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An Early Commentary on the Chakras

From the book Life of Osho

By Sam

After his death, when I tried to come to grips with Osho again, I went back to the beginning and started with the meditations. Osho′s dynamic meditations revolve in a limbo all their own.
Amongst sannyasins they seem to be seen as a kind of introductory warming-up as something essentially for beginners. ′Cathartic′ the Poona therapists called them in the 70s, and the label has stuck. They bring repressed feelings into consciousness, where they can be explored. They clear the way; but if you want to go deeper, psychotherapy groups and traditional sitting meditations have more cutting edge.
Perhaps the 70s therapists had quite correctly sensed a threat to... well... business. For, seen as psychotherapy, the first thing the dynamic meditations do is dispense with a therapist. You can do them on your own, or in a group of your own choosing, and the entire process is monitored by no one but yourself. How well they work may be open to question, but their orientation is not: they are an attempt to create a mass healing force, and one which by definition can never be monopolised by any particular group of psychotherapists. Though perhaps in all fairness one should add that this aspect to Osho′s meditations did not begin to stand out clearly until the late 80s and early 90s not until the appearance of raves, of partying, of dance culture, where you can see something strikingly similar to dynamic meditations appearing spontaneously on a mass level, as an instinctive search for healing.
From what I remembered it was only in his early lectures, those from Bombay before he had met many Westerners, that Osho discussed the dynamic meditations in any depth. They were ′scientific.′ I remembered him saying that on a number of occasions; they were designed to do something specific, and if you did them wholeheartedly they would do it. At the time I had thought, O come on Bhagwan - but as I began to reread those early books I was no longer so sure.
Osho′s Bombay lectures are much faster, much more incisive than his later ones. There is none of the implacable, quasi-hypnotic manner he was to develop in Poona; they don′t space you out in the same way, there′s a real sense of urgency to them... I reread The Silent Explosion, and then discovered another set of lectures, from 1970 and called In Search of the Miraculous, which seemed to be focused even more directly on what he was trying to do with the meditations.
In Search of the Miraculous is a lengthy lecture series. Printed up there are two volumes of it, and for Osho it is an unusually systematic introduction to Tantra. He is trying to put the whole thing in completely contemporary terms. Thus he says that ′Kundalini′ energy is no more than the Tantric way of expressing basic life energy, élan vital; and the ′chakras′ - and this was the bit which got me as I had always regarded the chakras as Indian philosophy at its most kitsch are a sort of classification of the stages through which this life energy can pass. Tantra, he says, is first and foremost a theory of evolution.
The book opens with talks from an early meditation camp, one held in a place called Nargol, a resort somewhere on the coast slightly north of Bombay. Later I was to see film of the camp; Nargol was pretty much like Goa with everyone, and there were a surprising number of people there, sitting around on the sand in a huge palm grove. The simplicity of the decor was almost biblical. Osho had just invented the original Dynamic Meditation and was still tinkering around with it.
As he explains it, the Dynamic′s structure is far simpler than it was to become.
The meditation lasts only forty minutes, and consists of four ten-minute stages. Already the first stage is devoted to building up energy raw physical energy; and already the technique used to do this is hyperventilation, though the breathing method at this stage is far simpler than it was to become in the finished version. It is more like bastrika, like traditional hatha yoga ′bellows breathing′ you breathe in as deeply as you can, you breathe out as fully as you can, you breathe in as deeply as you can, etc. etc.
The second stage is the same as the finished version. Go mad, but consciously. "Jump, dance, weep, shout, laugh, anything you like. Let out all the madness inside. Express what you feel completely."
Osho was leading the meditations at Nargol pushing everybody with an energy which still leaps off the page.
Let go of the body. Let it cry if it wants to cry. Let it scream if it wants to scream. And let it yell if it wants to yell. Allow it in every way. Don′t curb it, don′t restrain it, don′t resist it. Cooperate with whatever the body does.
This is the young Master in his Aerobics-from-Hell mode. For Osho looked very different then. His hair and beard were jet-black; he looked far wilder, far crazier, far more Rasputin-like. There′s film of him leading one of his meditations from this time. People are jumping up and down, holding their arms above their heads (the jolt of their feet as they hit the ground "hammering the sex centre" he said). Osho′s eyes are rolled back in his head, while he is making these upward gestures with his hands: Higher! Higher! He seems to be trying to push the physical body way beyond its normal limits.
Whatever happens to it allow it to happen fully. Let it happen, what happens to the body. It will turn into different mudras, gestures. It will whirl and whirl. Many things will happen, when the energy within will awaken. It may burst into loud shouts, screams and crying. Don′t worry at all. Let go... Let go of the body...
Certainly catharsis is part of this, but it is only part. There is something else which is far more important, something to do with side-stepping the physical body. "Let go... Let go of the body..." What Osho is trying to do is dislodge your normal sense of who you are.
This becomes the explicit purpose of the third stage of the meditation which is very different from the final version of the Dynamic. Originally the third stage consisted of asking yourself, asking yourself with all the intensity you could summon up, the question "Who am I?"
"Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?" Madly ask the question, "Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?" Ask it with all your being, let the question reverberate through your whole being. "Who am I?" Continue deep breathing, and let go of the body. Whatever happens to it, allow it. And ask, "Who am I? Who am I?" Exert your utmost for ten minutes.
The last ten minutes were total let-go. There was no Stop exercise, no freeze. You could either lie or stand or sit, whatever felt best... but just stay still.
This was the space in which meditation ′could′ happen.
Drop everything. Drop asking, drop deep breathing, drop all activity... Let everything be still and quiet, quiet and empty... As if you are dead, as if you have disappeared. Only emptiness remains. Everything is quiet. Everything is peaceful. Everything is silent. It is in this silence that God comes... This emptiness is the gate through which he enters us. Await, just await... As if you are dead. As if you have disappeared...
There is a theoretical dimension to this four-step structure. In Search of the Miraculous continues with a series of lectures Osho gave once he was back in Bombay. In these he launches into his account of what the chakras were really about. They are not, Osho says, particularly esoteric at all.
Essentially the first chakra just represents the physical body. This is called the muladhar, and is the first dimension of experience to appear. It is formed during the first seven years of life.
The second chakra, the swadhishtan, stands for the next stage of evolution the growth of an emotional self. This is seen by Tantra as something close to an autonomous psychic system. Osho uses a number of different terms here, ′dimension,′ ′plane,′ ′level,′ even ′sheath′ (sharir), but the one he uses most often is simply ′body,′ and I will stick with that. This second ′body′ forms over the next great phase of life, from seven to fourteen, and with the attaining of sexual maturity is largely complete. It is, he says, very close to what is understood by the individual ′unconscious′ in Freudian psychology.
The formation of these two bodies is the work of nature alone; and it is perfectly possible for people to be functioning on just these two levels, and never evolve into anything more complex. Such people would be living almost exclusively for food and sex. The growth of the third body, manipur, or the intellect, demands a certain level of leisure and civilisation. The capacity to reason to remember and compare and project can only be developed by education; a process which, in all its essential features, is complete by the time a person is twenty-one years of age.
According to Tantra, Osho continues, all three of these chakras, the body, the emotions and the mind, are polarised: they work through division into negative and positive. For instance swadhishtan, the emotional body, is divided into attraction and repulsion, into yes and no, into love and hate, and the two poles are always at war with one another. These are the dynamics of experience and, like other dialecticians before him, Osho stresses the importance of the role played by the negative pole. This is the key one for growth. All you have to do is to bring consciousness to ′negativity,′ to watch, to witness it, and it will become ′positive′ of its own accord.
"If a person understands the nature of fear he attains fearlessness, and if he understands the nature of violence he attains nonviolence. Similarly by understanding anger we develop the quality of forgiveness."
Awareness is alchemical per se. The same applies to manipur, to the mind. It too is polarised, and the key role again is played by the negative pole. "Primarily" Osho says "the third body revolves around doubt and thinking. If these are transformed doubt becomes trust and thinking becomes vivek, awareness. If doubts are repressed you never attain to shraddha, trust, though we are advised to suppress doubts and to believe what we hear. He who represses his doubts never attains to trust, because doubt remains present within though repressed. It will creep within like a cancer."
