Dharanasu cha yojnata manasah.


Dharana is not only concentration. “Concentration” gives a little glimpse into the nature of dharana, but dharana is a bigger concept than concentration. So let me explain it to you.

The Indian word dharma also comes from dharana. Dharana means: the capacity to contain, the capacity to become a womb. When, after pranayam, you have become in tune with the whole, you become a womb – a great capacity to contain. You can contain the whole. You become so vast that anything can be contained. But why has dharana been continuously translated as “concentration”? Because “concentration” gives a little glimpse into it. What is concentration? To remain with a single idea for a long time is concentration, to contain a single idea for a long time.

If I tell you to just concentrate on a picture with a monkey inside, try so that you remain with the concept of the monkey, the picture of the monkey and nothing else – it will be very difficult for you. A thousand and one things will interfere.

In fact, only the monkey will not be there and everything else will be there, the monkey will disappear again and again and again.

It becomes so difficult for the mind to contain anything. Mind is very narrow. It can contain something only for a few seconds, then it loses it. It is not vast; it cannot remain with one thing for long. That is one of the deepest problems of humanity. You fall in love with a woman or a man; then the next day the mind is moving to somebody else. One day, and you cannot contain. You cannot be in love with the same person for long; even hours is too much. Your mind goes on wandering all over the world.

You were hankering for a car for many days. You struggled; somehow you managed. Now the car is there in your drive – but finished. Now the mind is moving somewhere else again – the neighbor’s car. And the same will happen with that car also. The same has been happening for ever and ever: you cannot contain. Even if you reach, to a point, soon you lose it.

Dharana means the capacity to contain – because if you want to know God you will have to become capable to contain him. If you want to know your innermost being you will have to create the capacity to become the womb for it. You will have to give a rebirth to yourself. Concentration is only a fragment of it. Dharana is a very wide word; it is very, very comprehensive. It contains more than concentration; concentration is only one part of it.

“And then the mind becomes fit for concentration.” I would like to translate it: “And then the mind becomes a womb.” When I say “a womb” I mean: a woman contains a child for nine months in her own being, like a seed she carries it.

Hindus have called a woman the earth, because she carries the child, the seed of the child, just as the earth carries a seed of a great oak tree, for months together.

When the seed settles deep into the soil, loses all fear, is no longer a stranger on the earth, starts feeling at home…. Remember, a seed has first to feel at home, only then the shell breaks; otherwise the shell will not break. When the seed starts feeling that this earth is motherly – now there is no need to protect oneself, there is no need to carry the armor of the shell around – it becomes loose. By and by, the shell breaks and disappears into the earth. Now the seed is no longer a stranger; he has found the mother. And then the sprout comes up.

In India we have called a woman the earth element and man the sky element – because man is a wanderer. He cannot contain much. And it happens every day: if a woman falls in love with a man, she can remain in love for her whole life.

That is easier for her – she knows how to contain one idea deep, and remain with it. Man is a vagabond, a wanderer. If there were no women there would have been no homes in the world – at the most, tents – because man is a wanderer. He would not like to live in the same place for ever and ever. He would not create stone palaces and marble palaces, no; that is too static. He will have a vagabond’s tent so any moment he can remove it, move somewhere else.

There would have been no men if there were no women. Home exists because of the women. In fact the whole civilization exists because of the women. Man would have remained a nomad, moving. And that remains his mind still: even though he lives in the home, his being goes on moving. He cannot contain; he has no capacity to become a womb.

That’s why this has been my feeling: that women can move in meditation more easily than men. It is difficult for a man; his mind wavers more, tricks him into new traps, always is on the move, always thinking of going to the Himalayas, to Goa, to Nepal, to Kabul – somewhere. A woman can settle down; she can remain in one place. There is no inner urgency to move.

And then the mind becomes fit to become a womb – because only through that womb a new being is to be born to you. You are going to be born to yourself; you have to carry yourself in your womb. Concentration is part of it. It is beautiful to learn concentration. If you can remain with one idea for long, you become capable of the higher possibility of remaining one and the same for a long period – because if you cannot remain one and the same for a long period, you will be distracted by the objects: one car, then another car; one house, then another house; one woman, then another woman; this post, then another post. You will be distracted by objects. You will not be able to come back home.

When no object distracts you, only then is the return possible. A mind which can remain in deep patience, like a mother, can wait, can remain unmoving, only that mind can come to know one’s own divinity.


Unless you can renounce the distractions of the outside objects, you cannot move inward, because they will go on calling you again and again and again. It is just like you are meditating, but in the meditation room you are keeping your phone also. It goes on ringing again and again and again – how can you meditate? You have to put your phone off the hook.

And it is not a question of one telephone. There are millions of objects around you – millions of telephones ringing continuously when you are trying to meditate. A part of your mind says, “What are you doing? This is the time to go to the market, because this is the time the richest customer is to come. Why are you wasting your time sitting here doing nothing?” Another part of the mind says something else – and there are a thousand and one pieces and fragments in the mind. They all go on ringing continuously to attract your attention. If this continues, pratyahara is not possible. How will you be able to go inwards?

One has to drop the periphery interests, the distractions, only then return becomes possible.

“The fifth constituent of yoga, pratyahara – returning to the source – is the restoration of the mind’s ability to control the senses by renouncing the distractions of outside objects.” “By renouncing the distractions”: how does one renounce the distractions? Can you simply take a vow that “Now I renounce my interest in riches,” or, “my interest in women,” “men”? Just by taking a vow it is not possible. In fact just the opposite will happen if you take a vow. If you say, “I renounce all my interest in women,” then your mind will be much too filled with the pictures of women; you will visualize more. In fact, if you renounce, by the will, you will be more in the mess. Many people have been doing that.

When old sannyasin come to me they always say, “What to do with sex? It goes on hammering in the mind, and it hammers more than before. And we have renounced, so what to do now?” The more you renounce, without understanding, just by the willpower, the more you will be in trouble.

Understanding is needed; will is not needed. Will is part of the ego.

And if you try to – will something, you are already divided in two – you start fighting. If you say, “I will not be interested in women,” why are you saying it? If you are not really interested – finished. What is the point of saying it? Why do you go in public to take a vow in some temple before some guru in a public ceremony? What is the point? If you are no longer interested you are no longer interested. Finished. Why make a show of it? Why be an exhibitionist? No, the need is different. You are not finished yet; in fact, you are deeply attracted.

But you are frustrated also. Every time you were in a relationship you were frustrated. Frustration is there, attraction is there – both are there, that is the misery. Now you are seeking some shelter where you can renounce it: you seek the society. If you renounce the interest in women before a big crowd, then your ego will say, “Now it is not good to move in that direction,” because the whole society knows that you have taken a vow of brahmacharya. Now it is against your ego; now you have to fight for it.

And with whom are you fighting? – Your own sex, your will against your own sex. It is as if your left hand is fighting with your right hand. It is foolish; it is stupid. You will never be able to be victorious.

Then how does one renounce? One renounces by understanding, one renounces by experiencing, one renounces by maturity – not by a vow. If you want to renounce anything, live it through and through. Don’t be afraid and scared.

Move to the deepest point in it, so that you understand. Once a thing is understood, it can be dropped without any effort on the part of the will. If will is involved you will be in trouble. Never renounce anything willfully, with will.

Never use willpower to do anything; otherwise you will be in trouble. Will is one of the most misery-creating phenomena in you.

Just by a tacit understanding know well that life is a school to be passed through, and don’t be in a hurry. If still you feel that a lingering desire is there for money, it is better not to pray. Go, and accumulate money and be finished with it. It is nonsense, so if you have intelligence you will be finished soon. If you don’t have intelligence enough then you will take a little more time: experience will give you intelligence. Experience is the only way; there is no other shortcut. It may take a long time, but nothing can be done – man is helpless. He has to attain – to intelligence through experience. And all that you know well can be dropped. In fact to say that it is dropped is not right: it drops by itself.

By renouncing the distractions of outside objects one becomes capable of pratyahara, returning home. Now there is no longer any interest in the outside world, so you don’t move in a thousand and one directions. Now you would like to know yourself; the desire to know oneself replaces all other desires. Only one desire is left now: to know oneself.

Tatah parama vashyate indriyanam.


When you are returning home, inwards, suddenly you become the master. This is the beauty of the process. If you are moving outwards you remain a slave – and a slave to millions of things. Your slavery is infinite, because infinite are the objects of your desire.

It happened: Osho was a teacher in a university. Just next to him a professor used to live. Osho has never come across such a miserly man; he was really extraordinary.

He had enough money; his father had left much. He and his wife lived alone.

Enough money, a big house, everything – but he used such a bicycle that it was known all over the town.

That bicycle was something of a miracle. Nobody else could use it: it was in such a ruin it was impossible to use it. It was known all over the town that he never locked the bicycle, because there was no need – nobody could steal it. People had tried, and returned it. He would go to the theater; he would leave the bicycle outside. He would not put it on the stand, because one anna would have to be paid. He would leave it anywhere, and after three hours when he would come, he would always find it there. It had no mudguards, no horn, no chain cover, and it made such a noise that you could hear from one mile that that professor was coming.

By and by, he became friendly with Osho. So Osho suggested to him, “This is too much, and everybody laughs about your cycle. Why don’t you get rid of it?”

He said, “What to do? I have been trying to sell it, but nobody is ready to purchase it.”

“Nobody is ready to purchase it because it is not worth anything. You simply go and throw it in the river – and thank God if somebody doesn’t bring it back!” He said, “I will think about it.” But he couldn’t.

So, his next birthday was coming and Osho purchased a new cycle, the best that was available, and presented it to him. He was very happy. The next day I was waiting to see him on the new bicycle but he was again on the old. So I asked, “What is the matter?”

He said, “The cycle you have given to me is so beautiful, I cannot use it.”

It became a worship object. He would clean it every day; I would see that he was cleaning it. He would clean it and polish it and do and…. Always, it was there in his house as a showpiece, and he was running on his bicycle – four, five miles going to the college; four, five miles coming to the market – the whole day. It was impossible to persuade him to use it. He would say, “Today it is raining,” “Today it is too hot,” and, “I have just polished it. And you know how the students are – they are mischievous – somebody may scratch it. I will have to leave it outside the college, and somebody may scratch it and destroy it.”

He never used it, and as far as Osho knows he must be still worshipping it. There are people who are worshipping objects. Osho told that professor, “You are not the master of the cycle, the cycle has become master of you. In fact, I was thinking that I have given you a present of a cycle – now I can say to the cycle, ‘I have given you the present of this professor.’” The cycle is the master.

If you desire things you are never the master, and that is the difference: you can be in a palace, but if you use it, it doesn’t matter. You may be in a hut, but if you don’t use it and the hut uses you, you may look poor to the people from the outside, but you are not: you are obsessed with possessions. A man can live in a palace and be a hermit; and a man can live in a hut and not be a hermit. The quality of being a hermit depends on the quality of your mastery. If you use things, it is good; but if you are used, you are behaving very stupidly.

Patanjali says, “Then comes the complete mastery over all the senses’” – and the objects of senses… only through pratyahara, when you become the most important thing in your life. Nothing is comparable to it. When everything can be sacrificed to your own self-knowledge, your being, when kingdoms are worthless – if you have to choose between your inner kingdom and the kingdom of the outside you will choose your inner kingdom – at that moment, for the first time, you are no longer a slave: you have become a master. In India for sannyasins, we have been using the word swami – swami means “the master,” the master of the senses.

Otherwise, you are all slaves – and slaves of dead things, slaves of the material world.

And unless you become a master, you will not be beautiful. You will be ugly, you will remain ugly. Unless you become a master you will remain in hell. To be a master of oneself is to enter heaven. That is the only paradise there is.

Pratyahara makes you that master. Pratyahara means: now you are not moving after the things, not chasing, hunting things. The same energy that was moving in the world is now moving towards the center. When the energy falls to the center, revelations upon revelations reveal. You become for the first time manifested to yourself – you know who you are. And that knowledge, who I am, makes you a god.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is right when he says about man, “How godlike.” Pavlov is wrong when he says about man, “How doglike.” But, if you are chasing things, Pavlov is true, Hamlet wrong. If you are chasing things then Skinner is true, Lewis is wrong.

Let me repeat: “Man is being abolished,” says C. S. Lewis. “Good riddance,” says B. F. Skinner. “How like a god,” says Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “How like a dog,” says Pavlov. It is for you to choose what you would like to be. If you go inward, you become a god. If you go outwards, Pavlov is true.


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