“Life is millions of processes,” says Osho, answering Nirgrantha’s question.
The first question is from Anand Nirgrantha.
You say that Buddha would not speak of god because it cannot be proven. Yet in the next breath he speaks of other lives, and reincarnation. How does this fit into scientific fact?
A Buddha says there is no soul. What is it that remains after death? What is reincarnation? I vaguely understand that it can be the formless that remains, but can that have an individual entity? The same wave is not reborn.
The question is very significant. It is one of the most fundamental contributions of Buddha to human consciousness – the idea of no-self. It is very complex. You will have to be very silently alert to understand it, because it goes against all the patterns that you have been conditioned to.
First a few analogies, so you have a certain idea what he means by no-self. Your body is a bag of skin. The skin defines your body; it defines where you and the world starts. It is a demarcation around you. It protects you from the world, it divides you from the world, and it allows you only certain apertures to enter into the world or let the world enter in you. If there is no skin, you will not be able to exist. You will be losing your boundaries with all that surrounds you. But you are not your skin. And skin goes on changing.
It is just like the snake who goes on getting out of his old skin again and again. You also get out of your skin again and again many times. If you ask the physiologists, they will say, ‘If a man is going to live seventy years, then nearly ten times he will change his skin completely.’ But the process is very slow, so you never become aware. Such a tiny part changes every moment that you cannot feel it; your feeling is not so subtle. The change is very subtle. The skin goes on changing and still you go on thinking to yourself that this is your body, the same body. It is not the same body, it is a continuum.
When you were in your mother’s womb, the first day you were just a small cell, invisible to the naked eye. That was your skin that time, that was your body. Then you started growing. After nine months you were born – then you had a totally different body. If suddenly you come across yourself just one day old, just born, you will not be able to recognize that this is you. You have changed so much. But still you think you are the same. In a way you are the same because you are the same continuity. In a way you are not the same because you have been continuously changing.
In the same way, just like the skin, is the ego. The skin holds your body into a pattern, into a definition, into a limit. The ego holds the contents of your mind into a limit. The ego is the inner skin so that you know who you are; otherwise you will be lost – you will not know who is who; who is me and who is the other.
The idea of self, I, ego, gives you a definition, a utilitarian definition. It makes you clearly separate from others. But that too is a skin, a very subtle skin, that holds all the contents of your mind – your memory, your past, your desires, your plans, your future, your present, your love, your hate, anger, sadness, happiness – it holds all that in a bag. But you are not that ego either. Because that too goes on changing and that changes more than the bodily skin. Each moment it is changing.
Buddha uses the analogy of a flame. A lamp is lighted: you see the flame, but it is continuously changing, it is never the same. By the morning when you put the light off, you don’t put the same flame off. It has been continuously changing the whole night.
Every single moment the flame is disappearing in the smoke and the new flame is replacing it. But the replacement is so fast that you cannot see the absence – that one flame has gone, another has come. That is gone, another has come. The movement is so fast that you cannot see the gap between the two. Otherwise there is only a continuity; it is not the same flame. But still, in a way, it is the same flame because it is the continuity of the same flame. It is born out of the same flame.
Just as you were born out of your parents – you are a continuity. You are not the same. You are not your father, you are not your mother – but still you are your father and your mother, because you continue the same tradition, the same line, the same heritage.
Buddha says the ego is a continuity, it is not a substance – continuity like a flame, continuity like a river, continuity like the body.
The problem arises… we can concede to it that okay, it may be so: if a person dies at death and everything disappears, then perfectly true – maybe it is just a flame. But Buddha says a person is reborn – then the problem arises. Then who is reborn?
Then again, a few analogies. Have you seen a big house on fire, or a jungle on fire? If you watch you will come to see a phenomenon. Simply a flame jumps from one tree and reaches to another tree. It has no substance in it, it is just a flame. It has no material in it, it is just pure energy, a quanta of energy, a certain quantity of energy – it jumps from one tree and reaches to the other and the other is on fire.
Or, you can bring an unlighted torch close to a lighted torch. What happens? The flame from the lighted torch jumps to the unlighted torch. It is a quantum leap, it is a jump. The pure flame jumps towards the other torch and starts another continuity.
Or, right now you are listening to me. If you put a radio on, suddenly you will start listening to a certain broadcast from some station that is passing right now. Just a receiver set is needed. Once a receiver set is there, something that is being broadcast from London or from Moscow or Peking, you can catch hold of it.
No substance is coming, just pure thought waves jumping from Peking to Poona… just thought waves, nothing substantial. You cannot hold them in your hand, you cannot see them, but they are there because your radio set catches them, or your television catches them.
Buddha says when a person dies, his whole life’s accumulated desires, his whole life’s accumulated memories, his whole life’s sanskaras, karmas, jump like energy waves into a new womb. It is a jump. The exact word is in physics: they call it ‘quantum leap’ – ‘a leap of pure energy without any substance in it’.
Buddha is the first quantum physicist. Einstein followed him after twenty-five centuries, but they both speak the same language. And I still say that Buddha is scientific. His language is of modern physics; he came twenty-five centuries before his time.
When a person dies, the body disappears, the material part disappears, but the immaterial part, the mind part, is a vibration. That vibration is released, broadcast. Now, wherever a right womb is ready for this vibe, it will enter into the womb.
There is no self going, there is nobody going, there is no ego going. There is no need for anything substantial to go, it is just a push of energy. The emphasis is that it is again the same bag of the ego jumping. One house has become unliveable, one body is no more possible to live with. The old desire, the lust for life – the Buddha’s term is tanha, lust for life – is alive, burning. That very desire takes a jump.
Now, listen to modern physics. They say there is no matter. You see this very substantial wall behind me? You cannot pass through it; if you try you will be hurt. But modern physics says it is nothing, nothing substantial. It is simply pure energy moving with such tremendous speed that the very movement creates the falseness, the illusion, the appearance of substance.
You have sometimes watched a fan moving fast – then you cannot see the spades. There are only three spades, but they are moving so fast it looks like a circle, like a plate; you cannot see the gaps between two spades. If a fan is moved with the same velocity as the electrons are moving – the velocity is tremendous – then you can sit on the fan and you will not fall from it. You can sit as I am sitting on the chair and you will not feel any movement, because the movement is so fast.
Exactly the same is happening in this chair and the same is happening underneath you in the floor. It is not a marble floor, that is only an appearance, but the energy particles are moving so fast that their very movement, their fastness, creates the illusion of substance. Substance exists not, only pure energy exists. Modern science says matter exists not, only immaterial energy exists.
Hence I say Buddha is very scientific. He does not talk about god, but he talks about immaterial no-self. Just as modern science has taken the idea of substance out of its metaphysics, Buddha took the idea of self out of his metaphysics. Self and substance are correlates. It is difficult to believe that the wall is non-substantial and in the same way it is difficult to believe that no self exists in you.
Now, a few things more which will make it more clear. I cannot say that you will understand it, but it will make it more clear.
You walk, you are walking, you have gone for a morning walk. The very language – that we say ‘you are walking’ – creates a problem; in our very language is the problem. The moment we say somebody is walking, we assume that somebody is there who is walking – the walker. We ask, how is walking possible if there is no walker?
Buddha says there is no walker, only walking. Life does not consist of things. Buddha says life consists of events. And that is exactly what modern science is saying: there are only processes, not things – events.
Even to say that life exists is not right. Only thousands and thousands of living processes exist. Life is just an idea. There is nothing like life.
In the sky one day you see black clouds have gathered and there is thunder and lightning. When there is lightning do you ask, ‘Is there something behind lightning? Who is lightning? What is lightning?’ You will say, ‘Lightning is simply lightning – there is nobody behind it; it is just a process. It is not that there is something which is lightning. It is simply lightning.’
The duality is brought by the language. You are walking – Buddha says there is only walking. You are thinking – Buddha says there is only thinking, no thinker. Thinker is just created by the language. Because we use a language which is based in duality, it divides everything into duality.
While you are thinking, there is a cluster of thoughts, all right – but there is no thinker. If you really want to understand it you will have to meditate deeply and come to a point where thinking disappears. The moment thinking disappears you will be surprised – the thinker is also gone. With thinking, the thinker also disappears. It was just an appearance of moving thoughts.
You see a river. Does a river really exist, or is it just a movement? If you take the movement out, will there be a river? Once the movement is taken out the river will disappear. It is not that the river is moving; the river is nothing but rivering.
