How to know if I am making progress?
When meditating, working on yourself, if you wonder whether you are making any progress or not, know well that you are not making any progress – because when progress is made you know it. Why? It is just as when you are ill and you are taking medicine. Won’t you be able to feel whether you are getting healthy or not? If you do not feel it and the question arises of whether you are getting well or not, know well that you are not getting well. Well-being is such a clear feeling that when you have it you know it.
But why does this question arise? This question arises for so many reasons. One, you are not really working. You are just deceiving yourself. You are playing tricks with yourself. You are less concerned with what you are doing and more concerned with what is happening. If you are really doing it, you can leave the result to existence. But our minds are such that we are less concerned with the cause and more concerned with the effect – because of greed. Greed wants to have everything without doing anything. So the greedy mind goes on moving ahead. Then the greedy mind asks, 'What is happening? Is something happening or not?' Be really concerned with what you are doing, and when something happens you will know it. It is going to happen to you. You need not ask anyone.
There is no fixed road. Everyone is on a different road; we are not on one road. Even if you are following one technique of meditation, you are not on the same road as someone else who is doing the same technique; you cannot be. There is no public path. Every path is individual and personal. So no one’s experiences on the path will be helpful to you; rather, they may be damaging. Someone may be seeing something on his path. If he says to you that this is the sign of progress, you may not meet the same sign on your path. The same trees may not be on your path; the same stones may not be on your path. So do not be a victim of all this nonsense. Only certain inner feelings are relevant. For example, if you are progressing, then certain things will begin to happen spontaneously. One, you will feel more and more contentment.
Really, when meditation is completely fulfilled, one becomes so contented that he forgets to meditate – because meditation is an effort, a discontent. If one day you forget to meditate and you do not feel any addiction, you do not feel any gap, you are as filled as ever, then know it is a good sign.
Do not make meditation a habit. Let it be alive! Then discontent will disappear by and by; you will feel contentment, and not only while you are meditating. If something happens only while you are meditating, it is false, it is hypnotic. It does some good but it is not going to be very deep. It is good only in comparison. If there is nothing happening, no meditation, no blissful moment, do not worry about it. If something is happening, do not cling to it. If meditation is going rightly, deep, you will feel transformed throughout the whole day. A subtle contentment will be present every moment. With whatsoever you are doing, you will feel a cool center inside…contentment.
Of course there will be results. Anger will be less and less possible. It will go on disappearing. Why? – because anger shows a non-meditative mind, a mind that is not at ease with itself. With meditation you will be more and more happy with yourself – remember, with yourself. These will be signs, the general signs. So do not think you are achieving much if you are beginning to see light or if you go on seeing beautiful colors. They are good but do not feel satisfied unless real psychological changes are there: less anger, more love; less cruelty, more compassion. Unless this happens, your seeing lights and colors and hearing sounds are child’s play. They are beautiful, very beautiful; it is good to play with them – but that is not the aim of meditation. They happen on the road, they are just by-products, but do not be concerned.
In a relationship, observe what is happening. How are you behaving toward your wife now? Observe it. Is there any change? That change is meaningful. How are you behaving with your servant? Is there any change? That change is significant.
Meditation for me is not a child’s play. It is a deep transformation. How to know this transformation? First you will feel your inner transformation in your outer relationships, and then you will go deep. Then only will you begin to feel something inner. So probe into, penetrate your relationships, and look there to see whether your meditation is progressing or not.
If you feel a growing love, unconditional love, if you feel a compassion without cause, if you feel a deep concern for everyone’s welfare, well-being, your meditation is growing. Then forget all other things. With this observation you will also observe many things in yourself. You will be more silent; you will have less noise within. When there is a need you will talk, when there is no need you will be silent. You will feel more at ease, relaxed. Whatsoever you are doing, it will be a relaxed effort; there will be no strain. You will become less and less ambitious. Ultimately, there will be no ambition. Even the ambition to reach moksha will not be there. Even the desire for liberation is a bondage. Even the desire to be desireless is a bondage.
One thing more: whatsoever you are doing, do not think that results will be coming in the future. If you are doing something real, results are here and now. In inner work, if you have meditated today, results are not going to be tomorrow. If you have meditated today. the perfume of it, howsoever little, will be there. If you are sensitive you can feel it. Whenever something real is done, it affects you here and now.
So meditation is not just a certain thing which you do for one hour and forget. Really, the whole of life has to be meditative. Only then will you begin to feel things. And when I say that the whole life is to be meditative, I do not mean to go and close your eyes for twenty-four hours and sit and meditate – no! Wherever you are you can be sensitive and that sensitivity will pay. Then there will be no need to ask, 'Am I progressing or not?' Only with this capacity of being aware of all things happening around you will you develop the capacity to feel what is happening within.
Osho, The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 2, Talk #18