Ordinariness of a Buddha

Osho on Christian Mystic Saint Francis

Born in the town of Assisi in 1181 to rich parents, Francis’s early life was marked by privilege and luxury. As a youth, he was handsome, witty, gallant, and delighted in fine clothes. He spent money lavishly Even so, there is the story of how one day, having worked in the local marketplace selling his father’s silk merchandise he was so moved by the poverty of a beggar seeking alms, that he gave all the profits of the day away to this poor man. His father and his rich friends were none too impressed! Later he left the comforts of home to join a military expedition to Perugia as a young man of twenty-one. Subsequently he experienced a long period of illness, which it is believed caused him to re-evaluate his life. He devoted his life to the poor and the sick and in gathering around him a group of like-minded individuals who devoted their lives to prayer, preaching and service of the poor. At that time his preaching was unusual because he was not an ordained priest and had no official church role. It was only much later, having established his simple Franciscan Rule in 1223, that he became a deacon.

Although a contemplative i.e. one devoted to prayer and meditation, Francis was a very practical person, preaching as much by deeds as by words. While Francis rejected the trappings of wealth as a young man, he didn’t reject the world. Francis preached that the world was an emanation of God and inherently good. Everything in the natural world then, including animals and plants was regarded as the mirror of God. Unlike some earlier contemplatives, Francis saw separation from the world as itself a kind of temptation. He recognized just like many that had come before him, that the trappings of wealth could be a distraction. But while he himself and his friars practiced a radical poverty, he acknowledged that the challenge was not so much to live without possessions but to live without possessing. In his deep connection to nature he recognized that the incarnation was not just about Jesus but manifested in every aspect of the natural environment. It is not for nothing then that today he is regarded as the Patron Saint of animals and the environment.

Osho says , “Saint Francis of Assisi would certainly be in a madhouse. Talking to trees, saying to the almond tree, ‘Sister, how are you?’ — if he were here, he would have been caught. What are you doing? Talking to an almond tree? Sister, sing to me of God’, he says to the almond tree. And not only that, he hears the song that the sister almond tree sings! Crazy! Needs treatment. He talks to the river and to the fish — and he claims that the fish respond to him. He talks to stones and rocks — is there any need for any more proof that he is mad? He is mad but wouldn’t you like to be mad like Saint Francis of Assisi? Just think — the capacity to hear the almond tree singing, and the heart that can feel brothers and sisters in trees, the heart that can talk to the rock, the heart that sees God everywhere, all around, in every form…. It must be a heart of utmost love — utter love reveals that mystery to you. But for the logical mind, of course these things are nonsense. To me, or to anybody who has known how to look at life through the heart, these are the only meaningful things. Become mad, if you can, become mad from the heart.”

The sutras:







Now look at the absurdity — but it is significant, it is very meaningful. What are the Dhammas of the Buddhas, the special characteristics of a Buddha? His special characteristic is that he has no characteristics, that he is utterly ordinary, that if you come across him you will not recognize him. He is not a performer, he is not a politician, he is not an actor. He has no ego to perform. He is not there to convince anybody about his importance. He is utterly absent. That is his presence. That’s why these absurd statements.

His characteristic is that he lives as if he is dead; that he walks and yet nobody walks in him, that he talks yet nobody talks in him… there is utter silence, never broken. Zen monks say Buddha never uttered a single word, and Buddha spoke for forty-five years continuously. If anybody can surpass him, that is me, nobody else can surpass him. And I say to you I have also not uttered a single word. Zen people are right. I agree with them with my own experience. I go on saying things to you and yet deep inside there is absolute silence, not disturbed by what I say. When I am speaking, the silence is there, not even a ripple arises in it.

I am here, in a way utterly present, in another way absolutely absent, because there is nothing arising in me which says ‘I’. Not that I don’t use the word; the word has to be used, it is utilitarian — but it connotes to no reality. It is just a utility, a convenience, a strategy of language; it corresponds to no reality. When I say ‘I’, I am simply using a word to indicate towards me, but if you look into me you will not find any ‘I’ there. I have not found. I have been looking and looking and looking. The more I have looked in, the more the ‘I’ has evaporated. The ‘I’ exists only when you don’t look inwards. It can exist only when you don’t look. The moment you look, the ‘I’ disappears. It is just like when you bring light in a dark room, darkness disappears. Your look inwards is a light, a flame. You cannot find any darkness there — and your ‘I’ is nothing but condensed darkness.

The basic characteristic of a Buddha, the Buddha Dhamma, his unique quality, is that he is not, that he has no attributes, that he is indefinable, that whatsoever definition you put upon him will be unjust because it will demark him, it will limit him, and he is not limited. He is pure void. He is a nobody. Buddha is so ordinary that if you come across him you will not recognize him. You can recognize a king, you know the language how to recognize a king, and the king knows what language you recognize. He prepares for it, he rehearses for it. He is bent upon proving to you that he is special. Buddha has nothing like that. He is not trying to prove anything to anybody. He is not trying to be recognized by you. He has no need to be recognized. He has come home. He does not need your attention.

Remember, attention is a psychological need. It has to be understood. Why do people need so much attention? Why in the first place does everybody want people to pay attention to them? Why does everybody want to be special? Something is missing inside. You don’t know who you are. You know yourself only by others’ recognition. You don’t have any direct approach into your being, you go via others. If somebody says you are good, you feel you are good. If somebody says you are not good, you feel very very depressed — so you are not good. If somebody says you are beautiful you are happy. If somebody says you are ugly you are unhappy. You don’t know who you are. You simply live on opinions of others, you go on collecting opinions. You don’t have any recognition — direct, immediate — of your being that’s why you gather a borrowed being, hence the need for attention.

And when people are attentive to you, you feel as if you are being loved, because in love we pay attention to each other. When two persons are in deep love they forget the whole world. They become engaged into each other’s being absolutely. They look into each other’s eyes. For those moments all else disappears, exists not. In those pure moments they are not here. They live on a plenitude somewhere high in the sky, or in heaven, and they are absolutely pouring their attention into each other. Love is attentive — and everybody has missed love. Very rare people have attained to love, because love is God. Millions live without love because millions live without God. Love has been missed. How to substitute that gap? The easier substitute is to get people’s attention. That will befool you, deceive you that they love you.

That’s what happens to a political leader: he becomes the prime minister of the country or a president of the country and of course the whole country has to pay attention to him. He feels good. It is a vicarious way of feeling loved, and nobody loves him. Once he is out of the post, nobody is going to care where he is. Who cares about Richard Nixon, whether he is alive or dead — who bothers? You will know about him only when he dies. Then newspapers will have to say something about him. Then suddenly you will know, “So he was alive?” Who cares about a politician who is not in power? But when he is in power people pay attention. They pay attention to power, but the politician thinks the attention is being paid to him.

And the politician is one who is searching for love and has not been able to love and has not been able to be loved. The search is for love; it has taken a very very subtle change and turn. Now it has become a search for attention. He wants to see his picture every day in the newspaper. If one day his picture is not there in the newspaper he feels neglected. He is fulfilling his love-desire, but it cannot be fulfilled that way. Love, whenever it happens, brings attention with it like a shadow, but attention does not bring love. Attention can come in a thousand ways. You can create some mischief and people will pay attention to you. The need of the politician and the criminal is the same. The criminal also wants the same thing — attention. He murders and then his picture is in the newspapers, his name is on the radio, he is on the TV. He feels good. Now everybody knows who he is, now everybody is thinking about him — that he has become a name in the world. The famous and the notorious both seek the same thing.

Buddha is absolute love. He has loved existence, existence has loved him. That’s what samadhi is, when you are in an orgasmic relationship with the total. He has known the total orgasm — the orgasm which is not of the body and not of the mind either, but of totality, not partial. He has come to know that ecstasy. Now there is no need to ask for any attention from anybody. He will pass you on the road and you will not be able to recognize him because you recognize only politicians, criminals and people like that. You can recognize a madman on the road because he will be creating mischief, but you will not recognize a Buddha. Buddha will pass so silently, without a whisper. That is his chief characteristic, to be as if he is not. But if that is the chief characteristic — to be as if one is not — then he has no characteristics.

