Interview with Kiran
by Madhukar Thompson
Kiran was born in 1941, he studied Hindu philosophy at the Sanskrit College in Thane, near Bombay, He went on to become a lecturer for Chinmayananda’s Divine Life Society. In 1967, he became a disciple of Osho, while pursuing the life of an industrialist, and a Householder. Following Osho’s 1981 departure from India for the United States, Kiran sought out a number of other gurus. The one who influenced him most was U.G. Krishnamurti. In 1993 he began to teach, sharing his understanding with seekers from all over the world.
Madhukar – How long have you been with Osho?
Kiran – I was his disciple for more than fifteen years.
Madhukar – Up to a point, you and I both traveled the same path with Osho. As a fellow seeker, the most important questions I have are: what exactly happened to you? And what did you do or not do to bring about your enlightenment? I want to know if you practiced exactly the same methods and meditations that I did. And if so, why did realization happen to you but not to me and other friends of ours? If you practiced different or additional meditations and methods, what were they? What can I learn from you? Can you assist me and other seekers on the spiritual path?
Kiran – For many years, I was traveling together with you all; we were fellow travellers on the path searching for something – searching for truth, searching for the reality of life. While we were traveling together with Osho; we did many things – meditation, therapies, groups, and work in the ashram. We did whatever Osho suggested to us. We surrendered to him totally.
Madhukar – We had the privilege of experiencing Osho’s guidance ‘live’ every day, twice a day.
Kiran – Me too- I sat there right in front of him and listened to his lectures for many years. I was following his suggestions with the hope that one day I would reach my goal of enlightenment. My spiritual and worldly lives were absolutely secure and safe with him. I was absolutely satisfied with him. However I fell asleep.
Madhukar – How could you fall asleep in the presence of your teacher?
Kiran – When I met Osho for the first time in 1967, I was on fire and my thirst for truth was very strong. But as I came closer to him over years, I fell slowly, slowly asleep. For a long time I didn’t notice it. Only when he departed for the States in 1981 did I wake up to this fact – and remembered the search. With great intensity I took it up again.
Madhukar – What happened then?
Kiran -By and by, I began to understand that something was wrong with searching. I felt that it was wrong to be after something all the time. I woke up to the understanding that I was making a mistake by searching for something, somewhere outside. I came to know that I was making a mistake by going to somebody, by asking for the way, by sitting at somebody’s feet, by waiting for something to happen, or by desiring that realization may happen with the help of effort and spiritual practice.
Madhukar – What did you do then? Did you stop practicing?
Kiran – I started to simply watch myself, to watch my mind. I was watching all my inner processes. And ever so slowly I began to understand that the desire, the effort, the doings and practices, were the actual disturbances of my peace. The seeking was the obstruction to realization. Osho had told us many times that we had to drop all our doings and efforts. He said that we had never lost our enlightenment, that it was already our nature. Sitting right in front of him, I had heard him say that so many times. But I could not understand him because I was sleeping and dreaming. I believe that’s what happened to all of us, we fell asleep and therefore didn’t hear him.
Madhukar – How did dropping all efforts and practices affect your life?
Kiran – I just became an ordinary man. And slowly, very slowly, began to awaken. I worked in my business and I looked after my family. I did not desire anymore to achieve something spiritually. I was not after anything any longer. I said, “It’s there, it’s there. Let it happen, let it happen. I am not bothered.” The thirst was still there, inside me. That longing remained. But I was not doing anything about it. That’s why I stayed away from Osho’s physical presence for the last ten years of his life, three of which he lived here in Pune right around the corner.
Madhukar – What happened for you when Osho returned to Pune?
Kiran – I didn’t feel a pull to go to the ashram. There was no energy inside me that made me go and see Osho, because in my aloneness everything had started settling within me. Then one day it dawned on me that the search had ended. All my searching just dropped away by itself. I started accepting Existence. I found I could accept myself as I was. I did not desire any change. I was not even asking to become something. I found myself saying to myself its okay, its fine. I don’t want to become somebody. I don’t want to get anywhere. I was not asking for enlightenment anymore. I was just relaxing with myself. I was happy, peaceful and relaxed with how and what I was in the present moment. All questions had dropped. All questioning and searching were simply finished.
Madhukar – Let me ask you, “Are you enlightened?”
