Books I Have Loved — 13 November 2016

Okay. The first book I am going to talk about in this P.P.S. is one nobody would think I would ever talk about.

my-experiments-with-truthIt is Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, My Experiments with Truth. Talking about his experiments with truth is really wonderful. This is the right time.

Ashu, you go on and on; otherwise I will start condemning Mahatma Gandhi. Go on and on so I can be soft on the poor man. Until now I have never been. Perhaps you can help me to be a little soft even to Mahatma Gandhi… although I know it is almost impossible.

But I can certainly say a few beautiful things. One: nobody has written their autobiography with such sincerity, with so much authenticity. It is one of the most authentic autobiographies ever written.

Autobiography is a very strange thing: you are writing about yourself. Either you start bragging or you start being too humble – just another way of bragging. I will talk about that in my second book. But Mahatma Gandhi is neither of these two things; he is simple, just stating factually, just like a scientist… utterly unconcerned that it is his autobiography. He says everything one would like to hide from others. But the very title is wrong. One cannot experiment with truth. One can know it or one can not know it, but one cannot experiment with it.

The very word experiment belongs to the world of objective science. One cannot experiment with subjectivity, and that’s the truth. Note that: Subjectivity is irreducible to any object of experimentation, observation.

Subjectivity is the most mysterious phenomenon in existence, and its mystery is that it always goes back and back. Whatsoever you observe, it is not ‘it’… it is not subjectivity. Subjectivity is always the observer and never the observed. You cannot experiment with truth, because experiment is possible only with things, objects, not with consciousness.

Mahatma Gandhi was a sincerely good man, but he was not a meditator. And if one is not a meditator, howsoever good one is it is all useless. He experimented his whole life and achieved nothing. He died as ignorant as ever. It is unfortunate, because it is very difficult to find a man of so much integrity, sincerity, honesty, and a tremendous desire to know the truth. But that very desire becomes a barrier.

Truth is known by people like me, who don’t even bother about it, who are unconcerned even about truth itself. Even if God knocks on my door, I am not going to open it. He will have to find his own way to open it. Truth comes to such lazy people. Hence I have called myself ‘The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment’. Now I can add one thing more so it can become complete: I am the lazy man’s guide to enlightenment, and to non-enlightenment too! That is going beyond enlightenment.

I feel for the man, although I have always criticized him for his politics, his sociology, and his whole stupid idea of turning the wheel of time backwards – you can call it the spinning wheel. He wanted man to become primitive again. He was against all technology, even against the poor railways, the telegraph, the postal system. Without science man will be a baboon. The baboon may be very strong… but a baboon is a baboon. Man has to go ahead.

I object even to the title of the book because it is not only a title, it summarizes his whole life. He thought because he had been educated in England, he was a perfect Indian Englishman – utterly Victorian. These are the people who go to hell, the Victorians! He was full of etiquette, full of manners, full of all kinds of English stupidities. Now Chetana must be hurting. Chetana forgive me. It is just by chance that you are here, and you know me – I always find something to hit people with.

But Chetana is fortunate: she is not an English lady, she is an Osho freak! And she comes from a poor English family, that’s very good. Her father was a fisherman, simple. She is not snobbish; otherwise English ladies, more than gentlemen, always keep their noses up, as if they are always watching the stars. They really stink – stink of snobbishness!

Mahatma Gandhi was educated in England; perhaps that messed him up. Perhaps he would have been better if he had remained uneducated, and then he would not have experimented with truth, he would have experienced truth.

Experimenting with truth? Absurd! Ridiculous! If one wants to know the truth one has to experience it.

confessionsSecond: Saint Augustine’s Confessions. Augustine was the first person to have written his autobiography without fear, but he went to the other extreme. That’s why I appreciated Gandhi. In his Confessions Augustine confesses too much – even the sins he had never committed! – just for the sheer joy of confessing. What a joy! For the sheer joy of saying to the world that “there is not a sin which I have not committed. I have committed every sin man is capable of.”

