WHAT IS UNCONSCIOUSNESS?
Consciousness means living with a witness; unconsciousness means living without a witness. When you are walking on the road, you can walk consciously – that’s what Buddha says one should do – you are alert, deep down you are aware that you are walking; you are conscious of each movement. You are conscious of the birds singing in the trees, the early morning sun coming through the trees, the rays touching you, the warmth, the fresh air, the fragrance of newly opening flowers. A dog starts barking, a train passes by, you are breathing… you are watching everything. You are not excluding anything out of your alertness; you are taking everything in. The breath goes in, the breath goes out… you are watching everything that is happening.
It is not concentration, because in concentration you focus on one thing and you forget everything else. When you are concentrating you will not listen to the humming of the bees or to the singing of the birds; you will only see what you are concentrating upon.
Concentration is narrowing down your consciousness to a point. It is good in archery:
you have a target and you have to see only the target and you have to forget everything else.
Consciousness has to be relaxed; it has to be equivalent to opening. You are simply open to all that is happening. I am talking to you, and the train is passing by, and the distant call of a cuckoo… and you are aware of it all. You are open to all the dimensions of your being. You are simply open and vulnerable, alert, not asleep.
This is consciousness, and its opposite is unconsciousness. You are not open at all, you are closed. You are in a kind of sleep – a metaphysical sleep. All the buddhas down the ages have been fighting the metaphysical sleep.
People are bound to do something stupid. And that’s what they have done to the statements of all the buddhas. They write commentaries, great scholarship, but what comes out is stupid. Libraries are full of it, universities are full of it. All rubbish! But people are sacrificing their whole lives for that, and they are not doing the first necessary thing.
You cannot be wise unless you become conscious, unless you break this old habit of functioning in an unconscious way. You have to de-automatize yourself.
Simple things can do the trick. For example, you always walk in a hurry. Start walking slowly. You will have to be alert; the moment you lose alertness you will start again in a hurried way. These are small devices: walk slowly – because to walk slowly you will have to remain conscious. Once you lose consciousness, immediately the old habit will grab you and you will be in a hurry.
If you smoke cigarettes, make it a very slow process, so slow that it becomes de- automatized. Otherwise, people are not smoking cigarettes – cigarettes are smoking people! They are not conscious of what they are doing. In a very unconscious way they put their hands into their pockets, take out the packet, the cigarette and the matchbox.
They are going through all these motions but they are not alert. They may be thinking a thousand and one things. In fact, when they are more unconscious they tend to smoke more. When they are more in anxiety, tension… worried, they tend to smoke more; that helps them to keep a face as if they are relaxed.
Make it a slow process. Take the cigarette packet out of your pocket as slowly as possible, as consciously as possible. Slowing down the processes is very helpful. Then hold the packet in your hand, look at it, smell it, feel its texture. Then open it very slowly, as if you have all the time in the world. Then take a cigarette out, look at the cigarette from all sides. Then put it in your mouth… wait! Then take the matchbox – again go through those same slow movements. Then start smoking so slowly… take the smoke in very slowly, let it out very slowly.
And you will be surprised: if you were smoking twenty-four cigarettes per day you will be smoking only six at the most; it will be reduced to one-fourth. And slowly slowly, only two, one, and one day suddenly you will find the whole thing so stupid! Still you can go on carrying the cigarette packet in your pocket for a few days, just in case – but it is finished, de-automatized.
This is one of Buddha’s great contributions to the psychology of man: the process of de- automatization, slowing down everything.
Buddha used to say to his disciples, “Walk as slowly as possible, eat as slowly as possible. Chew each bite forty times and go on counting inside: one, two, three, four, five – forty times. When the food is no longer solid, it is almost liquid….” He used to say, “Don’t eat, but drink.” That means make it so liquid that you don’t eat it, you have to drink it. And he helped thousands of people to become conscious.
You are unconscious, although you believe you are conscious…. That is like seeing a dream in which you think you are walking in the marketplace. You are awake in your dream, but your awakenness in a dream is only part of the dream – you are unconscious.
It hurts to accept that “I am unconscious,” but the first act of being conscious is to accept that “I am unconscious.” The very acceptance triggers a process in you
~ OSHO – Dhammapada Volume 5