Sadhana: The Creative Use of Freedom

Osho on Sadhana

We seek slavery in all kinds of ways. And the ways we seek it are really astounding! Erich Fromm has written a unique book, Escape from Freedom. Fromm says that each man wishes to escape freedom. Wherever he finds freedom, he quickly seeks out slavery and hides himself behind it. This slavery cannot be detected easily because our habit of serfdom is so old that we cannot discriminate slavery from freedom.

If a person sets out to seek truth, he does not directly go out in search of it but begins to turn the pages of the shastras. Little does he know that this is slavery. He wishes to borrow even truth; — he wants someone to give it to him. If a person wants to know truth, he does not set out by himself to discover it; he goes and falls at the feet of a guru saying, “You are my everything. Give me the knowledge of truth. How can I, a sinner, do anything?” He little knows that all his sins are his own doing. A lot of toil and effort is required to become a sinner. He admits his ability to commit sins by saying he is a sinner. At the same time he says, “How can a sinner do anything to gain knowledge of the truth?” Actually, he is begging to be saved from his freedom. He is requesting this guru to become his jailer so that if tomorrow, he finds himself in hell, he can put the responsibility on the Guru. And if he attains heaven, he can always claim the credit for having chosen this guru. Thus, man clings to the shastras, and to gurus.

People like Hitler, Mao and Stalin are not born accidentally. They are born only when a whole country desires to be enslaved. Each person eagerly wishes for a man who can stand up and say, “I know what is right, Follow me!” — so that they can follow him. They want to be told clearly what to do and what not to do. This is why we pursue politicians and sadhus and mahatmas. And these whom we ask, — they too have asked others. They have no direct knowledge of their own; they too do not know what is right and what is wrong. The fact is, when there are people to inquire, teachers become available. We are eager to place our burden on others. Freedom seems too heavy for our shoulders. It should actually be the other way around: freedom should give us wings to fly in the sky. Freedom seems very cumbersome, because we do not know what to do with it.

There was a Zen fakir by the name of Nanin. One day he stayed late at his guru’s ashram. He asked his guru to give him a lamp since it was too dark and he had far to go. The guru gave him a lamp but as soon as he began to go down the steps, the guru blew out the flame and extinguished it. Nanin was surprised. “What kind of a joke is this?” he asked.

The guru replied, “It never pays to find your path with another’s light. Your own darkness is much better than someone else’s light. Go, seek in your own darkness, so that the lamp within you may become lightened. The more you seek, the more you shall be cleansed. You will fall, you will dash against things, your limbs may break, but you will discover your soul in the bargain. Therefore, I have extinguished the lamp.”

Nanin has written in his memoirs that he was never able to forget this man who had snatched the lamp from his hands and snuffed it out. He was the one who pushed him into darkness and made provisions for the lamp within to burn. “Today,” he says, “when I see the flame burning within, my head bows down in reverence and gratefulness to this man who caused it to be lit.”

This is freedom. It is very easy for God to place a light in your hands, but you can only live like worms with the help of such light. You will never fall, never go astray. There will be no hell; you will go straight to heaven. But the heaven that is obtained with the help of another is worse than hell, because such a heaven is a bondage. The good fortune that is not entirely one’s own, that has not been sought and attained and experienced by one’s own effort is worse than misfortune. Therefore Lao Tzu says: “Tao creates everything but controls nothing. It gives no instructions. It has given us the strength and the means to walk but it does not say, “Walk like this.” The power to walk belongs to Tao; the space, the path, the darkness, the light, the very person who walks is Tao; and yet, Tao does not command: “go to the right, go to the left.”

It gives us life, but it makes freedom the very basis of life. This freedom can become the agony of life or the benediction of life; the choice is entirely ours. If we want there may be creation in this freedom and that ultimate which lies hidden within can reveal itself. This freedom can also be utilised to create our own darkness, our own nether world where we can rot and decay and be destroyed. One thing is certain however: that there is perfect freedom in the world. This perfect freedom is the undeclared declaration of the existence of God. This is His silent declaration of “I am”. But we are totally unaware of this idea of freedom. We are afraid, because freedom means responsibility. It means that I am the only person responsible for all my actions. If I find myself in hell, I have no one to blame but myself. This responsibility perplexes and confuses us, so we try to shove it on to each other. The husband puts the responsibility on the wife, the wife on the husband, and thus both absolve themselves, taking the other to be accountable. They are not at all conscious of the game they play…

Your value, your meaningfulness, depends upon the extent to which you make creative use of your freedom. Your value depends upon the right use you make of your freedom. The very meaning of Sadhana is this: The creative use of your freedom. Sadhana means the creative use of your freedom. The worldly man is one who uses his freedom destructively. He is leading to his own destruction. He makes his freedom the obstruction to his own being and is instrumental in creating his own gallows.

We do not remember God in happiness, but we remember Him in our unhappiness because then we want to shove off the responsibility from our shoulders. Russell has written, “I will only believe that God really is when there is no sorrow on earth.” Russell is right as far as theism goes. Our theism will fade if there is no sorrow on earth. Think a while: Will anyone remember God if there is no sorrow on earth? Will the temple bells ring? will candles burn in churches then? Will the call of the muezzin fill the morning air? These prayers, these calls, this worship, these oblations of fire — through all these, our sorrow cries. And the absurdity of it all is that neither temples nor mosques can eradicate our sorrows, because it is we who create them and we alone can destroy them. Sorrow is the misuse we make of our freedom. But it is this freedom that we want to save ourselves from.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: The Way of Tao, Volume 2 Chapter #4

Chapter title: Tao’s unpresent presence

1 February 1972 pm in Immortal Study Circle


Osho has spoken on Freedom, Responsibility, Life, Man’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:

  1. Beyond Psychology
  2. From Bondage to Freedom
  3. The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
  4. The Path of the Mystic
  5. The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 2
  6. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  7. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  8. The Invitation
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