Laughter of Zarathustra
Birthday of an Enlightened Master Zarathustra
26th of March is the birthday of an enlightened master Zarathustra also known as Zoroaster. He was from Iranian origin. His teachings challenged the existing traditions of the Indo-Iranian religion and inaugurated a movement that eventually became the dominant religion in Ancient Persia.
At very early age of seven his training of priesthood was probably started. He became a priest probably around the age of fifteen, and according to Gathas (any of the seventeen poems attributed to Zoroaster), he gained knowledge from other teachers and personal experience from traveling when he left his parents at age twenty.
Osho has spoken on Zarathustra and his teachings immensely in his two discourse series ‘Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance’and ‘Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet’.
Osho says Friedrich Nietzsche loved the teachings of Zarasthustra, and wrote the book THUS SPAKE ZARATUSTRA to bring Zarathustra and his teachings in light. He wrote the book to appreciate life and the love for life. He could not find any other master so life-affirmative as Zarathustra; a man who begins his life with laughter, whose whole life is a laughter. There is no pessimism, not even a strain of pessimism in him.
Osho also says Living for ten years in the mountains, Zarathustra attained the ecstasy of being alone, the purity of being alone, the independence of being alone — and this is where he is unique amongst other awakened people: When they discovered, they remained in their heights. Zarathustra starts “down-going,” going back to the crowd. He has to deliver the message to humanity that you are suffering unnecessarily; you are being dependent unnecessarily; you are creating all kinds of imprisonments for yourself — just to feel safe and secure. But the only security and the only safety is in knowing yourself, because then even death is impotent. It cannot destroy you.
IT IS SAID THAT ZARATHUSTRA HAD LOUDLY LAUGHED WHEN HE WAS BORN. IS IT TRUE?
IT MUST BE TRUE, because a man like Zarathustra comes in the world with great insight. He must have seen the world immediately — he must have seen the whole crazy scene! It depends how much intelligence you have got. Few people take their whole life to realize that they have been living in a madhouse. He must have seen at the first moment that “This is a crazy place I am entering into!” And it is not only Zarathustra — every child, the moment the child becomes capable of focusing properly, he starts smiling, because he is then able to see what his father looks like!
A recent story tells about a baby who was giggling and laughing minutes after he was born. The obstetrician noticed he had unusual muscle control, his tiny left fist being tightly clenched. When the doctor pried it open he found a contraceptive pill.
Zarathustra must have laughed! Whether he laughed or not… I am not concerned about history, but to me his laughter is very significant. The world is in such a mess! Ordinarily children are born crying — that too is their judgment! They are saying, “My God! So this is the world I am born into?” Zarathustra has a different attitude, from the other extreme — he laughed. He must have been a man like me, hence I have very deep love for Zarathustra.
A rabbi and a Hindu monk, who was obviously a teetotaler, happened to be seated together in the dining car of a train. When the rabbi ordered a martini, the Hindu monk was shocked.
“I would rather commit adultery!” he scoffed.
“I didn’t know they gave you a choice here,” replied the rabbi…
A rambling man thought up a new scheme for winning sympathy. He rang the doorbell, then got down on his knees and started nibbling on the grass. “What are you doing there?” asked the lady when she opened the door.
The tramp rose weakly to his feet, clutched his stomach in mock pain and moaned, “Ma’am, I am so hungry I just had to take to eating grass.”
“Why, you poor man, stop eating that dry old grass!” cried the woman sympathetically. “Go around in the back where the grass is greener and longer!”…
If Zarathustra laughed, what is wrong in it? He must have seen the whole stupidity, that he has to live with these people, and he started with a laughter.
The noted agnostic lecturer, Robert G. Ingersoll, said once: “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.” He is wrong — Zarathustra did. Of course, about ninety-nine percent religions Ingersoll is right; his statement is significant. He says, “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.” It is true about Jesus, about Buddha, about Mohammed, about Krishna — it is absolutely true; these people don’t seem to have any sense of humor — except about Zarathustra. Maybe Ingersoll had never heard about Zarathustra. He is the only man known who started his life with laughter — must have had an immense sense of humor. To begin your life with laughter is not an easy matter. He must have prepared for it for many lives; he must have come ready.
