Listen only to yourself

We all have a parent, child and adult within us. But don't trust them to give you clarity on what to do. For that, you have to find the voice of your being

woman refusing to listenMan is a crowd, a crowd of many voices—relevant, irrelevant, consistent, inconsistent—each voice pulling in its own way; all the voices pulling man apart. Ordinarily man is a mess, virtually a kind of madness.

You somehow manage to look sane. Deep down layers and layers of insanity are boiling within you. They can erupt any moment, your control can be lost any moment, because your control is enforced from without. It is not a discipline that has come from your centre of being.

You are not one

For social reasons, economic reasons, political reasons, you have enforced a certain character upon yourself. But many vital forces exist against that character within you. They are continuously sabotaging your character. Hence, every day you go on committing many mistakes, many errors. Sometimes you even feel that you never wanted to do it. In spite of yourself, you go on committing many mistakes—because you are not one, you are many.

How not to err

Buddha does not call these mistakes sins, because to call them a sin will be condemning you. He simply calls them misdemeanours, mistakes, errors. To err is human, not to err is divine. And the way from the human to the divine goes through mindfulness. These many voices within you can stop torturing you, pulling you, pushing you. These many voices can disappear if you become mindful.

The inner layers

In a mindful state, mistakes are not committed—not that you control them, but in a mindful state, in an alert, aware state, voices cease; you simply become one, and whatsoever you do comes from the very core of your being. It is never wrong.

In the modern Humanistic Potential Movement there is a parallel to understand it. That’s what Transactional Analysis calls the triangle of PAC. P means parent, A means adult, C means child. These are your three layers, as if you are a three-storied building. First floor is that of the child, second floor is that of the parent, third floor is that of the adult. All three exist together. This is your inner triangle and conflict. Your child says one thing, your parent says something else, your adult, rational mind says something else.

Introducing the child

The child says ‘enjoy’. For the child this moment is the only moment; he has no other considerations. The child is spontaneous, but unaware of the consequences—unaware of the past, unaware of the future. He lives in the moment. He has no values and he has no mindfulness, no awareness. The child consists of felt concepts; he lives through feeling. His whole being is irrational.

You can’t remain a child

Of course, he comes into many conflicts with others. He comes into many contradictions within himself, because one feeling helps him to do one thing, then suddenly he starts feeling another feeling. A child never can complete anything. By the time he can complete it, his feeling has changed. He starts many things but never comes to any conclusion. A child remains inconclusive. He enjoys—but his enjoyment is not creative, cannot be creative. He delights—but life cannot be lived only through delight. You cannot remain a child forever. You will have to learn many things, because you are not alone here.

If you were alone then there would be no question—you could have remained a child forever. But the society is there, millions of people are there; you have to follow many rules, you have to follow many values. Otherwise there will be so much conflict that life would become impossible. The child has to be disciplined—and that’s where the parent comes in.

The parent

The parental voice in you is the voice of the society, culture, civilisation; the voice that makes you capable of living in a world where you are not alone, where there are many individuals with conflicting ambitions, where there is much struggle for survival, where there is much conflict. You have to pave your path, and you have to move very cautiously.

The parental voice is that of caution. It makes you civilised. The child is wild, the parental voice helps you to become civilised. The word ‘civil’ is good. It means one who has become capable of living in a city; who has become capable of being a member of a group, of a society.

Child v/s parent

The child is very dictatorial. The child thinks he is the centre of the world. The parent has to teach you that you are not the centre of the world—everybody thinks that way. He has to make you more and more alert that there are many people in the world, you are not alone. You have to consider them if you want yourself to be considered by them.

Otherwise you will be crushed. It is a sheer question of survival, of policy, of politics.The parental voice gives you commandments—what to do, what not to do. The feeling simply goes blind. The parent makes you cautious. It is needed.

The adult

And then there is the third voice within you, the third layer, when you have become adult and you are no more controlled by your parents; your own reason has come of age, you can think on your own.The child consists of felt concepts; the parent consists of taught concepts, and the adult consists of thought concepts. And these three layers are continuously in fight. The child says one thing, the parent says just the opposite, and the reason may say something totally different.

You see beautiful food. The child says to eat as much as you want. The parental voice says that many things have to be considered—whether you are really feeling hungry, or just the smell of the food, the taste of the food is the only appeal. Is this food really nutritious? Is it going to nourish your body or can it become harmful to you? Wait, listen, don’t rush. And then there is the rational mind, the adult mind, which may say something else, totally different.