Kiran -For many years, I just sat quietly alone at home on this chair here. I was enjoying nature and myself in silence and aloneness. I did not bother whether this was enlightenment or not. I could feel the silence descending on me I was feeling close to Existence and to everything and to everybody. Slowly, slowly I was dissolving. In my silence, I was becoming one with everything. Nothing could disturb the peace inside me. From January 1993 onward, people started coming to see me. This was a surprise for me, too.
Madhukar – So we practiced the same sadhana, except perhaps the most important one. Did I understand you correctly that the only additional spiritual method you applied was basically not doing anything? Your blooming and awakening happened only after all doing was left behind and ‘just being’ remained. Is that correct?
Kiran- That is correct.
Madhukar – Was there anything that triggered your blooming? Was there any kind of cause and effect relationship? Usually we believe that practice leads to the goal. Please tell me as much as possible about the blooming process and its workings. By describing your process, you may help me to understand my own. Furthermore, through your description, I may come to know where I am in my search.
Kiran- There is no cause-and-effect relationship in the awakening process. That is my basic understanding of the whole spiritual journey. Awakening is not an event that is going to happen because you are doing something with your mind – be that meditation or whatever. Awakening is uncaused. It cannot be achieved through effort, because you have never lost it.
Madhukar – Were all of our practices and our efforts in vain then? What was missing in our search for enlightenment with Osho?
Kiran – We forgot the main point. We have to seek the seeker. We always seek somewhere outside. We are always after some goal. We seek enlightenment. We seek Buddhahood. We seek so many things. Because we are so busy with seeking, we have forgotten to ask who it is that is seeking. Who is it that wants to become enlightened? Who wants this enlightenment? Who wants to become a Buddha? When we forget to ask this question, we go on trying in all directions. We go on making all the effort to seek outside of us. Who is the seeker? We must go on asking, “Who am I?” And who is asking this question? You are asking this question! You are asking these questions because you want to know who you are. But it is a contradiction. How can you find yourself somewhere when you are not lost anywhere? All efforts and all doing are taking you away from yourself. Therefore, anybody who has awakened could come to ‘know’ only after dropping all doing and all effort.
Madhukar – Please, explain further why in your understanding, meditating is a mistake?
Kiran – We all were making this basic mistake of undertaking goal-oriented actions. Intentional and purposeful actions are initiated and done by the mind. The mind understands only the language of doing. I can tell you, “Sit silently, do nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.’’ Osho said this so many times. We heard him say it again and again. But we don’t understand what “sitting silently doing nothing’ means we keep asking ‘How to do nothing?’ We always want to know what to do, how to do it, and how to reach it, even when the ‘it’ is ‘do nothing’. All these questions come from the mind.
Madhukar -And what we are, or rather who we are, is beyond the mind.
Kiran – That’s right. In our quest we are searching for a space which is beyond the mind. It is a space that the mind cannot reach. That space can only be reached when the mind has dropped. Actually that space remains when the mind is dissolved. The mind is a wrong instrument here; it is of absolutely no use. How could you reach that space by using the instrument of the mind? The mind is actually a hindrance to reaching that space. The practice of meditations, the undergoing of therapies and groups, and all such nonsense are done by the mind. We all were committing the same mistake. We were even doing meditations sitting right in front of Osho.
These practices are actually the obstructions to awakening.
Madhukar – Are you saying, “Don’t meditate!”?
Kiran – Yes. I say, “Drop all your efforts! Drop all your doings! Just stop and see! Watch! Simply look at what is happening. Just drop all desire to become.” And when you drop all your doing, the doer starts to dissolve immediately. The doer is the mind. The more the doer dissolves, the more Existence expresses its own doing. And in one fine moment you’ll find yourself to be free. “Oh God! Is it so? Is this it? This is it!” you will say to yourself. And you just laugh. You just laugh at everything. It’s so simple, so easy.
But we made is so complicated!
Madhukar – Your teaching seems to hold that Osho gave us a wrong teaching. He requested us to meditate and practice.
Kiran – As I said, if I tell you to do nothing, the mind will not understand it. What you really are is beyond the understanding of the mind. As long as you are using your mind, the master must give you something to do. He gives you something to do until you become frustrated and exhausted by all your doings. But at some point, you will be finished with all doing. At that time, you will know and feel that you have done everything possible, and that in spite of all your efforts, nothing has happened. Then you come to the point of total frustration. This will lead to total surrender. At that point, you say, “Oh, I can’t do anything anymore. I am finished.” This surrender will take you to total acceptance. You will start to accept Existence and yourself. And acceptance will cut all the roots of the mind that was nourishing all doing. Without nourishment, the ego will dissolve. By witnessing what is happening around you and by not doing anything, this state of acceptance will start to come slowly, slowly. Then you see that everything is just happening. When you come to that point of being the witness, you are ‘there’. You are at the end of your journey.
