Mary Catherine, the question you have asked is the question everybody needs the answer for. Man is asleep, but it is no ordinary sleep; he is asleep with open eyes. His sleep is spiritual, not physical.
Just as in physical sleep your consciousness is filled with dreams, in spiritual sleep your consciousness is filled with thoughts, desires, feelings -- a thousand and one things.
It is not that you are unconscious in the sense of being in a coma; you are unconscious in the sense that your consciousness is covered with too much dust. It is exactly like a mirror: if covered with many layers of dust, it will lose the quality of reflecting, will lose the quality of being a mirror. But the mirror is there; all that is needed is to remove the dust. Your consciousness is there -- even while you are physically asleep your consciousness is there, but now more covered than when you are awake.
You are asking, "If I'm not conscious, am I asleep? Are these the only two possibilities?
Is there some stage in between? How to tell the difference?"
You are not unconscious in the sense a person falls into a coma; you are not conscious in the sense a Gautam Buddha is conscious. You are in between. A thick layer of thoughts does not allow you to be in the present. That's why, while you are listening to me, you are listening and yet the listening is very superficial -- because deep down there are so many thoughts going on. You are listening but it is not reaching you, and as I stop speaking, suddenly you realize that you have been listening, certainly, but you have not understood it. It has not penetrated you; it has not become part of your being. Something has prevented it, like a China Wall. Those thoughts are transparent, but they are thicker than any China Wall can be.
You are neither asleep nor awake, you are in between -- awake as far as your day to day mechanical activities are concerned, and asleep as far as a clear consciousness is concerned. A pure consciousness, a deep innocence like an unclouded sky, is absent.
The pope was sitting with his cardinals signing papers and proclamations. The phone rang and his secretary answered. "Your holiness," she said. "It is about the abortion bill.
A reporter wants to talk to you."
"Don't bother me," the pope interrupted.
"But he wants to know what you are going to do about the bill."
"Just pay it," the pope replied. "Pay it quick!"
In what position will you put the pope? Asleep or awake? He is in between; he has heard the word bill, but he has interpreted it in his own way. He has forgotten completely that the bill is about abortion, and certainly he has not been aborted, and he has not to pay any bill.
But this is the situation of us all. We hear what we want to hear; we hear only that which adjusts with our preconceived notions, prejudices.
You will be surprised to know... the scientific research is almost unbelievable: it says ninety-eight percent of what you hear is prevented from reaching to you -- ninety-eight percent! Only two percent reaches you. It has to pass through so many thoughts, conceptions, beliefs, conditionings, and they go on cutting it according to themselves. By the time it reaches you, it is something totally different than was said, than was heard. It is a long process of screening, and we are all screening. If something falls in tune with our mind -- that means with our past -- we hear it. But if it goes against it, we certainly hear the sound but we miss the meaning.
To listen is a great art.
People only hear; very few people are able to listen.
One man had reached Gautam Buddha. He was a well-known philosopher of the day and he had defeated many philosophers in discussions about the ultimate, the truth, God. He had come to defeat Gautam Buddha too -- that would be the crowning victory. He had brought with him five hundred chosen disciples to see Gautam Buddha defeated.
But Gautam Buddha asked a very strange question. He asked, "Do you understand the meaning and the difference between hearing and listening?"
The man was at a loss. He had come to discuss great things, and this was a small matter.
And there was no difference... as far as language is concerned, dictionaries are concerned, hearing is listening. The man said, "There is no difference at all, and I had hoped you would not ask such an ordinary question."
Gautam Buddha said, "There is a great difference. And unless you understand the difference, there is no possibility of any dialogue. I will say something; you will hear something else. So if you really want to have a dialogue with me, sit by my side for two years. Don't speak a single word, just listen. Whatever I'm telling others, be unconcerned; I'm not telling you. So you need not be worried about whether it is true or untrue, whether you have to accept it or not. You are just a witness; your opinion is not required.