There is no necessity that your adult mind may agree with your parents. Your parents were not omniscient, they were not all-knowing. They were as fallible human beings as you are, and many times you find loopholes in their thinking. Many times you find them very dogmatic, superstitious, believing in foolish things, irrational ideologies.

Your adult says no, your parent says do it, your adult says it is not worth doing, and your child goes on pulling you somewhere else. This is the triangle within you.

Who should you listen to?

If you listen to the child, your parent feels angry. So one part feels good—you can go on eating as much ice-cream as you want—but your parent inside feels angry; a part of you starts condemning. And then you start feeling guilty. The same guilt arises as it used to arise when you were really a child. You are no more a child—but the child has not disappeared. It is there; it is just your ground floor, your very base, your foundation.

If you follow the child, if you follow the feeling, the parent is angry and then you start feeling guilt. If you follow the parent then your child feels that he is being forced into things which he does not want to do. Then your child feels he is being unnecessarily interfered with, unnecessarily trespassed upon. Freedom is lost when you listen to the parent, and your child starts feeling rebellious.

If you listen to the parent, your adult mind says, ‘What nonsense! These people never knew anything. You know more, you are more in tune with the modern world, you are more contemporary. These ideologies are just dead ideologies, out of date—why are you bothering?’ If you listen to your reason then also you feel as if you are betraying your parents. Again guilt arises. What to do? And it is almost impossible to find something on which all these three layers agree.

What the teachers recommend

This is human anxiety. No, never do all these three layers agree on any point. Now there are teachers who believe in the child. They emphasise the child more. For example, Lao Tzu. He says, “The agreement is not going to come. You drop this parental voice, these commandments, these Old Testaments. Drop all ‘should’s’ and become a child again.”

That’s what Jesus says. Lao Tzu and Jesus, their emphasis is: become a child again—because only with the child will you be able to gain your spontaneity, will you again become part of the natural flow, tao.

Their message is beautiful, but seems to be almost impractical. Then there are other teachers—Mahavir, Moses, Mohammed, Manu—they say listen to the parental voice, listen to the moral, what the society says, what you have been taught. Listen and follow it. If you want to be at ease in the world, if you want to be peaceful in the world, listen to the parent. Never go against the parental voice.

man meditatingThat’s how the world has followed, more or less. But then one never feels spontaneous, one never feels natural. One always feels confined, caged. And when you don’t feel free, you may feel peaceful, but that peacefulness is worthless. Unless peace comes with freedom you cannot accept it. Unless peace comes with bliss you cannot accept it. It brings convenience, comfort, but your soul suffers.

Then there is the third emphasis on being adult. Confucius, Patanjali, or modern agnostics like Bertrand Russell—all humanists of the world, they all emphasise: ‘Believe only in your own reason.’ That seems very arduous, so much so that one’s whole life becomes just a conflict. Because you have been brought up by your parents, you have been conditioned by your parents. If you listen only to your reason, you have to deny many things in your being. In fact, your whole mind has to be denied. It is not easy to erase it.

You are a feeling being

And you were born as children without any reason. That too is there. Basically you are a feeling being; reason comes very late. It comes when, in fact, all that has to happen has happened. Psychologists say a child learns almost 75 per cent of his whole knowledge by the time he is seven years old. Seventy-five percent of his whole knowledge he has learned by the time he is seven years old, 50 per cent by the time he is four years old. And this whole learning happens when you are a child, and reason comes very late. It is a very late arrival. It comes when, in fact, all that has to happen has happened.

It is very difficult to live with the reason. People have tried—a Bertrand Russell here and there—but nobody has achieved truth through it, because reason alone is not enough.All these angles have been chosen and tried, and nothing has worked.

Buddha’s solution

Buddha’s standpoint is totally different. That’s his original contribution to human consciousness. He says not to choose any, he says move in the centre of the angle. Don’t choose reason, don’t choose parent, don’t choose the child; just move in the very centre of the angle and remain silent and become mindful. His approach is tremendously meaningful. And then you will be able to have a clear perspective of your being. And out of that perspective and clarity let the response come.

Excerpted from The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 1/Courtesy: Osho International Foundation/

Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.



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