Religion of Playfulness
WOULD YOU PLEASE TALK ABOUT PLAYFULNESS? I ASK BECAUSE THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL SMALL BOY WITHIN ME WHOM I HAVE NEGLECTED FOR A LONG TIME. THIS SMALL BOY IS PLAYFUL, CURIOUS AND ECSTATIC — BUT MOST OF THE TIME I DO NOT ALLOW HIM TO LOSE CONTROL. PLEASE COMMENT.
playfulness is one of the most repressed parts of human beings. All societies, cultures, civilizations, have been against playfulness because the playful person is never serious. And unless a person is serious, he cannot be dominated, he cannot be made ambitious, he cannot be made to desire power, money, prestige.
The child never dies in anyone. It is not that the child dies when you grow, the child remains. Everything that you have been is still within you, and will remain within you until your very last breath.
But society is always afraid of non serious people. Non serious people will not be ambitious for money, or political power; they would rather enjoy existence. But enjoying existence cannot bring you prestige, cannot make you powerful, cannot fulfill your ego; and the whole world of man revolves around the idea of the ego. Playfulness is against your ego — you can try it and see. Just play with children, and you will find your ego is disappearing, you will find that you have become a child again. It is not only true about you, it is true about everyone. Because the child within you has been repressed, you will repress your children. Nobody allows their children to dance and to sing and to shout and to jump. For trivial reasons — perhaps something may get broken, perhaps they may get their clothes wet in the rain if they run out — for these small things a great spiritual quality, playfulness, is completely destroyed.
The obedient child is praised by his parents, by his teachers, by everybody; and the playful child is condemned. His playfulness may be absolutely harmless, but he is condemned because there is potentially a danger of rebellion. If the child goes on growing with full freedom to be playful, he will turn out to be a rebel. He will not be easily enslaved; he will not be easily put into armies to destroy people, or to be destroyed himself. The rebellious child will turn out to be a rebellious youth. Then you cannot force marriage on him; then you cannot force him into a particular job; then the child cannot be forced to fulfill the unfulfilled desires and longings of the parents. The rebellious youth will go his own way. He will live his life according to his own innermost desires — not according to somebody else’s ideals. The rebel is basically natural. The obedient child is almost dead; hence the parents are very happy, because he is always under control. Man is strangely sick: he wants to control people — in controlling people your ego is fulfilled, you are somebody special — and he himself also wants to be controlled, because by being controlled you are no longer responsible. For all these reasons, playfulness is stifled, crushed from the very beginning.
You are asking, “There is a beautiful small boy within me, whom I have neglected for a long time. This small boy is playful, curious, and ecstatic — but most of the time I do not allow him to lose control.” What is the fear? The fear is implanted by others: always remain in control, always remain disciplined, always respect those who are older than you. Always follow the priest, the parents, the teachers — they know what is right for you. Your nature is never allowed to have its say. Slowly, slowly you start carrying a dead child within yourself. This dead child within you destroys your sense of humor: you cannot laugh with your total heart, you cannot play, you cannot enjoy the small things of life. You become so serious that your life, rather then expanding, starts shrinking. I have always wondered why Christianity has become the world’s greatest religion. Again and again I have come to the conclusion that it is because of the cross and the crucified Jesus — so sad, so serious; naturally… you cannot expect Jesus to be smiling on the cross. And millions of people have found a similarity between themselves and Jesus on the cross. Its seriousness, its sadness, has been the reason that Christianity has spread more than any other religion.
I would like our churches and temples, our mosques, our synagogues to become nonserious, more playful, full of laughter and joy. That would bring to humanity a more healthy, wholesome, integrated soul. But you are here….
At least being my sannyasin you need not carry your cross on your shoulders. Drop the cross. I teach you to dance, to sing, to play. Life should be, each moment, a precious creativity. What you create does not matter — it may be just sandcastles on the seashore — but whatever you do should come out of your playfulness and joy.
Your child should never be allowed to die. Nourish it, and don’t be afraid that it will go out of control. Where can it go? And even if it goes out of control — so what? What can you do out of control? You can dance like a madman, laugh like a madman; you can jump and jog like a madman… people may think you are mad, but that is their problem. If you are enjoying it, if your life is nourished by it, then it does not matter, even if it becomes a problem for the rest of the world…
Here, you don’t need to be afraid: you can jog backwards, and even if you are a real ghost, nobody is going to take any notice of you. If you cannot allow your playfulness here, then you will not be able to allow it anywhere in the world. Allow it totally — let it go out of control; and once your child is really alive and dancing within you, it will change the very flavor of your life. It will give you a sense of humor, a beautiful laughter, and it will destroy all your headiness. It will make you a man of the heart.
