Answering a question by Vachana, Osho speaks on understanding purposelessness and never having been out of the home
To me, you are like the purposeless glad ocean that twice a day comes and goes, showering us with your energy like the waves of the sea. I could wish for nothing more than this joy of knowing that each day you will be with us again in the evening, and when night comes I go to my bed feeling filled, contained, and so much loved. In my sixty-seven years I have wandered so far away from myself. Could this miracle that is happening within and without be that at last I am on my way home?
Deva Vachana, yes, it is true, at last you are back home. Your understanding about me is absolutely correct: I am just as purposeless as the waves of the ocean, or the flowers in the garden, or the stars in the night.
Purpose is a very mundane thing – machines have purposes, the electricity has purpose, and the effort of the society is always to reduce human beings also to a purpose. From my very childhood I have been criticized by my elders, my teachers, my professors for a simple reason – they used to ask me, “What are you going to become?”
But I said, “Why should I become, I am already whatever I am; becoming means going away from being. The people who become lose their being, lose their home. I am perfectly at home.”
My elders used to say, “You are good for nothing.”
I said, “That is perfectly right, everybody should be good for nothing – then life will be just a blissful dance. You never ask the rose flower, ‘What is your purpose? Why are you dancing in the wind? Why are you so beautiful? Why are you spreading your fragrance? What is the purpose? What are you going to gain? How much is it going to help your bank account?’”
My professors were continuously worried because I was never reading the textbooks. I was reading a lot, all kinds of strange things, and I was also dragging my professors into discussions which, according to them, were purposeless. Again and again they would say, “Look, you are taking the whole class away in a purposeless direction; you are not going to be examined for it and you are not going to get your degrees for it.”
But I said, “Who cares for degrees? We are here to become more alert, more silent, more joyful; we have come here to discover ourselves – who cares for degrees? You have got so many degrees, but you don’t know anything about yourself and you are trying to teach us to be purposeful.”
The whole society is geared for purpose: “You should be productive, you should be of some help.” Just being yourself, a beautiful dance of your being, is not acceptable by society. You have to be a prime minister, you have to be a president, you have to be successfully rich; then the society appreciates you. And the reality is that all these successful people are nothing but beggars. Inside their being there is nothing but darkness, not even a small flame of light – their whole life is without love. At the most they pretend to be loving, but their activities in life destroy their lovingness.
A man who is greedy for money cannot be loving, because the greed for love is possible only if you drop the very idea of compassion. The more money you have… somebody, somewhere must be becoming poorer. You have to keep yourself completely closed about the poverty that you are creating by accumulating money. How can you love your own children? How can you love your own wife? You love only money. A man of greed is bound to become loveless; he loses all juice, he becomes dry.
Man is not a machine. And I am not saying that you should not be creative; I am saying you should be creative, but not productive. And those two are totally different things. All creation is purposeless, and all production is for some purpose. If your creativity, as a by product, serves some purpose, that’s another matter. It will serve something, but your basic longing should not be for production; it should be for creativity, and the joy of creativity.
For example, you can be creative in architecture. You can make a beautiful house, not just for the purpose of living in it, not just a shelter from the rain, and from the summer heat, and the cold, but as a creative piece of art. It may serve some purpose, but that is secondary. The priority should be that you are creating a beautiful piece of art – not just a house, but a temple… a temple where beauty dwells, a temple where meditation becomes so easy and so natural, a temple where love grows. Its purposes are secondary. But in the society, the whole educational system reduces every human being into a machine – produce more!
Your observation is right, Vachana, I am purposeless. And my whole philosophy of life is to enjoy purposelessness – beauty for beauty’s sake, truth for truth’s sake, love for love’s sake. The man who is always thinking of purposes, even if he loves, it has some purpose behind it.
I have heard about a man who was in a great inner conflict. Two women were in deep love with him, and both were trying to get him to marry them. One was very beautiful, but absolutely poor; the other was immensely rich, but also immensely ugly. And there was great conflict in the mind of the man – what to do? If he thinks about purpose, then the ugly woman should be the choice. If he thinks about love, beauty, then the poor woman should be his choice.
Everybody who was friendly to the man was suggesting to him, “Beauty is just for a few days… once you become accustomed, you become immune to it. And who knows? Tomorrow your beautiful wife may suffer from smallpox, may have breast cancer – anything can happen. Beauty is very fragile, and anyway one day she will become old and beauty will become only a long-away forgotten dream.
