Driving Madness Up the Wall
By Dr. Wilfried Nelles
To the modern mind, hyped up by CNN, cellular phones and cyberspace, the idea of sitting in silent meditation as Buddha's disciples did 2500 years ago seems a remote possibility. Recognizing this, Osho has created active meditations. A former sociology professor describes how OSHO Dynamic Meditation revitalizes modern man -- and 20th century society.
It is seven o'clock. My son leaves for school, and I change out of my pajamas into gym shorts and a T-shirt. More is not needed, soon I will feel warm enough. For I am about to meditate -- meditate dynamically, that is. Dynamic is a very curious meditation, particularly if seen from the outside. Is has little to do with images of bald-shaven monks sitting for hours on cold stone floors, even less with the chanting of sacred mantras, or contemplations on holy matters. Its time is the early morning, and its message is simple: wake up! because that is easier said than done, as it meets with so much resistance within ourselves, it employs massive, energetic, and strenuous means to shake us awake. We live in fortunate-unfortunate times. Everything has gone topsy-turvy.
We no longer know why we live, what we are living for, what we are doing, whether we really want what we want. We have lost our bearings and are rapidly losing our ultimate dreams. Some of us are conscious of it, many sense it more or less, but the majority don't want to know anything about it. We throw ourselves into work, pleasure, all sort of activities, or turn to alcohol or drugs to avoid the obvious. Counselors are in greater demand than ever, the more traditional one like astrologers, card reader or soothsayers as well as the modern variation you can dial during a TV show or consult in a book. They tell you how to eat, how to walk, what to wear where and when, in which direction to have your head while you sleep, how to get rich, how to get or stay healthy, and, last but not least, how to love.
But the more good counsel we get, the more knowledge we collect about "how to", the more we feel lost, the more we feel left behind. Our so-called modern enlightened consciousness is, it seems, a very unhappy consciousness. The more developed a civilization is, the more neurotic, the more psychologically ill, the more addicted, the more suicidal are its members. After all the great social visions of our age have popped like soap bubbles -- the latest being the breakdown of socialism -- life seems to have fizzled down to something we simply must get through, or, to use a phrase coined by Max Weber "to bear like a man". Which is OK if you are on the side of the fence where the fleshpots are full. But the flesh in the pots is getting putrid, even affluence doesn't hold what it once promised -- and deep down we all know it, however much we are dying to have it.
We love our dreams and it hurts when they are broken. But that's how it is and we have no say in it. All we can do is repress the pain, close our eyes and hearts in order to avoid it. But one day it catches up with us, when some unforeseen event- an illness, an accident, a war, a natural catastrophe, a human encounter, even our own end -- rips a gap in our personal preoccupations and we ask ourselves in anguish: "Was that it? Was that really it?" Every time a dream is destroyed, is reveals as just a dream and shattered to pieces, we are on the point of awakening.
But the question is: Do we want to wake up? Do we really want to be disillusioned? Or do we prefer to hold on to our illusions until the bitter end? Basically, we have no alternative. Anybody who just pauses a moment and takes an unblinkered look at the state of the world, sees this huge nightmare for what it really is, knows that this nightmare will explode sooner rather than later -- and all our private little dreams will explode along with it.
Do we, do you, do I want to wake up? While the tape with the music that accompanies Dynamic Meditation is being rewound on my tape deck, I mechanically do my preparations: I pull a foam rubber mattress in place so that I won't hurt myself in case I feel like throwing a fit, and I blow my nose as thoroughly as I can. For the nose must be free, otherwise nothing is possible. Then I start the tape.: a loud gong resounds, and already the drums start. I stand there -- feet firmly on the ground, but otherwise as loose as possible,' and breathe as fast and deep and chaotically as possible, through the nose. The mouth is closed firmly, and so are the eyes. That's anyway what the instructions say. Today I feel better than during the last few days, but the breathing doesn't come particularly fast, let alone deep. My nostrils are blown wide open, but hardly any air seems to come in.
The left nostril is -- like it always is in the first few minutes -- almost shut, and the right one also feels pretty narrow. True, I usually take it easy at first, allowing myself approximately one minute warming-up time before really getting into the huffing and puffing, but this time I feel more low than loose. But didn't I feel particularly fit just now? Ah, that's it! I am feeling well enough, and precisely because of it I'm afraid that this small amount of well-being might get disturbed if I really get going; I would like to cling to it a little longer and not enter into the shit right away.
Often enough we don't want to really wake up. Yes, we want to get rid off the bad dreams, the nightmares, but the beautiful ones? Many of us -- are hankering after the good old times. We complain about the present and seek solutions that were long ago obsolete. Specters from the Nazi past raise their ugly heads here and there, skinheads with a skull as an emblem. True, their ideas are stupid and dull, but what alternative has our society to offer them? Caviar instead of Big Macs, champagne instead of Coke, career instead of sex 'n drugs 'n rock 'n roll? And on top of that a few arid (and phony) sermons on the glories of reason?
Reason has become a dead tree without fruits, a tree that says: "Sorry, no fruits anymore, you have to understand, you have to live with that." If we were prepared to really look, we would see in these drifting youngsters the mirrors of our own lack of perspective and vision. And the same goes for the dead junkies, for the battered babies, for the sexually abused children, for the sick relationships, for those infinitely sad dead-end sidings called "old people's homes", for those dehumanized life-prolonging and dying wards in our health-repair garages, for all those alcohol wrecks, cancer heart failure and AIDS patients.
Whoever has the guts to speak the truth can only have something like this to say: "Those of you who believe in fortifying sand castles, who want more out of life than just another kick from food or sex, but also more than just defying adversity, more than just a `reasonable` acquiescence with what cannot be changed... if you want life, all of it, then you will have to create it yourselves, find your answers from your own inner selves without any chart. There are no other goals than those. That's why you are here. You are unique. You yourself are the goal, the answer, the meaning. Yes, you." There is little more to be said about this. In Europe, the legacy of the 19th century is defunct, finished for good, even if occasionally nationalism still rises from its grave.
The final sellout and fall of communism is much more than just the collapse of a certain social system or empire. It is also the death of Marxism as a religion, and that has far wider implications. "The children of Marx and Coca-Cola"- as a famous French cineaste of the sixties, Jean-Luc Godard, summed up the student rebels of the time -- are dying out. Now there is only Coca-Cola left. That is the revolution, or perhaps even more: a spiritual landslide, comparable to Galileo's discoveries putting an end to the Middle Ages, and with it all the certainty of a universally shared cosmology, a common Weltanschauung. For what went down the drain along with Marxism is the last of the great Western attempts to find a common answer to the burning question about the meaning of life.
We now know: there is none. Unless you accept it's Coca Cola- for that's the bottom line of what society has to offer. Or unless you accept it's in yourself. But who are you? That's the only question the remains: Who am I? Here I am getting up early in the morning and breathing like crazy through my nose. Is that a way to find the answer? Really, it looks more like losing your marbles than finding your senses. But is it really less sensible than say, for argument's sake, what the philosopher Immanuel Kant was doing? He spent all his life in his Koenigsberg ivory tower, torturing his brain and churning out long-winded sentences nobody can understand, replacing the Ten Commandments with Kantian Imperative intended to guide man in his moral action. But, in fact, it didn't change him one iota. Or is it less sensible than what Marx was doing when he was planning the salvation of man in the Reading Room of the British Museum?
These thinkers may have done the most sensible and best thing possible in their time, but now it is high time to have a good look at ourselves -- in person, not in theory. After all, it is the sum total of all of us that's creating our history. And for that no books are needed. In books, all we can find are other people's thoughts. rehashing the thoughts of yet other people. What is needed is a mirror that helps us look within ourselves. And Dynamic Meditation is just such a mirror. And that's why I stand here, huffing and puffing like an express train.
When I note my halfheartedness, I change to a higher gear. My nose is still damned narrow, but I know this will change soon. Within minutes I have reached a speed that leaves my thoughts painting behind. That is one of the purposes of the exercise: the mind is blown away- fear nothing, it will come back! All I hear now is a staccato of massive outbreaths, driven on by frenzied drums. I realize that even more is possible (more is always possible), and breathe even more deeply. I think nothing, there is only breathing -- deeper, faster, madder. It's totally far out. When a pang of pain shoots up somewhere. I just take note of it, and then I am back with the breathing. From a certain speed limit, a certain intensity on, I am simply in it, and it is fun to go for the maximum. The drums build up to a climax. Then the gong -- end of phase one.
The first phase of Dynamic Meditation is the awakening to a new life. "Wake up, man!" it seems to be shouting at us. "Come out of your ancient sleep, step out of the maze of your dreams, be they sweet or nightmarish. Stop letting yourself be trapped by these dreams, drop your limitations and live! Breathe! Breathe and live! Open yourself for the Breath of Life, take in as much of it as you can possibly take! Stop philosophizing about life, stop losing yourself in the dreams of others, stop dreaming of Day x when you will really start living! Do it yourself, do it now! LIVE." Breath is life. The first and the last breath are the two extremes between which our human existence moves. God, it is said, put his breath into Adam fashioned of clay, making him come to life.
The Hindu word for breath, prana, is synonymous with life energy. A breath therapist can decode the way I live from the way I breathe. Each of us has our own breath patterns, each has subconscious tricks of how to avoid certain experiences that may be threatening to the unconscious, by simply changing the breathing rhythm. That's why ancient schools like yoga as well as modern psychotherapies use breath as a path to bring harmony back to body and soul, or to bring to light, and heal, traumatic experiences hidden deep in the unconscious. But this is not bringing harmony -- this is chaos! Deep, fast breathing dissolves the cemented patterns of our psyche, makes everything move and tingle, and charges the body with oxygen and life energy, blowing apart our psychosomatic structure, the order that was created by the circumstances of our birth and our background conditioning.
We are coming closer to life in is original wildness, unpredictability, power. The onward march of rock music since the sixties is a sign of the human soul's need for the chaotic side of life, for expansions, for unfettered movement. It was expressed in frenetic solos on the guitar and drums. Every artist know this, and every child. For children that are granted a certain freedom, every day is new. That's why they have a different sense of time. Life is more intense, open for discoveries and surprises. That's what Jesus must have had in mind when he said: "Unless you become like children...." -- no molds, no pattern, simply vulnerable, curious and innocent. But we don't only have patterns, we are patterns. We have become so much one with them, that we are not even aware of the fact, we don't even notice them. We lost our innocence long ago, and we want to find it again. And we will to find it again if we want to enjoy, to really celebrate life and not go dragging on alone.
So my choice with this meditation is either to breathe as if all hell were let loose, or forget about ever coming alive again. The fear of what it means to come alive again is in every one of us, and it is understandable. We have no idea what's going to happen if our carefully maintained inner and outer mechanisms break down. Maybe there is an inner order, what Heraclitus called "the hidden harmony." But who knows – maybe not. Yes we may have an inkling, but we don't know. That's where a Master, an Awakened One, play such a central role in the spiritual search. In him – if he is not a pretender – this inner harmony, this being in tune with the innermost heartbeat of existence, has taken shape. In him we can feel it, in him it gets a voice and a face. In him, transcendence is not just an abstract term, but a palpable reality.
We can also be mistaken, of course, but on the spiritual path there is no security, no guarantee anymore. The traditional meditation techniques created some 2,500 years ago aim at a gradual pacification of the mind over decades of patient practice, as in Japanese Zen or Tibetan Buddhism. Both traditions have become very popular in the West over the last few years. By contrast, Osho Dynamic Meditation is more of a shock therapy. All meditation techniques are tricks, attempts to put the mind to sleep without consciousness falling asleep with it – to allow a glimpse of no-mind, the dimension beyond the mind.
Whether or not a technique works is a question of who uses it. But the people for whom the ancient techniques were developed are no more. We live in a totally different world today. Dynamic Meditation is a method for modern man as he is – neurotic, speed, confused. It helps to bring all the mess of the modern mind to a boil so that it can evaporate. With these methods, thanks to the ingenuity and genius of Osho who invented them, a new path to meditation has been hewn through the jungle of today's mind, thicker and more tangled than ever before in the evolution of man.
To read more on Osho and Meditation, click here.