WHAT EXACTLY IS BOREDOM? IF I DON’T DO SOMETHING, EVEN SOMETHING NEEDLESS, A PANIC ARISES, A HUGE FEAR. WHAT IS IT THAT CAUSES THIS FRENZY OF MOVEMENT? WHY AM I SO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS FEELING?
THE FRUSTRATION OF BOREDOM INCREASES WHEN I THINK THAT WHAT I WOULD DO IS EQUALLY A MEANINGLESS FRENZY. I FEEL CAUGHT.
ABHA, BOREDOM IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN HUMAN LIFE. Only man is capable of boredom; no other animal is capable of being bored. Boredom exists only when mind starts coming closer and closer to enlightenment. Boredom is just the polar opposite of enlightenment. Animals cannot become enlightened, hence they cannot become bored either. Boredom simply shows that you are becoming aware of the futility of life, its constant repetitive wheel. You have done all those things before — nothing happens. You have been into all those trips before — nothing comes out of it.
Boredom is the first indication that a great understanding is arising in you about the futility, meaninglessness, of life and its ways.
Now, you can respond to boredom in two ways. one is what is ordinarily done: escape from it, avoid it, don’t look eye to eye into it, don’t encounter it. Keep it at your back; and run away; run into things which can occupy you, which can become obsessions; which take you so far away from the realities of life that you never see boredom arising again .That’s why people have invented alcohol, drugs. They are ways to escape from boredom. But you cannot really escape; you can only avoid for a while. Again and again the boredom will be coming, and again and again it will be more and more loud. You can escape in sex, in eating too much, in music — in a thousand and one kinds of things you can escape. But again and again the boredom will arise. It is not something that can be avoided; it is part of human growth. It has to be faced. The other response is to face it, to meditate on it, to be with it, to be it. That’s what Buddha was doing under the Bodhi Tree — that’s what all Zen people have been doing down the ages.
What exactly is meditation? Facing boredom is meditation.
What does a meditator go on doing? Sitting silently, looking at his own navel, or watching his breathing, do you think he is being entertained by these things? He is utterly bored! That’s why the Zen master moves with a stick in his hand — because those bored people are bound to fall asleep. There is no other escape, so only one escape is left: at Least they can fall asleep. They cannot escape. They have themselves, of their own accord, become part of the Zen training and the discipline — they cannot escape. But one escape is always available: you can fall asleep, then you forget all about it. That’s why in meditation one feels sleepy.
The whole effort in meditation is this: be bored but don’t escape from it; and keep alert, because if you fall asleep you have escaped. Keep alert! Watch it, witness it. If it is there, then it is there. It has to be looked into, to the very core of it. If you go on looking into boredom without escaping the explosion comes. One day, suddenly, looking deep into boredom, you penetrate your own nothingness. Boredom is just the cover, the container in which is contained your inner nothingness — SHUNYATA. If you escape from boredom, you are escaping from your own nothingness. If you don’t escape from boredom, if you start living with it, if you start accepting it, welcoming it…. That’s what meditation is all about: welcoming boredom, going into it on one’s own; not waiting for it to come but searching for it.
Sitting for hours in a yoga posture, just watching your breathing, one gets utterly bored. And the whole training of meditation is such that it helps boredom. In a Zen monastery you have to get up every day at the same time in the morning — every day, year in, year out. It doesn’t matter whether it is summer or winter. You have to get up early, three o’clock, you have to take the bath, you have to drink the same tea, and you have to sit…. The same gestures followed again and again. And the whole day is also a very very fixed routine: you will eat your breakfast at a certain time, then you will meditate again, then you will have your food at a certain time — and the same food!
Everything helps boredom. And the same clothes, and the same monastery, and the same master every day with his stick walking around. And every day in the evening you have to go for a session with the master. And the questions that are given are such boring questions to meditate on: What is the sound of one hand clapping? Just think of it — it will drive you mad! What is the sound of one hand clapping? There is no answer to it, you know it; everybody knows there is no answer to it. And the master goes on insisting, “Go on repeating, go on meditating on it. “It is all well managed. The boredom has to be created — immensely, tremendously. The boredom has to be allowed as totally as possible, has to be helped, supported from every side. The same evening, the same work, the same chanting of the mantra. The same time you have to go to sleep again… and this goes on, this wheel. Within a few days you are utterly bored and you cannot escape. There is no way to escape. You can’t go to the movie, you can’t look at the TV; you can’t have anything that can help you to avoid it. You are thrown into it again and again.
Great courage is needed to face it. It is almost like death; in fact, far more hard than death, because death comes when you become unconscious. And you are stirring ALL sorts of boredoms. What happens? There is the secret of all meditations: if you go on watching, watching, watching, boredom becomes bigger and bigger, intenser and intenser, and then the peak… nothing can go on forever. There is a point from where the wheel turns. If you can go to the very extreme, to the very peak, then the change, transformation, enlightenment, satori, or whatever you want to call it, happens. Then one day, suddenly, the boredom becomes too much. You are suffocated, you are almost being killed by it. You are surrounded by an ocean of boredom. You are over flooded by it and there seems to be no way to escape. The very intensity and totality of it, and the wheel turns. Suddenly boredom disappears and there is satori, samadhi. You have entered your nothingness. Now there will be no boredom any more. You have seen the very nothingness of life. You have disappeared — who can be bored? With what? You exist no more. You are annihilated.
You ask: WHAT EXACTLY IS BOREDOM?
A great spiritual phenomenon. That’s why buffaloes are not bored; they look perfectly happy and enjoying. Only man is bored. And in man, also, only the people who are very talented, intelligent, they are bored. The stupid people are not bored. They are perfectly happy doing their jobs, earning money, making a bigger bank balance, raising their children, reproducing, eating, sitting in the movie, going to the hotel, participating in this and that. They are enjoying! They are not bored. They are the lowest types; they really belong to the world of buffaloes. They are not yet human. A man becomes human when he starts feeling bored. You can see it: the most intelligent child will be the most bored child — because nothing can keep his interest for long. Sooner or later he stumbles upon the fact and asks, “Now what? What next? This is finished. I have seen this toy, I have looked into it, I have opened it, I have analyzed it, now I am finished — what is next?” SOON he starts finishing things. By the time he becomes young, he is already bored.
Buddha was utterly bored. He left his kingdom when he was only twenty-nine, at the peak of his youth. He was utterly bored — with women, with wine, with wealth, with kingdom, with everything. He had seen all, he had seen through and through. He was bored. He renounced the world NOT because the world is wrong, remember. Traditionally it is said he renounced the world because the world is bad — that is absolute nonsense. He renounced the world because he became so BORED with it.
It is not bad, neither is it good. If you are intelligent, it is boredom.
If you are stupid, you can go on. Then it is a merry-go-round; then you move from one sensation to another. You are interested in trivia and you go on repeating and you are not conscious enough to see the repetition — that yesterday also you had been doing this, and today also you are doing, and again you are imagining tomorrow to do the same thing again. You must be really unintelligent. How can intelligence avoid boredom? It is impossible. Intelligence means seeing things as they are.
Buddha left the world out of boredom; utterly bored, he ran away from the world. And what was he doing them for six years sitting in those forests? He was getting more and more bored. What can you do, sitting in a forest? — watching your breath, looking at your navel, day in, day out, year in, year out. He created that boredom to its ultimate peak, and one night it disappeared. It disappears of its own accord.
If you reach to the peak… the turn comes. It comes! And with that turn of the tide, light enters into your being — you disappear, only light remains. And with light comes delight You are full of joy — you ARE NOT, but full of joy — for no reason at all. Joy simply bubbles up in your being.
The ordinary person is joyous for a reason — he has fallen in love with a new woman or a new man and he is joyous. His joy is momentary. Tomorrow he will be fed up with this woman and he will start looking for another. The ordinary man is joyous because he has got a new car; tomorrow he will have to look for another car. It goes on and on… and he never sees the point of it, that always, finally, you are bored. Do whatsoever — finally you are bored. Every act brings boredom. The intelligent person sees it. The sooner you see, the more intelligence you show. Then what is left? Then only boredom is left, and one has to meditate over it. There is no way to escape from it. Then go into it. See where it leads. And if you can keep going into it, it leads into enlightenment.
Only man is capable of boredom, and only man is capable of enlightenment.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Take it Easy, Vol 1
Chapter title: Only Man is Capable of Boredom
20 April 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘enlightenment, meditation, awareness, rejoicing,’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Osho Upanishad
- The Path of the Mystic
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- From the False to the Truth
- The Discipline of Transcendence, Vol 3
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- Sat Chit Anand
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance