Osho on reaction and action

Osho – Witnessing is the technique for centering. We discussed centering. A man can live in two ways: he can live from his periphery or he can live from his center. The periphery belongs to the ego and the center belongs to the being. If you live from the ego, you are always related with the other. The periphery is related with the other.

Whatsoever you do is not an action, it is always a reaction. You do it in response to something done to you. From the periphery there is no action – everything is a reaction; nothing comes from your center. In a way, you are just a slave of the circumstances. You are not doing anything; rather, you are being forced to do. From the center the situation changes diametrically: from the center you begin to act. For the first time you begin to exist not as a relata but in your own right.

Buddha is passing a village. Some people are very angry, very much against his teachings. They abuse him, they insult him. The Buddha listens silently and then he says, ”If you are finished then allow me to move. I am to reach to the other village and they will be waiting for me. If something is still remaining in your mind, then when I am passing back by this route you can finish it.” They say, ”We have abused you, insulted you. Are you not going to answer?”

Buddha says, ”I never react now. What you do is up to you – I never react now. You cannot force me to do something. You can abuse me; that is up to you. I am not a slave. I have become a free man. I act from my center, not from my periphery, and your abuse can touch only the periphery, not my center. My center remains untouched.”

You are so much touched, not because your center is touched. but only because you have no center. You are just the periphery, identified with the periphery. The periphery is bound to be touched by everything – everything that happens. It is just your boundary, so whatsoever happens is bound to touch it.

And you don’t have any center. The moment you have a center. then you have a distance from yourself, you have a distance from your periphery. Someone can abuse the periphery, but not you. You can remain aloof, detached. There is a distance between you and yourself. Between you as your periphery and you as the center there is a distance, and that distance cannot be broken by anyone else – because no one can penetrate to the center. The outside world can touch you only as the periphery.

So Buddha says, ”Now I am centered. Ten years before it would have been different. If you had abused me, then I would have reacted – but now I only act.”

Understand clearly the distinction between reaction and action. You love someone because someone loves you. Buddha also loves you – not because you love him; that is irrelevant. Whether you love him or hate him is irrelevant. He loves you because it is an act, not a reaction. The act comes from you, and the reaction is forced upon you. Centering means now you have begun to act.

Another point to be remembered: when you act, the act is always total. When you react, it can never be total. It is always partial, fragmentary, because when I act from my periphery – that is, when I react – it cannot be total because I am not involved in it really. Only my periphery is involved, so it cannot be total.

So if you love from your periphery, your love can never be total – it is always partial. And that means much, because if love is partial then the remaining space will be filled by hate. If your kindness is partial, the remaining space will be filled by cruelty. If your goodness is partial, then who will fill the remaining space? If your God is partial, then you will need a Devil to fill the remaining space.

That means a partial act is bound to be contradictory, in conflict with itself. Modern psychology says you both love and you hate simultaneously. Amphibian is your mind – contradictory. To the same object you are related with love and with hate. And if love and hate are both there, then there is going to be a confusion – and a poisonous confusion. Your kindness is mixed with cruelty. and your charity is theft, and your prayer becomes a violence. And even if you try to be a saint, on the periphery, your sainthood is bound to be tinged with sin. On the periphery, everything is going to be self-contradictory.

Only when you act from the center is your act total. And when that act is total, it has a beauty of its own. When the act is total, it is moment-to-moment. When the act is total, you don’t carry the memory – you need not! When the act is partial, it is a suspended thing. You eat something: if the eating is partial, then when the actual eating is finished you will continue eating in the mind. It will remain suspended. Only a total thing can have an end and can have a beginning. A partial thing is just a continuous series with no beginning and with no end. You are in your home. and you have carried your shop and market with you. You are in your shop, and you have carried your house and household affairs. You are never, you can never be, at any single moment. totally in it. Much is being carried continuously. This is the heaviness, the tense heaviness on the mind, on the heart.

A total act has a beginning and an end. It is atomic; it is not a series. It is there, and then it is not there. You are completely free from it to move into the unknown. Otherwise one goes on in grooves, the mind becomes just groovy. You go on moving in the same circular way, in a vicious circle. You go on continuously in it.

Because the past is never finished, it comes into the present: i t goes on and penetrates into the future. So, really, a partial mind. a peripheral mind, carries its past, and the past is a big thing. Even if you don’t consider past lives, even then the past is a big thing. Fifty years’ experiences, beautiful and ugly, but unfinished, everything unfinished – so you go on carrying a fifty-year-long past which is dead.

This dead past will fall upon a single moment of the present. It is bound to kill it. So you cannot live, it is impossible. With this past on you, upon you, you cannot live. Every single moment is so fresh and so delicate, this whole dead weight will kill it. It is killing! Your past goes on killing your present, and when the present is dead it becomes a part. When it is alive, it is not part of you. When it becomes dead, when it has been killed by your dead past, then it becomes yours, then it is part of you. This is the situation.

The moment you begin to act from the center, every act is total, atomic. It is there and then it is not there. You are completely free from it. Then you can move with no burden, unburdened. And only then can you live in the new moment that is always there – by coming to it fresh.

But you can come to it fresh only when there is no past to be carried. And you will have to carry the past if it is unfinished. The mind has a tendency to finish everything. If it is unfinished, then it has to be carried. If something has remained unfinished during the day, then you will dream about it in the night – because the mind has a tendency to finish everything. The moment it is finished, the mind is unburdened from it. Unless it is finished. the mind is bound to come to it again and again.

Whatsoever you are doing – your love, your sex, your friendship – everything is unfinished. And you cannot make it total if you remain on the periphery. So how to be centered in oneself? How to attain this centering so that you are not on the periphery? Witnessing is the technique.

This word ”witnessing” is a most significant word. There are hundreds of techniques to achieve centering, but witnessing is bound to be a part, a basic part, in every technique. Whatsoever the technique may be, witnessing will be the essential part in it. So it will be better to call it ”the technique of all techniques”. It is not simply a technique. The process of witnessing is the essential part of all the techniques.

Source – Osho Book “The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 1”

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