Body... emotions... mind... Put like that the chakras did not sound so off the wall. If anything there was an immemorial, almost peasant-like sturdiness to the idea. And, coming at it from this point of view, you could see straight away the lines along which Osho was structuring his own meditations. If you look at his original Dynamic each stage of the meditation is focused on one chakra or body first the physical one, then the emotions, then the mind. Experimentally he was trying to go back over the course of an individual′s development, and to rectify to revitalise, to make aware, to realign its major features as he went.
How was it meant to work? Was it that each chakra in turn got a burst of energy fired at it and then it was subsequently ′tuned′ to the others? Or was there was a single life force, a ′kundalini′ energy which, if you provoked sufficient excess of it in the physical body, would ′rise′ almost of its own accord to the emotions, and then to the mind?
Whichever way, the Dynamic was a rollercoaster ride through the first three chakras one whose impetus catapulted you into the final let-go, in which meditation ′was possible.′
You could see that this was to become the basic template for all his later meditations. All work along much the same lines. The Kundalini meditation itself, probably the most popular of his meditations, is also the most straightforward in its structure. Again the meditation is divided into four stages, and each stage deals with one chakra or ′body′. In the first you shake. In the second you dance. In the third you witness. In the fourth you let go. Shaking relaxes the muscular contraction of the physical body, slowly releasing deep tensions and the energy bound into them energy which is turned into something more celebratory, more expansive by the next stage, by the dance. The third stage tries to transmute this energy once more, transcending thought in an explicit openness to the present moment. "thinking becomes vivek, awareness." The last stage is the let-go.
Osho, though he didn′t go out of his way to draw attention to it, could be perfectly candid about this basic format to his meditations. "Body, heart, mind all my meditations move in the same way: they start from the body, they move through the heart, they reach to the mind and then they go beyond."
You can see a simple variation on this in another of his best-known meditations, the Nadabrahma. For the first half an hour you are to sit and hum quietly to yourself; for the second stage, which lasts fifteen minutes, you are to make a complex slow motion movement with the hands, a sort of moving mudra. The fine inner vibration of the humming loosens the muscular armour, the same way the shaking does in the Kundalini, only internally and more subtly; at the same time it reveals any contraction of the emotional self and coaxes it, very gently, to open up. What are two separate stages in the Kundalini, one for the body and one for the emotions, is a single double one here: both centres are worked on at one and the same time. The second stage is devoted to the third chakra: the slow-motion movement with the hands effectively steadies the mind in the present moment and holds it there, since you cannot do things in slow motion unconsciously. The last quarter of an hour is, as ever, the let-go.
Also, you could see why Osho had said that Gurdjieff was the most significant Tantric teacher of the twentieth century. For Gurdjieff too had divided man into three distinct parts, though he called them ′centres′ or more often ′brains′ the physical, the emotional and the intellectual. Not only did Gurdjieff think that the chaos of our individual daily lives comes from the fact that these three ′brains′ are not working in sync with one another first one takes over, then another, then the first one again but since, as a rule of thumb, each individual tends to be characterised by the predominance of one or another of the ′brains′ there are vitals, there are emotionals, there are intellectuals humankind as a whole tended to break down into large mutually hostile groups, who basically failed to understand one another at all.
Furthermore, this situation has been compounded, and compounded disastrously, by the history of religion. There are whole traditions, like Hatha Yoga for instance, which revolve around the cultivation of the physical body alone. These Gurdjieff refers to, somewhat dryly, as the way of the fakir. There are other traditions which are primarily devotional and moral in tone, and based on experiencing the love of God; these Gurdjieff calls the way of the monk. Finally there are the intellectually oriented religions, those struggling to observe the nature of consciousness itself: the way of the yogi.
Gurdjieff insisted that these three great traditions had to be brought together and harmonised in the creation of what he called The Fourth Way. Chief among the many experiments by which he tried to do this was a series of sacred dances or ′movements′ he choreographed and set to music vivid, highly charged individual and group exercises, based on temple dances and meditations from the many traditions he had explored. These ′movements′ were designed to bring energy and awareness to different parts of the being in varying orders, and to different ends.
Likewise Osho′s meditations are not all designed to do the same thing. When he said "All my meditations move in the same way" this is not entirely so. All start, it is true, with building up energy in the physical body but they don′t all do the same thing with it, once it has been generated. Look, for instance, at the Nataraj, the dancing meditation. There is 40 minutes dancing, then 20 minutes let-go, then a final five minutes dance. There is no witnessing, no third chakra stage whatsoever. Or look at the Gourishankar. That was the latenight one during the ten-day meditation camps in Poona, the one all the druggies headed for. Quarter of an hour of pranayama; quarter of an hour staring fixedly at a stroboscopic light synchronised with the heartbeat; quarter of an hour of Subud′s latihan; and then the let-go. Through what adventures does that put a burst of energy?
Looked at it in terms of world culture both Gurdjieff and Osho have started to trailblaze some entirely new territory. Their ′movements′ or meditations are at once a finely crafted celebration and a sort of inner lab space where you can begin to come to grips with your own nature. They are a rediscovery of the dynamics of ceremony, and their exploration as something most resembling a new art-form but an art-form which has broken decisively with the commodity-based preconceptions of contemporary Western culture. What both men left behind isn′t something you consume, it is something you do...
But back to Osho′s account of the chakras. If, then, the energy of these first three chakras was stepped up and tuned to one another, what would happen? What was meant to take place in the last stages of any of his meditations during the freeze in the Dynamic in its final form, or during the let-go in the Kundalini or the Nadabrahma? As you lay there, your head still spinning, after the Nataraj?
"Await, just await... As if you are dead. As if you have disappeared..."
What was meant to happen in that inner emptiness?
If we lived in a sane society, at around the age of twenty-one, when the intellect is fully formed, another dimension to human existence should begin to open up. This, in Tantra, is symbolised by anahat, the fourth chakra. Conventionally anahat is the ′heart′ chakra, though Osho′s approach to it has little to do with what is normally understood by emotion. Initially he seems to be treating it as a sort of hold-all for the ′occult′. Activation of the fourth chakra is, he says, characterised by the appearance of paranormal powers.
Hypnotism, telepathy, clairvoyance, are all the potential of the fourth body. Persons can have contact with one another without hindrances from time or place; they can read the thoughts of another without asking or project thoughts into another. A person can travel outside of his body; he can do astral projection and know himself apart from the physical body.
This is something very different from the note Osho was to strike in his lectures to Westerners during the 70s. I suspect most of us were completely blocked about this kind of thing. Osho says this is, in fact, the typical response to it:
Those who made use of this body were always condemned and slandered. Hundreds of women were branded as witches and burnt in Europe because they used the faculties of the fourth body. Hundreds who practised Tantra were killed in India because of the fourth body. They knew some secrets that seemed dangerous to human beings. They knew what was taking place in your mind; they knew where things were placed in your house without ever having stepped into it. So the realm of the fourth body was looked upon as ′black′ art all over the world, as one never knew what might happen. We have always tried our best to stop progress from going any further than the third body because the fourth has always seemed very dangerous. There are hazards, but together with these there are wonderful gains. So instead of stopping, research was necessary. Then we could have found ways of testing the validity of our experiences.
I remembered reading accounts of Western mysticism where in between ′renouncing the world,′ which was called ′Purgation,′ and becoming one with God, or ′Union,′ there was an in-between stage which partook of both spheres. Commonly this was called ′Illumination.′ In this stage there could be deep religious experiences, but they hadn′t yet settled into an entirely new psyche; and among these experiences there were sudden eruptions of a lot of the things Osho ascribed to his fourth body. Saints were always going off into raptures and trances; they saw visions and they heard voices; in certain cases they developed healing powers, or could perform miracles. Normally, within the Western contemplative tradition, the advice given was to pay no attention to such phenomena because they were distractions from the quest for God, and the ego could very easily regroup itself around any attempt to cultivate or explore these paranormal powers. Needless to say, Osho does not agree or not in any simple-minded way. Not only does he endorse, with his customary enthusiasm, all such accounts of ′illumination′... you can hear music which no one else can hear... you can smell perfumes... you can see gods and goddesses...you can travel to heavens and hells... you can effect miracles... all of this is perfectly possible. But it isn′t just a question of exploring paranormal capacities, wild talents latent within us; it′s much more than that. These powers are aspects of an entirely different body. They are the first features, or glimpses, of an entirely different self.
The difficulty with Osho′s descriptions of this, the fourth body, is that he keeps coming at it from a different angle. In one talk it′s one thing, in another it′s something else. Frequently his tone is manic. At times he appears to be describing a sort of devotional, ′Sufi′ mysticism, an apotheosis of the I-Thou; at others something more shamanic, more like the spaces which can be accessed by psychedelics; at others again something much more recognisable, as though anahat were the matrix of all human ′culture,′ the driving force behind all artistic and scientific creativity: a visionary capacity which starts to flicker into life as soon as a society becomes stable and leisured...
What, then, is the common denominator for all these things? If the first body is the physical one, the second the emotions, and the third the mind then what is the fourth? If there is one word Osho keeps using in this context it is... vision. The fourth body is visionary. At its heart is imagination.
"Vision" he says "means seeing and hearing things without the use of the usual sense organs. The limitations of time and space are no more for a person who develops vision." Perhaps this would take in both the ESP dimension to the heart chakra, and the more artistic, or scientific, elements of creative breakthrough which seem to be equally associated with it. Anahat, Osho seems to be saying, revolves around intuition. The heart imagines the truth. "What is now proved was once only imagin′d" said Blake who, in Osho′s terms, would be as fourth body a character as you could hope to meet... But the whole concept of the fourth body remains the least explored of all the chakras in these lectures.
The next chakra, in comparison, is far simpler and clearer. This is the fifth chakra, visuddhi. Traditionally it is located in the throat; and according to Osho is the locus of the classic ′enlightenment′ experience.
How can one tell the difference between a person who has entered the fifth body and one who has not? The difference will be that he who has entered the fifth body is completely rid of all unconsciousness. People appear to be waking. When you come home every evening the car turns left into your gate; you apply the break when you reach the porch. Do not be under the illusion that you are doing all this consciously. It happens unconsciously by sheer force of habit. It is only in certain moments, moments of great danger, that we really come into alertness. When the danger is so much that it will not do to go about lacking awareness, we awaken. For instance, if a man puts a knife at your chest you jump into consciousness. The point of the knife for a moment takes you right up to the fifth body. With the exception of these few moments in our lives we live like somnambulists.
This is something totally at odds with the preceding stage. Far from the esoteric, almost hot-house quality of the fourth chakra, there is no longer any real interest in experience per se. This chakra is purely about being; and by the same token it is about the utterly ordinary. This is, though Osho does not emphasise it here, the world of Zen.
A sleeping man does not know who he is, so he is always striving to show others that he is this or that. This is his lifelong endeavour. He tries in a thousand ways to prove himself. Sometimes he climbs the ladder of politics and declares, ′I am so and so.′ Sometimes he builds a house and displays his wealth, or he climbs a mountain and displays his strength. He tries in all ways to prove himself. And in all these efforts he is in fact unknowingly trying to find out for himself who he is. He knows not who he is. Before crossing the fourth plane we cannot find the answer. The fifth body is called the spiritual body because there you get the answer to the quest for ′Who am I?′ The call of the ′I′ stops once and for all on this plane; the claim to be someone special vanishes immediately. If you say to such a person, ′You are so and so,′ he will laugh. All claims from his side will now stop, because now he knows. There is no longer any need to prove himself, because who he is is now a proven fact.
