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Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder: What Happened to the Sense of Wonder I Felt as a Child?

Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder: What Happened to the Sense of Wonder I Felt as a Child?

by Osho

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The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on the most important questions in the life of the individual. Each volume contains timeless and always-contemporary investigations and discussions into questions vital to our personal search for meaning and purpose. The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on questions specific to our inner life and quality of existence, for


The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on the most important questions in the life of the individual. Each volume contains timeless and always-contemporary investigations and discussions into questions vital to our personal search for meaning and purpose. The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on questions specific to our inner life and quality of existence, for example: Is it possible to have an authentic spirituality without a belief in God? What is meditation and how does it work? What can I do as an individual to make the world a better place?

The third title in this dynamic and exciting series, Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder, looks to each person's last state of innocence--childhood--to recover the ability to truly be curious. Osho discusses why it is important to look to our "inner child" and how it can help you understand the person you have become.

Each title in the Osho Life Essential series is accompanied by a DVD of Osho speaking about the questions addressed in the book. This visual component enables the reader to experience the direct wisdom and humor of Osho straight from the source. Each book and DVD in the OSHO Life Essentials series offers truly unique and transformative responses to essential and timeless questions that we can use as stepping stones to a greater understanding of who we are and why we are here.

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St. Martin's Press
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Osho Life Essentials Series
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5.40(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.56(d)

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Read an Excerpt


The Eyes of Wonder


Wonder is the source of wisdom, wonder is the source of all that is beautiful, and wonder is the source for the search, the real search. Wonder takes you on the adventure to know the mysteries of life.

I don’t have the same sense of wonder in me that I had as a child. Why?

It happens to almost everybody. The more knowledgeable you become, the less wonder is felt. And parents, schools, universities, the society … they all go on forcing you to become knowledgeable. Their whole effort is to give you knowledge. Your inner space becomes so full of knowledge that wonder disappears; wonder has no space left to abide in you.

A child has the eyes of wonder. He feels awe, he is mystified by each and every thing. Small things surprise him; hence his bubbling joy, because his life is a constant discovery.

You become knowledgeable—the society wants you to become knowledgeable. Knowledge is very much needed, knowledge has so much utility. And wonder is dangerous, because a person who wonders is bound to become either a philosopher or a poet or a mystic, and all these three kinds of people are useless for the society. Society needs machines, skillful machines—by giving you more and more knowledge, making you full of knowledge, society turns you into an automaton, into a robot. And the more you think you know, the more wonder becomes impossible—because when you know, how can you wonder?

A small child can wonder why the trees are green. But how can you wonder? You know it is because of chlorophyll—although you don’t know much, because another question can be raised as to why chlorophyll makes trees green, and you will have to shrug your shoulders. You have simply pushed the question back a little. The more you know, the less you wonder. But the moment wonder dies in you, religion dies in you, because religion consists of wonder and awe. Knowledge demystifies life and existence, and religion exists only when life is a mystery. Hence you will have to learn wonder again.

In fact, a right kind of education will never do this. It will give you knowledge, but it will not destroy your wonder; that will be the right kind of education. It will give you knowledge, but it will keep you alert that no knowledge can destroy wonder. In fact, on the contrary, knowledge can make you more wondering.

The small child cannot wonder about chlorophyll. If you are rightly educated, you can wonder about the greenery of the trees and you can also wonder about chlorophyll.

Albert Einstein’s last words were, “I have been thinking the whole of my life that I would demystify the universe. But what has happened is just the contrary. The deeper I went into existence, the more the mystery deepened. I am dying full of wonder, I am dying in wonder.” But this is rare; this is the quality of a genius. The genius is one who does not allow the society to reduce him to a robot: that’s my definition of a genius. Everybody is born as a genius, but people start compromising very soon. And when they compromise, their talents disappear, their intelligence dies. They go on selling their souls for mundane things, for useless things—useless in the ultimate sense; they may be useful here, but death comes and all those things are taken away with you.

If you can die like Albert Einstein—mystified, with full wonder, with prayer in the heart, with poetry arising in you—you have lived rightly and you are dying rightly. And a person who lives rightly and dies rightly is a spiritual person. Albert Einstein is far more spiritual than your Vatican pope and your shankaracharyas—far more spiritual. Before he died, somebody asked him, “If you are born again and God asks you, I am certain you would like to become a great physicist and mathematician again.” He said, “No, never! If another opportunity is given to me, rather than being a physicist I would like to become a plumber. I would like to live a very ordinary kind of life, anonymous, so that I could enjoy life more easily with nobody coming in my way. Fame, prestige, research—nothing coming in my way, so that I could have a deeper communion with existence.”

You say, “I don’t have the same sense of wonder in me that I had as a child. Why?”

You must be very knowledgeable.

An aspiring performance artist walked into an agent’s office looking for work. The agent said, “What do you do?”

Without a word, the artist lifted up his arms, flew around the office, out of the window, across the street, and back in through the window, making a perfect two-point landing in front of the agent’s desk.

“Okay, okay,” said the agent. “So you do bird impersonations. Anything else?”

This is what happens to the knowledgeable people. Nothing surprises them. Even if God stands before them, they will say, “Okay, okay, so you are God. Anything else?”

Drop your knowledgeability.

The theatrical impresario, Maxie Doldum, was once approached by a man in his theater.

