THE QUESTION COMES UP IN THE MIND: WHAT IS TRUTH?

That is the most important question that can arise in anybody’s mind, but there is no answer for it. The most important question, the ultimate question, cannot have any answer; that’s why it is ultimate.

When Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus remained silent. Not only that, the story says that when Pontius Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” he did not wait to listen for the answer. He left the room and went away. This is very strange. Pontius Pilate also thinks that there cannot be an answer for it, so he didn’t wait for the answer. Jesus remained silent because he also knows it cannot be answered.

But these two understandings are not the same, because these two persons are diametrically opposite. Pontius Pilate thinks that it cannot be answered because there is no truth; how can you answer it? That is the logical mind, the Roman mind. Jesus remains silent not because there is no truth, but because the truth is so vast, it is not definable. The truth is so huge, enormous, it cannot be confined in a word, it cannot be reduced to language. It is there. One can be it, but one cannot say it.

For two different reasons they behaved almost in the same way: Pontius didn’t wait to hear the answer, he knew already that there is no truth. Jesus remains silent because he knows truth, and knows that it could not be said.

Chidvilas has asked this question. The question is absolutely significant. There is no question higher than that, because there is no religion higher than truth. It has to be understood; the question has to be analyzed. Analyzing the question, trying to understand the question itself, you may have an insight into what truth is. I will not answer it, I cannot answer it; nobody can answer it. But we can go deep into the question. Going deep into the question, the question will start disappearing. When the question has disappeared you will find the answer there at the very core of your heart — you are truth, so how can you miss it? Maybe you have forgotten about it, maybe you have lost track of it, maybe you have forgotten how to enter into your own being, into your own truth.

Truth is not an hypothesis, truth is not a dogma. Truth is neither Hindu nor Christian nor Mohammedan. Truth is neither mine nor yours. Truth belongs to nobody, but everybody belongs to truth. Truth means that which is: that is exactly the meaning of the word. It comes from a Latin root, verus. Verus means: that which is. In English there are a few words which are derivations of the Latin root verus: was, were — they come from verus. In German, war — that comes from verus. Verus means that which is, uninterpreted. Once the interpretation comes in, then what you know is reality, not truth. That is the difference between truth and reality. Reality is truth interpreted.

So the moment you answer the question, “What is truth?” it becomes reality; it is no longer truth. Interpretation has entered into it, the mind has colored it. And realities are as many as there are minds; there are multi-realities. Truth is one because truth is known only when the mind is not there. It is mind that keeps you separate from me, separate from others, separate from existence. If you look through the mind, then the mind will give you a picture of truth. That will be only a picture, a photograph of that which is. And of course, the photograph depends on the camera, on the film used, on the chemicals, on how it has been developed, how it has been printed, who has done it. A thousand and one other things enter in; it becomes reality.

The word reality is also beautiful to be understood. It comes from the root, res; it means thing or things. Truth is not a thing. Once interpreted, once the mind has grabbed it, defined it, demarked it, it becomes a thing.

When you fall in love with a woman there is some truth — if you have fallen absolutely unaware, if you have not ‘done’ it in any way, if you have not acted, managed, if you have not even thought about it. Suddenly you see a woman, you look into her eyes, she looks into your eyes, and something clicks. You are not the doer of it, you are simply possessed by it, you simply fall into it. It has nothing to do with you. Your ego is not involved, at least not in the very, very beginning, when love is virgin. In that moment there is truth, but there is no interpretation. That’s why love remains indefinable.

Soon the mind comes in, starts managing things, takes possession of you. You start thinking about the girl as your girlfriend, you start thinking of how to get married, you start thinking about the woman as your wife. Now these are things; the girlfriend, the wife — these are things. The truth is no longer there, it has receded back. Now things are becoming more important. The definable is more secure, the indefinable is insecure. You have started killing, poisoning the truth. Sooner or later there will be a wife and a husband, two things. But the beauty is gone, the joy has disappeared, the honeymoon is over.