Language creates the difficulty. Maybe because of this particular structure in certain languages, Buddha became important and significant and became rooted only in Japan, China, Burma – because they have a totally different language. It is very significant to understand why he became so important in the Chinese mind, why China could understand him and India could not. China has a different language which fits with Buddhist ideology absolutely. The Chinese language does not divide in two. In the Chinese language, or in Korean, or in Japanese or Burmese, a totally different structure exists than in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Greek, Latin, French, German – a totally different structure.
When for the first time the Bible was being translated into Burmese there was much difficulty, because a few sentences could not be translated at all. The moment you translate, their whole meaning is lost. For example, a simple sentence, ‘God is’; you cannot translate it into Burmese. If you translate it, it becomes ‘God becomes’. ‘God is’ cannot be translated because there is no equivalent term for ‘is’, because ‘is’ shows staticness.
We can say ‘the tree is’, but in Burmese you have to say ‘the tree is becoming’, not ‘is’. There is no equivalent for ‘is’. The tree ‘becomes’. By the time you say ‘the tree is’, it is no more the same, so why do you say ‘is’? ‘Is’ gives a staticness. It is a riverlike phenomenon – ‘tree is becoming’. I have to say ‘tree is becoming’ but in Burmese it will be simply ‘tree becoming’, the ‘is’ will not be there. ‘The river is’ – if you want to translate – will be ‘river moving’. ‘River rivering’ will be the exact translation in Burmese.
But to say ‘God becoming’ is very difficult, because Christians cannot say that. God is perfect, he cannot become. He is not a process, he has no growth possibility – he has already arrived. He is the absolute – what do you mean by ‘becoming’? Becoming is possible if somebody is imperfect. God is perfect, he cannot become. So how to translate it? Very difficult.
But Buddha immediately penetrated the Burmese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean mind; immediately penetrated. The very structure of the language made it possible; they could understand Buddha very easily.
In life there are only events. Eating is there but there is no eater. Just watch eating. Is there really an eater? You feel hungry, right – hunger is there, but there is nobody who is hungry. Then you eat – eating is there, but there is nobody who is an eater. Then hunger is satisfied, then you feel satiation – this satisfaction is there but there is nobody who is satisfied.
Buddha says life consists of events. Life means living. Life is not a noun, it is a verb. And everything is a verb. Watch and you will be able to see: everything is becoming, nothing is static.
Eddington has said that in the English language there are a few words that are absolutely false: for example, rest. Nothing is ever in rest, the very word is wrong, because there is no equivalent in reality. Have you ever seen anything at rest? Even when you are at rest, it is resting, it is not rest. It is a process: something is happening, you are still breathing.
Lying down, relaxing – but it is not rest; many things, a thousand things are happening. Have you ever seen anything at rest? It is impossible, rest does not exist. Even when a person is dead, then the body continues its processes.
You may not have heard – sometimes it happens: Mohammedans, Christians, those people who bury their dead in the ground, sometimes come to know that the person is dead but his beard has grown, his hairs have become longer, his nails have grown. The person is dead!
Now this is very weird. If you shave a man and put him in the grave and after six months you open the grave and he has a beard… now what to say, whether he is alive or dead? And you will be very much afraid; you will escape home, and that face will haunt you in the night. What has happened? If the man is dead then how come his beard has grown? And if his beard can grow, is he really dead or not – just pretending?
Life is millions of processes. Even when your ego disappears from this base, takes off from this airport, and lands in some other womb, many processes continue still. All processes don’t stop, because there are many processes which have nothing to do with your ego; nothing to do with your ego – your ego can go and they will continue. Hairs growing, nails growing, have nothing to do….
And, immediately, the moment your ego leaves, millions of small microbes will become alive and they will start working and functioning. You will be almost like a marketplace. You will be fully alive in that way. Much will be happening: many microbes running, rushing here and there, making love, marriages, dying, and everything will be happening. The moment you leave the body, your body becomes a landing ground for many other people who were waiting and who were saying, ‘Please leave! Let us come in.’
Life is a continuous process – not only process but processes, a continuity.
Buddha says the very idea of self is because of language. You feel hungry: in language we say ‘I am hungry’. Language creates the idea of I. How to say it? To be exactly right you can only say ‘hunger’. ‘I am hungry’ is bringing something absolutely false in it. ‘Hunger’ – that’s enough.
Watch your processes and you will feel it. When you feel hungry today, just watch it. Is there really somebody who is hungry or is there just hunger? And is it just a language pattern that gives it a twist and divides it in two, and you start feeling ‘I am hungry’?
