Zorba is the Foundation, Buddha is the Temple

Osho on Zorba the Buddha


Zorba represents to me, every man’s, every woman’s natural state. It represents to me a perfect human animal, rejoicing in each moment in small things, not being worried about any spiritual growth. His whole philosophy is eat, drink and be merry. I love him, because that is the foundation from where a Buddha can arise. For twenty-nine years of his life Buddha was nothing but a Zorba. You will need a little clarification.

When Gautam Buddha was born, the astrologers said that either he would become an emperor of the whole world, or he would renounce the world and become the greatest awakened being ever. He was the only son of the father; the father was a king. He was old, he was worried. He asked the astrologers, “Help me. Advise me how to prevent him from going away from the world. I want to see my son as the greatest emperor in the world.” And they suggested a few things. They suggested, “Make three palaces for him, for different seasons, in three beautiful, scenic places. Have all the beautiful girls in the kingdom to attend him. Don’t allow any old men, old women to be seen by him. Don’t allow even a dying leaf, a dead leaf, in his garden. In the night everything should be cleaned so he never comes to know that one day he has to become old, and one day he has to die… and he is surrounded with all the luxuries and all the beautiful girls, dancers, musicians. Let him live in total luxury. He will never think of renouncing the world.”

But their advice backfired. For twenty-nine years he lived in such a state, but those astrologers had no understanding of human psychology…. If a person is given all the luxuries possible, continuously, without any effort on his part, he becomes bored. Those beautiful women were no longer beautiful for him; he started taking them for granted. The music, the dance and all that was going on — a merry-go-round, twenty-four hours a day — he soon became fed up with it. At the age of twenty-nine he was invited to open a youth festival of the whole kingdom, to inaugurate it. The roads were cleaned, old people were told not to come out; but it was one thing to manage in the palace, and it was another thing to manage in the capital.

Somebody died. Some old man was deaf, did not hear the announcement, and the old man passed Buddha’s chariot — and Buddha was shocked. He asked his charioteer, “What has happened to this man?” And the charioteer, who had loved Gautam Buddha from his very childhood as his own child, could not speak an untruth. He said, “I am sorry to say, but your father has been preventing you from knowing the reality. This happens to everybody. Old age is bound to come.”

And Buddha asked, “To me too?”

The charioteer said, “Nobody is an exception.” Just then the corpse of an old man passed by, and he asked, “What has happened now? Why are they carrying a man who looks to be asleep on a stretcher?” The charioteer said, “He is not asleep; he is dead. This happens after old age. This is the next step.”

And then Buddha saw a sannyasin in red robes, and he asked, “What kind of man is this, and why is he wearing red robes?” The charioteer said, “This man has renounced the world and he has become a seeker of truth. He wants to know who he is and he wants to know whether his life is eternal or just a temporal phenomenon. Will he survive the death of the body or not? If he is not going to survive after death, then all is meaningless. Then he has no soul, then he is just matter.” Buddha told the charioteer, “Return the chariot home. I am not going to inaugurate; somebody else can do it because I am in a great spiritual turmoil. The old man, the dead man, the sannyasin…” That very night he escaped from the palace. He was bored with all that luxury, he was bored with all that beauty, and for the first time he saw what is going to happen next: old age, sickness, death. Then before death comes, truth has to be found.

Gautam Buddha was a Zorba up to the age of twenty-nine. Six years of deep meditation transformed the man. He became enlightened. So when I have called the new man Zorba the Buddha, I have reasons to call it so. Every man is born as a Zorba. Your religions don’t allow you to live the Zorba, so you don’t get bored with it. They don’t allow you to live it so totally that you get finished with it. Your religions are preventing you from becoming Buddhas. The word `Buddha’ means the enlightened one, the awakened one. Your religions are keeping you asleep. They are certainly functioning as opium. My effort is to make you first totally Zorbas, utterly Zorbas, intensely Zorbas, so that you can transcend Zorba and enter into another phase of your consciousness — the awakening. Zorba is the foundation of the temple. Buddha is the temple itself.

But there is a great hindrance for every human being to grow: one, you have been told that the Zorba is against the Buddha; it is not true. The Zorba is the experience which leads you towards buddhahood, towards awakening. That’s the reason for my love for Zorba. He is really a beautiful man. But don’t stop at Zorba… he is only a foundation. If you just make the foundation and don’t raise the temple, it is meaningless. So there are people who are just living with the foundation, thinking this is the shrine — millions of people. And there are millions of people who are thinking they can make the temple without the foundation. They are fools. Both are wrong.

Zorba and Buddha can exist only together. And Zorba has a priority. He comes first; he is the natural foundation. And Buddha is the ultimate development, the ultimate peak of human reach, of human consciousness. For the new man I have given the name Zorba the Buddha. I want no schizophrenia, no split between matter and spirit, between the mundane and the sacred, between this-worldly and that-worldly. I don’t want any split because every split is a split in you. And a personality, a humanity divided against itself, is going to be crazy and insane. And we are living in a crazy and insane world. It can be sane only if this split can be bridged.

Zorba has to become Buddha, and Buddha has to understand and respect its own foundation. Roots may be ugly, but without those roots there are not going to be any flowers. The flowers may be beautiful, fragrant, but all their juice and all their fragrance comes from the roots. You cannot cut the tree in two saying that roots are ugly; you will destroy the tree. You have destroyed man by cutting him in two, into lower and higher, into material and spiritual. My whole effort is to make you understand a simple thing, that the roots may be ugly, but they are the very life of the most beautiful flowers. The juices that are coming to the flowers are coming from the roots. Without a Zorba, a Buddha is a dead saint, just a corpse with no soul. Without a Buddha, a Zorba is just an animal, not yet evolved into humanity. My vision for the future man is that there will be no split, and we will be able to make this world and that world one, body and soul one, Zorba and Buddha one.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse name: Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries Chapter #5

Chapter title: Existence does not like carbon copies

21 February 1986 pm in


Osho has spoken on ZorbatheBuddha, awakening, enlightenment, transformationin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Beyond Enlightenment
  2. From Bondage to Freedom
  3. From Darkness to Light
  4. Light on the Path
  5. No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity
  6. The Rebel
  7. The Perfect Master, Vol 1
  8. The Book of Wisdom
  9. The Osho Upanishad
  10. The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
  11. Satyam Shivam Sundram
  12. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
  13. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1, 2, 4, 7
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