There’s an explosion of knowledge in the world today. With so much knowledge about everything available to man, he doesn’t seem to be happy or blissful. The modern man continues to live in misery and suffering. This knowledge has not transformed his life positively, even though so much comfort is available to him outwardly. Man remains hollow within himself. the vastness of knowledge has not brought out an existential change in human life. what must be the reason?
Osho explains this with a story in the Upanishads, which contains a few very beautiful existential statements about life.
There was an old seeker of truth; his name was Uddalak. his son was Shvetketu. He sent his son to well-known masters in the country to learn everything that was out there.
The son was learning with one master, then another master. And when he acquired all that was available, with great pride he came back home to say to his father, “i have fulfilled the task.”
Uddalak looked from his window and saw that his son had returned with many scriptures.
“Love knows no jealousy. Love knows no possessiveness; on the contrary, love gives freedom.”And he could also see the proud look, the proud walk.
Shvetketu came in and told his father, “I have done it!”
Uddalak must have been a man like me. He asked him, “have you known yourself?”
Shvetketu said, “But nowhere in all the schools I have been was this a part of the syllabus. no – I know everything about medicine, I know everything about language, grammar; I know everything that is taught there. But to know oneself? even the question is not raised.”
Uddalak said, “Burn those scriptures and go back. Find out who you are, because if you don’t know yourself, what is the value of all the knowledge that you are burdened with? you have missed the central point.”
Shvetketu was very much hurt and shocked, because he had come with so much pride, thinking that his father was going to reward him. instead, he was condemned, utterly condemned.
“you wasted so many of your years. Go back!” Uddalak did not even allow him to rest.
Shvetketu went to the greatest master that he had come across in his search for learning, and told him, “my father has demolished me completely! and he has sent me back for a single thing. he says unless you know yourself, all your knowledge is useless.”
When your own house is in darkness, what is the point of knowing that the whole world is full of stars and light? the light is needed first in your own house.
That master said, “I was afraid of this, because i know your father; in our youth we have been disciples of the same master. I was afraid that this was going to happen. you were going with so much pride, and I know your father – he is not interested in borrowed knowledge. He wants to know himself. He is not interested in beliefs. his only effort all his life has been to come to a certainty, to an experience which is not borrowed, which is his own, authentically his own. I was afraid that this was going to happen to you.”
Shvetketu asked, “then what am I supposed to do?”
The master said, “all that I knew, I have taught you. as far as knowing oneself, I am as ignorant as you are.
“But I can suggest one thing. I have got one hundred cows in the ashram. You take these cows into the hills, and till they have become one thousand in number, giving birth to calves, you remain in the mountains.you forget all knowledge that you have learned. In fact you will not need it there; the cows are not interested in any kind of knowledge. You will not even encounter another human being. Language will not be needed. Grammar and all the subtleties of grammar will be useless.”
Shvetketu asked, “But how is this going to help me to know myself?”
The master said, “You simply go. help the cows grow. Take them to fresher fields deeper into the mountains, and wait till they are one thousand in number. Then you can come back. And everything else we will discuss afterwards.”
“When your own house is in darkness, what is the point of knowing that the whole world is full of stars and light? the light is needed first in your own house.”
Masters have their own devices. as far as i understand this story, I know the man knew – but it could not be told. he created a situation, a device.
Shvetketu went to the mountains. For a few days the mind went on with all the knowledge that it had gathered, but what use was it? The cows were just munching grass, and Shvetketu was sitting amongst those one hundred cows waiting for the time when they will become one thousand… Days passed, months passed. And the story is really beautiful, because Shvetketu forgot everything: knowledge, language, arithmetic. There was no need…by and by everything became useless.
He almost became as innocent as a cow. What else to do? A man is known by the company he keeps. he sat under the trees taking care of the cows. they became one thousand.
And here is a beautiful point: one cow spoke to Shvetketu and said, “We have become one thousand, now it is time to get back home. it seems you have forgotten counting too!” And really, he had forgotten.
He brought those cows back to the master’s house. Other disciples were also amazed with this experiment. It looked so strange – that to know oneself one has to take one hundred cows into the mountains and wait and wait till they become one thousand!
The disciples looked: the cows were coming. They rushed to the master and said, “One thousand cows are coming.”
the master said, “no, one thousand and one.”
The disciples said, “But you had asked for one thousand.”
He said, “Yes, i had, but what about Shvetketu?” He was walking in the middle of the cows, so innocent, so utterly childlike.
The disciples of the master were very excited, because the master had promised, “When Shvetketu comes, then everything will be discussed. For the time being you do this, and ask the questions later.”
Shvetketu came, handed over the cows to the master, and said, “Now can I go? My father must be getting very old, and I don’t want him to die disappointed with me.”
The master said, “But what about those other things we were going to discuss?”
Shvetketu laughed. He said, “Forget all about it! Living with cows…there was no other excitement, entertainment.
Waiting under trees, sitting under trees doing nothing, slowly a silence started happening on its own accord. i was not meditating, but meditation was happening to me. and a moment came when all my thoughts disappeared, all my feelings disappeared – just a pureness remained.
“I could not even say, ‘I am,’ because there was no I. Then i knew that the grammar was wrong. ‘I’ does not exist. All that I can express is that I felt and experienced a certain am-ness; not ‘i am,’ but am-ness, a deep existential experience. Now I know what my father wanted me to know, and there is nothing to discuss.”
