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I often desire to have an isolated, secure place to allow surrender. Meditations several hours a day going deeper and deeper without distraction. As I understand, most Yoga Masters teach that withdrawal from the world is necessary for a period of time, once Kundalini starts rising, until one is finally established in Samadhi; at which time one can really be in the world, but not of it. Your teaching seems to be different: to engage in the world while the transformation is occurring. If this is so, how do I avoid the distraction of Maya before I clearly see the reality?

The first thing: the ego always seeks isolation, in a thousand and one ways. When you become very rich, you become isolated. When you become politically very powerful, you become isolated. An Adolf Hitler is alone, more alone than a yogi in the Himalayas. He has no friends, nobody equal to him; he has no relationships. A very rich man reaches to a Himalayan peak, where he is alone. Hence one seeks riches, hence one seeks political power.
The ego is always in search of isolation, because when you are alone, only the ego remains; the ego becomes the whole world. Then there is nobody to fight with your ego; there is nobody to humiliate you; there is nobody with whom you can compare yourself. You become supreme in your own eyes. You can believe in your ego absolutely; there will be no distraction.
I am against isolation. In fact you have to dissolve the ego, not to isolate it. You are not to become an island, independent, separate from the whole: you have to become a part of the continent, one with it. How can you be one with reality in isolation? The reality needs participation, not isolation. That's why the greatest Samadhi occurs in love, not in isolation. And the greatest of yoga is love, because in love you have to dissolve yourself, in love you have to die, in love you have to melt, merge.
I teach love, not isolation. Isolation is the way of the world, not the way of religion. But it happens: you have been seeking riches, political power, possessions; then you become frustrated; then you turn to the Himalayas - you renounce the world. You don't renounce the ego, you renounce the world. I teach you: renounce the ego, don't renounce the world.
The ego is very subtle. You could not attain to political power, then you try to attain to religious power. You call it Kundalini, but still it is power, still it is something that will make you separate, unique, independent, an island. If your religion is also a search for power, then isolation is needed.
But religion is not a search for power; it is a search for silence. It is a search for peace; it is a search for inner poverty - what Jesus calls 'poor in spirit'. It is a search to be, in such a way that there is no difference between to be and not to be. Non-being becomes your only being.
This is possible not through independence, this is possible only if you realize interdependence. These three words have to be remembered: dependence, independence, and interdependence.
Dependent you are; independence you seek; interdependence I teach. Dependent you are, because everywhere you will feel you are dependent, everywhere a limitation comes in. If you love somebody you become dependent on him or on her. Everywhere life brings dependence. Then the idea arises that in the world you can never be independent. Escape from the world. You can escape, but independent you can never be: you can only be deceived. Even in the Himalayas you are not independent; you are still dependent on the sun. If the sun does not rise, you will be dead immediately. You will be dependent on the oxygen and air: if the oxygen disappears, you will be dead. You will be dependent on water; you will be dependent on a thousand and one things.
Dependence has to be understood, not to be avoided. If you understand dependence, you will understand immediately that hidden behind it is interdependence. Dependence is just a misinterpretation. Those who have known have also known that you are not dependent on the sun; the sun is also dependent on you. Without you the sun cannot be, as you cannot be without the sun. Even a small blade of grass will be missed from existence; the existence will never be complete without it. A gap, something missing, will be there.
So don't think that the stars are great, and a blade of grass is very small and tiny. In existence, nothing is great and nothing is small, because existence is one.
This is what is meant by ecology: interdependence. And ecology is not only of this earth, it is of the totality. Ecology is a spiritual phenomenon.
You are misinterpreting. You are interpreting interdependence as dependence. That is a wrong notion, and because of that wrong notion, a wrong desire arises: how to be independent. Out of one error another error arises. You cannot be; and if somebody teaches you independence - there are people who teach this - they are teaching sheer stupidity. You are part, you are one with the whole, you are a wave in the ocean. The wave cannot be independent. How can you take the wave apart from the ocean? And I tell you, the ocean also cannot be separate from the wave. Without waves the ocean will also disappear. The waves cannot be without the ocean; the ocean cannot be without the waves, because waves are nothing but the ocean waving. Because of language the separation arises. You say the waves and the ocean; in fact, there are not the waves and the ocean, it is all one - the ocean waving. Waves are not things... a process, a movement, a breathing of the ocean. You and your breathing are not two things: you are the breathing, the breathing is you. You breathe and the breathing breathes you - they are inseparable.
Life is one. For this oneness,. interdependence, God is another name. Love is still another name, and even better than God, because God has been destroyed by the theologians. Love is still pure and virgin.
So the first thing to be understood: I don't teach isolation, because I don't teach the ego. Your so-called yoga masters are all more or less egoists.

Once a man came to me...

He thought he was a great seeker. The ego finds new ways to be fulfilled. He was a great seeker, and he was very old. He told me that throughout his whole life he had been seeking a perfect master, the greatest in the world, because he could not be satisfied with anything less than that.
I asked him,"Could you find him?"
He said, "Yes, I met many, but I had to leave them. A few were self-deceived; a few were deceiving others; a few were mad; a few were simply idiots; a few were greedy, exploiters; a few were just parrots, repeating the Vedas and the Upanishads. And many other wrong sorts of guides I met. But then," his eyes sparkled, and he said, "I came across a man who was a perfect master, and I immediately spoke up and told him,'You are the greatest master in the world.'"
I asked this seeker, "When did you say this to him?"
He said, "When he told me that I was the most perfect disciple in the world...immediately."

The ego goes on seeking different ways to be enhanced. In the name of yoga many ego-trips goes on. Don't become a part of it. I don't teach isolation, because I want you to leave the ego, and not the world. The world is not the problem. The world is tremendously beautiful; it is pure joy; nothing is wrong in it. Something is wrong in you, not in the world. Drop the wrongness in you; don't renounce the world. I teach you to celebrate the world, not to renounce it. I affirm life, and affirm it unconditionally; and I say to you that those who tell you to renounce it are the poisoners, and that from the very beginning they are teaching you something absolutely wrong. They are saying something is wrong in the world: they call it Maya. I call you Maya - not the world. The ego is the only Maya, the only illusion - not these trees, they are simply beautiful; not these flowers, not these birds, not this sky, not this sun, these stars - no, they are simply beautiful; they are divine and holy.
You are the Maya. So, if you want to leave anything, leave yourself. If you want to renounce anything, renounce yourself. And the only way, the only way to renounce oneself is to celebrate. Because whenever you are happy, you are not; whenever you are sad, you are; whenever you are depressed, you are; whenever you are delighting, you are not. In bliss, in ecstasy, you disappear. In sadness and sorrow, you again appear. Watch. When you laugh, you are not. In real laughter, you simply are not. It comes out from somewhere you know not of. It comes from beyond you. You don't laugh: when laughter is there, you are not.
Dance. When the dance really possesses you, when there really is a dance, the dancer is no more, the dancer has disappeared; he doesn't exist. The dance is so tremendously real that the unreal has to disappear before it. The unreal cannot face the real; the false cannot confront the real; the lie cannot face the truth; the darkness cannot encounter light. When the real arises - and the real is when you are part of the whole, whether in laughter, in dancing, in love - whenever you are part of the whole, the real is. Separate, you are Maya. One with the whole, you are God.

I often desire to have an isolated, secure place to allow surrender.

When you are alone, a false type of 'religiosity' arises. Because whenever you are alone, there is nobody to provoke your anger, nobody to create an opportunity where you can become sad, nobody to bring your own false faces before you. You are alone: anger does not arise. Not that anger has disappeared - simply the situation for anger is not there. You are full of anger, but nobody is there to insult you, to hurt you. Only the opportunity is missing. Come back to the world: live fifty years in the Himalayas - when you come back to the world, immediately you will find anger is there, as fresh as ever; even maybe more powerful now, because of fifty years accumulated anger, accumulated poison. Then one becomes afraid to come back to the world.
Go to the Himalayas: you will see many people hanging around there. Cowards, they cannot come back to the world. What sort of purity is this, which is afraid? What sort of celibacy is this, which is afraid? What sort of reality is this, which is afraid of Maya, of illusion? What sort of light is this, which is afraid of darkness: that it comes to the dark, the darkness will be powerful and may destroy it? Has darkness ever destroyed any light? But they go on hanging around. The more they hang around there, the more they become incapable of coming back to the world - because there in the Himalayas they can have their beautiful image: nobody else to destroy it. In the world it is difficult. Somebody, from somewhere, treads to your toe; somebody, from somewhere, hurts you. You have to drop anger. My whole effort is so that you change.
Don't try to change the scene, please change yourself. The change of the scene not going to help anybody; it has never helped anybody.

And you think:

Meditations several hours a day...

