Osho’s introduction to the discourse series on the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra. “Tantra is not an intellectual proposition, it is an experience.”
Some introductory points. First, the world of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra is not intellectual, it is not philosophical. Doctrine is meaningless to it. It is concerned with method, with technique – not with principles at all. The word `tantra’ means technique, the method, the path. So it is not philosophical – note this. It is not concerned with intellectual problems and inquiries. It is not concerned with the “why” of things, it is concerned with “how”; not with what is truth, but how the truth can be attained.
TANTRA means technique. So this treatise is a scientific one. Science is not concerned with why, science is concerned with how. That is the basic difference between philosophy and science. Philosophy asks, “Why this existence?” Science asks, “How this existence?” The moment you ask the question, how?, method, technique, become important. Theories become meaningless; experience becomes the center.
Tantra is science, tantra is not philosophy. To understand philosophy is easy because only your intellect is required. If you can understand language, if you can understand concept, you can understand philosophy. You need not change; you require no transformation. As you are, you can understand philosophy – but not tantra.
You will need a change… rather, a mutation. Unless you are different, tantra cannot be understood because tantra is not an intellectual proposition, it is an experience. Unless you are receptive, ready, vulnerable to the experience, it is not going to come to you.
Philosophy is concerned with the mind. Your head is enough; your totality is not required. Tantra needs you in your totality. It is a deeper challenge. You will have to be in it wholly. It is not fragmentary. A different approach, a different attitude, a different mind to receive it is required. Because of this, Devi is asking apparently philosophical questions. Tantra starts with Devi’s questions. All the questions can be tackled philosophically.
Really, any question can be tackled in two ways: philosophically or totally, intellectually or existentially. For example, if someone asks, “What is love?” you can tackle it intellectually, you can discuss, you can propose theories, you can argue for a particular hypothesis. You can create a system, a doctrine – and you may not have known love at all.
To create a doctrine, experience is not needed. Really, on the contrary, the less you know the better because then you can propose a system unhesitatingly. Only a blind man can easily define what light is. When you do not know you are bold. Ignorance is always bold; knowledge hesitates. And the more you know, the more you feel that the ground underneath is dissolving. The more you know, the more you feel how ignorant you are. And those who are really wise, they become ignorant. They become as simple as children, or as simple as idiots.
The less you know, the better. To be philosophical, to be dogmatic, to be doctrinaire – this is easy. To tackle a problem intellectually is very easy. But to tackle a problem existentially – not just to think about it, but to live it through, to go through it, to allow yourself to be transformed through it – is difficult. That is, to know love one will have to be in love. That is dangerous because you will not remain the same. The experience is going to change you. The moment you enter love, you enter a different person. And when you come out you will not be able to recognize your old face; it will not belong to you. A discontinuity will have happened. Now there is a gap, the old man is dead and the new man has come. That is what is known as rebirth – being twice-born.
Tantra is non-philosophical and existential. So of course Devi asks questions which appear to be philosophical, but Shiva is not going to answer them that way. So it is better to understand it in the beginning; otherwise you will be puzzled, because Shiva is not going to answer a single question. All the questions that Devi is asking, Shiva is not going to answer at all. And still he answers! And really, only he has answered them and no one else – but on a different plane.
Devi asks, “What is your reality, my lord?” He is not going to answer it. On the contrary, he will give a technique. And if Devi goes through this technique, she will know. So the answer is round-about; it is not direct. He is not going to answer “Who am I.” He will give a technique – do it and you will know.
For tantra, doing is knowing, and there is no other knowing. Unless you do something, unless you change, unless you have a different perspective to look at, to look with, unless you move in an altogether different dimension than the intellect, there is no answer. Answers can be given – they are all lies. All philosophies are lies. You ask a question and the philosophy gives you an answer. It satisfies you or doesn’t satisfy you. If it satisfies you, you become a convert to the philosophy, but you remain the same. If it doesn’t satisfy you, you go on searching for some other philosophy to be converted to. But you remain the same; you are not touched at all, you are not changed.
So whether you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian or a Jain, it makes no difference. The real person behind the facade of a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian is the same. Only words differ, or clothes. The man who is going to the church or to the temple or to the mosque is the same man. Only faces differ, and they are faces which are false; they are masks. Behind the masks you will find the same man – the same anger, the same aggression, the same violence, the same greed, the same lust – everything the same. Is Mohammedan sexuality different from Hindu sexuality? Is Christian violence different from Hindu violence? It is the same! The reality remains the same; only clothes differ.
Tantra is not concerned with your clothes, tantra is concerned with you. If you ask a question it shows where you are. It shows also that wherever you are you cannot see; that is why there is the question. A blind man asks, “What is light?” and philosophy will start answering what is light. Tantra will know only this: if a man is asking “What is light?” it shows only that he is blind. Tantra will start operating on the man, changing the man, so that he can see. Tantra will not say what is light. Tantra will tell how to attain insight, how to attain seeing, how to attain vision. When the vision is there, the answer will be there. Tantra will not give you the answer; tantra will give you the technique to attain the answer.
Now, this answer is not going to be intellectual. If you say something about light to a blind man, this is intellectual. If the blind man himself becomes capable of seeing, this is existential. This is what I mean when I say that tantra is existential. So Shiva is not going to answer Devi’s questions, still, he will answer – the first thing.
The second thing: this is a different type of language. You must know something about it before we enter into it. All the tantra treatises are dialogues between Shiva and Devi. Devi questions and Shiva answers. All the tantra treatises start that way. Why? Why this method? It is very significant. It is not a dialogue between a teacher and a disciple, it is a dialogue between two lovers. And tantra signifies through it a very meaningful thing: that the deeper teachings cannot be given unless there is love between the two – the disciple and the master. The disciple and master must become deep lovers. Only then can the higher, the beyond, be expressed.
So it is a language of love; the disciple must be in an attitude of love. But not only this, because friends can be lovers. Tantra says a disciple moves as receptivity, so the disciple must be in a feminine receptivity; only then is something possible. You need not be a woman to be a disciple, but you need to be in a feminine attitude of receptivity. When Devi asks, it means the feminine attitude asks. Why this emphasis on the feminine attitude?
Man and woman are not only physically different, they are psychologically different. Sex is not only a difference in the body; it is a difference in psychologies also. A feminine mind means receptivity – total receptivity, surrender, love. A disciple needs a feminine psychology; otherwise he will not be able to learn. You can ask, but if you are not open then you cannot be answered. You can ask a question and still remain closed. Then the answer cannot penetrate you. Your doors are closed; you are dead. You are not open.
A feminine receptivity means a womb-like receptivity in the inner depth, so that you can receive. And not only that – much more is implied. A woman is not only receiving something, the moment she receives it, it becomes a part of her body. A child is received. A woman conceives; the moment there is conception, the child has become part of the feminine body. It is not alien, it is not foreign. It has been absorbed. Now the child will live not as something added to the mother, but just as a part, just as the mother. And the child is not only received: the feminine body becomes creative; the child begins to grow.
A disciple needs a womb-like receptivity. Whatsoever is received is not to be gathered as dead knowledge. It must grow in you; it must become blood and bones in you. It must become a part, now. It must grow! This growth will change you, will transform you – the receiver. That is why tantra uses this device. Every treatise starts with Devi asking a question and Shiva replying to it. Devi is Shiva’s consort, his feminine part.
One thing more… Now modern psychology, depth psychology particularly, says that man is both man and woman. No one is just male and no one is just female; everyone is bi-sexual. Both sexes are there. This is a very recent research in the West, but for tantra this has been one of the most basic concepts for thousands of years. You must have seen some pictures of Shiva as ardhanarishwar – half man, half woman. There is no other concept like it in the whole history of man. Shiva is depicted as half man, half woman.
So Devi is not just a consort, she is Shiva’s other half. And unless a disciple becomes the other half of the master it is impossible to convey the higher teachings, the esoteric methods. When you become one then there is no doubt. When you are one with the master – so totally one, so deeply one – there is no argument, no logic, no reason. One simply absorbs; one becomes a womb. And then the teaching begins to grow in you and change you.
That is why tantra is written in love language. Something must also be understood about love language. There are two types of language: logical language and love language. There are basic differences between the two.
Logical language is aggressive, argumentative, violent. If I use logical language I become aggressive upon your mind. I try to convince you, to convert you, to make a puppet of you. My argument is “right” and you are “wrong.” Logical language is egocentric: “I am right and you are wrong, so I must prove that I am right and you are wrong.” I am not concerned with you, I am concerned with my ego. My ego is always “right.”
Love language is totally different. I am not concerned with my ego; I am concerned with you. I am not concerned to prove something, to strengthen my ego. I am concerned to help you. It is a compassion to help you to grow, to help you to transform, to help you to be reborn.
Secondly, logic will always be intellectual. Concepts and principles will be significant, arguments will be significant. With love language what is said is not so significant; rather, it is the way it is said. The container, the word is not important; the content, the message is more important. It is a heart-to-heart talk, not a mind-to-mind discussion. It is not a debate, it is a communion.
So this is rare: Devi is sitting in the lap of Shiva and asking, and Shiva answers. It is a love dialogue – no conflict, as if Shiva is speaking to himself. Why this emphasis on love – love language? Because if you are in love with your master, then the whole gestalt changes; it becomes different. Then you are not hearing his words. Then you are drinking him. Then words are irrelevant. Really, the silence between the words becomes more significant. What he is saying may be meaningful or it may not be meaningful… but it is his eyes, his gestures, his compassion, his love.
That is why tantra has a fixed device, a structure. Every treatise starts with Devi asking and Shiva answering. No argument is going to be there, no wastage of words. There are very simple statements of fact, telegraphic messages with no view to convince, but just to relate.