"After two years, you can have the dialogue, the discussion you have come for. And I would love to be defeated, so this is not to postpone defeat; it is just to make the dialogue possible."
At that very moment, Mahakashyap -- a great disciple of Gautam Buddha; perhaps the greatest -- laughed. He was sitting under a tree far away, and the philosopher thought, "That man seems to be mad. Why is he laughing?"
Buddha said, "Mahakashyap, this is not mannerly; even for an enlightened man this is not right."
Mahakashyap said, "I don't care about right and wrong; I'm just feeling sorry for the poor philosopher."
And he turned to the philosopher and said to him, "If you want to have a discussion, have it right now; after two years, there will be just silence and no dialogue. This man is not trustworthy. He deceived me; I also came with the same idea as you, to defeat him, and he cheated me. He said, `Sit down for two years by my side, and listen. Learn first the art of listening. And because you are not concerned at all, your mind need not function.'
"And two years is a long time; the mind starts forgetting how to think, how to function.
The very presence of Gautam Buddha is so peaceful, so silent, that one starts rejoicing in the silence. And to listen to his words... which are not addressed to you, so you are not worried whether they agree with your prejudices, your philosophy, your religion -- with you -- or not. You are indifferent. You listen to him as if you are listening to the birds singing in the morning when the sun rises.
"And two years... the mind disappears. And although those words are not addressed to you, they start reaching to your heart. Because the mind is silent, the passage is open -- the door is open, the heart welcomes them. So if you want to ask anything, if you want to challenge this man, challenge now. I don't want to see another man cheated again."
Gautam Buddha said, "It is up to you; if you want to defeat me now, I declare my defeat.
There is no need to talk. Why waste time? You are victorious. But if you really want to have a dialogue with me, then I'm not asking much, just two years to learn the art of listening."
The man remained for two years, and even forgot completely that after two years he had to challenge Gautam Buddha for a debate. He forgot the whole calendar. Days passed, months passed, seasons came and went away, and after two years he was enjoying the silence so much that he had no idea that two years had passed.
It has to be remembered that time is a very elastic thing. When you are in suffering, time becomes longer; suddenly all the watches and clocks of the world start moving slowly -- a great conspiracy against a poor man who is in suffering. Time moves so slowly that sometimes one feels as if it has stopped.
You are sitting by the side of someone you love who is dying, in the middle of the night; it seems time has stopped, that this night is not going to end, that your idea that all nights end was a fallacy... this night is not going to have a dawn, because time is not moving.
And when you are joyful -- when you meet a friend after many years, when you meet a beloved, a lover for whom you have waited long -- suddenly, again the conspiracy. All the clocks, all the watches, start moving faster; hours go like minutes, days go like hours, months go like weeks. Time is elastic: time is relative to your inner condition.
The man had enjoyed those two years of silence so deeply that he could not conceive that two years had passed. Suddenly, Buddha himself asked him, "Have you forgotten completely? Two years have passed; this is the day you had come two years ago. Now if you want to challenge me to a debate, I'm ready."
The man fell to the feet of Gautam Buddha.
And Mahakashyap laughed again, and said, "I had told you, but nobody listens to me. I have been sitting under this tree for almost twenty years, preventing people from falling into the trap of this man; but nobody listens to me. They fall into the trap, and each person gives me two occasions to laugh."
The man went, after touching Gautam Buddha's feet, to touch the feet of Mahakashyap too, saying, "I am grateful to you. I have learned the distinction between hearing and listening. Hearing had made me a great knowledgeable man, and listening has made me innocent, silent -- a peace that passeth understanding. I don't have any questions, and I don't have any answers; I am utterly silent. All questions have disappeared, all answers have disappeared. Can I also sit by your side under the tree?" he asked Mahakashyap.
