“What is Inner Voice?” – OSHO


The first thing: the inner voice is not a voice, it is silence. It says nothing. It shows something, but it says nothing. It gestures towards something, but it says nothing. The inner voice is not a voice. If you are still hearing some voice, it is not inner. ‘Inner voice’ is a misnomer, it is not the right word. Only silence is inner. All voices are from the outside.

For example: you are going to steal something and you say the ‘inner voice’ says: Don’t steal! — this is sin! This is not the inner voice — just your conditioning: you have just been taught not to steal. This is society speaking through you. It appears to be from within, but it is not. If you had been brought up in some other way and you were not taught that stealing was bad, or you were taught that stealing was good, then this inner voice would not have been there — and you know it.

If you have been brought up in a family which is vegetarian, then the moment you see non-veg food, some inner voice says: Don’t eat it — it is sin! But if you have been brought up in a non-vegetarian family, then there is no problem. You simply cannot believe how inner voices say to other people: Don’t eat it! It depends on what you have been taught.

This is not an inner voice, this is just your social conscience. Society has to create an inner arrangement in you because the outer arrangement is not enough. The police are there but it is not enough — the police can be deceived. The courts are there but it is not enough, because you can be more clever than the courts. The outer arrangement is not enough; some inner arrangement is needed.

So society teaches you that stealing is bad; this is good, that is bad. It goes on teaching, continuously repeating it; it enters into your being, it becomes part of your inner world. So when you go to steal, suddenly somebody inside says: No! And you think the inner voice or God has spoken. No, nothing of the sort. This is just society speaking in you.

Then what is the inner voice? You are going to steal, and suddenly you become silent and you cannot steal. Suddenly you are frozen. A gap arises. Your energy stops. Not that somebody says: Don’t steal! No voice is there — just inner silence. But you are in the grip of the inner silence.

The inner voice is not a voice, it is an energy phenomenon. You are gripped in awareness, in silence. And in that silence, whatsoever you do is right; whatsoever is not right you cannot do.

So I don’t tell you not to do this, and do that. I simply tell you what Nagarjuna told the thief: Just be aware!

If you are not aware, then you will have to choose. If you are not aware, then there is always a choice of alternatives — to do this or to do that — and one is always puzzled. If awareness is there, there is no alternative. Awareness is choiceless. It simply allows you to do that which is right; it does not allow you to do that which is not right. There is no question of your choice. So don’t ask how far one can rely on one’s inner voice.

The first thing: the inner voice is not a voice — it is silence. The second thing: you need not be worried about relying on “how far.” Just remain in that inner space of silence, total science. Virtue is a by-product, it is not a discipline. It follows awareness like a shadow, a consequence.

– OSHO [The Search – 7]

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