Q: Does an enlightened person always remain enlightened or can he become unenlightened also?
The question is from Deva Swarup Yogiraj.
Even an unenlightened person remains enlightened. The only difference is that he does not know it. The enlightened person knows it, and there is no way to drop that which you have known. Enlightenment is your nature, it is not something that you can put on and put off. It is not something like a dress, that you can change. It is your very core, it is your being. Enlightenment is your being. If you don’t know it you can go on behaving in an unenlightened way. The day you know it, then there is no way to behave in an unenlightened way. Once you have known, you have known.
But an enlightened person can pretend. He can pretend that he is not enlightened – that freedom is available. Gurdjieff used to do that very much – to pretend that he is not enlightened. In outrageous ways. One of the disciples has reported that he had to travel with him in a train, and the whole night he disturbed all the passengers. And the conductors and the stationmasters and the porters. And he went on drinking and shouting and moving from here to there, and the disciple was just worried what to do and was apologizing to this one and that. And the whole night he did that – purposely.
And by the morning he was very happy with the disciple, because not for a single moment did the disciple lose the feel for the master. Not for a single moment could Gurdjieff make the disciple forget that he is with an enlightened man. He was immensely happy. He said, “You have won. You passed through a great examination.” There was every possibility to forget for a moment: What type of man is this? Is he enlightened? And what is he doing? Even an unenlightened person wouldn’t do this much. If you want to drink you drink and just go to sleep. But he went on drinking. And he was shouting and moving from one corner of the train to another corner, shouting and waking people and abusing people. And the disciple was afraid somebody might start beating him. And the police came at one station, and the stationmaster came: “We want to take this man off. And he has to apologise.” He said, “We have to reach to the other place, and I have to take care of him. And he is a great man – you just don’t know his ways.”
He would drink too much and then he would drive; then he would insist to drive. And disciples would be sitting. And he would go faster and faster and everybody was just on the brink of ‘any moment death is going to happen’. But still they had to remember that he is enlightened. And he would abuse people in a very vulgar way, and the disciple had to remember continuously. That was the kind of situation he would create for their remembrance.
Because when I am polite with you and very gentle with you and you feel ‘Our master is great’, that is nothing. But when I am not polite with you, not gentle – rough – then to remember that your master is beautiful is difficult, very difficult. One loses the track. And he would do such contradictory things, illogical things. He would tell you to dig a hole in the ground, and for twelve hours with no break you would be digging the hole – tired, perspiring, hungry, thirsty. And he would not allow you to go anywhere, you had to dig the hole. And after twelve hours he comes and says, “Now fill it back in.”
Now it is very natural to get angry that this is foolish: Then why? But that is the whole point. A master should not be asked why. If you ask the master why, you have not accepted him as the master. Then your relationship remains of reason. And reason cannot relate with a master. It is a deep trust, the relationship is of love and trust. If he says it, then it must be so, then there must be something in it. And there was something in it. He was pushing your button in every way – and if you become angry you miss the point.
And that’s what happened with Mr Lewis, he missed the point. He does not know that he cannot love Gurdjieff more than I love Gurdjieff. But I had to hit – and the only way to hit him was to talk about Gurdjieff as if I am against him. That was the only way to hit him. It is very easy if I say something against you, you can tolerate it. But if I say something against your master, it becomes difficult. It becomes impossible to tolerate. Your master is your more subtle ego. If I had said, “Mr Lewis, you are wrong,” he would have accepted it. But if I say “Mr Lewis, Gurdjieff is wrong,” that is impossible. Gurdjieff wrong? And thirty years wasted? He immediately escaped.
An enlightened person can pretend. But an enlightened person cannot become unenlightened again.
Osho, This Very Body the Buddha, Ch 8, Q 6