“I was not meditating, but meditation was happening to me. and a moment came when all my thoughts disappeared, all my feelings disappeared – just a pureness remained.”
The master said, “I knew it. if you had come and started asking the same question again, that would mean the device had failed. with my blessings you can go to your father.”
He went back home. the father was really very old; he was waiting for the son. He could see again from the window, and this is what he was expecting – Shvetketu, so humble, so simple; no scriptures, just coming in like a cool breeze.
He went into the house. you could expect that he would have declared, “now I have fulfilled your desire.” No, he simply touched his father’s feet, kissed his father’s feet, tears flowing from his eyes.
The father said, “So, it has happened. now i can die peacefully. i have fulfilled my duty; I am not leaving behind an ignorant man full of rubbish knowledge. I am leaving behind a pure space, a being, alert, aware, knowing himself -– which is the greatest knowing in the world.”
“There is a vast universe outside you – infinite. you can go on and on exploring it, there is no end.”
Science should open the doors of devices which religions have been keeping closed.
Osho reminds us: there is a vast universe outside you – infinite. you can go on and on exploring it, there is no end.
But there is a bigger universe within you, and so close – just within you! and you can go on exploring it. you will come to know who you are, but that is not the end: that experience goes on deepening infinitely. a man can be both, and that will be the total man. i have defined the new man in many ways, from different angles.
Let this also be included in the definition of the new man: he will be complete, entire, acquainted with the outside world, acquainted with the inside world.
And the moment you know both, you know they are not two; it is the same energy extending into two polarities. One becomes the object; the other becomes the subject. I would like to call it the science of the inner. and whatever is known as science today, I will call the science of the outer.
But the inner and the outer are two sides of the same coin. the outer cannot exist without the inner; the inner cannot exist without the outer. So there is no separation and there is no question of bridging.
You have been taught so many responsibilities, but not this one. You have been told to be responsible to your parents, to your wife, to your husband, to your children, to the nation, to the church, to humanity, to God. The list is almost endless. But the most fundamental responsibility is not in that list. You are not responsible to any nation, to any church, to any God.
You are responsible only for one thing, and that is self knowledge. And the miracle is, if you can fulfill this responsibility, you will be able to fulfill many responsibilities without any effort.
A man who knows himself will be really loving to his children, to his wife, to his friends. His love will have a totally different flavor. It will not be a mixture of hate, anger, jealousy, lust, and love.
If you look at your love you will find it is so many things. And in those so many things your love is polluted, because many of them are against love. Jealousy cannot be part of love. Hate, anger, possessiveness, cannot be part of love.
Love knows no jealousy. Love knows no possessiveness; on the contrary, love gives freedom.
It is so simple. if I love a person, I will give him absolute freedom. If love cannot give absolute freedom, then who is going to give it? If I see the person whom I love being happy with somebody else, I will be happy in his happiness. Love cannot be jealous, it can only be happy. It knows only one taste, the taste of happiness.
The moment you come to your own being, a revolution takes place in your vision. your resentment becomes gratitude.
You even start feeling grateful to your enemies, because whatsoever you are they have also contributed to it. without them, you would have been somebody else.
Your whole outlook about life goes through a radical change. you start feeling new responsibilities – not as something to be done, not as duty to be fulfilled, but as a joy to do.
Out of self-realization a great understanding arises. Once I knew myself, I knew a totally different meaning of responsibility. it is not a question of duty: it is a question of sharing. you have so much love and so much bliss that you would like to share it.
“if I love a person, I will give him absolute freedom. if love cannot give absolute freedom, then who is going to give it? If i see the person whom i love being happy with somebody else, I will be happy in his happiness. Love cannot be jealous, it can only be happy.”
Osho concludes: So I teach only one responsibility, and that is towards yourself. Everything else will follow on its own accord without any effort on your part. And when things happen effortlessly, they have a tremendous beauty to them.
When you love somebody because she is beautiful, your love is not much. tomorrow the woman will become old, tomorrow she may fall sick, tomorrow she may become ugly. Perhaps an operation has to be done on her nose – what will happen to your love? It was her beautiful nose that had provoked your love. now that the nose is gone, your love will disappear. the woman will become a burden to you.
No, when out of your self-realization love comes, it is not dependent on the object of love. It has nothing to do with the person’s beauty or intelligence or any other talent. You are full of love and you want to share it. And whoever is ready to receive it, you are thankful to the person. It is a gift, and it has no cause in the person to whom you are giving it. You are giving it out of your fullness; you are overflowing.
When your responsibilities are just an overflow of your experience of your being, of your center, of your eternal life, then they have a totally different quality. You will not serve anybody for any motive – not that by service you will reach heaven, not that by service you will become a saint. If your service is a means to some end, it is simply business, it is not service. And what a bargain! Just serving a few sick people, you will enjoy paradise for eternity.
It is almost a lottery!
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World monthly magazine and founding editor of Osho Times International, is the author of three books on Osho –Allah to Zen; The Osho Way: In Romance with Life; and Osho Fragrance. The director and spokesperson of Osho World Foundation, Swami Chaitanya Keerti regularly contributes articles on meditation to several newspapers and magazines and travels extensively to conduct meditation sessions.