Christians say Jesus never laughed in his whole life; maybe they are right. I don’t want to believe it because that means a great condemnation of Jesus, but if Christians say, then, of course, who I am to disagree with them? They are the authoritative people, at least about Jesus — they own Jesus! Protestant Church in Germany has banned my books in the churches, in the churches’ libraries. It has been given to all the priests, to all the churches, that my name, even my name, should not be mentioned in any sermon. Nothing should be quoted from my books, even to refute it, because people become interested! This may be one of the reasons why Jesus has succeeded to change almost half the humanity to Christianity, because people are sad. Zarathustra has not found many followers, you know? His followers are only confined in Bombay — just only few thousand. Why Zarathustra has failed? Maybe that laughter is the cause: he has the sense of humor. People are serious, sad, miserable, hence the cross of Jesus seems to be very appealing, because their life is also on the cross. They can understand Jesus and his agony — they are passing through it. Their whole life is nothing but carrying a cross. They can find a deep affinity with Jesus, his crucifixion — they are also crucified. But what affinity they can find with Zarathustra? Why Zarathustra failed?
Buddhists have found millions of followers; the whole Asia is Buddhist. Christians have found millions of followers; half the earth is Christian. Mohammedans are next to Christians — and Mohammed has no sense of humor at all. With a sword in his hand he is very serious, really serious. He is much concerned about your welfare — if you don’t listen him he is ready to fight with you, but he is determined to convince you because he is determined to save your soul. Even if he has to use the sword he has to save you. How can he allow you to fall into hell? It is for your own sake. Zarathustra is the only person who has not been able to find followers. I can see the point: with a sense of humor, who is going to listen to you? I am trying again something like Zarathustra. My effort here is to prove Ingersoll wrong.
I am trying to found a religion based totally on the sense of humor!…
To me sense of humor should be the foundation stone of the future religiousness of man. There is no need to be so serious. Man is the only animal who has the sense of humor. You have never seen buffaloes laughing, or the donkeys. Only the man can have the feel of the ridiculous, of the absurd. It needs great intelligence to have sense of humor; on the lower planes it does not exist and even all human beings don’t have it; those who exist on lower planes of intelligence are bound to be serious — serious like the donkeys.
Donkeys are very serious people, always thinking about serious things, it seems, much disturbed with all the problems of the world. I have watched donkeys very closely; from my very childhood I have been very much interested in donkeys. If Pavlov could find many things about man by studying dogs, if Skinner can find many things about man by studying white rats, if Delgado can find many things about man by studying monkeys, I feel why these people have missed the donkey? He comes closest to human beings — a serious philosopher, a pundit, a scholar, a theologian! Who has ever heard a donkey laughing?
Zarathustra seems to be of the highest caliber, of the most refined intelligence. At the first sight of the world he laughed He could not contain himself, he could not resist the temptation seeing where he has landed…Children are far more clear: you cannot befool them so easily. And at the first moment when the child opens his eyes his clarity is absolute. No priest has come in, no politician has corrupted him yet. He has not been conditioned by Catholics and Protestants and Hindus and Mohammedans. He has not been told all kinds of lies and beliefs and superstitions. His eyes are clear, he can see through and through. Zarathustra did the right thing — that he laughed.
Once Diogenes asked alms from a man with a philosophic bent of mind. “Before I give you a DRACHMA,” said the man, “convince me why I should do so.”
“If I thought you were amenable to reason,” Diogenes told him, “I would recommend that you go and hang yourself.” Who is amenable to reason? It is an irrational world, and Diogenes is right. the man was asking, “Convince me — why should I give you anything? Why? Diogenes answer is right that: “If I thought that you can understand reason, then the only thing I would suggest for you will be go and hang yourself, because what you are doing in this irrational world? Such a reasonable man!”
