Be whatsoever You can be
Osho on Escape Artist and magician Houdini
Born on 24th March, 1874, Harry Houdini was an American magician noted for his sensational escape acts. He first attracted notice in vaudeville in the United States and then as “Harry ‘Handcuff’ Houdini” on a tour of Europe, where he challenged police forces to keep him locked up. Soon he extended his repertoire to include chains, ropes slung from skyscrapers, straitjackets under water, and having to escape from and hold his breath inside a sealed milk can with water in it. In 1904, thousands watched as he tried to escape from special handcuffs commissioned by London’s Daily Mirror, keeping them in suspense for an hour. Another stunt saw him buried alive and only just able to claw himself to the surface, emerging in a state of near-breakdown. While many suspected that these escapes were faked, Houdini presented himself as the scourge of fake spiritualists.
Osho recalls an anecdote about Houdini and says, “A rare phenomenon happened. You must have heard about Houdini, the great magician. Only once in his life did he fail, otherwise he could open any type of lock within seconds without keys. How he did the whole thing has yet remained a mystery. He would be tied with chains, locked into a trunk and thrown into the sea and he would escape within seconds. He was thrown into all the great prisons of the world and within seconds he was out. England has one of the best police, one of the best detective departments, Scotland Yard, but they could not do anything. Whatsoever they did, within a few seconds he was always out. Only once did he fail; it was in France. He was thrown into a cell in a prison, and he could’nt get out of three hours. Nobody could believe what had happened: Is he dead? And then he came out, perspiring, completely tired. A joke had been played on him and he missed: the door was not locked and he was trying to open it.
How can you unlock a door which is not locked? If it is locked there is a way, something can be done. He never expected the door not to be locked. He tried and tried in every way, but the door was not locked, there was no lock on it, and he could’nt see it for three hours. Then how did he come out? — just from tiredness he fell down and the door opened. Existence is not denying you anything. There is no injustice, there has never been, there cannot be. How can the mother be unjust to the child? Existence is your mother; you come out of it, you go back into it. How can existence be unjust to you? It is you claims, your egoistic claims that create the problem.”
ONCE IN A WHILE, MY MIND LOOKS AT YOUR CLOSE DISCIPLES, LIKE THE TALL ENGLISH GUY WITH THE SAD FACE. ONE HEARS HIS SAD VOICE AS HE READS THE SUTRA. THE GUY NEVER SMILES, NEVER LETS GO. DO PEOPLE BECOME VERY SERIOUS IF THEY ARE SO NEAR YOU?
I am not serious, and a certain balance is needed. Teertha balances me. He has to be serious on purpose. When the Master is not serious, disciples have to be serious. You can ask Narendra, one of our sannyasins. His father is a beautiful man — a little crazy. For thirty, forty years he has been crazy. Small children will watch him — his own children will watch him — because he can steal. He can take things from the money box and disappear. Hmm? the father. So small kids, they will just sit there in the shop and watch. When the father can steal, then the children have to watch. Otherwise ordinarily it happens the other way: the father watches, and the kids steal.
This is how it is happening here. The Master is nonserious: the kids have to be serious. It certainly balances. Teertha is not serious; he has to be on purpose. But you need not be worried about others. That is not mannerly, and that is not good at all. It is impolite, inhuman.
You should not be concerned with others. Why should you be worried? And who are you to decide what others should do? The very idea that you have to decide that “others should do like this” is a deep political ambition to become powerful, to manage, to suppress.
Now, you say, “Once in a while, my mind looks at your close disciples….”
Don’t waste time. Look at yourself. In fact there is not much time; you cannot afford it. Life is short and much has to be done. Don’t waste your time, because God will not ask you why Teertha was serious. He will not ask you; it is not anything to be asked to you. If he wants to ask, he will ask Teertha. He will ask you about you, and then you cannot say, “I cannot answer because I was too busy looking at other people and what they were doing and my whole life was wasted in that.”
