When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. Bob Dylan.
During the process leading up to Osho’s awakening he used the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ as prescribed by Ramana Maharshi, one of the few Indian gurus that he spoke positively about in his morning discourses. Now this process of self-enquiry, which cuts through layers of delusion and eventually cracks the nut of ego, has gone mainstream. Some of Ramana’s disciples became masters and then some of their students became teachers and the core teaching is now awash in a morass of self-proclaimed enlightened masters, luring the uninitiated with self-enquiry’s directness and simplicity into a murky bog, composed of guruspeak, psychobabble, spiritual egotism and a protracted fantasy from which they are unlikely to emerge anytime soon.
Ask yourself, ‘Who am I?’ And from there on in all words, including those of genuine enlightened masters, are no longer needed…unless perhaps you feel afraid and need a little encouragement to take it a step further. You can do it on your own. Osho did, so why can’t you? You don’t need anyone else to help you. Five words and you are free. Or to quote Osho: ‘‘You don’t need any priest, you don’t need any scriptures, you don’t need to be in any religious organization, you have to be just yourself – silently, peacefully settling within your home.’’
But hold on…let’s take a few notes…five words… that is too simple…and besides, nobody will be able to make any money out of a spiritual teaching that can be encapsulated in one sentence, because anyone who wants to sell enlightenment has to package it in such a way as to make it seem obtainable to the ego. The plot thickens. Extra, extra, read all about it, enlightenment for sale, tastes like Ambrosia creamed rice and you’ll be blissed out 24/7. And thus we have the self thinking it can attain no-self and enlightenment has been redefined as something that the ego can ‘get’. From there it is only a small step for today’s seeker to begin believing they are plugged into the nirvana socket, experiencing what they believe is a special connectedness to God, inner emptiness, showers of bliss and a variety of other so-called spiritual experiences that once upon a time might have taken a serious seeker lifetimes to achieve and now, thanks to Guru Boo Hoo, it is all yours…for a price, be it unconditional surrender, actual money or perhaps allowing yourself to remain in a childish dependency trip that takes away freedom rather than delivering liberation. But hey, maybe that is what you want, perhaps you never really wanted to find the truth in the first place. It could be the case that what you really want to do is play a spiritual game with the guru in the role of some big cosmic daddy who will keep you safe, you being the ego that was once needed in order for your continued survival on this planet but is now, at least in the enlightenment stakes, obsolete.
For me the biggest obstacle that I encountered in letting go of my guru trip was the amount of time and emotion that I had invested in the past. When I look at the direction that many of my contemporaries who met Osho took, most of them moved on, many, like myself, with gratitude in their heart. The ones who remain somehow connected to Osho usually have an investment in one form or another that they are not willing to let go of and are still harping on about the experiences that they had while Osho was still alive, which is on par with listening to people describing their LSD trips…in other words very boring and uninspiring.
The big question is do spiritual experiences actually have anything to do with awakening? I am at a point in my journey where I am beginning to see that the only thing spiritual experiences have to do with awakening is that they are something you pass through, that the truth of who I really am lies somewhere beyond the bliss dimension. You would be justified in asking, how can I be sure of this? This is my answer to that question.
It was H W L Poonja who first helped bring my awareness to the fact that there is really is something that exists which is beyond the world of experiences. He did this by asking me to move beyond my bliss. On reflection, I now realize that my time with Osho had a lot to do with experiencing bliss. This is a reflection of who I am. I say this because I believe that Osho was a genuine master who really was, for the most part, beyond it all. And once more I have to say that none of what I am now aware of would have happened had it not been for Osho’s influence.
So what is the truth? I think in order for the truth to be ‘you’ have to get out of the way for it to happen. And from time to time I see that it is happening. It really is no big deal and it has nothing to do with kundalini rising, fireworks going off in your chakras or feeling a special connection to a master. No, truth has nothing do with any of those things. Truth is like a cool breeze blowing through an empty room. The first time I realized this was with Osho. At the time I thought that this was ‘his’ presence I was experiencing but when exactly the same thing happened at Poonjaji’s feet I realized immediately that this was who I am and the only thing it had to do with the master was that he reflected this. After all, if you want a definition of what a master is I’d say, ‘A clear reflection’.
Zen abounds with stories of instant enlightenment, ‘The frog jumped into the pond, plop.’ ‘The goose is out.’ that sort of thing. But the way it looks to me enlightenment is a gradual process, like an onion being peeled to its selfless core. When all the layers have gone you have nothing in your hand, but the process leading up to that moment has been gradual, although the final extinction of the flickering flame of ego might indeed be sudden and instantaneous. The bottom line is that language deals with concepts and cannot by its very nature describe truth. But you can always try…just for the fun of it.
Truth is something that…you open, you become silent, you become receptive, you become wordless…your whole mind comes to a full stop, and then what is left is the truth.
Osho. The great Zen master, Ta Hui.