That’s what Buddha means when he says:






The extraordinariness of a Buddha is his utter ordinariness. His ordinariness is his extraordinariness. To be ordinary is the most extraordinary thing in the world.

Just the other night I came across a very beautiful story about Saint Francis, a Buddha.

Saint Francis of Assisi lay on his deathbed. He was singing, and singing so loudly that the whole neighborhood was aware. Brother Elias, a pompous but prominent member of the Franciscan order, came close to Saint Francis and said, ‘Father, there are people standing in the street outside your window.’ Many had come. Fearing that the last moment of Francis’ life had come, many who loved him had gathered together around the house.

Said this brother Elias, “I am afraid nothing we might do could prevent them from hearing you singing. The lack of restraint at so grave an hour might embarrass the order, Father. It might lower the esteem in which you yourself are so justly held. Perhaps in your extremity you have lost sight of your obligation to the many who have come to regard you as a saint. Would it not be more edifying for them if you would rather die with more Christian dignity?”

“Please excuse me, Brother,” Saint Francis said, “but I feel so much joy in my heart that I really can’t help myself. I must sing!”

And he died singing. In the whole Christian history, he’s the only one who has died singing. Many Zen people have died singing, but they don’t belong to Christianity. He is the only Zen master amongst Christian saints. He didn’t care a bit about Christian dignity. Now what happened? This brother Elias wants to prove to people that Saint Francis is a saint. Now he is afraid that people will not think that he is a saint; they may think he is mad or something. A saint has to be sad by the very definition. Christians believe only in sad saints. They cannot believe that Jesus ever laughed. That is below Christian dignity. Laughter? — so human, so ordinary? They know only one thing, to put Jesus there high above humanity — but then all that is human has to be taken out of him. Then he becomes just a dead, bloodless thing.

This brother Elias is worried. This is the last moment, Francis is dying, and he will leave a bad name behind him. People will think either he was not a saint or he was mad. He is worried because he wants to prove. In fact he is not worried about Saint Francis, he is worried about himself and the order: “It will be very embarrassing for us later on. How are we going to answer these people? What happened in the last moments?” He is worried about himself. If the master is mad then what about the disciple? He is a disciple. But see two different planes, two different dimensions together. Elias is concerned with public opinion. He wants to prove his master to be the greatest master, to be the greatest of saints, and he knows only one way to prove it — that he should be serious, that he should take life seriously, that he should not laugh and should not sing, should not dance. They are too human, they are too ordinary. Ordinary mortals can be forgiven, but not a man of the stature of Saint Francis.

But Saint Francis has a different vision — he is just ordinary. He says, “Please excuse me, Brother, but I feel so much joy in my heart that I really can’t help myself. I must sing!” In fact, it is not that Francis is singing, Francis has become the song. That’s why he cannot help, he cannot control. There is nobody left to control it. If the song is happening it is happening. It is not within control, it can’t be, because the controller has disappeared. The self, the ego, no more exists. Saint Francis does not exist as an individual. There is absolute silence inside. Out of that silence this song is born. What can Francis do? That’s why he says, “I can’t help it. I must sing!” And he died singing. And there can be no other better death. If you can die singing, that proves that you lived singing, that your life was a joy and death became the crescendo of it, the culmination.

Saint Francis is a Buddha. The characteristic of a Buddha is that he is ordinary, that he has no ideas about himself of how he should be, that he simply is spontaneous, that whatsoever happens, happens. He lives on the spur of the moment, that is his authenticity.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: The Diamond Sutra Chapter #7

Chapter title: A Dweller in Peace

27 December 1977 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Daya, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Lalla, Magdalen, Mallibai, Meera, Nanak, Patanjali, Rabiya, Raman Maharishi, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Teresa, Tilopa, Valmiki, Zarathustra, St. Francis 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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