Q. 542 ‘Doership’ and Osho

A: Osho is not a reliable source of teaching according to Advaita. I have read a few of his books and was most impressed by his breadth of knowledge. But his sources are many and he does not always differentiate. There are several non-dual teachings and any may take you to the final understanding. But my own knowledge is now strictly oriented towards traditional Advaita (Gaudapada-Ṥaṅkara-Sureshvara).

Advaita teaches that there is only Brahman. You are That. I am Brahman. The world is name and form of Brahman. The ‘things’ in it and the ‘things that happen’ are appearances only, which we treat as separate and consequently regard as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Religions are attempts to make sense of what is only an appearance. They provide interim explanations which have to be dropped when there is the final realization. If they help you along the way, that is fine. If not, ignore them. Ultimately, there is no heaven or hell, no you and me, no world, no creation; there is only Brahman or Consciousness – whatever you want to call it (as long as you realize that there is no ‘you’ and ‘it’!).

Brahman is not a ‘doer’! That would be duality. There is no ‘doing’ at all. Nothing ever ‘happens’ in reality.

I suggest you stop reading Osho!

A: ‘Desireless action’ is the essence of karma yoga. One acts (or does not act) purely in response to the situation in front of one, without any personal desire for the outcome. But this is still only a preparatory practice for going to a qualified guru and listening to his explanations of the scriptures. Only Self-knowledge can give enlightenment and nothing else. And worrying about what is happening in the world will not help in the slightest. The world is mithyA.

Give up Osho and read one of the books I recommended!

A: The first sentence is misleading. ‘Desireless action’ does not mean ‘action through inaction’; it means acting without any desire for a particular result. The rest of the paragraph is fine.

If a sannyasin knowingly ate stolen food, no doubt he would feel partly responsible. But the idea that he would feel responsible for a remote war is silly. If he did, it would indicate that he was not enlightened.

Enlightenment means knowing that there is only Consciousness – no world, no people, no wars, no action of any kind IN REALITY. The appearance is just that – an appearance, whose reality is the unchanging Consciousness. The body-mind appearance of a jñānī continues until expiry of the prārabdha karma so that the jñānī appears to continue to act in the world. And any apparent actions would naturally now be ‘desireless’.

I think that the ‘bottom line’ answer to your concerns is that there is only Consciousness and Consciousness does not act. The sort of metaphor that is used to convey this idea is that the movie cannot take place without the screen but the screen has nothing at all to do with what takes place there, whether romance, comedy or horror.

‘Responsibility’, in the sense in which Osho is talking about it, relates to karma. The body-mind did something in the past and is now facing its consequences in the present. I.e. responsibility is associated with the body-mind (the movie) and not with Consciousness per se (the screen).

So, to continue in the metaphor, if you are playing a role in one movie, you cannot take any responsibility for what is happening in another.

Hope this resolves your anxieties!


A: I’m afraid I don’t have time to (or inclination) to analyze and explain the teaching of Osho. As I said, he does not teach traditional Advaita. I suggest that you read a couple of the books that I recommended. If you then have questions, I am always available to answer occasional, specific queries on pure Advaita.

A: Without reading the Osho and answering specifics, the simple answer is this:

As ‘X’, you have no responsibility for the actions of others, only the actions of ‘X’. As Consciousness (which you really are), there are no actions because there is no separate world and people. So the question of ‘responsibility’ does not arise.

So stop worrying!

A: I don’t think this sort of statement is helpful.

Since there is only Brahman, then obviously all of the ‘things that we think are separate entities (including ourselves)’ are also Brahman. Therefore, speaking with the knowledge that you are Brahman, you might say all of those things. But the point is that there are no ‘things’ at all – there is only Brahman! So, when you make those sorts of statements, you are ‘mixing up levels of reality’, as it is put. You are confusing the absolute reality (there is only Brahman) with the empirical reality (the appearance of the world and separate people).

When you ‘do’ something, you can say from the empirical standpoint that Brahman is ‘enabling’ you to act, since your body-mind without Brahman is inert. But Brahman isn’t really doing anything, since there is only Brahman!

So you can always answer this sort of question by differentiating between reality and appearance, paramArtha and vyavahAra.

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