Just One Stroke of the Sword

Osho on Zen

Life has no goal as such. Life itself is its own goal — the goal is intrinsic. The value of life is in itself; it does not come from anything else. Life is not a means to some end somewhere in the future. Life is its own end, its own means. Life is all….Once you understand this you cannot say life is meaningless.

Socrates started a certain idea in the West which has culminated in its logical perfection in Sartre. Socrates says: A life lived without meaning is not worth living. Now this is the seed — from Socrates to Sartre this seed has been growing and growing down the ages in the West. Now Sartre says: Because there is no meaning, life is meaningless, not worth living at all.

Albert Camus says: The only problem that man has to solve is the problem of suicide — the only metaphysical problem. Why? because he says life is meaningless, so why live? If Socrates is right, that a life is worth living only when it has some meaning, some goal, when it is moving somewhere, reaching somewhere, attaining something, achieving something… only then it is worth living. And if there is nothing to achieve and nowhere to go, then life is meaningless. Then why live at all? Why not commit suicide?

Buddha’s understanding is totally different. He says: life is its own meaning. You need not create any other meaning — and all created meanings will become just sources of anxiety. The rose blooming in the garden is not blooming for something else! And the river Flowing to the ocean is not flowing for something else — the flow is the joy. The flowering is the celebration.

You in love — meditate over the phenomenon. Is the love leading you somewhere? Love is its own delight; it need not have any other goal. It is enough unto itself. When you drop the idea of meaning and goal, a strange phenomenon happens — the idea of meaninglessness also disappears. With the idea of meaning, side by side, parallel, runs another idea: the idea of meaninglessness. Buddha cuts the root. He says there is no meaning to be attained, hence there is no question of feeling meaninglessness. Life in itself is its value.

Ikkyu comments on this beautiful existential intuition:





There cannot be. Nobody has ever gone astray! Adam has never left the Garden of Eden. He is still living in the Garden of Eden — but he has become goal-oriented so he cannot see it. He has started thinking of the future. Because of that thought of the future, his mind is clouded and he cannot see that which is around. When you are too much future-oriented, you start becoming forgetful about the present — which is the only reality. These birds chattering… that faraway cuckoo… THIS moment!… this herenow… is forgotten when you start thinking in terms of achieving something. When the achieving mind arises, you lose contact with the paradise you are in. This is one of the most liberating approaches: it liberates you right now! Forget all about sin and forget all about saintliness; both are stupid. Both together have destroyed all the joys of humanity. The sinner is feeling guilty, hence his joy is lost. How can you enjoy life if you are continuously feeling guilty? If you are continuously going to the church to confess that you have done this wrong and that wrong? And wrong and wrong and wrong… your whole life seems to be made of sins. How can you live joyously? It becomes impossible to delight in life. You become heavy, loaded. Guilt sits on your chest like a rock, it crushes you; it does not allow you to dance. How can you dance? How can guilt dance? How can guilt sing? How can guilt love? How can guilt live? So the one who thinks he is doing something wrong is guilty, burdened, dead before death, has already entered into the grave.

And the person who thinks he is a saint, he cannot live either, he cannot delight either. Because he is afraid: if he delights he may lose his saintliness, if he laughs he may fall from his high posture. Laughter is mundane, joy is ordinary — the saint has to be serious, utterly serious; he has to be a long face. He cannot dance, because dance may distract him. He cannot hold the hand of anybody; he may fall in love and attachment may arise. He cannot look at a beautiful woman or a man — who knows, somewhere lurking in the deeper layers of unconsciousness there may be a desire, a lust. He cannot relax, because if you relax, your repressed desires will start surfacing. He has to repress them continuously! A saint is never on a holiday, cannot be, because the holiday means he will have to allow all that he has been controlling. A saint cannot relax, and if you cannot relax, how can you enjoy? how can you celebrate? how can you be grateful? The sinner loses because of guilt and the saint loses because of the ego, the pious ego — both are losers. And both are parts of the same game, partners in the same game, and the game is created by the goal. Give a goal to humanity and humanity will remain in misery. Goals are misery-creating. The achieving mind, the constantly achieving mind, is the original source of all illness, of all disease.

Buddha says: There is nowhere to go — relax. You can’t miss in the first place — relax. How can you miss? There is no target! Wrong has never been done. And so is right — right has never been done. There is nothing right, nothing wrong. In fact, there is no doer — how can you do wrong or right? There is no doer — how can you be a sinner or a saint?

Deep inside you are just a hollow bamboo and existence flows through you for no other motive than the sheer delight in flow. Existence flows because it delights in flow. There is no utilitarian goal. That’s why I say religion can only speak the language of poetry. It cannot speak the language of arithmetic, it cannot speak the language of logic — it can only speak the language of love. Logic is always goal-oriented; arithmetic is always goal-oriented. Watch the rose flowers and the grass leaves and the rivers and the mountains, live with nature, and slowly slowly you will see nothing is going anywhere. Everything is moving, but not in any particular direction to a particular goal.

Movement is delight.

That’s what William Blake, one of the great mystic poets of the West, says: Energy is delight.