Body... Heart... Mind... Vision... Enlightenment... How seriously is Osho taking all this? How literally? Is he really putting this forward as an account of human evolution? Or is there a tongue-in-cheek quality about it? Is he having a go at a space opera of his own, like Gurdjieff′s All And Everything? Perhaps that′s part of it yet, at the same time, this is not something he mentions just once or twice; on the contrary, he returns repeatedly to this idea of the seven bodies throughout his early lectures. In Search of the Miraculous was in fact Osho′s first major book, and the only one to be published by a normal commercial publisher, by Benarsidas of Delhi. I remembered it being around Poona when we first went there, but it had disappeared under the flood of his later books, and gone out of print.
Was he really putting this forward as an account of evolution?... A sort of corroboration of what Osho was saying came from an unexpected quarter: from LSD research. While I was writing this I remembered having read a similar breakdown of experience in Stanislav Grof′s classic account of LSD experience, Realms of the Human Unconscious. Grof, from a mass of clinical data extending over seventeen years, suggested that individual response to the drug could be broken down into four broad categories.
A fairly low dose which Grof pegs at around 100 micrograms results in what everyone has come to expect of an LSD ′trip.′ There′s a rush of energy and a marked heightening of the senses, the effects on sight being the most striking. The world can take on a fairytale-like beauty; or go Cubist; or grotesquely comic. But not just sight, all the senses tend to be affected. Frequently his patients told him that their trip was the first time they had ever really heard music; and the power of LSD as an aphrodisiac is well-known. These phenomena Grof refers to as the ′abstract′ or ′aesthetic′ realm.
However a higher dose, say 200 to 300 micrograms, produces a markedly different experience.
Instead of affecting the body it affects the emotions. This, the second of Grof′s ′realms,′ and which he calls the ′psychodynamic,′ was the focus of all his own early interest in LSD. Originally he had been part of a State project in Prague in the late 50s where they had been exploring the use of LSD as an adjunct to traditional, largely Freudian psychoanalysis. What they did was blindfold the patient, have them lie down on a couch, and inject the acid intravenously. All the energy shot inside. The patient went into spaces which were very close to dreams, only while remaining fully conscious; later, as the analysis went deeper, the key trauma themselves exploded into awareness, and were relived.
Grof was administering these high-dose sessions to patients once a week for months, even years, on end; and in the measure he traced individual neuroses back to their source he began to uncover a range of phenomena of a quite different order. These, which he says constitute a third great realm he calls, not very snappily, the ′perinatal′ understanding by that a conscious reliving of the most basic human experience of all, the experience before, during and immediately after physical birth.
This is what a ′bad trip′ is. What is happening when an LSD trip gets terrifying is that memory of the birth trauma is breaking through. At this point Grof had me sitting up in my chair. The phenomena he described in this context, the sense of being trapped, and physically tortured, in a nightmare which not only has no end, but which doesn′t have any time to it at all, were perfectly in accord with my own bad acid trips... Also associated with this ′realm′ are recollections of the oceanic bliss of life in the womb, and of the actual experience of birth itself.
While Grof′s first two categories, the body and the emotions, are perfectly in accord with Osho′s map, there seems to be a disparity here. There is however, if you look more closely, at least a significant overlap. Isn′t the shock of birth essentially that of not knowing who you are or what is happening to you and the terror this brings about? Certainly that was happening to me on my bad acid trips;- and I think Osho was making the same point when, in his original version of the Dynamic meditation, he made work with the question Who Am I? the key to opening the third chakra.
Be that as it may, with Grof′s fourth and final class of LSD experiences which he calls ′the transpersonal′ his account is again totally congruent with Osho′s. "The common denominator of this otherwise rich and ramified group of phenomena is the feeling of the individual that his consciousness expanded beyond the usual ego boundaries and limitations of time and space." 80 Just as with Osho there are experiences of ESP, of precognition, clairvoyance and clairaudience. The I- Thou is enormously potentiated; there are experiences of what Grof calls ′dual unity,′ where you appear to become one with another person. Memories of other life forms surface...There is a particular authenticity to the amazing casehistories Grof details. As an initially orthodox Freudian, and presumably largely orthodox Marxist, he himself did everything he could to deny the conclusions he was forced to reach.
Particularly close to Osho is Grof′s assertion that any one ′realm′ can only be opened up by living through the preceding one totally:
In the process of consecutive LSD sessions, the major experiential focus tends to shift, by and large, from abstract and psychodynamic elements to the problems of death and rebirth, and eventually to various transpersonal experiences. Advanced LSD sessions are usually dominated by mystical and religious themes and are all transpersonal in nature; elements of the levels worked through in earlier sessions do not reappear in this stage.
Trying to summarise the nature of LSD Grof came up with his celebrated phrase that LSD was a "non-specific amplifier of the unconscious," something the nature of which depended upon the set and setting in which it was employed. This definition brings LSD close to what Osho was talking about with Kundalini pure energy, energy per se, an élan vital whose expression depends on the form it is flooding...More than that one cannot at present say. All, or anyone else′s, exploration of the potential of LSD was repressed by the ban on all research into psychedelics which was part and parcel of the repression of the 60s and 70s attempt to form an alternative culture. It should, and hopefully will, be taken up as one of the most obvious areas of research in what Osho, during the final phase of his work, was to call a Mystery School.
But I have raced ahead of myself here. At this point of In Search of the Miraculous Osho makes a number of other distinctions. In fact there are still two more chakras to go.
For Osho, individual enlightenment is far from being the end of human evolution.
Osho is emphatic about this. ′Enlightenment′ as he describes it is not the Alpha and Omega of spiritual life. In fact rather than talk about enlightenment it would be more accurate to call it ′self realisation′ atma gyan he calls it, knowledge of the self a self-realisation which consists quite specifically of finally discovering who, or what, one is.
The problem is the ecstasy discovering this brings.
The conflicts and problems of the individual end on the fifth plane. But this plane has its own hazards. You have come to know yourself, and this knowing is so blissful and fulfilling that you may want to terminate your journey here. You may not feel like continuing on. The hazards that were up to now were all of pain and agony; now the hazards that begin are of bliss.
You know the stillpoint but you still don′t know the whole. You know who you are but you still don′t know God. Osho says there are whole religious traditions which got stuck at this stage of evolution; he points in particular to the Jainas, who said that there was a self, a self which was eternal, but no God.
Sooner or later there will be a need to tear oneself free of this bliss. Sooner or later there will be a need to proceed from atma gyan, from knowledge of the self, to the next chakra, to the next great stage of experience brahma gyan, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of the whole.
If, Osho says, our basic experience of being alive can be summed up in the phrase "I am," then the enlightenment experience could be described as the disappearance of the word ′I′ leaving in its place only the sense of ′am,′ the perception of being. But this perception itself, the sense of ′am′ has to be transcended if one is to continue.
What then will be the nature of the sixth body?
Is-ness will be felt; tathata, suchness will be felt. Nowhere will there be the feeling of I or of am; only that which is remains. So here will be the perception of reality, of being the perception of consciousness. But here the consciousness is free of me; it is no longer my consciousness. It is only consciousness no longer my existence, but only existence.
This is the sixth chakra, agya, the sixth body, which Osho calls the ′cosmic body.′ If I′ve got my Buddhism right this is also the parinirvana spoken of in the Mahayana the ′beyond nirvana,′ the ′beyond enlightenment′ the further shore the Buddha′s own meditation finally reached, a deeper, more comprehensive understanding than his initial breakthrough under the Bodhi tree.
Such a person, if he remains, will become God. Such a consciousness if it travels for long will be worshipped by millions; prayers will be offered to him. Those whom we call an avatar, Ishwara, son of God, tirthankara, are those who have entered the sixth plane from the fifth. They can remain in that plane for as long as they wish and they can be of great help. Such persons are forever striving and working for others to travel through the preceding journey. Those who have the slightest feel of such persons cannot place them anywhere lower than Bhagwan, the blessed one. Bhagwan they are: there is nothing lacking in their being Bhagwan because they have attained the sixth, cosmic body. In this very life it is possible to enter the sixth plane through the fifth. Whenever anyone enters the sixth in this life we call him a Buddha or a Mahavira or a Rama or a Krishna or a Christ. And those who perceive them as such look upon them as God.
