Question – PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WITNESSING AND TATHATA.
Osho – In witnessing, the duality is present. The witness finds himself separate from that which he experiences. If a thorn pricks his foot, the witnessing man says, “The thorn has not pricked me, it has pricked my body — I am only the knower of it. The piercing has occurred at one place, while the awareness of it is present somewhere else.”
So in the mind of a witness there exists a duality, a separation between the experiencing of an event and the actual occurrence of it. Therefore, he cannot rise up to the state of advaita, nonduality. And this is why the seeker who stops at the level of being a witness, a watcher, remains confined to a kind of dualism. He ultimately divides the existence into conscious and unconscious. Conscious means the one who knows, and the unconscious means that which is known. So eventually he is bound to end up dividing existence into purusha and prakriti.
Both of these words, purusha and prakriti, are highly significant. Perhaps the true meaning of prakriti may not have occurred to you, Prakriti doesn’t mean ‘nature’; in fact, there is no word for prakriti In English. Prakriti means that which was in existence before everything came to be — pra-kriti. Prakriti does not mean srishti or nature, because srishti means that which exists after creation. The word prakriti means that which was before creation.
The word purusha is also very meaningful. The equivalents of such words are extremely difficult to find in any other language of the world, because all these words are born out of very special experiences. You know what pur means; pur means the city. For example, Kanpur, Nagpur. So pur indicates the city, and the one who resides in the city is the purusha. The human body is like a town, a city, and there is someone who resides in it — he is the purusha. Prakriti, therefore, is the pur, and the one who lives in it — separate, unattached — is the purusha.
So the witness comes as far as the separation of purusha and prakriti. He will set them apart as two entities — the conscious and the unconscious, and a distance will be created between the knower and the known.
Tathata is even more remarkable — the ultimate. Tathata means, there is no duality. There is neither a knower nor is there anything to be known. Or, in other words, the knower is the known. Now it is not that the thorn is hurting me and I am aware of it; or that the thorn and I are separate from each other. It is not even that it would have been better if the thorn had not pierced me, or that it would be good if the thorn came out — no, there is nothing of this sort.
Now, everything is accepted: the presence of the thorn, the pricking of it, the awareness of being pricked by it, the experience of pain — everything. And they are different parts of the same thing. Therefore, I am the thorn. I am the very occurrence of pricking. I am the awareness of this occurrence. I myself am the very realization of this all — I am all of this.
That’s why there is no going beyond this ‘I’, my very being. I cannot think, “It would have been better if the thorn had not pricked me” — how can I? For I am the very thorn, the pricking of it, and the knowing of being pricked as well. Nor can I think, “It would be good if the thorn didn’t prick me,” because that would be tantamount to tearing myself apart from my very own being.
Tathata is the ultimate state there is. In that state, whatsoever is, is. It’s a state of the ultimate acceptance of that-which-is. It contains no distinctions. But one cannot reach tathata without having been first a witness. However, one can stop at the level of witnessing, if he so desires, and choose not to arrive at tathata. Similarly, without the use of will, one cannot attain the state of witnessing. Although, having gained willpower, one may wish to stay there and not come to the point of witnessing.
One who stops with attaining firmness of resolve would of course become very powerful, but he won’t be able to attain wisdom. And therefore, the ability to make a resolve can be misused, because wisdom is not required to attain it. One will surely gain a lot of power, but that is precisely why he can abuse it. The entire black magic is a product of willpower. One who practices it gains a lot of power, but he lacks wisdom totally. He can end up using that power without any discrimination.
A man of will becomes filled with power. It is difficult to predict right away what use he will make of it. He can obviously put it to bad use. Power in itself is neutral. Nevertheless, it is necessary — whether one intends to use it for good or for evil. And as I see it, rather than remaining a weakling, it is better if one uses his power for evil purposes — for the simple reason that one who commits an evil act now may someday use the same power for a good cause. One who cannot do evil can never do good either. That’s why I say it’s better to be powerful than to be impotent and a wimp.
So a man of power can set out on the path of good as well as evil. It is better to follow the course of goodness, because if followed rightly, it will bring you to the state of witnessing. You won’t end up as a witness if you follow the course of evil; rather, you will simply wander around within the confines of your willpower. Then you will get into mesmerism and hypnotism, tantras and mantras, witchcraft and voodooism. All kinds of things will crop up, but they won’t lead you on a journey toward the soul.
This is becoming lost. The power will indeed be there, but gone astray. If the power is put on the course of goodness, it is sure to give rise to the witness within you, and ultimately that power can be used to know and attain oneself. This is what I call the course of goodness. By the course of evil I mean controlling, possessing, enslaving the other. This is what black magic is. Making use of the power for the purpose of attaining oneself, knowing who am I, what am I, and living authentically, is moving in goodness. And it will indeed lead one toward becoming a witness.
If the urge to attain the state of witnessing is satisfied with the knowing of oneself, the seeker reaches up to the fifth body and stops there. However, if the urge is further intensified, one discovers that he is not alone, he contains everything; that the sun and the moon and the stars, the rocks, the soil, the flowers are all part of him; that his very being, his existence incorporates all the rest. If the seeker proceeds with such an intense feeling, he reaches tathata.
Tathata, suchness, is the ultimate flowering of religion, it is the supreme achievement. It is total acceptance. Whatsoever happens, one is open and agreeable to it. Only such an individual can become totally silent, because even a little bit of resentment can prolong the restlessness. One’s restlessness and tension will continue to remain if he carries even a small degree of complaint. Even the slightest idea, “It didn’t happen the way it should have,” and the tension will continue to persist.
The experience of supreme silence, the experience of the greatest freedom from tension, and that of the ultimate liberation is possible only in the state of tathata. However, only a man of will can eventually attain the state of witnessing, and only his going deeper into witnessing can bring him to the state of tathata. One who has not yet known what being a witness means can never know what total acceptance is.
One who hasn’t realized that he is separate from the thorn which is pricking him is not yet ready to know that the thorn is a part of him. In fact, one who comes to experience the separateness of the thorn can take the next step of feeling one with the thorn as well.
So tathata is the fundamental principle. Among all the spiritual disciplines discovered all over the world, tathata is the greatest. That’s why one of Buddha’s names is Tathagat. I
t would be good to have some understanding of what this word tathagat means. It will be useful in comprehending the meaning of tathata.
Buddha has used the word Tathagat for himself. He would say, for instance, “Tathagat said….” Tathagat means, thus came, thus gone. Just as a breeze comes and goes away without any purpose, without any meaning. Just as a breath of air enters your room and goes out — without any reason. So the one whose coming and going away is as unmotivated, as desireless as the breeze, such a being is called Tathagat. But who would come and go like a breeze?
He alone can pass like a breeze who has attained to tathata. Only he to whom the coming and the going makes no difference can move like a breeze. If he needs to come, he comes; if he needs to go, he goes — the same as Diogenes did. It made no difference to him whether people put him in chains or did not put him in chains.
Diogenes said later on, “Only one who is prone to be a slave can be nervous about becoming a slave. Since no one can make me a slave, why should I be afraid I might be taken as a slave? One who carries even the slightest anxiety that he may be turned into a slave, he alone will remain in fear of it. And one who has such a fear is indeed a slave.
Since I happen to be the lord and master myself, you can never enslave me. Even in chains, I am the master, and will remain so in your prison as well. It makes no difference where you throw me; I still remain the lord and master. My mastership is total and complete.”
So the journey consists of this: from will to witness, and from witness to tathata.
Source: from Osho Book “And Now, And Here”