Awareness: The Key to Living in Balance

Awareness: The Key to Living in Balance

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by Osho

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Underlying all meditation techniques, including martial arts-and in fact underlying all great athletic performances-is a quality of being awake and present to the moment, a quality that Osho calls awareness. Once we can identify and understand what this quality of awareness is, we have the key to self-mastery in virtually every area of our lives.

According to


Underlying all meditation techniques, including martial arts-and in fact underlying all great athletic performances-is a quality of being awake and present to the moment, a quality that Osho calls awareness. Once we can identify and understand what this quality of awareness is, we have the key to self-mastery in virtually every area of our lives.

According to great masters like Lao Tzu or Buddha, most of us move through our lives like sleepwalkers. Never really present in what we are doing, never fully alert to our environment, and not even aware of what motivates us to do and say the things we do.

At the same time, all of us have experienced moments of awareness-or awakening, to use another-in extraordinary circumstances. On the road, in a sudden and unexpected accident, time seems to stop and one is suddenly aware of every movement, every sound, every thought. Or in moments that touch us deeply-welcoming a new baby into the world for the first time, or being with someone at the moment of death.

Awareness, says Osho, is the key to being self-directed, centered, and free in every aspect of our lives. In this book, Osho teaches how to live life more attentively, mindfully, and meditatively, with love, caring and consciousness.

OSHO challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit their capacity to life in all its richness. He has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the "1000 Makers of the 20th Century" and by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people-along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha-who have changed the destiny of India. More than a decade after his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

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Osho Insights for a New Way of Living
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The Key to Living in Balance

By Osho, Sarito Carol Neiman

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2001 Osho International Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0765-1



* * *

I never use the word renunciation at all. I say: Rejoice in life, in love, in meditation, in the beauties of the world, in the ecstasy of existencerejoice in everything! Transform the mundane into the sacred. Transform this shore into the other shore, transform the earth into paradise.

And then indirectly a certain renunciation starts happening. But that happens, you don't do it. It is not a doing, it is a happening. You start renouncing your foolishnesses; you start renouncing rubbish. You start renouncing meaningless relationships. You start renouncing jobs that were not fulfilling to your being. You start renouncing places where growth was not possible. But I don't call it renunciation, I call it understanding, awareness.

If you are carrying stones in your hand thinking that they are diamonds, I will not tell you to renounce those stones. I will simply say, "Be alert and have another look!" If you yourself see that they are not diamonds, is there any need to renounce them? They will fall from your hands of their own accord. In fact, if you still want to carry them, you will have to make a great effort, you will have to bring great will, to still carry them. But you cannot carry them for long; once you have seen that they are useless, meaningless, you are bound to throw them away.

And once your hands are empty, you can search for the real treasures. And the real treasures are not in the future. The real treasures are right now, here.


Wakefulness is the way to life.

The fool sleeps as if he were already dead, but the master is awake and he lives forever.

He watches. He is clear.

How happy he is! For he sees that wakefulness is life.

How happy he is, following the path of the awakened.

With great perseverance he meditates, seeking freedom and happiness.

— from the Dhammapada of Gautama the Buddha

We go on living absolutely inattentive to what is happening around us. Yes, we have become very efficient in doing things. What we are doing, we have become so efficient in doing that we don't need any awareness to do it. It has become mechanical, automatic. We function like robots. We are not men yet; we are machines.

That's what George Gurdjieff used to say again and again, that man as he exists is a machine. He offended many people, because nobody likes to be called a machine. Machines like to be called gods; then they feel very happy, puffed up. Gurdjieff used to call people machines, and he was right. If you watch yourself, you will know how mechanically you behave.

The Russian physiologist Pavlov, and the American psychologist Skinner, are 99.9 percent right about man: they believe that man is a beautiful machine, that's all. There is no soul in him. I say 99.9 percent they are right; they only miss by a small margin. In that small margin are the buddhas, the awakened ones. But they can be forgiven, because Pavlov never came across a buddha — he came across millions of people like you.

Skinner has been studying men and rats and finds no difference. Rats are simple beings, that's all; man is a little more complicated.

Man is a highly sophisticated machine, rats are simple machines. It is easier to study rats; that's why psychologists go on studying rats. They study rats and they conclude about man — and their conclusions are almost right. I say "almost," mind you, because that one-tenth of one percent is the most important phenomenon that has happened. A Buddha, a Jesus, a Mohammed — these few awakened people are the real men. But where can B. F. Skinner find a buddha? Certainly not in America. ...

I have heard:

A man asked a rabbi, "Why didn't Jesus choose to be born in twentieth-century America?"

The rabbi shrugged his shoulders and said, "In America? It would have been impossible. Where can you find a virgin, firstly? And secondly, where will you find three wise men?"

Where is B. F. Skinner going to find a buddha? And even if he can find a buddha, his preconceived prejudices, ideas, will not allow him to see. He will go on seeing his rats. He cannot understand anything that rats cannot do. Now, rats don't meditate, rats don't become enlightened. And he conceives of man only as a magnified form of a rat. And still I say that he is right about the greater majority of people; his conclusions are not wrong, and buddhas will agree with him about the so-called normal humanity. The normal humanity is utterly asleep. Even animals are not so asleep.