The man who lives in his head does not live at all. Only the man who lives in his heart, and sings songs which are not understandable to the head, dances which are not in any way relevant to any context outside you… just out of your abundance, out of your affluence: you have so much energy that you would like to dance and sing and shout… so do it! It will make you more alive; it will give you a chance to taste what life is all about. The serious man is dead before his death. Long before his death, he remains almost like a corpse. Life is such a valuable opportunity, it should not be lost in seriousness. Keep seriousness for the grave. Let seriousness collapse into the grave; waiting for the last judgment day, be serious. But don’t become a corpse before the grave.
I am reminded of Confucius. One of his disciples asked him a very typical question asked by thousands of people: “Will you say something to me about what happens after death?”
Confucius said, “All these thoughts about death you can contemplate in your grave after death. Right now, live!” There is a time to live, and there is a time to die. Don’t mix them, otherwise you will miss both. Right now, live totally and intensely; and when you die, then die totally. Don’t die partially: that one eye dies, and one eye keeps looking around; one hand dies, and the other hand goes on searching for truth. When you die, die totally… and contemplate what death is. But right now, don’t waste time in contemplating things which are far away: live this moment. The child knows how to live intensely and totally, and without any fear that he will go out of control.
In this temple you are allowed to be yourself without any inhibitions. I would like this to happen all over the world. This is only the beginning. Here,
start living moment to moment totally and intensely, joyfully and playfully — and you will see that nothing goes out of control; that your intelligence becomes sharper; that you become younger; that your love becomes deeper. And when you go out into the world, wherever you go, spread life, playfulness, joy, as far away as possible — to every nook and corner of the earth. If the whole world starts laughing and enjoying and playing, there will be a great revolution. War is created by serious people; murder is committed by serious people; suicide is committed by serious people — madhouses are full of serious people. Just watch what harm seriousness has been doing to human beings and you will jump out of your seriousness, and you will allow your child, which is waiting within you, to play and to sing and to dance. My whole religion consists of playfulness.
This existence is our home: these trees and stars are our brothers and sisters; these oceans and rivers and mountains are our friends. In this immensely friendly universe you are sitting like a stone buddha — I don’t preach the stone buddha; I want you to be a dancing buddha. The followers of Buddha will not like it, but I do not care what anybody thinks. I simply care about truth. If a truth does not know how to dance, it is crippled; if a buddha is not capable of laughter, something is missing; if a buddha cannot mix with children and play with them, he has come close to buddhahood, but he has not yet been totally awakened. Something is asleep.
In Japan there is a series of nine pictures and those pictures are tremendously significant. In the first picture a man has lost his bull. He is looking all around — there are trees and thick forests… but no sign of the bull. In the second, he finds the footprints of the bull. In the third, it appears that the bull is hiding behind the trees; just the backside of the bull is visible. In the fourth, he has nearly reached the bull, and you see the whole bull. In the fifth, he has caught the bull by the horns. In the sixth, he has struggled with the bull. In the seventh, he has conquered the bull. He is sitting on the bull. In the eighth, they are moving back towards home. In the ninth, the bull is in his stall, and the man is playing on his flute.
These nine pictures are missing one — they came from China, and the Chinese pack has ten pictures. When they were brought to Japan, the tenth was dropped because it looked very outrageous — and the tenth is my buddha. In the tenth picture, the bull is in the stall and the buddha is going with a bottle of wine towards the marketplace. The Japanese mind thought that this would be too much: what will people think of a buddha with a bottle of wine? This is outrageous to the ordinary religious mind, but to me it is the most important picture out of the whole series. Without it the series is incomplete. When one has achieved buddhahood, then one should become just an ordinary human being. Going to the marketplace with a bottle of wine is symbolic: it simply means that now there is no need to sit in meditation, meditation is already in the heart; now there is no need to be serious. One has found what one wanted to find; now it is time to rejoice. That bottle of wine is a symbol of rejoicing — now it is time to celebrate! And where can you celebrate except in the marketplace? For meditation you can go into the forest, into the mountains, but for celebration, you will have to go to the marketplace. Where are you going to find a disco…? Always remember the tenth picture. Don’t stop at the ninth — the ninth is beautiful, but incomplete. One step more… just playing the flute is not enough. Get drunk!… and dance madly!
And, Gogo, you have such a beautiful name — whatever you do will fit with Gogo.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Rebellious Spirit
Chapter title: The child is still within you
18 February 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on ‘playfulness, religion, laughter, creativity, dance’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- From Personality to Individuality
- Light on the Path
- The Osho Upanishad
- Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4
- The Rebel
- Unio Mystica, Vol 1
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance