16. In Memory of Alan Watts

Books I Have Loved

How many books have I talked about in the P.P.S? Hmmm? “Forty, Osho.” Forty? “Yes, Osho.”

I am a stubborn man you know. I am going to end it at fifty whatsoever happens; otherwise I will start another P.P.P.S. My stubbornness has really repaid me: it has helped me to fight all kinds of nonsense that the world is full of. It has been of tremendous help in saving my own intelligence against the mediocrity that surrounds everyone everywhere. So I don’t feel at all sorry that I am stubborn; in fact, I thank God that he has made me this way: utterly stubborn.

long-pilgrimageThe first book is by Bennett, an Englishman, a perfect Englishman. The book is about an absolutely unknown Indian mystic, Shivapuri Baba. The world has come to know about him only through Bennett’s book.

Shivapuri Baba was certainly one of the rarest flowerings, particularly in India where so many idiots are pretending to be mahatmas. To find a man like Shivapuri Baba in India is really either luck or else a tremendous work of research. There are five hundred thousand mahatmas in India; that is the actual number. To find a real man among this crowd is almost impossible.

But Bennett was fortunate in many ways. He was also the first man to discover Gurdjieff. It was neither Ouspensky nor Nicoll, nor anyone other than Bennett. Bennett found Gurdjieff in a refugee camp in Constantinople. Those were the days of the Russian Revolution. Gurdjieff had to leave Russia; on the way he was shot twice before he escaped. Our styles are different, but in a strange way destiny may play the same game again….

Gurdjieff in a refugee camp! – just thinking of it, I can’t believe humanity can fall so low. Putting a Buddha, or Gurdjieff, Jesus or Bodhidharma in a refugee camp…. When Bennett discovered him, Gurdjieff was standing in a food queue. The food was given only once a day, and the queue was long. There were thousands of refugees who had left Russia because the communists were murdering people without any consideration who they were murdering, or for what. You will be surprised to know they murdered almost ten million Russians.

How did Bennett discover Gurdjieff? Gurdjieff sitting among his disciples would not be difficult to recognize, but Bennett recognized him in dirty rotten clothes, unwashed for many days. How did he recognize him in that queue? Those eyes, you cannot hide them. Those eyes… whether the man is sitting on a golden throne, or standing in a refugee camp, they are the same. Bennett brought Gurdjieff to the West.

Nobody thanks poor Bennett for it, and there is a reason… it is because he was a wavering kind of person. Bennett never betrayed Gurdjieff while he was alive… he did not dare. Those eyes were too much; he had twice seen their tremendous impact. He reports in his book on Gurdjieff – which is not a great book, that is why I am not going to count it, but I am just referring to it – Bennett says, “I came to Gurdjieff tired and exhausted after a long journey. I was sick, very sick, thinking I was going to die. I had come to see him only so that before I die I could see those two eyes again… my last experience.”

He came to Gurdjieff’s room. Gurdjieff looked at him, stood up, came close and hugged him. Bennett could not believe it… it was not Gurdjieff’s way. If he had slapped him that would have been more expected, but he hugged him! But there was more to the hug… the moment Gurdjieff touched him, Bennett felt a tremendous upsurge of energy. At the same time he saw Gurdjieff turning pale. Gurdjieff sat down; then with great difficulty stood up and went to the bathroom, saying to Bennett, “Don’t be worried, just wait for ten minutes and I will be back, the same as ever.”

Bennett says, “I have never felt such a wellbeing, such health, such power. It seemed I could do anything.”

It is felt by many people who take drugs – LSD or marijuana and other drugs – that under their impact they feel they can do anything. One woman thought she could fly, so she flew out of a window on the thirtieth floor of a New York building… you can conclude what happened… not even pieces of the woman were found.

Bennett says, “I felt I could do everything. At that moment I understood the famous statement by Napoleon: ‘Nothing is impossible.’ I not only understood it but felt I could do anything I wanted. But I knew it was Gurdjieff’s compassion. I was dying, and he had saved me.”

