THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
26th of March is the birthday of an enlightened master Zarathustra also known as Zoroaster. He was from Iranian origin. His teachings challenged the existing traditions of the Indo-Iranian religion and inaugurated a movement that eventually became the dominant religion in Ancient Persia.
At very early age of seven his training of priesthood was probably started. He became a priest probably around the age of fifteen, and according to Gathas (any of the seventeen poems attributed to Zoroaster), he gained knowledge from other teachers and personal experience from traveling when he left his parents at age twenty.
Osho has spoken on Zarathustra and his teachings immensely in his two discourse series ‘Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance’and ‘Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet’.
Osho says Friedrich Nietzsche loved the teachings of Zarasthustra, and wrote the book THUS SPAKE ZARATUSTRA to bring Zarathustra and his teachings in light. He wrote the book to appreciate life and the love for life. He could not find any other master so life-affirmative as Zarathustra; a man who begins his life with laughter, whose whole life is a laughter. There is no pessimism, not even a strain of pessimism in him.
Osho also says Living for ten years in the mountains, Zarathustra attained the ecstasy of being alone, the purity of being alone, the independence of being alone — and this is where he is unique amongst other awakened people: When they discovered, they remained in their heights. Zarathustra starts “down-going,” going back to the crowd. He has to deliver the message to humanity that you are suffering unnecessarily; you are being dependent unnecessarily; you are creating all kinds of imprisonments for yourself — just to feel safe and secure. But the only security and the only safety is in knowing yourself, because then even death is impotent. It cannot destroy you.
Zarathustra, amongst all the religious founders, is the only one who is life-affirmative, who is not against life, whose religion is a religion of celebration, of gratefulness to existence. He is not against the pleasures of life, and he is not in favor of renouncing the world. On the contrary, he is in absolute support of rejoicing in the world, because except for this life and this world, all are hypothetical ideologies. God, heaven and hell, they are all projections of the human mind, not authentic experiences; they are not realities.
Zarathustra was born at a time, twenty five centuries ago, when all over the world, there was a great renaissance: In India, Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Goshalak, Sanjay Bilethiputta, Ajit Keshkambal, and others, had reached to the same peak of awakening; in China, Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu and many others; in Greece, Socrates, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Heraclitus; and in Iran, Zarathustra. It is a strange coincidence that suddenly, all over the world, there came a flood of consciousness and many people became awakened.
Perhaps enlightenment is also a chain reaction — when there are enlightened people they provoke the same revolution in others. It is everybody’s potential. One just needs a provocation, a challenge; and when you see so many people reaching to such beautiful heights of grace, you cannot remain where you are. Suddenly a great urge arises in you: “Something has to be done. I am wasting my life while others have reached the very destiny, have known all that is worth knowing, have experienced the greatest blissfulness and ecstasy… and what am I doing? — collecting seashells on the beach.”
Out of all these people, Zarathustra is unique. He is the only one who is not against life, who is for life; whose god is not somewhere else; whose god is nothing but another name for life itself. And to live totally, to live joyously and to live intensely, is all that religion is based on.
I feel a deep empathy, affinity, with Zarathustra. But perhaps because he was life-affirmative and not life-negative, he could not gather many followers. It is one of the strange things about human beings: anything that is easy, they cannot accept as worthy of being the goal — the goal has to be very difficult and arduous.
Behind it is the psychology of the ego. The ego always wants something impossible, because only with the impossible can it exist. You will never be able to fulfill desire, and the ego will go on pushing you towards more and more — more greed, more power, more money, more austerities, more spirituality, more discipline. Wherever you find “more”, remember, that is the language of the ego. And there is no way to satisfy the ego; it is always asking for more.
Zarathustra’s whole approach is exactly the same as Chuang Tzu: “Easy is right. Right is easy.” And when you are utterly relaxed, at ease, at home, so relaxed that you have even forgotten that you are at ease; that you have forgotten that you are right — you have become so utterly innocent like a child, you have arrived.
But ego has no interest in this. This whole process is something like the suicide of the ego; hence, religions which have been giving the ego difficult tasks, arduous paths, unnatural ideals, impossible goals — they have attracted millions of people. Zarathustra’s followers can be counted on the fingers. Nobody has bothered about Zarathustra, until, after almost twenty-four centuries, Nietzsche suddenly picked up on him. Nietzsche was against Jesus Christ, and he was against Gautam Buddha — but he was for Zarathustra.
It is something very significant to understand. The man who was against Jesus Christ, against Gautam Buddha…. Why should he be for Zarathustra? — because Nietzsche also has the same attitude and approach towards life. He has seen all these religions, great religions, creating more and more guilt in humanity; creating more and more misery, wars, burning people alive; talking all kinds of nonsense for which no proof at all exists, for which they don’t have any evidence at all; keeping the whole of humanity in darkness, in blindness, because their teachings are based on belief — and belief means blindness. There is no belief which is not blind. A man with eyes does not believe in light, he knows it — there is no need to believe. Only the blind man believes in light because he does not know it. Belief exists in ignorance, and all the religions — with a few exceptions like Zarathustra and Chuang Tzu who have not been able to create great followings or great traditions — are all for belief. In other words, they are all for blindness. Nietzsche was against them — symbolically. As far as the East is concerned, he chose Gautam Buddha as the symbol and as far as the West is concerned he chose Jesus Christ as the symbol. He was against these people for the simple reason that they were against life; they were against people enjoying the simple things; people living playfully, laughingly; people having a sense of humor, not seriousness; people loving songs and music; and people capable of dance and love.
