Life is a Gift

Birthday of American President Thomas Jefferson

Born on 13 April 1743, Thomas Jefferson was the 3rd President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Among other things, Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He was a strong patron of democracy and individual rights, playing a crucial role in the American revolution as a representative of Virginia.

Jefferson mastered many disciplines – he was a plantation owner, lawyer, architect, philosopher, diplomat, and of course, an American statesman. He earned the presidency of the American Philosophical Society as well, and he was intrigued by the religious views of Christianity, deism, and Epicureanism. He wrote several books, the most prominent being the ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’, published in 1785.  The fact that he owned over 600 slaves in his household during his life while defending human equality and freedom made Jefferson one of America’s paradoxical heroes.

Osho talking about politician says, “I condemn the word pursuit. About anybody — and these people who made the American constitution are big shots; perhaps it was Jefferson — but about anybody who wrote this word pursuit, I can say without knowing his name, without knowing anything about him, that he must have been an utterly miserable man. He had not known happiness ever. He had been pursuing it; hence, he tried to give to every American the same birthright that he has claimed. And nobody has criticized it in three hundred years; nobody criticized a simple thing.

A poet, a painter, a singer, a dancer, yes, once in a while attain to happiness. But one thing is always there: whenever happiness comes they are not there. The pursuer is not there, the pursuit is not there.

Osho Says…

The greatest secret of life is — and remember it always — that life is a gift. You have not deserved it in the first place. It is not your right. It has been given to you, you have not earned it. Once you understand this, many things will become clear. If life is a gift then all that belongs to life is going to be a gift. Happiness, love, meditation — all that is beautiful is going to be a gift from the holy, from the whole.

You cannot deserve it in any way and you cannot force existence to make you happy, or to make you loving, or to make you meditative. That very effort is of the ego. That very effort creates misery. That very effort goes against you. That very effort has destroyed you — it is suicidal.

In the American constitution they have given a right, a basic right — and they call it the basic fundamental right — to pursue happiness. It is impossible to pursue happiness. Nobody has ever pursued it. One has to wait for it. And it is not a right at all. No law court can force you to be happy or force happiness to be with you. No government violence is capable of making you happy. No power can make you happy. The founding fathers committed a very deep mistake. It seems Jefferson didn’t know much about happiness. Politicians can’t know — they are the unhappiest people on earth. Jefferson added this right to the American constitution, and you will be surprised that because of this, the very wording of it, America has become one of the unhappiest countries in the world, ever. …

Because the very idea that you can pursue happiness, that you can deserve it, that you can demand it, that you have the RIGHT to be happy, is foolish. Nobody has the right to be happy. You can be happy, but there is nothing like a right about it. And if you think that it is your right you will go on missing, because you have started to look in the wrong direction from the very beginning.

Why is it so? If life is a gift, all that belongs to and is intrinsic to life is going to be a gift. You can wait for it, you can be receptive to it, you can remain in a surrendered mood, waiting, patient, but you cannot demand, and you cannot force. Emile Coue is more alert than Jefferson. Emile Coue has discovered a law he calls The Law of Reverse Effect. There are certain things which, if you try to do, you will undo. If you don’t try to do them you may be able to do them. The very effort leads you to the reverse effect. For example, sleep. You want to go to sleep — what can you do? Everybody has a fundamental right to sleep, but what can you do? Can you ask the police to come and help? What can you do when you don’t feel like going to sleep? Whatsoever you do is going to disturb you because the very effort works against sleep. Sleep is an effortlessness. When you simply relax, not doing anything, by and by you drift into sleep. You cannot SWIM towards it — you drift. You cannot make any conscious effort.

And this is the problem with all those people who suffer from sleeplessness, insomnia. All insomniacs have their rituals. They do certain things to cause sleep to come to them. And that is where they miss, that is where everything goes wrong. How can you force sleep? The more you force the more YOU will be there — aware, alert, conscious. Every effort will make you more aware, more alert, and sleep will be put off. What do you do when you want to go to sleep? You don’t do anything. You simply wait, in a restful mood. You simply allow sleep to come to you — you cannot force it. You cannot demand, you cannot say, “Come!” With closed eyes, in a dark room, on your pillow, you simply wait… and waiting, you start drifting. Like a cloud glides, drifts, you drift by and by from the conscious mind to the unconscious. You lose all control. You have to lose control; otherwise you cannot go to sleep, because the part that controls is the conscious mind. It has to allow. Control has to be left completely. Then — you don’t know when and why and how — sleep comes to you. Only in the morning you become aware that you have been asleep, and you slept well. Ninety-nine percent of people who suffer from sleeplessness create their own trouble. I have not come across more than one percent of insomniacs who are really suffering from something in their body chemistry. Ninety-nine percent are simply suffering because they don’t know Emile Coue’s Law of Reverse Effect. They are followers of Jefferson; they think sleep is a right.

In life, only on the surface, in the marketplace, rights exist. As you move deeper, rights disappear. As you move deeper, gifts appear. This is one of the most basic things to remember always:  you have not deserved life, and life is there! Absolutely undeserved, you are alive, with tremendous energy — alive! How does it happen? And if life can happen without deserving it, without any right to it, why not happiness? why not love? why not ecstasy? They can all happen, but you have to understand the law. The law is: don’t try directly. Happiness cannot be pursued. It can be persuaded. Persuasion is indirect.

It is not an attack. You move, but not directly, because when you are direct you are aggressive. Nothing is as direct as violence. And nothing is as violent as directness. Life moves in circles, not direct. The Earth moves around the sun. The sun moves around some greater sun. Galaxies move, the whole universe moves, in rounds. Seasons move in a round. Childhood, youth, old age, move in a round. The whole of life is circular, it never goes direct. It is not like an arrow that goes direct to the target. An arrow is man’s invention. In life there is nothing like an arrow. An arrow is man’s violent mind. An arrow chooses the very shortest cut between two points. The arrow is in a great hurry, seems to be too time-conscious. But God is not in a hurry.

Just the other day I was reading a small booklet from Jesus freaks — ninety-nine percent nonsense, but one percent really beautiful! And even if something is one percent beautiful it is so much, because if you go to the Christian theologians, they are one hundred percent nonsense. The one percent that was meaningful, I loved. That part says, “Hurry kills! Haste is waste.” And

God is not in a hurry. He moves with infinite patience. God is a loafer, he hangs around. In fact, God is not going anywhere — he is already there. So there is no goal. The arrow is dancing round and round and round. It is not going to any target — there is no target. Just BEING is the target. So God hangs around like the fragrance of a flower which hangs in a summer night — just around and around, nowhere to go.

And God has infinite patience. He works with care, and in very indirect ways. He creates a baby, and takes nine months — he doesn’t seem to have any efficiency experts around him. This has been going on for millions of years, and he has not learned anything; otherwise he could have managed to create better instruments so that a baby could be created within nine minutes. Why nine months? And from the very beginning he has been doing the same thing; he has not learned anything. He should ask the experts, particularly the efficiency experts. They will show him how to produce, how to produce on a mass scale, and not waste so much time — nine months per baby! But it is not only with babies — with flowers also he takes infinite care; with birds, even with a blade of grass he takes infinite care and time. He is not in a hurry. In fact it seems he is not aware of time at all. He exists timelessly. If you want to be with him, don’t be in a hurry; otherwise you will bypass him. He will be always loitering here and now, and you will always be going there and then. You will always be like an arrow, and he is not like an arrow.


to be with God is to be happy, to be with God is to be alive, to be with God is to be in meditation.

But the whole training of man is how to do things fast. Speed in itself seems to be a value. It is not. In itself it can create only madness — and it HAS created madness. Move indirectly. And what is indirectly? I used to know an old man who was always complaining, always grumpy. Everything was wrong — he was a born critic. And of course as critics suffer, he suffered, because sometimes it was too hot, and sometimes it was too cold, and sometimes it rained too much, and sometimes it didn’t rain at all. All seasons, all the year round, he was suffering. A negative mind, a negative attitude — and he was continuously in search of being happy, continuously making every effort to be contented and satisfied.  But I have not seen a more discontented man than him; he was the very personification of suffering, dissatisfaction, discontent. In his eyes there was nothing but discontent. On his face many wrinkles of tension and discontent, all the grumblings of his whole life were written there.

But suddenly one day he changed. He had become sixty and the next day was his birthday; people came to greet him, and they could not believe their eyes — he had changed so suddenly, in the night. Somebody told me about it also, so I walked down to his house to inquire, because this was a revolution! The Russian Revolution was nothing compared to it. The Chinese Revolution, nothing compared to it. A revolution! For sixty years this man had trained himself for discontent. How, suddenly…? What had happened, what miracle? I could not believe that even Jesus could have done such a miracle, it was not possible, because you never hear in The Bible…. Jesus cured blind men, he cured the deaf and dumb, he cured even the dead, but you don’t hear a single story of Jesus curing anybody of discontent. It is not possible.

I asked the old man — he was really happy, bubbling with happiness — I said, “What has happened to you?”

He said, “Enough is enough! For sixty years I tried to be happy and could not, so last night I decided: Now forget about it; don’t bother about happiness, just live. And here I am, happy.”

He PURSUED happiness for sixty years. If you pursue, you will become more and more unhappy. You are going direct, like an arrow, and God doesn’t believe in shortcuts. You will attain to YOUR target, but happiness will not be there. Millions of people attain their targets: they wanted to be successful, they are successful — but unhappy. They wanted to be rich, they are rich — but unhappy. The richer they get, the unhappier they become, because now even the hope is lost. They were thinking that when they became rich they would be happy; now they are rich, and happiness — they cannot see any sign of it anywhere. Now, with unhappiness hopelessness also settles. A poor man is never hopeless, a rich man always is. And if you find a rich man who is not yet hopeless it is certain he is not yet rich. Hopelessness is the symbol of being rich. A poor man can hope. Millions of things are there which he has not got. He can dream, he can hope that when these things are there he will have attained the target. Then everything will be okay, he will be happy.

This man pursued happiness for sixty years. At sixty death is coming nearer, and he must have felt it that night, because whenever a birthday comes a subtle feeling of death arises. To suppress that feeling we celebrate birthdays. Whenever a birthday comes, on that day it is impossible to forget death. To help you forget, friends come and greet you and they say, “This is your birthday.” Every birthday is a death day, because one more year has gone, death is nearing. In fact a birthday is not a birthday, cannot be — death is approaching, death is coming nearer. Time is slipping fast through the fingers. The very earth on which you are standing is being pulled away. Soon you will be in the abyss. A birthday is a death day. To hide it, to suppress it, the society has created tricks. People will come with flowers and gifts to help you forget that death is coming nearer — and they call it a birthday.

He had become sixty. Next morning a new birthday was approaching. He must have felt, he must have heard the sounds, the footsteps, of death somewhere around… the shadow. And he decided: Enough is enough. I pursued long — almost my whole life has been wasted in trying to be contented, and I could not be, so now I will do without. The old man said, “Now here I am. I have never been so contented as I am today, absolutely contented. There is no discontent, no unhappiness.”

In the very search you create unhappiness. When you don’t search, happiness searches for you. When you search, you search alone and you will not find. Where will you seek? How will you search? Mind can never be happy. Mind is your accumulated discontent. Mind is your accumulated unhappy past, the whole suffering that you have passed through: it is a wound in your being. And the mind tries to seek, to pursue, and you miss. When you forget about happiness, suddenly you are happy. When you forget about contentment, suddenly it is there. It has always been there around you, but YOU were not there.

You were thinking: Somewhere in the future a target has to be achieved, happiness earned, contentment practiced. You were in the future and happiness was just around you like the fragrance of a flower.

Yes, God is a loafer. He is always loitering somewhere around. And you have gone too far, seeking. Come back home! And just be. Don’t bother about happiness. Life is there as a gift; happiness is also going to be there as a gift — a gift from the whole, a holy gift. When you are seeking too much you are closed; the very tension of seeking and searching closes you. When you are desiring too much, the very desire becomes such a tense state of affairs that happiness cannot penetrate you. Happiness penetrates you in the same way as sleep; contentment comes to you in the same way as sleep: when you are in a let-go, when you allow, when you simply wait, they come. In fact, to say they come is not right: they are already there. In a let-go you can see them and feel them, because you are relaxed.

In relaxation you become more sensitive — and happiness is the subtlest thing possible, the most subtle, the very cream of life, the essence. When you are relaxed in a total let-go, not doing anything, not going anywhere, not thinking of any goals, no target, not like an arrow but like a bow, relaxing, without tension — it is there.


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

Discourse Series: Just Like That

Chapter #7

Chapter title: A man who loved seagulls

7 May 1975 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on many politicians, rulers and revolutionaries like Abraham Lincoln, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jefferson, Kennedy, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Alexander, Napoleon, Subhash Cahndra Bose, Fidel Castro, Tito and more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. From Bondage to Freedom
  2. From Ignorance to Innocence
  3. The Path of the Mystic
  4. From False to Truth
  5. From Misery to Enlightenment
  6. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap, Zing
  7. Beyond Psychology
  8. Live Zen
  9. The Invitation
  10. Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
  11. The Book of Wisdom
  12. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 3
  13. Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 2
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