Only Meditation There Is: Watching
essay is Osho's commentary on a sutra by Ta Hui. We
have reproduced it by permission from Chapter
Osho's book, The
Great Zen Master Ta Hui.
Not "keeping the mind still,"
you may not fully know whether the teachers of the various
localities are wrong or right, if your own basis is
solid and genuine, the poisons of wrong doctrines will
not be able to harm you, "keeping the mind still"
and "forgetting concerns" included. If you
always "forget concerns" and "keep the
mind still," without smashing the mind of birth
and death, then the delusive influences of form, sensation,
perception, volition, and consciousness will get their
way, and you'll inevitably be dividing emptiness into
go and make yourself vast and expansive. When old habits
suddenly arise, don't use mind to repress them. At just
such a time, it's like a snowflake on a red-hot stove.
For those with a discerning eye and a familiar hand,
one leap and they leap clear.
then do they know lazy Jung's saying: right when using
mind, there's no mental activity. Crooked talk defiled
with names and forms, straight talk without complications.
Without mind but functioning, always functioning but
non-existent -- the mindlessness I speak of now is not
separate from having mind. These aren't words to deceive
There has been a long misunderstanding
about these two things: keeping the
mind still and mindlessness.
There have been many people who have thought
that they are synonymous. They appear to be synonymous,
but in reality they are as far apart as two things can
be, and there is no way to bridge them.
first let us try to find the exact meanings of these
two words, because the whole of Ta Hui's sutra this
evening is concerned with the understanding of the difference.
difference is very delicate. A man who is keeping his
mind still and a man who has no mind will look exactly
alike from the outside, because the man who is keeping
his mind still is also silent. Underneath his silence
there is great turmoil, but he is not allowing it to
surface. He is in great control.
man with no mind, or mindlessness, has nothing to control.
He is just pure silence with nothing repressed, with
nothing disciplined -- just a pure empty sky.
can be very deceptive. One has to be very alert about
appearances, because they both look the same from the
outside -- both are silent. The problem would not have
arisen if the still mind was not easy to achieve. It
is easy to achieve. Mindlessness is not so easy to achieve;
it is not cheap, it is the greatest treasure in the
can play the game of being silent; it can play the game
of being without any thoughts, any emotions, but they
are just repressed, fully alive, ready to jump out any
moment. The so-called religions and their saints have
fallen into the fallacy of stilling the mind. If you
go on sitting silently, trying to control your thoughts,
not allowing your emotions, not allowing any movement
within you, slowly slowly it will become your habit.
This is the greatest deception in the world you can
give to yourself, because everything is exactly the
same, nothing has changed, but it appears as if you
have gone through a transformation.
state of no-mind or mindlessness is just the opposite
of stilling the mind -- it is getting beyond the mind.
It is creating such a distance between yourself and
the mind that the mind becomes the farthest star, millions
of light years away, and you are just a watcher. When
the mind is stilled you are the controller. When the
mind is not, you are the watcher. These are the distinguishing
you are controlling something you are in tension; you
cannot be without tension, because that which is controlled
is continuously trying to revolt against you, that which
is enslaved wants freedom. Your mind sooner or later
will explode with vengeance.
STORY I HAVE LOVED
In a village there was a man of a very angry and aggressive
type, so violent that he had killed his wife, for something
trivial. The whole village was afraid of the man because
he knew no argument except violence.
he killed his wife by throwing her into a well, a Jaina
monk was passing by. A crowd had gathered, and the Jaina
monk said, "This mind full of anger and violence
will lead you to hell."
was such that the man said, "I also want to be
as silent as you are, but what can I do? I don't know
anything. When anger grips me I'm almost unconscious,
and now I have killed my own beloved wife."
monk said, "The only way to still this mind, which
is full of anger and violence and rage, is to renounce
the world." Jainism is a religion of renunciation,
and the ultimate renunciation is even of clothes. The
Jaina monk lives naked, because he is not allowed to
possess even clothes.
was of a very arrogant type, and this became a challenge
to him. Before the crowd he threw his clothes also into
the well with the wife. The whole village could not
believe it; even the Jaina monk became a little afraid,
"Is he mad or something?" The man fell down
at his feet and said, "You may have taken many
decades to reach the stage of renunciation
renounce the world, I renounce everything. I am your
disciple -- initiate me."
was Shantinath, and shanti means "peace."