Even if you meditate twenty-four hours a day it is not going to help unless meditation becomes a way of life - not that you meditate. Whether you meditate one hour, or two hours, or three hours, or six hours, or many hours - you may meditate twenty-four hours: you will go mad, but you will not attain to Samadhi. Samadhi is when you completely forget what meditation is. You don't meditate; just the way you live is meditative. The way you may, the way you walk, the way you eat: that becomes meditative. Meditation becomes a quality of your life; it is not a question of quantity. Don't be quantitative. Don't think that if you meditate more, then more meditation will happen to you... foolish. The more is not the question - quality, not quantity.
Meditation is not money that you can go on gathering and piling up. Meditation is a way of being: you don't pile it up, you cannot accumulate it, it is not a wealth. It is the way you are.
So whatsoever you are doing here are really not meditations. They are just situations through which I would like you to see; they are just preparations for the meditation. We call them meditations, because they prepare you for the right meditation. That is just clearing the ground, just cleansing the ground: they are not real meditations, because real meditations cannot be done, as real love cannot be done. It happens. You are simply cleaning your mindbody; you are purifying yourself so that you can become a vehicle, so that you can be possessed. Then whatsoever you do, you do meditatively.
There have been stories of people who are robbers, or butchers, who have attained to enlightenment. But they attained, because whatsoever they did was meditative.

I have heard one taoist story:

One Emperor of China had a butcher; and he always loved to see him whenever he came to kill the animals for his kitchen. The Emperor would come and see and watch, because the whole thing was so beautiful - such an ugly thing, but the butcher was so beautiful. He did it as if he was doing a prayer; he did it as if he was in deep ecstasy. And for thirty years the Emperor watched and watched, and he was never fed up. Every day he waited with great excitement: the butcher would be coming. The butcher carried a certain climate around him, as if he was going to the temple to pray to God - and he was just going to kill animals. First he would pray; then he would talk to the animal; then he would thank the animal. And when he killed the animal, each of his gestures had a tremendous beauty of its own. The Emperor used to watch.
One day he asked, "I have been watching you for twenty years. I am never fed up; every day I wait excitedly - I don't wait so excitedly for anything else in the twenty-four hours. What is the secret of it?" The butcher said, "Because it is meditation for me. I am a butcher: that is the way God has willed me to be. I was born the son of a butcher: that's how God has willed me to be. This is my life, and I have made it a meditation. If God wants me to be a butcher, let it be so. But I should be meditative, so this is my meditation. I go into deep ecstasy; it is not just an activity: it is an act of love. God is there in the animal, God is in me; and God wants to kill God himself. Perfectly okay. Who am I to interfere? I simply become a vehicle; I am simply possessed."

There are stories of people who were robbers and thieves, who have also attained. What was their secret? Just the same. And I know people who have lived in a Himalayan retreat for their whole life, and have not attained to anything. It is not a question of quantity - how much you do. the question is how you do it - not how much: what quality you bring to it. You can just walk and it can be meditative; you can just sit and it can be meditative; you can eat and it can be meditative; and you can just take a shower and it can be meditative. Try to understand this.
Meditation should become a climate around you, a milieu in which you live. And wherever you go, you carry your climate. This is my whole effort: that's why I don't send you to isolation, I don't send you to mountains so that you can meditate the whole day; because that would give you a wrong notion about it, the notion of quantity

.... going deeper and deeper without distraction.

You can never go deeper and deeper if you don't understand what distraction is. If you are trying to avoid distraction, you can never go deeper; because wherever you are, the distraction will follow you - because it is in you.

I will tell you one story:

One man was very much distracted by his wife, because whenever he meditated the wife would talk loudly, or walk and close doors so loudly that plates would start falling; and he was very much distracted. So he left the house. He went into a forest. But then animals and crows started distracting him. Sometimes it was also happening that there was no distraction - then this would become the distraction. What is the matter? - there is no distraction. Absolute silence, and he would be distracted: what is happening? Have all the animals and the birds disappeared?

Distraction is not something objective, not there outside you; it is something in you. If you cannot accept, you will be distracted; if you accept, distraction disappears.

Once it happened...