That is not true. No man can commit all the sins. No man is capable of that, not even God himself. What to say of God, even the devil himself will start thinking how to enjoy those things that Augustine is confessing! Augustine exaggerated!

Exaggeration is one of the common diseases among saints. They exaggerate everything, even their sins; then, naturally, they become capable of exaggerating their virtues. That is the second part of the story. When you exaggerate your sins, certainly against that background even your small virtues look very big, very bright – lightning in the dark clouds. Those dark clouds help immensely to show the lightning. Without sins you cannot become a saint. The greater the sins, the greater the saint – simple arithmetic!

But I still include the book because it is written beautifully. I am such a man, please note, let it be on record, that even if you lie beautifully I will appreciate it for its beauty. Not for its being a lie – who cares whether it is a lie or not! Its beauty makes it worth enjoying, appreciating.

Confessions is a masterpiece of lies. It is full of lies. But the man did his job almost perfectly. I say almost because there is always the possibility somebody may do the job even better. But he has done it almost ninety-nine percent perfectly; there is not much scope left for anyone else. Yes, after him many tried, even a great man like Leo Tolstoy. I talked about his books Resurrection and War and Peace. Throughout his whole life he was trying to write his own confessions; in that he could not succeed. Augustine seems to be unsurpassable even for a man like Tolstoy. But, Tolstoy, please don’t freak out; I am going to put you on my list.

anna-kareninaThird: Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a small but immensely beautiful novel. You must wonder why I should include a novel in my list. Just because I am crazy! I like all kinds of things. Anna Karenina is one of my most loved books. How many times I have read it I can’t remember. I mean the number of times – I remember the book perfectly well, I can relate the whole book.

Look! Ashu heaved a great sigh; she must have become worried… now this madman is going to relate the whole of Anna Karenina! No, Ashu, don’t be worried, I am not going to. I have to do many other things. Perhaps sometime, but not now.

If I was drowning in the ocean and had to choose just one novel out of all the millions of novels in the world, I would choose Anna Karenina. It would be beautiful to be with that beautiful book. It has to be read and read again; only then you can feel it, smell it, and taste the flavor. It is no ordinary book.

Leo Tolstoy failed as a saint, just as Mahatma Gandhi failed as a saint, but Leo Tolstoy was a great novelist. Mahatma Gandhi succeeded as – and will remain forever – a pinnacle of sincerity. I don’t know of any other man in this century who was so sincere. When he wrote to people ‘sincerely yours’ he was really sincere. When you write ‘sincerely yours’, you know, and everybody else knows, and the person to whom you are writing also knows, that it is all bullshit. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to really be ‘sincerely yours’. That’s what makes a person religious – sincerity.

Leo Tolstoy wanted to be religious but could not be. He tried hard. I feel great sympathy with his effort, but he was not a religious person. He has to wait at least a few more lives. In a way it is good that he was not a religious man like Muktananda; otherwise we would have missed Resurrection, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and dozens more beautiful, immensely beautiful books. Then he would have been another Swami Idiotananda, and nothing else.

tantra-artFourth, Ajit Sarasw… Ajit Mukherjee. He has done a great service for Tantra. I am going to include his two books.

Fourth: Ajit Mukherjee’s The Art of Tantra, and fifth, his other book, The Paintings of Tantra – or perhaps The Tantra Paintings. The man is still alive, and I have always loved him for these two books, because they are masterpieces – the paintings, the art, and the commentaries he has made on the paintings. His introductions are immeasurably valuable.

tantra-art-photosBut the man himself seems to be just a poor Bengali. Just a few days ago he met Laxmi in Delhi. He came to see her and confessed that he wanted to give his whole Tantra collection to me. He must have had one of the most valuable and richest collections of Tantra paintings and Tantra art. He said to Laxmi, “I wanted to give it to him because he is the only man who will be able to understand it and know the meaning of it, but I was too afraid.” He said, “Just to be associated with him in any way may create trouble for me, so I finally donated my whole collection of a lifetime to the Indian government.”