Have you seen a deer in the forest — how alert he looks, how watchfully he walks? Have you seen a bird sitting on the tree — how intelligently he goes on watching what is happening all around? You move toward the bird — there is a certain space he allows. Beyond that, one step more, and he flies away. He has a certain alertness about his territory. If somebody enters into that territory, then it is dangerous.

If you look around, you will be surprised: man seems to be the most asleep animal on the earth.

A woman buys a parrot at an auction of the furnishings of a fancy whorehouse and keeps the parrot's cage covered for two weeks, hoping to make it forget its profane vocabulary. When the cage is finally uncovered, the parrot looks around and remarks, "Awrrk! New house. New madam." When the woman's daughters come in, he adds, "Awrrk! New girls."

When her husband comes home that night, the parrot says, "Awrrk! Awrrk! Same old customers!"

Man is in a fallen state. In fact, that is the meaning of the Christian parable of the fall of Adam, his expulsion. Why were Adam and Eve expelled from paradise? They were expelled because they had eaten the fruit of knowledge. They were expelled because they had become minds, and they had lost their consciousness. If you become a mind, you lose consciousness — mind means sleep, mind means noise, mind means mechanicalness. If you become a mind, you lose consciousness.

Hence, the whole work that has to be done is to become consciousness again and lose the mind. You have to throw out of your system all that you have gathered as knowledge. It is knowledge that keeps you asleep; hence, the more knowledgeable a person is, the more asleep.

That has been my own observation too. Innocent villagers are far more alert and awake than the professors in the universities and the pundits in the temples. The pundits are nothing but parrots; the academicians in the universities are full of nothing but holy cow dung, full of absolutely meaningless noise — just minds and no consciousness.

People who work with nature — farmers, gardeners, woodcutters, carpenters, painters — they are far more alert than the people who function in the universities as deans and vice-chancellors and chancellors. Because when you work with nature, nature is alert. Trees are alert; their form of alertness is certainly different, but they are very alert.

Now there are scientific proofs of their alertness. If the woodcutter comes with an ax in his hand and with the deliberate desire to cut the tree, all the trees that see him coming tremble. Now there are scientific proofs about it; I am not talking poetry, I am talking science when I say this. Now there are instruments to measure whether the tree is happy or unhappy, afraid or unafraid, sad or ecstatic. When the woodcutter comes, all the trees that see him start trembling. They become aware that death is close by. And the woodcutter has not cut any tree yet — just his coming. ...

And one thing more, far more strange — if the woodcutter is simply passing by, with no deliberate idea to cut a tree, then no tree becomes afraid. It is the same woodcutter, with the same ax. It seems that his intention to cut a tree affects the trees. It means that his intention is being understood; it means the very vibe is being decoded by the trees.

And one more significant fact has been observed scientifically: if you go into the forest and kill an animal, not only the animal kingdom around becomes shaken, but trees also. If you kill a deer, all the deer that are around feel the vibe of murder, become sad; a great trembling arises in them. Suddenly they are afraid for no particular reason at all. They may not have seen the deer being killed, but somehow, in a subtle way, they are affected — instinctively, intuitively. But it is not only the deer that are affected — the trees are affected, the parrots are affected, the tigers are affected, the eagles are affected, the grass leaves are affected. Murder has happened, destruction has happened, death has happened — everything that is around is affected. Man seems to be the most asleep. ...

The sutras of Buddha have to be meditated on deeply, imbibed, followed. He says:

Wakefulness is the way to life.

You are alive only in the proportion that you are aware. Awareness is the difference between death and life. You are not alive just because you are breathing, you are not alive just because your heart is beating. Physiologically you can be kept alive in a hospital, without any consciousness. Your heart will go on beating and you will be able to breathe. You can be kept in such a mechanical arrangement that you will remain alive for years — in the sense of breathing and the heart beating and the blood circulating. There are now many people around the world in advanced countries who are just vegetating in the hospitals, because advanced technology has made it possible for your death to be postponed indefinitely — for years you can be kept alive. If this is life, then you can be kept alive. But this is not life at all. Just to vegetate is not life.

Buddhas have a different definition. Their definition consists of awareness. They don't say you are alive because you can breathe, they don't say you are alive because your blood circulates; they say you are alive if you are awake. So except for the awakened ones, nobody is really alive. You are corpses — walking, talking, doing things — you are robots.

Wakefulness is the way to life, says Buddha. Become more wakeful and you will become more alive. And life is God — there is no other God. Hence Buddha talks about life and awareness. Life is the goal and awareness is the methodology, the technique to attain it.

The fool sleeps. ...

And all are asleep, so all are foolish. Don't feel offended. The facts have to be stated as they are. You function in sleep; that's why you go on stumbling, you go on doing things you don't want to do. You go on doing things you have decided not to do. You go on doing things you know are not right to do, and you don't do things that you know are right.

