IT SEEMS THAT NOTHING EVER REALLY DROPS AWAY. SUDDENLY IT IS GONE, BUT JUST AS SUDDENLY IT IS BACK AGAIN. IT ALL SEEMS LIKE A MAGIC TRICK.
… A very meaningful question, with tremendous implications for understanding. Let us move into it very slowly.
Yes, this is so: nothing ever really drops away. Nothing ever really drops away; suddenly it is gone, and as suddenly as it left, in the same way, at any moment, suddenly it is back again. Why is it so? — because you have never tried to understand the nature of human consciousness. The nature of human consciousness is absolute freedom. When I say absolute freedom, I mean you are free at any moment to be whatsoever you decide. Nothing holds itself against you. You may have been a saint up to now. You may have lived in celibacy up to now. This very moment you can change: you can throw away your celibacy. You can fall in love with a woman or a man. Because you have been celibate in the past does not, CANNOT become a bondage. You remain free. If you want to be celibate in this moment also, you can be. But remember that it is not because of the past, it is again a fresh decision. You have to go on making your decision again and again and again, reviving it again and again and again. At any moment you can drop it.
Existentialists are true. They say: existence precedes essence. It is a very pregnant sentence. Let me repeat it: existence precedes essence. A man is born; he is pure freedom. He has no essence, only existence. Then he will choose his essence, whom he is going to be — and it will be his choice. He can be a saint, he can be a sinner; he can be a criminal, he can be a murderer, or he can ke a martyr. He brings pure existence into the world — a blank sheet, a pure canvas. What colors he is going to use, and what sort of painting he is going to make of his life, is totally up to him. He does not bring a character. He simply brings a potentiality, pure potentiality. And this pure potentiality always remains pure; you cannot corrupt it. You become a saint: that means you decide that to be a saint is going to be your essence. But this is your decision, and if you want to keep it up to the very end of your life, every morning, in fact, every minute of your existence, you will have to decide again and again and vote for it. Any moment you stop deciding, any moment you say, ‘Enough is enough, now I want to change,’ nobody is barring the path. You can cancel your whole past in a single moment, because that past was your decision, nobody else’s. It is not like a destiny forced from above, from outside. It is your own inner decision. You can change it.
That’s why nothing ever disappears. You can become a sinner, but tomorrow you may again change. You can again take the vow of a Catholic priest and become a priest again, become celibate. Try to understand this.. This has tremendous implications for your life. Don’t throw the responsibility on anybody else. Nobody else is a deciding factor, neither your mother nor your father. Whatsoever the psychoanalysts say is really irrelevant to your being. It is for you to decide. Even the people who are mad are mad because of their own decision. Somehow they found it to be convenient. Somehow they decided; they voted for it. Nobody has forced them. Nobody can force anybody because the innermost quality of being is freedom. It is not something accidental; it is your very nature…
Don’t play games with yourself. It is your freedom, but freedom is very dangerous because it does not leave any corner for you to hide in. You cannot throw responsibility on anybody else. Simply and absolutely, you are responsible. Just watch and see the fact of it, and truth liberates.
If you can see this, then whether you decide to smoke or drink does not matter. Whether you decide to drop it does not matter. The only thing that matters is to be always mindful of your freedom. If you are not aware of that then this will happen: you will feel that nothing ever really drops away. It comes again and again, and of course it comes worse than ever. It comes with a vengeance.
But don’t think of yourself as a victim; you are not. Try what I am saying, just watch what I am saying. Smoking… let there be a decision that you are not going to smoke. Let the cigarette drop from your fingers, and then watch. Just go on observing. Whenever you again want to smoke, don’t say that it is because of old habit, it is again a fresh decision, not an old habit. You go on throwing the responsibility on the old habit to save your own face. Please don’t do that. Say that, ‘Now I have decided to smoke again.’ Nobody is barring you; it is your decision. You can cancel, or you can vote for it again. But always insist that it is a fresh decision, and you will never be in the grip of so-called habits, so-called mechanical habits. You will feel a free man. Smoking or not smoking is immaterial; to feel a free man is very significant. Nothing is more significant than that. And I am here to make you aware of your freedom. If you go to the so-called saints, they will make you aware of your mechanicalness: that is the difference. They will make you aware of your mechanicalness, and they will create a new mechanicalness in you. They will say, ‘You have been smoking for thirty years? Now take a vow that you will never smoke again.’ Old habit is there; now they are telling you to create a greater habit in order to destroy the old habit. Then non-smoking will become a habit, but the freedom is nowhere there. Whether you smoke or don’t smoke, you remain a victim.
We have a sannyasin here, Narendra Bodhisattva. His father is a very beautiful man. People think that he is a little crazy, but he is really a beautiful man. He belongs to a certain sect of Jainism. He went on a visit, on a pilgrimage, and when you go to Jain monks they always ask you to take a vow because otherwise your going on the pilgrimage is meaningless. The monk there asked him to take some vow, so he decided to take a vow. He said, ‘I have never smoked in my life — now I will smoke.’ The monk must have thought him crazy. He came back and he told me, ‘This vow I have taken.’ I said,’You are a beautiful man. You did well.’ Whether you smoke or don’t smoke, all vows lead you to mechanicalness.
My whole emphasis is that you should become aware of your freedom. Let your life flow out of your freedom. Whatsoever you decide is up to you. Who am I to tell you to smoke or not to smoke, to drink or not to drink? I am not worried about such foolishnesses; this is for you to decide. You are your own master. These are trivia; they are not significant. All that matters is that you remain alert, remain centered in your freedom. Never do anything which goes against your freedom. Do — everything is allowed if it is done out of freedom. To act out of freedom is to be virtuous, to act out of bondage is to sin.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Come Follow To You, Vol 4
Chapter title: Happiness is that which Happens
26 December 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘freedom, life, awareness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses: