Comments on Atisha’s sutras, from the ‘The Book of Wisdom’.
Train in joining, sending and taking together. Do this by riding the breath.
Now he says: Start being compassionate. And the method is, when you breathe in – listen carefully, it is one of the greatest methods – when you breathe in, think that you are breathing in all the miseries of all the people in the world. All the darkness, all the negativity, all the hell that exists anywhere, you are breathing it in. And let it be absorbed in your heart.
You may have read or heard about the so-called positive thinkers of the West. They say just the opposite – they don’t know what they are saying. They say, “When you breathe out, throw out all your misery and negativity; and when you breathe in, breathe in joy, positivity, happiness, cheerfulness.”
Atisha’s method is just the opposite: when you breathe in, breathe in all the misery and suffering of all the beings of the world – past, present and future. And when you breathe out, breathe out all the joy that you have, all the blissfulness that you have, all the benediction that you have. Breathe out, pour yourself into existence. This is the method of compassion: drink in all the suffering and pour out all the blessings.
And you will be surprised if you do it. The moment you take all the sufferings of the world inside you, they are no longer sufferings. The heart immediately transforms the energy. The heart is a transforming force: drink in misery, and it is transformed into blissfulness… then pour it out.
Once you have learned that your heart can do this magic, this miracle, you would like to do it again and again. Try it. It is one of the most practical methods – simple, and it brings immediate results. Do it today, and see.[…]
Try this beautiful method of compassion: take in all the misery and pour out all the joy.
Train in joining, sending and taking together. Do this by riding the breath. Three objects, three poisons, three bases of virtue.
There are three objects which can either function as three poisons or can become three bases of infinite virtue. Atisha is talking of the inner alchemy. The poison can become the nectar, the baser metal can be transformed into gold.
What are these three objects? The first is aversion, the second is attachment, and the third is indifference. This is how the mind functions. You feel aversion to whatsoever you dislike, you feel attachment to whatsoever you like, and you feel indifferent to things which you neither dislike nor like. These are the three objects. Between these three, the mind exists. These are the three legs of the tripod called the mind: aversion, attachment and indifference. And if you live in these three as they are, you are living in poison.
This is how we have created a hell out of life. Aversion, dislike, hatred, repulsion – that creates one-third of your hell. Attachment, liking, clinging, possessiveness – that creates the second one-third of your hell. And indifference to all that you are neither attracted to nor repulsed by – that creates the third part, the third one-third of your hell.
Just watch your mind, this is how your mind functions. It is always saying, “I like this, I don’t like that, and I am indifferent to the third.” These are the three ways the mind goes on moving. This is the rut, the routine.
Atisha says: These are the three poisons, but they can become the three bases of virtue. How can they become three bases of great virtue? If you bring in the quality of compassion, if you learn the art of absorbing suffering, as if all the suffering of the world is coming riding on the breath, then how can you be repulsed? How can you dislike anything and how can you be indifferent to anything? And how can you be attached to anything? If you are unconditionally taking in all the suffering in the world, drinking it, absorbing it in your heart, and then instead of it pouring blessings onto the whole of existence unconditionally – not to somebody in particular, remember; not only to man but to all: to all beings, trees and rocks and birds and animals, to the whole existence, material, immaterial – when you are pouring out blessings unconditionally, how can you be attached?
Attachment, aversion, indifference: all disappear with this small technique. And with their disappearance the poison is transformed into nectar, and the bondage becomes freedom, and the hell is no more a hell, it is heaven.
In these moments you come to know: This very body the buddha, this very earth the lotus paradise.
Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 1 (excerpt)
Start with yourself
Begin the development of taking with yourself.
Let me remind you, in the last sutra Atisha was saying that when you take the breath in, let it become your meditation that all the suffering of all the beings in the world is riding on that incoming breath and reaching your heart. Absorb all that suffering, pain and misery in your heart, and see a miracle happen.
Whenever you absorb somebody else’s misery, pain and suffering, the moment you absorb it, it is transformed. The natural tendency is to avoid it; the natural tendency is to protect yourself against suffering. The natural tendency is to keep aloof, not to sympathize, not to empathize. People, even when they sympathize, sympathize only formally. They pay lip-service; they don’t mean it. If they really meant it, they could have helped the other person. They could have absorbed his suffering, they could have drunk his suffering. […]
Atisha says before you can do this with the whole existence, you will have to start first with yourself. This is one of the fundamental secrets of inner growth. You cannot do anything with others that you have not done in the first place with yourself. You can hurt others if you hurt yourself, you will be a pain in the necks of others if you are a pain in the neck to yourself, you can be a blessing to others only if you are a blessing to yourself.
Whatsoever you can do with others, you must have done to yourself before, because that is the only thing that you can share. You can share only that which you have; you cannot share that which you don’t have.
Begin the development of taking with yourself.
Rather than starting by taking the whole misery of the world and absorbing it in the heart, start with your own misery. Don’t go into the deep sea so fast; learn swimming in shallow water. And if you immediately start taking the misery of the whole existence, it will remain simply an experiment in speculation. It won’t be real, it can’t be real. It will be just verbal.
You can say to yourself, “Yes, I am taking the misery of the whole world” – but what do you know of the misery of the whole world? You have not even experienced your own misery.
We go on avoiding our own misery. If you feel miserable, you put on the radio or the tv and you become engaged. You start reading the newspaper so that you can forget your misery, or you go to the movies, or you go to your woman or your man. You go to the club, you go shopping in the market, just somehow to keep yourself away from yourself, so that you need not see the wound, so that you need not look at how much it hurts within.
People go on avoiding themselves. What do they know of misery? How can they think of the misery of the whole existence? First, you have to begin with yourself. If you are feeling miserable, let it become a meditation. Sit silently, close the doors. First feel the misery with as much intensity as possible. Feel the hurt. Somebody has insulted you. Now, the best way to avoid the hurt is to go and insult him, so that you become occupied with him. That is not meditation.
If somebody has insulted you, feel thankful to him that he has given you an opportunity to feel a deep wound. He has opened a wound in you. The wound may be created by many many insults that you have suffered in your whole life; he may not be the cause of all the suffering, but he has triggered a process.
Just close your room, sit silently, with no anger for the person but with total awareness of the feeling that is arising in you – the hurt feeling that you have been rejected, that you have been insulted. And then you will be surprised that not only is this man there: all the men and all the women and all the people that have ever insulted you will start moving in your memory.
You will start not only remembering them, you will start reliving them. You will be going into a kind of primal. Feel the hurt, feel the pain, don’t avoid it. […]
The first thing to do is close your doors and stop any kind of occupation – looking at the TV, listening to the radio, reading a book. Stop all occupation, because that too is a subtle drug. Just be silent, utterly alone. Don’t even pray, because that again is a drug, you are becoming occupied, you start talking to God, you start praying, you escape from yourself.
Atisha is saying: Just be yourself. Whatsoever the pain of it and whatsoever the suffering of it, let it be so. First experience it in its total intensity. It will be difficult, it will be heart-rending. You may start crying like a child, you may start rolling on the ground in deep pain, your body may go through contortions. You may suddenly become aware that the pain is not only in the heart, it is all over the body – that it is aching all over, that it is painful all over, that your whole body is nothing but pain.
If you can experience it – this is of tremendous importance – then start absorbing it. Don’t throw it away. It is such a valuable energy, don’t throw it away. Absorb it, drink it, accept it, welcome it, feel grateful to it. And say to yourself, “This time I’m not going to avoid it, this time I’m not going to reject it, this time I’m not going to throw it away. This time I will drink it and receive it like a guest. This time I will digest it.”
It may take a few days for you to be able to digest it, but the day it happens, you have stumbled upon a door which will take you really far far away. A new journey has started in your life, you are moving into a new kind of being – because immediately, the moment you accept the pain with no rejection anywhere, its energy and its quality changes. It is no longer pain. In fact one is simply surprised, one cannot believe it, it is so incredible. One cannot believe that suffering can be transformed into ecstasy, that pain can become joy. […]
Whenever anything is total it turns into its opposite. This is a great secret to be remembered. Whenever something is total it changes into its opposite, because there is no way to go any further; the cul-de-sac has arrived.
Watch an old clock with a pendulum. It goes on and on: the pendulum goes to the left, to the extreme left, and then there is a point beyond which it cannot go, then it starts moving towards the right.
Opposites are complementaries. If you can suffer your suffering in totality, in great intensity, you will be surprised: Saul becomes Paul. You will not be able to believe it when it happens for the first time, that your own suffering absorbed willingly, welcomingly, becomes a great blessing. The same energy that becomes hate becomes love, the same energy that becomes pain becomes pleasure, the same energy that becomes suffering becomes bliss.
But start with your own self.
Make a small experiment with your own pains, sufferings and miseries. And once you have found the key, then you can share it with the whole existence. Then you can take all the suffering of all the world, or all the worlds.
Ride on the incoming breath and your small heart is bigger than the whole universe, if you know what miracles it can do. And then pour out your blessings. It is the same energy passing through your heart that becomes bliss, that becomes a blessing. Then let blessings go riding on the outgoing breath to all the nooks and corners of existence.
Atisha says: This is compassion. Compassion is to become a transforming force in existence – transforming the ugly into the beautiful, kissing the frog and transforming it into a prince, transforming darkness into light. To become such a medium of transformation is compassion.
Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 5 (excerpt)