Mahakashyap said, "No, I don't accept disciples; that is the business of Gautam Buddha -- you just go there. Don't crowd around my tree, because even here there is nothing to listen to, only once in a while a laughter when somebody comes and I see that he's falling into the trap. You have fallen into the trap; now be initiated, become a sannyasin."
Not only did the man become a sannyasin, his five hundred followers who were also sitting and listening for two years, had also become silent.
Mary Catherine, you are well-educated; perhaps too much -- well-read; perhaps too much. Your mind is so full of thoughts. Those thoughts are creating a state which is neither consciousness nor unconsciousness. Everything seems to be so full of noise in you that if I shout, perhaps my words may reach you -- but what about my whispers? And truth cannot be shouted, it can only be whispered. In fact, it can be said only in silence; even whispering is too much verbiage.
Put your educated mind aside. Here you have to be innocent, like small children playing on the beach making castles of sand, running after butterflies, collecting seashells, looking at everything with so much wonder that each and every thing in existence becomes a mystery.
Listening to me is only a beginning; then you have to listen to the trees, to the mountains, to the moon, to the faraway stars -- they all have messages for you. To the sunrises, to the sunsets... they all have been waiting for so long. Once you start listening, the whole existence starts speaking to you. Right now you only speak to yourself, and nobody listens.
Three Soviet citizens -- a Pole, a Czech, and a Jew -- were accused of spying and sentenced to death. Each was granted a last wish.
"I want my ashes scattered over the grave of Karl Marx," said the Pole.
"I want my ashes scattered over the grave of Lenin," said the Czech.
"And I," said the Jew, "want my ashes scattered over the grave of Comrade Gorbachev."
"But that is impossible!" he was told. "Gorbachev is not dead yet."
"Fine," said the Jew, "I can wait."
You should not wait.
Start from this moment to listen, to be silent, because the next moment is not certain.
Gorbachev may die, may not die. Tomorrow it may not be so easy as it is today, because in twenty-four hours you will have gathered more garbage in your head; so the sooner the better, because you cannot sit silently. If you don't start now, you will be doing something or other....
Don't postpone it. Every postponement is suicidal -- particularly of those experiences which belong to the beyond.
Maneesha, the question you have asked implies many things. First, the Western mind is conditioned by the idea that you have only one life -- seventy years, and youth will never come again. In the West, the spring comes only once; naturally, there is a deep desire to cling as long as possible, to pretend in every possible way that you are still young.
In the East, the older person was always valued, respected. He was more experienced, he had seen many, many seasons coming and going; he had lived through all kinds of experiences, good and bad. He had become seasoned; he was no more immature. He had a certain integrity that comes only with age. He was not childish, carrying his teddy bears; he was not young, still fooling around thinking that this was love.
He had passed through all these experiences, had seen that beauty fades; he has seen that everything comes to an end, that everything is moving towards the grave. From the very moment he left the cradle, there was only one way -- and it is from cradle to the grave.
You cannot go anywhere else; you cannot go astray even if you try. You will reach to the grave whatever you do.
The old man was respected, loved; he had attained a certain purity of the heart because he had lived through desires, and seen that every desire leads to frustration. Those desires are past memories. He had lived in all kinds of relationships, and had seen that every kind of relationship turns into hell. He had passed through all the dark nights of the soul. He had attained a certain aloofness -- the purity of an observer. He was no longer interested in participating in any football game. Just living his life, he had come to a transcendence; hence, he was respected, his wisdom was respected.
But in the East, the idea has been that life is not just a small piece of seventy years in which youth comes only once. The idea has been that just as in existence everything moves eternally -- the summer comes, the rains come, the winter comes, and the summer again; everything moves like a wheel -- life is not an exception.
Death is the end of one wheel and the beginning of another. Again you will be a child, and again you will be young, and again you will be old. It has been so since the beginning, and it is going to be so to the very end -- until you become so enlightened that you can jump out of the vicious circle and can enter into a totally different law. From individuality, you can jump into the universal. So there was no hurry, and there was no clinging.
