Drop the Seriousness
Osho on Seriousness
BELOVED MASTER, WHY DO I CONTINUE TO TAKE MYSELF AND LIFE IN GENERAL SO SERIOUSLY?
Everybody takes life seriously because everybody is so empty. By being serious you hide your emptiness, by being serious you pretend. By being serious you are just escaping from the loneliness that is there inside you, the nothingness that is inside you. You cannot laugh, you cannot be at ease, because whenever you are at ease you become aware of the emptiness within. You have to be serious. Serious, you remain clinging to the surface. Relaxed, you start diving deep into your being — and there is fear. People are serious for a certain reason. The reason is, they don’t want to face themselves. And seriousness gives a certain dignity also; it is ego-fulfilling. If you are serious everybody thinks you must be important.
Seriousness has a connotation of importance. Important people are very serious — you don’t see saints laughing. Christians say Jesus never laughed. They can’t be right. I know Jesus far better, they must be wrong. But they indicate a certain attitude: how can Jesus laugh? He must be serious, utterly serious. And all the Christian paintings about Jesus are ugly and false, because the face is made so serious. And the painters were doing something great; they were thinking it HAD to be serious because Jesus is the savior, and how can the savior laugh and tell jokes? You don’t expect a savior of the world to tell jokes; he has to be serious. He has a great burden, he is carrying the greatest burden: the burden of the whole earth, of the whole of humanity, of the original sin of man, and other unoriginal sins too. Millions of people and their sins, and he is carrying the burden of all: he is the savior.
Christians cannot believe Krishna can dance and sing and play the flute, because of their idea. Krishna seems to be very nonserious. How can you play the flute when so many people are suffering from so many sins? Everybody is bound for hell, and you are playing the flute? Is this the time to play the flute? And you are dancing — and with so many girlfriends! This seems to be very irresponsible. A savior dancing with girlfriends under the full-moon night, and the whole world in such a misery! Krishna should open a hospital or at least a primary school to educate people. He should do some missionary work. What is he doing under the full moon when the whole earth is drowning deeper and deeper into sin? He looks frivolous. Jesus is serious.
Tada, you ask me: WHY DO I CONTINUE TO TAKE MYSELF AND LIFE IN GENERAL SO SERIOUSLY?
It gives gratification to your ego that you are a serious person, that you are not ordinary, you are special. That you are not like people who go to the movies and laugh and talk nonsense and gossip. You are a serious person: you only meditate, you only read the Bible or the Koran. You only remain with great high things, you are not interested in the mundane.
Seriousness supports the ego, seriousness is the climate in which the ego can thrive. Nonseriousness is the death of the ego. I teach you nonseriousness.
And because of this seriousness you make mountains out of molehills. Just small things, and you make mountains.
Somebody smokes cigarettes and he is very serious, as if by smoking cigarettes he is going to hell. He thinks he is committing a great sin. Don’t be so stupid. Just by taking smoke in and out you cannot commit any sin. It may show that you are stupid but it doesn’t show that you are a sinner. And I don’t think that people are sent to hell for stupidity. Otherwise, the whole earth would have been in hell. Why are people here? All the stupid people are here in the world!
But you make mountains. You cannot bear small things, you have to be with big things.
They tell the story of the lady who went to confession and told the priest a long story about her sexual activities and as a result, for penance, the priest told her to go into the next room, say twelve Hail Marys and wash her sins away by washing her hands in the holy water which was contained in a basin on the table. As she was busy in the next room saying her Hail Marys and washing her hands in the basin of holy water, in walked another young lady who took one look at the scene and exclaimed, “Please take your damn hands out of that water! Don’t you realize I have to gargle with it!”
You think you are committing great sins? There are other people who are far more serious. You must remember one thing: even in hell you will not be the first, you will be standing in a long long queue. Wherever you are, you will be standing in a long long queue. Forget all about being the first, even in hell. George Bernard Shaw once said… Somebody asked, “Where would you like to go, to heaven or to hell?” He said, “Wherever I go, I would like to be the first. I am even ready to go to hell, but I want to be the first. And if I have to be the second in heaven, I don’t care for heaven at all.”
The ego wants to be the first everywhere. The ego wants to be the greatest saint; if it is not possible then the greatest sinner — but the greatest. Why can’t you be ordinary? To be ordinary is immensely beautiful, and to be just human is divine.
Forget ideals and goals, those ideals and goals keep you neurotic. And people go on changing their goals. First they used to have paradise as the goal, saintliness or God-realization or enlightenment. They change: now they have to attain total orgasm. Now no smaller orgasm will do — total orgasm. And what is total orgasm anyway? And how are you going to know that this is total orgasm? Is there any way to measure it? So you will remain in misery; the total orgasm will never be achieved. Now there are people who are continuously hankering for peak experiences, they want a peak experience every moment. They go nuts. If one moment is passed without a peak experience then life is lost. Then one moment is wasted: where is the peak experience? They want to remain on the peak continuously, twenty-four hours. These things keep people insane.
Life should be lived more sanely. And what do I mean when I say life should be lived more sanely? One should be able to accept the ordinariness of it. There is tremendous joy out of ordinariness — and that joy is not something like a peak experience, it is more diffused. It is not a peak, because peaks exist only with the valleys. If you want a peak experience then you will have to fall again and again into the valley. You will have to repeat the myth of Sisyphus. He takes the rock to the peak and by the time it reaches the peak, the peak is so small and the rock is so big that it rolls back down the other side. He has to rush back into the valley, then he again starts the journey, again hankers for the peak experience. And by the time he reaches to the peak, just reaching, just reaching — and finished! Flat, back to the valley. And that’s what happens to you. Each peak experience is momentary; it is the repetition of the myth of Sisyphus. Forget all about it. Rather live a more ordinary life. That is the life of a Zen disciple, that is the life of a Sufi disciple — ordinary.
I have heard: An American enquirer came to Dacca, to Bangladesh. He had heard about a great Sufi master. He was in a hurry to meet the master: he enquired from many people, but nobody had heard of him. At the airport he went from one person to another: nobody had heard of him. He became suspicious, and he became very depressed. He had come from so far, and he had heard so much about the Sufi master who lives in Dacca, Bangladesh — and nobody even knows his name!
But as a last try, he asked a taxi driver. And the taxi driver said, “Sit in the taxi and I will take you to him.” He could not believe it, so suddenly — because nobody knew about the master. He had asked but nobody knew.
The taxi driver said, “Don’t be worried, I know him. In fact I am him.”
And that’s how it turned out to be. He was the Sufi master, but he was working as a taxi driver — just an ordinary life.
Sufis function that way. Somebody is a weaver, somebody may be a potter, somebody may be making carpets. Do you know what Gurdjieff used to do in the West? His business was carpet selling He was a carpet salesman, that was his business. If you had seen him you would have never recognized that a great master was there. That’s how the Sufis have existed, down the ages. They don’t stand out, there is no need. It is always the ego that hankers for the peak, and it is the ego that does not allow you to live in constant joy. And constant joy is not a peak, remember. In fact it is more like peace than like bliss, more like peace. Bliss is there, but like a fragrance; you cannot catch hold of it. It is there, but very indirect, very subtle, very delicate. It is not a peak, certainly. It is very plain and simple.
you are serious because you are afraid to know your ordinariness. And that is the truth, and truth is never ordinary. Once you have accepted the ordinariness, in your very ordinariness arises an extraordinariness. Your ordinariness becomes luminous, radiant. Then each moment is a gift, and each moment bring sits own joy, its own peace, its own beautitude. But never hanker after peaks. The idea of the peak is an ego projection. And don’t become serious and don’t make mountains out of molehills; there is nothing to be serious about. Laugh a little, live a little and be playful, and you will know what life is. It comes in laughter, not in seriousness. A serious person is a closed person, a serious person is an unavailable person. A serious person exists with all the windows and doors closed. A serious person is encapsulated in himself; he never makes any bridges with people. He closes doors, he never makes any bridges. Laugh, because laughter is a bridge. Love, because love is a bridge. Enjoy small things, because life consists of small things and enjoying small things is a bridge.
That’s why Zen people have made even tea drinking a meditation. Just tea drinking, who thinks of it as something religious? But it can be transformed; it depends on your attitude. You can drink tea so meditatively: sip it meditatively, taste it, smell the flavor. Listen first to the samovar, the song of the samovar, the dance of the vapor inside, and the subtle fragrance that starts arising. Live it, be with it, make it a prayerful moment, and then just ordinary tea is transported into something divine. And if this can be done with tea, this can be done with everything else.
To live religiously does not mean to live seriously, it means to live meditatively. And meditation has nothing to do with seriousness. Meditation is playfulness.
That’s why my insistence here is more and more on dancing, on singing. I have put vipassana and zazen in the background, because they can create seriousness in you, and you are already serious and it is dangerous. First your seriousness has to be destroyed, only then will you be able to enjoy vipassana without becoming serious. First you have to dance, so in dance your armor drops. First you have to shout in joy, and sing, so your life becomes more vital. First you have to cathart, so all that you have repressed is thrown out and your body is purified of toxins and poisons, and your psyche also is purified from repressed traumas and wounds.
When this has happened and you have become able to laugh and you have become able to love, then vipassana. Now vipassana will not drive you serious, will not drive you in any way into some ego trip. Now you can sit silently; now sitting silently is not serious. That is the special quality that I am trying to create here in vipassana — it does not exist anywhere in the world. My whole effort here is to bring tantra to the twentieth century and make it neo-tantra, to bring tao to the twentieth century and make it neo-tao, to bring zen to the twentieth century and make it neo-zen, and so on and so forth: neo-sufism and neo-yoga… Centuries divide you from these beautiful things; those centuries have to be dropped. And those centuries can only be dropped if YOU drop what has been done to you in those centuries. You have become too serious. Modern man is very serious; it has never been so before. And this seriousness is creating a distance from God, from the whole.
go into your seriousness and see what you are hiding behind it. You are alone, you are empty, and you are not capable of facing it. It has to be faced, because emptiness is not bad, emptiness is immensely beautiful. If you escape from it, then it becomes ugly. If you go into it, it becomes silence and quietude. And if you disappear into it, it becomes creativity. And aloneness is beautiful. It is only the person who is alone who becomes capable of love.
