Osho on Sufi Sayings - Man is
Question : Why do the Sufis say that
man is a Machine?
Osho : Man is a machine, that's why.
Man as he is is utterly unconscious. He is nothing but his
habits, the sum total of his habits. Man is a robot. Man is not
yet man: unless consciousness enters into your being, you will
remain a machine. That's why the Sufis say man is a machine. It
is from the Sufis that Gurdjieff introduced the idea to the West
that man is a machine. It is very rarely that you are conscious.
In your whole seventy years' life, if you live the ordinary
so-called life -- healthy and whole within and without, with no
pain of growth, with no pain within you of a growing pearl of
exceeding beauty -- then you will not know even seven moments of
awareness in your whole life. And even if you know those seven
moments or less, they will be only accidental. For example, you
may know a moment of awareness if somebody suddenly comes and
revolver on your heart. In that moment, your thinking, your
habitual thinking, stops.
For a moment you become aware, because it is so dangerous, you
cannot remain ordinarily asleep. In some dangerous situation you
become aware. Otherwise you remain fast asleep. You are
perfectly skillful at doing your things mechanically. Just stand
by the side of the road and watch people, and you will be able
to see that they are
all walking in their sleep. All are sleep-walkers,
somnambulists. And so are you.
Two bums were arrested and charged with a murder that had been
committed in the neighborhood. The jury found them guilty and
the judge sentenced them to hang by their necks until dead and
God have mercy on their souls.
The two bore up pretty well until the morning of the day set for
the execution arrived. As they were being prepared for the
gallows, one turned to the other and said, "Dam' me if I ain't
about off my nut. I can't get my thoughts together. Why, I don't
even know what the day of the week is."
"This is a Monday," said the other bum.
"Monday? My Gawd! What a rotten way to start the week!"
Just watch yourself. Even to the very
point of death, people go on repeating old habitual patterns.
Now there is going to be no week; the morning has come when they
are to be hanged. But just the old habit -- somebody says it is
Monday, and you say, "Monday? My God! What a rotten way to start
the week!" Man reacts. That's why the Sufis say man is a
machine. Unless you start responding, unless you become
responsible... Reaction comes out of the past, responses comes
out of the present moment. Response is spontaneous, reaction is
just old habit.
Just watch yourself. Your woman says something to you: then
whatsoever you say, watch, ponder over it. Is it just a
reaction? And you will be surprised: ninety-nine percent of your
acts are not acts, because they are not responses, they are just
mechanical. Just mechanical. It has been happening again and
again: you say the same thing and your woman reacts the same
way, and then you react, and it ends in the same thing again and
again. You know it, she knows it, everything is predictable.
I have heard:
"Pop," said a boy of then, "how do wars get started?"
"Well, son," began Pop, "let's say America quarreled with
"America's not quarreling with England," interrupted Mother.
"Who said she was?" said Pop, visibly irritated. "I merely was
giving the boy a hypothetical instance."
"Ridiculous!" snorted Mother. "You'll put all sorts of wrong
ideas in his head."
"Ridiculous, nothing!" countered Pop. "If he listens to you
he'll never have any ideas at all in his head."
Just as the dish-throwing stage approached, the son spoke up
again. "Thanks Mom, thanks Pop. I'll never have to ask how wars
get started again."
Just watch yourself. The things that you are doing, you have
done so many times. The ways you react, you have been reacting
always. In the same situation you always do the same thing. You
are feeling nervous and you take out your cigarette and you
start smoking. It is a reaction; whenever you have felt nervous
you have done it.
You are a machine. It is just a built-in program in you now: you
feel nervous, your hand goes into the pocket, the packet comes
out. It is almost like a machine doing things.
You take the cigarette out, you put the cigarette in your mouth,
you light the cigarette, and this is all going on mechanically.
This has been done millions of times, and you are doing it
again. And each time you do this it is strengthened; the machine
becomes more mechanical, the machine becomes more skillful. The
more you do it, the less awareness is needed to do it. This is
why the Sufis say man functions as a machine. Unless you start
destroying these mechanical habits... Sufis have many methods to
For example, they teach many devices. They say: Do something
just contrary to what you have always done. Try it. You come
home, you are afraid, you are as late as ever, and the wife will
be there ready to quarrel with you. And you are planning how to
answer, what to say -- that there was too much work in the
office, and this and that. And she knows all that you are
planning, and she knows what you are going to say if she asks
why you are late. And you know if you say that you are late
because there was too much work she is not going to believe it
She has never believed it. She may have already checked; she may
have phoned the office, she may have already enquired where you
are. But, still, this is just a pattern. The Sufis say: Today go
home and behave totally differently. The wife asks you, "Where
have you been?" And you say, "I was with a woman making love."
And then see what happens. She will be shocked! She will not
know what to say, she will not even have any way to find words
to express it. For a moment she will be completely lost, because
no reaction, no old pattern, is applicable.
Or maybe, if she has become too much of a machine, she will say,
"I don't believe you!" -- just as she has never believed you.
"You must be joking!" Every day you come home...
I have heard about a psychoanalyst who was telling his patient
-- must have been giving him a Sufi device -- "Today when you go
home..." because the patient was complaining again and again. "I
am always afraid of going home. My wife looks so miserable, so
sad, always in despair, that my heart starts sinking. I want to
escape from the home."
The psychologist said, "Maybe you are the cause of it. Do
something: today take flowers and ice cream and sweets for the
woman, and when she opens the door hug her, give her a good
kiss. And then immediately start helping her: clean the table
and the pots and the floor. Do something absolutely new that you
have never done before."
The idea was appealing and the man tried it. He went home. The
moment the wife opened the door and saw flowers and ice cream
and sweets, and this beaming man who had never been laughing
hugged her, she could not believe what was happening! She was in
an utter shock, she could not believe her eyes: maybe this is
somebody else! She had to look again. And then when he kissed
her and immediately just started cleaning the table and went to
sink and started washing the pots, the woman started crying.
When he came out he said, "Why are you crying?" She said, "Have
you gone mad? I always suspected one day or other you would go
mad. Now it has happened. Why don't you go and see a
Sufis have such devices. They say: Act
totally differently, and not only will others be surprised, YOU
will be surprised. And just in small things. For example,
when you are nervous you walk fast. Don't walk fast, go very
slow and see. You will be surprised that it doesn't fit, that
your whole mechanical mind immediately says, "What are you
doing? You have never done this!" And if you walk slowly you
will be surprised: nervousness disappears, because you have
brought in something new.
These are the methods of Vipassana and Zazen. If you go deep
into them the fundamentals are the same. When you are doing
vipassana walking, you have to walk more slowly than you have
ever walked before, so slowly that it is absolutely new. The
whole feeling is new, and the reactive mind cannot function. It
cannot function because it has no program for it; it simply
stops functioning. That's why in vipassana you feel so silent
watching the breath. You have always breathed but you have never
watched it; this is something new.
When you sit silently and just watch you breath -- coming in,
going out, coming in, going out -- the mind feels puzzled: what
are you doing? Because you have never done it. It is so new that
the mind cannot supply an immediate reaction to it. Hence it
falls silent. The fundamental is the same. Whether Sufi or
Buddhist or Hindu or Mohammedan is not the question. If you go
deep into meditation's fundamentals then the essential thing is
one: how to de-automatize you.
Gurdjieff used to do very bizarre things to his disciples.
Somebody would come who had always been a vegetarian, and he
would say, "Eat meat." Now, it is the same fundamental -- this
man is just a little too much of himself, a little eccentric. He
would say, "Eat meat." Now, watch a vegetarian eating meat. The
whole body wants to throw it out and he wants to vomit, and the
whole mind is puzzled and disturbed and he starts perspiring,
because the mind has no way to cope with it. That's what
Gurdjieff wanted to see, how you would react to a new situation.
To the man who had never taken any alcohol Gurdjieff would say,
"Drink. Drink as much as you can." And to the man who had been
drinking alcohol Gurdjieff would say, "Stop for one month.
Completely stop." He wanted to create some situation which is so
new for the mind that the mind simply falls silent; it has no
answer for it, no ready-made answer for it. The mind functions
in a parrot-like way. That's why Zen masters will hit the
disciple sometimes. That is again the same fundamental.
