God: A Deep Emptiness

Osho on Hassidism

THERE are religions — Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism — and many more. But they are religions, not THE religion. They are the reflections of the moon in many kinds of minds. They are not the real moon. The moon is one but it can be reflected in millions of lakes. Reflections differ, but the reflected is one.

Mind is a mirror. When religion is reflected through the mind a Hinduism is born, or a Mohammedanism or a Judaism. When the religion is not a reflected one, when one comes face to face with reality without any mind whatsoever, when there is no mind between you and the truth, then there is born THE religion. Hassidism is THE religion. Sufism is THE religion. Zen is THE religion. They differ only in names; otherwise they are all the same. Their language is different but not their content. They all have looked at the moon, but they call it different names.

Obviously, that is natural. But they have not been looking at the reflections. They don’t believe in creeds, ideologies, scriptures, dogmas, doctrines. They know the truth, and when you know the truth there is no need of scriptures.

You carry the scripture on your head when the truth is not known. Theories are substitutes, dead. Truth is always alive, eternally alive. It cannot be confined in words; the message is wordless. And you cannot come to it by somebody else because whenever there is a medium, it becomes a reflection. When your own mind creates a reflection, what about other minds through which you come to know it? One has to come in immediate contact, direct, heart to heart. Nothing should be allowed between the two: your heart and the heart of reality. They should respond in a deep resonance. They should meet and mingle and merge and there should not even be a curtain of words, knowledge, concepts. Only then, you know what religion is.

Hassidism is religion, Judaism is just a reflection. Or you can say the same thing in other words: Judaism is just the periphery and Hassidism is the core — the very core, the living soul, the very center. Buddhism is the periphery, Zen is the core. Islam is the periphery, Sufism is the core. And the core is one; peripheries are millions. On one center you can draw many concentric circles. You can go on drawing them; the center remains one. We will be talking about Hassidism. Before we enter into the spirit of it, a few remarks are needed as an introduction.

Whenever the problem arises of how to talk about THE religion, it becomes very difficult because whatsoever you say about it is always going to be less than the truth. Whatsoever you say about it is always going to be a reflection. It can indicate; it cannot explain. It can show but it cannot say. So from where to begin, to indicate, to show? I would like to start with Samuel Beckett’s beautiful play, WAITING FOR GODOT. It is absurd — as absurd as life is — but the very absurdity of life, if understood deeply, becomes an indication towards something which is beyond and meaningful.

That which is beyond you, is meaningful. And only the beyond is meaningful.

That which is beyond mind, is meaningful.

WAITING FOR GODOT can be a good beginning for Hassidism, Zen, or Sufism — a very indirect indication. Because to say something direct about such intimate, deep phenomena is to violate them. So be cautious, move slowly. It is holy ground. The curtain rises: two vagabonds are sitting and waiting for Godot. Who is this Godot? They don’t know; nobody knows. Even Samuel Beckett, when once asked: ‘Who is this Godot?’ said: ‘If I had known, I would have said so in the play itself.’ Nobody knows. This is a Zen gesture.

The word Godot sounds like God. That is significant. Who knows God? Who has ever known? Who can say? Who can claim that he knows? All knowledge is foolish and one who claims that he knows God is simply stupid. Godot sounds like God, the unknown. It may be all, it may be nothing. They are waiting for Godot. When they don’t know who this God is, then why are they waiting? Because if you don’t wait for something you fall into the inner emptiness. If you are not waiting for something to happen, you have to face your inner vacuum, the inner nothingness. And it’s scary, it is death-like. To avoid it, to escape from it, one projects a dream in the future; that’s how future time is created.

Future is not part of time, it is part of mind. Time is always present. It is never past, never future. It is always now. Mind creates future because then one can avoid the ‘now’. One can look ahead into the clouds, wait for something and pretend that something is going to happen — and nothing happens. One of the most basic truths about human life is that nothing ever happens. Millions of things seem to happen but nothing ever happens.

One goes on waiting and waiting and waiting: waiting for Godot. Who is this Godot? Nobody knows. But still one has to project to avoid one’s inner emptiness.

