Man: A Tabula Rasa
Osho on Freedom
Man is born as a TABULA RASA, a clean slate; nothing is written on it. You have to write everything that you want to write on it; it is going to be your creation. Man is not only free — I would like to say man is freedom. That is his essential core, that’s his very soul. The moment you deny freedom to man you have denied him his most precious treasure, his very kingdom. Then he is a beggar and in a far more ugly situation than other animals, because at least they have a certain program. Then man is simply lost. Once this is understood, that man is born AS freedom, then all the dimensions to grow open up. Then it is up to you what to become, what not to become. It is going to be your own creation. Then life becomes an adventure — not an unfoldment but an adventure, an exploration, a discovery. The truth is not already given to you, you have to create it. In a way, each moment you are creating yourself.
If you accept the theory of fate, that is also an act of deciding about your life. By accepting fatalism you have chosen the life of a slave — it is your choice! You have chosen to enter into a prison, you have chosen to be chained, but it is still your choice.
You can come out of the prison.
That’s what sannyas is all about: accepting your freedom. Of course people are afraid to be free, because freedom is risky. One never knows what one is doing, where one is going, what the ultimate result of it all is going to be.
If you are not ready-made then the whole responsibility is yours. You cannot throw the responsibility on somebody else’s shoulders. Ultimately you will be standing before existence totally responsible for yourself, whatsoever you are, whosoever you are. You cannot shirk it, you cannot escape from it. This is the fear. Out of this fear people have chosen all kinds of determinist attitudes.
And it is a strange thing: the religious and the irreligious are agreed only on one point, that there is no freedom. On every other point they disagree, but on one point their agreement is strange. The communists say they are atheists, irreligious, but they say that man is determined by the social, economic, political situations. Man is not free; man’s consciousness is determined by outside forces. It is the same logic! You can call the outside force the economic structure; Hegel calls it History — with a capital H, remember — and the religious people call it God; again the word is with a capital G. God, history, economics, politics, society — all outside forces. But they are all agreed upon one thing: that you are not free. This is where a really authentically religious person differs.
I say to you, you are absolutely free, unconditionally free. Don’t avoid the responsibility; avoiding is not going to help. The sooner you accept it, the better, because immediately you can start creating yourself. And the moment you create yourself great joy arises, and when you have completed yourself, the way YOU wanted it, there is immense contentment — just as when a painter finishes his painting, the last touch, and a great contentment arises in his heart. A job well done brings great peace. One feels that one has participated with God. God is the creator and the only prayer is to be creative, because it is only through creativity that you participate in God; there is no other way to participate. God has not to be thought about, you have to participate in some way. You cannot be an observer, you can only be a participant; only then will you taste the mystery of it. Creating a painting is nothing, creating a poem is nothing, creating music is nothing compared to creating yourself, creating your consciousness, creating your very being.
But people have been afraid, and there are reasons to be afraid. The first is: it is risky, because only you are responsible. Secondly: the freedom can be misused, because you can choose the wrong thing to be. Freedom means you can choose the right or the wrong; if you are only free to choose the right, it is not freedom. Then it will be like when Ford made his first cars — they were all black. And he would take his customers into the showroom and tell them, “You can choose any color, provided it is black!” But what kind of freedom is this? — PROVIDED it is right, PROVIDED it follows the ten commandments, PROVIDED it is according to the Gita or the Koran, PROVIDED it is according to Buddha, Mahavira, Zarathustra. Then it is not freedom at all Freedom basically means, intrinsically means that you are capable of both: either choosing the right or the wrong.
And the danger is — and hence the fear — that the wrong is always easier to do. The wrong is a downhill task and the right is an uphill task. Going uphill is difficult, arduous; and the higher you go, the more arduous it becomes. But going downhill is very easy; you need not do anything, gravitation does everything for you. You can just roll like a rock from the hilltop and the rock will reach to the very bottom; nothing has to be done. But if you want to rise in consciousness, if you want to rise in the world of beauty, truth, bliss, then you are longing for the highest peaks possible and that certainly is difficult. Secondly, the higher you reach, the more there is a danger of falling, because the path becomes narrow and you are surrounded on all sides by dark valleys. A single wrong step and you will simply be gone into the abyss, you will disappear. It is more comfortable, convenient to walk on the plain ground, not to bother about the heights.
Freedom gives you the opportunity either to fall below the animals or to rise above the angels. Freedom is a ladder: one side of the ladder reaches hell, the other side touches heaven. It is the SAME ladder; the choice is yours, the direction has to be chosen by you. To me, if you are not free you cannot misuse your unfreedom; unfreedom cannot be misused…
My sannyasins will be hated all over the world, will be condemned all over the world, for the simple reason that they have chosen to live a life of freedom. And I am not giving you any discipline, because every discipline is a subtle kind of slavery. I am not giving you any commandments, because any commandments given by anybody else coming from the outside are going to imprison you, to enslave you. I am only teaching you how to be free and then leaving you to yourself to do what you want to do with your freedom. If you want to fall below the animals that is your decision and you are perfectly allowed to do it, because it is your life. If you decide it that way then it is your prerogative. But if you understand freedom and its value you will not start falling; you will not go below the animals, you will start rising above the angels.
Man is not an entity, he is a bridge — a bridge between two eternities: the animal and the God, the unconscious and the conscious. Grow in consciousness, grow in freedom, take each step out of your own choice: create yourself. A sannyasin is one who creates himself and takes the whole responsibility for it.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Philosophia Ultima
Chapter title: Man is Born as Freedom
12 December 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Freedom, Man, Truth, Life, Consciousness, Prayer, Creativity’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Beyond Psychology
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Death to Deathlessness
- The Messiah
- The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Guest
- Philosophia Ultima
- Unio Mystica
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- The Perfect Master
- The Tantra Vision, Vol 1