Why do we judge one another? Why are we so interested in gossiping about others, in finding fault with others, in looking into others’ loopholes and defects, and how can we do differently?
Osho talks on the early Buddhist mystic, Atisha, and his simple instructions for awareness – The sixth sutra: Do not discuss defects.
The mind tends to discuss the defects of others. It helps the ego to feel good. Everybody is such a sinner; when everybody is such a sinner, comparatively one feels like a saint. When everybody is doing wrong, it feels good that ‘At least I am not doing that much wrong.’
“Hence people talk about others’ defects; not only do they talk about them, they go on magnifying them. That’s why there is so much joy in gossiping. And when the gossip passes from one hand to another hand, it becomes richer. When it passes back again, something will be added to it. By the evening, if you come to know the gossip that you started in the morning, you will be surprised. In the morning it was just a molehill, now it is a mountain. People are very creative, really creative and inventive.
“Why are people so interested in gossiping about others, in finding fault with others, in looking into others’ loopholes and defects? Why are people continuously trying to look through others’ keyholes? The reason is that this helps to give them a better feeling about themselves. They become Peeping Toms, just to have a good feeling that ‘I am far better.’ There is a motivation. It is not just to help others – it is not, whatsoever they say, notwithstanding what they say. The basic reason is, ‘If others are very ugly, then I am beautiful.’ They are following Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
“I have heard:
“Mulla Nasruddin was staying in a hotel. A telegram had arrived from home and he was in a hurry to catch the train. He rushed. But when he reached downstairs and looked at his luggage the umbrella was missing. So he had to go up to the room again and by the time he reached the fourteenth floor the room had already been given to somebody else – a newlywed couple.
“Although he was in a hurry and he might miss the train if he lingered there a little longer, the temptation was great. So he looked through the keyhole to see what was happening.
“A newlywed couple – they were also in a hurry, they had already waited too long; the marriage ceremony and the church and the guests and all that – somehow they had got rid of all of them and they were lying naked on the bed, talking sweet nothings. And the young man was saying to the woman, ‘You have such beautiful eyes. I have never seen such beautiful eyes! To whom do these eyes belong?’
“And the woman said, ‘To you! To you, and only to you!’
“And so on, the list went on. ‘These beautiful hands, these beautiful breasts,’ this and that – this went on and on. And Mulla had completely forgotten about the train and the taxi waiting downstairs. But then suddenly he remembered his umbrella. When the list was about to be completed, he said, ‘Wait! When you come to the yellow umbrella, that belongs to me.’
People are unconsciously doing many things. If they become conscious these things will drop. Atisha says: Don’t ponder over others’ defects, it is none of your business. Don’t interfere in others’ lives, it is none of your business.
“But there are great moralists whose whole work is to see who is doing wrong. Their whole life is wasted; they are like police dogs sniffing here and there. Their whole life’s work is to know who is doing wrong.
“Atisha says: That is an ugly trait and a sheer wastage of time and energy. Not only is it a wastage but it strengthens and gratifies the ego. And an ego more gratified becomes more of a barrier.
“And remember, it is not only a question of not discussing others’ defects. Don’t even be too concerned about your own defects. Take note, be aware, and let the matter be settled then and there. There are a few other people who brag about their own defects. It is suspected by psychologists that in Saint Augustine’s autobiography, his confessions, are not true. He bragged about his defects. He was not that bad a person. But man is really unbelievable. If you start bragging about your qualities, then too, you go to extremes. If you start bragging about sins, then too, you go to the extreme. But in both ways you do only one thing.
“What Saint Augustine was doing is simple. By bragging about his defects and sins and all kinds of ugly things, he was preparing a context. Out of such a hell he rose and became a great saint. Now his saintliness looks far more significant than it would have looked if he had been simply a good person from the very beginning.
“And the same is the case with Mahatma Gandhi in India. In his autobiography he simply exaggerates about his defects and goes on talking about them. It helps him in a very vicarious way. He was so low, he was in such a seventh hell, and from there he started rising and became a great mahatma, a great saint. The journey was very arduous. This is very ego-fulfilling.
Don’t discuss others’ defects, don’t discuss your own defects.
“Take note, and that is that. Atisha says awareness is enough, nothing else is needed. If you are fully aware of anything, the fire of awareness burns it. There is no need for any other remedy.
Don’t think about anything that concerns others.
“And that’s what you go on thinking. Ninety-nine percent of the things that you think about concern others. Drop them – drop them immediately!
“Your life is short, and your life is slipping out of your fingers. Each moment you are less, each day you are less, and each day you are less alive and more dead! Each birthday is a death day; one more year has slipped through your hands. Be a little more intelligent.
Do not think about anything that concerns others. Train first against the defilement that is greatest.
“Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples – the first thing, the very, very first thing, ‘Find out what your greatest characteristic is, your greatest undoing, your central characteristic of unconsciousness.’ Each one’s is different.
“Somebody is sex-obsessed. In a country like India, where for centuries sex has been repressed, that has become almost a universal characteristic; everybody is obsessed with sex. Somebody is obsessed with anger, or somebody else is obsessed with greed. You have to watch which is your basic obsession.
“So first find your main characteristic upon which your whole ego edifice rests. And then be constantly aware of it, because it can exist only if you are unaware. It is burned in the fire of awareness automatically.
And remember, remember always, that you are not to cultivate the opposite of it. Otherwise, what happens is a person becomes aware that ‘My obsession is anger, so what should I do? I should cultivate compassion.’ ‘My obsession is sex, so what should I do? I should practice brahmacharya, celibacy.’
“People move from one to the opposite. That is not the way of transformation. It is the same pendulum, moving from left to right, from right to left. And that’s how your life has been moving for centuries; it is the same pendulum.
“The pendulum has to be stopped in the middle. And that’s the miracle of awareness. Just be aware that ‘This is my chief pitfall, this is the place where I stumble again and again, this is the root of my unconsciousness.’ Don’t try to cultivate the opposite of it, but pour your whole awareness into it. Create a great bonfire of awareness, and it will be burned. And then the pendulum stops in the middle.
“And with the stopping of the pendulum, time stops. You suddenly enter into the world of timelessness, deathlessness, eternity.”
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Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Talk #9 – Watching The Watcher