The laughter of Zarathustra looks irrational, but it is not irrational. Seeing the irrationality all around he must have been perceptive, very perceptive. The story is strange. There are many miracles talked about people like Jesus, Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna, but they are almost the same. The miracle of walking on water is repeated in thousands of stones; it is nothing special to Jesus. The miracle of curing the people from their incurable diseases is nothing new to Jesus. It is the same miracle being done by so many people around the world, in every tradition, in every religion. Even the miracle of raising the dead is not new; that too is a common miracle attributed to many people. But this miracle of Zarathustra is simply unique; no other person has been attributed with this miracle. Nobody has ever thought about it. And it is far more significant than raising the dead, because raising the dead is not going to help. Lazarus has to die finally, has to die sooner or later, so what does it matter — this week or the next week? He may have lived few years more — so what? Curing a man from his illness does not matter much, because still death will come, other diseases will come. Even if he starts seeing — he was blind before — what does it matter? So many millions of people have eyes — what has happened to them?
In fact, there is a Sufi story about Jesus, not related by the Christians in their scriptures They must have all avoided it The Bible is not exactly true; much has been edited out of it Anything that was going to create a trouble for the theologians, for the priests, for the popes, has been edited out, left out But there are always few people who will not miss such an opportunity; they will collect all those rejected parts — because they are far more important than the accepted ones. This story is a rejected story by the Christians, but the Sufis have preserved it, and they have done a great service to humanity.
Jesus enters a town and he comes across a man who is lying in the gutter shouting ugly words, completely drunk. Jesus comes close to him to help him, looks at his face and recognizes that this man is well-known to him. He was very ill, Jesus saved him, dragged him almost from the door of death.
He shook the drunk and asked him, “Do you recognize me?”
He said, “Yes, I recognize you perfectly well. You are the man who created the trouble! I was going to die — why you saved me? And now why you have come again? Are you gong to do something more?”
Jesus could not believe the way the man was behaving, as if Jesus has done something wrong to him. Jesus said, “Why you are so angry?”
The man says, “I am angry because I was going to die and the whole thing was going to be finished, and you saved me! Now I don’t know what to do with my life. You see, I am lying down in the gutter — you are responsible! Now I am simply trying to forget myself and my problems and my anxieties by drinking as much as I can. And I know it is poison, but what else to do? Why you saved me? I have been looking for you — it is good that you have come by yourself Answer me!”
And Jesus could not answer him. The man is asking a relevant question: “Why you saved me? For what? For this gutter? For drinking and trying to forget my miseries?”
Jesus moved, very humiliated, shocked.
He saw another man who was running after a prostitute He prevented the man — he forgot the first man — just old habits! He prevented the second man and said, “What are you doing? Has God given you the eyes just to lust after women? Even to THINK of lust is sin — you will suffer in hell!”
And the man said, “Stop all this nonsense! It is YOU who cured me of my blindness! I was perfectly happy with my blindness because I had never seen a woman, so I was never disturbed I never cared who is passing, man or woman, it was all the same It is you who cured me Now what should I do with these eyes? These eyes feel attracted towards beauty And remember, at the last moment on the day of judgment, I will point you — that you are responsible I was an innocent blind man. You gave me eyes, and I had not asked even! I was just sitting, you came and touched my eyes and you cured me! You did not even ask me!”
Jesus was now really shocked. He didn’t go into the town. he left the town. When he was coming out he saw a man preparing to hang himself by a tree. Again he forgot — old habits die hard! He reached to the man and said, “What are you doing?”
And this man was nobody else but Lazarus! He said, “So you have come again! Get lost! I am committing suicide — enough is enough! And how you came to know? Last time my sisters invited you, Martha and Mary, they invited you. And I was dead — at last I was dead, resting at peace, and you came and resurrected me A.nd now again you are back! You won’t allow me any peace? How long I have to live, and why should I live? What is the point of it all?”
All these miracles are meaningless, but Zarathustra’s miracle of laughing at the moment of his birth is really significant.
A great Zen Master lay critically ill. As his doctor prepared to leave he said cheerfully, “I will see you in the morning.”
Although the dying Master knew his hours were numbered, he could not resist quipping, “Of course. But will I see you?”
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: I Am That
Chapter title: No Mind At All
21 October 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Meher Baba, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendour
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom