What is the difference between a teacher and a Master?
Osho: An ancient parable...
Once Upon a time an Angel was going to heaven after fulfilling the errand for which he had been sent to the earth. It was a dark night, no moon in the skies, not even stars. The earth was enveloped by dark clouds. But the moment the angel was just entering into those dark clouds, he saw a miracle happening just beneath him. He saw a forest full of light. He was puzzled. He had been to this part many times, he was well-acquainted with the earth. He had never seen such a thing before. And the light was no ordinary light. It had the quality of bliss, blessing in it.
Just seeing that light, the angel felt more blissful than he had ever felt before, trot even in the company of the gods, not even in heaven had he seen such a luminous phenomenon. The light was arising out of a small mango grove and was spreading all over the forest. And it was so powerful that he could see the foliage of the trees, the flowers of the trees, and the small lake just by the side of the grove. He became intrigued. He descended back to the earth. As he was descending he was surprised even more.
There was a soundless sound permeating the whole atmosphere – the soundless sound that is known in the East as Pranava, Omkar– as if the whole forest was chanting ’om’. It was such a benediction. And not only that; more surprises were waiting for him. The moment he descended near the grove, he felt a fragrance absolutely unknown, unheard-of, even in heaven. This was nothing earthly. It was not even heavenly. It was beyond. He entered the grove. He could not figure it out – what is happening there?
Another surprise: a man was just sitting there under an ancient old tree, meditating. Then things were not so difficult to understand. So he thought, ”This man has become a Buddha. This man has come home... the light, the fragrance, the sound, are coming out of this man.” As he came closer to this man, more and more he was filled by his presence. The whole forest was agog – a new vibe, a new life. He could see trees blooming out of season. And there was such silence, absolute silence. And in that absolute silence there was that soundless sound.
The WHOLE forest – the trees and the lake and the mountains – all chanting. He fell into the feet of this man, opened his third eye – this angel – and tried to see what he was doing inside. It is said that angels have the capacity to look into human minds. They can find out what thoughts are moving there. But the more he tried, the more he felt it was impossible – there was no thought moving inside. There was utter emptiness, just nothingness. He started feeling afraid. He knows the nothingness of the sky, he knows the infinity of the sky, but this was deeper than that.
It had a depth unknown to him. It was abysmal. He started feeling afraid he may get lost into it, he may not be able to return back. But the attraction was too much. He was ready even to get lost. He tried hard, he pulled himself deeper and deeper into this silence. He ran inside this man’s consciousness, but he could not find a single iota of thought. So he could not figure out what this man was doing. He came out, turned himself into a man, bowed down, touched the feet of this man, and said, ”Sir, please come out of your samadhi and enlighten me as to what is happening inside, because I don’t see a single thought. Even gods are so full of thoughts! What has happened to you?
You have become so utterly silent, even dead bodies are not so utterly silent! – the old thoughts go on like old dust floating in the mind – even if the man is dead the thoughts continue for a time. The mind goes on clicking just out of old habit. What has happened to you? You are alive!” The man looked at the angel, didn’t say a single word, but smiled. That smile was like an infection, hypnotic. And the angel felt the pull of the smile. That smile was transforming, that smile was a great challenge, that smile was a provocation, that smile was a seduction.
That smile invited him to the inner world of this man. And again the man closed his eyes, but somehow the angel also felt to close his eyes. He had got the hint. The man had said, ”I cannot tell you what it is, but I can show you the way. Just sit like me, just be like me. You have looked into my emptiness, just be empty. Only by being is there a way to understanding.” And he had not uttered a single word, but that smile was his sermon. He had said all that is contained in the Vedas and the Koran and the Bible and Dhammapada and Gita.
He had said all without saying a single word. He had said that which cannot be said. And the angel closed his eyes, sat in silence, and started disappearing. That’s what happens around a Master. You need not obey a Master. You have just to be around, available, that’s all. His presence is enough to create the seduction. The presence of the Master is seductive. It has no commandment. It does not say to you ”Do this,” and ”Don’t do that.” Those who talk like that, they are not Masters. They may be teachers at the most.
A Master never says ”Do this,” and ”Don’t do that.” A Master is not concerned with your actions at all. His concern is deeper, his concern is with your being. A Master is catching... like measles. In his presence you start catching a different vibe – if you are available, if you are ready to listen, if you are ready to look – then things start moving on their own. That is the meaning of a Master.
What is the difference between a teacher and a Master?
A teacher teaches you, he has a doctrine, he has a philosophy. He argues, discusses, proves. A Master is himself the proof. He does not argue, he does not propose any philosophy, he does not give you any ethos. He has no commandments. He does not create any should, he does not give you any ideals. In fact, he takes all ideals away. He does not give you a scripture. He teaches you how to burn all scriptures, how to be free of the word, how to be free of theory – because once you are free of the word and the theory and the scripture, you are free to be.
Otherwise, thoughts go on clamouring within, thoughts go on clouding within. And thoughts go on distracting you from your center. A thought is a distraction, any thought – the worldly, the other-worldly. Thought as such is a distraction, it takes you away from yourself. A thought leads you into the world of dreams, illusions, abstractions. It does not allow you to see and feel and be. The whole work of a Master is to help you drop off your mind. And all commandments go into the mind, become your memories.
So a Master has no message as far as your action is concerned. A Master certainly has a message as far as your being is concerned. He teaches you what to be. And he teaches you in a thousand and one ways.
A great Zen Master was asked by one of his disciples, ”I have been with you three years and you have not taught me anything, sir. When is my teaching going to start?”
The Master laughed and he said, ”What are you saying? For three years continuously, day in, day out, I have been teaching you. When you bring my tea in the morning, have I not thanked you? When you come and bow down, have I not touched your head? When I go for a morning walk and you come and follow me, have you not been seeing how I walk? Have you not observed that my feet don’t touch the earth? – they are six inches above it. Have you not looked in these three years into my eyes? – these eyes are those of a drunkard. What ELSE do you want?
What teaching are you talking about? I have been teaching day in, day out, year in, year out. Sometimes you must have entered into my room when I was asleep, have you not seen me? how a Buddha relaxes? – like a small child. What else do you want? You are waiting for words? Then go to a teacher.”
A Master is basically a presence. Even if he speaks, he speaks only to lead you towards the wordless. Even if he talks, he talks you out of language. He tries to talk so that you can be led into a world of no-thought. A Master’s teaching is a no-teaching. He does not propose any ideas so that you can cling to them. A Master is utterly destructive; a Master creates a chaos. He drives you insane as far as your mind is concerned – because when the mind has been driven insane, it stops... and suddenly a new consciousness arises.
So the first thing to be understood:
A Master creates trust, not obedience. A Master NEVER asks for obedience. And if somebody asks for obedience, escape from that person. He is in search of a slave. He will kill you, he will destroy your freedom, he will condition your mind. He will give you a pattern to live by. He will not make you available to gods; he will not make you a god – a god means freedom, absolute freedom. Obedience is slavery; obedience is a beautiful name for slavery. Whosoever creates obedience in you is dangerous, is your enemy.
A Master does not create obedience, he creates trust – and that is a totally different thing, altogether different. What is trust? It is a feeling, it has nothing to do with your believing. Trust is a feeling. Trust is a feeling that this man has entered somewhere, we don’t know where... this man has moved into some new dimension, we don’t know what. A feeling that this man has wings into the unknown, a feeling that it will be good to go with this man on this pilgrimage.
A Master creates trust in you so that you can gather courage. By seeing him, by being with him, by being available to his vibrations, his pulsations, by and by you gather courage – not obedience but courage. An obedient person is a dull person. An obedient person becomes unintelligent, he becomes dependent. He always looks for the order; he always waits – somebody has to tell him what to do. No, a Master cannot make you a cripple, he cannot give you crutches to lean upon.
When you come to a Master you already have too many crutches. He takes them away. He helps you to stand on your feet. A Master creates you as you should be in your authenticity. A Master helps you only to be yourself and nothing else. So the Master cannot have a pattern and cannot have a general statement. To each individual it is going to happen in a different way.
First thing: obedience is part of politics, not of religion. The priest asks for obedience, the politician asks for obedience: ”Follow me, obey me! Never do anything against my commandment. Remain always confined to the territory that I am giving to you, never go beyond it.” He is destroying your very soul. That’s what priests have done down the ages, they have killed people! People are no more alive. Somebody is a Muslim and somebody is a Hindu and somebody is a Sikh and somebody is a Jain and somebody is a Buddhist and somebody is a Christian – but where are real people? These are all plastic names. Where are religious people?
Where is Nanak? You can find the Sikh, but where is Nanak? You can find the Christian, but where is Jesus? And you can find Buddhists, but where is Buddha? So many religious people and not a single religious person will you find. Crowds clamouring around temples and gurudwaras and churches and mosques, but all slaves – slaves of the dead past. A Master frees you from the past, because a Master frees you from your memory. A Master does not give you anything to learn: he proposes a course of unlearning. He says, ”Unlearn whatsoever you have learned. Drop it, it is all dust. Clean your mirror completely of all dust. When the mirror is clean, God is reflected.
If your mirror carries too much of the scripture, God will not be reflected.” A Hindu cannot see God. How can a Hindu see God? Just by being a Hindu he is creating a hindrance. How can a Mohammedan see God? Just being a Mohammedan he is creating a wall between himself and God. At least when you go to God don’t carry labels, categories. At least when you go to God, go nude and naked. Go just as a human being, just as pure being, a mirror ready to reflect... ready to reflect whatsoever is the case. Don’t go on projecting an idea.
The Hindu looks for the Hindu God, the Christian looks for the Christian God. And when you are looking for a God you are carrying an idea inside you. And any idea inside does not allow you to fall into Dhyan, Samadhi, meditation. All ideas have to be dropped. The mind has to cease for God to be. When you are not, God is.
A Master teaches you how to become absent. His presence by and by teaches you to become absent. Have you not observed one tremendously important phenomenon? – that God’s way of being present in the world is His absence. He is not present by being present. God is present by being absent. That is His way of being present in the world. You cannot pinpoint: here is God. And wherever you can pinpoint, He is not. He is everywhere and nowhere. You cannot locate, you cannot say ”in the north, or in the south, or in this temple, or in that mosque” – you cannot pinpoint God.
If you pinpoint, it will be something else, not God – a statue, a scripture, a tradition, a morality, but not religion, not God. God is everywhere! His way of presence is to be absent, and this is what a Master teaches you. HIS presence is also a way of being absent.
A Master has disappeared, he is no more – there is only utter nothingness in him. If you go inside a Master, you will find the same thing that was found by the angel in the parable. That man sitting in the mango grove had become a Buddha. Buddha is not a proper name. It has nothing to do with Gautam Siddhartha. Gautam Siddhartha is one of the Buddhas. Christ is a Buddha too; so is Mahavir, so is Krishna, so is Nanak, so is Kabir, so is Rabiya, so is Meera, so is Mohammed.
Source: from book "Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 3" by Osho
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