It often happens...if you see an ugly woman, most probably
her name will be Sunderbhai, which means "beautiful
woman." In India people have a strange way...to
the blind man they give the name Nayan Sukh. Nayan Sukh
means "one whose eyes give him great pleasure."
monk said, "You have a beautiful name. I will not
change it; I will keep it, but from this moment you
have to remember that peace has to become your very
disciplined himself, stilled his mind, fasted long,
tortured himself, and soon became more famous than his
master. Angry people, arrogant people, egoistic people
can do things which peaceful people will take a little
time to do. He became very famous, and thousands of
people used to come just to touch his feet.
years he was in the capital. A man from his village
had come for some purpose, and he thought, "It
will be good to go and see what transformation has happened
to Shantinath. So many stories are heard -- that he
has become a totally new man, that his old self is gone
and a new, fresh being has arisen in him, that he really
has become peace, silence, tranquility."
So the man
went with great respect. But when he saw Muni Shantinath,
seeing his face, his eyes, he could not think that there
had been any change. There was none of the grace which
necessarily radiates from a mind which has become silent.
Those eyes were still as egoistic -- in fact they had
become more pointedly egoistic. The man's presence was
even more ugly than it used to be.
man went close. Shantinath recognized the man, who had
been his neighbor -- but now it was beneath his dignity
to recognize him. The man also saw that Shantinath had
recognized him, but he was pretending that he did not.
He thought, "That shows much." He went close
by Shantinath and asked, "Can I ask you a question?
What is your name?"
great anger arose in Shantinath because he knew that
this man knew perfectly well what his name was. But
still he kept himself in control, and he said, "My
name is Muni Shantinath."
said, "It is a beautiful name -- but my memory
is very short, can you repeat it again? I have forgotten...what
name did you say?"
too much. Muni Shantinath used to carry a staff. He
took the staff in his hand...he forgot everything --
twenty years of controlling the mind -- and he said,
"Ask again and I will show you who I am. Have you
forgotten? -- I killed my wife, I am the same man."
THEN DID HE RECOGNIZE WHAT HAD HAPPENED
In a single moment of unconsciousness he realized that
twenty years have gone down the drain; he has not changed
at all. But millions of people feel great silence in
him.... Yes, he has become very controlled, he keeps
himself repressed, and it has paid off. So much respect
and he has no qualification for that respect -- so much
honor, even kings come to touch his feet.
saints are nothing but controlled animals. The mind
is nothing but a long heritage of all your animal past.
You can control it, but the controlled mind is not the
of controlling and repressing and disciplining is taught
by all the religions, and because of their fallacious
teaching humanity has not moved a single inch -- it
remains barbarous. Any moment people start killing each
other. It does not take a single moment to lose themselves;
they forget completely that they are human beings, and
something much more, something better is expected of
them. There have been very few people who have been
able to avoid this deception of controlling mind and
believing that they have attained mindlessness.
mindlessness a totally different process is involved:
I call it the ultimate alchemy. It consists only of
a single element -- that of watchfulness.
is passing through a town when a fly comes and sits
on his forehead. He is talking to his companion, Ananda,
and he just goes on talking and moves his hand to throw
off the fly. Then suddenly he recognizes that his movement
of the hand has been unconscious, mechanical. Because
he was talking consciously to Ananda, the hand moved
the fly mechanically. He stops and although now there
is no fly, he moves his hand again consciously.