The West is based on the Judaic tradition which believes only in one life. Christianity is only a branch of the Jews. Jesus was a Jew, born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew; he never knew that he was a Christian. If you meet him somewhere and greet him with, `Hello, Jesus Christ', he will not recognize who you are addressing because he never knew that his name is Jesus and he never knew that he is Christ. His name was Joshua, a Hebrew name, and he was a messiah of God, not a Christ. Jesus Christ is a translation in Greek from Hebrew. Mohammedanism is also a by-product of the same tradition -- the Jews.
These three religions believe in one life. To believe in one life is very dangerous because it does not give you chances to make mistakes, it does not give you chances to have enough experience of anything; you are always in a hurry.
The whole Western mind has become the mind of a tourist who is carrying two, three cameras, and rushing to photograph everything because he only has a three-week visa.
And in three weeks, he has to cover the whole country -- all the great monuments. There is no time for him to see them directly; he will see them at home, at ease, in his album.
Whenever I remember the tourists, I see the old women rushing from one place to another -- from Ajanta to Ellora, from Taj Mahal to Kashmir -- in a hurry, because life is short.
It is only the Western mind which has created the proverb that time is money. In the East, things go slowly; there is no hurry -- one has the whole of eternity. We have been here and we will be here again, so what is the hurry? Enjoy everything with intensity and totality.
So, one thing: because of the idea of one single life, the West has become too concerned about being young, and then everything is done to remain young as long as possible, to prolong the process. That creates hypocrisy, and that destroys an authentic growth. It does not allow you to become really wise in your old age, because you hate old age; old age reminds you only of death, nothing else. Old age means the full stop is not far away; you have come to the terminus -- just one whistle more, and the train will stop.
I had an agreement with my grandfather. He loved his feet to be massaged, and I had told him, "Remember, when I say `comma,' that means be alert; the semi-colon is coming close. When I say `semi-colon,' get ready because the full stop is coming close. And once I say `full stop,' I mean it." So he was so much afraid of "comma" that when I would say, "Comma," he would say, "It is okay, but let the semi-colon be a little longer. Don't make it short and quick!"
Old age simply reminds you, in the West, that a full stop is coming close -- prolong the semi-colon. And who are you trying to deceive? If you have recognized that youth is no longer there, you can go on deceiving the whole world. But you are not young, you are simply being ridiculous.
I have heard... two so-called young people got married -- so-called because both were pretending to be young; youth had gone down the drain a long, long time ago. They went for a honeymoon with suitcases, with the tags, "Just married." But both were afraid.
There was no joy on their faces, only the fear of exposure.
Immediately they entered the hotel room, and closed the doors; the man immediately got into bed, under the blanket, and told the wife, "Put the light off while you are in the bathroom. I will wait in darkness; I like darkness."
The wife said, "Why do you like darkness? I cannot, because you are a stranger to me.
We just met on the beach; I don't know who you are, you don't know who I am. I want to keep the light on the whole night."
The man said, "I will not be able to sleep."
The woman said, "But at least until I come out of the bathroom, keep the light on."
And that struggle is always the beginning of every honeymoon, the fight.... Because the woman started insisting, "Why you are so stubborn that the light should be put out?"
The man said, "You are going to know anyway, so what is the point of fighting?"
He threw the blanket away and showed that one of his legs was false.
He said, "I did not want you to know it."
The woman said, "But it is good."
She threw off her wig, took out her teeth, and told the man, "My breasts are also false. So now there is no need to be afraid of the light."
He said, "Now there is no need to be afraid of anything. Now just come on, have a headache, and go to sleep; the honeymoon is over."
People are trying to remain young, but they don't know that the very fear of losing youth does not allow you to live it in its totality.
And secondly, the fear of losing youth does not allow you to accept old age with grace.
