Osho on Reading

Question – Beloved Osho, You say that mind’s substance is memory and information. Does reading therefore inflate and invigorate the mind?

Osho – It depends. It depends on you. You can use reading as a food for the ego. It is very subtle. You can become knowledgeable; then it is dangerous and harmful. Then you are poisoning yourself, because knowledge is not knowing, knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom has nothing to do with knowledge. Wisdom can exist in total ignorance also. If you use reading just as a food for the mind, to increase your memory, then you are in a wrong direction. But reading can be used in a different way; then reading is as beautiful as anything else in life.

If you read the Gita not to collect information but to listen to the song of the divine — which is not in the words but between the words, which is not in the lines but between the lines — if you read the Bhagavad Gita as a song of the divine, if you listen to the music of it, then it has a tremendous beauty and it can be helpful. In certain moments of deep absorption you will become one with the divine.

This can happen listening to the song of a bird also, so the question is not of the Gita, Bible or Koran — the basic question is of the listener. How do you listen? Are you just greedy to know more? Then the Gita, Koran, Bible will all poison you. If there is no greed, you will just read it as a beautiful poem; it has tremendous beauty in it. You are not trying to fill your memory with it, but you are just being aware; reading, watching, observing, moving into it as much as possible but remaining at the same time aloof — a watcher on the hills. You should not be impressed, because all impressions are like dust gathering on the mirror. If you are not impressed — I am not saying not inspired, that is totally different. To be inspired is totally different than to be impressed. Anybody can be impressed, but to be inspired you need great intelligence, understanding.

Inspiration is getting in tune with a certain scripture, to be meditative with it — not through the mind but through your totality. If you read the Gita that way, you are reading the Gita with your blood, with your guts, with your heart, with your mind, with your body. Everything that you have, your totality, is there. When you are simply collecting information, only your head is there and nothing else. Then you gather impressions and you have missed.

Listening to me the same is possible. You can listen to my words; you can listen to me. If you listen only to the words you will leave a little more knowledgeable than when you had come here; your burden will be more not less. You will be deeper in bondage, not freed, because whatsoever I am saying, these are not words. Listen to the silence in them. Listen to the person who is speaking through them. Be with me! If you forget my words, nothing is lost. But if you carry only my words and you forget me, everything is lost.

Listening to me should not be through the head only, but with your totality. You are a unity. Everything is joined together. When you listen to me, listen from the heart, listen from the feet, the hands — become totally a listener, not just the head. If the head listens, then it goes on comparing with whatsoever you have known before. It goes on interpreting and, of course, your interpretations are yours not mine.

Everybody, if he is listening from the head, is going to listen from acquired knowledge, from some conclusions already achieved. Then he is not pure, not uncorrupted. Then he is listening from a corrupted mind — and whatsoever you interpret will be your interpretation.
I was reading one anecdote; it happened in a small school:

The teacher was telling the pupils about the discovery of America — Columbus and his journey and the discovery. One small boy was very, very excited, was listening very intently, attentively. So the teacher asked him to write an essay on the discovery of America. This is what that brilliant boy wrote:
“Columbus was a man who could make an egg stand on end without crushing it. One day the King of Spain sent for him and asked: ‘Can you discover America?’
‘Yes,’ Columbus answered, ‘if you will get me a boat.’

He got the boat and sailed in the direction of where he knew America was. The sailors mutinied and swore there was no such place as America, but finally the pilot came to Columbus and said, ‘Captain, land is in sight.’

When the boat neared the shore Columbus saw a group of natives. ‘Is this America ?’ he asked them. ‘Yes,’ they replied.
‘I suppose you are Indians?’ Columbus went on.
‘Yes,’ said the chief, ‘and you are Christopher Columbus, I take it?’
‘I am,’ said Columbus.
The Indian chief then turned to his fellow savages and said, ‘The jig is up. We are discovered at last.'”

A child listens with a childish mind, his own interpretations. Everybody listens with his own mind — then you are hearing but not listening. In India, when somebody is reading an ordinary book it is called ‘reading’; but whenever somebody is reading the Gita we have a special term for it: we call it path.

Literally translated it will mean ‘lesson’. Ordinary reading is just reading — mechanical; but when you read so deeply absorbed in it that the very reading becomes a lesson, then the very reading goes deep in your being and is not only part of your memory now but has become part of your being. You have absorbed it, you are drunk with it. You don’t carry the message in so many words, but you have the essence in you. The very essential has moved into your being. We call it ‘path’.

In reading a book, once you have read it the book is finished. To read it twice will be meaningless; thrice will be simply foolish. But in path you have to read the same book every day. There are people who have been reading their Gita every day for years — fifty, sixty years — their whole life. Now it is not reading because it is not a question of knowing what is written in it; they know, they have read it thousands of times. Then what are they doing? They are bringing their consciousness again and again to the same tuning, as if Krishna is alive before them, or Jesus is alive before them. They are no longer reading a book — they have transformed themselves into a different space, in a different time, in a different world.