Now, when you go to a master you don't expect a buddha to hit
you, or do you? When you go to Buddha you go with expectations
that he will be compassionate and loving, that he will shower
love and put his hand on your head. And this buddha gives you a
hit -- takes his staff and hits you hard on the head. Now, it is
so shocking: a buddha, hitting you? For a moment the mind stops;
it has no idea what to do, it does not function. And that
nonfunctioning is the beginning.
Sometimes a person has become enlightened just because the
master did something absurd. People have expectations, people
live through expectations. They don't know that masters don't
fit with any kind of expectations. India was accustomed to
Krishna and Rama and people like that. Then came Mahavira, he
stood naked. You cannot think of Krishna standing naked; he was
always wearing beautiful clothes, as beautiful as possible. He
was one of the most beautiful persons ever; he used to wear
ornaments made of gold and diamonds.
And then suddenly there is Mahavira. What did Mahavira mean by
being naked? He shocked the whole country: he helped many people
because of that shock. Each master has to decide how to shock.
Now, in India they have not known a man like me for centuries.
So whatsoever I do, whatsoever I say, is a shock. The whole
country goes into
shock; a great shiver runs through the spine of the whole
country. I really enjoy it, because they cannot think....
I have just received a letter saying, "We always thought that
you were above politics. Then why have you started speaking on
That's why, because I am above it. Who else can speak about it?
Those who are in it, they cannot speak about it -- they are
partisans. The man who is on the hilltop has a far better vision
of the valley down below. The bird who
is on the wing can see all that is happening on the earth; he
has more perspective, more vision. I can see in a better way,
because I am no more part of the valley. I can see what is
happening in the valley, I can see what is happening in New
Delhi, because I am far above it. But the Indian mind has its
A saint is not supposed to speak about politics. But a saint in
fact never follows anybody's expectations. I am not here to
fulfill your expectations. If I fulfill your expectations I will
never be able to transform you. I am here to destroy all your
expectations, I am here to shock you. And in those shocking
experiences your mind will stop. You will not be able to figure
it out: and that is the point where something new enters you. So
once in a while I say something which Indians think should not
But who are you to decide what I should say and what I should
not say? And naturally, when something goes
against their expectations they immediately react according to
their old conditionings. Those who react according to their old
conditionings miss the point. Those who don't react according to
the old conditionings fall silent, get into a new space. I am
talking to my disciples: I am trying to hit them, this way and
that. It is all deliberate.
When I criticize Morarji Desai it is not so much about Morarji
It is much more about the Morarji Desai in YOU, because
everybody has the politician within them. Hitting Morarji Desai
I have hit the Morarji Desai in you, the politician within you.
Everybody has the politician in them. The politician means the
desire to dominate, the desire to be number one. The politician
means ambition, the ambitious mind. And when I hit Morarji
Desai, if you feel hit and you start thinking, "This man cannot
be a really
enlightened person, otherwise why should he be hitting Morarji
Desai so hard?" you are simply rationalizing.
You have nothing to do with Morarji Desai: you are saving your
own Morarji Desai inside, you are trying to protect your own
politician. I have nothing to do with Morarji Desai. What can I
have to do with poor Morarji Desai? But I have everything to do
with the politician within you. The Sufis say man is a machine
because man only reacts according to the programs that have been
fed to him. Start behaving responsively, and then you are not a
machine. And when you are not a machine you are a man: then the
man is born.
Watch, become alert, observe, and go on dropping all the
reactive patterns in you. Each moment try to respond to the
reality -- not according to the ready-made idea in you but
according to the reality as it is there outside. Respond to the
reality! Respond with your total consciousness but not with your
mind. And then when you respond spontaneously and you don't
react, action is born. Action is beautiful, reaction is ugly.
Only a man of awareness acts, the man of unawareness REACTS.
Action liberates. Reaction goes on creating the same chains,
goes on making them thicker and harder and stronger. Live a life
of response and not of reaction.
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He is utterly against escapism
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the impossible. By seeking you cannot find it
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