Become a Man of Need
Birthday of French Author and Philosopher Voltaire
21th November is the birthday of the 18th century French writer and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet). A luminary of the Enlightenment Era, Voltaire’s work has been phenomenally influential for over 300 years. He has influenced great thinkers like Rousseau, Byron, Shelly, Marx, Nietzsche, Napoleon, Goethe, Hugo and many others. Voltaire is known for his criticism of Christianity and for advocating civil liberties. Voltaire’s biting wit and polemics drew much adulation. He was famously incarcerated at The Bastille for a satirical verse about the Catholic French Monarchy following which he adopted his nom de plume Voltaire in 1718. As a historian, Voltaire advocated a rationalistic approach to recast history, substituting supernatural with science.
Voltaire was a supporter of animal rights and a vegetarian. On Hinduism, Voltaire wrote that the Vedas are the most precious gift for which the West is indebted to the East.
Some of Voltaire’s timeless quotes are –
Common sense is not so common.
Judge of a man by his questions,
rather than by his answers.
Every man is guilty,
of all the good he did not do.
A witty saying proves nothing.
Osho has spoken on Voltaire in His discourses. Osho says when Voltaire was at the peak of his fame, it was impossible for him to step out of his home without police protection as crowds followed him wherever he went. But gradually new thinkers appeared on the horizon; notably Rousseau; and Voltaire was forgotten. Rousseau opposed every idea of Voltaire; his fame destroyed Voltaire completely. Voltaire has written in his memoirs – ‘When I was famous, I longed to be a nobody, to live silently because life had become a nightmare. But when I became nobody, then I started feeling great despair that I had lost my respect, my name, my fame… I’m dying a defeated man’. When you are respected, you have to pay for respectability. The more people respect you, the more closely they watch you – whether you are fulfilling their expectations or not. All your freedom is gone. But this is how people are living. Nobody can ever be contented in the world – that’s impossible. You can become more and more discontented, that’s all, because contentment happens only when you go inwards. Contentment is your innermost nature. Contentment does not belong to things. You can be comfortable with things – a beautiful house, a beautiful garden, no worries about money — yes, you can be comfortable, but you remain the same: comfortably discontented.
HOW CAN ONE CUT DESIRES WITHOUT SUPPRESSING THEM?
Desires are dreams: they are not realities. You cannot fulfill them and you cannot suppress them, because to fulfill a certain thing it needs to be real; to suppress a certain thing also needs to be real. Needs can be fulfilled and needs can be suppressed. Desires neither can be fulfilled nor can be suppressed. Try to understand this because this is very complex. A desire is a dream. If you understand this, it disappears. No need to suppress it.
What is the need to suppress a desire? You want to become very famous: this is a dream, a desire, because the body doesn’t bother to be famous. In fact the body suffers very much when you become famous. You don’t know how the body suffers when a person becomes famous. Then there is no peace. Then continuously you are bothered, troubled by others because you are so famous. Somewhere Voltaire has written that “When I was not famous, I used to pray to God every night that ‘Make me famous. I am nobody, so make me somebody.’ And then I become famous. Then I started to pray, ‘Enough is enough: now make me again a nobody’ — because before I used to go on the streets of Paris and nobody will look at me and I felt so sad. Nobody would pay any attention to me — as if I didn’t exist at all. I will move into the restaurants and come out; nobody, even the waiters will not pay attention to me.”
What about kings? They didn’t know that Voltaire existed. “Then I became famous,” he writes. “Then it was difficult to move from the streets because people will gather. It was difficult to go anywhere. It was difficult to go in a restaurant and take food at rest. A crowd will gather.”
A moment came when it was almost impossible for him to get out of the house because in those days there was a superstition in Paris, in France, that if you can get a piece of cloth from a very famous man and can make a locket out of it, it is a luck. So wherever he will go, he will come naked because people will tear his clothes — and they will harm his body also. When he used to come from some other town back to Paris, or will go, police was needed to bring him home. So he used to pray that “I was wrong. You simply make me again a nobody, because I cannot go and watch the river. I cannot go out and see the sunrise, I cannot go to the hills, I cannot move. I have become a prisoner.”
Those who are famous are always prisoners. Body doesn’t need to be famous; body is so absolutely okay, it needs nothing like such nonsense things. It needs simple things — food; it needs water to drink; it needs a shelter when it is too hot, to come under: its needs are very, very simple. The world is mad because of desires, not because of needs. And people go mad. They go on cutting down their needs, and growing and increasing their desires. There are people who would like to drop one meal per day, but they cannot drop their newspaper, they cannot drop going to the cinema, they cannot drop smoking. They can drop food — needs can be dropped — desires cannot be. The mind has become a despot.
