Question: BELOVED OSHO, WHAT IS THE TRANSCENDENTAL?
Osho: Deva Paro, the moment you start witnessing yourself, you will see three layers of existence within you. One is the outermost; anybody can observe it; it is objective; it is material; it is your body.
The second layer behind it is your mind, your thoughts, your dreams, your expectations. Only you can see them, nobody else can see them from outside. They are not objective: they are subjective, but they certainly are. They exist in their own way; you cannot deny them their existence. Certainly on a different wavelength, not as solid and physical as the body, but you can see them, they direct your life, they are your hopes, your projections, your expectations.
The first layer is called the objective and the second layer is called the subjective. But beyond both there is a witness which can watch both the body and the mind, the material and the nonmaterial. This witness, this consciousness, this awareness, is beyond both. It is neither material nor non-material, because it is beyond both. And you cannot go beyond it. You cannot witness it. You have come to the very end of the rope, you have come to the very bottom of existence. This awareness is called the transcendental, because it transcends the duality of body-mind. And to be centered in it, you have come home, because there is no way beyond it. Here ends the road.
Suddenly you find everything in its perfection. Nothing is missing, nothing needs improvement, refinement; everything is as it should be. And this feeling, that everything is as it should be, brings a tremendous gratitude. The perfection of existence fills you with tremendous joy that you are a participant in a perfect existence, that you are an invited guest, that you are welcome here, that the whole existence needs you. If you were not here, it would miss you. There would remain some place vacant. Nobody else can take your place. This gives you individuality and dignity and a great blissfulness. For the first time you are at ease with existence, with trees, with stars, with the ocean. The whole becomes your home. This is the transcendental. It is called transcendental because it transcends all duality and brings you to a state of oneness. This is the ultimate outcome of a meditative consciousness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls his meditation Transcendental Meditation. That is an unnecessary repetition of words. “Meditation” is enough, or “transcendental” is enough, because both mean the same. Meditation brings you to transcendence and every transcendence is nothing but the ultimate flowering of meditation. And what he calls Transcendental Meditation is neither transcendental nor meditation; it is just chanting a certain name.
You can chant your name. It gives a certain relaxation. The great English poet Tennyson, without being initiated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi — there was no question of it because he existed a long time before Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born — just found it by himself because he had to sleep in a room separate from his parents. They were rich people, they could provide each child with a separate room of his own. But he was so small and the nights were so dark. There was great fear — and particularly in England, which seems to be the most ghost-haunted country in the whole world.
It is strange, but nowhere in the world will you find so many ghost-haunted houses, so many people concerned about ghosts. So naturally the little child, Tennyson, was very much worried when it became dark and the lights were put off. Finding nothing else to hold on to, he discovered a trick. He would repeat his own name continuously: “Tennyson, Tennyson, Tennyson, Tennyson,” just to avoid all kinds of ghosts who must have been around in the darkness hiding in the nooks and corners of the room. He became so occupied with his own name that a certain curtain was created protecting him from all sides, so there was not even a small gap for any ghosts to enter in.
He found — strangely, accidentally — what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls Transcendental Meditation. He became utterly silent, peaceful, and fell into deep relaxed sleep. And in the morning when he woke up, he would wake up with the same repetition — Tennyson, Tennyson — that he had gone with into sleep. This is something to be understood. Anything that you go to sleep with, the last thing that you remember before sleep falls over you, will be the first thing you remember as you become awake, even before opening your eyes. Psychologically of course you were not aware of it, but you repeated the same thing the whole night.
If Tennyson repeated his own name while he was falling asleep, slowly, slowly the sleep became deeper and the word Tennyson became farther and farther away like an echo, until finally he forgot all about Tennyson and fell into an unconscious state. But that word continued in the unconscious as an undercurrent. That’s why in the morning, the first thing he remembered was his own name.
You can try it. Anything you fall asleep with will remain flowing within you and you will have to encounter it in the morning when you wake up. This means the whole night he was repeating consciously at first, then unconsciously, then again consciously, the same name. Naturally he could not dream. He could not think of anything else. His sleep became a very silent, deep, dreamless sleep — what Patanjali calls sushupti. Modern psychology is still not aware of it.
Patanjali, the man who first wrote the whole science of yoga … It happens very rarely that a single man creates a whole science. It is now five thousand years old, but in these five thousand years, nothing has been added to the science of yoga. It remains exactly the same. And I don’t think there is any possibility in the future either to make any improvement. A single genius completed the whole thing, not leaving anything out of it that could be added later on. Patanjali calls this state sushupti, dreamless sleep. It is a beautiful state, very healthy, very nourishing, very rejuvenating.
But it is not meditation. It is just a kind of hypnotic sleep. By repeating your own name continuously you create a certain kind of boredom. Obviously, if you repeat Tennyson, Tennyson, how long can you remain interested? Soon you start feeling boredom, and boredom is a very good state for bringing in sleep. Whenever you feel bored you start falling into sleep. The mind finds a way to get out of boredom — by going to sleep. That’s why in every church you will find almost everybody asleep, just having a good Sunday-morning sleep.
I have heard about a priest who was very famous and his congregation was very big. And the reason for his congregation being big was that there was no other preacher who was so boring. It was a strange reason. But he bored people to such an extent that even people who were suffering from insomnia fell asleep. The whole night they could not manage it, with all their sleeping pills, but the preacher was really a genius. His voice was so boring; what he was saying he had said so many times that people could hear it even in their sleep. And he was also happy; with everybody asleep the whole church was silent.
He had only three sermons; there was no need to have more, three were enough. Nobody was awake so nobody knew which he was giving; nobody could repeat what they had heard. Everybody said that the man certainly cast a hypnotic spell.
Just one old man sitting in front of him, the richest man of the city, was a trouble. He snored. His snoring was not a trouble; the trouble was that because of his snoring, many people could not sleep. The preacher was very much disturbed that if it continued many people would stop coming. They came only to have a good morning sleep on Sunday. It was so rejuvenating, one hour’s sleep, that it was enough to keep them relaxed, calm and quiet for the whole week. He had to find some way — and he found it. The old man always used to come with one of his great-grandchildren, just a small boy, but very alive. In fact, in the whole congregation only he was awake.
The priest pulled the boy aside one day and said, “Listen, I will give you a quarter of a dollar if you can keep your old man awake. Whenever you see he is snoring, just start nudging him. Wake him up. Don’t let him sleep. And a quarter dollar every week is certain.” The boy said, “Done.”
The next week the old man could not figure out what had happened to the boy. He used to sit always silently by his side. The moment he started snoring he started waking him up.
Out of the church he asked, “What is the matter with you? You did not let me sleep at all!”
He said, “The priest is giving me a quarter of a dollar to keep you awake.”
The old man said, “Then you should have told me before. I will give you half a dollar to let me sleep!” He said, “Done.”
The next week the preacher watched. Again many times he gestured to the child, gave all indications, but the child simply sat there smiling, not even bothering about the priest.
The priest thought, “What has happened? Has he forgotten completely?” When everybody was sleeping he even showed him a quarter dollar. The child said no, just waved his hand. “Strange …” After the meeting he got hold of the child and asked, “What is the matter?”
He said, “My old man is giving me half a dollar.”
The priest said, “Half a dollar? I will give you one dollar, but don’t let that old man sleep!”
He said, “Done.”
But the priest thought, “I cannot compete with that old man because he is very rich. I am a poor priest.” He said to the boy, “Listen. I am a poor priest, more than that I cannot give.”
He said, “It all depends on the old man. If he says he is going to give me two dollars … You are a man of understanding, business is business.”
And that’s how it happened finally. The old man said, “Two dollars,” and the boy again stopped.
Finally the priest had to talk to the old man himself. “Let us clarify the whole thing. I am not worried about your sleep. My problem is that because of your snoring many people cannot sleep and they are complaining. My congregation is the biggest in the city because they enjoy such a beautiful sleep. Anything boring is helpful.”
Now they have created many machines which simply create the noise of the ocean, the waves coming to the rocks, splashing, making their sound. You just have to plug into the mechanism and it gives you the continuous sound of the waves, and many people are helped by it. They fall asleep, it is so boring.
What Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is teaching people is a kind of dreamless sleep. It is not meditation. Meditation is awakening, not going to sleep. I have nothing against it, he just should not call it Transcendental Meditation. It is simply hypnotic sleep. He is using a wrong name and exploiting people because of the wrong name. People think it is meditation. This is sheer conmanship.
In the East we have known for centuries that chanting is good for sleep, and sleep is good for health. So there is nothing wrong in it, just fifteen minutes or ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. If you can do it, you will have better health, a better sense of well-being, so there is nothing wrong in it. But it is not meditation.
Meditation is just the opposite. It is awakening. It is becoming fully aware of your body, of your mind. And you have simply to be watchful. You don’t have to repeat anything, because repetition means you have fallen into identifying with the thought process.
Chanting is also a thought process. Repeating a mantra or a name of God — Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, it doesn’t matter. You can simply count from one to a hundred and back again, from a hundred to ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, then go back. Go up, go down. Just climb the whole ladder up to a hundred and again come down. Four or five times you will be able to do it and then you will fall asleep. But the whole night you will have to do that, climbing up, coming down, climbing up, coming down. It may even be tiring, so that in the morning you may feel your back is hurting, something has gone wrong, you feel giddy. The first thing that you will find in the morning is that you are coming down or going up. The whole night it has continued. Don’t choose such a thing.
It is perfectly good for Tennyson; he did it his whole life. In his autobiography he says, “I don’t know what the secret of it is. I simply stumbled on it out of fear. But I found it so peaceful, so relaxing, leading me into such deep sleep, that I have used it my whole life. Whenever I have time, I repeat my own name, just sitting in the bus or in the railway train. There is nothing to do. I just close my eyes and go on repeating my name. And it is so peaceful and so silent.” But it is a silence which is of sleep, it is a peace which is of sleep.
