Osho Discourse on Witnessing and Tathata
Question - Please explain
the difference between Witnessing and Tathata
Osho - In witnessing, the duality is present. The witness finds himself
separate from that which he experiences. If a thorn pricks his foot, the
witnessing man says, "The thorn has not pricked me, it has pricked my
body -- I am only the knower of it. The piercing has occurred at one
place, while the awareness of it is present somewhere else."
So in the mind of a witness there exists a duality, a separation between
the experiencing of an event and the actual occurrence of it. Therefore,
he cannot rise up to the state of advaita, nonduality. And this is why
the seeker who stops at the level of being a witness, a watcher, remains
confined to a kind of dualism. He ultimately divides the existence into
conscious and unconscious. Conscious means the one who knows, and the
unconscious means that which is known. So eventually he is bound to end
up dividing existence into purusha and prakriti.
Both of these words, purusha and prakriti, are highly significant.
Perhaps the true meaning of prakriti may not have occurred to you,
Prakriti doesn't mean 'nature'; in fact, there is no word for prakriti
In English. Prakriti means that which was in existence before everything
came to be -- pra-kriti. Prakriti does not mean srishti or nature,
because srishti means that which exists after creation. The word
prakriti means that which was before creation.
The word purusha is also very meaningful. The equivalents of such words
are extremely difficult to find in any other language of the world,
because all these words are born out of very special experiences. You
know what pur means; pur means the city. For example, Kanpur, Nagpur. So
pur indicates the city, and the one who resides in the city is the
purusha. The human body is like a town, a city, and there is someone who
resides in it -- he is the purusha. Prakriti, therefore, is the pur, and
the one who lives in it -- separate, unattached -- is the purusha.
So the witness comes as far as the separation of purusha and prakriti.
He will set them apart as two entities -- the conscious and the
unconscious, and a distance will be created between the knower and the
Tathata is even more remarkable -- the ultimate. Tathata means, there is
no duality. There is neither a knower nor is there anything to be known.
Or, in other words, the knower is the known. Now it is not that the
thorn is hurting me and I am aware of it; or that the thorn and I are
separate from each other. It is not even that it would have been better
if the thorn had not pierced me, or that it would be good if the thorn
came out -- no, there is nothing of this sort.
Now, everything is accepted: the presence of the thorn, the pricking of
it, the awareness of being pricked by it, the experience of pain --
everything. And they are different parts of the same thing. Therefore, I
am the thorn. I am the very occurrence of pricking. I am the awareness
of this occurrence. I myself am the very realization of this all -- I am
all of this.
That's why there is no going beyond this 'I', my very being. I cannot
think, "It would have been better if the thorn had not pricked me" --
how can I? For I am the very thorn, the pricking of it, and the knowing
of being pricked as well. Nor can I think, "It would be good if the
thorn didn't prick me," because that would be tantamount to tearing
myself apart from my very own being.
Tathata is the ultimate state there is. In that state, whatsoever is,
is. It's a state of the ultimate acceptance of that-which-is. It
contains no distinctions. But one cannot reach tathata without having
been first a witness. However, one can stop at the level of witnessing,
if he so desires, and choose not to arrive at tathata. Similarly,
without the use of will, one cannot attain the state of witnessing.
Although, having gained willpower, one may wish to stay there and not
come to the point of witnessing.
One who stops with attaining firmness of resolve would of course become
very powerful, but he won't be able to attain wisdom. And therefore, the
ability to make a resolve can be misused, because wisdom is not required
to attain it. One will surely gain a lot of power, but that is precisely
why he can abuse it. The entire black magic is a product of willpower.
One who practices it gains a lot of power, but he lacks wisdom totally.
He can end up using that power without any discrimination.
A man of will becomes filled with power. It is difficult to predict
right away what use he will make of it. He can obviously put it to bad
use. Power in itself is neutral. Nevertheless, it is necessary --
whether one intends to use it for good or for evil. And as I see it,
rather than remaining a weakling, it is better if one uses his power for
evil purposes -- for the simple reason that one who commits an evil act
now may someday use the same power for a good cause. One who cannot do
evil can never do good either. That's why I say it's better to be
powerful than to be impotent and a wimp.