"What are you doing? The fly has gone away...."
says, "The fly has gone away...but I have committed
a sin, because I did it in unconsciousness."
word "sin" is used only by Gautam Buddha in
its right meaning. The word "sin" originates
in the roots which mean forgetfulness, unawareness,
unwatchfulness, doing things mechanically -- and our
whole life is almost mechanical. We go on doing things
from morning to evening, from evening to morning, like
A man who
wants to enter into the world of mindlessness has to
learn only one thing -- a single step and the journey
is over. That single step is to do everything watchfully.
You move your hand watchfully; you open your eyes watchfully;
you walk, you take your steps alert, aware; you eat,
you drink, but never allow mechanicalness to take possession
over you. This is the only alchemical secret of transformation.
A man who
can do everything fully consciously becomes a luminous
phenomenon. He is all light, and his whole life is full
of fragrance and flowers. The mechanical man lives in
dark holes, dirty holes. He does not know the world
of light; he is like a blind man. The man of watchfulness
is really the man who has eyes.
Ta Hui slowly,
slowly is penetrating into the deeper secrets of inner
transformation. He says, Though you may not fully
know whether the teachers of the various localities
are wrong or right, if your own basis is solid and genuine,
the poisons of wrong doctrines will not be able to harm
it is useless to think who is right and who is wrong.
There are thousands of doctrines, hundreds of philosophies,
and if you go on searching for truth in those words,
you will be lost in a jungle where you cannot find the
path. All that you know is to attain to a solid basis
the mind still," and "forgetting concerns"
included. If you always "forget concerns"
and "keep the mind still," without smashing
the mind of birth and death, then the delusive influences
of form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness
will get their way, and you will inevitably be dividing
emptiness into two.
Let go and
make yourself vast and expansive....
It is not
a question of controlling yourself separate from existence;
it is a question of letting-go and becoming vast --
as vast as existence itself. And in watchfulness you
become infinite: that is the only thing within you which
has no limits.
a look at your watching, witnessing. It is unlimited.
No beginning, no end...it is formless.
stillness of the mind is exactly no-mind or mindlessness.
It is not control, it is not discipline; it is not that
you are putting all your pressure on your mind and keeping
it silent. No, it is simply not there. The house is
empty. There is nobody to control and there is nobody
to be controlled. All concerns for control have disappeared
into a simple watchfulness. This watchfulness is expansive.
Once you have tasted it a little, it goes on expanding
to the very limits of the universe.
old habits suddenly arise, don't use your mind to repress
them. At just such a time, it's like a snowflake on
a red-hot stove.
He is reminding
you that even when you are moving on the path of watchfulness,
sometimes old habits may revive. But don't be concerned;
they are like snowflakes on a red-hot stove, they will
disappear of their own accord. You simply watch. Don't
get concerned, don't get disturbed, don't be worried.
there will be anger, sometimes there will be a desire,
sometimes there will be an ambition, but they cannot
disturb your watchfulness. They will come and they will
go without leaving a trace on your mirror-like purity.
But you have only to remember one thing: not to start
fighting with them, smashing them, destroying them,
throwing them away. It comes very naturally to the mind
that if something wrong is happening, jump on it and
destroy it. This is the only thing you have to be aware
of, because this is what never allows a man to get beyond
the mind. Old habits will come -- and old habits are
very old, many, many lives old. Your awareness is very
fresh and very new; your mechanicalness is ancient,
so it is very natural that it will come back.
insults you -- you don't have to be angry, but suddenly
you find anger arising. It is not an effort, it is just
an old habit, an old reaction. Don't fight with it,
don't try to smile and hide it. Just watch it, and it
will come and it will go... like a snowflake on a
with a discerning eye and a familiar hand, one leap
and they leap clear. Only then do they know lazy Jung's
saying: right when using mind, there's no mental activity.
If a man has learned the art of watchfulness he can
use his mind too, and still he has no mental activity.