How is this possible? Why can't you walk straight? Why do you go on getting trapped into bypaths? Why do you go on going astray?

A young man with a fine voice is asked to take part in a pageant play, though he tries to beg off, saying he always gets embarrassed under such circumstances. He is assured it will be very simple, and he will have only one line to say: "I come to snatch a kiss, and dart into the fray. Hark! I hear a pistol shot" — and then stride offstage.

At the performance he comes onstage, embarrassed already by the tight-fitting colonial knee breeches he has been made to put on at the last moment, and becomes completely unstrung at the sight of the beautiful heroine lying back on a garden seat awaiting him, in a white gown. He clears his throat and announces, "I come to kiss your snatch — no! — snatch a kiss, and fart into the dray — I mean, dart into the fray! Hark! — I hear a shistol pot — no! — a shostil pit, a pistil shit. Oh, batshit, ratshit, shit on you all! I never wanted to be in this damned play in the first place!"

This is what is happening. Watch your life — everything that you go on doing is so confused and so confusing. You don't have any clarity, you don't have any perceptiveness. You are not alert. You can't see, you can't hear — certainly you have ears so you can hear, but there is nobody inside to understand it. Certainly you have eyes so you can see, but there is nobody present inside. So your eyes go on seeing and your ears go on listening, but nothing is understood. And on each step you stumble, on each step you commit something wrong. And still you go on believing that you are aware.

Drop that idea completely. Dropping it is a great leap, a great step, because once you drop the idea that "I am aware," you will start seeking and searching for ways and means to be aware. So the first thing to sink into you is that you are asleep, utterly asleep.

Modern psychology has discovered a few things that are significant; although they have been discovered only intellectually, still it is a good beginning. If intellectually they have been discovered, then sooner or later they will also be experienced existentially.

Freud is a great pioneer; of course, not a buddha, but still a man of great significance because he was the first to make the idea accepted by the larger part of humanity that man has a great unconscious hidden in him. The conscious mind is only one-tenth, and the unconscious mind is nine times bigger than the conscious.

Then his disciple Jung went a little further, a little deeper, and discovered the collective unconscious. Behind the individual unconscious there is a collective unconscious. Now somebody is needed to discover one thing more, which is there, and I hope that sooner or later the psychological investigations that are going on will discover it — the cosmic unconscious. Buddhas have talked about it.

So we can talk about the conscious mind — a very fragile thing, a very small part of your being. Behind the conscious is the subconscious mind — vague, you can hear its whispering but you cannot figure it out. It is always there behind the conscious, pulling its strings. Third is the unconscious mind, which you come across only in dreams or when you take drugs. Then, the collective unconscious mind. You come across it only when you go into a deep inquiry into your unconscious mind; then you come across the collective unconscious. And if you go still further, deeper, you will come to the cosmic unconscious. The cosmic unconscious is nature. The collective unconscious is the whole of humanity that has lived up to now; it is part of you. The unconscious is your individual unconscious that society has repressed in you, that has not been allowed expression. Hence it comes by the back door in the night, in your dreams.

And the conscious mind ... I will call it the so-called conscious mind because it is only so-called. It is so tiny, just a flicker, but even if it is just a flicker, it is important because it has the seed; the seeds are always small. It has great potential. Now a totally new dimension is opening up. Just as Freud opened the dimension below the conscious, Sri Aurobindo opened the dimension above the conscious. Freud and Sri Aurobindo are the two most important people of this age. Both are intellectuals, neither of them is an awakened person, but both have done a great service to humanity. Intellectually they have made us aware that we are not so small as we appear from the surface, that the surface is hiding great depths and heights.

Freud went into the depths, Sri Aurobindo tried to penetrate into the heights. Above our so-called conscious mind is the real conscious mind; that is attained only through meditation. When your ordinary conscious mind is added to meditation, when the ordinary conscious mind is plus meditation, it becomes the real conscious mind.

Beyond the real conscious mind is the superconscious mind. When you are meditating, you have only glimpses. Meditation is a groping in the dark. Yes, a few windows open up, but you fall back again and again. Superconscious mind means samadhi — you have attained a crystal-clear perceptiveness, you have attained an integrated awareness. Now you cannot fall below it; it is yours. Even in sleep it will remain with you.

Beyond the superconscious is the collective superconscious; the collective superconscious is what is known as "god" in the religions. And beyond the collective superconscious is the cosmic superconscious, which even goes beyond the gods. Buddha calls it nirvana, Mahavira calls it kaivalya, Hindu mystics have called it moksha; you can call it the truth.


Excerpted from Awareness by Osho, Sarito Carol Neiman. Copyright © 2001 Osho International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Osho is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world. He is the author of many books, including Love, Freedom, Aloneness; The Book of Secrets; and Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder.

Osho is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world. He is the author of many books, including Love, Freedom, Aloneness; The Book of Secrets; and Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder.

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Awareness: The Key to Living in Balance 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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