So a man of power can set out on the path of good as well as evil. It is
better to follow the course of goodness, because if followed rightly, it
will bring you to the state of witnessing. You won't end up as a witness
if you follow the course of evil; rather, you will simply wander around
within the confines of your willpower. Then you will get into mesmerism
and hypnotism, tantras and mantras, witchcraft and voodooism. All kinds
of things will crop up, but they won't lead you on a journey toward the
This is becoming lost. The power will indeed be there, but gone astray.
If the power is put on the course of goodness, it is sure to give rise
to the witness within you, and ultimately that power can be used to know
and attain oneself. This is what I call the course of goodness. By the
course of evil I mean controlling, possessing, enslaving the other. This
is what black magic is. Making use of the power for the purpose of
attaining oneself, knowing who am I, what am I, and living
authentically, is moving in goodness. And it will indeed lead one toward
becoming a witness.
If the urge to attain the state of witnessing is satisfied with the
knowing of oneself, the seeker reaches up to the fifth body and stops
there. However, if the urge is further intensified, one discovers that
he is not alone, he contains everything; that the sun and the moon and
the stars, the rocks, the soil, the flowers are all part of him; that
his very being, his existence incorporates all the rest. If the seeker
proceeds with such an intense feeling, he reaches tathata.
Tathata, suchness, is the ultimate flowering of religion, it is the
supreme achievement. It is total acceptance. Whatsoever happens, one is
open and agreeable to it. Only such an individual can become totally
silent, because even a little bit of resentment can prolong the
restlessness. One's restlessness and tension will continue to remain if
he carries even a small degree of complaint. Even the slightest idea,
"It didn't happen the way it should have," and the tension will continue
The experience of supreme silence, the experience of the greatest
freedom from tension, and that of the ultimate liberation is possible
only in the state of tathata. However, only a man of will can eventually
attain the state of witnessing, and only his going deeper into
witnessing can bring him to the state of tathata. One who has not yet
known what being a witness means can never know what total acceptance
One who hasn't realized that he is separate from the thorn which is
pricking him is not yet ready to know that the thorn is a part of him.
In fact, one who comes to experience the separateness of the thorn can
take the next step of feeling one with the thorn as well.
So tathata is the fundamental principle. Among all the spiritual
disciplines discovered all over the world, tathata is the greatest.
That's why one of Buddha's names is Tathagat. It would be good to have
some understanding of what this word tathagat means. It will be useful
in comprehending the meaning of tathata.
Buddha has used the word Tathagat for himself. He would say, for
instance, "Tathagat said...." Tathagat means, thus came, thus gone. Just
as a breeze comes and goes away without any purpose, without any
meaning. Just as a breath of air enters your room and goes out --
without any reason. So the one whose coming and going away is as
unmotivated, as desireless as the breeze, such a being is called
Tathagat. But who would come and go like a breeze?
He alone can pass like a breeze who has attained to tathata. Only he to
whom the coming and the going makes no difference can move like a
breeze. If he needs to come, he comes; if he needs to go, he goes -- the
same as Diogenes did. It made no difference to him whether people put
him in chains or did not put him in chains.
Diogenes said later on, "Only one who is prone to be a slave can be
nervous about becoming a slave. Since no one can make me a slave, why
should I be afraid I might be taken as a slave? One who carries even the
slightest anxiety that he may be turned into a slave, he alone will
remain in fear of it. And one who has such a fear is indeed a slave.
Since I happen to be the lord and master myself, you can never enslave
me. Even in chains, I am the master, and will remain so in your prison
as well. It makes no difference where you throw me; I still remain the
lord and master. My mastership is total and complete."
So the journey consists of this: from will to witness, and from witness
Source: from Osho Book “And Now, And Here”
Osho Quotes on Witnessing
Osho discourse on How to Becomre Aware
Osho discourse on Atisha Meditation
Dancing Totally and remaining Aware
Osho on three ways of
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traditional method of Vipassana Meditation
Osho on S.N. Goenka
Vipassana Meditation Technique
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