The Journey of Being Human: Is It Possible to Find Real Happiness in Ordinary Life?

The Journey of Being Human: Is It Possible to Find Real Happiness in Ordinary Life?

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by Osho

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Man is a bridge, says Osho, between the animal and the divine - and our awareness of this dual aspect of our nature is what makes us human. It is also what makes us restless, full of conflict, so often at the crossroads of selfishness and generosity, of love and hate, frailty and strength, hope and despair. The Journey of Being Human looks into how we might

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Man is a bridge, says Osho, between the animal and the divine - and our awareness of this dual aspect of our nature is what makes us human. It is also what makes us restless, full of conflict, so often at the crossroads of selfishness and generosity, of love and hate, frailty and strength, hope and despair. The Journey of Being Human looks into how we might embrace and accept these apparent contradictions, rather than trying to choose between them, as the key to transforming each twist and turn of life's journey into a new discovery of who we are meant to be.

The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on the most important questions in the life of the individual. Each volume contains timeless and always-contemporary investigations and discussions into questions vital to our personal search for meaning and purpose. The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on questions specific to our inner life and quality of existence, for example: Is it possible to have an authentic spirituality without a belief in God? What is meditation and how does it work? What can I do as an individual to make the world a better place?

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The Journey of Being Human
Man is the only conscious being on the earth; that is his glory and that is his agony, too. It depends on you whether it will be agony or glory. Consciousness is a double-edged sword. You have been given something so valuable that you don’t know what to do with it; it is almost like a sword in the hands of a child. The sword can be used rightly, can protect, but the sword can harm, too. Anything that can become a blessing can also become a curse; it depends how you use it.

I have heard you say that life itself is so fulfilling, so overflowing, so blissful—then what is it that makes a person miserable?
Life is overflowing, life is blissful, but man has lost contact with life. He has become too self-conscious. That self-consciousness functions as a barrier, and one remains alive yet not truly alive. Self-consciousness is the disease.
The birds are happy, the trees are happy, the clouds and the rivers are happy, but they are not self-conscious. They are simply happy. They don’t know that they are happy.
Buddha is happy, Krishna is happy, Christ is happy, but they are pure consciousness. They are happy, but they don’t know that they are.
There is a similarity between unconscious nature and supraconscious beings. Unconscious nature has no self, and the supraconscious beings also have no self. Man is just in between. He is no longer an animal, no longer a tree, no longer a rock, and yet not a buddha. Hanging in between is the misery.
Just the other day a new seeker wrote me a letter, saying, “Osho, I don’t want to become a sannyasin, I don’t want to become superhuman like Buddha or Christ. I simply want to become just human. Help me to become just human.”
Now, this is too ambitious, and it is impossible. Just to be human is impossible. Try to understand it. Because that means you are saying, “Let me just remain the process, in the middle.” Man is not a state, man is only a process. For example, if a child says, “I don’t want to become a youth, I don’t want to become old. Let me just remain a child”—is it possible?
The child is already becoming a youth, he is on the way. Childhood is not a state; you cannot remain in it, you cannot stick to it, it is a process. Childhood is already going, youth is already coming. And so is youth going; howsoever hard you try to remain young, your efforts are doomed to fail because youth is already turning into old age.
Just to be human, you ask—you ask the impossible. You are too ambitious. You can become a buddha, that is simpler. You can become a god, that is simpler. But to say that you would like to just remain human is impossible because humanity is just a passage, a voyage, a journey, a pilgrimage. It is a process, not a state. You cannot remain human. If you try too hard to remain human, you will become inhuman. You will start falling. If you don’t go ahead, you will start slipping backward … but you will have to go somewhere. You cannot remain static.
To be human simply means to be on the way of being a god, and nothing else. God is the goal. To be human is the journey, the way. The way can never be permanent, it cannot become eternal. Otherwise it will be very tiring. The goal will never arrive then, and you will be just on the journey, on the journey, on the journey.
To hope is to be human. But to hope means to hope to go beyond. To hope means to desire beyond. To hope means to hope to surpass, to transcend. This is really the state of a human being—that he is always surpassing, going, going … somewhere else is the goal.
The person who has asked it must be a beautiful person, in fact ready for sannyas—but he does not understand what he is saying.
Man is miserable because man has to be miserable. It is nothing of your fault, it is nothing like that you are in some error. To be human is to be miserable, because to be human is to be in the middle—neither here nor there, but hanging in limbo. Anguish arises because of the tension.
One home is lost—the home where birds are still singing, animals still moving, trees still flowering—the Garden of Eden. That one home is lost. Adam has been turned out; Adam has become human. When Adam was in the Garden of Eden he was an animal; he was not an Adam, he was not a man. God turned him out of the garden. That very expulsion became humanity.
Man is expelled from one home so that he can search for another home—bigger, higher, deeper, greater. One home is lost, there is a nostalgia; man wants to become animal. It is very difficult to forget that Garden of Eden; it was so beautiful. And there are moments we become animal-like—in deep anger, in violence, in war. That’s the enjoyment of being angry.
Why do you feel so happy in being angry? Why do you feel such a rush of energy in destroying something? Why in wartime do people look more radiant, more healthy, more sharp, more intelligent?—as if life is no longer a boredom. What happens? Man falls back. Even for a few days, a few months, man again is an animal. Then he knows no law, then he knows no humanity, then he knows no god. Then he simply drops his self-consciousness, becomes unconscious, and murders, kills, rapes—everything is allowed in war. That’s why man needs war continuously. After each ten years a big war is needed, and small wars have to be continued all the time. Otherwise it will be difficult for man to live.
Man becomes a drunkard, becomes a drug addict. Through drugs, man tries to reclaim the lost home, the lost paradise. When you are under the influence of LSD, you are back in the Garden of Eden—from the back door. LSD is the back door of the Garden of Eden. Again life seems psychedelic, colorful; again trees look luminous as they must have looked to Adam and Eve, as they must be right now for birds and tigers and monkeys. The green has a luminosity to it. Everything looks so beautiful. You are no longer human, you have fallen back. You have forced your being to fall back; hence tremendous appeal exists in alcoholic beverages and drugs. Since the very beginning of human history, man has been after drugs.
In the Vedas they called it soma, now they call it LSD, but it is not a different thing. Sometimes it was ganja, bhang, now it is marijuana and other things, but it is the same old game.
Chemically it is possible to fall back, but you cannot really go back. There is no going back; time does not allow that. One has just to go forward.
You cannot move backward in time. The reverse gear does not exist. When Ford made his first car, there was no reverse gear. Only later on they realized that it was very difficult to come back home. You had to take long turns, travel unnecessary miles; then you could come back. Then the reverse gear was added as a later thought. But in time, there is no reverse gear; you cannot go back.
Man has dreamed about it, fantasized about it. There are science fiction stories in which man can go back into time. H. G. Wells had an idea of a time machine, where you sit in the machine and you put it in the reverse gear and you start moving backward. You are young, you become a child, then you become a baby, then you are in the womb. Backward you start moving. But no time machine exists. It exists only in poets’ minds, in fantasies.
To go back is not possible. There is only one possibility—to go ahead.
Man has to remain in anguish. There are only two ways—either make it possible to go back, or to go beyond humanity. Humanity is a bridge. You cannot make a house on it. It has to be passed. It is not to be lived upon.
When the Mohammedan mogul emperor, Akbar, built a special city, Fatchpur Seekeri, he asked his wise men to find something, a maxim to put on top of the bridge that joined the city to the rest of the world. They looked, they searched, and they found a saying of Jesus. It does not exist in the Bible; it must have come from some other source, from Sufis. There were many Sufis in Akbar’s court. The saying is: “The world is like a bridge—don’t make your house on it.” The saying is still there on the bridge; it is beautiful. That’s how it is.