Words, and Osho has been repeating this for some time already, cannot possibly convey the reality of any of this. However there is still one further experience remaining sahasrar, the seventh and last chakra. This is the ultimate ′mystical′ experience, the final death of the self. "Brahman is the ultimate obstacle the last barrier in the ultimate quest of the seeker...Nonbeing has yet to be realized. The being, the is-ness, is known, but the nonbeing has yet to be realized that which is not still remains to be known."
News about the Brahman has been reported, but what is conveyed beyond it is bound to be negative as was that which was told by Buddha. Buddha tried his hardest to express the seventh plane. Therefore, all that he conveys is denial, all that he conveys is negation, and so it did not come within the understanding of the people of his land. The experience of the Brahman, being positive, was well understood by the people. The Brahman was said to be sat chit ananda truth, consciousness, bliss and these positive assertions were well understood. One could say about it that this is, that is, but Buddha talked about that which is not. Perhaps he is the only one who worked hard to make the seventh plane known. Buddha was not accepted in this country because the place he talked of is without roots, forms or shapes...Buddha said, "You will not be..."
Well, that′s it. That′s the whole seven chakras: Osho′s Tantric Varieties of Religious Experience. So to ask the same question once more: how seriously was he taking it? What role does this early schema play in his work as a whole?
Firstly, I am not suggesting, in any sense, that this is what Osho′s teaching is really about. I am trying to do something more specific, and more modest than that. If the first part of this book was an attempt to show that biographically Osho′s life makes sense, that he didn′t go mad or off the rails in the US, then this second part is to suggest that he didn′t contradict himself the whole time, which is what people are always saying;- that, on the contrary, behind all the things he said there is a coherent, if highly dialectical, philosophy. What this gloss on the chakras offers is a rare glimpse of the organic unity of his thought as a whole.
Body... Emotions... Mind... Vision... Enlightenment... God... Void... It′s an image of ascent: of an evolutionary ladder, in which any one step can only be truly left behind by living through it totally. You can sense its presence behind his mature work; those early lectures are like an X-ray of the whole, you can see the inner articulation, the shadowy vertebra. Details of the stages may shift, but the conceptual backbone keeps showing through. Not always in 7s, by any manner of means, but always in an ascending series. Remember his Love One, Love Two and Love Three from 70s Poona;- and you could probably coax that into a series of chakras if you chose to try.
Look, in fact, at something as typically Poona of the belle époque as his teaching on Love. In a short lecture entitled "Sex, Love, Prayer and Meditation" collected in The Silent Explosion he puts his basic ideas forward without any attempt at window-dressing.
The Western concept of love, he says, comes down to the idea you ′fall in love′ with someone, and then you go to bed with them. In the first place, this is the wrong way round. You would do better to have sex with someone first, and fall in love with them later. For, he argues, if you become meditative during sex you will begin to feel friendship, you will begin to feel compassion, you will begin to feel love; and this love will be stable, not just based on the glamour of a body you desire. Further, if you don′t stop there and identify with the love, but continue to witness, now on this much subtler and finer state, on love itself, you will begin to experience what Osho calls prayer. Now you begin to see through the other to the whole: the beloved becomes a door to God. This isn′t really personal any more, but there is still a sense of separation. If however you can witness this, witness prayer in its turn and this for the lover or devotee is the hardest thing of all then you will be on the verge of enlightenment...
It is this insistence you can only transcend something by living through it fully which gives Osho′s philosophy its uniquely all-embracing quality. There′s an extraordinary respect for the whole of creation suffusing it. "Remain true to the earth" said Nietzsche; and Osho did just that. His whole concept of meditation is built from the ground up. Each stage is reached by becoming conscious of the preceding one, and in this evolution no step is inherently more privileged than any other. For Osho′s vision is not just about getting enlightened. It′s about the whole process, the passion and intelligence of the whole life leading up to realisation body, emotion, mind and creative imagination.
In the old days Osho was always going on about how much faster his meditations were than traditional ones all that stuff about bullock carts and jet planes he told me at my first darshan. Personally I′m not sure about that at all; at times I suspect they may be even slower; but what I am sure about is this: they are far more thorough.
What Osho built, he built to last.