You miss both youth -- its joy, its intensity -- and you also miss the grace, and the wisdom, and the peace that old age brings. But the whole thing is based on a false conception of life.
Unless the West changes the idea that there is only one life, this hypocrisy, this clinging, and this fear cannot be changed.
In fact, one life is not all; you have lived many times, and you will live many times more.
Hence, live each moment as totally as possible; there is no hurry to jump to another moment. Time is not money, time is inexhaustible; it is available to the poor as much as to the rich. The rich are not richer as far as time is concerned, and the poor are not poorer.
Life is an eternal incarnation.
What appears on the surface is very deep-rooted in the religions of the West. They are very miserly in giving you only seventy years. If you try to work it out, almost one third of your life will be lost in sleep, one third of your life will have to be wasted in earning food, clothes, housing. Whatever little is left has to be given to education, football matches, movies, stupid quarrels, fights. If you can save, in seventy years' time, seven minutes for yourself, I will count you a wise man.
But it is difficult to save even seven minutes in your whole life; so how can you find yourself? How can you know the mystery of your being, of your life? How can you understand that death is not an end?
Because you have missed experiencing life itself, you are going to miss the great experience of death, too; otherwise, there is nothing to be afraid of in death. It is a beautiful sleep, a dreamless sleep, a sleep that is needed for you to move into another body, silently and peacefully. It is a surgical phenomenon; it is almost like anesthesia.
Death is a friend, not a foe.
Once you understand death as a friend, and start living life without any fear that it is only a very small time span of seventy years -- if your perspective opens to the eternity of your life -- then everything will slow down; then there is no need to be speedy.
In everything, people are simply rushing. I have seen people taking their office bag, pushing things into it, kissing their wife, not seeing whether she is their wife or somebody else; and saying goodbye to their children. This is not the way of living! And where are you reaching with this speed?
I have heard about a young couple who had purchased a new car, and they were going full speed.
The wife was telling the husband again and again, "Where are we going?" Because women are still old-minded, "Where are we going?"
And the man said, "Stop bothering me, just enjoy the speed we are going with. The real question is not where we are going; the real question is with what great speed we are going?"
Speed has become more important than the destination, and speed has become more important because life is so short. You have to do so many things that unless you do everything with speed, you cannot manage. You cannot sit silently even for a few minutes -- it seems a wastage. In those few minutes you could have earned a few bucks.
Just wasting time closing your eyes, and what is there inside you? If you really want to know, you can go to any hospital and see a skeleton. That is what is inside you. Why are you unnecessarily getting into trouble by looking in? Looking in, you will find a skeleton.
And once you have seen your skeleton, life will become more difficult; kissing your wife, you know perfectly well what is happening -- two skeletons. Somebody just needs to invent x-ray glasses, so people can put on x-ray glasses and see all around skeletons laughing. Most probably, he will not be alive to take his glasses off; so many skeletons laughing is enough to stop anybody's heartbeat.... "My God, this is the reality! And this is what all these mystics have been telling people, `Look inwards' -- avoid them!"
The West has no tradition of mysticism. It is extrovert: look outward, there is so much to see. But they are not aware that inside there is not only the skeleton; there is something more within the skeleton. That is your consciousness. By closing your eyes you will not come across the skeleton; you will come across your very life source.
The West needs a deep acquaintance with its own life source, then there will be no hurry.
One will enjoy when life brings youth, one will enjoy when life brings old age and one will enjoy when life brings death. You simply know one thing -- how to enjoy everything that you come across, how to transform it into a celebration.
I call the authentic religion the art of transforming everything into a celebration, into a song, into a dance.
An old man walked into a health clinic and told the doctor, "You have got to do something to lower my sex drive." The doctor took one look at the feeble old man and said, "Now, now sir, I have got the feeling that your sex drive is all in your head."
"That's what I mean sonny," the old man said. "I have got to lower it a little."