“The guy never smiles, never lets go.” But it is possible that if somebody lets go, the smile may disappear. If the smile is forced, pretentious, then let-go will help the smile go. It is not necessary that when you relax you will smile. It depends. Somebody may start crying when he relaxes — and he may have been laughing before. Now he relaxes and he starts crying. Somebody may have been very, very sweet and smiling, and when he relaxes, suddenly he becomes serious. There is no necessity about it. If his smile was false, then when he relaxes he cannot smile. If his sweetness was false, when he relaxes he cannot be sweet. If his softness, politeness, was just hypocrisy and he relaxes, then he cannot be polite. It depends.
So there is no necessity that in a let-go everybody has to smile. These ideas of how everybody should be are wrong. When I say let go, I am simply saying be natural. If to somebody it happens that he feels natural when he is serious, then it is perfectly good. Then don’t impose on him that he has to laugh. Why? Who are you? You never seem to allow people freedom. Sometimes you say they have to be serious — don’t laugh. And sometimes, if you turn to the other extreme, you start saying, “Now nobody is allowed to be serious — laugh!” Both are wrong.
Allow the other his being. If serious is natural, good. The whole world cannot laugh. In the world there exists a certain balance. Just as half are women and half are men and half are introverts and half are extroverts and half are people with will and half are people with a tremendous quality of surrender, in exactly the same way, half the people when they are relaxed will laugh and half the people when they are relaxed will become serious. That’s a balance. The world is a great balance.
But I have the feeling that the person who has asked must himself have suffered from seriousness. Otherwise why should he be worried? You can laugh. Teertha’s seriousness is not a hindrance to you. He is not going to prevent you. But if you feel that somebody is serious and you feel a certain hindrance for yourself to laugh, that means deep down in your unconscious you have been a serious person. In fact you are finding ways and means to be serious here; you are finding a rationalization. So now if you think, and if I can say to you, that people who are very close to me become serious, then you would also like to become serious and come close to me. You are trying to find a rationalization. It is your outlook, and your outlook always shows something about you.
I have heard an anecdote of the night Houdini, the great magician, first introduced the trick of putting a dozen needles and a piece of thread into his mouth, and then producing them all neatly threaded. “I want a gentleman in the audience,” he announced, “to examine the needles and thread, and then look into my mouth to make sure nothing is concealed there.” An elderly little man climbed up to the stage, and peered intently into Houdini’s bridgework. “Well,” said Houdini finally, “don’t just stand there. Tell the audience what you see.”
The little man said, “Pyorrhea.” He was a doctor. When you say something about somebody, you say something about yourself.
Never be concerned about others. My whole effort here is to give you all freedom, total freedom, to be whatsoever you can be. Seriousness is also beautiful if it is natural. Then it is a flowering. The whole world laughing and nobody serious will not be a very deep world. It will be very superfluous. Laughter has a beauty of its own, a flowering, but seriousness…. When I say don’t be serious, I mean don’t be UNNATURALLY serious. When I say laugh, I don’t mean laugh anywhere for no reason at all. When I say laugh, I mean ALLOW laughter; if it comes don’t repress it. And the same I say about seriousness. If it is natural to you, if it is a natural climate to you and you feel good and happy in it, then perfectly good. There is no need to be worried about it. Remember, the unnatural has to be dropped and the natural has to be allowed flowering, expression. If you are here in this world to sing a serious song, sing it. That’s your destiny. If you are here to dance and laugh, dance and laugh. That’s your destiny. And each person is unique; and each person has to go towards God in his own way. Never impose your style on anybody else. That is violence.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language
Chapter title: The choice is yours
20 December 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken extensively on ‘art, music, painting poetry, dance,’ and creative geniuses like Picasso, Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Byron, Bhavabhuti, Coleridge, Dinkar, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, John Ruskin, Kalidas, Kahlil Gibran, Keats, Omar Khayyam, Milton, Mozart, Yeats, Shelley, Tagore, Wagner, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and many more in the course of His talks. More on this subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Ah This
- Be Still and Know
- Beyond Psychology
- Come Follow to You Vol.1-4
- The Guest
- Going All the Way
- This Is It
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Path of the Mystic
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- Just the Tip of the Iceberg
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness