Osho on Enlightenment

Question – Osho, What is the most significant thing about Enlightenment?
– THE most significant thing about enlightenment is that it is the most insignificant thing in the world. The scriptures are full of great attributes, qualities, about enlightenment. It is the highest peak human consciousness has ever achieved. Naturally, logically, the scholars have been thinking how to describe it. They have found many words. For example, it is arriving home.

As far as I am concerned you have never left home in the first place. Nobody can leave; there is no way to go anywhere except wherever you are. And that is the home. It is not like a departure and arrival. Who is going to depart — you? How can you depart from your nature? There is no possibility of division, it is indivisible.

Wherever you go your nature will be within you. In fact to say “you” and “nature” is not right, but what to do if all the languages are wrong? You are nature. “You” does not make you a separate entity. You can call yourself a thousand and one names; still you will remain the same forever.

So although very great scholars, pandits, theologians, philosophers, even the so-called mystics, have described home-coming as one of the attributes of enlightenment, ninety-nine percent of these people are simply unaware of what they are saying. When there has been no departure, how can you talk of arrival? But these ninety-nine are only knowers of words, scriptures, principles, philosophies; they can be forgiven.

The real trouble is with the one percent, the mystics. But they have also to be forgiven for the simple reason that language is so impotent. What can the mystic do? He wants to give you a certain sense of being yourself, but there has been a gap; you were present but you were unaware. You were at home but fast asleep and dreaming of faraway lands, fairylands, utopias, paradises.

The word paradise reminds me that it is very ugly. It was used in Persia for the gardens of the kings. In Persian, firdaus means a walled hunting garden. In countries like Persia gardens can only be walled. They have to be protected from the desert, and only kings could afford them. They could live in deserts as if they were living in gardens; for miles they could manage to have walled gardens.

And of course for their joy, play, entertainment, all kinds of wild animals were brought into their gardens. And they were living very freely — of course within the border, within the wall, but it was a vast territory. And the kings used to hunt those imprisoned wild animals. It was sheer slaughter. They could not escape, they could not go anywhere. They were caught anyway, and above all they were being slaughtered.

From firdaus comes the English word paradise. They have forgotten about the hunting completely, they have only remembered the walled, beautiful gardens of the kings. But the purpose was hunting; the garden was secondary. But that has been forgotten in English completely; otherwise it will be very difficult to describe paradise. A walled garden it can be described as — but who is the hunter there? And who is to be hunted?

Perhaps God is hunting the saints? I don’t see any other kind of animals there except the saints; they are the only animals allowed there. If it is a hunting place then saints must be really suffering, in tremendous misery: their whole life they suffered to enter into paradise — and now this is the paradise! You cannot get out of it, it is a walled garden. Out side is desert and death; inside you may try to hide, you may survive — not all animals are going to die. But thinking of yourself as a hunted animal will take all the air out of the balloon of the Christian paradise. It is all hot air.

Very foolishly they have chosen the word paradise. But ninety-nine percent of those people were scholars only trained in words, knowing nothing of reality, knowing nothing of themselves, knowing nothing of enlightenment. They were blind people, utterly blind. They had never seen light, and they were talking about light. Naturally they can be forgiven; they are foolish, but forgiveable.

The one percent knew perfectly well what they were talking about; their trouble was even bigger than that of the scholars. Scholars were at ease describing things that they didn’t know. There was no problem for them because there was no contradiction in their minds; they were clear. Hence the word mystic: it comes from the scholars, theologians, philosophers; they are saying that this man talks in such a way that you can’t make any sense of it. The mystic is one who talks nonsense.

But the mystic is really in trouble. He knows the truth, but he does not know any corresponding word for it, so he is compelled to use words which have been used by others. So he also calls it “coming home.”
But the true mystic will immediately recognize that what he is saying is not right. In fact, he will not lose a single moment in saying it, that “whatever I say, don’t start believing it word for word. Try to read between the words, between the lines: the silences, the semi-colons, the full stops — read there. Drop words as much as you can and create gaps.”

There is a Sufi book, at least seven hundred years old; it is simply called THE BOOK. It is an empty book, nothing is written in it. It has been given from generation to generation of mystics, with great reverence; from the Master to the disciple: “This is our message. I have read it my whole life, now you read it. I will go, you will go, but the readings should continue. The book should be preserved.”

One can understand preserving the KORAN, the GITA, THE BIBLE, the TORAH; there is something written in them, something significant, meaningful. But the Sufis have been insisting on preserving a book in which nothing is written. And it is given only by the Master to the succeeding disciple, to the chief disciple, who is going to be the next Master. Perhaps these people were trying their hardest to say something without words. At least they made the effort.

The same has been the situation of all those one percent of mystics around the world: they have to find some vehicle to express that which is inexpressible. The word enlightenment is also invented by the scholars — scholars have been doing great work. And mystics have to use it knowing perfectly well that the experience has nothing to do with the light you are acquainted with.

The enlightenment that is being described by the word is beyond light and darkness, because it is beyond duality. You cannot call it darkness, you cannot call it light, and yet it has the qualities of both. In light you can see. The enlightened person has eyes that you don’t have. He can see things the way you can never see. And you can try to understand it: A painter sees a painting; you also see it. As far as colors are concerned, your eyes reflect the same colors as the painter’s eyes reflect; but do you think you are seeing the same painting as the painter? No, that is not possible, because to see a painting like Picasso’s one needs that kind of genius. It is not in the paints, it is the whole organic unity of all those paints. Those paints are only parts.

It is as if you take a car apart. Every part is separated; all over the ground you spread it, and you see it. You are seeing the car, but is it the car that you are seeing? no, only parts. When you see a Picasso painting you are seeing it in the same way as the car: you just see fragments, pieces.

You don’t have the genius to make a whole out of it, where all those colors lose their individuality and start functioning in a harmony. To see that harmony is to see the painting. It has nothing to do with the colors, nothing to do with the canvas, nothing to do with the frame. The frame may be golden, it doesn’t matter. The question is of the organic harmony. But for that you need a totally different kind of eye — just as a musician needs a different kind of ear.

But these are small things compared to enlightenment. I am just taking examples to indicate something which is beyond examples. It has some quality which happens in light, not of light — mind you well. It has some quality which happens in light. If the lights are put off, what disappears? Your capacity to see disappears.

When enlightenment happens, a certain capacity to see happens, which has been completely unconscious within you. It is fully ready to function any moment, but you won’t even turn to look at it. Just your very turning will turn the switch on. But it is not enlightenment. Let me repeat: enlightenment is not enlightenment, not just enlightenment. It is a way of saying that you attain to a certain capacity of seeing, knowing.

It has also the quality of darkness in it, so there has been a school of mystics who call it the ultimate darkness. And they are as right as those who call it enlightenment; But it is not darkness. In darkness there are a few things which you miss in light.

A light gives a certain kind of tenseness to your being; darkness relaxes you. That’s why in the night, if all the lights are on, you cannot sleep. You need to be surrounded by darkness as if you are in the womb of the mother. Darkness has a certain silence, a certain music to it, which we are unable to know because of our fear of darkness. We are so afraid of darkness that we have lost the capacity to make any intimate contact with it. And it is such a profound experience.

If you compare light and darkness — light comes and goes; darkness remains, it is eternal. Light is temporal, it has a time limitation. In the morning the sun rises, in the evening it sets. And whatever kind of light you manage, it has a certain limitation: once the fuel is finished the light will be gone. It is dependent, it is not an independent phenomenon. Even the light of the sun will one day be gone because it is being dissipated every moment. It has been a tremendous source of light; for millions of years it has been giving light, but it is becoming poorer every day.

There are a few physicists who think that within four thousand years the sun is going to be just bankrupt it will run out of its gas. So many suns have died in existence. Almost every day hundreds of stars are dying, and they are as big a sun as yours — in fact, far bigger than yours. Your sun is a very mediocre size. It is very big compared to our earth — sixty thousand times bigger than the earth — but not when compared to stars, which are nothing but suns. They look so small because they are so far away. There are suns which are a million times bigger than our sun. This sun is not worth counting.

There is a beautiful story by Bertrand Russell — he has written a few beautiful stories. A bishop is thinking of God, heaven, and his services to God his whole life, and of his life of celibacy, purity, prayer. Just as he is falling asleep he is thinking that if he dies, paradise is certain. He falls asleep and has a beautiful dream. You can call it a beautiful dream, you can call it a nightmare; it depends.

He dreams that he has died — the same thread of thought has perhaps continued. He has died. He is so excited — naturally, because now he is going to face God, and his record is so clean. He has never done anything against the scripture, against God’s commandments. He has been really religiously religious, very fanatic about each small detail — it had to be according to the holy scripture. Naturally he was absolutely confident.

He is taken somewhere — he thinks of course he is going to paradise — and he is left before a huge door. He tries to see where it ends but it doesn’t seem to end anywhere; it is so huge in all dimensions. Neither can he see the left side nor the right side, nor can he see above; and he feels so tiny that not even a small ant knocking on your door will feel so bad as he felt, because he was even smaller in comparison to the door. And knocking on that door — you can understand his misery.

He was fully aware… who is going to hear? If the door is so big, what about the palace? And what about the throne? And what about God the father? The bishop feels he has no hope, but there is nothing else to do so he goes on knocking. He can hear his own knocks, that’s all; and there is silence, no answer. The same thing his whole life he has been praying…. Now he becomes a little angry. His whole life he has been praying, but no answer….

“One can understand that everything will happen after death. Now death has happened, and I am faced with this closed door. There is not even anybody here I can inquire from to get any information. At least there must be an inquiry office. People must be coming here and knocking on this door.

“I can perfectly conceive that millions must have died — knocking on this door — died again, and died again”… because you cannot really die, you are eternal. So you will have to die again and knock, and die and knock…. He cannot believe how much time has passed and he has been knocking and knocking and knocking. He starts feeling that he is becoming again old and death is coming, and he is still knocking.

“Is this not a deception, what Jesus said: ‘You will be welcomed with bands and angels singing Alleluia’? No angels, no bands — but at least somebody should open the door and let me in.” At that time, a small window — I am saying it is small in comparison to the door; it was still so vast that he could not see its proportions — a small window opened. And now he had become accustomed to the size of “small” things there. A small head he could not see the whole face, just parts and pieces, but he could figure out that somebody was looking at him. And he felt really crushed, humiliated; he had never been insulted like that. But what to do?

The bishop says, “Are you God?”
The head says, “No” — and his voice is so loud that the bishop feels almost as if his ears are going to burst.
He says, “Can’t you say it a little softer? Just whisper; that will be enough for me to tolerate. Don’t speak, just whisper. If you are not God, then who are you?”

The head says, “I am only the guardsman. God I have never seen, because my duty is on the gate, and God lives far, far away — we have only heard through holy scriptures — in an immense palace. I don’t know the way. I don’t have the courage… and moreover my duty is here, I cannot go anywhere else. But who are you? — because I cannot see you.”
The man has such big eyes, how can he see such a small ant? And the bishop says, “I am Bishop So-and-So.”
The guard says, “That does not make any sense. Please tell me, from where are you coming?”
The bishop says, “I am coming from the planet earth.”
The guard says, “That is too small a place — there are millions of earths. Which earth? You please tell me the index number.”

“Index number?” the bishop says, “we never heard about an index number. Our earth has an index number.
“Every planet has to; otherwise how are we going to figure out from where you are coming, who you are? If you don’t know the index number at least please tell me the index number of your solar system. In fact that is the lowest category we gather information about in the library. Below that, every solar system has its own library. Only important things from that solar system are fed to the computer in the central library. Perhaps your earth is mentioned somewhere, but you have to tell me about your solar system. From which sun are you coming?”

The bishop says, “We used to know only one sun.”
The guard says, “There are millions of solar systems — you seem to be completely at a loss! I cannot help you, but I will try my best. I have not seen you yet but I can hear a small still voice, screeching. I will go to the librarian and inquire.”

The librarian asked the same questions, and the guard was not able to answer. The librarian said, “Are you mad? How can I find that out in this immense library, where there are only index numbers and index numbers? At least the solar system must be known, then something can be done.”
The guard came back. He said, “It is very difficult, but the librarian is trying his hardest. It may take a few years for him to figure out from where you are coming.”
The poor bishop said, “A few years! I have been waiting here almost sixty years, or perhaps more, because all time sense is lost.”

The man said, “If you can get, in the coming sixty years, the right information about your planet, that will be very quick! You are not aware at all of the immensity of existence.” He shouted so loudly that the bishop woke up. He was perspiring, trembling, and it was a cold night. And he had met only the guard; he had been only up to the gate, outside!

This is a vast universe. Our sun is a very young boy, but already declining. There are many ancient people in the sky; this sun has been born after them and will die before them. Even the sun, which has a really inexhaustible, almost inexhaustible source of energy, is bound to be finished one day. Light can never be inexhaustible because it depends on some fuel.

Darkness is eternal because it does not depend on any fuel. Darkness does not come and go, it simply remains. It is there — when light is there you cannot see it, that’s all. When light is gone, darkness is there. It has always been there; it is just that the light covers your eyes and you cannot see the darkness. So the people who have chosen to call the ultimate state of consciousness, “the ultimate darkness,” have also some significant points to make.

Darkness has a depth which light can never have; light is superficial. You cannot measure darkness, you can measure light. You will be surprised to know, you can even weigh light. If you collect all the sun rays falling on one square mile, they will be almost the weight of one Indian rupee. I am not aware of your American coins, so I cannot say anything about them. One square mile of light — it has been proved. It can be collected through certain glasses, put in a certain way… the whole light can be pulled into a small place, on a weighing scale. It weighs exactly the same as one rupee. But darkness — there is no way to weigh it because there is no way to collect it. It simply is there.

You can make light your slave; we have already. You are using light as your slave every day. Putting your switch on and off, what are you doing? You have enslaved light. But is there anyone who can say he has enslaved darkness? That is impossible. You can do many things with light: you can let it in, you can turn it off. Soon there will be, I think there must be, there has to be, because there are clocks….

Vivek just brought a catalogue to show me about a clock that follows your orders. When it sounds the alarm, if you say, “Shut up!” it shuts up — very obedient. It remains quiet for two minutes, then again it starts, and louder than before. You can go on for ten minutes saying to it, “Shut up!” and it will stop; and the next time it comes on, it will come louder. The tenth time it will be really mad!

If you can do that with an alarm clock, I don’t see there is any problem: you can do it with the light bulb. Just say, “Shut up,” and it shuts up. I think switches are a little old fashioned because there is no need for them. You enter the room and you say, “Be on,” and the light goes on. And when you go out, you say, “Be off, and remain off till I come back.” There is no problem in it.

But you cannot do that with darkness. We have not been able even to make any contact, although it is so close, it is always so close. There is a certain freedom in darkness which is not in light; but both have their problems. I cannot choose either to define the whole phenomenon of enlightenment.

Attributes have been given to enlightenment: that there is experience of truth, experience of authenticity, experience of love, experience of compassion, experience of eternity, experience of freedom from space-time bondage, experience of freedom from life-death bondage — in short, experience of freedom from all kinds of dualities. These are all big words, and they have puzzled humanity for centuries; and people have been trying to find out, What is truth?

Mathematicians say that truth can never be completely defined. One of the mathematicians, Godel, has a principle which seems to be yet uncontradicted. His principle is that mathematics will never be free from paradoxes. In fact, he says, “No man-made system can be free from paradoxes, because man is a paradox; and when man is making something he enters into his making.”

There is every possibility that sooner or later your computers may start freaking out because you are putting your mind into those computers. Some computers may go gay! It is up to you; computers will be simply repeating whatever you have put into them. Some computers may become enlightened. Whatsoever you say, they will say, “I am enlightened, I am the only begotten son of God.”

And you cannot even crucify a computer — that would be so foolish, to crucify a computer — but there may be times when you may have to shoot a computer. He may become such a nuisance, may start doing such perverted things that you will not be able to do anything else but shoot him. He may start torturing you by very sophisticated means.

Godel is right, that whatever man makes, whatever doctrine he propounds, whatever philosophy he brings out, is going to be, in one way or other, paradoxical. Something underneath will remain contradictory. So Godel says there are three categories in mathematics: that which can be described, describable; that which has been already described; and that which will never be described.

There are mathematicians who do not agree about the third category. They say, “Two are perfectly okay: the described, and the describable. The indescribable we cannot yet propose till we have exhausted all our means to describe.” And they are not yet exhausted, they will never be exhausted; there will be no point where we can say, “we have exhausted all means and all possibilities.” So the third category cannot be yet settled. About two categories there is no problem.

The whole of science is ready to accept two categories: expressible, knowable; and unknowable, but can become known, is potentially knowable. In fact they are making two categories: that which has become actually known, and that which is potentially known. They are dropping the world of the mystic completely. They are saying there is nothing which will always remain unknowable, unknown. And that is really the world of enlightenment.

Western mathematicians think that Godel’s three categories exhaust all categories. That is not true. The West is not aware of Eastern mathematicians, philosophers. The most unfortunate part is, even mathematicians from the East, getting Nobel prizes for mathematics…. Two Nobel prizes have gone to two Indians. One was to Doctor Raman; another — just a few years back — to Doctor Khorana. Even these… I have met Doctor Khorana, and I asked him, “Do you have any idea that Godel is not the last word?”
He said, “What are you saying? Godel has to be the last word because there cannot be any more categories: the known, the knowable, and the unknowable. Even if he is accepted, then there are only three categories.”

I said, “You, being a man from the East, should know, because you have been educated in the West….” And even if you are educated in the East, you are educated in Western methods, discoveries. Nobody bothers about Eastern discoveries.

Mahavira has seven categories. That was one of the greatest debates between Mahavira and Buddha when they were alive twenty-five centuries ago. Buddha had exactly the same three categories as Godel. He was saying there are only three categories: either you can say yes to something, or you can say no to something, or you can say it is indescribable. There are no more categories. Mahavira had seven categories, and I agree with Mahavira. He is really exhaustive. But it is a little bit complex; these three categories are simple.
The first category is: Yes. That is very clear. You can say yes about something with confidence. You know it and it is describable, known.

You can say no; the second category: “I am ignorant. That does not mean that the thing does not exist, I am simply saying it is unknown to me.” Or you may say yes and no, both together. In one sense one can say yes. For example, I can say yes to God in one sense, in the sense of godliness, not as a person but as a quality. But in another sense I have to say no because I don’t think there is anybody who created the world, who is a creator, who is a father, maintainer. All that is nonsense.

And yes and no together certainly make it more mystic, hence indescribable. That is the world of the mystic: yes and no, both. So you call it indescribable, inexpressible, unknowable. Yes and no cancel each other but the reality is still there. The reality is not canceled But Mahavira goes further. He says the fourth *cate gory is: Yes, and indescribable. One can say about something, “Yes, I know it, yet I cannot describe it When I say indescribable it does not mean that I don’t know; hence the emphasis is on yes and indescribable.”

And the fifth category: No, and indescribable. “I do not know, but this much I know — it is. I do not know exhaustively, I cannot claim that I know; hence, I say no — that indicates me, and indescribable indicates the thing.”

And the sixth: simply neither yes nor no — together — and still indescribable. You may be feeling that it is somehow known to you, yet you can put it into neither yes nor into no. “I don’t have the experience to such an extent that I can say yes, nor do I have the experience to such an extent that I can say no. So neither yes nor no — they are indicating towards me; but the thing is there.” And the last: simply indescribable.

Perhaps it is because of Mahavira’s very intricate way of expressing things that his religion remained a very confined, small thing. It is not counted in the world religions. But perhaps it has more sophistication than any so-called world religion. That very sophistication is the cause of its not being very appealing to the masses. Now, who is going to bother about these seven categories?

People want definite answers to believe in: this way or that. Either be a Catholic or be a communist, but be clear. People want clarity because they are so confused, and this man brings all these seven categories; now their confusion is worse, they are even more confounded. First you were at least aware that you were confused. Now you will not be aware to which category you belong: yes, no, yes — no both, neither yes nor no, or indescribable.