Those who cannot be alone, they cannot be in love at all, because their love remains a kind of need.
Love can be of two types. One is when you say to somebody, “I need you, I really love you.” This is ugly love, because it is based in need. You say, “I need you”: you want to use the other. You are not yet able to be alone; you want to be together with somebody, you want to cling to the other. The other keeps you occupied — without the other you become afraid of your own aloneness. And this is what people say, and lovers enjoy it very much. When somebody says to you, “I need you, I really love you,” you feel you are entering into something beautiful. You are not; you are entering into something destructive. This is the wrong kind of love. And this is the love that exists in the world. Everybody is afraid of his loneliness and clings to the outer, uses the other as a means, someone to cling to. And when you use the other, the other is reduced to a thing. He is no longer a person, he becomes a husband or a wife. Freedom is lost. You cannot allow the other to be free, because if you allow freedom then you will have to face your loneliness. And that you don’t want to do. So you cling. You hold the other, you possess the other. Even if it means being possessed by the other, you are ready to lose your freedom. You become mutual slaves, mutual imprisonments to each other…
Sooner or later, you will start feeling life has no meaning. This kind of love is pathological, and this is the only kind that exists and is available in the world. It drives people neurotic and psychotic. It should be changed into love which is not a need but a state. Then one can love life in more richness. Then one can love and yet allow the other freedom. Then love is nonpossessive. But that love is possible only when you have learned how to live with your aloneness. When you can be alone and perfectly happy and you don’t miss the other at all, only then can you love. But now a totally different kind of love arrives — even to think of it will shock you. Then the lover says, “I don’t need you, I love you.” It will be almost incomprehensible, a lover saying to somebody, “I don’t need you, I love you.” It will look contradictory, because you have always heard, “I need you, I love you very much” — you are acquainted with that approach.
But this is TRUE love, the other is destructive. It destroys both the people, it destroys all the possibilities of growing. This is true love, this is creative love, when you can say, “I don’t need you, I simply love you.” Just meditate over it. Repeat it silently within yourself: “I don’t need you, I love you” — and a totally different dimension opens up. Now there is no need to possess, now there is no need to reduce the other to a thing, now there is no need to destroy his or her freedom, now there is no need to allow the other to destroy your freedom. Now love can exist with freedom.
When love exists with freedom it has tremendous beauty; it has something of the ultimate in it. But now it is pure sharing. Now it is a luxury, it is no more a need.
I teach you love-as-luxury, not love-as-need. It is just an overflowing. You have so much that you cannot bear it any more, you have to give it to somebody. And from where are you getting so much? It comes if you learn how to live in your aloneness.
If you learn how to live in your aloneness, enjoy it and celebrate it, if you learn how to be empty without any desire to fill yourself up, to stuff yourself with anything — food, love, money, power — when you are not in any way interested in stuffing your emptiness, then suddenly emptiness changes its color, its quality is transformed. You relax into it. Then you don’t feel, “I am empty.” You feel, “I am emptiness — and if I am emptiness, I am emptiness.” And, the purity of emptiness is tremendous.
In emptiness not even a particle of dust can collect. Emptiness cannot be polluted by anything, its purity is total and absolute. That emptiness is always virgin.
Out of that emptiness, living in that emptiness, great joy and great peace arise and well up. This is what I call creativity. It can become a song, it can become a painting, it can become a dance, it can become love, it can become all kinds of things. But one thing is similar: it overflows. This overflowing love is a state, a luxury, a sharing for the sheer joy of sharing. This love is celebration.
And, Tada, you have been avoiding your aloneness, you have been avoiding your emptiness. If you go on avoiding it you will never come to know this love, this creative love. And this is the greatest experience there is. You are avoiding your own great possibility and potential. Don’t be serious, please. Drop it. It is not going to give you anything except more and more misery.
Meditate on these words of Kahlil Gibran:
Sing and dance together and be joyous
But let each of you be alone
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
Though they quiver with the same music.
Stand together, yet not too near together,
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Be alone: that is meditation. And in aloneness wells up love: that is creation. Then love can do miracles. But the person who remains serious remains unavailable to his own sources, his own juice; he remains unavailable to his own soil and roots. The person who is serious goes on moving round and round outside his being. Drop your seriousness. Laugh a little, love a little, and you will know what God is.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Unio Mystica, Vol 1
Chapter title: The Bridge of Love and Laughter
6 November 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘laughter, love, dance, meditation, playfulness, Silence, emptiness, creativity, celebration, relaxation, aloneness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Book of Wisdom
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- From Death to Deathlessness
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Razor’s Edge
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose
- Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
- Light on the Path
- The Rebellious Spirit
- Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- Unio Mystica
- The Golden Future