Religion: A Joy, A Bliss, A Sense of Humor

Osho on Religion


Prem Jyoti, who has ever heard of serious people becoming enlightened?

The serious person cannot become enlightened. Seriousness is a disease; it is the cancer of the soul. Seriousness is a wrong, utterly wrong approach to life. How can you come to truth through a wrong approach? The serious person is simply ill, pathological. Of course, for thousands of years serious people have dominated us because that is their only joy in life, there is no other joy for them — the joy of dominating.

There is a beautiful parable of Kahlil Gibran:

Every day he goes for a morning walk and he comes across a field where a scarecrow has been put. The scarecrow has a purpose: he drives wild animals away, birds away from the crops. One day Kahlil Gibran asks the scarecrow, “You have been standing here year in, year out — you must be getting very tired, very bored?” And the scarecrow says, “No, I may look bored, I may look very serious, but I am enjoying my job.” Kahlil Gibran says, “What kind of enjoyment can you have? I don’t see anything here for you to enjoy.” He says, “The very joy of making people afraid gives me such a thrill. Day in, day out, I am driving animals, birds crazy! They run away from me. I am the supreme-most around here, I am the most powerful person. Everybody is afraid of me. Don’t you think that’s more than one can expect from life?”

The serious person has been doing that for centuries. In the name of politics, in the name of religion, in the name of education, in the name of morality, he has been torturing people; that is his only joy. He is basically a sado-masochist. No sado-masochist can become enlightened, and out of one hundred people that you think have become enlightened, ninety-nine point nine percent are not enlightened. Just the traditional idea, and you go on carrying it. You have been told that this man is “enlightened.” No criterion exists for you to judge him by — because Jesus is enlightened to the Christians, to the Jainas he is not; they have a different criterion. You will be surprised: to the Christians, Mahavira may not look enlightened at all; they have a different criterion.

Christians say Jesus never laughed in his whole life. This must be an absolute lie. I cannot believe it, that he never laughed; his whole life shows a different flavor. It is impossible to think that he never laughed, but Christians say that he never laughed. Why? — because an enlightened person has to be serious, very serious, burdened with all the problems of the world. He has come to solve all the problems, he has come to save humanity. He is the savior, the messiah; he has to save you from your past sins, and the future possibilities too. Naturally — he is carrying on his shoulders a Himalayan weight — how can he laugh? It is impossible. But the whole idea that somebody has to save you is ugly; the whole idea destroys your freedom. You are not even allowed to suffer for your sins, somebody else has to suffer Your whole responsibility is taken away.

That is not the vision of other traditions. For example, Buddha will not agree with it. He says, “Be a light unto yourself. Nobody else can save you.” Hence, Buddha is not so serious; there is no need, there is no reason to be serious. He is free from all his own problems, he is released. There is a subtle joy in him. But Christians will think that Buddha is selfish, he is only thinking of himself. And how can an enlightened person be selfish? Jesus is enlightened because he is thinking of the whole of humanity.

Mahavira lived naked. That is the Jainas’ concept of an enlightened man: that the enlightened person will renounce everything, he will live naked, and because he is completely free from all sins he cannot suffer. And Jesus suffers much on the cross. Now, according to Jaina philosophy you suffer only because of your past bad karmas. If Jesus had to suffer on the cross that simply shows that his past karmas were still there — he had to pay for it; each act has to be paid for. For Mahavira, they say that if Mahavira walks — and he walks naked, barefoot — and if on the path there is a thorn, the thorn will immediately turn upside down, seeing that Mahavira is coming, because Mahavira has no more sins left, hence the thorn cannot give any pain to Mahavira, so what to say about crucifixion? But Mahavira is serious.

