. Anything tiring cannot be carried for long.

Consciousness has to be relaxed; it has to be equivalent to opening. You are simply open to all that is happening. I am talking to you, and the train is passing by, and the distant call of a cuckoo… and you are aware of it all. You are open to all the dimensions of your being. You are simply open and vulnerable, alert, not asleep. This is consciousness, and its opposite is unconsciousness. You are not open at all, you are closed.¬†You are in a kind of sleep — a metaphysical sleep. All the buddhas down the ages have been fighting the metaphysical sleep.

George got drunk in a bar one night, and as he staggered home he tried to figure how he could hide his not very sober condition from his wife. He decided he would go home and read, since whoever heard of a drunken man being able to read a book? And he laughed at his own cleverness. He thought it would be good to read the Bible! He made it home and went into the den.

A few minutes later his wife called out to him, “What are you doing in there at this hour?” “Oh, just reading, darling — reading the Bible,” he nonchalantly replied. Knowing reading was not one of his late evening pursuits — and certainly nobody had ever thought that he would read the Bible — she got up and peeked in. “You idiot!” she cried. “Close that suitcase and get to bed!” When you are drunk, whatsoever you do is going to be like that.

I have heard: Mulla Nasruddin got so drunk that there was a fight with another drunkard, and he had wounds and scratches all over his face. He came home in the middle of the night, looked into the mirror and thought, “Now, tomorrow morning is going to be difficult!”

How is he going to hide these wounds and these scratches? His wife is bound to know and she will say, “You got drunk again and you have been fighting again!”

How to hide it? A great idea occurred to him. He searched in the medicine chest, found some ointment. He put it on his wounds and scratches, was very happy, pleased with himself that by morning things would not be so bad… and went to sleep. Early in the morning when he was still in bed, his wife shouted from the bathroom, “Who has put ointment on the mirror?”

Of course a drunken man, a drunkard, looking into the mirror thinks that that is his face. It is natural; if you are unconscious, whatsoever you do is bound to be wrong. And there is a great metaphysical drunkenness. From many many lives it has become a great weight on you. You have lived unconsciously for so long that the effort to live consciously even for a few minutes seems to be too much.

You love, it is unconscious, and it becomes jealousy, possessiveness. It is no longer love, because love cannot be unconscious. You make friends only to create enemies. You earn money to be happy, but by the time you have earned enough money you are only deeply tense, anxiety-ridden, and there is no joy in it. You run after power, fame, and one day, if you make hard efforts, you certainly succeed.

You become famous, but then you realize the fact that by becoming famous nothing has been achieved. Everybody knows you, that’s all. Everybody knows your name, but how is that going to make you happy? You have power, but what are you going to do with the power? In the hands of an unconscious man everything turns sour, bitter, poisonous, everything turns stupid. Give him some intelligent advice and it is bound to fall into wrong hands.

The young lady who was about to get married talked with her mother about the birds and the bees. In this conversation her mother told her that she did not have to take off everything when she went to bed on her honeymoon. When they returned, the groom asked his mother-in-law, “Is there any insanity in this family?”

“No, why?” “Well, your daughter slept in her hat all during our honeymoon!” People are bound to do something stupid. And that’s what they have done to the statements of all the buddhas. They write commentaries, great scholarship, but what comes out is stupid. Libraries are full of it, universities are full of it. All rubbish!

But people are sacrificing their whole lives for that, and they are not doing the first necessary thing. You cannot be wise unless you become conscious, unless you break this old habit of functioning in an unconscious way. You have to de-automatize yourself. Simple things can do the trick. For example, you always walk in a hurry. Start walking slowly. You will have to be alert; the moment you lose alertness you will start again in a hurried way.

These are small devices: walk slowly — because to walk slowly you will have to remain conscious. Once you lose consciousness, immediately the old habit will grab you and you will be in a hurry. If you smoke cigarettes, make it a very slow process, so slow that it becomes de-automatized. Otherwise, people are not smoking cigarettes — cigarettes are smoking people! They are not conscious of what they are doing.

In a very unconscious way they put their hands into their pockets, take out the packet, the cigarette and the matchbox. They are going through all these motions but they are not alert. They may be thinking a thousand and one things. In fact, when they are more unconscious they tend to smoke more. When they are more in anxiety, tension… worried, they tend to smoke more; that helps them to keep a face as if they are relaxed.

Make it a slow process. Take the cigarette packet out of your pocket as slowly as possible, as consciously as possible. Slowing down the processes is very helpful. Then hold the packet in your hand, look at it, smell it, feel its texture. Then open it very slowly, as if you have all the time in the world. Then take a cigarette out, look at the cigarette from all sides.

Then put it in your mouth… wait! Then take the matchbox — again go through those same slow movements. Then start smoking so slowly… take the smoke in very slowly, let it out very slowly. And you will be surprised: if you were smoking twenty-four cigarettes per day you will be smoking only six at the most; it will be reduced to one-fourth.

And slowly slowly, only two, one, and one day suddenly you will find the whole thing so stupid! Still you can go on carrying the cigarette packet in your pocket for a few days, just in case — but it is finished, de-automatized. This is one of Buddha’s great contributions to the psychology of man: the process of de-automatization, slowing down everything.

Buddha used to say to his disciples, “Walk as slowly as possible, eat as slowly as possible. Chew each bite forty times and go on counting inside: one, two, three, four, five — forty times. When the food is no longer solid, it is almost liquid….” He used to say, “Don’t eat, but drink.” That means make it so liquid that you don’t eat it, you have to drink it.

And he helped thousands of people to become conscious. You are unconscious, although you believe you are conscious…. That is like seeing a dream in which you think you are walking in the marketplace. You are awake in your dream, but your awakenness in a dream is only part of the dream — you are unconscious. It hurts to accept that “I am unconscious,” but the first act of being conscious is to accept that “I am unconscious.” The very acceptance triggers a process in you.

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