Mahaparinirvana: the great transcendental selflessness


Before I leave the world I have to complete what I have started. I cannot leave my garden unfinished,” states Osho.

Osho in Uruguay

Beloved Osho,

Something you said struck me like a gong. You said – or I heard – that enlightenment is the last experience of the mind. Can you elaborate on this please?

It looks very contradictory to my other statements. I have said again and again that enlightenment is beyond mind. So naturally when you heard it, that I am saying enlightenment is the last experience of the mind, the contradiction was absolutely clear. But you have to understand something very subtle: experience as such needs a mind. What experience it is, does not matter, because experience means duality: the experiencer and the experienced.

So what I have said before was just to help you drop the mind. My words are devices, not statements. What I said yesterday was actually the fact. It is the mind’s last experience – because for experience mind is needed.

If there is no mind, there is no experience. You are, but you cannot talk about any experience of bliss, of ecstasy, of godliness, of nirvana. You cannot talk.

And the problem for me is that unless I give you these incentives, why should you bother to be enlightened? If with the mind gone, enlightenment is also gone, and just eternal silence prevails – that too you cannot say is your experience. You are no more. That old world of subject and object, I and you, does not exist.

You should also try to understand the difficulty of the master, just the way the master tries to understand your difficulties. His difficulties are far greater.

I have to give you an incentive, encouragement. The idea of being blissful, the idea of being enlightened, the idea of attaining the truth, somehow catches a few people’s minds, and they start moving in that direction. Finally they will find that all these things will happen – but they will still be of the mind. Don’t stop at that. But that can be said only to those who have traveled the path. There is something more than experience that is beyond mind.

Gautam Buddha used two words. For enlightenment he uses a word: nirvana. But he knows that there is still a step more, so he calls it mahaparinirvana.

The word nirvana itself means attaining to a state of silence so deep that no self exists – because that is also a disturbance. Nothing exists. You are in a state of selflessness, but still it is an experience, so you may not be seeing the self but the self is experiencing it as a selfless state.

It is difficult to bring even this experience into language, but there is something more, which is absolutely difficult: he calls it mahaparinirvana. And he does not define it; he does not say what it means. You have to experience it – that he leaves to you. Up to nirvana he is willing to explain, because mind, in a very subtle way, still exists to experience the selflessness, the silence, the blissfulness. But when the mind is completely gone… So he has made a word in which nirvana is there: maha means bigger, higher, greater than nirvana; and pari means transcendental. So to translate it will mean: a selflessness which is greater than the selflessness you experienced in nirvana, because now there is no experiencer.

You cannot call it an experience; hence he calls it parinirvana. It transcends everything that can be conceived, because anything that you can conceive is conceived by the mind. We have to use the mind for a certain stage, but we cannot say that with the mind we have achieved the ultimate.

So nirvana is the last milestone from where the road ends. Beyond that one has simply to go and see. Just to indicate it, he calls it mahaparinirvana: the great transcendental selflessness.

The problem is that I had to talk to many kinds of people all my life, and I had to talk the way they can understand; otherwise it is pointless. Slowly slowly I gathered my own people, and I started talking irrespective of whether they understand or not, because I knew they loved me: they will try to understand it.

But many of them could not rise to that level where they are ready to understand, in spite of themselves, something that goes beyond their heads. But now I am going to talk only to those people whom I can completely forget when I am talking. I can trust that they will manage to get at least a certain sense and taste of it.

So you will find more and more contradictions because now I will not be talking to you, I will be simply saying whatever is the case – whether you can understand it or not. If you don’t understand, you can go on asking questions, but before I leave the world I have to complete what I have started. I cannot leave my garden unfinished.

Osho, The Path of the Mystic, Ch 31, Q 4

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