Have you ever tried to “silence the mind” in order to achieve peace and tranquility?
It’s very common advice from mindfulness practitioners to quieten the mind and search within for answers.
Yet according to the spiritual master Osho, “silencing the mind” ignores the key difference between your mind and consciousness.
In fact, he says that this is one of the main concepts people in the west get wrong about mindfulness, and it’s interfering with our ability to experience fulfilment and happiness.
Osho explains what “the mind” really is
According to spiritual guru Osho, the mind is something which is given to us by society. It’s our autobiographical memory, personal identity, and cultural upbringing:
“It depends on your definition. But to me, mind is that part which has been given to you. It is not yours. Mind means the borrowed, mind means the cultivated, mind means that which the society has penetrated into you. It is not you. Consciousness is your nature; mind is just the circumference created by the society around you, the culture, your education….
“Each culture, each society, creates a different mind. Mind is a social by-product. And unless this mind dissolves, you cannot go within; you cannot know what is really your nature, what is authentically your existence, your consciousness.”
Why the term a “silent mind” is meaningless
Many of us talk about “silencing the mind”, but to Osho, this is a fruitless goal. Here’s why he says it just isn’t possible:
“There is nothing like a silent mind. When silence is there, there is no mind. When mind is there, there is no silence. Mind, as such, is the disturbance, the disease. Meditation is the state of no-mind. Not of a silent mind, not of a healthy mind, not of a concentrated mind, no. Meditation is the state of no-mind: no society within you, no conditioning within you. Just you, with your pure consciousness.
“Mind is a flux: river like, flowing, changing. Consciousness is eternal, one. It is not different in the morning and different in the evening. It is not different when you are born and different when you die. It is one and the same, eternal. Mind is a flux. A child has a childish mind, an old man has an old mind; but a child or an old man have the same consciousness, which is neither childish nor old. It cannot be.
“Mind moves in time and consciousness lives in timelessness. They are not one. But we are identified with the mind. We go on saying, insisting, ‘My mind. I think this way. This is my thought. This is my ideology.’ Because of this identification with the mind, you miss that which you really are.”
How to dissolve your link with the mind to experience enlightenment
Osho says that the first thing we need to realize is that the mind’s not you:
“Remember that your minds are not your own. They have been given to you by others: your parents, your society, your university. They have been given to you. Throw them away. Remain with the simple consciousness that you are ¯ pure consciousness, innocent. This is how one moves from the mind to meditation. This is how one moves away from society, from the without to the within. This is how one moves from the man-made world, the maya, to the universal truth, the existence.”
Osho goes on to say that we can get rid of all this “insanity” created by the mind by simply being a “witnesser” of it:
“I’m simply saying that there is a way to be sane. I’m saying that you can get rid of all this insanity created by the past in you. Just by being a simple witness of your thought processes.
“It is simply sitting silently, witnessing the thoughts, passing before you. Just witnessing, not interfering not even judging, because the moment you judge you have lost the pure witness. The moment you say “this is good, this is bad,” you have already jumped onto the thought process.
“It takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the witness, a watcher.
“And this process of watching is the very alchemy of real religion. Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty.
“That’s the moment of enlightenment. That is the moment that you become for the first time an unconditioned, sane, really free human being.”