There is a Hassidic saying that man is made of dust and returns to dust. Dust unto dust. Between and betwixt, a drink comes handy. It’s really beautiful: made of dust, falls one day back unto dust. Between and betwixt, a drink comes handy. That drink is the desire, the projection, the ambition, the future, the imagination. Otherwise, suddenly you will become aware that you are just dust and nothing else. Hoping for the future, waiting for the future, the dust has a dream around it. It partakes of the glory of the dream; it illuminates. Through the dream you feel you are somebody. And dreaming costs nothing, so you can dream. Beggars can dream to be emperors; there is no law against it. To avoid being, a dream of becoming is projected.

Those two vagabonds are the whole humanity personified. Man is a vagabond. From where do you come? — you can’t say. Where are you going? — you can’t answer. Where are you right now, this moment? — at the most you can shrug your shoulders. Man is a vagabond, a wanderer, with no home in the past, with no home in the future — a wanderer on a continuous wandering, endless. Beckett is right: those two vagabonds are the whole humanity. But to create a dream, one is not enough; two are needed. Because one will be less than enough. The other’s help is needed.

That’s why those who want to get out of dreams try to remain alone, start becoming silent. They meditate, move to the Himalayas. They try to be alone. Because when you are alone it is difficult. By and by, again and again, you are thrown back to your reality. The prop is not there, the excuse is not there; the other is needed. That’s why whenever somebody falls in love, suddenly, dreams explode in the being. The other is there; now you can dream together and you can help each other to avoid oneself. That’s why there is so much need for love: it is a dream need. Alone, it is very difficult to dream. Again and again the dream is broken and you are thrown to the bare naked reality, the emptiness. A lover is needed: somebody to cling to, somebody to look to, somebody to share with, somebody who will patch the gaps, who will bring you out of yourself so that you don’t come face to face with your naked reality.

Two vagabonds are sitting. The curtain rises. They are waiting for Godot. They don’t ask each other: ‘Who is this Godot anyhow, anyway?’ Because to ask will be dangerous. They both know deep down that they are waiting for nobody. It is dangerous, risky, to ask who Godot is. To raise the very question will be dangerous, the dream will be shattered. They are afraid so they don’t ask. One question they avoid continuously: ‘Who is this Godot?’ That is the basic question which should be asked the very first moment one becomes aware. You are waiting for Godot: ask who this Godot is! But they are touchy about it, they talk about many other things. They say: ‘When is he coming? Are you certain he will keep his promise this time? Yesterday he deceived. The day before yesterday he never came. And today also, the promised time is passing by and he seems not to be coming.’ They look again and again at the road; the road is empty. But they never ask the basic question. They never ask: ‘Who is this Godot?’ They never ask: ‘When did he promise you to come? Where did you meet him? How do you know he exists?’ No, they never touch that.

This is how all worldly people live: they never ask the basic questions. It is risky, it is absolutely dangerous. One has to hide. One has to pretend that one knows the basic questions; one goes on always asking secondary questions. Remember, when you come to me it rarely happens that anybody asks a primary question. And if I try to bring you to the primary, you become scared. You ask futile things which can be answered, but even if answered, you are not going to gain anything because they are not basic. It is as if your house is on fire and you ask: ‘Who has planted these trees?’ The question may look relevant, it can be answered, but what will be the outcome of it? Ask the fundamental. The house is on fire; you have to do something. But they never ask. Again and again they say: ‘This day is again passing and he has not come.’ And they help each other: ‘He must be coming, he must be delayed. There are a thousand and one hazards, but he is a man you can rely upon. He is reliable.’ And this ‘he’ is simply empty.

One day more has passed and he is not coming and they get fed-up and start saying: ‘Now it is enough. Enough is enough. They are going to leave, they cannot wait anymore’ — but they never leave. Next day again they are there, sitting in the same place, waiting for Godot. And yesterday they had decided, very vehemently they had decided that now they will leave, that it is finished. One cannot wait for the whole life. ‘If he is coming, it’s okay; if he is not coming, that too is okay.’ Why don’t they leave? They again and again say that they are leaving. The problem is: where to go? You can leave but where to go? Wherever you go, you will again wait for Godot. A change of place won’t help.