“I’ve got an act to offer you that is really unique,” said the man. “It will take London by storm. All you have to do is put ten thousand pounds in the bank for my wife, and I’ll commit suicide on the stage of your theater.”

Somewhat astounded, Maxie pondered the offer. “Hmmmmmm, interesting,” he finally said. “But what will you do for an encore?”

There are people who are so constantly utilitarian that their whole thinking consists of utilities. He asks, “But what will you do for an encore?” People have become so concerned with the worldly things—utilities, commodities, usefulness—that nothing surprises them, nothing shocks them into awareness. They go on like sleepwalkers. The rosebush brings flowers, they don’t see; they are blind. The birds sing in the morning, they don’t hear; they are deaf. They have lost all sensitivity. They have become so dead and dull that nothing thrills them to a dance, nothing brings a song to their lips, nothing gives lightness to their step. And the culprit is knowledge.

In a more understanding world, knowledge will still be given to you, but you will also be taught how to go on protecting your capacity to wonder. Your poetry will not be killed, crushed under the weight of knowledge. In a real university, only half the time will be devoted to utilitarian objectives, and the other half will be devoted to non-utilitarian objectives: poetry, music, painting, dance, meditation, prayer. Or just relaxing under a tree, just sitting silently under a tree, doing nothing! Half the time of schools, colleges, and universities should be devoted to non-utilitarian activities, done for no purpose at all but just for the sheer joy of it. Then only will we have a whole human being in the world.

Up until now, there have existed two types of people: one is the worldly, who is a hundred percent utilitarian. Another is the monk; he is a hundred percent non-utilitarian. Both are lopsided, both are missing something. The monk is missing the beauties of the world—the beauties of relationship, the beauties of people. The monk is poor, spiritually poor, because he is missing all the enriching experiences of life, of love, of friendship, of enmity, of anger, of compassion; he is missing all that variety that enriches the soul. He is just an empty blankness, a kind of blank canvas; nothing has been painted on him, he is spiritually poor.

I have seen so many saints that I can say to you, it is very rare to come across a saint who has some richness of the soul. He is so monotonous, he is so boring; his whole life is nothing but boredom. How does he manage to live such a bored life? He can manage it only because he has dulled all his senses; he has dulled even his intelligence, so he cannot feel the boredom.

Do you know? Except for man, no other animal feels boredom. Buffalos are never bored, donkeys are never bored; they don’t have the intelligence to feel boredom. It is only man who feels boredom, and it is only man who has the capacity to laugh. Boredom and laughter are two sides of the same coin. But your monks, your so-called religious people, are not bored and cannot laugh either. They have fallen to the state of buffalos and donkeys.

I have heard about a philosopher who used to walk on the streets looking at the sky, the stars, the moon, the sun, clouds, and birds on the wing. It was natural that many times he would bump into people or stumble into something. And it was his habit that whenever somebody bumped into him, or he bumped into somebody he would say, “Are you a donkey or something?” And he was very much respected, he was a well-known philosopher, so everybody tolerated it; nobody took any offense.

One day it happened, he bumped into a donkey. He was just going to say his usual, “Are you a donkey or something?” He was just going to say it. But then he looked, and he laughed, and he said, “Sir, you are just yourself. What else can I say to you?”

People who escape from the world become donkeys and buffalos; they fall below human awareness, human sensibilities. That’s why they cannot live even a bored life—no laughter, no boredom. They have become animals. They have lost the glory of being a human being; they have fallen back. Of course, the life of an animal is less anxious; there is no anxiety, no anguish. Hence you will see a kind of serenity around them—but a serenity without intelligence is not of any worth.

When serenity happens with intelligence, a buddha is born. When serenity happens without intelligence, you have gone back to the world of the buffalos. But this has been the case. A few people have moved away from the world, a hundred percent to non-utilitarian activities—praying, praying, meditating, meditating, alone. This is not, and cannot be, a total life. And the others, the millions, are living only utilitarian lives—having more and more things, having bigger and bigger bank balances, and they don’t know anything of play. Even if they play, they become very serious in their play; even their play becomes a business.

People cannot simply play cards, they have to put money into it; then it becomes something serious, because it takes the form of a business. Something has to be staked, only then can they play. You see players who even in their play are so dead serious, it is a question of life and death. Nobody seems to be playful.

The world is full of utilitarian activities, and people have lost all qualities of meditation, prayerfulness, play, wondering, feeling awe, watching stars, looking at the flowers, playing the guitar, or singing a song for no other reason but the sheer joy of it. These people are also very poor.

I want to create a totally new man in the world, who will not be poor in this way or that, who will be really rich—who will have all the richness of the world, of relationships, of all the challenges of existence, and who will also have the capacity to be silent, to be in the space of playfulness, meditativeness.

This is my idea of a sannyasin: Be in the world, and yet don’t be part of it. Be in the world, and yet go on surpassing it. Don’t be an escapist.

The right education will create sannyasins in the world—sannyasins in my sense—it will create holy people. Fifty percent of education should be devoted to the world, and fifty percent to the beyond, and both should remain in a harmony, in a deep synthesis. Then you can be knowledgeable, and yet wonder continues to flow in you. Then you can know, and yet you are mystified by existence.

What is innocence, what is beauty?

