In the first part of this series, Don’t Just Sit There! Osho speaks about why traditional meditation methods were created and why new approaches are needed.
Osho explains in detail what has changed in us and why all these well-intentioned people are struggling, confused, or worse, and why a totally new approach is required:
“The body has changed so much. It is not natural now, as it always was. The human body today is a very unnatural thing. When Patanjali developed his yoga, the body was a natural phenomenon. Now it is not a natural phenomenon. It is absolutely different; it is so drugged that no traditional method can be helpful.
“The whole atmosphere is artificial now: the air is artificial, the water is artificial, the society’s living conditions are artificial. Nothing is natural. You are born in this artificiality; you develop in it, so traditional methods will prove harmful. They cannot be used as they are. They will have to be changed according to the modern, the modern situation.
“Another thing. The quality of the mind has changed. Basically in Patanjali’s days, in olden days, the center of the human personality was not the brain; it was the heart. And before that, it was not even the heart. It was still lower, near the navel. In the pre-Patanjali days, before Patanjali, it was the navel – the center of human personality. So hatha yoga developed methods which were useful, meaningful, to the person whose center of personality was the navel. Then the center became the heart. When the center became the heart, then only bhakti yoga could be applied, otherwise not. So bhakti yoga developed in the Middle Ages – never before – because the center changed. And a method has to change according to the people to whom it is applied.
“Now, even bhakti yoga is not relevant. The main center has again gone still further from the navel. Now, it is the brain.”1
As these changes happened, more and more meditators found that they had to struggle to force the body to be still, or to remain in a fixed posture, with potentially dangerous results. For modern people whose centers are farthest from the navel, the problem becomes even more acute:
“If a man becomes very proficient in controlling his body and succeeds in suppressing his physical body completely, there is a possibility that no vibrations will arise in the etheric body and it may become absolutely inert.
“Under such conditions it is possible that no deeper process will take place within you but you will succeed in merely sitting like a statue. Now under such conditions, when all processes are suppressed within, there is a fear of the individual becoming insane.
“In the past the meditators have been found going insane.
“The method I advocate, however, if practiced even by a madman for a month or two, will bring him out of his madness. There is no likelihood of a normal person becoming mad when practicing this method, because in my method we are not suppressing the insanity within us, we are bringing it out. The old methods of meditation have turned many into madmen, and this fact was covered up in beautiful words. We would say of such a person, “He is ecstatically mad; he is God-intoxicated; he has become a saint.” But the fact remained that he had gone absolutely mad. He had suppressed some things within himself so badly that they became completely out of his control.” 2
“You can try practicing anything you like and you will remain opposite to it. You can enforce a sort of stillness upon yourself: you can sit silently, you can learn a yoga posture, you can make the body still, as if it is without movement, you can make the body like a statue. And by repeating a mantra or just by repressing the mind continuously for a long time, you can enforce a certain stillness upon your being – but it will be the silence of the cemetery, it will not be throbbing, alive, kicking. It will be a frozen thing. You can deceive others, but you cannot deceive yourself and you cannot deceive existence. You have got it without any understanding; you forced it upon yourself; it is a practiced silence.” 3
And on the subject of the “dark side of Dharma” or the “dark night” mentioned here, and about one very commonly recommended meditation technique, Vipassana, in particular, Osho is clear. The people teaching Vipassana to new meditators “don’t understand the complexity of meditation.” He continues:
“Vipassana comes in the end; you cannot begin with Vipassana.
To begin with Vipassana you will have to go through what you are saying – the dark night of the soul. And you will not find the dawn anywhere. The dark night will go on becoming longer and darker. It is a simple psychology: you are not prepared, you have not done your homework, and you have started a work which needs a tremendous background of experience.” 4
Of course this is an old issue, but it has now come to the fore because ever more people are exploring these techniques:
“All the religions of the world have taught people to do something: stop the process of thought, force the body into a still posture. That’s what yoga is – a long practice of forcing the body to be still. But a forced body is not still. And all the prayers, concentrations, contemplations of all the religions do the same with the mind: they force it, they don’t allow the thoughts to move. Yes, you have the capacity to do it. And if you persist you may be able to stop the thought process. But this is not the real thing, it is absolutely fake.
“When stillness comes on its own, when silence descends without your effort, when you watch thoughts and a moment comes when thoughts start disappearing and silence starts happening, that is beautiful.” 5
So, as Osho explains all this insanity is perhaps inevitable, and the more sincerely people try, the more likely it is to happen. He has a very clear understanding of what is required to avoid these pathological reactions:
“I begin with your insanity, not with a sitting posture; I allow your insanity.
If you dance madly, the opposite happens within you. With a mad dance, you begin to be aware of a silent point within you; with sitting silently, you begin to be aware of madness. The opposite is always the point of awareness. With your dancing madly, chaotically, with crying, with chaotic breathing, I allow your madness. Then you begin to be aware of a subtle point, a deep point inside you which is silent and still, in contrast to the madness on the periphery. You will feel very blissful; at your center there is an inner silence. But if you are just sitting, then the inner one is the mad one; you are silent on the outside, but inside you are mad.” 6
Because modern people’s centers are now in the brain and further than ever from the naval, as was the case in the past, Osho explains exactly how to avoid all these adverse effects:
“So when I use chaotic methods and not systematic ones to push this center from the brain, chaotic methods are very helpful. Through any systematic method the center cannot be pushed below the brain, because systematization is work of the brain. You systematize everything through the brain. So if you use systematic methods the brain will be more strengthened. It will take energy in itself.
“So I use chaotic methods because through chaotic methods the brain is nullified.
“It has nothing to do. There is no system to be made and no mathematical formula to be applied. It is so chaotic that the center from the brain is automatically pushed to the heart, and that is a great step – to push the center from the brain to the heart. So if you do my method vigorously, unsystematically, chaotically, your center is pushed lower. You come to the heart.
“When you come to the heart then I apply catharsis because your heart is so suppressed – because of your brain: the brain has taken up so much territory within you, so much domination of you, it has absorbed the whole.
“There is no space for the heart, so longings of the heart have been suppressed.
“You have never laughed heartily, never cried heartily, never done anything heartily. The brain always comes in to systematize, to make things mathematical. That brain calculates and concludes and comes in. The heart is suppressed.
“So first chaotic methods are used to push the center – the center of consciousness – from the brain toward the heart. Then catharsis is needed to unburden the heart, to throw off the suppressions, to make it light. If the heart becomes light and unburdened, then the center of consciousness is pushed still lower. It comes to the navel, and only when it comes to the navel I will ask you to inquire, “Who am I?” Otherwise it is meaningless.” 1
“First throw those things out so you come to a natural state of rest. But, real meditation starts only when you are in rest.
“All the dynamic meditations are preparatory to real meditation. They are just basic requirements to be fulfilled so that the meditation can happen. Don’t treat them as meditations; they are just introductory, just a preface. The real meditation starts only when all activity has ceased – activity of the body and activity of the mind.” 7
- Osho, The Psychology of the Esoteric, Chapter #4 – Kundalini Yoga: Returning to the Roots
- Osho, In Search of the Miraculous Chapter #21 – Occult Depths of Kundalini and Spirituality
- Osho, The Art of Dying, Chapter #9 – Belong to the Transcendent
- Osho, Hari Om Tat Sat, Chapter #28 – Vipassana comes in the end
- Osho, From the False to the Truth, Chapter #3 – My Religion Is a Godless Religion
- Osho, Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy, Talk #5 – Dynamic Meditation or Silent Meditation
- Osho, Moving into the Unknown: Talks on Buddha’s The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters, Chapter #5 – Be a Light unto Yourself