I have loved these two books – but what to say about this man: Ajit Mukherjee or Ajit Mouse? Such fear! – and with such fear is it possible to understand Tantra? Impossible! What he has written is only intellectual. It is not, and cannot be, of the heart. He has no heart. I know even a mouse has a heart as far as physiology is concerned – but it is not a heart, it is only lungs. It is only man who has something more than lungs… a heart; and the heart grows only in the climate of courage, in love, in adventure. What a poor man! Still I appreciate his books. The mouse has done a tremendous work. These two books will always remain of immense significance to Tantra, and to seekers of truth. But forget and forgive Ajit Mouse – I mean Ajit Mukherjee.

Please remember that I am not against you, Ajit Mukherjee, nor anybody else. I am not an enemy to anybody in the world, although there are millions of people who regard me as their enemy. That is their business; I have nothing to do with it. Ajit Mukherjee, I love you because you have served Tantra well. Tantra needs many scholars, philosophers, painters, writers, poets, so that the ancient wisdom can become alive again, and you have helped a little.

bhaj-govindamSixth – this is the book I have always wanted to talk about; it is even scheduled for my morning talks in English. I have already spoken on it in Hindi and it can also be translated. The book is by Shankaracharya – not the present fool, but Adi Shankaracharya, the original one.

The book is one thousand years old, and is nothing but a small song: “Bhaj Govindam Moodh Mate – O Idiot….” Now, Devageet, listen carefully: I’m not talking to you, that is the title of the book. Bhaj Govindam – sing the song of the Lord – Moodh Mate, O Idiot. O Idiot, sing the song of the Lord.

But idiots don’t listen. They never listen to anybody, they are deaf. Even if they listen they don’t understand. They are imbeciles. Even if they can understand, they don’t follow; and unless you follow, understanding is meaningless. Understanding is understanding only when it is proved by your following.

Shankaracharya has written many books but none of them is so beautiful as this song: Bhaj Govindam Moodh Mate. I have spoken much on these three or four words, almost three hundred pages. But you know how I love to sing songs; if I have the opportunity I will go on endlessly. But here I wanted to at least mention the book.

old-journal-coverSeventh, another book by Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is also one of my love affairs. The name of the book is Philosophical Papers. It is not a book, but rather a collection of articles which appeared at different times. Each article is beautiful. Wittgenstein could not do otherwise. He had that capacity to produce beauty without being illogical, and also to write poetry in prose. I don’t think he ever thought of himself as a poet, but I declare him to be a poet of the first order. He is in the same category as Kalidas, Shakespeare, Milton or Goethe.

zen-flesh-zen-bonesSeventh: Paul Reps’ Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. It is a great work – not original in that he has not created it, but although not original it is far more significant than just a translation. It is a category in itself. In one way it is original, in another way a translation. It is a translation of old Zen anecdotes and original writing. I know because I have seen almost all the books written on and about Zen, and nothing compares to Paul Reps’ book. He has caught a glimpse. He has the same flavor as Basho or Rinzai.

The man is still alive somewhere in California. He has in this small book not only collected Zen anecdotes but also Vigyan Bhairav Tantra – the one hundred and twelve sutras of Shiva to Parvati, his beloved, in which Shiva talks about all the keys possible. I cannot conceive that there can be anything more to meditation than Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. One hundred and twelve keys are enough – they seem to be enough; one hundred and thirteen will not look like a right number. One hundred and twelve looks really esoteric, beautiful.

This book is very small, you can carry it in your pocket; it is a pocketbook. But you can also carry the Kohinoor in your pocket… although the Kohinoor is studded in the British crown, and you cannot carry that in your pocket. But the most beautiful thing about Paul Reps is that he has not added a single word of his own – which is incredible. He has simply translated, just translated – and not only translated, but he has brought the flower of Zen to the English language. That flower is not found in any other English writer on Zen. Even Suzuki has not been able to do it, because he was a Japanese. Although enlightened he could not bring the flavor of his enlightenment to his English books. Suzuki’s English is beautiful but very unenlightened, perhaps electrified but absolutely unenlightened.