Read the Gita, sing it, dance with it, and allow it as much as possible to go withinwards. Soon words are left behind but the music goes deeper. Then even that music is left behind — only the rhythm resounds. And then even that is gone. All the nonessential is gone, only the essential… and that essential is inexpressible. It cannot be said — one has to experience it.

So if you read, it depends on you whether reading is going to help you become free, or whether reading is going to make you a greater slave. Whether it is going to become a freedom or an imprisonment, it depends on you.

A music teacher took her class to a concert in the hope of further developing their musical appreciation. After the program she took them out to eat and they had cakes, ice cream and other goodies. Just as they were ready to go home, the teacher asked the youngest of them, “Well, did you enjoy the concert?”
“Oh yes,” he replied happily, “all except the music.”

If you read the Gita or The Bible only from the head, you will be enjoying everything else except the music; and the music is the real thing. That’s why we have called it Bhagavad Gita — the song of the divine. The whole thing is in the innermost coherence of it. It is poetry, it is not prose. And poetry has to be understood in a totally different way from prose.

Prose is logical, poetry is illogical. Prose is linear, it moves in a straight line. Poetry is not linear, it is circular, it moves in circles. Prose is for ordinary things and ordinary experiences. There are experiences which cannot be expressed in prose. Those experiences need poetry. Poetry means a more liquid form. Poetry means a more singing, dancing, celebrating form. All great scriptures are poetry; even if they are written in prose they are poetry. Poetry can be written in prose and prose can be written in poetry. So it is not a question only of linguistic form — it is a question of its very essence.

So when you read the Koran, don’t read it — sing it! Otherwise you will miss, you will miss everything and you will think you have understood everything — because the whole thing is in the music. If the music surrounds you, of the Koran, Bible or Gita, and you have a dancing feeling, your energy is in sheer delight, overflowing, tears, laughter, dancing; if you feel as if a new breeze has entered into your being — then you don’t gather dust.

To read is to know a certain art. It is to get into deep sympathy. It is to get into a sort of participation. It is a great experiment in meditation. But if you read the Gita the same way as you read novels you will miss it. It has layers and layers of depth. Hence, path — every day one has to repeat. It is not a repetition; if you know how to repeat it, it is not a repetition. If you don’t know, then it is a repetition.

Just try it for three months. Read the same book — you can choose any small book — every day. And don’t bring your yesterday to read it: just again fresh as the sun rises in the morning — again fresh as flowers come this morning, again fresh. Just open the Gita again, excited, thrilled. Again read it, again sing it, and see. It reveals a new meaning to you.

It has nothing to do with yesterday and all the yesterdays when you were reading it. It gives you a certain significance today, this moment; but if you bring your yesterdays with you, then you will not be able to read the new meaning. Your mind is already full of meaning. You think you already know. You think you have been reading this book again and again — so what is the point? Then you can go on reading it like a mechanical thing and you can go on thinking a thousand and one other thoughts. Then it is futile.

Then it is just boring. Then you will not be rejuvenated by it. You will become dull. That’s why, out of a hundred, ninety-nine religious persons are dull. Their intelligence is not sharp — almost stupid. It is very difficult to find a religious man and not stupid, because they are repeating the same ritual every day — but the wrong is in their minds, not in the rituals. You can do the same thing absolutely new, there is no need to repeat it.

You love a woman, then the woman is new every day. Reading the Gita or Koran is just like a love affair: every day new. Maybe the words are the same, but the same words can carry different meanings. The same words can penetrate into your being from different doors. The same words in a certain moment can have a certain significance which they will not have in any other context. The meaning depends on you, not on the words you read. You bring meaning to the Gita, or Koran, or Bible, not vice versa.

Of course, after twenty-four hours you are more experienced. You have lived life twenty-four hours more. In fact, you are not the same person. The Gita is the same — you are not the same person. After twenty-four hours, how much water has flowed in the Ganges?

One day you are in a mood of love. Another day you are in the mood of sadness. One day you are overflowing, another day you are a miser. Different colors and shades of moods, and in different shades and colors you will be reading the same book. Again and again, and the Gita becomes millions of doors. You can enter it from so many ways, from so many doors, and you bring the meaning. The meaning is yours.

One day when your mind has stopped functioning completely and you are just a flow — when I say mind has stopped functioning completely, I mean you don’t bring the past at all; mind is the past — if you don’t bring the past at all and you can read and listen, then your reading has become a meditation. Yes, reading can be helpful, but ordinarily it proves to be harmful, because the way you behave with books is harmful to you. You simply collect; you go on collecting dead facts. You become a junkyard — maybe an encyclopedia, but you lose the inner coherence, the inner music, the inner harmony. You become a crowd: so many voices, no unity. This is not getting integrated, this is disintegration. So whatsoever you do — it is not only a question of reading, listening — whatsoever you do, it will depend on you.

Source – Osho Book “The Search”

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