You can come to India. You can be in England. Or in America. Or you can go to Japan — but what will be the outcome? You will be waiting for Godot. Japan, England, India — it is the same. The change of geography won’t help. That’s why, whenever humanity is in deep turmoil, people become travellers. They go from one country to another. They are always on the go. They are always going somewhere. They are not reaching anywhere, but they are always going somewhere. In fact they are not going anywhere, they are only escaping the place where they are. If they are in America they are going to India. If they are in India they are going to Japan. If they are in Japan they are going to Nepal. They are not going anywhere! They are simply trying to escape from the place where they are. But everywhere they remain the same. Nothing happens. Because geography has nothing to do with it.

In a way, those vagabonds are truer, more honest. They decide in an angry mood. They curse, they swear, and they say: ‘Now enough! Tomorrow morning we are not going to be here, waiting for Godot. We will leave.’ Tomorrow again, the sun rises and they are in the same place, and waiting. And again, asking when he is coming. They have completely forgotten that last night they had decided to leave. But where to go? There is nowhere to go: this is a second basic truth about humanity.

First, nothing ever happens. Things appear to happen, but you remain the same. Look into your being — has anything ever happened there? You were a child and you dreamed a lot, and then you became young and you still dreamed a lot. Then you became old and you still dreamed. You dreamed about the riches of this world; now maybe you are dreaming about the riches of another world. But has anything ever happened to you? And don’t be scared — because if you are scared you start asking secondary questions.

Religion is to ask the fundamental question, the very basic question, and to ask it courageously is very significant because in the very asking you are coming nearer to the center.

The second truth: you have been going and going and going from one place to another, from one mood to another, from one plane to another, from one level to another level. You are not reaching anywhere. Have you reached any place? Can you say that you have arrived anywhere? It is always a departure; an arrival never happens. Trains are always leaving, planes are always leaving, people are ready in their waiting rooms. Always departure — never arriving anywhere. The whole absurdity of it. But you never ask these two basic questions.

And then the third automatically bubbles up: Who are you? Because it is not really meaningful to ask who Godot is. That is your creation; your gods are your creations. Forget what the Bible says — that God created man in his own image. It is just the reverse: man created God in his own image. It is Godot. It is your creation. It is your dream. Somehow to feel that you are significant, meaningful, you have created a God in the skies. God has not created the world, God has not created man. Man has created the whole concept. A real religion, an authentic religion, does not ask who God is. It asks: ‘Who am I?’ I have to fall upon my basic source. There, and there only — the revelation. Jesus, Buddha or Baal Shem Tov — they ask the fundamental questions.

The second thing to understand about fundamental questioning is: fundamental questions have no answers. The question is itself the answer If you ask it authentically, in the very asking it is answered. It is not that you ask: ‘Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?’… and one day you come to know that you are a, b, c, d…. No — you never come to know a, b, c, d. By and by, the more you ask it, the deeper it goes. One day, suddenly, the question disappears. You are standing face-to-face with your own being, you are open to your being. The question has disappeared and there is no answer. Take it as a criterion: if a question can be answered, it is not fundamental. If, by asking, a question disappears — it is fundamental. And in the very disappearance you have arrived, and for the first time something happens. For the first time you are no more the same. Godot has not come, but waiting disappears. You don’t wait, you have arrived.

And once you have arrived the quality of your being is totally different. Then you can celebrate. How can you celebrate when you have not arrived? You are sad, miserable. How can you dance when the goal is very far away? — so distant that there seems to be no possibility that you will ever be capable of reaching it. How can you be happy? How can you enjoy? How can joy happen to you? You are still on the way. The seed is still a seed and the flower is far away. No, it is not possible. When the seed becomes the flower there is joy, there is delight. Once you understand who you are, once you go deep into your emptiness and are not scared, once you accept the inner death and you are not trying to escape through dreams and projections, once you accept that you are dust unto dust and between these two happenings there is nothing but a deep emptiness, you have arrived at what Buddha calls ‘nirvana’. And this is what Hassids call ‘God’! It is not your Godot.

Jews have insisted always that the name of God should not be uttered, because once you utter it you falsify it. It is not utterable; it is inexpressible. You can contain it in your heart but you cannot relate it. You can become it but you cannot express it. And Jews are perfectly right in their feeling about it.

