Friday, 28 June 2013

How to Transform Suffering

The Book of Wisdom: Discourses on Atisha`s Seven Points of Mind Training

By Osho

(Excerpts from chapter five: ‘Sowing White Seeds,’ Commentary from 15 February 1979 am in Buddha Hall, Rebel Publishing House, 1993).

p.92-93. The art of transforming suffering, pain, evil, into something good is the art of seeing the necessity of the opposite. Light can exist only if darkness exists. Then why hate darkness? Without darkness there will be no light, so those who love light and hate darkness are in a dilemma; they don't know what they are doing.

Life cannot exist without death. Then why hate death? Because it is death that creates the space for life to exist. This is a great insight, that death is the contrast, the background, the blackboard on which life is written with white chalk. Death is the darkness of night on which life starts twinkling like stars. If you destroy the darkness of the night the stars will disappear. That's what happens in the day. The stars are still there - do you think they have disappeared? They are still there, but because there is too much light you cannot see them. They can be seen only in contrast.

The saint is possible only because of the sinner. Hence, Buddha says don't hate the sinner, he makes it possible for the saint to exist. They are two aspects of the same coin.

Seeing this, one is neither attached to good nor detached from bad. One accepts both as part and parcel of life. In that acceptance you can transform things. Only through that acceptance is transformation possible.

And before you can transform suffering you will have to become a witness; that is the third point. First: do not resist evil. Second: know that opposites are not opposites but complementaries, inevitably joined together, so there is no choice - remain choiceless. And the third is: be a witness, because if you are a witness to your suffering you will be able to absorb it. If you become identified with it you cannot absorb it.

The moment you become identified with your suffering you want to discard it, you want to get rid of it, it is so painful. But if you are a witness then suffering loses all thorns, all stings. Then there is suffering, and you are a witness to it. You are just a mirror; it has nothing to do with you. Happiness comes and goes, unhappiness comes and goes, it is a passing show; you are just there, a mirror reflecting it. Life comes and goes, death comes and goes; the mirror is not affected by either. The mirror reflects but remains unaffected; the mirror is not imprinted by either.

A great distance arises when you witness. And only in that witnessing can you become able to transform the baser metal into gold. Only in that witnessing do you become a scientist of the inner, a detached observer. Now you know the opposites are not opposites, so they can be changed into each other. Then it is not a question of destroying evil in the world, but of transforming evil into something beneficial; transforming poison into nectar.

Drive all blame into one.

The third sutra. The ordinary mind always throws the responsibility on somebody else. It is always the other who is making you suffer. Your wife is making you suffer, your husband is making you suffer, your parents are making you suffer, your children are making you suffer, or the financial system of the society, capitalism, communism, fascism, the prevalent political ideology, the social structure, or fate, karma, name it.

People have millions of ways to shirk responsibility. But the moment you say somebody else - x, y, z - is making you suffer, then you cannot do anything to change it. What can you do? When the society changes and communism comes and there is a classless world, then everybody will be happy. Before it, it is not possible. How can you be happy in a society which is poor? And how can you be happy in a society which is dominated by the capitalists? How can you be happy with a society which is bureaucratic? How can you be happy with a society which does not allow you freedom?

Excuses and excuses and excuses - excuses just to avoid one single insight that ‘I am responsible for myself. Nobody else is responsible for me; it is absolutely and utterly my responsibility. Whatsoever I am, I am my own creation.’ This is the meaning of the third sutra:

Drive all blame into one.

And that one is you. Once this insight settles: ‘I am responsible for my life - for all my suffering, for my pain, for all that has happened to me and is happening to me - I have chosen it this way; these are the seeds that I sowed and now I am reaping the crop; I am responsible’ - once this insight becomes a natural understanding in you, then everything else is simple. Then life starts taking a new turn, starts moving into a new dimension. That dimension is conversion, revolution, mutation - because once I know I am responsible, I also know that I can drop it any moment I decide to. Nobody can prevent me from dropping it. 

Can anybody prevent you from dropping your misery, from transforming your misery into bliss? Nobody. Even if you are in a jail, chained, imprisoned, nobody can imprison you; your soul still remains free.

Of course you have a very limited situation, but even in that limited situation you can sing a song. You can either cry tears of helplessness or you can sing a song. Even with chains on your feet you can dance; then even the sound of the chains will have a melody to it.

p.97-99. In order to bring any situation to the path quickly as soon as it is met, join it with meditation.

And remember, each situation has to become an opportunity to meditate. What is meditation? Becoming aware of what you are doing, becoming aware of what is happening to you.

Somebody insults you: become aware. What is happening to you when the insult reaches you? Meditate over it; this is changing the whole gestalt. When somebody insults you, you concentrate on the person - ‘Why is he insulting me? Who does he think he is? How can I take revenge?’ If he is very powerful you surrender, you start wagging your tail. If he is not very powerful and you see that he is weak, you pounce on him. But you forget yourself completely in all this; the other becomes the focus. This is missing an opportunity for meditation. When somebody insults you, meditate.

Gurdjieff has said, ‘When my father was dying, I was only nine. He called me close to his bed and whispered in my ear, 'My son, I am not leaving much to you, not in worldly things, but I have one thing to tell you that was told to me by my father on his deathbed. It has helped me tremendously; it has been my treasure. You are not very grown up yet, you may not understand what I am saying, but keep it, remember it. One day you will be grown up and then you may understand. This is a key: it unlocks the doors of great treasures.’’

Of course Gurdjieff could not understand it at that moment, but it was the thing that changed his whole life. And his father said a very simple thing. He said, ‘Whenever somebody insults you, my son, tell him you will meditate over it for twenty-four hours and then you will come and answer him.’

Gurdjieff could not believe that this was such a great key. He could not believe that ‘This is something so valuable that I have to remember it.’ And we can forgive a young child of nine years old. But because this was something said by his dying father who had loved him tremendously, and immediately after saying it he breathed his last, it became imprinted on him; he could not forget it. Whenever he remembered his father, he would remember the saying.

Without truly understanding, he started practicing it. If somebody insulted him he would say, ‘Sir, for twenty-four hours I have to meditate over it - that's what my father told me. And he is here no more, and I cannot disobey a dead old man. He loved me tremendously, and I loved him tremendously, and now there is no way to disobey him. You can disobey your father when he is alive, but when your father is dead how can you disobey him? So please forgive me, I will come after twenty-four hours and answer you.’

And he says, ‘Meditating on it for twenty-four hours has given me the greatest insights into my being. Sometimes I found that the insult was right, that that's how I am. So I would go to the person and say, 'Sir, thank you, you were right. It was not an insult, it was simply a statement of fact. You called me stupid; I am.'

‘Or sometimes it happened that meditating for twenty-four hours, I would come to know that it was an absolute lie. But when something is a lie, why be offended by it? So I would not even go to tell him that it was a lie. A lie is a lie, why be bothered by it?’

But watching, meditating, slowly slowly he became more and more aware of his reactions, rather than the actions of others.

This is what Atisha says:

In order to bring any situation to the path quickly as soon as it is met, join it with meditation.

Whatsoever happens - good, bad, success, failure - immediately become aware of what is happening. Don't miss a single moment. Don't lag behind - be present to it, and you will be surprised, errors will start disappearing from your life. And then whatsoever you do will be right.

People ask me what is right and what is wrong, and my answer is: If something arises out of awareness, it is right. If something arises out of unawareness, it is wrong. Right and wrong is not a question of what you do, but of how you do it. It is not a question of what, but of how - meditatively or nonmeditatively, alert, awake, or doing things as if you are a sleepwalker.

People ask me what is right and what is wrong, and my answer is: If something arises out of awareness, it is right. If something arises out of unawareness, it is wrong. Right and wrong is not a question of what you do, but of how you do it. It is not a question of what, but of how - meditatively or nonmeditatively, alert, awake, or doing things as if you are a sleepwalker.

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