If you encounter Shiva with a question with a closed mind, he will not answer you in this way. First your closedness has to be broken. Then he will have to be aggressive. Then your prejudices, then your preconceptions have to be destroyed. Unless you are cleared completely of your past, nothing can be given to you. But this is not so with his consort Devi; with Devi there is no past.
Remember, when you are deeply in love your mind ceases to be. There is no past; only the present moment becomes everything. When you are in love the present is the only time, the now is all – no past, no future. So Devi is just open. There is no defense – nothing to be cleared, nothing to be destroyed. The ground is ready, only a seed has to be dropped. The ground is not only ready, but welcoming, receptive, asking to be impregnated.
So all these sayings that we are going to discuss will be telegraphic. They are just sutras, but each sutra, each telegraphic message given by Shiva is worth a Veda, worth a Bible, worth a Koran. Each single sentence can become the base of a great scripture. Scriptures are logical – you have to propose, defend, argue. Here there is no argument, just simple statements of love.
Thirdly, the very words Vigyana Bhairava Tantra mean the technique of going beyond consciousness. Vigyana means consciousness, Bhairava means the state which is beyond consciousness, and Tantra means the method: the method of going beyond consciousness. This is the supreme doctrine – without any doctrine.
We are unconscious, so all the religious teachings are concerned with how to go beyond unconsciousness, how to be conscious. For example, Krishnamurti, Zen, they are all concerned with how to create more consciousness, because we are unconscious. So how to be more aware, alert? From unconsciousness, how to move toward consciousness?
But tantra says that this is a duality – unconscious and conscious. If you move from unconsciousness to consciousness, you are moving from one duality to another. Move beyond both! Unless you move beyond both you can never reach the ultimate, so be neither the unconscious nor the conscious; just go beyond, just be. Be neither the conscious nor the unconscious – just be! This is going beyond yoga, going beyond Zen, going beyond all teachings.
‘Vigyana’ means consciousness, and ‘bhairava’ is a specific term, a tantra term for one who has gone beyond. That is why Shiva is known as Bhairava and Devi is known as Bhairavi – those who have gone beyond the dualities.
In our experience only love can give a glimpse. That is why love becomes the very basic device to impart tantric wisdom. In our experience we can say that only love is something which goes beyond duality. When two persons are in love, the deeper they move into it, the less and less they are two, the more and more they become one. And a point comes and a peak is reached when only apparently they are two. Inwardly they are one; the duality is transcended.
Only in this sense does Jesus’ saying that “God is love” become meaningful; otherwise not. In our experience love is nearest to God. It is not that God is loving, as Christians go on interpreting – that God has a fatherly love for you. Nonsense! “God is love” is a tantric statement. It means love is the only reality in our experience which reaches nearest to God, to the divine. Why? Because in love oneness is felt. Bodies remain two, but something beyond the bodies merges and becomes one.
That is why there is so much hankering after sex. The real hankering is after oneness, but that oneness is not sexual. In sex two bodies have only a deceptive feeling of becoming one, but they are not one, they are only joined together. But for a single moment two bodies forget themselves in each other, and a certain physical oneness is felt. This hankering is not bad, but to stop at it is dangerous. This hankering shows a deeper urge to feel oneness.
In love, on a higher plane, the inner one moves, merges into the other, and there is a feeling of oneness. Duality dissolves. Only in this non-dual love can we have a glimpse of what is the state of a Bhairava. We may say that the state of a Bhairava is absolute love with no coming back, from the peak of love there is no falling back. It is remaining on the peak.
We have made Shiva’s abode on Kailash. That is simply symbolic: it is the highest peak, the holiest peak. We have made it Shiva’s abode. We can go there but we will have to come down, it cannot be our abode. We can go on a pilgrimage. It is a teerthyatra – a pilgrimage, a journey. We can touch for a single moment the highest peak; then we will have to come back.
In love this holy pilgrimage happens, but not for all because almost no one moves beyond sex. So we go on living in the valley, the dark valley. Sometimes someone moves to the peak of love, but then he falls back because it is so dizzying. It is so high and you are so low, and it is so difficult to live there. Those who have loved, they know how difficult it is to be constantly in love. One has to come back again and again. It is Shiva’s abode. He lives there; it is his home.
A Bhairava lives in love; that is his abode. When I say that is his abode, I mean now he is not even aware of love – because if you live on Kailash you will not be aware that this is Kailash, this is a peak. The peak becomes a plain. Shiva is not aware of love. We are aware of love because we live in non-love. And because of the contrast we feel love. Shiva is love. The state of Bhairava means that one has become love, not loving; one has become love, one lives on the peak. The peak has become his abode.
How to make this highest peak possible: beyond duality, beyond unconsciousness, beyond consciousness, beyond the body and beyond the soul, beyond the world and beyond the so-called moksha – liberation? How to reach this peak? The technique is tantra. But tantra is pure technique, so it is going to be difficult to understand. […]
Osho, Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, Ch 1 (excerpt)