Authentic action, authentic living


One thing to be understood is that silence is not part of mind. So whenever we say, “He has a silent mind,” it is nonsense. A mind can never be silent. The very being of mind is anti-silence. Mind is sound, not silence. So when we say, “He has a silent mind,” it is wrong.

If he is really silent, then we must say that he has no mind.

A “silent mind” is a contradiction in terms. If mind is there, it cannot be silent; and if it is silent, it is no more. That is why Zen monks use the term “no-mind”, never “silent mind”.

No-mind is silence – and the moment there is no-mind you cannot feel your body, because mind is the passage through which body is felt. If there is no-mind, you cannot feel that you are a body; body disappears from consciousness. There is neither mind nor body – only pure existence.

That pure existence is indicated by silence.

How to attain to this silence? How to be in this silence? Whatsoever you can do will be useless; that is the greatest problem. For a seeker this is the greatest problem, because whatsoever he can do will lead nowhere – because doing is not relevant. You can sit in a particular posture – that is your doing. You must have seen Buddha’s posture. You can sit in Buddha’s posture – that will be a doing. For Buddha himself this posture happened. It was not a cause for his silence; rather, it was a by-product.

When the mind is not, when the being is totally silent, the body follows like a shadow. The body takes a particular posture – the most relaxed possible, the most passive possible.

But you cannot do it the other way around. You cannot take a posture first and then make silence follow. Because we see a Buddha sitting in a particular posture, we think that if this posture is followed then the inner silence will follow. This is a wrong sequence. For Buddha the inner phenomenon happened first, and then this posture followed.

Look at it through your own experience: when you get angry, the body takes a particular posture, your eyes become blood-red, your face takes a particular expression. Anger is inside, and then the body follows. Not only outwardly – inwardly also, the whole chemistry of the body changes. Your blood runs fast, you breathe in a different way, you are ready to fight or take flight. But anger happens first, then the body follows.

Start from the other pole – make your eyes red, create fast breathing, do whatsoever you feel is done by the body when anger is there. You can act, but you cannot create anger inside. An actor is doing the same every moment. When he is acting a role of love, he is doing whatsoever is done by the body when love happens inside – but there is no love. The actor may be doing better than you, but love will not follow. He will be more apparently angry than you in real anger, but it is just false. Nothing is happening inside.

Whenever you start from without, you will create a false state. The real always happens first in the center, and then the waves reach to the periphery.

The innermost center is in silence. Start from there.


If you are not silent – if you don’t know how to sit silently, or stand silently in deep meditation – whatsoever you go on doing is reaction, not action.

You react. Somebody insults you, pushes a button, and you react. You are angry, you jump on him – and you call it action?

It is not action, mind you, it is reaction. He is the manipulator and you are the manipulated. He has pushed a button and you have functioned like a machine.

Just like you push a button and the light goes on, and you push the button and the light goes off – that’s what people are doing to you: they put you on, they put you off. Somebody comes and praises you and puffs up your ego, and you feel so great; and then somebody comes and punctures you, and you are simply flat on the ground.

You are not your own master: anybody can insult you and make you sad, angry, irritated, annoyed, violent, mad. And anybody can praise you and make you feel at the heights, can make you feel that you are the greatest – that Alexander the Great was nothing compared to you.

And you act according to others’ manipulations. This is not real action.

Buddha was passing through a village and the people came and they insulted him. And they used all the insulting words that they could use – all the four-letter words that they knew. Buddha stood there, listened silently, very attentively, and then said, “Thank you for coming to me, but I am in a hurry. I have to reach the next village, people will be waiting for me there. I cannot devote more time to you today, but tomorrow coming back I will have more time. You can gather again, and tomorrow if something is left which you wanted to say and have not been able to say, you can say it to me. But today, excuse me.”

Those people could not believe their ears, their eyes: this man has remained utterly unaffected, undistracted. One of them asked, “Have you not heard us? We have been abusing you like anything, and you have not even answered!”

Buddha said, “If you wanted an answer then you have come too late. You should have come ten years ago, then I would have answered you. But for these ten years I have stopped being manipulated by others. I am no longer a slave, I am my own master. I act according to myself, not according to anybody else. I act according to my inner need. You cannot force me to do anything. It’s perfectly good – you wanted to abuse me, you abused me! Feel fulfilled. You have done your work perfectly well. But as far as I am concerned, I don’t take your insults, and unless I take them, they are meaningless.”

When somebody insults you, you have to become a receiver, you have to accept what he says; only then can you react.

But if you don’t accept, if you simply remain detached, if you keep the distance, if you remain cool, what can he do?

Buddha said “Somebody can throw a burning torch into the river. It will remain alight till it reaches the river. The moment it falls into the river, all fire is gone – the river cools it. I have become a river. You throw abuses at me. They are fire when you throw them, but the moment they reach me, in my coolness, their fire is lost. They no longer hurt. You throw thorns – falling in my silence they become flowers. I act out of my own intrinsic nature.”

This is spontaneity. The man of awareness, understanding, acts. The man who is unaware, unconscious, mechanical, robotlike, reacts.

And it is not that the man of awareness simply watches – watching is one aspect of his being. He does not act without watching.

But don’t misunderstand – the whole India, for example, has been misunderstanding people like Buddha; hence the whole country has become inactive. Thinking that all the great masters say: “Sit silently”, the whole country has become lazy, lousy; the country has lost energy, vitality, life. It has become utterly dull, unintelligent, because intelligence becomes sharpened only when you act.

And when you act moment to moment out of your awareness and watchfulness, great intelligence arises.

You start shining, glowing, you become luminous. But it happens through two things: watching, and action out of that watching. If watching becomes inaction, you are committing suicide.

Watching should lead you into action, a new kind of action; a new quality is brought to action. You watch, you are utterly quiet and silent. You see what the situation is, and out of that seeing you respond.

The man of awareness responds, he is responsible – literally!

He is responsive, he does not react. His action is born out of his awareness, not out of your manipulation; that is the difference. Hence, there is no question of there being any incompatibility between watching and spontaneity. Watching is the beginning of spontaneity; spontaneity is the fulfillment of watching.

The real man of understanding acts – acts tremendously, acts totally, but he acts in the moment, out of his consciousness. He is like a mirror.

The ordinary man, the unconscious man, is not like a mirror, he is like a photo plate.

What is the difference between a mirror and a photographic plate? A photographic plate, once exposed, becomes useless. It receives the impression, becomes impressed by it – it carries the picture. But remember, the picture is not reality – the reality goes on growing.

You can go into the garden and you can take a picture of a rosebush. Tomorrow the picture will be the same, the day after tomorrow the picture will also be the same. Go again and see the rosebush: it is no longer the same. The roses have gone, or new roses have arrived. A thousand and one things have happened.

A picture is a dead thing. The camera, the photo plate, catches only a static phenomenon. And life is never static, it goes on changing. Your mind functions like a camera, it goes on collecting pictures – it is an album. And then out of those pictures you go on reacting. Hence, you are never true to life, because whatsoever you do is wrong; whatsoever you do, I say, is wrong. It never fits.

A woman was showing the family album to her child, and they came across a picture of a beautiful man: long hair, beard, very young, very alive. The boy asked, “Mummy, who is this man?” And the woman said, “Can’t you recognize him? He is your daddy!” The boy looked puzzled and said, “If he is my daddy, then who is that bald man who lives with us?”

A picture is static. It remains as it is, it never changes. The unconscious mind functions like a camera, it functions like a photographic plate. The watchful mind, the meditative mind, functions like a mirror. It catches no impression; it remains utterly empty, always empty.

So whatsoever comes in front of the mirror, it is reflected. If you are standing before the mirror, it reflects you. If you are gone, don’t say that the mirror betrays you. The mirror is simply a mirror. When you are gone, it no longer reflects you; it has no obligation to reflect you anymore. Now somebody else is facing it – it reflects somebody else. If nobody is there, it reflects nothing. It is always true to life.

The photographic plate is never true to life. Even if your photo is taken right now, by the time the photographer has taken it out of the camera, you are no longer the same! Much water has already gone down the Ganges. You have grown, changed, you have become older. Maybe only one minute has passed, but one minute can be a great thing – you may be dead! Just one minute before you were alive; after one minute, you may be dead. The picture will never die.

But in the mirror, if you are alive, you are alive; if you are dead, you are dead. Learn sitting silently – become a mirror. Silence makes a mirror out of your consciousness, and then you function moment to moment. You reflect life. You don’t carry an album within your head. Then your eyes are clear and innocent, you have clarity, you have vision, and you are never untrue to life. This is authentic living.

– Osho – Awareness –