Be practical and be pragmatic, marry the ugly woman. She has money, and money can do anything in the world. Money is the greatest miracle invented by man. As far as her ugliness is concerned, for that much money it can be tolerated. And anyway, always come home late – when it is dark, whether the woman is beautiful or ugly makes no difference. And always remember that you can take her to a plastic surgeon, but don’t forget money.”
The people who are continuously concerned about being practical, pragmatic, are the lowest kind of human beings. The highest kind of human beings are very impractical, unpragmatic. And the mystics, the poets, the philosophers, the people who have raised human consciousness to the level at which we are now, who have made us different from animals, they are all purposeless.
Vachana, in your sixty-seventh year you are still young, fresh, because you can see the point so clearly that I am, “As purposeless as the glad ocean that twice a day comes and goes, showering us with energy like the waves of the sea.” It is absolutely without any purpose, I simply enjoy being with you, I enjoy sharing my heart with you. There is nothing to be achieved through it, just the sharing in itself is my reward.
And you say, “I could wish for nothing more than this joy of knowing that each day that you will be with us again in the evening. And when night comes, I go to my bed feeling filled, contained and so much loved. In my sixty-seven years I have wandered so far away from myself, could this miracle that is happening within and without me be that at last I am on my way home?”
Not just on the way, you are already in the home. And you had never left the home – that is the point which is the most significant to be understood. You say that in sixty-seven years you have wandered far away from yourself. That wandering is only dreaming; you never go away from the home, nobody can go away.
It is just in sleep that you can wander, go to the moon, but when you wake up you will find you are still in your bed in your own room. What happened to the moon? And in the dream you may have worried much: “I have reached the moon. My God, now how am I going to get back?” There seems to be nobody to even enquire to about when the next train leaves, and whether there is any train, any station – nobody is there.
You may have been having a nightmare. How will I reach my home? And the nightmare can be so impressive that people wake up perspiring, trembling, their heart pounding. Although they are awake, and they know they are in their room in their bed… they have not gone anywhere, but it takes a little time for them to settle and forget the nightmare, and to have a little laugh – how stupid I am that I took that dream so seriously.
All your wandering, Vachana, has been only a dream of wandering – everybody’s wandering is just in their dreams. The moment you wake up, and you are waking up, you will find you have never left the room, even for a single moment – because your being is your home, how can you leave it? You are it.
But it is good, although it is very late, sixty-seven years. But however late it may be, even before dying, if just for a second one becomes awake, he is equal to Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha may have been awake for forty-two years, and you may have been awake only forty-two seconds – that does not matter. What matters is that you are not dying in sleep. And whenever you wake up, it is morning. Just a single moment of total wakefulness is the most precious experience possible to the human mind.
This wakefulness is also purposeless. It has to be deeply understood that in life anything that is significant – love, beauty, virtue, silence, wakefulness, enlightenment… all are useless things. They are intrinsically valuable, but they don’t have any price tag on them. You cannot sell them; you cannot make money out of them. They themselves intrinsically are so blissful that only a very few people have moved in the direction of these purposeless values. But these are the only real people; they are the very salt of the earth. The others are only wanderers in dreams. Their money, their respectability, their power, their position… all will be taken away before death.
But your love, your silence, your consciousness, your awakening, no death can even make a dent in those values. They cannot be taken away. This should be the criterion: that which cannot be taken away by death is the real treasure; that which can be taken away by death is just an illusion. It may last for years, but it is an illusion.
Death is the criterion, the fire test. Anything that passes through death without being destroyed is the real value. And the man who has values like this is the richest man, although he may be a beggar on the street.
I am reminded of a story: A king used to go every night into the city for a round to see how things are going – of course, in disguise. He was very much puzzled about one man, a young, very beautiful man, who was always standing under a tree by the side of the street, the same tree every night. Finally, the curiosity took over, and the king stopped his horse and asked the man, “Why don’t you go to sleep?” And the man said, “People go to sleep because they have nothing to guard, and I have such treasures that I cannot go to sleep, I have to guard them.”
The king said, “Strange, I don’t see any treasures here.” The man said, “Those treasures are inside me, you cannot see them.”