To live in the moment is innocence, to live without the past is innocence, to live without conclusions is innocence, to function out of the state of not knowing is innocence. And the moment you function out of such tremendous silence which is not burdened by any past, out of such tremendous stillness which knows nothing, the experience that happens is beauty.

Whenever you feel beauty—in the rising sun, in the stars, in the flowers, or in the face of a woman or a man—wherever and whenever you feel beauty, watch. And one thing will always be found: You had functioned without mind, you had functioned without any conclusion; you had simply functioned spontaneously. The moment gripped you, and the moment gripped you so deeply that you were cut off from the past.

And when you are cut off from the past you are cut off from the future automatically, because past and future are two sides of the same coin; they are not separate, and they are not separable either. You can toss a coin: Sometimes it is heads, sometimes it is tails, but the other part is always there, hiding behind.

Past and future are two aspects of the same coin. The name of the coin is mind. When the whole coin is dropped, that dropping is innocence. Then you don’t know who you are, then you don’t know what is; there is no knowledge. But you are, existence is, and the meeting of these two is-nesses—the small is-ness of you, meeting with the infinite is-ness of existence—that meeting, that merger, is the experience of beauty.

Innocence is the door; through innocence you enter into beauty. The more innocent you become, the more existence becomes beautiful. The more knowledgeable you are, the more and more existence is ugly, because you start functioning from conclusions, you start functioning from knowledge.

The moment you know, you destroy all poetry. The moment you know, and think that you know, you have created a barrier between yourself and that which is. Then everything is distorted. Then you don’t hear with your ears, you translate. Then you don’t see with your eyes, you interpret. Then you don’t experience with your heart, you think that you experience. Then all possibility of meeting with existence in immediacy, in intimacy, is lost. You have fallen apart.

This is the original sin. And this is the whole story, the biblical story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Once they have eaten the fruit of knowledge they are driven out of paradise—not that somebody drove them out, not that God ordered them to get out of paradise; they themselves fell. Knowing they were no longer innocent, knowing they were separate from existence, knowing they were egos … knowing created such a barrier, an iron barrier.

You ask me, “What is innocence?”

Vomit knowledge! The fruit of the tree of knowledge has to be vomited. That’s what meditation is all about. Throw it out of your system: it is poison, pure poison. Live without knowledge, knowing that “I don’t know.” Function out of this state of not knowing and you will know what beauty is.

Socrates knows what beauty is, because he functions out of this state of not knowing. There is a knowledge that does not know, and there is an ignorance that knows. Become ignorant like Socrates and then a totally different quality enters your being: You become a child again, it is a rebirth. Your eyes are full of wonder again, each and everything that surrounds surprises. The bird on the wing, and you are thrilled! The sheer joy of seeing the bird on the wing—and it is as if you are on the wing. The dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf, and the morning sun shining on it and creating a small rainbow around it, and the moment is so overwhelming … the dewdrop slipping off the leaf, just on the verge of meeting with the infinite, disappearing into the lake—and it is as if you start slipping, as if your drop starts slipping into an ocean of godliness.

In the moment of innocence, not knowing, the difference between the observer and the observed evaporates. You are no longer separate from that which you are seeing, you are no longer separate from that which you are hearing.

Listening to me, right now, you can function in two ways. One is the way of knowledge: Chattering inside yourself, judging, evaluating, constantly thinking whether what I am saying is right or wrong, whether it fits with your theories or not, whether it is logical or illogical, scientific or unscientific, Christian or Hindu, whether you can go with it or not, whether you can swallow it or not, a thousand and one thoughts clamoring inside your mind, the inner talk, the inner traffic—this is one way of listening. But then you are listening from so far away that I will not be able to reach you. I go on trying, but I will not be able to reach you. You are really on some other planet: You are not here, you are not now. You are a Hindu, you are a Christian, you are a Mohammedan, you are a communist, but you are not here now. The Bible is there between me and you, or the Koran or the Gita. And I grope for you but I come across the barrier of the Koran, I grope for you but there is a queue of priests between me and you. This is the way of knowledge; this is the way of remaining deaf, of remaining blind, of remaining heartless.

There is another way of listening too: just listening, nothing between me and you. Then there is immediacy, contact, meeting, communion. Then you don’t interpret, because you are not worried whether it is right or wrong. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong. In that moment of innocence one does not evaluate. There is nothing to evaluate with, no criterion, no a priori knowledge, no already-arrived-at conclusion, nothing to compare with. You can only listen, just as one listens to the sound of running water in the hills, or a solo flute player in the forest, or somebody playing on the guitar. You listen.

But the person who has come to listen as a critic will not listen. The person who has come simply to listen, not as a critic but to enjoy the moment, will be able to listen to the music. What is there to understand in music? There is nothing to understand. There is something to taste, certainly; there is something to drink and be drunk with, certainly, but what is there to understand?

But the critic, he is not there to taste, he is not there to drink—he is there to understand. He is not listening to the music, because he is so full of mathematics. He is continuously criticizing, thinking. He is not innocent; he knows too much, hence he will miss the beauty of it. He may arrive at some stupid conclusions, but he will miss the whole moment. And the moment is momentous!

If you can listen, just listen, if you can see, just see, then this very moment you will know what innocence is.

