This talk was given at the One Spirit Festival
30th of May 2014
36th in the series ‘The Striking Snake’
As you all know I work mostly with energy. Everything we do or say is an energy happening. Every thought, every feeling, every movement is an expression of energy. So energy in a way is the same as life… and even when I stop talking as I just did because people were coming in, then that stopping is also an energy. It was not that I decided to stop, but the people coming in late created an energy which made me stop talking. So whatever we are doing during our lives from birth to death is an activity of energy. But under normal circumstances we control that energy decide what to do with it.. We say we have the energy to play tennis or to go to the movies or to talk to our friends or have a party or go for a walk, and we say: “Yes, this is what I will do with my energy.”
So the whole way we express our energy in a way is decided by us, but of course the world also comes at us and so we respond to that, so that energy, when we are responding to something happening to us like a car crash or a meeting with a friend in the street, then what comes out of that meeting is a combination of your energy and the energy of the person or the event that comes to you and meets your energy, and your response is then a mixture of those two energies.
There are about six and a half billion people on this earth we live on, all of whom are expressing in their own individual way the energy accumulation that they have in their systems, and that energy expression can be of course quite disastrous for other people. All over the world there are wars, atrocities, cruelty, insensitivity, selfishness; all these are expressions of individual energies. So we can in a way enclose our personal energy into what we call our own reality, our own separate reality, and see whether maybe we change the way we express our energy. Maybe we learn things, and so maybe become more sensitive, so the way we express our energy can change gradually or even strongly during our lives. Anybody who goes on a group situation or to a therapy session or any kind of psychiatric or psychotherapeutic session, they are looking for ways to change the way that their energy behaves. So somebody goes to a therapist because maybe they are having trouble in their partnership, with their man or woman, or at business there is trouble, maybe boss trouble, or there is some personal trouble. They find that they can’t express something that they want to express, and they hope through the interaction with somebody else that they can switch from one energy expression to another energy expression and so become more happy or more useful or more successful, more relaxed or more content and so on. So if you have all come here this afternoon, maybe your motivation is that maybe something that I say or something that I point to can lead to maybe a change to something more flowering, more full…a switch in the way that your energy is now running in your life.
My teacher called me ‘an energy phenomenon’ – that was a long time ago – but we are all energy phenomena. It is amazing, we are millions of people and everybody has a different expression of energy, no two people are the same.
But what I am advocating, what I am showing, what I am teaching, is to move away from change or improvement of the way each one of us expresses his or her energy. That movement is to switch from being restricted to the changes that can happen in your personal energy, to connecting with the energy that is all around us, connecting with the energy that is everywhere in space – which is not empty but which contains all energies that are possible for beings existing on this planet. If you connect with that, not only connect with it but unite with it, then the expression of your personal energy no longer comes from the place that it normally comes from, which is some centre inside yourself. Then you don’t run your life anymore in the same way, then you allow yourself to be lived as far as you can. Sometimes if you are in a situation where you have a particular job to do, where some demand is on you, then you may have to switch to your individual response – as to some extent I have to do this afternoon. I am committed to giving a talk at this time, four o’clock on a Friday afternoon in Karlsruhe, to whoever comes to listen.
As you all probably know, the ‘Rainbow Festival’ as it used to be called used to happen in Baden-Baden. I went every year there, I have been going now for 17 years, I think, and one year there in Baden-Baden I sat down and I looked at everybody, and I sat there for five or ten minutes without saying or doing anything. The energy that I handed myself over to then brought no action or words into me for me to say, and after that ten minutes a small group of people got up and walked out. One of my team was standing outside the door, and he said to them: “What is happening in there?” and the people said: “Nothing!” So he said: “You mean, ‘meditation?’” and they said: “Not even meditation. Nothing!” So sometimes I have a commitment and I dare not just sit here and do nothing or you would all leave, or most of you would, so I have a commitment to say something. When I do my seminars most weeks I don’t have that, I’m not in a position that I have to do this or that, so it can be that I don’t talk for many hours, I don’t say anything at all. I just sit, or I move when movement happens, I act when action happens, I connect with people when the movement comes to connect with people, and I speak when words come, otherwise I leave it all to whatever comes through me. But that kind of process is not going to suit this time together this afternoon, so I have to knock on my head and say: “Say something!”
A long time ago I had a certain dream. Normally I am not interested in dreams. I am not interested in my dreams, I am not very interested in my students’ dreams – so much so that they don’t write and tell me anymore about their dreams and ask me what they mean – but now and again there is a real dream. In this dream I was dreaming that I was high up on scaffolding. I was a long way up all on my own on these bars that hold the scaffolding, doing some work up there. I don’t think I was up there meditating, I was doing something, and then the wind started to blow. I was just about hanging on up there, so I said to myself: “Time to go down!” I struggled along the scaffolding to where the lift went down to the ground, I went to open the door to get in the lift, and the door would not open. However hard I tried the door would not open. So there I was, stuck forty metres up in the air, wind blowing like mad, getting stronger and stronger, and I am stuck! What the Hell to do? I said: “The only thing that I can do now is to wake up.” So in the dream I said to myself: “You better wake up, Michael!” So I woke up, and there I was, okay, lying in my bed. Saved!
I wrote to my teacher at the time whom you all know now as Osho, and I told him about this dream. He said: “That is a very beautiful thing to be able to do, to be conscious in your own dreams,” to be dreaming and also be aware that you are dreaming and that you don’t need to dream, and then he said to me: “Now wake up from the big dream.”
What is the big dream?... Participant: Life?... The big dream, in a way is ‘life’ but not life the way we live it. The big dream is that we are individual and separate from one another, the big dream is that the world is contained in what we call ourselves: “This is me and everything else is not me. My family and friends are close but they are not me, and all that space in which I function, that is not me either,” whereas the reality is that it is also you and you are also it and there is no division whatsoever between your energy and the energy all around you and everywhere else. If you join that energy and unite with that energy, then that energy will activate your life, and because it is a universal energy it will not be concerned just with you and your desires and your targets and your projects and your intentions.
So that universal energy has the wisdom to take everything that fits together and complete a single great unity, so that when you act or that energy acts through you, then you don’t have to worry very much whether it fits the situation you are in, and you don’t care whether it leads or not to some gain for you. The whole idea of personal gain disappears, you are just an outlet for the expression of a universal energy, and then the whole idea of gaining something, reaching something, achieving something, that has come from your personal energy space, this simply becomes unimportant. It is as if you are sitting there on a chair like I am and suddenly a system happens which throws you out of your chair into space. You float in that space, and all around you is everything – including the one who was sitting in the chair. Then you can rest with that, then it doesn’t matter whether something moves you or doesn’t move you, it doesn’t matter whether or not you entertain the people around you, make yourself felt, whether you are active and significantly doing this or that – or whether you are simply sitting quietly where you are without any movement or interaction or action whatsoever. Then you are at home in the universe, and then you are in the universe and the universe is in you.
Now, for most spiritual seekers, and for sure for many of you here, if you are with a teacher or in some situation where there is a collective intention to find something new, then one of the primary things that you are asked to do from the beginning is to be aware: “Be aware that Samida has just been talking. Beware, Michael, that you are sitting on a chair and now you are moving a bit to get more comfortable. Be aware, Michael, that your right hand has just moved down and it is horizontal now in a gesture of giving or receiving. Be aware of a slight disturbance in your stomach, Michael, please. Open your eyes and be aware of the people sitting here.” That is the practise of awareness, but when you become aware of each of these activities that I have described in this particular situation, then first the situation is there, like, say, a tummy-ache, and then the awareness comes.
Now Samida is talking in German, and I am hearing it and saying: “Now that I see and hear her, I realize this is happening here and now and that I am aware of it.” So first the thing happens and then a split second later you become aware of it. Then the next thing happens and you are aware of it, then the next thing happens and each time you jump on it and say: “I got you!” It is like catching a fly. So you are always a split second behind what it is you are aware of. But when you join the cosmos in the way that I have been talking about and you are in the cosmos because you have joined it, then you are simply always and everywhere in the here-and-now. Instead of chasing after what is going on, saying: “Right, I got you, here-and-now, now I got this and now that, so that all the time you are chasing the here-and-now, instead of that, when you join the cosmos in the way I have previously been describing, then you are in the here-and-now as a continuous reality.
So in this continuous here-and-now – Samida was speaking and now I am speaking and I am sitting here and there are people there and I can see the colours – the here-and-now gets underneath the process of life. You don’t have to catch it anymore, you see it happening, you hear it happening, you experience it happening, and then it is a continuous thing. You are already in the here-and-now all the time because you are part of it and it is in you, so then you don’t have to chase it anymore. That state is self-aware, there is no longer two: the activity and the awareness of the activity. That is a practice that all spiritual paths normally include, being aware, because if you are not aware of what is going on in you then there is no way you are going to change anything or even feel the need for change; you are unconscious of the way that you are processing yourself in life.
So the practice of awareness is very important, but hopefully it leads to what I am talking about. Then you don’t have to have your awareness as something separate from the rest of you which is actually living your life. You are basically in the here-and-now always, and that is such a beautiful experience that for you it doesn’t matter whether you just sit there with it or whether action comes out of it into some interaction with other people or the world in general.