Paul Reps has done an almost impossible task, being an American, and yet, I repeat, and yet getting the full flavor of Zen. And not only getting it for himself but bringing it in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones for the whole world too. The world should remain grateful to him forever, although he is not an enlightened person. That is why I say he has done an almost impossible task.

zen-buddhismNinth… I am waiting for you to rise a little higher, because I am going to talk about something which belongs to the heights, the ultimate heights. Good… but don’t stop. Good does not mean stop, it simply means go on, go on… charaiveti, charaiveti.

By the way, the book I am going to mention as the ninth is Christmas Humphries’ Zen Buddhism. Originally he wanted to call it Go On, Go On – as a translation of charaiveti, charaiveti – or Walk On, Walk On. But after all an Englishman is an Englishman; he finally dropped the idea and called the book Zen Buddhism.

The book is beautiful, but the title is ugly because Zen has nothing to do with any ‘ism’, Buddhism or any other. Zen Buddhism is not right as a title. Just Zen would have been enough. Humphries writes in his diary that he had chosen Charaiveti, Charaiveti as his first preference for the title, but then he thought it was too long. Walk On, Walk OnGo On, Go On. He changed the title and made it something ugly: Zen Buddhism. But the book is beautiful. It has introduced millions of Westerners to the world of Zen. It has served tremendously.

This man Humphries was a disciple of D.T.Suzuki, and he has served the master as nobody else has, particularly in the West. He remained devoted to Suzuki his whole life.

Gudia was saying to me yesterday that she had told Devageet that “If you live with Osho like me even for only one month, then you will know what it is – hard.” I know it is certainly hard. To be with an enlightened person is hard — and to be with one who has gone beyond that is even harder.

But Humphries proved to be really a disciple; he remained true and loyal and obedient to Suzuki to the very end of Suzuki’s life and his own. He did not waver for a single moment. You can find that unwavering spirit in his book.

songs-of-chandidasTenth… the last for this session. It is a very small book, known only to a very few people in the world, but it needs to be declared from the housetops to each and everyone. It is The Songs of Chandidas – a Bengali madman, a Baul. The word Baul means a madman. Chandidas danced and sang from village to village and nobody knows who collected his songs. It must have been someone with a great and generous spirit, so generous that he has not even mentioned his name.

The Songs of Chandidas… I feel in such awe. Just the name of Chandidas and my heart starts throbbing with a different beat. What a man he was, and what a poet! There have been thousands of poets, but Chandidas is of the same category as Solomon, not less than that. If Solomon can be compared to anybody then it is to Chandidas.

Chandidas’ songs sing of strange things – of God who does not exist. Chandidas also knows that God does not exist, but he sings about him because God only represents existence. God does not exist; he is existence.

Chandidas also sings of meditation, although nothing can be said about meditation – but still he says something, something which cannot be ignored. He says: Meditation is equivalent to no-mind. What a tremendous formula! Albert Einstein would have been jealous of Chandidas. Alas, Einstein knew nothing of Chandidas nor of meditation. One of the greatest men of this age, he was absolutely unaware of meditation. He was aware of everything except himself.

Chandidas sings songs of love, of awareness, of beauty, of nature. And there are a few songs which are not concerned with anything at all; just sheer joy, the very joy of singing — the meaning is not at all important.

That is my tenth and last book today.

Osho, Books I Have Loved, Ch 15

Previous sessions
1. Silence Speaks in Its Own Way
2. My Time Was Over Long ago
3. It Must Have Been a Conspiracy of the Gods
4. I am Facing the Immeasurable, the Unaccountable
5. Truth Needs No Commentary
6. Truth Is Unspeakable
7. It is Unsayable
8. The Miracle of All Miracles
9. You Have to be Rich to be Enlightened
10. That which cannot be spoken must not be spoken of
11. I Love All Absurdities
12. Just Be – That Is My Manifesto
13. Never Be An Imitator
14. Please Don’t Freak Out, Freak In

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