Madhukar – Okay, you seem to be saying, “Nothing can be done, no teacher can help, no technique or method is useful, and no meditation practice can cause enlightenment to happen.” On the other hand, I see seekers coming to you for advice and guidance. And I even notice people sitting and meditating in your meditation room. Did you teach a meditation technique to those people?
Kiran – No. I don’t give any technique. I stick to what I am saying: “Nothing can help!” Sitting with me is not of any help as long as you’re not awakened and as long as you have an urge to do something. I don’t claim to be a master. I am just sitting here as a friend helping you. I am not helping you in the sense that I teach you something or because I know something you don’t know. It is as if you were just closing your eyes and crying, “I can’t see the light.” I say, “Just open your eyes and you will see that the light is here.” This is how I can help. I am telling you, “Just open you eyes!”
Madhukar – This sounds so simple!
Kiran – It is. But for many of you, even “open your eyes” may seem to imply some doing. How can I convey to you that ‘open your eyes’ is not a doing? I have to use the words. Awakening is not even the effort to open your eyes. It is just a waking up. It is like when you wake up from sleep. I see you all asleep, dreaming, and crying. I am just shaking you and waking you up. I say, “Please, wake up! Don’t cry! No dreams” This is what I am doing here.
Madhukar – So why then do those people meditate in your cottage over there?
Kiran- I allow the people to sit in the meditation room because for many, many years they have been in the habit of meditating. As long as they still want to enjoy their dreams, they can sit in meditation. I want to keep them with me. I let them sit in the hall so that they don’t escape [laughter] but I am waiting for the opportunity to hit them and shake them again and again and shout at them, “Please wake up!” This is what I am doing. [laughter] I am not proposing any method or any doing whatsoever so if they enjoy sitting there, fine. I know I don’t sit there. Madhukar – But you sit there as a teacher. Kiran – When they come out of the hall, I hit them again. I ask them, “What are you doing there?”
Madhukar – What are they doing there?
Kiran – I am providing a space for them to sleep. When they come close to me, I shake them again. I try to wake them up in the hope that they will awaken at some point.
Madhukar – Can you do it just now? Please hit me! Please, wake me up once and for all!
Kiran – I am doing it. We are doing it now. That’s what we are doing in this conversation.
Madhukar – I know.
Kiran – But you are enjoying the dream. What can I do?
Madhukar – What would you do to me if I came out of the meditation room at this moment room and sat down opposite you?
Kiran – I keep telling you this is a dream. You are enjoying it. I am sharing my awakening with you, although I know it is of no use to you. It has no meaning at all. If I try to wake you up all the time, I become your enemy. I want to remain your friend. That’s why I can’t keep on hitting and shaking. Once in a while I have to be friendly to you.
Madhukar – Is that why you share dinner after these ‘friendly meetings’ in your house? [laughter]
Kiran – Yes. Sometimes it is difficult for you because I must beat you hard. I know you want to run away from here. But there is no other way.
Madhukar – You claim not to have a teaching. On the other hand, you are suggesting three points to the seeker: One, accept Existence as it is; two, accept yourself as you are; and three, be totally aware of everything you do. For me, these suggestions imply that something actually can be done for enlightenment to happen. To whom are you talking? Who is the listener?
Kiran – This question is asked by the mind. It’s a logical question. You know who I am talking to and who is listening and who is ready for this acceptance. You know it very well. What I really want to say I cannot convey with words. But when I speak to you, I have to use words. That’s why I give the three suggestions to enable people to stop their efforts: Surrender to Existence with total trust; accept yourself as you are, with love; do everything with total awareness.
Madhukar – If you have no teaching and you are not a teacher, what function do you have?
Kiran – I am not teaching anything. Teaching implies some knowledge. Teaching is a demand from the mind for someone to understand something. When you are asking me questions, I am not giving you answers which add to your knowledge. I am just sharing what I have.
Madhukar – What is the difference between sharing and teaching?
Kiran – Sharing is sharing your joy, silence and understanding. Because I am awake, I share my awakening. Because you cry in your dream, I shake you and try to wake you up. You may ask someone in your dream, “Please give me some method or some technique which will awaken me!’’ If that someone answers you and gives you some techniques, he and his methods are also part of the same dream. In fact, you only can be shaken and woken up by someone who is outside the dream. What technique can be applied in a dream? There is no communication possible except to hit you hard and wake you up – shaking you so much so that you wake up. We can share no other thing. When you wake up, you just laugh and I laugh. There is nothing to understand, nothing to know, and nowhere to go. All is a dream. Your practices of methods and techniques for awakening are part of the dream. And the one who is suggesting methods for waking up is also taking part in the dream. You are dreaming about him and he is dreaming about you. No communication is possible.
Madhukar – How do you handle people who make you their guru and become attached to you?
Kiran – At all times, I am very alert that I don’t become part of somebody else’s dream. When I realize that somebody is clinging to me, and he is making me part of his dream, I create a device which forces him to return to his normal waking. If he doesn’t wake up, the device forces him to leave me. On the other hand, if I let him dream and cling to me, I create a situation which compels the seeker to get hooked to me. Then I am not helping him, I am harming him. This may sound contradictory. But it is the bitter truth. That is why a real teacher does not allow the student to hang on to him. Rather, he hits him, shakes him, and wakes him up. Therefore, one always hates the person who wakes one up from one’s dream – more so when the dream was very beautiful.
Madhukar – Are you a guru?
Kiran – I share what I have understood. I don’t claim,“I am enlightened” or “I am awakened” or “I am a free bird.’’ I have come to my home, to my own natural space. It is so beautiful there. I invite you all to partake. I want to share it. I don’t want it all for myself. I don’t want it for my own exclusive enjoyment. It belongs to you too. I am not afraid of any comments. If somebody misunderstands me, it is his problem. In spite of misunderstandings, I go on hammering and pounding until somebody wakes up and laughs with me. If it was possible for me to wake up, why should it not be possible for you too? Existence is speaking through me.
Madhukar – You say that enlightenment has no cause and that no effort can help it to occur. Why then do you give satsangs and take us out on picnics with you?
Kiran – I am just making all the efforts to wake you up to the understanding that there is no effort to be made and nothing to reach. To tell you this, I need some excuse. Therefore, I create the excuse with the name “satsang.” Because you understand only your language, I have to speak in that language. That’s why I am just calling you to come to me in the name of satsang. When you are here, I am talking to you. I am simply waking you up to the fact of my understanding, which is: There is nothing to do. You must only understand the whole game of the mind. I repeat myself endlessly every evening in our meetings which are called satsang. There is no sat, there is no sang!
Madhukar –I like your term “friendly meeting”.
Kiran -Yes, this is just a friendly meeting in which a friend is speaking with another friend. I am just standing at the corner of the street, telling people that this road doesn’t lead anywhere. If I stood on the street silently, you wouldn’t listen to me or understand me. Therefore, I create a small shop, a guide shop to which you can come to ask for directions. When you visit my shop, I can tell you, “Please, don’t take the path of doing and effort. It doesn’t lead to enlightenment.’’ The purpose of the signboard ‘Guide’ is to attract the people so that they can be told the truth.
Madhukar – You could put up another sign that reads, “No way!’’
Kiran – Once the people come to my shop, I tell them, “There is the no way!” [laughter ] The signboard, ‘Guide’ gives the impression that there is somebody who is able to show the way. I am sitting in the shop playing the guide. The seekers are attracted to the guide. When they enter my shop, I show them that there is no way. Therefore satsang is just an excuse. A picnic is also an excuse. In your language: to picnic means to be together in nature and share some food. I use the occasion to tell you that there is no way to reach enlightenment through effort. I say, “Just eat, relax, and don’t expect anything.’’ Is that difficult? Wherever I am, I say the same thing: “Just go inside yourself! Look within and wake up!’’ I am using all these tricks to make you listen to this simple understanding.
A native of Germany, Berthold Madhukar Thompson left the West in 1980 after achieving success as a businessman, becoming a fervent disciple of Osho. After his master died in January 1990, Thompson became a student of Sri H.W.L. Poonja, and served as his personal assistant. On several occasions, Poonjaji publicly declared that Thompson had attained enlightenment, but he eventually left his teacher, believing him to be mistaken. The author has since 1993, pursued an ever-deepening dialogue with enlightened adepts throughout India and in the U.S.