Am Talking to You, and I Am Using My Mind
Because There Is No Other Way
Mind is the only way to convey any message in words;
that is the only mechanism available. But my mind is
absolutely silent, there is no mental activity: I'm
not thinking what I'm going to say, and I'm not thinking
what I have said. I'm simply responding to Ta Hui spontaneously
without bringing myself into it.
It is as
if you go into the mountains and you shout and the mountains
echo: the mountains are not doing any mental activity,
they are simply echoing. When I am talking on Ta Hui,
I am just a mountain echoing.
when using mind, there's no mental activity. Crooked
talk defiled with names and forms, straight talk without
complications. Without mind but functioning... This
is a strange experience, when you can use mind without
any mental activity... Without mind but functioning,
always functioning but non-existent.
Was From My Very Childhood in Love With Silence
As long as I could manage I would just sit silently.
Naturally my family used to think that I was going to
be good for nothing -- and they were right. I certainly
proved good for nothing, but I don't repent it.
to such a point that sometimes I would be sitting and
my mother would come to me and say something like, "There
seems to be nobody in the whole house. I need somebody
to go to the market to fetch some vegetables."
I was sitting in front of her, and I would say, "If
I see somebody I will tell...."
It was accepted
that my presence meant nothing; whether I was there
or not, it did not matter. Once or twice they tried
and then they found that "it is better to leave
him out, and not take any notice of him" -- because
in the morning they would send me to fetch vegetables,
and in the evening I would come to ask, "I have
forgotten for what you had sent me, and now the market
is closed..." In villages the vegetable markets
close by the evening, and the villagers go back to their
said, "It is not your fault, it is our fault. The
whole day we have been waiting, but in the first place
we should not have asked you. Where have you been?"
"As I went out of the house, just close by there
was a very beautiful bodhi tree" -- the kind of
tree under which Gautam Buddha became awakened. The
tree got the name bodhi tree -- or in English, bo tree
-- because of Gautam Buddha. One does not know what
it used to be called before Gautam Buddha; it must have
had some name, but after Buddha it became associated
with his name.
Was a Beautiful Bodhi Tree, and It Was So Tempting For
There used to be always such silence, such coolness
underneath it, nobody to disturb me, that I could not
pass it without sitting under it for some time. And
those moments of peace, I think sometimes may have stretched
the whole day.
a few disappointments they thought, "It is better
not to bother him." And I was immensely happy that
they had accepted the fact that I am almost non-existent.
It gave me tremendous freedom. Nobody expected anything
from me. When nobody expects anything from you, you
fall into a silence.... The world has accepted you;
now there is no expectation from you.
I was late coming home, they used to search for me in
two places. One was the bodhi tree -- and because they
started searching for me under the bodhi tree, I started
climbing the tree and sitting in the top of it. They
would come and they would look around and say, "He
does not seem to be here."
And I myself
would nod; I said, "Yes, that's true. I'm not here."
But I was
soon discovered, because somebody saw me climbing and
told them, "He has been deceiving you. He is always
here, most of the time sitting in the tree" --
so I had to go a little further.
Used to Be a Mohammedan Cemetery
Now people ordinarily don't go to graveyards. Of course,
everybody has to go once, but except that, people don't
like going to graveyards. So that was the most silent
place...because dead people don't talk, they don't create
nuisance, they don't ask you unnecessary questions,
they don't even ask you who you are or for introductions.
I used to
sit in the Mohammedan graveyard. It was a big place,
with many graves, with trees, very shadowy trees. When
my father came to know that I was sitting there he said,
"This is too much!" He came one day to find
me and he said, "You can start sitting in the bodhi
tree, or under the bodhi tree, and nobody will disturb
you. This is too much, this is dangerous -- and in fact,
when somebody goes to the graveyard he should take a
bath and change his clothes. You have been sitting here
the whole day and sometimes at night, and when you come
home we don't know from where you are coming."
usual, that when you come back from the graveyard....