I was staying in a rest-house. And a political leader was also staying there - a very small rest-house in a very small village. The political leader came to me in the middle of the night, and said, "It is impossible to sleep. How are you sleeping?" He shook me, and said, "How are you sleeping, there is so much distraction?"
Somehow or other at least two dozen dogs... they must have made the rest-house their abode - the whole village's dogs. Maybe they were having a political gathering also - and they were so many; there was such a loud barking and fighting.
He said, "But how are you sleeping? These dogs won't allow me to sleep, and I am tired."
So I said to the political leader, "But they are not aware of you. They don't read newspapers, they don't listen to the radio, they don't look at television; they are not aware of you. I was also here before you. That is their usual way: they are not doing it specially for you. You are fighting, resisting. The notion that they are disturbing you is disturbing you; not they. Accept them" I told him to do one small meditation. "Lie down on the bed. Enjoy their barking. Let it be a music. Enjoy it. Listen to it, as attentively as possible."
He said, "How is it going to help me? I want to avoid, I want to forget that they are there, and you are telling me to listen to them. That will disturb me even more."
I told him, "You just try. You have been trying your way, and it has failed. Now try my way; and you can see that it has been successful with me."
He was not ready for it, and he didn't believe it; but there was no other way, so he tried. And within five minutes he was fast asleep, and snoring. So I went and shook him up, and I said, "How are you sleeping? How is it possible?"

lf you accept, nothing can distract you. It is the very rejection in you that creates the distraction. So, if you want to meditate without distraction, don't reject anything. the traffic noise has to be accepted - it is part of this world, and perfectly okay; the child crying and weeping is part of this world, and perfectly okay. Once you say that everything is okay, just watch the feeling that everything is okay and accept it. Something within you melts. Then nothing distracts. And unless this happens, you can go anywhere you like and you will be distracted by one thing or another.

As I understand, most Yoga Masters teach that withdrawal from the world is necessary...

It is not necessary at all. Not only is it not necessary, it is harmful because who is withdrawing? In withdrawal, the ego will be strengthened. Don't withdraw; rather, melt. I teach you just the opposite. Melt.

... most Yoga Masters teach that withdrawal from the world is necessary for a period of time, once Kundalini starts rising, until one is finally established in Samadhi; at which time one can really be in the world, but not of it.

No... if you have not been that way from the very beginning, it is not going to happen suddenly in the end. If it has been that way from the very beginning only then will it flower in the end. If you withdraw from the world, you will never be capable of coming back to the world, and being in the world and not of it. No; because it cannot happen suddenly; it is a gradual process. By and by you have to imbibe the spirit of it. It is just like a small seed sprouting, becoming a plant, and becoming a tree. You say that suddenly - first, we will withdraw from the world, and then we will come back to the world. In the very withdrawal you will be disconnected from the world; you will become afraid to come back.
Go and look at Catholic monasteries, Hindu monasteries: people have become afraid; they don't come back. There are monasteries in Europe where, once you enter, you never get out of the monastery again until you die. Why do these monasteries exist? There are monasteries where never in their history has any woman entered... Catholic monks. There are monasteries of nuns where no man has ever entered - for centuries. What type of crystallisation is this? Fear crystallised, nothing else - withdrawal crystallised. And they all go on saying that one should live in the world and be not of it. But that has not happened. Look at the Jain monks: they are afraid of everything. For fifty years a man has been a monk - he cannot touch a woman's hand; he cannot look at a woman eye to eye. What type of Samadhi is this? Maybe suicide, but not Samadhi. What type of attainment is this? I cannot call it any attainment. It is not that Kundalini has arisen: Kundalini has slept completely, died completely. The fire has disappeared. There is no fire.
If you really want to come to that beautiful space where you are in the world and not of it, then you have to be that way from the very beginning; you have to remain in the world and work it out. It is difficult, I know. That's why people escape to the forest, because that looked simple. You think those who have escaped from the world are very brave? Then you are in a totally wrong notion. They are cowards. They have escape because they could not cope; they have escaped because they could not grow; they have escaped because the world was too much for them. But they have decorated their escape beautifully; and for centuries those cowards have been writing scriptures and commentaries, because they had nothing else to do; and they go on doing that. Their whole energy has been wasted in verbalisation; and they go on convincing other cowards.
Religion is courage; it is not cowardice. Be brave in facing the world. And whatsoever you want to be in the end, be from the very beginning: that is the only way. Carry it from the very first step, because the first step is the last step also.

Your teaching seems to be different: to engage in the world while the transformation is occurring. If this is so, how do I avoid the distraction of Maya before I clearly see the reality?

There is no need to avoid anything. All effort to avoid is out of fear. Live it; don't avoid it. Live the Maya, and you will come to know reality, because this Maya is also a hidden reality. The appearance is also of the reality. Let me repeat it: the appearance is also of the reality. Don't avoid it; otherwise reality will be avoided in it. Go deeply into it. Live it, enjoy it, penetrate it. Hindus have called Maya the shroud of Brahma, his clothing: don't avoid it. If you avoid my clothes and escape, you will be escaping from me also. You will have to accept my clothes, you will have to come closer and closer; only then can you know me, who is hidden in the clothes.
God is hidden in his Maya. Maya means his magic. God is hidden in his magic. The word 'magic' comes from Maya. God is hidden in these flowers, in these trees, in these rocks; in you, in me. From every eye he is looking out, from every flower it is his fragrance that is coming out. This is the way he is; this is his appearance. Avoid it, and you will avoid him; enter into it, enter into the fragrance of the flower, and you will find the fragrance of God hidden. Enter any human being in deep love, compassion, humbleness, and behind the body you will find him embodied, and behind the eyes you will find him looking at you. Look into somebody's eyes, and go deeper and deeper and deeper; and suddenly he is there, in his absolute beauty and purity.
I don't say avoid; that word is dirty for me. I say enter. The Maya of the temple of God. Enter into it: the world is the temple of God. The body is the temple of God: enter into it. Find as many ways as you can find to enter into it. Try to find God from everywhere and through everything, and you will find him everywhere and in everything. Says Jesus, "Underneath every stone I am hidden. Dig the rock up and you will find me there. Break wood and you will find me there." Everywhere he is. He is the very existence itself, the very is-ness.
Don't try to avoid. Escape, avoid, renunciation, isolation, are wrong words: don't use them. Let them not be part of the vocabulary, your vocabulary; drop them out. Find out positive terms, find out positive words: involvement, commitment, enjoyment, celebration, delight, ecstasy - and you will be on the right path.
The reality and the illusion are not opposites. The God and his world are not opposites. The God is hidden in the world, and the reality is hiding behind the appearance; and the appearance is also beautiful.
The appearance is also beautiful. Not only is the soul beautiful, the body also is beautiful. And it has to be so, because the soul is hidden behind it. The soul goes on being expressed from the body in millions of ways. The body is just like a glass. Behind it is the name, and the flame goes on spreading its rays outside the glass. Whenever you see a beautiful person, it simply hints, it simply gives you an indication, that behind it there is some unknown beauty hiding. That's why a beautiful body attracts - it is natural; a beautiful flower attracts - it is natural; because it is simply an indication, a natural indication, an invitation, that something beautiful is hidden behind. Come, investigate me. Come. the beautiful body attracts because of the beautiful soul: you attain to a beautiful body if you attain to a beautiful soul - it is not just coincidence; it is not chance. The more beautiful you become inside, the more beautiful you become on the outside also. If a very ugly body becomes more and more deeply involved in meditation, you will suddenly see the ugliness changing, and behind the ugliness, beauty being expressed more and more. Once the innermost core becomes beautiful, the outer periphery follows it. The appearance is also beautiful.

It happened...

A Zen master died, and his chief disciple started crying and weeping. A million people had gathered: the master was very famous; and the chief disciple was even more famous than the master. And those who were closest came to the chief disciple and said, "Please don't cry and weep, because that will create a bad name for you; because people think that you have become a realized soul, and you have been saying yourself that there is no death. Then why are you crying? And you yourself have been teaching your whole life that only the body dies, not the soul. Then why are you crying?
The chief disciple said, "Yes, I have been telling you that the soul never dies, only the body dies. But who told you that I am crying for the soul? I am crying for the body, because my master's body was so beautiful, and it happens rarely in centuries. Such a beautiful flower surrounded him, because he was so beautiful within. I am crying for the body - who told you that I am crying for the soul? The soul never dies; there is no need to cry for it. But my master's body was also tremendously beautiful, and I will miss it."

This is what I call enlightenment. My enlightenment is paradoxical. It has to be so, because it is not logical. It is bigger than logic. That's why I go on teaching meditation and love together. Love is part of the Maya, of the appearance; meditation is part of reality, of God. I go on teaching both. I say, "Love," so that you can penetrate a body deeply, so that you can become aware of the soul which is hidden behind it. And, "Meditate," so that you can attain to your own innermost soul. And let both be together: don't create any dichotomy between the two. It has always been a dichotomy. People who have been teaching meditation have always been against love; and poets and artists, who have been teaching love, have always been against meditation.
I bring the greatest synthesis that is possible in the world to you, the synthesis of love and meditation. And I teach you to grow in both ways. Move in both dimensions: move inwards through meditation, move outwards through love. Go deeper inside yourself, and go farther and farther to the other shore also  - so that you don't become lopsided.
Meditators who don't love become lopsided. Their inner being becomes rich, but their outer being becomes very poor. Lovers who are not also meditators - their outer being becomes richer, but their inner being becomes very poor. I would like you to become richer in both ways love, and meditate.

(Osho - Come Follow To You, volume 3 #8)

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