Humanity is a bridge. Don’t try to be just human, otherwise you will become inhuman. Try to become superhuman; that is the only way to be human. Try to become a god; that is the only way to be human. There is no other way. Have your goal somewhere in the stars, only then you grow.
And man is a growing phenomenon, a process. If you don’t have any goal, growth stops. Then you are stuck, then you become stagnant and stale. That’s what has happened to millions of people in the world. Look at their faces—they look like zombies, as if they are asleep or drugged, stoned.
What is happening to these people’s hearts? They don’t show any freshness, aliveness, no spurt of life, no flame … dull. What is happening to them? They have missed something. They are missing something. They are not doing that for which they are made, they are not fulfilling that destiny which has to be fulfilled.
A man is here to become superman. Let superman be your goal. Then only will you be able to be man, and at ease.
The more you will be transforming into a superman, the more you will find you are not in anguish, not in anxiety. The buds are coming soon, there will be great rejoicing. Soon there will be blossoms. You can wait, you can hope, you can dream.
When you are not going anywhere, when you are trying just to be human, then the river has stopped flowing. Then the river is not going toward the ocean. Because to go to the ocean means to have a desire to become the ocean. Otherwise why go toward the ocean? Going toward the ocean means merging into the ocean, becoming the ocean.
Godliness is the goal. You can be human only if you go on making all efforts, all possible efforts, to become divine. In those very efforts, your humanity will start shining. In those very efforts, you will become alive.
Life is fulfilling, but you are not in contact with life. Old contact is lost, new has not been made. You are in a transmission, hence you are so dull, hence life looks so mediocre, sad, boring—even futile.
Says Jean-Paul Sartre: Man is a useless passion—futile, impotent passion, unnecessarily making much fuss about life, and there is nothing in it … meaningless is life. The more you become enclosed in your self, the more life becomes meaningless. Then you are miserable. Then misery has some other payoffs.
When you are happy you are ordinary, because to be happy is just to be natural. To be miserable is to become extraordinary. Nothing is special in being happy—trees are happy, birds are happy, animals are happy, children are happy. What is special in that? It is just the usual thing in existence. Existence is made of the stuff called happiness. Just look!—can’t you see these trees?… so happy. Can’t you see the birds singing?… so happily. Happiness has nothing special in it. Happiness is a very ordinary thing.
To be blissful is to be absolutely ordinary. The self, the ego, does not allow that. That’s why people talk too much about their miseries. They become special just by talking about their miseries. People go on talking about their illnesses, their headaches, their stomachs, their this’s and that’s. All people are in some way or other hypochondriacs. And if somebody does not believe in your misery, you feel hurt. If somebody sympathizes with you and believes in your misery—even in your exaggerated version of it—you feel very happy. This is something stupid, but has to be understood.
Misery makes you special. Misery makes you more egoistic. A miserable man can have a more concentrated ego than a happy man. A happy man really cannot have the ego, because a person becomes happy only when there is no ego. The more egoless, the more happy; the more happy, the more egoless. You dissolve into happiness. You cannot exist together with happiness; you exist only when there is misery. In happiness there is dissolution.
Have you ever seen any happy moment? Watched it? In happiness, you are not. When you are in love, you are not. If love has ever made its abode in your heart, even for a few moments, you are not. When you see the beautiful sun rising, or a full moon night, or a silent lake, or a lotus flower, suddenly you are not. When there is beauty, you are not. When there is love, you are not.
Hearing someone, if you feel there is truth, you simply disappear in that moment. You are not, truth is. Whenever there is something of the beyond, you are not; you have to make space for it. You are only when there is misery. You are only when there is a lie. You are only when there is something wrong. You are only when the shoe does not fit.
When the shoe fits perfectly, you are not. When the shoe fits perfectly, you forget the feet, you forget the shoe. When there is no headache, there is no head. If you want to feel your head, you will need a headache, that is the only way.
To be is to be miserable. To be happy is not to be. That’s why Buddha says there is no self. He is creating a path for you to become absolutely blissful. He is saying there is no self so that you can drop it. It is easy to drop something when it is not. It is easy to drop something when you understand that it is not, it is just imagination.
Mulla Nasruddin was telling his friends in the tavern one day about his family. “Nine boys,” he said, “and all good except Abdul. He learned to read.”
Now when a person learns to read, difficulties arise; now the self is arising. In villages, people are more happy. They are closer to animals than in big cities—they are far away. In primitive societies, the aboriginals are more happy. They are closer to trees and nature than in London, Tokyo, Mumbai, New York. Trees have disappeared, only asphalt roads—absolutely false—concrete buildings, all man-made.
In fact, if suddenly somebody from outer space comes to Mumbai, New York, Tokyo, London, he will not find any signature of god there. All is man-made. Looking at Tokyo or Mumbai, one will think man made the world. These concrete buildings, these asphalt roads, this technology—all is man-made. The farther away you go from nature, the farther away you go from happiness … the more and more you are learning to read.
God expelled Adam because he ate from the tree of knowledge—he started learning to read. God threw Adam out—he became knowledgeable. A man is bound to be more miserable if he is more knowledgeable. The misery is always in exact proportion with your knowledgeability.
Knowledgeability is not knowing. Knowing is innocence; knowledgeability is cunningness. It is very difficult for an educated person not to be cunning. It is almost impossible, because the whole training is cunning. The training is of logic, not of love. And the training is for doubt, not for trust. And the training is to be suspicious, not to be trusting. And the training is that everybody is trying to deceive you, so be aware. And before somebody else tries to cheat you, cheat—because that is the only way to be protected.
Says Machiavelli: The best way to defend oneself is to be aggressive. You see, all the governments of the world call their military organization, army, the “defense.” They are all arrangements for attack, but they call it “defense.” Even Hitler called his military his “defense.” Nobody down the ages has ever said, “I am attacking.” They say, “We are defending.” They all follow Machiavelli. They all respect Mahavira, Mohammed, Moses, and they all follow Machiavelli. As far as respect is concerned, go to the temple, read the Bible. But as far as actual life is concerned, read The Prince, read Machiavelli, read Chanakya.
In Delhi, the Indian capital where politicians live, they call it Chanakya Puri—the city of the Machiavelli. Chanakya is the Indian counterpart of Machiavelli, even more dangerous than Machiavelli. The more a person becomes educated, the more Machiavellian, cunning.
When Machiavelli’s book The Prince was published, he was thinking that all the kings of Europe would invite him, and he would be posted on a high post as an advisor to some king, But nobody called him. The book was read, the book was followed, but nobody called Machiavelli. He was surprised. He inquired. Then he came to know that reading his book they had become afraid of him. He was so cunning that to give him a big post was dangerous. If he followed his own book, he would destroy, he would throw the king away. Sooner or later he would become the king. He lived a poor man’s life, he could never get into any powerful post.
Education makes you more cunning. Of course, education makes you more miserable. To be religious is to wipe out all this nonsense. To be religious means to learn how to unlearn, how to uneducate yourself again. Whatsoever the world has conditioned you for, you have to uncondition it. Otherwise you are in clutches. Man is miserable because man is caught in his own net. He has to come out of it—and only a distant star will be helpful.
Maybe there is no god. I’m not worried about it. But you need a god, a distant star to move toward. Maybe by the time you reach there you will not find God, but you will have become a god by that time. Reaching to that star, you will have grown.
Man is miserable because man has learned the tricks to be miserable. Ego is the base of it. Man is miserable because bliss, happiness, is so obviously available—that creates the trouble.
The first time I met Mulla Nasruddin happened this way: I saw him fishing in a lake. I had not heard about him. I watched him. Hours passed, not a single fish. I asked him, “What are you doing here? Just close by there is another lake, and don’t you know?—there are lots of fish there.”
He said, “I know. There are so much fish in that lake that it is even difficult for them to swim. The lake is full of fish.”