Buddhism is the first religion which brought this message to the world – that your religions, your philosophies, are more grounded in your linguistic patterns than in anything else. And if you can understand your language better, you will be able to understand your inner processes better. He was the first linguist, and his insight is tremendously meaningful.
You say that buddha would not speak of god because it cannot be proven.
Yes, he would not speak about god because it cannot be proven and he would not speak about god because the god that you think exists, exists not. Your god is again the same old fallacy of self. You think you have a self, so the whole universe must have a self. Because you have a self, the whole universe must have a supreme self. That supreme self is god.
Buddha says you don’t have any self. The universe is, but there is no supreme self in it… millions of processes, but no supreme self. There is no center to it; it is all circumference.
Very difficult to catch hold of it – unless you meditate. That’s why Buddha never goes into metaphysical discussions; he says, ‘Meditate.’ Because in meditation these things become so clear. When thinking stops, suddenly you see the thinker has disappeared. It was a shadow. And when the thinker disappears, how can you say, how can you feel ‘I am’? There is no ‘I’ left, you are pure space. That’s what Buddha calls anatta, the pure space of no self. It is a tremendous experience.
…Yet in the next breath he speaks of other lives and reincarnation.
He speaks, and Buddhists have always been in trouble because of it. Buddha is so scientific that he cannot twist the fact. If he was not such a scientific man, if he was just a metaphysician, either he would have accepted self to make his whole philosophy look consistent, or he would have dropped the idea of reincarnation, because both things look contradictory. But he is such a scientist that he will not enforce anything from his mind on reality. He simply stated the fact. If it is contradictory, he says, ‘Maybe it is contradictory, but it is so.’
This is what is happening in modern science. Just fifty years ago, when scientists entered into the innermost core of matter, they were very puzzled, because the electrons were behaving in a very illogical way.
Now you cannot force electrons to be logical, you cannot send them to the university to learn Aristotle and you cannot tell them, ‘You are behaving illogically, so behave! this is not correct.’ You cannot say that. If they are behaving illogically, they are behaving illogically – you have to understand it, that’s all; nothing can be done.
And the illogic was really great, it was no ordinary matter. Sometimes the same electron would behave like a wave and sometimes it would behave like a quanta, like a particle. Now the two things are impossible, they are non-Euclidian and non-Aristotelian – as if these electrons don’t believe in Euclid and Aristotle. What are they doing? Have they never heard of Euclid?
It is simply geometry, we have all learned in school – that a dot cannot be a line and a line cannot be a dot. A line is many dots put together in sequence, so a single dot cannot behave like a line, otherwise the whole geometry will be disturbed. You put a dot and you go to the bathroom, you come back and it has become a line! Then what will you do?
But this is exactly what is happening in the innermost core of matter. You go on watching and it was looking like a dot and suddenly it is a line. And the jump is such that you don’t see it even growing into a line.
In one instant of time it is a dot, in another instant of time it is a line – not even growing into a line, just a jump… so sudden, so illogical. If it grows slowly, we can understand that too: maybe it is like a seed, sprouting and becoming a tree. Okay, we can understand. In one moment of time it is a seed, in another moment of time it grows, by and by and by and by, gradually, and becomes a tree. We can understand.
If a dot becomes a line slowly, we will be able to understand. But suddenly? And not only suddenly, even more illogical is this: that two observers in a single moment of time, simultaneously can observe – one can observe it as a dot and another can observe it as a line. Now what to do? One observer seeing it as a seed and another seeing it as a tree? In a single moment of time.
The whole of western science has grown out of Greek logic. These electrons were rebelling against Aristotle, and there was no way to put them right. Scientists tried in many ways, because mind tends to cling to its own concepts, patterns. It is not so easy to relax and surrender to these stupid electrons.
For almost two, three decades, scientists were puzzled and they were trying to find out some way to explain it, or at least to explain it away, why it is happening. But finally they had to concede to the fact and they accepted it. Hence the theory of quantum physics.
Quanta: the very word was invented; it had never existed before because never has man come across such an illogical phenomenon. Quanta means a dot and line together, simultaneously. Quanta means a particle and a wave together, simultaneously. We had to find a name for something which was absolutely illogical and we had no symbol for it.
And when people ask scientists, ‘How do you explain it? – it is illogical,’ they say, ‘It is illogical but it is so and we cannot do anything. We have to listen to reality. If reality is illogical, then something must be wrong with our logic, that’s all. We can change the logic, but we cannot change the reality.’