If there is no way to lose yourself, no way to sin, no way to become a saint and no way to feel guilt, the so-called religion disappears, the church becomes meaningless, the dogmas and the rituals lose all significance. Then LIFE becomes religion, and then there is no other religion beyond life, other than life. Then life becomes the only scripture. Then life becomes all that is there.

Live and know, live and feel, live and be. The religion of Buddha is a religionless religion, and Zen is its culmination. Zen is its fragrance. What was seed in Buddha has become a fragrance in Zen. Zen is the pure essence of Buddha’s heart. What this man, Gautam Siddhartha, realized, what this man came to see, has been expressed by Zen in its uttermost beauty. It rarely happens.

Ordinarily what happens is: Jesus comes and he himself is the greatest expression of what he has experienced. Slowly slowly, the followers are less intelligent, more mediocre. And by the time the church has become established, it has become part of the mob, of the crowd, of the lowest — lowest in intelligence, awareness, love. It has lost its glory. It has lost its snow-capped peaks. Now it moves in the dark valleys. With Buddha totally different phenomena happened. He was one of the most fortunate masters of human history, because what he found has been going on higher and higher in its expression, in its poetry, in its rhythm. In Zen it has come to its uttermost flowering. Zen is pure essence, just fragrance. Only those who are REALLY intelligent will be able to understand it; otherwise, the mediocre will feel offended — even mediocre Buddhists feel very offended.

Just listen to Ikkyu’s words…. The mediocre man cannot find any security in them. He lives through goals — the mediocre sinner and the mediocre saint, both live through goals. Only an absolutely intelligent person can live without goals; only intelligence can live herenow. Only intelligence can live in the moment, without bringing anything from the outside. Jesus says: Look at the lilies in the field — they think not of the morrow, they toil not. And yet even Solomon, attired in all his costly clothes, was not so beautiful as these poor lily-flowers. What is so beautiful in these lily-flowers? Solomon is not so beautiful with all his kingdom and riches. Even he was not attired in such grandeur, in such splendour as these poor lily-flowers. What is SO beautiful in these flowers? They live in the moment, they think not of the morrow.

A man of absolute intelligence becomes a flower. He lives herenow. He has no past and he has no future. And because he has no past and he has no future, you cannot say that he lives in the present either, because present is just a midway station between the movement that happens from past to future. The present is just a station on the way. When past and future disappear, present also disappears. What is left is a timelessness.

Now is a timeless moment. It is eternity — and Buddha calls it meditation. If guilt disappears, religion disappears. And guilt disappears if goal disappears. Guilt is a shadow of the goal.

Now, Christianity won’t like it, Islam won’t like it, Hindus won’t like it — they all live on the goal. They will not like this flight to the beyond; they will not like this poetic, aesthetic religion. They have become accustomed to a very ordinary religion, businesslike; it is part of their marketplace.

Buddha is very wide-winged. He goes to the farthest sky. And he wants you to come to those heights of being, depth of being. AND THEY ARE ALL AVAILABLE NOW! So remember again and again: he is not giving you a goal somewhere in the future — he is simply making you aware that all that you need is available now. Nothing more is needed. Nothing more will EVER happen, nothing more can ever happen. If you want to live, all is happening now — become part of it, dissolve into it. And to help you dissolve into it he emphasizes that there is no self, because if there is a self you cannot dissolve. You can dissolve only if there is no self. With ONE stroke of his sword, Buddha makes all religions disappear — the priest, the saint, the sinner, the commandments, Adam and Eve, the disobedience, the original sin. With one stroke of his sword they all disappear, they are annihilated Man is left alone — and nature. And because there is no self inside you, there is no division between inside and outside; there is no boundary between outside and inside. Outside is inside, inside is outside. That’s why a strange paradoxical statement has been made by Zen people: samsara is nirvana — THIS very world is enlightenment, this very earth is the lotus-land of Buddhas, and this very body the Buddha.

SECOND THING: this understanding has not to be practised. You cannot practise it, because practice implies the goal. This understanding either is there or is not there. There is no methodology to practise it. Practising means you are again thinking to do something tomorrow, or at least you can do it tomorrow and you can reap the results tomorrow. But the tomorrow has entered somewhere deep in your unconscious, it has come back. No practice can give you this understanding. THIS understanding is not a question of practice — this understanding is only a question of understanding. So it was not accidental that Buddha and his teaching were destroyed in India, because the mediocre mind could not tolerate him, his insight: it was too much. They could not understand it. They wanted some methodology to be given, to be practised, and Buddha was talking of pure essence. And he says right now is deliverance.


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

Discourse Series: Take It Easy, Vol 1

Chapter #3

Chapter title: All Lies and Nonsense!

13 April 1978 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on ‘Zen’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Ah, This!
  2. The Buddha: The Emptiness of the Heart
  3. Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
  4. The First Principle
  5. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  6. The Grass Grows By Itself
  7. Live Zen
  8. The Miracle
  9. Take It Easy, Vol 1
  10. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  11. Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen
  12. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  13. Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
  14. Zen: The Solitary Bird, Cuckoo of the Forest
  15. Zen: The Quantum Leap From Mind to No-Mind
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