God is not a being; it is a phenomenon — so vast, so infinite, that no word can contain it. Only the infinite heart can contain it. Only the infinite inner emptiness can contain it.

When you enter within yourself, you will feel you are entering into a space where you are going to be lost — just as a drop of water entering into the ocean is lost. You will be lost: that is the fear. That is why you become afraid of death and you start dreaming — future, projections.

Entry into your being is always like death. It is a crucifixion. It is a cross. But if you are courageous enough…. And cowards can never become religious. Only very rare courageous souls who can take the risk of being lost, arrive. You have to pay for it and nothing less will do. You have to lose yourself to gain it. Once you are ready to enter into the emptiness, suddenly the fear disappears. The same energy becomes a celebration. You can dance, because that which appeared as emptiness was an interpretation of the mind. It was not empty. It was so full that the mind could not understand the fullness of it!…

Once you enter into your inner being the mind cannot understand. It is totally unaware of the new language, the new territory. It is absolutely unknown to it. The mind cannot cope with it. It simply goes empty; the thing is too much. The light is so bright and dazzling — the mind goes empty and blank. You become afraid and you escape. Then you create a false god, a Godot. A Godot is a false god. It may be wealth. It may be prestige and power. It may be politics. It may be ego. It may be a god in heaven. But it is all Godot. You created it. You don’t know what is. Not knowing what is, you create your own dream around it.

Authentic religion is an inquiry into what is. Inauthentic religion is inventive. Authentic religion is a discovery. Inauthentic religion is an invention. Mind invents. And mind is the barrier. And once the mind invents, it creates great philosophies: Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism. All the great mystics — Hassids, Zen Masters, Sufis — they are rebellious. They have to be. A religious man is a rebellious man — there is no other way. Religion and rebellion are two aspects of the same coin. There are religions of Godots: churches, mosques, temples, organized around a creed, organized because of the fear of man, organized because of the mind escaping from inner emptiness. Doctrines, dogmas, to fill you. These are all barriers. A Jesus, a Buddha, or a Baal Shem Tov are by necessity rebellious. I don’t call them revolutionaries; I call them rebellious — and the difference has to be understood well.

A revolutionary is one who wants to change the society, who wants to change the government, who wants to change the structure — economical, political, religious. A revolutionary is not spiritual. He is not concerned with his own change. He thinks if others change then everything will be perfectly okay. A revolutionary lives in an illusion. All revolutions have failed, failed utterly. And ultimately a revolution cannot succeed. The very attitude is wrongly oriented: it is an effort to change the other. A rebellious man is not concerned with the structure of the society, state, government, no. He is concerned with his own being. He is individual. Revolutionaries make parties. A rebellious man is alone; he is his own revolution. Wherever he moves, a revolution moves around him. His very being is a transforming force.

A Jesus, a Buddha, a Zarathustra — these are rebellious people. They have changed their own being, they have arrived. Even if you watch them from the outside you can see the serenity, the calm, the subtle joy — the way they breathe, the way they move. You can watch, you can feel, you can hear the sound that surrounds them — the subtle ripples of their inner calm. If you open yourself it will be reaching you. A rebellion has happened —  the state of being is totally new. The old is dead and the new is born. This is the meaning of the story of Jesus’ crucifixion AND resurrection. It is a metaphor. Don’t try to find history in it. Once you take metaphors as history, you are behaving very foolishly. It is a beautiful, poetic metaphor. Christ is crucified and on the third day he is resurrected. A new life — immortal now, eternal now.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: The True Sage
Chapter #1
Chapter title: To walk with one’s own light
11 October 1975 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Daya, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Lalla, Magdalen, Mallibai, Meera, Nanak, Patanjali, Rabiya, Baal Shem, Raman Maharishi, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Shivapuri Baba, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Sermons in Stones
  2. Come Come Yet Again Come
  3. The Hidden Splendor
  4. Beyond Enlightenment
  5. The New Dawn
  6. The Sword and The Lotus
  7. The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
  8. Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
  9. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega
  10. The Path of Love
  11. The Book of Wisdom
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