That’s what happened when Buddha came into the world. He entered into the innermost core of your so-called self and he was also puzzled – what to do? There is no self, and there is reincarnation. Now if he was not really such a great scientist, and if he was just an ordinary philosopher, then he would have forgotten; he would not have talked about this fact at all – he would have chosen. The choice is simple: either you say there is no reincarnation because there is no self….
That’s what people who don’t believe in the soul have always been saying. The atheists, charvakas, they have always been saying that there is no self – when you die you simply die, nothing survives, and there is no rebirth. That’s simple, logical. Or there are eternalists, theists, people who believe in the self. They say that you die but only the body dies; your self, your center survives. Your soul, your atma survives; it is eternal. That too is logical.
Buddha is very illogical and he is illogical because his insistence not to go against reality is absolute. His emphasis is this: that whatsoever reality reveals we have to listen to it. We are not here to impose our own ideologies on it. Who are we?
If this is the fact, then something is wrong in our logic, in our language, in our very way of thinking. We have to change that rather than avoiding reality, escaping reality. So he seems to be the most absurd thinker in the world, because this is one of the most absurd statements – that you don’t exist but you are reborn.
You can see it clearly, it is absurd. If you don’t exist how can you be reborn? And he says, ‘That I don’t know. You don’t exist and you are reborn – that much I know, that I have come to see, that I have seen. And if you want to see it, meditate. Go deeper into your being as I have gone into my being and you will also be puzzled, very much confused. But by and by you will settle with the reality. And then you will change your whole language.’
Buddha changed the whole language, the whole philosophical style. There has never been such an original man before. It was almost impossible to understand him because he was not speaking the same language as you speak, and he was bringing some new visions into the world.
The person who does not believe in the soul is very old, nothing new in it. Marx is not saying anything new. For thousands of years there have been atheists who have denied soul, who have denied rebirth. Neither Mahavir nor Patanjali are saying anything new, because there have always been people who have believed in the soul and reincarnation.
Buddha is bringing a real vision, very original. He says: there is no soul and yet there is reincarnation. It is a quantum jump.
So when I say that he is a scientist, I mean it. And if you understand the language of modern physics, you will be able to understand Buddha. In fact, to understand Buddha without understanding modern physics is impossible. For the first time, modern physics has provided a parallel. Heisenberg, Planck, and Einstein, they have provided a parallel. Matter has disappeared; there is only energy, with no self in it, no substance in it. And what Buddha says is the same: anatta, no self.
How does this fit into scientific fact?
It fits perfectly. In fact, when Nirgrantha is asking how it fits into scientific fact, his idea of science is of the nineteenth century; he is not aware of modern science, he is not aware of the latest developments. His idea of science is very orthodox, very old, out of date. Science has changed tremendously.
If Newton comes back, he will not be able to understand science at all, because science has changed so fast, and its insight has become so puzzling that scientists are speaking like metaphysicians, mystics. They are not talking now like mathematicians, they are talking like mystics and poets.
I vaguely understand that it can be the formless that remains.
No, you will not be able to understand it intellectually, because your formless will again be of a certain form. How can you conceive the formless? The word is okay, but the moment you try to conceive the formless, immediately it starts taking a form – because only form can be conceived; the formless cannot be conceived. It is an empty word.
You can go on calling god formless, but you cannot conceive it. And whenever even people like Shankara, who talk about a formless god, go to worship, they go to worship before a form. Then they start singing Bhaj Govindam Muramatee. Then again there is a statue, a ritual, a god, a goddess, a form.
Even a man like Shankara goes on talking about the formless, the attributeless – the nirguna – but his worship, his payer, is of the saguna – with attribute, with form – because it is impossible to conceive the formless. Conception is only of the form; or whatsoever you can conceive, by the very possibility of its being conceived, it will take a form. So it is just a vague idea.
Nirgrantha says, I vaguely understand that it can be the formless that remains.
No, it is not a question of vaguely comprehending. Intellectually there is no way. The way is only meditative, existential. You don’t figure it out through intellect, you simply move more into meditation, open a new dimension of vision. Nobody has emphasized meditation as much as Buddha. His whole method is meditation.
And what is meditation? Meditation is by and by becoming thoughtless; not falling into sleep – remaining alert and yet becoming thoughtless. Once thoughts disappear, everything is crystal clear – that the thinker was just a by-product of moving thoughts. It was a bundle of thoughts and nothing else. It had no separate existence.
Then you walk, but the walker is no more there; then you eat, but the eater is no more there; then you sleep, but the sleeper is no more there; then you live, but there is nobody who is living; then you die, and there is nobody who is dying.
You are just a pure space in which millions of processes exist, in which life flows with all its processes and you remain uncorrupted by it. You are like an open sky… clouds come and go.
One of the most beautiful names given to Buddha is tathagata. It means ‘thus came, thus gone’. There was no one who came and there was no one who has gone – just coming and going. That is the meaning of tathagata – just a process of coming and a process of going; there was no one who has come and no one who has gone.
Zen masters have always been saying that this man never existed, this man called Gautam the Buddha never existed. Yes, he came certainly, and he went also, but he never existed. It is just like a dream process. A dream comes and goes and by the morning you know it never existed.
Once you understand yourself as pure space and many things happening, you become detached. Then you become fearless, because there is nothing to lose, there is nobody to lose anything. Then you are no more full of lust for life, because you don’t conceive of any self. Then you are not afraid of death and you are not in a lust for life. Then you don’t think of the past and then you don’t project the future. Then you simply are – as pure as the vast sky outside; you also become a pure sky inside. And the meeting of these two skies, the inner and the outer, is what Buddha calls nirvana.
I vaguely understand that it can be the formless that remains, but can that have an individual entity?
No, it has no individual entity.
The same wave is not reborn.
True. In fact, if you watch closely – go to the river or to the ocean and watch waves; you will be surprised to see something new that you never thought of before. When you see a wave coming towards you, nothing is coming, the wave never comes to you. You see it moving towards you; it is not moving. One wave simply helps other waves to arise by the side. The other wave helps another wave to arise. But it happens so fast that it creates a mirage, an illusion – you think the same wave is coming towards you. Nothing is coming towards you.
When one wave arises, by the impact of that wave other waves arise; just in the close vicinity, another wave. By the force of the first wave, second wave; by the force of the second wave, third wave; by the force of the third, the fourth – that’s how waves arise. But they give an illusion as if the same wave is coming towards you. They never come. When you see a wave arising far away there on the horizon, it remains there; it never comes to you.
It can happen: you can put a driftwood just in the middle of the river: that driftwood will come to you, but don’t be deceived by it – the wave is not coming. When one wave goes high, that driftwood moves to the other wave; the other wave goes high, it moves with the third wave. With the rising and falling waves the driftwood comes to the shore, but the waves never come. This is a scientific fact. They only appear to be reaching.
Right, precisely, that is what Buddha is saying. The same wave is not reborn. He is not saying you will be reborn, he simply says there is a rebirth.
But in a way we can say you will be born, because it will be a continuity. The same wave: wave A creates wave B, wave B creates wave C – it is a continuity; a continuum is the right word. That too comes from modern physics: continuum.
Buddha calls it santati. Just as a child is born to you: he is you in a certain way, and yet not you, not totally you. He will have his own personality, but you created the wave. It is father’s and mother’s energy creating a new wave. This wave will go – the father may die, the mother may die – this wave will continue, and this wave will create other waves in its own way, in its own time.
Santati, continuum. You are not born, only your desires are born again; because you are not, so you cannot be born. Hence, Buddha says, if you drop desiring you will be never born again. Hence, if you understand the whole futility of desire and you stop desiring, you drop desiring, then there will be no birth for you.
Then, first you become a srotapanna, you enter into the stream, you start understanding how things are, what things are: life processes with no self. This is what he means by becoming a srotapanna, entering the stream: entering into the idea of the stream – that life is like a river, not static but dynamic; no things but only events; a dynamism, an energy phenomenon.
Then, by and by, as you move deeper into this stream you become a skridagamin – only once more will you be born. You understand, but yet your understanding is not total. Then you become an anagamin – you will not be born again. You have understood the whole phenomenon. In that very understanding you are liberated.
By becoming capable of not being born again, you become an arhat – one who has achieved, one who has arrived. Now I am using a language which is not Buddhist, so beware. I have to use a language which is not Buddhist, so I am using terms – I say, ‘one has arrived’. Now, there is no other way to say it, but you have to understand: when I say ‘one has arrived’, there is no ‘one’, only ‘arrival’… only ‘arriving’, not even ‘arrival’.