The honeymoon is over at that exact moment when truth becomes reality, when love becomes a relationship. The honeymoon is very short, unfortunately — I’m not talking about the honeymoon that you go for. The honeymoon is very short. Maybe for a single moment it was there, but the purity of it, the crystal purity of it, the divinity of it, the beyondness of it — it is from eternity, it is not of time. It is not part of this mundane world, it is like a ray coming into a dark hole. It comes from the transcendental. It is absolutely appropriate to call love God, because love is truth. The closest that you come to truth in ordinary life is love.

Chidvilas asks: “What is truth?”

Asking has to disappear; only then do you know.

If you ask, “What is truth?” what are you asking? If I say A is truth, B is truth, C is truth, will that be the answer? If I say A is truth, then certainly A cannot be the truth: it is something else that I am using as synonymous with truth. If it is absolutely synonymous, then it will be a tautology. Then I can say, “Truth is truth,” but that is silly, meaningless. Nothing is solved by it. If it is exactly the same, if A is truth, then it will mean truth is truth. If A is different, is not exactly truth, then I am falsifying. Then to say A is truth will be only approximate. And remember, there cannot be anything approximate. Either truth is or it is not. So I cannot say A is truth.

I cannot even say, “God is truth,” because if God is truth then it is a tautology — “Truth is truth.” Then I’m not saying anything. If God is different from truth, then I am saying something, but then I am saying something wrong. Then God is different, then how can he be truth? If I say it is approximate, linguistically it looks alright, but it is not right. ‘Approximately’ means some lie is there, something false is there. Otherwise, why is it not a hundred percent truth? If it is ninety-nine percent truth then something is there which is not true. And truth and untruth cannot exist together, just as darkness and light cannot exist together — because darkness is nothing but absence. Absence and presence cannot exist together, truth and untruth cannot exist together. Untruth is nothing but the absence of truth.

So no answer is possible, hence Jesus remained silent. But if you look at it with deep sympathy, if you look into the silence of Jesus, you will have an answer. Silence is the answer. Jesus is saying, “Be silent, as I am silent, and you will know” — not saying it in words. It is a gesture, it is very, very Zen-like. In that moment when Jesus remained silent, he comes very close to the Zen approach, to the Buddhist approach. He is a Buddha in that moment. Buddha never answered these questions. He had eleven questions listed: wherever he would move his disciples would go around and declare to people, “Never ask these eleven questions of Buddha” — questions which are fundamental, questions which are really significant. You could ask anything else, and Buddha was always ready to answer. But don’t ask the fundamental, because the fundamental can only be experienced. And truth is the most fundamental; the very substance of existence is what truth is.

Go into the question. The question is significant, it is arising in your heart: “What is truth?” — a desire to know that which is, is arising. Don’t push it aside, go into it. Chidvilas, whenever it happens again, close your eyes, go into the question. Let the question become very, very focussed — “What… is… truth?” Let there arise a great concentration. Forget everything, as if your whole life depends on this simple question, “What is truth?” Let it become a matter of life and death. And don’t try to answer it, because you don’t know the answer.

Answers may be coming — the mind always tries to supply answers — but see the fact that you don’t know, that’s why you are asking. So how can your mind supply you an answer? The mind knows not, so tell the mind, “Keep quiet.” If you know, then there is no need for the question. You don’t know, hence the question.

So don’t be befooled by the mind’s toys. It supplies toys: it says, “Look, it is written in the Bible. Look, it is written in the Upanishads. This is the answer. Look, this is written by Lao Tzu, this is the answer.” The mind can throw all kinds of scriptures at you: the mind can quote, the mind can supply from the memory. You have heard many things, you have read many things; the mind carries all those memories. It can repeat in a mechanical way. But look into this phenomenon: that the mind knows not, and all that mind is repeating is borrowed. And the borrowed cannot help.

It happened at a railway crossing. The gates were closed, some train was to pass, and a man was sitting in his car, waiting for the train to pass, reading a book. A drunkard who was just sitting by the side of the gate came close, knocked on the air-conditioned car’s window. The man opened the window and said, “What can I do for you? Do you need any help?”

And the bum said, “Yes, for two days I have not eaten anything at all. Can you give me two rupees? That will be enough for me, just two rupees.”

The man laughed and said, “Never borrow and never lend money,” and showed the book to the bum and said, “Shakespeare — Shakespeare says so. Look.”

The bum pulled out of his pocket a very dirty paperback and said to the man, “You sonofabitch — D. H. Lawrence.”

Beware of the mind. The mind goes on quoting, the mind knows all without knowing at all. The mind is a pretender. See into this phenomenon: this I call insight. It is not a question of thinking. If you think about it, it is again the mind. You have to see through and through. You have to look deeply into the very phenomenon, the functioning of the mind, how the mind functions. It borrows from here and there, it goes on borrowing and accumulating. It is a hoarder, a hoarder of knowledge. Mind becomes very knowledgeable, and then whenever you ask a question which is really important the mind gives a very unimportant answer to it — futile, superficial, rubbish.

A man bought a parrot from a pet shop. The shop-owner assured him the bird would learn to say hello within half an hour. Back home he spent an hour ‘helloing’ to the parrot, but not a word from the bird. As he was turning away in sheer despair, the bird said, “Number engaged.”

A parrot is a parrot. He must have heard it in the pet shop. And this man was going on and on, “Hello, hello, hello,” and the bird was listening, and waiting for him to stop. Then he could say, “Number engaged!”

You can go on asking the mind, “What is truth, what is truth, what is truth?” And the moment you stop, the mind will immediately say, “Number engaged” or something. The mind will give you an answer. Beware of the mind.

The mind is the devil, there is no other devil. And it is your mind. This insight has to be developed — of looking through and through. Cut the mind in two with a sharp blow of the sword. That sword is awareness. Cut the mind in two and go through it, go beyond it! And if you can go beyond the mind, through the mind, and a moment of no-mind arises in you, there is the answer — not a verbal answer, not a scripture quoted, not in quotation marks, but authentically yours, an experience. Truth is an existential experience.

The question is immensely significant, but you will have to be very respectful towards the question. Don’t be in a hurry to find any answer, otherwise some rubbish will kill the answer. Don’t allow your mind to kill the question. And the way of the mind to kill the question is to supply answers, unlived, unexperienced.

You are truth! But it can happen only in utter silence, when not a single thought moves, when the mind has nothing to say, when not a single ripple is in your consciousness. When there is no ripple in your consciousness, your consciousness remains undistorted. When there is a ripple, there is a distortion.

Just go to a lake. Standing on the bank, look down at your reflection. If there are waves, ripples on the lake, and wind is blowing, your reflection is shaky. You cannot figure out what is what — where is your nose and where are your eyes — you can only guess. But when the lake is silent and the wind is not blowing and there is not a single ripple on the surface, suddenly you are there. In absolute perfection, the reflection is there. The lake becomes a mirror.

Whenever there is a thought moving in your consciousness it distorts. And there are many thoughts, millions of thoughts, continuously rushing, and it is always rush-hour. Twenty-four hours a day it is rush-hour, and the traffic goes on and on and on, and each thought is associated with thousands of other thoughts. They are all holding hands and linked together and interlinked, and the whole crowd is rushing around you. How can you know what truth is? Get out of this crowd.

That’s what meditation is, that’s what meditation is all about: a consciousness without mind, a consciousness without thoughts, a consciousness without any wavering — an unwavering consciousness. Then it is there in all its beauty and benediction. Then truth is there — call it God, call it nirvana, or whatsoever you like to call it. It is there, and it is there as an experience. You are in it and it is in you.

Use this question. Make it more penetrating. Make it so penetrating; put everything at stake so that the mind cannot befool you by its superficial answers. Once the mind disappears, once the mind is no longer playing its old tricks, you will know what truth is. You will know it in silence. You will know it in thoughtless awareness.

Source: OSHO, The Heart Sutra

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