This happened twice… again a few years later. In the East this is called ‘the transmission’; the energy can jump from one flame to another lamp which is dying. Even though such great experiences happened to him, Bennett was a wavering man. He could not waver and betray like Ouspensky, but when Gurdjieff died, then he betrayed.

He started looking for another master. What a misfortune! – I mean misfortune for Bennett. It was good for others, because that was how he came to find Shivapuri Baba. But Shivapuri Baba, howsoever great, is nothing compared to Gurdjieff. I cannot believe it of Bennett… and he was a scientist, a mathematician… only that gives me the clue. The scientist has almost always behaved foolishly outside his own specific field.

I always define science as “knowing more and more about less and less,” and religion as “knowing less and less about more and more.” The culmination of science will be knowing everything about nothing, and the culmination of religion will be knowing all… not knowing about all, simply knowing… not about – just knowing. Science will end in ignorance; religion will end in enlightenment.

All the scientists, even the great ones, have proved foolish in many ways outside their specific field. They behave childishly. Bennett was a scientist and mathematician of a certain standing, but he wavered, he missed. He started looking for another master again. And it is not that he remained with Shivapuri either.

Shivapuri Baba was a very old man when Bennett met him. He was almost one hundred and ten years old. He was really made of steel. He lived for almost one and a half centuries. He was seven feet tall and one hundred and fifty years old and still there was no sign that he was going to die. He decided to leave the body, it was his decision.


Shivapuri was a silent man, he did not teach. Particularly a man who had known Gurdjieff and his tremendous teaching would find it very ordinary to be with Shivapuri Baba. Bennett wrote his book and started searching again for a master. Shivapuri Baba was not even dead yet.

Then, in Indonesia, Bennett found Mohammed Subud, the founder of the movement called Subud. ‘Subud’ is a short form of Sushil-Buddha-Dharma; it is just the first letter of these three words. What foolishness! Bennett started introducing Mohammed Subud, a very good man, but not a master… nothing even compared to Shivpuri Baba… no question arises about Gurdjieff. Bennett brought Mohammed Subud to the West, and started introducing him as the successor to Gurdjieff. Now this is utter stupidity….

But Bennett writes beautifully, mathematically, systematically. His best book is Shivapuri Baba. Although Bennett was a fool, even if you allow a monkey to sit at a typewriter once in a while he may come upon something beautiful – perhaps a statement which only a buddha could make – just by knocking the typewriter keys here and there. But he will not understand what he has written.

Bennett continued in this way. Soon he became disillusioned with Mohammed Subud and started searching for yet another master. Poor fellow, his whole life he was searching and searching unnecessarily. He had already found the right man in Gurdjieff. He has written about Gurdjieff, and what he says is beautiful, efficient, but his heart is dark, there is no light in it. Still, I count his book as one of the best. You can see that I am impartial.

listen-little-manSecond… this is a strange book, nobody reads it. You may not even have heard about it, yet it was written in America. The book is Listen Little Man,  by Wilhelm Reich. It is a very small book, but it reminds one of the Sermon of the Mount, Tao Te Ching, Thus Spake Zarathustra, The Prophet. In reality Reich was not of that status to write such a book, but he must have been possessed by some unknown spirit….

Listen Little Man created much antagonism towards Reich, particularly among the professional psychoanalysts, his colleagues, because he was calling everyone “little man” – and he was thinking he was so great? I want to tell you: he was! Not in the sense of a buddha, but in the same sense as Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Assagioli… he belongs to the same category. He was a great man – of course still a man, not superman, but great. And it was not out of his egoism that this book was born; he could not help it. He had to write it. It is almost like when a woman is pregnant, she has to give birth to the child. He carried this small book within himself for years, resisting the idea of writing it because he knew perfectly well it was going to create hell for him… and it did. After that book he was condemned from every corner.

To create anything great in this world is a crime. Man has not changed at all. Socrates he kills, Reich he kills. No change. They condemned Reich as mad and imprisoned him. He died in jail, condemned, reduced to a madman. He had the capacity to rise beyond the clouds, but he was not allowed. America still has to learn to live with people like Socrates, Jesus, Buddha….

This book should be meditated upon by all my sannyasins. I recommend it without any conditions at all.

principia-mathematicaThird is a book written by Bertrand Russell and Whitehead together. Nobody reads it. The title is Principia Mathematica. Just the name is enough to make people afraid, and the book must be the most difficult in existence. Hence, I worked on that book as much as possible. Anything difficult always allures me. The book is enchanting and challenging, but I will not recommend it to my sannyasins. Avoid it! I went through those thousands of pages and found nothing but mathematics. Unless you are interested in mathematics, particularly higher mathematics, that is another matter. I wanted to include it because it is a masterpiece – of mathematics.

poeticsFourth… is that the number?
“Yes, Osho.”

You will be surprised that my fourth choice is Aristotle’s Poetics. I am a born enemy of Aristotle. I call the man Aristotlitis… a kind of disease, incurable. Devaraj, there is no medicine for it. Asheesh, your migraine is nothing; thank God you are not suffering from Aristotlitis; that is a real cancer.

Aristotle is thought to be the father of Western philosophy and logic… he certainly is, but only of philosophy and logic, not of the real thing. The real thing comes from Socrates, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Diogenes and Dionysius, but not from Aristotle. But it is strange, he wrote a beautiful book – and this is one of the books not studied by the Aristotelian scholars – Poetics. I had to search for it among his many books. I was just looking to see whether I could find something beautiful in this man too, and when I found Poetics, a book of just a few pages, I was thrilled… the man also had a heart. He had written everything else from his head, but this book was from the heart. Of course it is about the essence of poetry… poetics, and the essence of poetry cannot be anything other than the essence of love. It is the fragrance, not of intellect, but of intuition. I recommend this book.

the-world-of-zenFifth. There are so many books standing before me that it is very hard to choose, but I choose Ross’ Tree Pillars of Zen *). Many people have written about Zen – including Suzuki, who knew it the most – but Tree Pillars of Zen is the most beautiful book written about Zen. Remember my emphasis, ‘about’, because Ross has no experience of it. In fact, that makes it even more wonderful: that without any experience, just from studying books and visiting monasteries in Japan, she wrote a masterpiece.

There is only one thing I want to say to Ross: in Zen there are not three pillars, not even a single pillar. Zen has no pillars. It is not a temple, it is pure no-thing-ness. It needs no pillars at all. If she publishes the book again she should change the title. Tree Pillars of Zen looks good, but it is not true to the spirit of Zen. But the book is written in a very scientific way. Those who want to understand Zen intellectually cannot find a better book.

gospel-of-ramakrishnaSixth: My choice for the sixth is a strange man’s book. He calls himself ‘M’. I know his real name, but he never allowed anyone to know it. His name is Mahendranath. He was a Bengali, a disciple of Ramakrishna.

Mahendranath sat at Ramakrishna’s feet for many many years, and went on writing down whatsoever was happening around his master. The book is known as The Gospel Of Ramakrishna, but written by M. He never wanted to disclose his name, he wanted to remain anonymous. That is the way of a true disciple. He effaced himself utterly.

The day Ramakrishna died, you will be surprised, M died too. There was nothing more for him to live for. I can understand… after Ramakrishna it would have been far more difficult to live than to die. Death was more blissful than to live without his master.

There have been many masters, but there has never been such a disciple as M to report about the master. He does not come into it anywhere. He was just reporting – not about himself and Ramakrishna, but only about Ramakrishna. He no longer exists in front of the master. I love this man and his book, and his tremendous effort to efface himself. It is rare to find a disciple like M. Ramakrishna was far more fortunate in this than Jesus.

I know his real name because I have traveled in Bengal, and Ramakrishna was alive at the end of the last century, so I could find out the name of this man Mahendranath.

upadesasahasriSeventh: There was an Indian mystic just at the beginning of this century. I don’t think he was an enlightened man, because he committed three mistakes; otherwise his collected works are beautiful, pure poetry… but those three mistakes have to be remembered. Even a man like Ramatirtha can also commit such stupid mistakes.

He was in America. He was a man with charisma and he was worshipped. When he went back to India he thought he should first go to Varanasi, the citadel of the Hindu religion… the Jerusalem of the Hindus… their Mecca. He was certain that if the Americans have respected him so much, then certainly the brahmins of Varanasi are going to worship him like a god. He was wrong. When he spoke in Varanasi one brahmin stood up and said, “Before you proceed further, please answer my question. Do you know Sanskrit?”

Ramatirtha had been talking about the ultimate reality, and this brahmin had asked him, “Do you know Sanskrit? If you don’t then you have no right to speak about ultimate reality. First go and study Sanskrit.”

There was nothing wrong with the brahmin; all over the world brahmins are like that. What surprises me is that Ramatirtha started to study Sanskrit. That shocks me. He should have told the brahmin, “Get lost, along with all your Vedas and your Sanskrit! I don’t care. I know the truth, why should I bother to know Sanskrit?”

Ramatirtha did not know Sanskrit, that is true, and there is no need either – but he felt the need. That is the first thing I want you to remember. His books are very poetic, exhilarating, ecstatic… but the man is missing somewhere.

Secondly, when his wife came to see him from faraway Punjab he refused. He had never refused any other woman, why did he refuse his own wife? Because he was afraid. He was still attached. I feel sorry for him: renouncing his wife, yet still afraid.

Third, he committed suicide – although Hindus don’t call it that, they call it “dissolving oneself in the Ganges.” You can give beautiful names to ugly things.

Except for these three things Ramatirtha’s books are valuable, but if you forget these three things you may start thinking of him as if he is enlightened. He speaks as if he was an enlightened man, but it is only “as if”.

principia-ethicaEighth: G.E.Moore’s Principia Ethica. I have loved this book. It is a great exercise in logic. He spends two hundred or more pages just considering one question: “What is good?” – and coming to the conclusion that “good” is indefinable. Great! But he did his homework, he did not just jump to the conclusion as mystics do. He was a philosopher. He went step by step, gradually, but he came to the same conclusion as the mystics.

“Good” is indefinable, so is “beauty,” so is “God.” In fact all that is of any worth is indefinable. Note it! If anything can be defined that means it is worthless. Unless you come to the indefinable, you have not come to anything worthwhile.

rahimNinth: I have left The Songs of Rahim from my list but I cannot any longer. He was a Mohammedan, but his songs are written in Hindi so Mohammedans don’t like him, they don’t take any note of him. Hindus don’t like him because he was a Mohammedan. I may be the only person who respects him. His full name is Rahim Khan Khana. His songs are of the same height and same depth as Kabir, Meera, Sahajo or Chaitanya. Why did he write in Hindi? Being a Mohammedan he could have written in Urdu, and Urdu is a far more beautiful language than Hindi. But he chose knowingly; he wanted to fight the Mohammedan orthodoxy.

diwanTenth, Mirza Ghalib, the greatest Urdu poet… and not only the greatest Urdu poet, but perhaps there is no other poet in any language of the world who can be compared with him. His book is called Diwan. Diwan simply means a collection of poems. He is difficult to read, but if you can make a little effort it pays immensely. It is as if each line contains a whole book. And that is the beauty of Urdu. I say no other language can contain so much in such a small space. Just two sentences are enough to contain a whole book. It is magical! Mirza Ghalib is the magician of that language.

the-bookEleventh, and the last – Alan Watts’ The Book. I have been saving it. Alan Watts was not a buddha, but he could be one day. He has moved closer to it. The Book is tremendously important. It is his testament; his whole experience with Zen masters, Zen classics… and he is a man of tremendous intelligence. He was also a drunkard. Intelligence plus wine have really created a juicy book. I have loved The Book and I have saved it for the last.

Do you remember Jesus’ saying, “Blessed are those who stand at the last”? Yes, this book is blessed. I bless it, and I would like this series of sessions to be in memory of Alan Watts.

Osho, Books I Have Loved, Session 16

Note by Osho News:
We were unable to verify title and writer as given by Osho. As he speaks of Ross as a woman, we are showing the book by Nancy Wilson Ross, entitled The World of Zen. The title Three Pillars of Zen was used by male writer Roshi Philip Kapleau.

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
15. I Am Waiting For You To Rise A Little Higher

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