Ordinarily nobody goes there unless they are sent, and
they have to go; so, reluctantly they go. From the graveyard
people normally go directly to the river to take a bath,
to change their clothes, and only then do they enter
the house. So my father said, "I don't know how
long you have been doing this."
"Since you disturbed me on the bodhi tree. I had
to find some place...." And I told him, "Even
you will enjoy it once in a while. When you get tired
and too tense, just come here -- no dead man disturbs
"Don't talk to me about dead men -- and particularly
in a Mohammedan grave...." Mohammedans are poor;
their graves are mud graves. In the rain, sometimes
a dead body will appear. The mud has washed away and
you can see the dead body -- somebody's head is showing,
somebody's leg is showing. He said, "Don't ever
tell me to go there. Just the idea that one day I will
be in such a position, with my head showing out of a
grave, makes me feel so frightened...you are a strange
"What is wrong with it? The poor fellow is dead,
he cannot do anything. It is raining, he cannot manage
to have an umbrella, what can he do? If one of his legs
is showing, what can he do? He cannot pull it in --
if he pulls it in then too there will be trouble, so
he keeps silent and lets things be as they are."
A love of
silence and a love of being absent has helped me so
tremendously that I can understand when he says, Always
functioning but non-existent -- the mindlessness I speak
of now is not separate from having mind. These are not
words to deceive people.
Ta Hui is
saying, "I am not using these words to deceive
anyone; I am not trying to show my knowledge; I am not
trying to pretend that I am more knowledgeable than
you are. I am saying these words just to share my experience
that no-mind and mind can exist together. There should
be no repressive methods used, only pure watchfulness...and
slowly, slowly mind loses all content. It becomes no-mind."
and mind are not separate. Mindlessness is mind without
any content, without any thought. It is just like a
mirror not reflecting anything.
of being a mirror not reflecting anything is the greatest
bliss that existence allows man to have. And from there
things go on expanding -- mysteries upon mysteries...no
questions, no answers, but tremendous experiences...nourishing,
fulfilling, giving contentment to the hungry soul which
has been wandering for lives upon lives.
It is time
to stop this wandering.
this wandering there is a simple method, and that is
to start watching your mind, your body, your actions.
Whatever you are doing or not doing, one thing you have
to be alert of -- that you are watching. Don't lose
the watcher -- then it doesn't matter whether you are
a Christian or a Hindu or a Jaina or a Buddhist.
Watcher Is No One. It Is Just Pure Consciousness
And this pure consciousness can only bring a new humanity,
a new world, where people will not discriminate against
each other for stupid reasons. Nations, races, religions,
doctrines, ideologies -- those are just for children
to play with, not for mature people. For mature people
there is only one thing in existence, and that is watchfulness.
is going to spread Gautam Buddha's message. He himself
is not enlightened yet; that's why Gautam Buddha calls
him and tells him, "Remember, I have to say this
because you are not enlightened yet...you are articulate,
you speak well, you can spread the message. You may
not be able to sow the seeds but you may be able to
attract a few people to come to me -- but use this opportunity
also for your own growth."
asked, "What can I do, how can I use this opportunity?"
said, "There is only one thing that can be done
in every opportunity, in every situation, and that is
watchfulness. You will sometimes find people irritated
by you, angry because you have hurt their ideologies,
their doctrines, their prejudices. Remain silent and
watchful. You may have days when you cannot get food
because the people are against you, they will not even
give you water. Watch...watch your hunger, watch your
thirst...but don't get irritated, don't get annoyed.
What you will be teaching people is of less importance
than your own watchfulness.
If you come
back to me watchful, I will be immensely joyful. How
many people you approached does not matter; how many
people you spoke to does not matter. What ultimately
matters is whether you have come home, whether you yourself
have found the solid basis of witnessing. Then all else
the only meditation there is; all other meditations
are variations of the same phenomenon.
sutra of Ta Hui is one of the most fundamental ones.
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Osho was a former college professor who became a guru
and attracted an enormous following in India and the United
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