Buddha’s vision is very existential and nothing is as liberating as Buddha’s vision. Because if you believe in a soul you can leave the world, but then you will desire paradise – because you don’t leave your self. Desire shifts into a new dimension. You drop greed, but really you don’t drop it – subtle greed arises.
Just see the paradise of Mohammedans or Christians or Hindus. It looks so worldly, so profane. Because whatsoever these religions are telling you to drop here, is provided there, and in bulk. They say, ‘Don’t drink alcohol!’ and in the Mohammedan paradise, phirdous, rivers of alcohol are there. There is no need to purchase or buy, there is no need to carry a license; you just jump in. You can bathe, you can swim. Now, what is this?
In Mohammedan countries, homosexuality has been very much prevalent, so even that is provided for. Not only beautiful women are there, but beautiful boys are also provided. Now this looks ugly, but ordinary human mind….
Whatsoever you are dropping here, you are dropping only to get more – this is the logic.
Beautiful women – apsaras Hindus call them, houris Mohammedans call them… and not only houris but gilmis, beautiful boys, handsome boys also are available, because a few homosexuals will reach; what will they do?
Buddha says unless you drop the self, you will go on perpetuating the same nonsense again and again. Your paradise will be nothing but a projected world – the same world modified, made more beautiful, more decorated. Here on the earth women age, become old. In paradise, in the Hindu paradise, they never become old; they are stuck at the age of sixteen. They must be feeling very fed up – at the age of sixteen; they never grow beyond that.
In fact, that is the desire of every woman – to get stuck at sixteen. It never happens here, but there…. After sixteen women grow very reluctantly: in three, four years, only once their birthday comes. Very reluctantly…. But that has been the desire – to make beauty permanent.
Here it is impossible. Even with all the scientific gadgets, instrumentation, methods of beautification, plastic surgery, this and that, even then it is not possible. One has to age. In paradise – Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Jewish – that miracle has happened: god has prepared a beautiful walled garden paradise for you. He is waiting. If you are virtuous, if you obey him, you will be rewarded tremendously; if you disobey, then the hell.
So the self exists here as the center of desire and god exists as the center of fulfilling that desire. Buddha says both are not, get rid of both; neither god is, nor self is. Look at reality, don’t move in desires. Drop fantasies, stop dreaming and look at what is. And he says there is only this impermanent world of processes – this flux-like world, this vortex of reality… everything impermanent and changing, nothing is permanent.
That is the meaning of his insistence that there is no self, because you are trying to make something in you permanent. You say, the body changes, okay; the world changes, okay; relationships change, become rotten, okay – but the self, the self is eternal. Yes, this visible world changes – but the invisible god, he is eternal. You want something eternal so desperately that you start believing in it. It is your desire that the eternal should be there.
Buddha says there is nothing eternal. Everything is impermanent, everything is in flow. Understand this, and this very understanding will liberate you.
Remember, when others talk of liberation, they talk of liberation for the self. When Buddha talks of liberation, he talks of liberation from the self. And that is a tremendously radical standpoint. Not that you will be liberated, but liberated from you.
The only freedom that Buddha says is real freedom, is freedom from you. Otherwise your mind will go on playing games. It will go on painting new desires on new canvases. Nothing will change. Canvases you can change. You can get out of the marketplace and sit in a temple – nothing will change, your mind will project the same desires in heaven and paradise.
Look at this mind. Look at its desires. Watch, become aware. Again and again I will have to remind you, because I am talking in non-Buddhist language. So when Buddha says become aware, he means: be awareness. There is nobody who becomes aware, there is only awareness.
Yes, you will never be born again, but if you carry the idea that you are, then you will remain in a continuum. If you drop the idea of the self, the continuum disappears; you evaporate.
That’s what nirvana is. Just as if you put off a lamp and the light ceases, disappears, you put off your desiring mind and all misery, and all transmigration, and all suffering, ceases. Suddenly, you are not there.
But that does not mean that nothing is, otherwise there will be no difference between a charvak and a Buddhist, then there will be no difference between the atheist and Buddha. There is tremendous difference. He says you cease and for the first time reality takes over. But he never gives it any name, because naming is not possible – to name it is to falsify it. To say it is, is to be untrue to it. He keeps quiet, absolutely silent about it. He indicates the way how to experience it. He does not spin and weave a philosophy around it.
Osho, The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 1, Ch 10, Q 1