Listening is a positive silence


Osho says in darshan, “Listen to people. You will learn much about them, about you. Listen to people and you will feel an opening.”

Osho Darshan (28)

Viyogi (a Dutch sannyasin resident in the ashram): I’m experiencing a lot of frustration. I’m feeling anger and a helplessness, and feel that I am hiding myself from people. I feel that I am not very open and that I’m defensive.

Osho: How did these negative emotions start?

Viyogi: Well, when I’m with people I feel I’d like to say something but that nobody is listening. Then I get hostile and put people down.

Learn to listen rather than talk; then you will enjoy people more. When you are with somebody, become a good listener. There is no need to say much, because in fact there is nothing to say. If you say empty words, nobody listens to you. So rather than getting angry with them find out if you have anything to say. What exactly do you want to relate? What is there to say? Before one can say something, one has to attain something.

Before you can sing a song, a song must arise in your heart, otherwise your singing will be superficial. There will be no throb of the heart in it and nobody will want to listen to it. People don’t listen to words; they are fed up with them. Everybody is throwing words at them. They are all doing the same. It is almost like a volley-ball match with people throwing words at each other. People are fed up with words. Just try to be silent with people, but not negatively silent – that’s why I say listen.

Listening is a positive silence. You are intent, attentive. You are not disinterested, you are not indifferent. You are not yawning and looking at your watch; you are really listening. You are giving your whole heart to them, opening yourself.

Listen to people. You will learn much about them, about you. Listen to people and you will feel an opening. A great warmth will arise in you – whatsoever they are saying; that is not the point. Just pay them attention, participate with them and allow them to feel that they have been listened to. You will see that people will think you are a good talker. They will say to people ‘Viyogi is such a good talker. He talks so beautifully’ – and you have not said a single word! You may have said yes or no or something like that, but they will carry the impression that you are a very very good conversationalist. They are seeking, just as you are, somebody who is ready to listen to them.

[Osho said that this is all psychoanalysis is about — paying people to listen to you because nobody else has time.]

Bertrand Russell has written a story about the twenty-first century and there being a whole world full of psychoanalysts – each neighbourhood having a psychoanalyst because nobody will be listening to anybody. You will have to pay someone because you have to unburden your heart. The old days will be gone when people were ready to listen to whatsoever you wanted to say.

The problem is the same for everyone. You think they are not listening to you. They think you are not listening to them. Nobody is listening, that’s true, because everybody wants to unburden himself. He wants you to be receptive so that he can unburden himself. Rather than finding you receptive, he finds you aggressive. You are trying to unburden yourself… he escapes.

Talk as little as possible – just a few words in between to help the person to go on talking and so that he doesn’t feel awkward. Just a word here and there to provoke him, to reassure him that you are listening. Just nodding the head will do. You will feel much opening.

The second thing to understand is that unless you are enjoying yourself, sooner or later you will feel frustrated. People don’t know how to enjoy themselves. They know many other things: how to go to a movie and enjoy it, how to make love to a woman and enjoy it, how to eat good food and enjoy it – but nobody seems to know how to just enjoy themselves.

You can see movies but you will get fed up. You can move with women but you will get fed up because it is the same repetition again and again. You can read a few stories and novels but again you will get fed up because it is the same triangle and the same love story. Only details change, but the whole gestalt remains the same. By and by the food is the same; it is the same morning and evening – everything continues. It is a routine, unless you can enjoy yourself – because you are the source of constant renewal, resurrection. Within your innermost core, new life is happening every moment. It is an explosion, an ongoing explosion.

Unless you start enjoying it, nothing is going to help; all are just postponements. You can push frustration a little further away but again it will be there waiting for you.

So start enjoying yourself. Just sitting silently, feel delighted. Just looking at the stars, for no particular reason, start singing or dancing. And don’t think that this is mad. People have a very curious notion. If they are happy for no reason at all they are thought to be mad. People say that you must have some reason to be happy.

As I see it, happiness should be just a natural state of affairs. You are alive – that’s enough. You should be happy. To be alive is enough reason to be happy, to rejoice.

If people ask you why you are happy, you simply say because you are alive! But people think that we must have some other cause: you have won a lottery or have won something in a horse race; you have a new girlfriend or you have become famous; you have become a Nobel Prize winner or something. These people can never really be happy. Their happiness is just like lightning; it comes and goes. It is nothing that you can be nourished by. It is nothing that you can breathe in and out.

So start being happy for no reason at all. Even you will think that something is going wrong; there is no reason to be happy. But I say just being alive is enough.

In the Bible, one of the most repeated words is ‘rejoice’; almost nine hundred times. Again and again ‘rejoice’, ‘joy’, ‘delight’ – or other synonyms for the same word. And the meaning of the word rejoice is beautiful: you simply rejoice because you are. Try it and get in tune with it.

Again the morning has come. Rejoice and thank God because one day there will be no morning. Again the night is full of stars. Rejoice and dance under it because one day you will not be there and the dance will not be possible. A night has been given to you again. Why waste it?

And this enjoyment should be simple, unreasonable, irrational. And it should not have anything to do with anybody else. It should be simply within you, the flame of it. And when you can rejoice alone, you can relate; you will have something to say.

Even your silence will become pregnant. Even if you sit silently by someone, he will feel your presence. He will be filled by your presence. He will be touched by you, invoked, invited to your innermost shrine. He will become a guest in you. Whether you say anything or not is irrelevant. Even silence says much when you have something to say.

And when you don’t have anything to say, you go on talking; those words are empty. They are not pregnant with life. They really don’t belong to you; they have not arisen out of you. They don’t carry any part of you, are not full of your presence.

So first create an aura of rejoicing around you, a milieu, an atmosphere. Then you can create it alone; nobody is needed. And when you are happy you will feel that people are attracted towards you, are pulled almost magnetically. Something inner starts pulling one. Who does not want to be happy? And who does not want to be with a man who is happy? The happy man has become such a rarity.

People go on tolerating unhappy people because what else can one do? Those are the only people available. Become happy and then you will see that even your silence is heard, to say nothing of your words. People simply feel good when they are close to you and then you become open. These are reciprocal things. When your presence makes others happy, their happiness makes you more happy. This goes on and on to higher waves.

Osho, Beloved of My Heart, Ch 25

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