The Ancients said:
“(Self-)cultivation takes an unimaginable time (while) enlightenment in an instant is attained.”
Enlightenment is attained in a single moment. Why? – because you are already enlightened. You have simply forgotten it. You have to be reminded, that’s all.
The function of the Master is to remind you, not to give you a path but to give you a remembrance; not to give you methods of cultivation, not to give you a character, virtue, but only awareness, intelligence, awakening.
In a single moment it can be attained because you have never lost it in the first place. You are dreaming that you are unenlightened. You can dream you are in heaven, you can dream you are in hell. And you know! – you dream sometimes you are in heaven and sometimes in hell. In the morning you can be in heaven and by the evening you can be in hell. One moment you can be in heaven, another moment you can be in hell. It all depends on you. It is something to do with your psyche; it is not something outside you.
A man died, arrived at the Pearly Gates, and was shown by St. Peter to a waiting room. He sat there, naturally anxious to know whether he would be sent to Heaven or to Hell. The door opened and a famous saint walked in.
The man rejoiced, “I must be in Heaven!”
Just then the door opened again and a famous prostitute walked in. The man was confused. “In that case I must be in Hell!” he thought.
While he was still wondering, the saint grabbed the prostitute and started making love to her.
The man, flabbergasted, ran to St. Peter and asked, “You must tell me: is this Heaven or Hell?”
“Can’t you see?” answered St. Peter. “It is Heaven for him and Hell for her!”
Heaven and hell are not geographical; they are not something outside you, they are something that belongs to your interiority. If you are awake, then you are in a totally different universe; it is as if in your awakening the whole existence becomes awakened. It takes a new color, a new flavor, a new fragrance. When you are asleep, the whole existence sleeps with you. It all depends on you.
So the question is not of cultivating any character, of becoming virtuous, of becoming a saint. The question is how to come out of dreams, how to come out of the past and the future, how to be just herenow.
That’s what enlightenment is… “Ah, This!”
When Alice was at the Mad Hatter’s tea party, she noticed that no jam was available. She asked for jam, and the Mad Hatter said, “Jam is served every other day.”
Alice protested, “But there was no jam yesterday either!”
“That’s right,” said the Mad Hatter. “The rule is: always jam yesterday and jam tomorrow, never jam today…because today is not every other day!”
And that’s how you are living: jam yesterday, jam tomorrow, never jam today. And that’s where jam is! So you only imagine; you go on in a drugged, sleepy state. You have forgotten completely that this moment is the only real moment there is. And if you want to have any contact with reality, wake up herenow!
Osho, Ah This!, Ch 7