Nietzsche was attracted to Zarathustra because he could see that this man alone, out of the whole past, was not against life, was not against love, was not against laughter. In these fragments, you will see tremendously meaningful statements which can become the foundation of a life-affirmative religion. I am all for life. There is nothing for which life can be sacrificed. Everything can be sacrificed for life. Everything can be a means towards life, but life is an end unto itself.
Listen very carefully, because Friedrich Nietzsche writes in a very condensed form. He is not a writer, he writes aphorisms…
WHEN ZARATHUSTRA WAS THIRTY YEARS OLD, HE LEFT HIS HOME AND THE LAKE OF HIS HOME AND WENT INTO THE MOUNTAINS.
It has to be explained to you that Gautam Buddha left his palace when he was twenty-nine years old. Jesus started his teachings when he was thirty years old; Zarathustra went into the mountains when he was thirty years old. There is something significant about the age of thirty, or nearabout, just as at the age of fourteen, one becomes sexually mature. If we take life as it has been taken traditionally, that it consists of seventy years… those who have watched life very deeply have found that every seven years, there is a change, a turning. The first seven years are innocent. The second seven years, the child is very much interested in enquiring, in questioning — curiosity. After the fourteenth up to the twenty-first year, he has the most powerful sexuality. The highest peak of sexuality, you will be surprised to know, is nearabout eighteen or nineteen years. And humanity has been trying to avoid that period by providing educational programs, colleges, universities — keeping boys and girls apart. That is the time when their sexuality and their sexual energy is at the highest point.
In those seven years, from fourteen to twenty-one, they could have experienced sexual orgasm very easily. Sexual orgasm is a glimpse which can create in you the urge to find more blissful spaces, because in sexual orgasm two things disappear: your ego disappears, your mind disappears, and time stops — just for a few seconds. But these three are the important things. Two things disappear completely; you are no more “I” — you are, but there is no sense of the ego. Your mind is there but there are no thoughts, just a deep stillness. Suddenly, because the ego disappears and the mind stops, time stops, too. To experience time, you need changing thoughts of the mind; otherwise, you cannot experience the movement of time…
My own understanding is that it was the sexual orgasm that gave the first idea to people about meditation, because a few geniuses must have tried: “If we can stop thoughts, if we can drop the ego and if the mind is not there, time disappears; then there is no need for any sexual orgasm.” You can have the same orgasmic experience alone and it is no more sexual — it becomes a spiritual experience.
Sexual orgasm must have given the first idea that the same experience is possible without sex; otherwise, there is no way how man could have found meditation. Meditation is not a natural phenomenon. Sexual orgasm is a natural phenomenon but all societies prevent their children from experiencing it. Nobody says anything about it. This is a strategy, a very dangerous strategy, a criminal act against the whole of humanity, because the children who are deprived of having sexual orgasm, will never be able to feel the urge for meditation; or their urge will be very weak; they will not risk anything for it.
So up to the age twenty-one, sex reaches to its peak, if it is allowed, as it was allowed in Gautam Buddha’s life. All the beautiful girls of his kingdom were given to him; he was surrounded by all the beautiful girls; he knew deep experiences of orgasm. Then from twenty-one to twenty-eight, the other seven years, one searches, because sexual orgasm is biological. Soon you will lose the energy and you will not be able to have the orgasm. Secondly, it is dependent on somebody else, a woman, a man; it is destructive of your freedom; it is at a very high cost. So if a man grows very naturally — is allowed to grow naturally — from twenty-one to twenty-eight, he will search and seek ways and means, of how to transcend physiology, biology, and yet remain capable of moving into deeper orgasmic experiences.
From twenty-eight to the age thirty-five, all these people — Gautam Buddha, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Jesus — all have moved in higher planes of being. And just not to be bothered, not to be hindered by people, not to be distracted, they moved into the mountains — into aloneness. According to me, it was not against life — they were simply searching a silent space where there were no distractions and they could find the greatest orgasmic experience… what William James has called “the oceanic orgasm,” in which you completely disappear into the ocean of existence — just like a dewdrop slipping from a lotus leaf into the ocean.
So the age thirty is not just incidental. All great seekers have left in the search between twenty-eight and thirty-five. That is the period of seeking, searching — searching something that is not of the body, but of the spirit.
HERE HE HAD THE ENJOYMENT OF HIS SPIRIT AND HIS SOLITUDE AND HE DID NOT WEARY OF IT FOR TEN YEARS. He remained in the mountains for ten years. His solitude, silence, peace, became deeper and deeper, and he was full of bliss; although he was alone, he was not weary of it.