“But then why are you sitting here? I don’t see any fish at all.”
He said, “That’s why I am sitting here. What is the point of fishing in the other lake? Any fool can do that. To fish here is something!”
The ego goes on fishing in lakes where fishes are not. That which is obvious, that which is available, is not attractive. That’s why we miss God. God is available, God is your very surround. He is the very atmosphere we breathe in and out. He is our very life. He is the ocean in which we live, are born, and will dissolve. But he is so close, no distance. How to feel him?
Watch it in your own life. Whatsoever you have loses interest for you. You have a beautiful house. It is beautiful only for your neighbors, not for you. You have a beautiful car. It is beautiful only for others who don’t have cars, it is not beautiful for you. You have a beautiful woman or a beautiful man—it does not make any appeal. You have it, that’s enough. People are attracted only to that which they don’t have. The nonexistential attracts.
I have heard:
“Say, Ramon,” said Mulla Nasruddin, as they met in the street one day, “I have been meaning to ask you something.”
“Go ahead, Mulla,” said his friend.
“My wife is kind of fat. In fact, when she takes off her girdle at night she is one great big blob. Is your wife like that?” questioned Nasruddin.
“Ah, no. My wife has a gorgeous figure. In fact, she is so trim she does not wear anything underneath, and she is a real knockout,” replied Ramon.
“Well,” continued Nasruddin, “my wife is so ugly, she covers her face up at bedtime with creams and curlers. Does not your wife do that?”
“Ah, no. My wife does not need any creams or makeup, and her hair is magnificent,” replied the friend.
“Well, Ramon, I have only one more question. How come you are chasing my wife?” demanded Nasruddin.
That’s the way of the ego—always chasing somebody else’s wife, always chasing something that you don’t have. Once you have, all interest is lost.
So an egoist remains miserable, because to be happy one has to be happy with that which one has. You cannot be happy with that which you don’t have; you can only be unhappy with that. You can be happy only with that which you have. How can you be happy with that which you don’t have? And ego is always interested only in that which you don’t have.
You have ten thousand dollars—ego is no longer interested in it. It is interested in twenty thousand. By the time you have twenty thousand, it is no longer interested in it. It is interested only in thirty thousand. And so on, so forth … it goes on.
The ego only gives you goals, but whenever those goals arrive, it does not allow you to celebrate. One becomes more and more miserable! As life passes, we go on gathering misery, we go on piling up misery. And it is very difficult to realize this—that you are causing your own misery; that is against the ego. So you throw the responsibility on others.
If you are miserable you think the society is such, your parents were wrong. If you listen to Freudians, they will say it is because of your parents, your parental conditionings. If you listen to Marxists, they will say it is because of the social structure, the society. If you listen to the politicians, they say because it is the wrong type of government. If you listen to the educationists, they say because some other type of education is needed.
Nobody says that you are responsible—the responsibility is thrown on others. Then it is impossible to be happy, because if others are making you miserable, then it is beyond you to be happy—unless the whole world is changed according to you.
Now it is difficult to choose your parents. It has already happened. What to do?
Somebody asked Mark Twain, “What does one person need to be really happy?”
He said, “The first thing is that one should choose his parents rightly.”
Now that is impossible, it has already happened. You cannot choose your parents now. One should choose a right society. But you are always in a society. You don’t choose it. You are always in the middle of it. And if you want to create it to your heart’s desire, your whole life will be wasted. And it will never be changed because it is such a big phenomenon, and you are so tiny.
The only hope of any transformation is that you can change yourself. That is the only hope, there is no other hope.
But the ego does not want to take the responsibility. It goes on throwing the responsibility on others. In throwing responsibility on others, you are throwing your freedom also, remember. To be responsible is to be free. To give the responsibility to somebody else is to be a prisoner.
That is the religious standpoint. The religion says you are responsible. That’s why Marx was so much against religion. His reasoning is clear-cut. He knew it perfectly well—that either religion can exist in the world or communism. Both cannot exist together. And he is right: Both cannot exist together. I also agree with him.
Our choices are different. I would like religion to exist, he would like communism to exist, but we agree that both cannot exist together. Because the whole standpoint of communism is that others are responsible for your misery. And the religious standpoint is that except you, nobody else is responsible. The communist says a social revolution is needed for a happy world. The religious person says a personal revolution is needed to be a happy person.
The world is never going to be happy, it has never been so, and it is never going to be so. The world is bound to remain unhappy, only individuals can be happy. It is something personal.
It needs consciousness to be happy. It needs intensity to be happy. It needs awareness to be happy. The world can never be happy because it has no awareness. Society has no soul, only man has it. But it is very difficult for the ego to accept this.
It happened:
Mulla Nasruddin made life very difficult for his associates because he believed he was infallible. Finally one of his workers spoke up. “Nasruddin,” he said, “you surely have not been right all the time?”
“There was one time I was wrong,” admitted Mulla.
“When was that?” asked the surprised worker. He could not believe that Nasruddin would ever admit that he was ever wrong, even one time. He could not believe his own ears. He said, “When was that?”
“The one time,” recalled Mulla Nasruddin, “when I thought I was wrong, but I was really not.”
Ego is tremendously defensive. Ego is never wrong, hence you are in misery. Ego is always infallible, hence you are in misery.
Start looking in the loopholes. Make your ego fallible—and it will fall and disappear. Don’t go on supporting it, otherwise you are supporting your own misery. But we go on supporting it. In good ways, in bad ways, we go on supporting it.
You call somebody a good man, a moral man, a very respectable man. He has his own supports and props for his ego. He goes to the temple every day, to the church, reads the Bible or the Gita, follows the rules of the society. But he is just trying to find props for his ego—he is a religious man, a respectable man, a moral man.
Then there is somebody else who never follows the rules of society—never goes to the church. Whenever he finds any opportunity to break any rule, he enjoys it. He is enjoying another sort of ego—the ego of the criminal, the ego of the immoral person. He says, “I don’t care.” But both are finding supports for the same miserable thing. Both will be in misery.
As Muldoon walked down the street, he pinched a strange woman on the behind, threw a brick through the jewelry store window, and cursed a poor old lady. “That should do it!” he said to himself. “When I make my confession I will have enough to talk about.”
Even when people go to confess, they don’t want to confess small sins—they are not worth confessing. This is the experience of many priests of many religions—that people exaggerate their sins. When they come to confess, they exaggerate. They may have killed an ant and they think they have killed an elephant. They exaggerate, because it is not ego-fulfilling to do such a small thing.
The ways of the ego are very subtle. If you go to the jail and you listen to the talk of the people confined there, you will be surprised. They all go bragging that they have done so many robberies, and they have killed so many people. They may not have done anything at all, but there—that is the way of the ego. Then you are miserable, and then you become worried. Why? You create a barrier between you and life. Ego is nothing but barrier.
When I say drop the ego I mean drop all demarcation lines. You are not separate from life, you are part of it.… Like a wave, you are part of the ocean. You are not separate at all. Neither as a saint are you separate, nor as a sinner are you separate. You are not separate at all. You are one with life. You are neither dependent on life, nor are you independent of life—you are interdependent.
When you understand that we are all interdependent, linked with each other … life is one; we are just manifestations of it … then you start becoming blissful. Then there is nobody who can prevent you from bliss.
Bliss is very obvious. Bliss is very close. Bliss is so natural and so close that mind tends to forget it. Every child is born in a blissful state, and every person—almost every person—dies in tremendous misery. Only rarely someone—a buddha, a Jesus—dies in a blissful state. What happens? What goes wrong?
When a child is born he is not separate. When the child is in the mother’s womb he is part of the mother, he does not exist separately. Then he is born—then, too, he remains part of the mother. He goes on being fed by the mother. Then he goes on hanging around the mother. Then, by and by, he grows.