It became a routine thing for the king to stop every day, because the man was beautiful, and whatever he said made the king think over it for hours. The king became so much attached and interested in the man that he started feeling that he was really a saint, because awareness and love and peace and silence and meditation and enlightenment, these are his treasures which he is guarding; he cannot sleep, he cannot afford sleep. Only beggars can afford….
The story had started just by curiosity, but slowly, slowly the king started respecting and honoring the man, almost as a spiritual guide. One day he said to him, “I know you will not come with me to the palace, but I think of you, day in, day out. You come to my mind so many times, I would love it if you can become a guest in my palace.”
The king was thinking that he will not agree – he had the old idea that saints renounce the world – but the young man said, “If you are missing me so much, why you did not say it before? So bring another horse, and I am coming with you.”
The king became suspicious, “What kind of saint is he? – so easily ready. But now it was too late, he had invited him. He gave him his best room in the palace which was preserved only for rare guests, other emperors. And he was thinking the man would refuse, that he would say, “I am a saint, I cannot live in this luxury.” But he did not say anything like this. He said, “Very good.”
The king could not sleep the whole night, and he thought, “It seems this fellow has deceived me; he is not a saint or anything.” Two, three times he went to look from the window – the saint was asleep. And he had never been asleep, he was always standing under the tree. Now he was not guarding. The king thought, “I have been conned. This is a real con man.”
The second day he ate with the king – all delicious foods, no austerity – and he enjoyed the food. The king offered him new clothes, worthy of an emperor, and he loved those clothes. And the king thought, “Now, how to get rid of this fellow?” Just in seven days he was tired, thinking, “This is a complete charlatan, he has cheated me.”
On the seventh day he said to this strange fellow, “I want to ask a question.” And the stranger said, “I know your question. You wanted to ask it seven days before, but just out of courtesy, manners, you kept it repressed – I was watching. But I will not answer you here. You can ask the question, and then we will go for a long morning ride on the horses, and I will choose the right place to answer it.”
The king said, “Okay. My question is, now what is the difference between me and you? You are living like an emperor, but you used to be a saint. Now you are no longer a saint.”
The man said, “Get the horses ready!” They went out, and the king many times reminded him, “How far are we going? You can answer.”
Finally they reached to the river which was the boundary line of his empire. The king said, “Now we have come to my boundary. The other side is somebody else’s kingdom. This is a good place to answer.” He said, “Yes, I am going. You can take both the horses, or if you like, you can come with me.”
The king said, “Where are you going?”
He said, “My treasure is with me. Wherever I go, my treasure will be with me. Are you coming with me or not?”
The king said, “How can I come with you? My kingdom, my palace, my whole life’s work is behind me.”
The stranger laughed and he said, “Now, do you see the difference? I can stand naked under a tree, or I can live in a palace like an emperor because my treasure is within me. Whether the tree is there or the palace is there makes no difference. So you can go back; I am going into the other kingdom. Now your kingdom is not worth remaining in.”
The king felt repentance. He touched the feet of the stranger and said, “Forgive me. I was thinking wrong thoughts about you. You are really a great saint. Just don’t go, and leave me like this; otherwise this wound will hurt me my whole life.”
The stranger said, “There is no difficulty for me; I can come back with you. But I want you to be alert. The moment we reach the palace, the question will again arise in your mind. So it is better – let me go. I can give you some time to think. I can come back.
“To me it makes no difference. But to you it is better that I should leave the kingdom; it is better. In this way at least you will think of me as a saint. Back in the palace you will again start doubting, `This is a con man.’ But if you insist, I am ready. I can leave again after seven days when the question becomes too heavy on you.”
There are values which are intrinsic; they are part of your being – to discover them is the real discovery. And there are things outside you – to waste your life in collecting them is the most idiotic act one can do. But that kind of act is respected, because the society lives on the outside.
Your individual is within you, and your individual is capable of becoming a source of eternal ecstasy. It is purposeless. To understand the purposelessness of great values, and to live them, is the way of the sannyasin.
You are not just on the way back home; you have never been out of the home. You have just fallen asleep and dreamt about wanderings – sixty-seven years you have been dreaming. It is your wakefulness that is making you feel so filled, so contained, and so much loved.
Osho, The Razor’s Edge, Ch 15, Q 2