When I am relaxed, I lose awareness. When I am alert there is a subtle tension. And when I become aware that I was not aware, I feel guilty.
“One has to start from very simple actions. For example, walking: you can walk, and you can be aware that you are walking – each step can be full of awareness. Eating… Just the way in Zen monasteries they drink tea; they call it a tea ceremony because sipping the tea, one has to remain alert and aware.
“These are small actions, but to begin with they are perfectly good. One should not start with something like painting, dancing – those are very deep and complex phenomena. Start with the small actions of daily routine life. As you become more and more accustomed to awareness, as awareness becomes just like breathing – you don’t have to make any effort for it, it has become spontaneous – then in any act, any work, you can be aware.
“But remember the condition: it has to be effortless; it has to come out of spontaneity….
“First become aware about actions which do not need your involvement. You can walk and you can go on thinking; you can eat and you can go on thinking. Replace thinking by awareness. Go on eating, and remain alert that you are eating. Walk; replace thinking by awareness. Go on walking; perhaps your walking will be a little slower and more graceful. But awareness is possible with these small acts. As you become more and more articulate, use more complicated activities.
A day comes when there is no activity in the world in which you cannot remain alert and at the same time do the act with totality….
You are saying… “And when I become aware that I was not aware, I feel guilty.” That is absolute stupidity. When you become aware that you were not aware, feel happy that at least now you are aware. There is no place in my teachings for the concept of guilt. Guilt is one of the cancers of the soul.
“All the religions have used guilt to destroy your dignity, your pride, and to make you just slaves. There is no need to feel guilty, it is natural. Awareness is such a great thing that even if you can be aware for a few seconds, rejoice. Don’t pay attention to those moments when you forgot. Pay attention to that state when you suddenly remember, “I was not aware.” Feel fortunate that at least after few hours, awareness has returned.
Don’t make it a repentance, a guilt, a sadness – because by being guilty and sad, you are not going to be helped. You will feel, deep down, a failure. Once a feeling of failure settles in you, awareness will become even more difficult.
“Change your whole focus. It is great that you became aware that you had forgotten to be aware. Now don’t forget, for as long as possible. Again you will forget, again you will remember – but each time, the gap of forgetfulness will become smaller and smaller….
“Rather than counting how many times you forgot to remember to be aware, count those few beautiful moments when you were crystal clear and aware. Those few moments are enough to save you, are enough to cure you, to heal you. If you pay attention to them, they will go on growing and spreading in your consciousness. Slowly, slowly the whole darkness of unawareness will disappear….
“You should start very carefully and from the very beginning. And move very slowly. Just a little patience and the goal is not far away.
Please talk to us of tension and relaxation.
“It is the same question that I was answering, just written in a different way….
“Start being aware with day-to-day, routine actions, and while you are doing your routine actions, remain relaxed. There is no need to be tense. When you are washing the floor, what is the need to be tense? Or when you are cooking the food, what is the need to be tense? There is not a single thing in life which requires your tension. It is just your unawareness and your impatience.
“I have not found anything – and I have lived in all kinds of ways, with all kinds of people. I have always been puzzled: why are they tense? It seems tension has nothing to do with anything outside you – it has something to do within you.
“Outside you always find an excuse only because it looks so idiotic to be tense without any reason. Just to rationalize, you find some reason outside yourself to explain why you are tense.
But tension is not outside you, it is in your wrong style of life. You are living in a competition – that will create tension. You are living in continuous comparison – that will create tension. You are always thinking either of the past or of the future and missing the present which is the only reality – that will create tension.
“It is a question of simple understanding: there is no need for any competition with anybody. You are yourself, and as you are, you are perfectly good. Accept yourself. This is the way existence wants you to be. Some trees are taller; some trees are smaller. But the smaller trees are not tense – neither are the taller trees full of ego. Existence needs variety. Somebody is stronger than you; somebody is more intelligent than you – but you also must be more talented than anybody else in something.
Just find your own talent. Nature never sends any single individual without some unique gift.
“Just a little search: perhaps you can play on the flute better than the president of the country can be a president – you are a better flautist than he is a president.
“There is no question of any comparison. Comparison leads people astray. Competition keeps them continuously tense, and because their life is empty, they never live in the moment. All they do is to think of the past, which is no more, or project in the future, which is not yet.
“This whole thing drives people almost abnormal, insane. Otherwise, there is no need – no animal goes mad, no tree needs any psychoanalysis.
The whole of existence is living in constant celebration, except man. He is sitting aloof, tense, worried.
“A small life and you are losing it and everyday death is coming closer. That creates even more angst: ‘Death is coming closer and I have not even started living.’ Most people realize only when they die that they were alive – but then it is too late. Just live the moment. And whatever qualities and whatever talents you have, use them to the fullest….
Whatever you are doing, if there is contentment and a feeling that this whole existence is nothing but the manifestation of godliness, that we are traveling on holy earth, that whomever you are meeting, you are meeting God – there is no other way; only the faces are different, but the inner reality is the same – all your tensions will disappear. The energy that is involved in tensions will start becoming your grace, your beauty.
Then life will not be just an ordinary, routine, day-to-day existence, but a dance from cradle to grave.
Existence will be immensely enriched by your grace, by your relaxation, by your silence, by your awareness. You will not leave the world without contributing something valuable to it. But people are always looking at others, at what others are doing – somebody is playing the flute and you cannot, and immediately there is misery; somebody is painting and you cannot, and there is misery.
“Whatever you are doing, do it with such love, with such care that the smallest thing in the world becomes a piece of art. It will bring you great joy. It will create a world without competition, without comparison; it will give dignity to all people; it will restore their pride, which religions have destroyed.
“In my whole life, I have never judged anyone. If existence is happy with him, why should I be worried whether he is a thief or a murderer? Perhaps that is the function existence wants him to do. All that is needed is that he should do it with as much artfulness and as much intelligence as he can gather – with his totality. Any act done with totality becomes your prayer.”
Excerpted from Osho, The Hidden Splendor, Talk #11 – Guilt: A Cancer of the Soul.
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