Now, when I am not speaking, when Samida is speaking and I am making a little pause, then the richness of that space between when I am speaking is no less than the moments when I am expressing some viewpoint or some teaching to you all. It is not that I stop and then I start and then I stop and I start, it is a continuous state of being tuned in to everything. And then sometimes there is an action and sometimes there are some words and sometimes there are some words coming from next door to me, but I am not jumping from when I am talking to when I am next talking: it is a continuous flow whether anything is happening through me or not. So I am sitting underneath or behind anything that may or may not happen, and that sitting is so rich that there is no need to add anything to it. Something can come, anything can come, all sorts of things, all the usual things; I can go and play football, I can make love to somebody or whatever, I can do all this and yet underneath that it doesn’t really matter really, essentially, whether I do these things or I don’t do things. I can do them because I enjoy them, but when it stops then I am back in a state of just being part of the universe.
You have all heard of Zen Buddhism, I suppose, and part of the teaching of Zen Buddhism is what they call ‘Za-Zen,’ which is sitting quietly doing nothing. So people go to what is known as seshins for five days or even longer, and every day they just sit – for many hours. That is part of Zen Teaching, that is the practise. There are other things too, but this is the basic thing: sitting for a long time just watching the mind moving, watching the wish to move, watching the sensations in the body and so on, and just all the time sitting behind it and just sitting.
Followers of Zen Buddhism are going through this their whole life: go to sessions and relax from their daily work et cetera, taking time off to meditate, then again coming back to get on with their lives. So Za-Zen and Vipassana and all the other ways, these are practices towards some spiritual achievement.
But in the end Zen says this: You do not sit to get anywhere, you sit because sitting is it. That means you let go of all your inner desires and habits to do something, to go somewhere, to achieve something, to reach something, to get away from just being what you are right now. When it says ‘sitting is it,’ it doesn’t mean necessarily sitting cross-legged, it doesn’t even mean sitting on a chair; it means inside you are sitting somewhere that is still and in a way timeless. You sit deep inside you at rest, and when you do that really deeply inside you, then you feel that you are not sitting deeply inside yourself, you are sitting deeply inside the whole universe. The place where you are sitting is not like a chair, it is not like it is just in the dimension in which you are sitting; you are sitting in the ‘everywhere,’ and time stops in a way. Then some action comes and time is there again, but even when action comes and time is there again you are still able to feel behind that movement in time that you are still in the timelessness because nothing is happening and everything is serene in that place. That is like the ultimate place – as I see it – that one can reach as a human being.
How does one reach that place? Well, a long, long time ago I wrote this little poem: ‘People climb mountains because where the mountain ends the sky begins, but the point is at every place on the mountain the sky begins. All you have to do is to jump.’ As soon as you reach that cosmic space that I am talking about this afternoon – that place is there, always and everywhere there, and so potentially you can join it. But of course you have to let go of the hold that you have on your normal reality, and also the hold that your normal reality has on yourself. You have to let go of your separate identity and your separate sense of your own destiny, and the way that I teach people and help people to do that is to change the vibration of their energy.
So here is the way my energy vibrates, this is me, this is this or that person, each one of us is vibrating in a different way and that is why we are different people, and all around us are all these other people vibrating with their particular way of vibrating, and there is a space all around us which is vibrating itself in a certain way too. Then if in some way you can change the vibration of your separate way of vibrating to match the vibration of the cosmos all around, then you will join that whole cosmos and unite with it. That is how it feels when you go to the place I was previously talking about where you are simply sitting and you are feeling you are not sitting just in yourself, you are sitting in the universe. If you feel in that state that you are at one with the universe, then that means somehow that you are vibrating in the same way as the universe is, and then the feeling is that you have finally arrived to your true home – you are back where you started. We all individually came out of that basic vibration, and then when you go back to it… maybe you go back to it when you die, but if you go back when you are still living it is a very beautiful experience.
So that is one way to join it; to let go of your separate vibration and begin to open to that cosmic vibration. I have the possibility of bringing that vibration into my seminars and the students who work with me, and it might be easier for people to resonate with that energy in another human being than it is for them to resonate to open space, so I am a kind of link for people to connect with that.
Now, before that everybody is like in a frame, in a Rahmen, and right at the bottom of that Rahmen there is an open space. So another way to find that open space out there in the cosmos… one way is to jump, and another way is to move towards that opening at the bottom of your individuality. The way through that particular exit is to be totally and continuously in the deepest part of yourself that you can find.
A Zen master said this: “If you can look into the Hua-Tu” – the ‘Hua-Tu’ is ‘this instant’ – “with the same continuity as a stone falling down a well ten thousand changs deep” – don’t ask me how long that is – “if you can do that for one week, then if you don’t get enlightened you can come and cut off my head.” What he was pointing to was that that is another way out; to be totally and as continuously as you can be just there in the deepest part of yourselves, tasting whatever is there, whether you are doing or non-doing, whether you are sitting or running or acting or whatever, at the same time as you are doing whatever you are doing to be totally in the depths of yourself with the taste of yourself there. If you do that continuously, then he says – in my terms come out of the Rahmen and into in the cosmos – you will get enlightened.
So enlightenment is a realization that your separateness is an illusion. To break the illusion of course you have to let go of all the things that are part of the illusion; that all expressions of this separateness in your choices and in your hopes and in your sense of rightness in what you are doing, all this is dissolved – or at least you have to let go of your attachment to it. It will never dissolve completely as long as you are on this earth because we have to interact with the rest of civilization, all the people around us. So we can move back into that ‘glove’, if you like, and put our fingers in the glove and act through that hand in the glove, but we are not any more feeling that we actually have to achieve anything with that hand in the glove. Putting the hand in the glove is just a game you are going to play, and then life becomes what the Indians have long called it, a ‘Leela,’ – which means ‘play.’
You play the Game of Life, and whether you win or lose is not so important. Not everybody can win the game but everybody can play the game, so what you lose is your attachment to achieving something for your separate self. In a way you can withdraw from the world and yet you are still in it, or as the masters say: Be in the world but not of it. You can play each moment, whatever the game is in front of you, but your essential self is not in that game and in the outcome of the game. Your essential self is at rest somewhere in timelessness, just simply there, and the world is bustling around you and you can just watch it. You can involve yourself as well, of course, but you are not lost in your involvement. It is not that you are indifferent to what is going on but in a way you see that your life does not depend on your involvement and your success in your involvement. You can involve yourself because something is calling you, and your energy that is coming through you is calling you to involve yourself; to help somebody, to go for a cause, to find and improve the situation, to make somebody else happy, to make somebody else richer. All this you can do but it is not a ‘do or die’ for you, it is just something that you find your energy flowing into, and you accept that because in a way you are part of and you are involved in what the movement is, but the origin of the movement is coming from somewhere beyond you.
So speaking and not-speaking come from the same source… and then you hear the sound of one hand clapping. Two hands clapping is what happens when you go for what you want and run your life each time according to what you next want, and in a way all the action with the handclapping is a search for satisfaction, for some kind of contentment, but if you have found already the contentment just by being, then you don’t have to search for it anymore. Then you can play the game of being who you are in the world but you are not expecting to get anything from it because you don’t need anything more than you already have. Your basic state is one of contentment and relaxation and serenity, and that, when you really find it, no one can take away from you. It doesn’t depend on a person or a group of people for you to be content; that the family is happy, your wife or your husband, that you are in a good state or relationship with him or her, that you have a good job and the boss is nice to you and so on. All these things can also bring happiness and contentment but you can’t depend on them because they can change any moment as you all know. This contentment that I am talking about no one can take away from you because it is independent of anybody else. That is not because you are indifferent to whatever happens, – of course you will feel sad if you lose a friend or a member of the family in some way, they move away or they die or something, and you feel that. You will also feel that. You will also feel sad when it happens, you will also feel hurt, you will also feel all these human things. You will feel them but you will not be lost in them; behind that is a state that is saying: “Well, that’s life. That’s the way things are. That has happened and I am sad, even tears are coming, but…” So you are not lost in your responses to life, you don’t struggle to forget about a loss or a sadness that hangs on to you. It is not possible for that to happen to you because you are no longer sensitive in that part of yourself which reacts in this way to phenomena that are going on in your life and all around you. You are touched by it but you are not centred in it so there is no distraction, it cannot wipe you out because there is something beyond it and beneath it in which you are resting and which is independent of all the comings and goings.
The Buddha said: “Look for that which neither comes nor goes.” All these emotions, all these responses to life, you have had thousands of them, we have all had thousands of them, they have all come and gone and where are they now? Where is the unhappiness when your friend left you when you were fifteen years old, when this happened when you were twenty-five? All these things, they hurt at the time but then they are gone. Many people hang on to them and will not let them go, but still, they don’t really stay, people are just holding on to the illusion that they are still there but of course they are not still there. But this state of oneness with everything – that neither comes… well, it does come to you, but when it comes it doesn’t go, so you are beyond disturbance on that level, and that means that you are free. That is true freedom.
Watch a recording of the Energy Happening with Michael Barnett at the One Spirit Festival 2014