Krishna is not serious. Krishna is dancing, singing, playing on his flute. When

Bodhidharma became enlightened, for seven days he could not stop laughing. Asked again and again, he only said this much: “I am laughing because the whole thing was ridiculous. The goose has always been out, and I was trying to bring it out of the bottle, and the bottle never existed. The whole effort was sheer absurdity, ridiculous! I am laughing at myself and I am laughing at the whole world, because people are trying to do something which need not be done at all. People are trying hard, and the harder they try the more difficult it becomes. Their very effort is the barrier!”

How are you going to decide who is enlightened and who is not? Just the other day I received a letter saying: “If you are really enlightened then you should hide yourself in the Himalayas, because enlightened people always remain in hiding. They remain unknown, they remain unsung.” Now, if this man is right, then Mahavira, Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Rama, Zarathustra, Mohammed — none of them is enlightened, because they are all well-known, world-known. They were not hiding in the Himalayas, they did not live anonymously, they did not die unsung.

And then one more question arises: how has this man come to know about a few people who have lived hiding in the Himalayas, unsung, unknown, the people he thinks are the real enlightened people? Then how has he come to know about them? And if he knows, then they are not unknown — unless he is the only one who is allowed to know the secret! But these fools abound; they go on parading their own prejudices.

I will not tell you who is enlightened and who is not enlightened, but I will tell you of a simple phenomenon which you can understand and which can become a light for you. One thing is absolutely certain: that the sado-masochist cannot be enlightened.

One who tortures himself and tortures others, enjoys torturing, cannot be enlightened. Enlightenment is blissfulness, it cannot be serious. It can be sincere but not serious. It will be sheer joy! It will be pure ecstasy!

Prem Jyoti, you ask me:


I have never heard of any! And if you have heard of any sad and serious people becoming enlightened, then either they were not sad and serious or you have heard wrong. Serious and sad people become something else, they don’t become enlightened. They become popes, Mother Teresas, Mahatma Gandhis, Morarji Desais, SHANKARACHARYAS, Ayatollah Khomaniacs, IMAMS, priests. The churches, the synagogues, the temples, the mosques, the GURUDWARAS — they are full of these people; they are serious people. They gather around an enlightened person and they start destroying all that he has brought into the springtime. They start creating a dead tradition — and the tradition has to be serious, the tradition cannot be non-serious.

The enlightened person is always joyous, but the tradition, the convention cannot be joyous. The whole structure of a tradition is basically political; it is there to dominate, it is there to oppress, it is there to exploit. And you cannot exploit people playfully, you have to be very serious. You have to make them so sad, so afraid of life itself, you have to create so much trembling in their being, that out of that fear they fall into your hands; they become objects of your manipulation. A man like me cannot exploit you, because this whole place is more like a tavern than a temple. It is more playful than serious. We are engaged in a beautiful game! The moment you think of it as a game, all seriousness disappears, things become lighter. You can walk in a dancing way; there is no weight on you…

Life has to be taken hilariously! Life is so full of laughter, it is so ridiculous, it is so funny that unless your juices have gone completely dry you cannot be serious. I have looked around at life in every possible way and it is always funny, whatever way you look at it! It gets funnier and funnier! It is such a beautiful gift of the beyond.

Prem Jyoti,

I am against all seriousness. My whole approach is that of humor, and the greatest religious quality is a sense of humor — not truth, not God, not virtue, but a sense of humor. If we can fill the whole earth with laughter, with dancing and singing — people singing and swinging! — if we can make the earth a carnival of joy, a festival of lights, we will have brought for the first time a true sense of religiousness to the earth.


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

Discourse name: The Goose is Out
Chapter title: The dimension of the mysterious
Chapter #8
8 March 1981 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on ‘laughter, joy, bliss, freedom’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. From Death to Deathlessness
  2. The Transmission of the Lamp
  3. A Bird on the Wing
  4. A Sudden Clash of Thunder
  5. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
  6. The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 2
  7. The Divine Melody
  8. From Bondage to Freedom
  9. Be Still and Know
  10. The Book of Wisdom
  11. The Hidden Splendor
  12. The Razor’s Edge
  13. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
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