And I am not here only to explain to you what innocence is, I am here to give a taste of it.

Have a cup of tea! I offer it to you, each moment it is being offered. Sip it—feel the warmth of the moment and the music of it and the silence and the love that overflows. Be encompassed with it. Disappear for a moment with your mind—watching, judging, criticizing, believing, disbelieving, for, against. For a moment be just an openness, and you will know what innocence is. And in that, you will know what beauty is.

Beauty is an experience that happens in innocence, the flower that blooms in innocence. Jesus says, “Unless you are like small children you will not enter into my Kingdom of God.”

You talk so often of wonder and of love. How is being in a state of awe and childlike innocence related to being in a state of love?

Wonder and awe are the greatest spiritual qualities. Wonder means you function from a state of not knowing. The knowledgeable person never feels wonder; he is incapable of feeling wonder because he thinks he already knows. He knows all the stupid answers, he may know the whole Encyclopedia Britannica; hence every question is already answered in his mind. When a question is such that there is no answer to it, that it is unanswerable—not only today, but forever; not that it is unknown, but it is unknowable—when you encounter the unknowable, unanswerable, you experience wonder. You are in a state of awe, as if the heart stops beating, as if for a moment you don’t breathe.

The experience of wonder is such that everything stops. The whole world stops: time stops, mind stops, the ego stops. For a moment you are again a child, wondering about the butterflies and the flowers and the trees and the pebbles on the shore, and the seashells, wondering about each and every thing. You are a child again. And when you can wonder and can feel the immense beauty of existence, which can only be felt in awe—when suddenly you are possessed by existence, overwhelmed—you can dance, you can celebrate that moment, you can say “Aha!” You don’t know anything else to say, no word, just an exclamation point!

The knowledgeable person lives with a question mark, and the person of awe and wonder lives with an exclamation point. Everything is so tremendously deep and profound that it is impossible to know it; knowledge is impossible. When this is experienced, then your whole energy takes a jump, a quantum leap—from the mind to the heart, from knowing to feeling.

When there is no possibility of knowing, your energy does not move in that direction anymore. When you have realized that there is no possibility of knowing, that the mystery is going to remain a mystery, that it cannot be demystified, your energy starts moving in a new direction—the direction of the heart. That’s why I say love is related to wonder and awe, to childlike innocence. When you are not obsessed with knowledge you become loving.

Knowledgeable people are not loving, heady people are not loving; even if they love, they only think that they love. Their love also comes via their heads. And passing through the head, love loses all its beauty, it becomes ugly.

The heady people are calculating; arithmetic is their way. Love is jumping into a dangerously alive existence with no calculation. The head says, “Think before you jump,” and the heart says, “Jump before you think.” Their ways are diametrically opposite.

The knowledgeable person becomes less and less loving. He may talk about love, he may write treatises about love, he may get a PhD for his thesis on love, but he knows nothing of love. He has not experienced it! It is a subject that he has been studying, it is not an affair that he is living.

You say, “You talk so often of wonder and of love.” Yes, I always talk about wonder and love together, because they are two sides of the same coin. And you will have to learn to start from wonder, because the society has already made you knowledgeable. The school, the college, the university—the society has created a great mechanism to make you knowledgeable. And the more you are stuffed with knowledge, the less and less your love energy flows. There are so many blocks created by knowledge, so many rocks in the path of love, and there exists no institution in the world where you are helped to be loving, where your love is nourished.

That’s my idea of a real university, that’s what I want to create. Of course it will remain unrecognized by the government, it will be unrecognized by other universities. And I can understand—if they recognized it, that would be a surprise to me. Their not recognizing it would be really recognizing it—recognizing that it is a totally different kind of institution, where people are not made knowledgeable but loving.

Humanity has lived with knowledge for centuries, and has lived in a very ugly way. D.H. Lawrence once proposed that if for one hundred years all the universities and colleges and schools were closed, humanity would be benefited immensely. I agree with him totally. These two persons, Friedrich Nietzsche and D.H. Lawrence, are beautiful people. It was unfortunate that they were born in the West; hence they were not aware of Lao Tzu, of Chuang Tzu, of Buddha, of Bodhidharma, of Rinzai, of Basho, of Kabir, of Meera. It is unfortunate that they knew only the Jewish and the Christian tradition. And they were very much offended by the whole Jewish and Christian approach toward life. It is very superficial.

Friedrich Nietzsche used to sign himself, “Anti-Christ, Friedrich Nietzsche.” First he would write “Anti-Christ.” He was not really anti-Christ—anti-Christian of course, because in one of his saner moments he said that the first and the last Christian was crucified; he was Jesus Christ, the first and the last. But in Christ’s name something absolutely false exists, and the day Christ was denied by the Jews they became false as well. Since that ugly day they have not lived truly. How can you live beautifully if you reject your own finest expressions? What Moses had started, a beautiful phenomenon, came to a climax in Jesus Christ, but the Jews rejected Jesus Christ. That very day they rejected their own flowering, their own fragrance. Since that day they have not been living rightly.

And the people who followed Jesus have created something absolutely against Jesus. If he comes back he will be nauseated, disgusted, seeing the Vatican and the pope and all that goes on in the name of Christ. My own feeling is … somebody was asking me, “Jesus promised to come back again—will he come back?” I told him, “If he comes back this time, you will not need to crucify him, he will commit suicide himself! Just seeing the Christians will be enough for him to commit suicide. Hence my feeling is that he is not going to come. Once is enough, twice will be too much.”

But these two men, Nietzsche and Lawrence, were immensely misunderstood in the West. They also provided reasons for being misunderstood; they were helpless, they were groping in the dark. Of course their direction was right; had they been in the East they would have become buddhas. They had the potential—great potential, great insight. I agree with them on many points.

D.H. Lawrence was very much against your so-called education—it is not education, it is miseducation. Real education can only be based on love, not on knowledge. Real education cannot be utilitarian, real education cannot be of the marketplace. Not that real education will not give you knowledge, but first real education will prepare your heart, your love. Then whatever knowledge is needed to pass through life will be given to you, but that will be secondary. And it will never be overpowering; it will not be more valuable than love. And whenever there is a possibility of any conflict between love and knowledge, real education will help you to be ready to drop your knowledge and move with your love. It will give you courage, it will give you adventure. It will give you space to live, accepting all risks, insecurities; it will help you to be ready to sacrifice yourself if love demands it. It will put love not only above knowledge but even above life, because life is meaningless without love. Love without life is still meaningful; even if your body dies, it makes no difference to your love energy. It continues, it is eternal; it is not a time phenomenon.

To have a loving heart, you need a little less calculating head. To be capable of loving you need to be capable of wondering. That’s why I always say that awe and childlike innocence are deeply related with the energy called love. In fact, they are different names for the same thing.

What is mysticism?

Mysticism is the experience that life is not logic, that life is poetry; that life is not syllogism, that life is a song. Mysticism is the declaration that life can never really be known; it is essentially unknowable.

Science divides existence into two categories: the known and the unknown. The known was unknown one day; it has become known. The unknown is unknown today; tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, it will also become known. Science believes that sooner or later a point of understanding will arrive when there will be only one category: the known, all will have been known. The unknown is slowly being reduced to the known.

Mysticism is the declaration that life consists of three categories: one, the known; another, the unknown; and the third, and the most important, is the unknowable—which has not been known and which will never be known. And that is the essential core of it all.

That unknowable can be experienced but not known. It cannot be reduced to knowledge, although your heart can sing its song. You can dance it, you can live it, you can be full and overflowing with it—you can be possessed by it—but you will not be able to know it.

It is like when a river disappears into the ocean. Do you think the river comes to know the ocean? It becomes the ocean, but there is no knowing. In fact, when you become one with something, how can you know it? Knowledge requires division; knowledge is basically schizophrenic. The object has to be separate from the subject; the knower has to keep a distance from the known. If the distance disappears, there will be no knowledge possible.

And that’s what happens in mysticism: The seeker becomes one with the sought, the lover dissolves into the beloved, the dewdrop slips, falls into the ocean, and becomes the ocean. There is no knowledge. In such unity knowledge is not possible. In such unity there is only experience, and experience not of something outside you, but something inside you. It is experiencing rather than experience.

The word “mysticism” comes from a Greek word, mysterion, which means “secret ceremony.” The people who have touched the unknowable gather together to share. The sharing is not verbal; it cannot be verbal. The sharing is of their being; they pour their being into each other. They dance together, they sing together, they look into each other’s eyes, or they simply sit silently together. That’s what was being done with Buddha, with Krishna, with Jesus, in different ways. The lovers of Krishna were dancing with him. That was a mysterion, a secret ceremony. If you look from the outside at what is happening you will not be able to know what is really the case. Unless you become a participant, unless you dance with Krishna, you will not know what is being shared, because that which is being shared is invisible. It is not a commodity, it cannot be transferred from one hand to another; you will not see anything happening like that. It is not objective. It is the flowing of one being into another, flowing of the presence of the master into the disciple.

These kinds of secret ceremonies in India have been called ras; in the tradition of Krishna they are called ras. Ras means dancing with the master, so that your energy is flowing and the Master’s energy is flowing. And only flowing energies can have a meeting. Stagnant pools cannot meet, only rivers can meet. It is only through movement that meeting is possible.

But the same was happening with Buddha too, with no visible dance. Buddha was sitting silently, his disciples were sitting silently; it was called satsang, “being with truth.” Buddha has become enlightened; he is a light unto himself. Others who are not yet lit, whose candles are yet unlit, sit in close proximity, in intimacy, in deep love and gratitude, come closer and closer to Buddha in their silence, in their love. Slowly, slowly a moment comes, the space between the master and the disciple disappears—and the jump of the flame from the master to the disciple. The disciple is ready to receive it; the disciple is nothing but a welcome. The disciple is feminine, a receptivity, a womb. This too is a mysterion, a secret ceremony.

It was happening again and again, with Zarathustra, with Lao Tzu, with Jesus, in different ways. This is what is happening here. While I am talking to you, if you are just a curious person who has come here to listen and to see what is happening, you will only listen to my words. You will miss the real treasure. The words are spoken only to those who cannot listen to silence.

But those who have become intimate with me, those who have become sannyasins, they are listening to the words but they are not in any way intellectually dissecting, analyzing, arguing with the words. The words are heard as one hears music; the words are heard as one hears wind blowing through the pine trees; the words are heard as one hears raindrops falling on the roof, or the roar of the waves in the ocean. And while the mind is hearing the music, the heart starts absorbing the being, the presence. This is a mysterion, this is a secret ceremony.

But why is it called “secret”? It is not secret in the sense that we are hiding somewhere in a cave. It is secret because it is available only when you are related to the master in deep love. Others are allowed to come in, but for them it will remain invisible; hence it is called secret. When Buddha is sitting with his disciples, he is not hiding somewhere in the mountains—he is in the world, people can come and go and see—but still the ceremony is secret. This secretness is something to be understood. Those people who will come and see, they will only see a few bodies sitting silently, that’s all. They will not see the transfer of light, the transfer beyond the scriptures that is happening.

That’s the case here, too. Every day watchers, spectators come; they see you sitting here listening to me, or dancing, or meditating, and they think they have known. They go and they start giving “authoritative” reports about the place. They may have been here just one day or two days, and they become experts. They are being simply stupid. They don’t know a word, they don’t know anything about mysticism. All their reports are false, bound to be false. To know something of what is going on here, you will have to become a participant, you will have to fall in deep harmony with me and the space that is being created here. You cannot be a spectator; you cannot observe from the outside. These things are not observed from the outside: they are secret.

You have to dissolve yourself. You have to risk. Only then, some taste on your tongue; only then some experience in your heart; only then, some vibe that penetrates you and becomes part of your life. That is the meaning of “secret ceremony.” It is available for everybody to see, but only those who are initiated into it will really be able to see it.

Mysterion in its own turn comes from another root, myein, which means “to keep one’s mouth shut.” Mysticism means you have seen something, you have experienced something, but you cannot express it. Mysticism means you have come across a truth which makes you dumb. It is so big, so huge, so enormous that it cannot be contained in any word. Not even the word god contains it. That’s why Buddha dropped the word god. It is bigger than what the word god can contain. Not even the word soul can contain it; that’s why Buddha dropped even that word. These are just words; reality is far richer.

Just watch in your ordinary life, also. When you say something, does it really express what you want to say? You have seen a beautiful tree and when you say to somebody, “I have seen a beautiful tree,” what does it contain, the words “beautiful tree”? They do not contain the greenery of the tree; they do not contain the shape arising in the tree, the roots that have gone deep into the earth. The words do not contain the sun rays falling on the tree leaves and dancing, or the beautiful flowers of the tree, and the fragrance, and the smell of the wet earth that surrounds the tree, and the nests of the birds and the song of the birds. What do the words contain when you say, “I have seen a beautiful tree”? They contain nothing. The words have no roots, the words have no wings, the words have no gold, no green, no red—the words are colorless. Words are very poor. “Tree”? It is only symbolic; but it is meaningful because we all know trees, so when somebody says, “I have seen a beautiful tree,” you can have a little understanding about it.

But about God, even that little understanding is not possible, unless you have seen God. If I say, “God is,” you hear the word, but you don’t hear the meaning; you can’t hear the meaning. There is no response in your heart. When I say “a beautiful rose flower,” yes, there is a little response; and if you close your eyes and meditate a little on the word rose you may start seeing a rose flower opening its petals in your being, because you have seen rose flowers. If you are really a sensitive person you may even start smelling the rose and the dewdrops in the early morning on the rose petals. Some memory may be provoked, some experience may become alive, you may start reminiscing; but it is because you have known a rose. What about the person who has never known a rose? Then just the word rose will not stir any feeling in him, will not bring any pictures. The word will be heard, but will not be listened to; there will be no meaning behind it.

That is the case when the word God is used, that is the case when the word prayer is used, that is the case when the word gratitude is used, and so on, so forth. You don’t have any understanding, because you don’t have any experience.

Those who have experienced, they become dumb. Not that they stop speaking, but they speak about the methods, they speak about the way. They don’t speak about the truth. They say how to attain it, they say how to avoid the pitfalls on the path, they say how not to go astray. They say, “This is the way, this is the direction,” they give you a few maps, road maps, they make you aware of a few signs that you will come across on the road so that you can be certain that you are moving in the right direction—that’s all they can do—but about the truth, or God, they can’t say a single word.

So that meaning is also beautiful; myein means “to keep one’s mouth shut.” It is from these two words: from myein comes mysterion, from mysterion comes “mysticism.”

Mysticism is the very soul of religion.

Hence my insistence: Drop the mind that thinks in prose; revive another kind of mind that thinks in poetry. Put aside all your expertise in syllogism; let songs be your way of life. Move from intellect to intuition, from the head to the heart, because the heart is closer to the mysteries. The head is anti-mystery; the whole effort of the head is how to demystify existence.

That’s why, wherever science has grown, religion has disappeared. Wherever the mind becomes trained in scientific ways of thinking and doing, religion simply dies; then the flower of religion blooms no more. In the soil of the scientific mind there is some poison that does not allow the seed of religion to grow—it kills it. What is that poison? Science believes in demystifying existence. Religion says it cannot be demystified. The deeper your understanding goes, the more mystical it becomes, the more mysterious it becomes.

And now there is a possibility that science and religion can be bridged, because the greatest scientists have also felt it, in a very indirect way. For example, Eddington, Einstein, and others have come to a feeling that the more they know about existence the more they become puzzled, because the more they know, the more there is to know. The more they know, the more their knowledge seems to be superficial. Einstein died almost a mystic; that old pride that “One day we will come to know all” had disappeared. He died in a very meditative mood; he died not as a scientist, but more as a poet.

Eddington has written that “First we used to believe that thought is just a by-product”—just as Karl Marx says that consciousness is just a by-product of social situations—“a by-product, an epiphenomenon of matter, a shadow of matter. Matter is substance; consciousness is just a shadow, very insubstantial.”

Eddington says, “I was also perfectly convinced,” because that was the climate of those days. For three centuries in the West, science had been growing the climate. Eddington had grown up in that climate, but finally, ultimately, in his last days, he said, “Now things have changed. The more I went into inquiries, the more I became convinced that the world does not consist of things, but consists of thoughts—and existence appears less like matter and more like consciousness.”

This is good news; science is coming to a great understanding. That understanding is arising out of its failure to demystify existence.

But I don’t see a similar understanding arising in the so-called religious people. They are lagging far behind; they are all talking in old, stupid ways. They are still obsessed with the Vedas and the Koran and the Bible. And not that the Vedas are wrong, or the Koran or the Bible are wrong—they are perfectly right—but they are expressed in a very ancient, primitive way. They are not capable of meeting modern science.

We need contemporary religious mystics of the same caliber as Albert Einstein and Eddington and Planck. That’s my effort here, to create contemporary mystics, not only scholars who can talk like a parrot about the Upanishads and the Vedas. No, scholars won’t do. We need contemporary mystics; we need people in whose hearts new Upanishads can arise. We need people who can talk the way Jesus talked, on their own authority. We need courageous mystics who can say they have experienced God, not because the scriptures say God exists, but because they have known God; not just learned people, knowledgeable people, but people of wisdom.

Enough of scholarship! Scholarship is just very mediocre; scholarship cannot bridge modern science with mysticism. We need buddhas, not people who know about Buddha. We need meditators, lovers, experiencers. And then the day is ripe, the time has come, when science and religion can meet and mingle, can be welded together. And that day will be one of the greatest days of the whole of human history; it will be a great day of rejoicing, incomparable, unique, because from that day, the schizophrenia, the split humanity will disappear from the world. Then we need not have two things, science and religion; one thing will do.

For the outer it will use scientific methodology, for the inner it will use religious methodology. And “mysticism” is a beautiful word; it can be used for that one science or one religion, whatsoever you call it. “Mysticism” will be a beautiful name. Then science will search for the outer mystery, and religion will search for the inner mystery; they will be the two wings of mysticism. Mysticism can become the word that denotes both. Mysticism can be the synthesis of both.

And with this synthesis, many more syntheses will happen on their own accord. For example, if science and religion can meet in mysticism, then East and West can meet, then man and woman can meet, then poetry and prose can meet, then logic and love can meet, then layer upon layer, meetings can go on happening. And once this has happened, we will have a more perfect man, more whole, more balanced.

According to you, what is the most surprising thing in life?

The most surprising thing in life is that nobody seems to be surprised. People take life for granted. Otherwise everything is a mystery, everything is simply amazing! It is a miracle that a seed becomes a tree, that as the sun rises in the morning the birds start singing. It is a miracle! Each moment you come across miracles and still you don’t look surprised. This is the most surprising thing in life, that people take life for granted. Only children don’t take it for granted. That’s why children have beauty, a grace, an innocence. They are always living in wonder; everything brings awe. Collecting pebbles on the seashore or collecting seashells … watch the children, with what joy they are running, with what joy they are collecting just colored stones, as if they have found great diamonds. Collecting flowers, wildflowers, and look into their eyes … or running after butterflies, watch them. Their whole being, each cell of their body is mystified. And that’s the most important quality that makes life worth living.

The person who loses his quality to be surprised is dead. The moment your surprise is dead, you are dead. The moment your wonder is dead, you are dead. The moment you become incapable of feeling awe, you have gone impotent.

And to be born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad is the quality that makes life worth living—not only worth living but worth dancing, worth celebrating.

An old farmer visited a circus for the first time. He stood before the dromedary’s cage, eyes popping and mouth agape at the strange beast within. The circus proper began, and the crowds left for the main show, but still the old man stood before the cage in stunned silence, appraising every detail of the misshapen legs, the cloven hoofs, the pendulous upper lip, and the curiously mounded back of the sleepy-eyed beast.

Fifteen minutes passed. Then the farmer turned away in disgust. “Hell!” he exclaimed. “There ain’t no such animal!”

Rather than feeling surprised people, would like to deny: “There ain’t no such animal!” That makes you at ease again; otherwise a restlessness arises in you.

I have heard about a general, a great military general who was posted in Paris. He took his small son one morning to the garden, just for a morning walk. He was very happy when the child was fascinated by the statue of Napoleon mounted on a horse, a big marble statue. The child said, “Daddy, Napoleon is so beautiful, so great! Can you bring me every day when you come for a morning walk, just to have a look at Napoleon?”

The father, being a general, was very much happy that the child was also becoming interested in people like Napoleon: “This is a good sign! Sooner or later he will also become a great general.” After six months he was about to be transferred, and he took his son for the last time to the garden so that he could say good-bye to Napoleon. The son went with him, tears in his eyes, and he said to the father, “I always wanted to ask one question, but I become so fascinated with the great Napoleon when I come to the garden that I always forgot to ask the question. Now this is the last day, and I would like to know. Who is this guy, always sitting on top of poor Napoleon?”

If you look at life you will find everywhere immense surprises.

He was fifty and had spent the best years of his life with a woman whose constant criticism had driven him mad. Now, in poor health and with his business on the verge of bankruptcy, he made up his mind. He went to the dining room, fastened his tie over the chandelier, and was about to end it all. At that moment his wife entered the room.

“John!” she cried, shocked at the scene before her. “That is your best tie!”

A young man vacationing in the upper Midwest woods decided to write to his girl, but, having no stationery with him, walked to the trading post. The attendant was a young, well-built girl with a sensual appeal.

“Do you keep stationery?” he asked.

“Well,” she smiled, “I do until the last few seconds, and then I go wild!”

Just look around!

A soldier disembarked in New York after two long years abroad and was met by his beautiful wife. Alone at last in their room at the hotel, they were disturbed by a sudden clamor in the corridor and a cry of “Let me in!”

The rattled soldier jumped out of bed and panted, “It must be your husband!”

His distracted mate reassured him. “Don’t be foolish!” she said. “He is thousands of miles away somewhere in Europe!”

One just needs a clear perspective, and each moment you are in for a great surprise.

She was very nearsighted and very pretty, but too vain to wear glasses on her honeymoon and unable to wear contact lenses. When she returned from her honeymoon, her mother immediately got in touch with the oculist. “You must see my daughter at once,” she pleaded. “It is an emergency!”

“There is nothing to be excited about,” he reassured her. “She is nearsighted, that’s all.”

“That’s all?” repeated the mother. “Why, this young man she has got with her is not the same one she went on her honeymoon with!”

The only thing that is most surprising is that you don’t look surprised. And this is how your life becomes a life of boredom, a life of sadness.

Bring your surprising quality back, as you had it in your childhood. Again look with those same innocent eyes. Dionysius calls it agnosia, a state of not-knowing, and Upanishads call it dhyana, samadhi, a state of not-knowing. It is not ignorance. Ignorance and knowledge belong to the same dimension: Ignorance means less knowledge, knowledge means less ignorance; the difference is of degrees. Agnosiasamadhi, is not ignorance; it is beyond ignorance and knowledge both. It is a pure state of wonder. When you are full of wonder, existence is full of the divine.

What is the difference between looking and seeing?

There is a great difference. Looking means you are looking for something; you have already some idea to look for. You come here and you say, “I am looking for John”—then you have an idea. Then you look all around for where John is. The idea is there already; your looking is already prejudiced. If you are looking for God, you will never find God, because looking means you have a certain idea already of who God is. And your idea is bound to be either Christian or Judaic or Hindu or Mohammedan. Your idea is going to be your concept, and your concept can never be higher than you. Your concept is bound to be your concept. Your concept is bound to be rooted in ignorance, borrowed. At the most, it is just belief; you have been conditioned for it. Then you go on looking.

A person who is looking for truth will never find it, because his eyes are already corrupted; he already has a fixed concept. He is not open. If you have come to me to look for something, then you already have an idea—you will miss me. Then whatever I say you will interpret according to your idea, and it will not be my meaning. It will be your meaning. You may find yourself agreeing with me, you may find yourself not agreeing with me—but agreeing or not agreeing is not the question at all, it is not the point at all. You have missed me. You can agree, but you are agreeing with your own idea. You say, “Yes, this man is right,” because this man fits with your idea. Your idea is right, so that’s why this man is right. Or, you don’t agree because it doesn’t fit with your idea. But in both the cases your idea is more important. You will miss me.

A person who is looking for something will always be missing it.

Seeing is just clarity—open eyes, open mind, open heart. Not looking for something in particular, just ready and receptive. Whatsoever happens, you will remain alert, receptive, understanding. A conclusion is not there! The conclusion has yet to come: with your own eyes you will see, and there will be a conclusion. The conclusion is in the future. When you are seeing, the conclusion is not already there. When you are looking, the conclusion is already there. And we go on interpreting according to our ideas.

Just the other night I was reading a joke:

A small child is reading a picture book on wildlife, and he becomes intrigued with the pictures of ferocious lions. He reads whatever is there, but one question is not answered so he asks his mother.

He asks his mother: “Mom, what type of love life do lions have?”

The mother said, “Son, I don’t know much about Lions because all your father’s friends are Rotarians.”

If you have some idea in the mind, you corrupt. Then you are not listening to what is being said—then you are listening according to yourself. Then your mind is playing an active role. When you are looking, mind is active. When you are seeing, mind is passive. That is the difference. When you are looking, mind is trying to manipulate. When you are seeing, mind is silent, just watching, available, open, with no idea in particular to enforce on reality.

Seeing is nude. And you can come to truth only when you are absolutely nude; when you have discarded all clothes, all philosophies, all theologies, all religions; when you have dropped all that has been given to you, when you come empty-handed, not knowing in any way. When you come with knowledge you come already corrupted. When you come in innocence, knowing that you don’t know, then the doors are open—then you will be able to know. Only that person who has no knowledge is capable of knowing.


Copyright © 2011 by OSHO International Foundation

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.

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