This growth can be of two types. If he grows as ordinarily people grow, then he grows into an ego, he becomes hard, he gathers a hard crust around himself, and that will make him miserable. That is not the right way to grow. Something has gone sour, something has gone wrong.
To me, if the mother is religious, if the father is religious, if the family is religious … and when I say religious, I don’t mean that they are Christians or Hindus or Mohammedans or Jains or Buddhists—that has nothing to do with religion. In fact, all these things never allow religion to evolve. If the child is forced into a dogma, into a dogmatic ideology, then the ego will gather, then the ego will become Christian, and the ego will be against the Hindu and against the Mohammedan. Then the ego will become Hindu, and will be against the Christian and against the Mohammedan.
But if the house is really religious—by religious I mean meditative, loving—they help the child to be, but yet without the ego. They help the child to feel more and more the affinity, the unity, that exists. The child has to be helped; he is helpless, he does not know where he is, he does not know where he is going. If he is loved and there is a meditative rhythm in the family and the family vibrates with silence, understanding, the child will start growing into a more organic way of being. He will not feel himself separate, he will start learning how to become part.
That has not happened. I am not telling you to have any grudge about it—but you can do it right now. You can stop helping your ego and you can start dropping the burden. Make it a point not to miss any opportunity where you can feel one with anything. If it is a full-moon night, feel one with the moonlit night. Allow to flow … stream with it, dance, sing … and drop your ego.
There is nothing better than dance for dropping the ego; hence I insist that all meditators should dance. Because if you go really in a whirlwind, if you are really a whirling pool of energy, if you really are in the dance, the dancer is lost. In the dance the dancer is always lost. If it is not lost then you are not dancing. Then you may be performing, then you may be manipulating, then you may be doing some bodily exercises, but you are not dancing.
Dancing means so lost, so drunk—and enjoying the energy that is created by dance. By and by you will see your body is no more so solid as it was before. By and by you will see that you are melting; the boundary is losing its sharpness, it is becoming a little vague. You cannot exactly feel where you end and where the world starts. A dancer is in such a whirlpool, he becomes such a vibration, that the whole life is felt as in one rhythm.
So whenever you can find a time, a place, a situation … you are in love with somebody; don’t miss this opportunity. Don’t talk nonsense, don’t bring your ego and bragging. Drop that! Love is tremendously divine, God has knocked at your door. Be lost. Hold hands with your woman, or with your man, or with your friend. Get lost! Sing together, or dance together—but get lost. Or sit together—but get lost! And feel that you are no more an individual. Sitting by the side of a tree, get lost.
That’s how it happened to Buddha. In that moment the bodhi tree and Buddha became one. For five hundred years after Buddha, Buddha’s statues were not built. Instead, only the bodhi tree’s picture was worshipped. It was tremendously beautiful. Those people must have understood. Just the bodhi tree was worshipped. In Buddhist temples there was just a symbol of the bodhi tree. Because in that moment Buddha completely disappeared. He was not there, only the bodhi tree was. He was completely lost.
Disappearing, you appear. Nonbeing is your way of real being.
And this can happen in ordinary life. You need not go to the Himalayas or to a monastery. There are millions of chances in ordinary life, millions of momentous situations where this can happen. You just have to be a little watchful and a little courageous to use them. Once you start using them, more and more situations will be coming. They have always been coming, but you were not aware so you missed them.
Sitting on the beach taking a sunbath, melt with the sun. It is an energy experience. Suddenly you see you are nothing but sun energy. Melting and meeting with the sun, Hindus came to worship the sun. They said, “The sun is God.” They said, “The moon is God.” They worshipped trees as divine. They worshipped rivers, mountains.
It is very significant. Wherever it happened that they met God … sitting by the side of a river, listening to the beautiful music of the river, seeing the beautiful patterns of ripples, if they got melted, dissolved, the river became the god. It happened there. Sitting on a lonely mountain, they dissolved and disappeared—that mountain became their god.
God comes in millions of ways to you, but your ego never allows you to see him. And he comes in such ordinary ways that you miss. He never comes like a monarch with a great procession, with a great band and noise and fuss. He never comes like that. Only foolish people do that. God comes very silently—he never comes shouting, he comes whispering. You will have to be very quiet to understand his message. It is a love whisper. And man tends to forget the natural.
I have heard a very beautiful joke:
A very naive American went to Paris and got into an argument with a Frenchman about the number of ways to make love.
“There are sixty-nine ways to make love, monsieur,” said the Frenchman.
“I thought there was only one—a man on top of a woman,” said the American.
The Frenchman apologized, “Monsieur,” he said, “I am very sorry. I miscalculated. There are seventy ways to make love.”
Now the most simple, the most natural, the mind tends to forget. The mind is always interested in something exceptional—because that is the interest of the ego. The ego is not interested in the common—and God is very common. The ego is not interested in the simple—and God is very simple. The ego is not interested in the near—and God is very near. That’s how you go on missing bliss and you become miserable.
It is up to you to change it. It is your choice. Each moment of life brings you two alternatives: to be miserable or to be happy. It depends on your choice. Whatsoever you choose you become.
It is said about a Sufi mystic, Bayazid, that he was a tremendously happy man, almost ecstatic. Nobody had ever seen him unhappy, nobody had ever seen him sad, nobody had ever seen him doing anything like grumbling, like complaining. Whatsoever was—and he was happy. It was not always good, it was not always right for others. Sometimes there was no food, but he was happy. Sometimes for days he would live without food, but he was happy. Sometimes there were no clothes, but he was happy. Sometimes he had to sleep under the sky, but he was happy. His happiness remained undisturbed. It was unconditional.
He was asked again and again, but he would laugh and never say. When he was dying somebody asked, “Bayazid, now give us your key, your secret. You will be leaving soon. What was your secret?’
He said, “There is nothing like a secret. It was a simple thing. Every morning when I open my eyes, God gives me two alternatives. He says, ‘Bayazid, do you want to be happy or unhappy?’ I say, ‘But God, I want to be happy.’ And I choose to be happy and I remain happy. It is a simple choice, there is no secret.”
You try it. Every morning when you get up, the first thing, decide. If you decide to be unhappy, nothing is wrong in it. It is your decision. But then stick to it: Remain unhappy whatsoever happens. Even if you win a lottery, don’t be worried—remain unhappy. Even if you are chosen as the prime minister or the president, remain unhappy, stick to your choice. And then you will see—you can remain unhappy if you choose. The same is true about happiness also. If you choose, you can remain happy.
The day you decide that it is your decision to be happy or unhappy, you have taken your life into your hands—you have become a master. Now you will never say that somebody else is making you unhappy. That is a declaration of slavery.
Buddha was passing. A few people gathered and they insulted him very much. He listened to them very attentively, very lovingly. When they were finished, he said, “If you have said all that you wanted to say, can I go now?—because I have to reach the other village by the time the sun sets. If you have still something more to say I will be coming back again after a few days; you can tell me that time.” But he was absolutely undisturbed, his silence remained the same, his happiness the same, his vibration the same.
Those people were puzzled. They said, “Are you not angry with us? We have been insulting you, we have been calling you names.”
Buddha said, “You will have to remain puzzled. You came a little late. You should have come ten years before—then you would have succeeded in disturbing me. Then I was not my own master. Now, it is your freedom to insult me, it is my freedom whether to take it or not. I don’t take it. You insult me, true. That’s your decision. I am free to take it or not to take it, and I say I don’t take it. What will you do with it? I am also puzzled—because in the last village people had come with sweets, and I said that I don’t need them, so they had to take them away. I ask you, what must they have done with the sweets?”
Those people said, “They must have distributed them in the village or they must have eaten them themselves.”
Buddha said, “Now think about you. You come with these insults and I say, ‘Enough. I am finished with this. Nothing doing.’ What will you do? You will have to take them. I am so sorry for you.”
It is your decision. Life is your decision, your freedom.
What is agony and what is ecstasy?
The same. They are not opposites as they are understood to be. They are complementaries, intrinsic parts of one organic whole. Neither can exist without the other.
It will be a little difficult to understand because they have always been thought to be polar opposites. They are polar opposites, seen from the outside. But all polar opposites are joined together from the inside. The negative or positive poles of electricity, the body and soul—from the outside they are not only different but antagonistic. From the inside they are two aspects of one phenomenon.
Let us first try to understand their meaning.
What is agony?
It is not ordinary suffering, misery, pain.
All these are very superficial things, just like ripples on the surface of a pond. They don’t have any depth. You have known many pains, many miseries, many moments of suffering, and you know perfectly well they come and go. They don’t even leave a trace behind them, they don’t leave scars behind.
Yes, while they are there you feel that you are engulfed completely in pain. But when it is gone you know perfectly well that that was only a momentary emotional, sentimental, non-intelligent understanding of the thing. When you were in the cloud, yes, you were engulfed. But the cloud is gone with the wind and you are out of it, and now you know exactly that even in the cloud you were out of it, you were not it.
Note this difference, because that is the fundamental difference.
Agony is not separate from you, it is you.
Pain, suffering, misery, they are all separate from you; hence, momentarily they come and go. They have causes; when the causes are removed they disappear. Mostly they are your creations.
You hope for something, and then it does not materialize: Great frustration comes in. You feel pain, hopelessness, as if you have been rejected by existence. Nothing of the sort has happened—it is all due to your expectation. The bigger the expectation, the bigger is going to be the frustration.
It is within your hands to be frustrated in life or not. Just your expectations should become smaller, smaller, smaller, and in the same proportion the frustration will become smaller. A day will come when there will be no expectation; then you will never come across any frustration.
You think, you imagine, some moments of pleasure—and they don’t materialize, because existence has no obligation to materialize your imaginations. It has never given you any promise that whatever you think is going to happen. You have taken it for granted without any inquiry, as if the whole existence owes you something.
You owe everything to existence.
Existence owes you nothing.
So if you are running to catch shadows, you cannot catch them—it is not in the nature of things. Then there is pain, because you were so much absorbed in running after the shadows that you were feeling a kind of fulfillment. A goal was there; although not in your hands but far away, still it was there. And it was only a question of time, a little more effort. Be a little more American: Try and try and try again—and sooner or later existence is going to yield.
Existence does not care who you are, American or Russian. It never yields to anybody—it simply goes in its own way. By making an effort to fulfill your desires, to force nature, existence, to come behind you, you are creating causes of pain, suffering.
The moment you understand, you drop these causes.
And the dropping of the causes is the disappearance of all your misery.
It was your projection.
There is a Sufi story about a very cunning fox.… All foxes are cunning, but there are politician foxes, too. This happened to be a politician fox, very cunning. One day she woke up and, finding herself very hungry, came out of her cave in search of some breakfast. The sun was rising, and she saw her shadow so long she could not believe it. She said, “My God! I am that big? Now where am I going to get my breakfast? I will need at least one camel; less than that won’t do. My shadow is so big, naturally I must be as big.” It is logical, perfectly Aristotelian. You cannot say she is wrong.
You also know yourself only in the mirror—there is no other way. Have you known yourself in any other way except through a shadow?
So don’t laugh at the poor fox. How can she conceive that a small thing can make such a big shadow? It is very natural to conclude that if the shadow is so big, you must be as big.
And when it comes to feeling oneself big, who wants to argue against it? When anything gives you the sense of bigness, you don’t want to go into details to find whether it is true or wrong, whether it is logically right, scientifically provable. No, your whole being is so enchanted.…
The fox really felt that big. You could see—her walk changed. But where can she find a camel for her breakfast? And even if she can find a camel, it is going to be absolutely pointless; she cannot make a breakfast out of a camel. She searches, she finds many small animals which would have been enough any other day, but today is different. She does not bother about all those small creatures. They will be lost just in her teeth. She needs a camel, an elephant, or something big.
But she finds nothing big. The sun goes on rising higher and higher, and she goes on becoming hungrier and hungrier. When the sun is just exactly above her head she looks again at her shadow: It has shrunken so small it is just underneath her. She says, “My God! Hunger does things to people. Just one morning I have missed breakfast and look what has happened to my poor self! In the morning I was so big; only half a day has passed and this is my situation. Now even if I can get any small creature, that may be too much, I may not be able to digest it.”
This Sufi story is significant. It is our story.
This is our agony: We are trying to become something which is not in the nature of things. We are not allowing nature to take its course; that is our agony.
When I was leaving my parents to go to the hostel in the university, they were persistently asking, “What do you want to become?” And I was telling them, “That question is utter nonsense. How do I know what I am going to become? Only time will show.”
They could not understand me. They said, “Look at all your friends: Somebody is going to become a doctor, somebody is going to become an engineer, somebody is going to be become this, somebody is going to become that. You are the only person who is going to the university without any idea of what you want to become.”
I said, “Becoming is not my number. I want to let things take their course. I would love to find what nature makes of me, but I don’t have any program of my own. To have a program of my own means suffering. That means I am trying to impose something on nature and it is going to fail.”
Man has been failing for thousands of years for the simple reason that he wants to conquer nature.
Someone has even written a book, Conquest of Nature. Nature cannot be conquered. Just look at the foolishness of the idea. You are part of nature, such a small, tiny part of such an infinite nature. And the part is trying to conquer the whole—as if your little finger is trying to conquer you.
How can you conquer nature?
Nature is your very soul.
Who is going to conquer whom?
Where is the separation?
I told my parents, “Please let me go. I am not going to project anything for my future. I want to keep it open so if nature desires anything of me, I am available. If nothing is desired of me that, too, is perfectly good. Who am I to expect that something should be desired of me? One day I was not, one day I will not be. Just a few days in between—why make much fuss about it? Can’t you pass silently across this little interval between birth and death without making noise, raising flags, and shouting slogans?
“Can’t you simply pass?”
But they said, “This is not the way. Everybody has to have an ideal; otherwise he will be lost.”
I said, “I would love to be lost but remain true to nature, to existence, rather than achieve a great ideal against nature, against existence. In the first place, in which you say I will be lost, I will be blissfully lost. In the second place, in which you think I would have achieved something, I will be nothing but pain, suffering, and finally agony.”
Agony is the deepest in you.
And it happens only to man.
All other animals are free of agony—but they are also free of ecstasy. Agony and ecstasy happen together; otherwise they don’t happen at all.
Have you seen any animal in ecstasy or in agony? A buffalo in agony? Just to think of it seems to be absurd. A buffalo in agony? For what reason should the buffalo be in agony? The buffalo never tried to become the queen of England—why should it be in agony? It simply allowed nature to make it whatsoever was the will of existence. Yes, it will never know ecstasy either because both happen at the same depth.
Agony happens if you go on missing yourself.
Ecstasy happens if you happen to find yourself.
Missing yourself or finding yourself: Both happen at the same depth of your being.
Missing yourself means that you have been trying to become something, somebody. You have an idea, and you are trying to fulfill that idea in your life.
All idealists live in agony.
It is not only the existentialist philosophers who are in agony. Of course they have brought the word to great prominence for the simple reason that this century has come as far away from nature and existence as possible: One step more and humanity disappears. This was the longest distance possible—we have traveled it.
We have come as far away from ourselves as possible.
That’s why in this century a philosophy like existentialism became possible.
I showed one of the histories of existentialism to one of my old professors who must have studied thirty, forty, years before. At that time the word existentialism was not even coined. Sartre, Jaspers, Marcel, were yet to be. He looked at the content and he could not believe it.