Body is always beautiful: remember it. This is one of the basic rules I give to you — a rule unconditionally true, absolutely true, categorically true: body is always beautiful, mind is ugly. It is not the body that has to be changed. There is nothing to change in it. It is the mind. And mind means desiring.
The body needs, but body needs are real needs. If you want to live, you need food. Fame is not needed to live, respect is not needed to be alive. You need not be a very great man or a very great painter — famous, known to the whole world. You need not be a Nobel Prize winner to live, because Nobel Prize doesn’t fulfill any need in the body.
If you want to drop needs, you will have to suppress them — because they are real. If you fast, you have to suppress hunger. Then there is suppression, and every suppression is wrong because suppression is a fight inside, and you are wanting to kill the body, and the body is your anchor, your ship which will lead you to the other shore. Body keeps the treasure, the seeds of divine within you, protected. Food is needed for that protection, water is needed, shelter is needed, comfort is needed — for the body, because the mind doesn’t want any comfort. Look at the modern furniture: it is not comfortable at all, but the mind says, “This is modern, and what are you doing sitting in an old chair? The world has changed and the modern furniture has come.” The modern furniture is really weird. You feel uncomfortable in it; you cannot sit in it long. But it is modern. The mind says modern must be there because how can you be out of date? Be up to date.
Modern dresses are uncomfortable, but they are modern, and the mind says that you have to be with the fashion. And man has done so many ugly things because of fashion. Body needs nothing: these are mind needs, and you cannot fulfill them — never, because they are unreal. Only unreality cannot be fulfilled. How can you fulfill an unreal need which is not there in fact? What is the need of fame? Just meditate on it. Close your eyes and look. Where it is needed in the body? How it will help if you are famous? Will you be more healthy if you are famous? Will you be more silent, peaceful, if you are famous? What you will gain out of it? Always make the body the criterion. Whenever the mind says something, ask the body, ‘What do you say? And if the body says foolish, drop it. And there is no suppression in it because it is an unreal thing.
How can you suppress an unreal thing? In the morning, you get out of bed and you remember a dream. Have you to suppress it or you have to fulfill it? Because in the dream, you dreamed that you have become the emperor of the whole earth. Now what to do? Should you try? Otherwise the question arises, “if we don’t try, then it is a suppression.” But a dream is a dream. How can you suppress a dream? A dream disappears by itself. You have to be only aware. You have to only know that it is a dream. When a dream is a dream and known as such, it disappears.
Try to find out what is a desire and what is a need. Need is body oriented; desire has no orientation in the body. It has no roots. It is just a floating thought in the mind. And almost always your body needs come from your body and your mind needs come from others.
Somebody purchases a beautiful car. Somebody else has purchased a beautiful car, an imported car, and now your mind need arises. How can you tolerate this?
Mulla Nasruddin was driving the car and I was sitting with him. The moment we entered the neighborhood — it was a very hot summer day — he immediately closed all the windows of the car. I said, “What are you doing?” He said, ‘What do you mean? Should I let my neighborhood people know that I don’t have an air-conditioned car?” Perspiring, I also perspired with him. It was like an oven, hot, but how can you allow your neighbors to know that you don’t have an air-conditioned car? This is a mind need. The body says, “Drop it Are you mad?” It is perspiring. It is saying, “No” Listen to the body; don’t listen to the mind.
Mind’s needs are created by others all around you; they are foolish, stupid, idiotic. Body needs are beautiful, simple. Fulfill body needs; don’t suppress them. If you suppress them, you will become more and more ill and diseased. Never bother about the mind needs; once you know that this is a mind need…
and is there much difficulty to know? What is the difficulty? It is so simple to know that this is a mind need. Simply ask the body; inquire in the body; go find the root. Is there any root for it?
You will look foolish. Your all kings and emperors are foolish. They are clowns: just see. Dressed with thousands of medals, they look foolish What they are doing? And for this they have suffered long. To attain this, they have passed through so many miseries and still they are miserable. They have to be miserable.
Mind is the door to hell, and the door is nothing but desire. Kill desires. You will not find any blood coming out of them because they are bloodless.
But kill a need and there will be bloodshed. Kill a need, and you will die in part. Kill a desire; you will not die. Rather, on the contrary, you will become freer. More freedom will come out of dropping desires. If you can, become a man of need and no desires, you are already on the path and the heaven is not far off.
Listen to the complete Audio Discourse at link below…
Chapter title: The Beginning of a New Path
6 January 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on notable philosophers Aristotle, Berkeley, Bukharin, Camus, Confucius,
Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Schiller, Socrates, Voltaire, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- What Is, Is, What Ain’t, Ain’t
- One Seed Makes the Whole Earth Green
- Sufis: People on the Path Vol.1-2
- The Sun Rises in the Evening
- The Empty Boat
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- Beyond Psychology
- Zarathustra, the laughing prophet
- From Personality to Individuality
- From Death to Deathlessness