Even the old man is wanting to be a playboy. It shows one thing with certainty -- that he has not lived his youth with totality. He has missed his youth, and he is still thinking about it. Now he cannot do anything about it, but his whole mind is continuously thinking about the days he had in youth which have not been lived; at that time he was in a hurry.
If he had lived his youth, he would be free in his old age of all repressions, sexuality; there would be no need for him to drop his sexual instinct. It disappears, it evaporates in living. One just has to live uninhibited, without any interference from your religions, from your priests and it disappears; otherwise, when you are young you are in church, and when you are old, you are reading the playboy by hiding it in your HOLY BIBLE.
Every HOLY BIBLE is used only for one purpose, hiding magazines like playboy, so you are not caught by children -- it is embarrassing.
I have heard of three men, old men. One is seventy, the other is eighty and the third is ninety. They are all old friends, retired, who used to go for a walk and sit on a bench in the park, and have all kinds of gossips.
One day the youngest of the three, the seventy year old man, looked a little sad. The second one, the eighty year old, asked, "What is the matter? You are looking very sad."
He said, "I am feeling very guilty. It will help me to unburden myself if I tell you. It is an incident. A beautiful lady was taking a bath. She was a guest in our house, and I was looking through the keyhole and my mother caught hold of me."
Both the old friends laughed; they said, "You are an idiot. Everybody does such things in childhood."
He said, "It is not a question of childhood; it happened today."
The second man said, "Then it is really serious. But I will tell you something which has been happening to me for three days, and I am keeping it like a stone, a rock on my heart.
Continuously for three days my wife has refused to love me."
The first man said, "That is really very bad."
But the third, the oldest laughed and he said, "First you ask him what does he mean by love?"
So he asked, and the second old man said, "Nothing much. Don't make me feel more embarrassed. It is a simple process. I hold my wife's hand and press it three times, then she goes to sleep and I go to sleep. But for three days, whenever I try to hold her hand, she says, `Not today, not today! Feel ashamed; you are old enough -- not today!' so for three days I have not loved.
The third old man said, "This is nothing. What has been happening to me I must confess, because you are young and it will help you in your future. Last night, as the night was passing and the morning was coming closer, I started to make preparations to make love to my wife and she said to me, `What are you trying to do you idiot?' I said, `What am I trying to do? I am simply trying to make love to you,' and she said, `This is the third time in the night; neither you sleep nor you allow me to sleep. Love, love, love.' So I think it seems I am losing my memory. Your problems are nothing; I have lost my memory."
If you listen to old people, you will be surprised; they are talking only of things which they should have lived, but the time has passed when it was possible to live them. At that time they were reading the Holy Bible and listening to the priest.
Those priests and those holy scriptures have corrupted people, because they have given them ideas against nature and they cannot allow them to live naturally.
If we need a new humanity, we will have to erase the whole past and start everything anew. And the first basic principle will be: allow everybody, help everybody, teach everybody to live according to his nature, not according to any ideals, and live totally and intensely without any fear. Then children will enjoy their childhood, the young people will enjoy their youth and the old people will have the grace that comes naturally, out of a whole life lived naturally.
Unless your old age is graceful and wise and full of light and joy, contentment, fulfillment, a blissfulness... in your very presence, unless flowers blossom and there is a fragrance of eternity, then it is certain that you have lived. If it is not happening that way, that means somewhere you have gone astray, somewhere you have listened to the priests, who are the corrupters, the criminals, somewhere you have gone against nature; and nature takes revenge. And its revenge is to destroy your old age and make it ugly -- ugly to others and ugly in your own eyes. Otherwise old age has a beauty which even youth cannot have.
Youth has a maturity, but it is unwise. It has too much foolishness in it; it is amateurish.
Old age has given the last touches to the paintings of his own life. And when one has given the last touches, one is ready to die joyously, dancingly. One is ready to welcome death.
Okay, Maneesha Yes, Osho.
The Golden Future