He said, “Is this a book on philosophy? No chapter on God, no chapter on the proofs for God, no chapter on religion, no chapter on the soul of man, no chapter on beyond death, heaven, hell. A strange history—chapters on agony, meaninglessness, anguish, anxiety. These are philosophical subjects?”
I said, “You have missed forty years. You have completely forgotten that forty years have passed since you were in the university studying philosophy, and after that you have never bothered about what has been happening to philosophy. You are still remembering Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Shankara, Nagarjuna, Bradley. You are still remembering these people who have really faded out; they are simply no longer in. And any philosopher worth the name today is not interested in God—he is interested in man. And to be interested in man brings all these problems, agony.…”
He said, “But what is agony?”
I had to use his language, something from the past history of philosophy so that he could have a little insight into agony. In the past there has been a great philosophical question down the ages. The question was: Between animals, trees, rocks, and man, what is the difference? Certainly they all exist; as far as existence is concerned there is no difference. Certainly they all live—even rocks grow.
The Himalayas are growing every year, one foot higher. The place where I was born was by the side of a mountain range called Vindhyachal. It is thought to be the most ancient mountain in the world. It is almost a proven fact that Vindhyachal and the land around it came out of the sea first, because on Vindhyachal corpses of sea animals have been found which are the most ancient. On the Himalayas also they have been found but they are not so ancient. The Himalayas are the youngest mountains in the world, and Vindhyachal is the oldest mountain in the world.
Just by the way, I am reminded of the story about Vindhyachal in the Upanishads. One great seer, Agastya, went to south India, and had to cross Vindhyachal.
Vindhyachal was so high it was difficult for the seer, so he prayed to Vindhyachal, “Be kind enough to just bend down a little and let me pass. And remain bending till I come back, because I will have to pass again.” Agastya died in the south and never came back, but Vindhyachal is still bending. If you see the mountain you can see, it is as if an old man is bending.
The story is beautiful, but it shows that Vindhyachal is really old, an old man who cannot even stand straight. Mountains grow old or young; they are as alive as you are. Trees, animals, birds—as far as life is concerned we may have different kinds of life but we all have a certain quality called living, aliveness, which is similar.
So in ancient philosophy this has been a problem: Then what is the difference? Is there no difference? There have been two schools. One said there is no difference; we are all alike, we are part of one single whole—different dimensions, different branches, but we are all rooted in one existence. These are the spiritualists who say that we are all one.
The other school is that of the materialists, who say that we are all separate, there is no organic unity anywhere; existence is not one. According to the materialists, the word universe should not be used. The word universe was invented by the spiritualists because it means “uni,” one. According to the materialists the right word should be multiverse—many, not one. Everything is separate, and there is no unity anywhere.
And how does this whole go on?—and in a such a tremendous harmony? This is where you will see how logic can be fallacious.
The spiritualist says there is harmony because it is ruled by one God, or one universal consciousness. One absolute being, one center, controls everything. That’s why nothing goes wrong. Everything moves in an absolute harmony. And the universe is vast, it is immense, immeasurable; still, everything goes on without any disturbance, without any discrepancy. The logic seems to be solid, but it is not so.
The same logic the materialist uses. He says it goes on in such a harmonious way because there is nobody who is controlling it. Whenever there is somebody who is controlling everything, there is a possibility of failure, mistakes, errors. Nobody is infallible.
If there were one God controlling everything for millions of years sometimes He might fall asleep, sometimes just for a change He might go for a morning walk. If it is being controlled by one being then there is every possibility of a mistake. And during such a long period can you think that a person will not commit any mistake? Just by mistake he may commit a mistake. And there are so many things to be arranged and looked after—just look.…
Just the other day Vivek was saying to me—seeing a peacock with its feathers open, so colorful—“God must be taking so much care to paint them.”
If God were really to paint all the peacocks of the world then you can be certain there would bound to be a thousand and one mistakes. Howsoever infallible God is, he cannot manage to go on painting year by year millions and millions of peacocks. And not only peacocks, there are other birds, and every detail has to be looked into.
The materialists say that the world goes on perfectly because there is no manager, so who can commit a mistake? It is mechanical.
The same logic: The spiritualist tries to prove God, the materialist tries to prove, using the same logic—this harmony, this continuity—that there is no manager, that it is all mechanical. Only machines are not able to commit mistakes—either they work, or they fail. While the machine is working, it will be working the way it has been working forever, reproducing again and again, again and again, the same kinds of peacock feathers. It is not a work of consciousness.
A conscious mind would try to improve, would like to change a little bit—once in a while to put a little more red, a little more green, a little more blue … a little different blue, because there are so many kinds of blues and so many kinds of greens. Once in a while he would put the head of one bird on another bird. One gets bored, putting on the same kind of head again and again, the same red nose again and again; just for a change, one would change to yellow, green, blue. But nothing like that happens.
The materialist says it is mechanical, it is a vast mechanism that goes on reproducing without any mind. While it produces, it will be producing the same. Yes, one day every machine fails, but you will not be there to know it. Once the machine fails, you fail, too, so there will be nobody as a witness of the failure.
I told the old professor—his name was Professor Dasgupta—“Through this argument I can help you to have some insight into agony. The existentialist says there is a difference between animals and man. For the first time a certain group of thinkers has pointed to a difference which really makes a difference. They say, two sentences will have to be understood. One is: Existence precedes essence. And the other is: Essence precedes existence.
“In animals essence precedes existence. Essence means whatsoever they are going to be; the whole program comes first, before their birth. Before they exist the blueprint is there; they bring their blueprint with themselves, it is ahead of them. Their existence follows the essence.”
Essence means the program, the blueprint of what they are going to be, how many lives they are going to live, how many children they will have, what colors they will change to according to seasons—everything. So much so that there are birds who come flying from the North Pole, three thousand miles down, because it becomes too cold there, and to exist is impossible.
They have to … they start exactly on the same date every year. They don’t have any calendar, they don’t know that the season is going to change, but on the exact date, day, time, millions of birds immediately start moving toward the south. They will stop only when they have passed the three-thousand-mile radius, because within three thousand miles they will not be able to survive, they need a little warmer place.
But the strangest thing that has puzzled the scientists is that while they are away from their arctic home, the season for reproduction comes. So they mate, they make love, they find boyfriends, girlfriends. It takes time for the girls to become pregnant and then lay the eggs. By the time they lay the eggs, the warm season is finished. Now the arctic is ready to receive them back. So they leave the eggs and fly back to the arctic exactly on the same date as their forefathers and their forefathers have always done.
Those eggs hatch in their time, and the birds come out and start flying toward the arctic; three thousand miles in the exact direction they fly back to their world. Strange, absolutely miraculous, because nobody is there to tell them where.… “Your parents have gone. You don’t have a map, and the arctic is far away—three thousand miles—and you are a little bird just out of the egg.” Such a long journey with no preparation … but they manage, they reach. And this happens year after year.
This is the meaning of essence coming first, existence following. They don’t know what they are doing. It is some inner impulse, some urge that takes those birds far away. Flying three thousand miles without fail they reach their parents who had left them in the eggs without even telling them, “We are going, so when you get out, please come back home. Don’t forget us, we will be waiting there,” or giving them any indication of direction, nothing—no message has been left. At least they could have left one old guy and said, “When all these kids come out you take them home.” Nobody is left, no message is left, no contact exists between them—but they reach their homes.
There are fishes from the arctic that move in a certain season, and near England at a certain place they lay their eggs. Before the eggs are ripe, their return journey begins. And when the eggs give birth, the new fish start swimming against the current! The natural course would be to go with the current, but their program is fixed. Against the current they start moving toward the arctic, and they find their way back to their parents.
They will not recognize their parents. There is no need either because these fellows, if they can manage a three-thousand-mile journey against the current, don’t need any parents, any teachers, any schools, college, universities. They are self-sufficient. This is the meaning of essence preceding existence. They are born with their whole life pattern complete and they will simply go on unfolding it. They are not going to learn anything.
Learning is not for them. They need no learning. They have already got all that they need for their life, every detail about everything—what to eat, what not to eat. You just look at a buffalo eating grass and you will be surprised: Strangely enough, she goes on leaving certain grasses and eats certain other grasses.
You see here so many deer. They prefer a grass called alfalfa, and just now because we have brought water and planted trees and lawns and made it a green place, and certainly because of the deer, I have told my secretary, “Take care that so much good alfalfa is grown around that the deer will come automatically, and this will become a deer park.”
And I love that term, because Gautama Buddha lived in a deer park, along with thousands of his disciples. Hundreds of deer also lived in the same place. And our deer are growing, but a danger has started happening: They are eating too much alfalfa, getting too fat, and for deer that is dangerous because once they get too fat they cannot run. Then they are easy prey to any animal, to any hunter. Not only that—when they become too fat … two or three deer have died.
I inquired why they died. The reason was they became so fat they could not walk. They fell over their feet and broke their legs, the weight was too much. Their feet are thin, those feet are not meant for that big a load. So I told my secretary then to either bring more deer so the alfalfa is not too much, or start cutting down the alfalfa, because this will kill the poor deer. They don’t have a built-in program telling them when to stop. Nature takes care. In nature, nothing goes off balance. If there is too much alfalfa, then deer will start coming more and more from all over the place; if there is less alfalfa, deer will disperse. But our deer are in a difficulty: They cannot go anywhere because they cannot find a place where human beings will not be killing them. This much in three years they have understood perfectly well. They know that these are the right people to live with. They stand on the road, they don’t bother … you may go on honking the horn—they move with their ease and grace and beauty. They don’t bother; they understand that “these are our people,” so they are not going to leave. And they don’t have a built-in program telling them when to stop, so they go on eating.
I told that professor, “Essence is a built-in program—and that’s where man is different. Man comes as existence, and essence follows. You are not given a built-in program. You come open-ended, with no directions, with no clear-cut idea of what you are going to be. You exist first—and this is a great difference, the greatest possible difference.”
You exist first, and then you have to find who you are. The animals, the trees, the rocks, know first who they are, then they exist; hence there is no spiritual inquiry. No animal bothers asking the questions: Who am I? What is the meaning of my life? He knows it already; there is no question, there is no doubt, no inquiry.
Man is a continuous inquiry, a continuous question. To the very last breath he goes on growing. To the very last breath he can change his whole life pattern.
He can take a quantum jump.
There is no necessity for him to just go on following the path that he has followed. At the very last moment he simply can step aside. There is nobody to prevent him, it is his freedom. Man is the only animal in existence that has freedom—and out of the freedom is agony.
Agony means: I don’t know who I am.
I don’t know where I am going and why I am going. I don’t know whether whatever I am doing I am supposed to do or not. The question continuously remains; not even for a single moment does the question leave. Whatever you do, the question is there: Are you sure? Is it the thing for you to do? Is this the place for you to be? The question leaves not even for a single moment. And this is as deep as anything can be in you, at the very core of your being. This is the agony—that the meaning is not known, that the purpose is not known, that the goal is not known. It seems as if we are accidental, that by some accident we are born.
No other animal, no tree, no bird is accidental; they are planned. Existence has a whole program for them. Man seems to be totally different.
Existence has left man utterly free.
Once you become aware of this situation then agony arises. And it is fortunate to feel it. That’s why I say it is not ordinary pain, suffering, misery. It is very extraordinary, and it is of tremendous value to your whole life, its growth, that you should feel agony, that each fiber of your being should feel the questioning, that you should become simply a question. And naturally it is frightening. You are left in a chaos. But out of this very chaos the stars are born.
If you don’t start stuffing yourself out of fear, if you don’t start escaping from your agony … Everybody is trying to escape, finding ways: falling in love, doing this, doing that, staying somehow, somewhere engaged.… One thing is not finished, and you start doing another thing because you are afraid. If there is a gap between the two and the question raises its head, and you start feeling agony, then it is better to continue, to go on running; don’t stop. People start running from their birth till they die. They don’t stop, they don’t sit by the side of the road under a tree.
To me the statues of Buddha and Mahavira in the East, sitting in a lotus posture under a tree, do not mean anything historical. They mean something far more significant. These are the people who have stopped running. These are the people who have stepped out of the road on which the whole procession of humanity is going. They are real dropouts, not the California type which within a few years drops in again. No, these are real dropouts, who never drop in again.
Sitting under a tree is just representative. You will be surprised to know that after Buddha’s death, for five hundred years his statue was not made. Instead of a statue only a tree was made. For five hundred years, in the temples that were made and dedicated to Buddha, there was only a tree carved on the stone or marble, nothing else.
It was enough to remind one to step out of the road, because this has been for thousands of years the tradition, to plant trees on both the sides of Indian roads—huge trees with big branches almost meeting over the middle of the road so the road is completely covered with shadow. Even in the hottest summer you can go on the road in coolness, in the shadow.
So the tree became the symbol of dropping out of “the road.” The road is the world, where everybody is going somewhere, trying to find something, and in fact basically trying to forget himself because it hurts. To remember oneself hurts, and the only thing that everybody is doing is to get engaged, concentrated—after money, after power, after this, after that. Become a painter, become a poet, become a musician, become someone and go on becoming. Don’t stop, because if you stop you become aware of your hurt; the wound starts opening up. So don’t give it a chance. This is the road.
For five hundred years they managed simply to have the tree. It was a beautiful symbol of stepping aside. But as time passed, people started forgetting the symbol. The simple tree—they could not understand what is supposed.… They started worshipping trees. It was at that time when Alexander the Great visited India, five hundred years after Buddha. He had seen those temples with trees, and he had asked people, but nobody knew what they meant, just tree worship. And all over India, even today, trees are worshipped; it has remained.
Then the Buddhist monks who could understand started making statues of Buddha. But five hundred years had passed; there was no photography possible in those days, so they had not even any idea of how Buddha looked.
At that time Alexander visited India. Alexander looked beautiful, he was a beautiful man, so the statues of Buddha are really Alexander’s statues. That face is not Indian, that face is Greek. That’s why when you see the Buddha’s face, you cannot think that it is an Indian face. It is a Greek face, and not an ordinary Greek face—the face of one of the most beautiful Greek men. It is Alexander’s face. They got the idea from Alexander’s face. It was very fitting. It fits better with Buddha than with Alexander, so I don’t have any objection.
I see it as perfectly right. Even if while Buddha was alive their heads were changed, it would have been perfectly good. What Alexander was … what he was doing he could have done even with Buddha’s face, there was no trouble. But Buddha certainly needs a beautiful face, very symmetrical, very harmonious with his inner self. The beauty that is shown on the face, in the proportion of his body, is the beauty of his soul.
Agony is the experience that you have come into the world a clean slate, a tabula rasa; nothing is written on it. This is your original face.
Now, you can do two things. One is, being afraid of this vacuum, you can start running after something or other—earning money, power, learning, asceticism, becoming a sage, scholar, politician—somehow to give you a feeling of identity, somehow to hide your own inner chaos.
But whatever you do the chaos is there and is going to remain there. It is an intrinsic part of you. So those who understand don’t try in any way to escape from it. On the contrary, they try to enter into it.
These are the two ways: Either run away from it as everybody else is doing, or run into it. Reach to its very center howsoever painful, fearful—but reach to the center, because that is you. And it is good at least one time to be at the very exact center of your being.
The moment you reach that center then the second word becomes significant: ecstasy.
Ecstasy is the flower of agony.
Agony is not against ecstasy.
Agony is the way to ecstasy.