BUT AT LAST HIS HEART TURNED — AND ONE MORNING HE ROSE WITH THE DAWN, STEPPED BEFORE THE SUN, AND SPOKE TO IT THUS…. This is where Zarathustra takes a new path. Mahavira remained in his solitude. Buddha remained in his aloneness, and the people who were watching, saw something had happened, something beyond their conceptions. These people were transformed; they had become luminous; they were radiating joy; they had a certain fragrance; they had known something; their eyes had a depth that was not there before; and their faces had a grace that was a totally new phenomenon. A very subtle misunderstanding happened: the people who were watching thought that because these people went into the mountains, they had renounced life; hence, renouncing life became a fundamental thing in all the religions. But they had not renounced life. I would like to write history completely from the very scratch, particularly about these people, because I know them from my own insight — I don’t have to be bothered about facts, I know the truth. These people had not gone against life: they had gone simply for solitude; they had gone for being alone; they had just gone away from distractions.
But the difference between Gautam Buddha and Zarathustra is that Gautam Buddha — once he had found himself — never declared, “Now there is no need for me to be a recluse, to be a monk. I can come back and be an ordinary man in the world.” Perhaps it needs more courage than going out of the world; coming back to the world needs more courage. Going uphill is arduous, but very gratifying. You are going higher and higher and higher, and once you have reached to the highest peak, it needs tremendous courage to come back downward into the dark valleys which you had left, just to give the message to people: “You need not remain always in darkness. You need not remain always in suffering and in hell.” This downward journey may even be condemned by those people whom you are going to help. When you were going upward, you were a great saint, and when you are coming downward, people will think perhaps you have fallen, you have fallen from your greatness, from your height.
It certainly needs the greatest courage in the world, after touching the heights of the ultimate, to be again ordinary. Zarathustra shows that courage. He is not worried about what people will say, that he will be condemned, that they will think that he has fallen from heights, that he is no more a saint. His concern is more to share his experience with those who may be ready, receptive, available — they may be few.
AND ONE MORNING HE ROSE WITH THE DAWN, STEPPED BEFORE THE SUN, AND SPOKE TO IT THUS:
GREAT STAR! WHAT WOULD YOUR HAPPINESS BE, IF YOU HAD NOT THOSE FOR WHOM YOU SHINE!
The implication of this statement is great. Zarathustra is saying that the birds are happy because the sun has risen; the flowers are happy because the sun has risen; the whole planet seems to be happy, awake, full of energy, full of hope for the coming day — the sun has risen. He is indicating in this statement that the sun also must be happy because so many flowers have blossomed, so many birds are singing. If there were no birds and no flowers, and there was nobody waiting for it, the sun would have been sad. The implication is clear: we are all interconnected: the whole existence is interconnected. Even the smallest blade of grass is connected with the greatest star in the sky. Those connections are not visible. It is known that if the sun does not rise one day, all life from the planet will disappear. Without the sun’s heat and life-giving energy, nothing can remain alive here. But the mystics have always indicated about the other possibility too: if the whole of life disappears from the earth, the sun will not rise — for whom? Zarathustra is saying, “I am full of joy, full of peace. Now, I need somebody to receive it, I am overburdened. I have to share it, otherwise, even blissfulness will become too heavy.” Even blissfulness can become painful if unshared…
This is the rare quality of Zarathustra. There have been thousands of men who wanted to be supermen — who wanted to be Buddhas, Jainas, Christs, Avataras — but Zarathustra, alone in the whole of history, wants to be a man again. Seeing the heights, seeing the depths, knowing the ultimate solitude, being full of wisdom, he wants to go down and be just a man amongst men — not anybody superior. THUS BEGAN ZARATHUSTRA’S DOWN-GOING. This “down-going” of Zarathustra is so unique and so significant that unless every wise man has the same courage, humanity’s destiny cannot be changed. If all the Gautam Buddhas and all the Jesus Christs, all the Moseses and all the Mohammeds, had come back to humanity just as men, they would have given dignity to humanity; they would have given great courage to humanity — they would have become sources of great inspiration…
What Zarathustra did should be done by every enlightened person. Every enlightened person should come back to the world; he owes it to the world; he is indebted to humanity; he is born a human child; and he cannot be forgiven for creating myths around himself, or letting other people create myths around him, so that he becomes something impossible.
Zarathustra is more human, more lovable and one can see his point in coming back to humanity. He has gathered so much wisdom, so much honey, he wants to share it — to distribute it. He wants himself to be empty again, because now he knows that the more he gives, the more existence will go on pouring into him. He can go on emptying himself and still he will have an abundance to share.
A man who is in authentic love with humanity; a man who affirms life, is not condemnatory, is not negative, does not make anybody feel guilty.
On the contrary, he helps everybody: “Whatever I have got, is hidden within you, too.” His coming down is nothing but to encourage those who are ready, those who are in need of some guidance, those who want to know the path, those who want to experience their innermost treasure. For the benefit of the coming humanity, Zarathustra should be more and more understood. He is more of a blessing than anybody else.
… THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
Chapter title: Prologue part 1
26 March 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Meher Baba, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Zarathustra and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses: