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  Question: Why should silence be threatening?

Osho:  Silence is great death, the greatest that one can pass through. The ordinary death is nothing compared to it, because in the ordinary death you still carry the seed of being reborn. The ordinary death is not real death. One dies really in silence – that is utter death. Hence the fear. Zen calls it ’The Great Death’.

Why call it death? – because when you are silent, you are not. You are only when you are noisy; you ARE only when the mind is full of garbage; you are only when mind is mad. In madness you are : in health you disappear. Neurosis is very substantially needed for the ego to exist. Once the neurosis is gone, the chattering mind disappeared, you are not. Not that nothing is; something is, but you cannot identify yourself with that something. Something unknown, never known before, never even dreamed about, something utterly unfamiliar, something very disconnected from you, discontinuous with you – hence the fear.

In silence you commit suicide. That’s what sannyas is all about. In India we have the same word for death and for ultimate meditation – Samadhi . Samadhi has two meanings: death and the ultimate attainment of super-consciousness. Very significant, indicates two aspects of that ultimate silence. On one hand you die – as you have always been you will never be again. That old man simply evaporates.It is not modified, it is not continuous in any way. It has nothing to do with the new consciousness that arises in you. The new is Absolutely new.

So on one hand you die, on the other hand a new kind of life, the life of egolessness, starts. That is not the life of humility, remember. Egolessness has nothing to do with humility or humbleness. Humbleness, humility, are again the ways of the same ego, subtle ways. A Really egoless man is neither arrogant nor humble. If you find somebody humble, then he is just standing upside down; it is the same ego doing Shirshasan– headstand. Arrogance can become humbleness. But when the ego disappears, it simply disappears leaving no trace behind – not even of humbleness. Hence the fear.

One trembles to take the jump. It is committing suicide. You ask: Why should silence be threatening? One: it is a death. Second: all that you know about your mind, all that you know about yourself, all that you are identified with, has been given to you by the society. It is borrowed. Your identity is borrowed. You don’t know who you are; you only know what others say that you are. In silence, all those opinions will disappear. In silence you will come naked, without any clothes, to your utter loneliness. I call it utter because there is NO why to change it. You can go on playing games of being together with people, but deep down you remain alone.

Aloneness is something which cannot be corrupted, it is our very nature. You can create many illusions around yourself, and you can create safeties and securities, bank balance and love affairs and friendships and families – I’m not against them. All is good if you know that it is a game. Play it as well as you can, but never be befooled by it. Underneath you remain alone. That aloneness is not changed by your relationships – not even love changes your aloneness. So when you are silent, your whole world disappears. Not only do you disappear, your whole world disappears.

Your whole world consists of words, opinions, ideas, thoughts. Your whole world consists of language. Christians are right when they say, ”In the beginning is the Word.” In the end, too, is the word. The day the word ends, you have entered again into the source. Language is social; mind is a social product. You are not social: you are individual. And all our security is with society. So the moment you are silent, you start feeling great insecurity arising. You don’t know even who you are; you start trembling – a great nervousness.

In Zen they call it ’The Great Doubt’. It comes to everybody when they reach closer to satori: a great moment of doubt – because the old is disappearing and the new you cannot even see. All that you have believed in is no more valid, and nothing is yet clear as to what is going to substitute it. You are left in limbo. In that trembling, anguish, anxiety, great doubt, you would like to go back; you would like to cling to the shore that you have left. But there is no way to go back! Once you have come to the moment of Great Doubt, there is no way to go back.

You can only go ahead. Remember this basic dictum of human growth. growth of consciousness: that there is no way ever to go back. Whatsoever you have known, you have known as there is no way to make it unknown again. Wherever you have arrived you have arrived; you cannot escape from it. The only way goes ahead. All growth points are points of no return. So you can be troubled, you can remain in anguish, you can go crazy, but there is no way to go back. The Master is needed at the moment of the Great Doubt, because there you will be very helpless.

You will become again like a small child, helpless. The child was perfectly okay in the womb, there was no problem for the child. The child was absolutely secure, comfortable. Never again in his life will he be so secure and so comfortable. Those nine months in the womb were the last thing in luxury – no worry, no responsibility; all warmth, floating, relaxing; not even the effort to breathe for oneself – the mother was doing all. Then suddenly the child comes out of the womb after nine months. He is absolutely helpless. He will need a mother.

He would like to go back to the womb, but that’s not possible;  that is not possible in the very nature of things. You have left that home, you cannot go back. You will have to seek your home somewhere further ahead. You will have to create a home and warmth and everything again. The mother will be needed, otherwise the human child will die. Exactly that is the function of the Master; exactly, precisely that is the function of the Master. When you come to the Great Doubt, you are leaving one womb – the womb that you had created with society, with people, in relationship, you are leaving that womb.

You are entering into silence. You are getting into another dimension: the non-linguistic, the non-verbal, the no-mind dimension. You will again become like a child, very helpless – even more so, because the child’s helplessness was more physical and your helpless will be more of the spiritual. It will be deeper – the deepest possible. You will need somebody to give you courage, to push you ahead, to seduce you to move forward, to allure you, to promise you a thousand and one things.... Once you have passed the moment of Great Doubt, the silence is no longer threatening; then it is the very benediction. then it is SATCHITANANDA – then it is truth, consciousness, bliss.

There is nothing higher than it. But BEFORE it, before the last barrier falls down, before you leave your clinging to the past, you will feel almost as if uprooted, as if a tree is being uprooted from its soil where it has become very, very comfortable – a child is being uprooted from the womb. Exactly the same is going to happen... hence, you feel silence as threatening. But one has to go through it. It is only through the fire of silence that you become purified gold. It is only through the fire of silence that mind burns and no-mind becomes a flame in you. It is a blessing if you understand. On one hand it is a crucifixion, on the other hand it is a resurrection.

Soure: "Zen: The Path of Paradox, Volume 3" - Osho

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Osho on Silence