You just have to accept it—what else can one do? It is there. You can close your eyes—that does not mean that the sun has disappeared; it is still there. And everybody is trying to close his eyes; the sun is too glaring. Close your eyes, completely close your eyes. Forget about it, don’t look at it … as if it is not there. Believe it is not there.
These pseudoreligions are trying to teach you exactly that: Try to reach to God, try to reach heaven, follow Jesus Christ.
But none of them says don’t follow anybody and don’t look for any paradise or heaven because this is all trying to deceive yourself.
Encounter yourself, face yourself.
Have a one hundred and eighty–degree turn.
Look into the chaos that is there, into the agony that is there. And if it is your nature, then howsoever painful it is, we have to become acquainted with it. And the miracle is, it is painful to pass through it but it is just the greatest bliss when you have passed and reached the center of your being.
Agony is all around the center, and the ecstasy is just in the center. Perhaps agony is just a protective shell—ecstasy is so valuable it needs protection. And nature has created such a protective wall, what to say of others?—even you start running away from it. Who is going to enter into your agony if you yourself are running away?
The moment you think of it, agony seems to be a tremendous gift of nature. It changes its whole color, its fragrance, its meaning. It is a protective wall, so protective that even you start running away from it.
Don’t run away from yourself whatever the case may be. A man’s mettle is judged by his entering into his own inner chaos. You are worthy to call yourself human beings when you have reached to the center, and you can see from the center, around yourself. You are blissful—not only are you blissful, from the center the whole existence is blissful, too.
Agony and ecstasy are two sides of your being. They both make you one organic unity, one whole.
So I am not telling you how to get rid of agony.
That’s what pseudoreligions have been telling you for centuries.
I am telling you how to befriend agony, how to be in love with the chaos.
Once you are in love with the chaos, the freedom that chaos brings, the unbounded space that chaos brings, enter into it till you reach the center.
To find oneself is to find all.
Then there is nothing missing, then there is no question left. Then for the first time you have the answer. Although you cannot convey the answer to anybody else, you can convey the way you found it.
That’s what the function of a master is. He does not give you the answer. He does not make you more knowledgeable. He simply shows you the method, how he found himself. He encourages you to take a jump into your chaos, into your agony. The master is simply a proof that you don’t need to be afraid. If this man can find his center, passing through all the agony, there is no reason why you cannot do it, too. And once you know the taste of ecstasy, your whole life, for the first time, has something that can be called godliness. A new quality arises in you, a new flare, a new flame. But that is our nature, everybody’s nature.
I have never tried in my life to become anybody. I have simply allowed life to take me wherever it wanted. One thing I can say to you, I have not been a loser; it was a great joy to be taken over by nature. I have not at all interfered. I have not even been swimming, because in swimming you are at least throwing your hands about. I have been just going with the stream, floating with wherever the stream is going.
Fortunately, all streams reach finally to the ocean. The small, the big, somehow or other they all find their way to the oceanic. And the oceanic feeling I call the religious feeling.
When your small drop drops into the ocean … in one sense you are no more. In one sense you are for the first time. On one hand there is death, and on the other hand there is rebirth.
I know you want us all to rid ourselves of our egos and minds, and in my case, I know that this is very necessary, but for those of us who have to function in the real world, would not a total absence of mind or ego make life much more difficult?
When I say, “drop the ego, drop the mind,” I don’t mean that you cannot use the mind anymore. In fact, when you don’t cling to the mind you can use it in a far better, far more efficient way, because the energy that was involved in clinging becomes available. And when you are not continuously in the mind, twenty-four-hours-a-day in the mind, the mind also gets a little time to rest.
Do you know? —even metals need rest, even metals get tired. So what to say about this subtle mechanism of the mind? It is the most subtle mechanism in the world. In such a small skull you are carrying such a complicated biocomputer that no computer made by man is yet capable of competing with it. The scientists say a single man’s brain can contain all the libraries of the world and yet there will be space enough to contain more.
And you are continuously using it—uselessly, unnecessarily! You have forgotten how to put it off. For seventy, eighty years it remains on, working, working, tired. That’s why people lose intelligence: for the simple reason that they are so tired. If the mind can have a little rest, if you can leave the mind alone for a few hours every day, if once in a while you can give the mind a holiday, it will be rejuvenated; it will come out more intelligent, more efficient, more skillful.
So I am not saying that you are not to use your mind, but don’t be used by the mind. Right now the mind is the master and you are only a slave.
Meditation makes you a master and the mind becomes a slave. And remember: The mind as a master is dangerous because, after all, it is a machine; but the mind as a slave is tremendously significant, useful. A machine should function as a machine, not as a master. Our priorities are all upside-down—your consciousness should be the master.
So whenever you want to use it, in the East or in the West—of course you will need it in the marketplace—use it! But when you don’t need it, when you are resting at home by the side of your swimming pool or in your garden, there is no need. Put it aside. Forget all about it! Then just be.
And the same is the case with the ego. Don’t be identified with it, that’s all. Remember that you are part of the whole; you are not separate from it.
That does not mean that if somebody is stealing from your house you have simply to watch—because you are just part of the whole and he is also part of the whole, so what is wrong? And somebody is taking money from your pocket, so there is no problem—the other’s hand is as much yours as his! I am not saying that.
Remember that you are part of the whole so that you can relax, merge; once in a while you can be utterly drowned in the whole. And that will give you a new lease on life. The inexhaustible sources of the whole will become available to you. You will come out of it refreshed; you will come out of it reborn, again as a child, full of joy, inquiry, adventure, ecstasy.
Don’t get identified with the ego, although, as far as the world is concerned, you have to function as an ego—that is only utilitarian! You have to use the word I—use the word I, but remember that it is only a word. It has a certain utility, and without it life will become impossible. If you stop using the word I completely, life will become impossible. We know names are only utilitarian, nobody is born with a name. But I am not saying to drop the name and throw your passport into the river. Then you will be in trouble! You need a name; that is a necessity because you live with so many people.
If you are alone in the world, then of course there is no need to carry a passport. If you are alone … for example, if the third world war happens and Joyce is left alone, then there will be no need to carry a passport; you can throw it anywhere. Then there will be no need to have any name. Even if you have one it will be useless—nobody will ever call you. Then there will be no need to even use the word I because I needs a thou; without a thou the I is meaningless. It has meaning only in the context of others.
So don’t misunderstand me. Use your ego, but use it just like you use your shoes and your umbrella and your clothes. When it is raining, use the umbrella, but don’t go on carrying it unnecessarily. And don’t go to bed with the umbrella, and don’t be afraid that in a dream it may rain.… The umbrella has a utility, so use it when it is needed; but don’t become so identified with the umbrella that you cannot put it aside. Use the shoes, use the clothes, use the name—they are all utilities, not realities.
*   *   *
In the world, when so many people are there, we need a few labels, a few symbols, just to demark, just to make sure who is who.
You ask me: I know you want us all to rid ourselves of our egos and minds.…
I am not saying to “get rid” of anything; I am simply saying to be master of your minds. I am not telling you to be mindless; I am only saying: Don’t just be minds—you are far more. Be consciousnesses! Then the mind becomes a small thing. You can use it whenever needed, and whenever not needed you can put it off.
I am using my mind when I am talking to you. The mind has to be used; there is no other way. But the moment I enter my room, then I don’t go on using it—there is no point. Then I am simply silent. With you I am using the language, the words, but when I am with myself there is no need for any language, for any words. When I am settled into myself and there is no question of communication, language disappears. Then there is a totally different kind of consciousness.
Right now my consciousness is flowing through the mind, using the mechanism of the mind to approach you. I can reach for you with my hand, but I am not the hand. And when I touch you with my hand, the hand is only a means; something else is touching you through the hand. The body has to be used, the mind has to be used, the ego, the language, and all kinds of things have to be used. And you are allowed to use them with only one condition: Remain the master.

Copyright © 2012 by OSHO International Foundation

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