You will not become aware at the very moment it is happening; you will become aware when you awake. You will see you have passed through a peaceful land. Only the remnants like a memory hang around you — some fragrance. But you have passed through the garden completely asleep. When you wake up, you find you must have passed through a garden because you can still smell the roses.
I entirely support what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is doing. But I absolutely disagree with his using a name which simply exploits people who do not know what meditation is. He is giving something very cheap in the name of meditation. Meditation is always the essential awakening, witnessing, watchfulness, consciousness. It is never unconscious. It is never a deep sleep. It is a deep awakening. The moment you are alert, you can see the body, you can see your mind, and you can experience yourself. And beyond this `yourself’ you cannot go. You cannot go behind it or beyond it. It is your very being. You cannot jump out of it. It is not a dress that you can jump out of.
It is you yourself.
It is your very essence.
This essence is transcendental.
But all religions have created their own ideas about meditation. Except Gautam Buddha, no other religion has been able exactly to find the right meaning of meditation. Hence he remains a pillar of light to all those who are seeking, searching. All other religions have fallen into the trap of chanting, prayer, mantras, rituals. A single man in the whole of history stands alone like an Everest denying everything except witnessing. That’s what he means by vipassana. It is the art of witnessing all your actions,
physical or mental.
And as you watch them, they slow down. Your body becomes more at ease, tensionless; your mind becomes slowly, slowly thoughtless. And when the body is completely silent, and the mind is without any thought, your whole being is filled with a light that you have never known before. It is not the ordinary light that needs any fuel. It is your very being radiating. From this moment onwards your journey will take a new turn. On each step a new mystery will open its doors. You will be becoming more and more part of the miracles of existence.
And existence is a mystery. It is not something that you have to solve. It is not a problem, nor is it a puzzle; there is no solution to it. No philosophy can demystify it. You can experience it, you can enjoy it, you can dance it, you can live it, but you cannot know it.
The young mother is skeptically examining the new educational toy. “Isn’t it rather complicated for a young boy?” she asks the assistant.
“It is the very latest idea,” replies the girl. “It is designed to adjust the child to live in today’s world. Any way he tries to put it together is wrong.”
But this small anecdote is true about existence. Any way you want to explain it, your explanation is wrong. Those who know it do not try to explain it. They only describe its beauty, its truth, its glory, its blissfulness. They only give you some indications that may create a longing in you to find out what it is.
Once you enter into it, you will forget all about finding out what it is. Enjoying it so much, who cares what it is? And what are you going to do with your explanations? And anyway there is no explanation. The whole existence is only an experience without any explanation. This is its transcendentalness. It transcends all understanding, all knowledge, all explanation, all philosophy. But you can experience it. You can become one with it. It is always ready to absorb you. Just as the ocean is ready to absorb any dewdrop. Existence is always waiting and willing, welcoming. You just you have to learn a little courage, just a little courage.
One jump and you are gone forever into the mysterious. You yourself become a mystery. Every mystic is a mystery. He has become one with the ultimate mystery. Mysticism is not a religion because it has no theology, no philosophy, no doctrine, creed, cult. It explains nothing. It simply shows you the way to move into the unexplainable. It opens the door of the unknowable and pushes you in.
There is a beautiful story about the Great Wall of China. It must be a story because nobody has found the spot up to now. But it has been reported for almost three thousand years that there is a spot on the China Wall … The wall is thousands of miles long and broad enough for a car to move on it. It is one of the miracles man has achieved. Millions of people died in making it. It took hundreds of years to build. They created almost a mountain against invaders.
It was reported again and again that there is a spot somewhere on the China Wall where, if you place a ladder and go up the wall … whoever has done that simply reaches the top of the wall, laughs loudly and jumps down the other side, which is so deep a ditch that you cannot find even his pieces. The man is finished. But before jumping he laughs very loudly, perhaps the first belly laughter that he has ever laughed, with his whole body. It was the most mysterious point on the wall. And many have reported that they have seen people reaching to the point where they will laugh and jump. Nobody knows why they laugh.
Many have tried, determined not to laugh whatever happens, and even if they laugh, not to jump, but whoever has gone to the point, even with absolute determination, suddenly forgets all determination, laughs loudly and jumps. Nobody knows any explanation yet of why it happens. And nobody comes back to tell you.
I don’t think there is any such point on the China Wall, but perhaps it is a parable about mysticism. Something like that happens the moment you reach and the door opens. You have a good laugh and you jump.
But the mystery remains a mystery. And that is the beauty of the mystic, that he does not try to demystify existence. He loves the mystery; the mystery has a certain romance about it, its unknowability is exciting. It is a great challenge, a great adventure for all those who have souls strong enough to go on such a pilgrimage. Mysticism is transcendentalism.
Source: Osho Book “Sat Chit Anand”