Mahavira could not create a world religion for the simple reason that perhaps he had the deepest penetration into reality. If you ask about his enlightenment, he will answer in seven sentences. You will not be able to come to any conclusion — and I feel this is something tremendously valuable.

Why this urge to come to a conclusion? If existence is a continuum, an ongoing process — never beginning, never ending — then why is man so eager to come to conclusions? No conclusion can be true, because a conclusion means a process stopped. A conclusion means a full stop has come, the last page has arrived. A conclusion means a death, and life is always on and on and on. There is no beginning and no end.

I cannot give you a conclusive answer to your question, What is the most significant thing about enlightenment? But this much I can certainly say, that enlightenment is the most insignificant phenomenon in existence. That’s why people are not interested in it. If it were significant then millions would have been running after enlightenment, just as they are running after gold, after money, after power.

Just go and stand at the Pentagon or before the White House and ask everybody, “Where are you going?” Everybody is going, and going fast. I don’t think you will come across a single person who will say, “I am going to enlightenment” — not in Washington, not at the Pentagon. Everybody is going, and is in a hurry; in fact, will be greatly disturbed by you: “What kind of nonsense… stopping me in the middle of the road and asking, ‘Where are you going?’ What business is it of yours!’

And you say, “I am simply doing research on enlightenment, on how many people are going for enlightenment. I have not come across a single man yet.”

The simple reason is that enlightenment is not going to make you significant. You will not become Ronald Reagan. You will not become even Jesus Christ; nobody will crucify you. You will not even become Al-Hillaj Mansoor; nobody will murder you. If you become enlightened you will become so ordinary, so simple, that nobody will take any note of you. You will become almost absent.

Let that become my definition of enlightenment:
You will become almost absent.
You will pass just like a breeze — not like a storm: Adolf Hitler is coming! You will just pass like a small breeze of no significance.
To the world you will be nobody.
To yourself you will be the whole world.
To the universe, you will be all that you can be, all that you are meant to be.
To the universe it will be a tremendous joy that you have dropped all running after significant things. At least there is one man who lives insignificantly, ordinarily, not going anywhere; no heaven, no God, no nirvana. He is not concerned even about the next moment, because all his energies which were involved and invested in all directions are now falling back upon himself.

He has become a tremendously fulfilled reservoir of peace, silence, beatitude. He is so full of bliss that without his knowing he will be showering bliss wherever he moves. Whatever he touches will feel the vibe of bliss. But as far as he himself is concerned, if you ask him, “Who are you?” he will say, al do not know. I have no idea at all.”

Enlightenment, thought to be a simple, insignificant ordinariness, makes religion non-political, makes religion a true religion.

Otherwise there are “His Highnesses,” “His Holinesses”…. And I have heard about this Indian prince in South India who has now been chosen for parliament; his weight is three hundred and fifty pounds. He is known as “His Heaviness”! At least that is true. These “holinesses” are all phonies; these “highnesses” are just their own fantasies. But he, at least in reality, is what he is called.

“His Heaviness” is a rare man. He never goes anywhere outside his tremendously rich palace. Perhaps he has the costliest crown in the whole world. His palace is full of diamonds and rubies and emeralds, because his state controlled all the mines, and so the best stones had first to be offered to the king. And this has been going on for centuries; for fifteen hundred years his royal blood has remained a continuous line.
He has never spoken in public, and now he has become a member of the parliament. And even when he speaks only a very few people can understand because he speaks through his nose. Only those servants who live nearby have slowly become accustomed to his speech. And in the whole world he has only one friend a small dog; his name is Kinky. He sits on his throne with Kinky the whole day. That’s his whole work. Now he is going to be a real celebrity in the parliament in New Delhi.

In this world of “His Holinesses” and “His Highnesses,” a really enlightened person is just nobody. He has no name, no form, no superiority, no inferiority. In fact he has disappeared.

And this is the paradox: By disappearing, one finds oneself.
By not being anything, one becomes everything. By becoming absent totally, one becomes, for the first time, not a person but a presence — a presence of tremendous beauty, blessing. But all this happens because one becomes a zero. Enlightenment is the experience of being a zero.

Source – Osho Book “From Misery to Enlightenment”

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