Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish author, playwright and poet.
One of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s, he is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his many plays, biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversation. Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day.
He was married to Constance Wilde and had two children with her, but in his later life he became involved with other men and Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”) in particular. At the height of his fame and success, while his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, a conflict with Douglas’ father, the Marquess of Queensberry, went sour and led to Wilde’s own arrest and trial for “gross indecency”; he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In 1897, in prison, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure.
Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Readong Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of 46. From the 20th century onwards, Wilde is considered a gay icon and one of the most quotable writers of all time.
Oscar Wilde once said: “When the gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers.” Would you please comment?
Devageet, Oscar Wilde is right. It often happens that what psychologists cannot explain about the human mind, the creative artist, the poet, can easily explore to the depths which are beyond logic, beyond reason, beyond scientific research.
Oscar Wilde’s statement is of tremendous value. When he says, “When the Gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers,” he is saying something about our unconsciousness. We are not aware what we are doing, we are not aware what we are asking, we are not aware what we are praying for. Our consciousness is so superficial and our unconsciousness is so deep that it is bound to be that, if our prayers are fulfilled, it will not be a reward, it will be a punishment; because we had asked for something in our sleep and we will repent that we asked for it.
For example, you are all aware of the Greek mythological story of King Midas. His only prayer for years was that he should be granted the power that whatever he touches becomes gold. Years came and went, his prayer remained unheard. He became more and more impatient, started fasting, started austerities to force the divine powers to grant him the power he had been asking for years. He also thought that what he was asking for was tremendously beautiful, great. If you were given the chance, you would also accept the opportunity immediately, without hesitation.
Finally, the prayer was heard and his wish was fulfilled. He became capable of changing anything into gold. But then he became aware that he had destroyed himself by asking the gods to grant him this power because he could not eat, could not drink – he would touch a glass and the glass and the water would turn into gold. He would touch his food and it would turn into gold. Even his own wife would not come close to him. His own children would run away, because whomsoever he touched he turned into gold.
Just within a week the man was almost mad, dying. He asked the gods again and again, “Take the power back, I had no idea what I was asking. I have been punished enough.” His wife had turned into gold, his children had turned into gold. For seven days he had not eaten anything, he had not even been able to drink water; he was dying of thirst and hunger.
While he was praying for years, he had been dreaming that if he were granted this power he would become the richest man in the whole world; and now he had become the poorest man ever – past, present, future. Nobody has ever been so poor. Friends would not come to see him. His own ministers all went on leave. He would sit in the court and nobody would turn up; he was left alone, and he had always been surrounded by people. He was a great king, now even beggars were not ready to be friendly with him or to come close to him.
There are many mythological stories of the same type in all the languages, and they are not simply stories. They are descriptions of our unconscious mind. Unless you are fully conscious, your prayer is going to be a punishment if it is fulfilled. Because from where will it come? And the moment you are fully conscious you will not ask anything because the greatest treasure has already been given to you.
A Gautam Buddha has nothing to ask for. He does not pray. He has no prayer, he has no god, he is utterly fulfilled and contented. He has no desire, he has nothing to ask, he is no more a beggar. The man of consciousness becomes an emperor.
But millions of people who are praying in the temples, in the churches, in the mosques, in the synagogues should give a little more thought to what they are asking for. And if it is fulfilled what will be the consequences? They are bound to take their prayers back, because all their desires are arising out of their deep unconsciousness. They don’t know what will be the consequence, what will be the ultimate result.
Devageet, Oscar Wilde is a great genius, a poet, a creative artist. And these are the people – not your so-called dead saints – who have given humanity new insights into their own beings, into the possibilities of what they can ask and whether it is right to ask, or wait for the moment when you have come to a point of desirelessness.
All your desires are going to be wrong, however logical they may appear. Their ultimate result will prove fatal. You can watch it in yourself.
[…] This is our unconscious desire: not to die. But we have never looked at the implications of it. What will happen if you cannot die, if you cannot commit suicide; if death cannot come by itself and there is no way for you to get out of this vicious circle of life? You will be utterly helpless and your anguish will be almost intolerable. You will repent tears of blood and there will be no solace for you.
Oscar Wilde had a great insight. And this man was turned out of England, expelled because of his strange ideas. His contemporaries thought that he was a little bit crazy. Do you think a crazy man can have such a great clarity, such a great consciousness? But this is the fate of all those who are born ahead of their time. The gap between their understanding and that of their contemporaries is so vast that they are always misfits. Oscar Wilde is one of the most famous misfit geniuses of the world.
… I would like my people to understand these rebels,
because these are authentic human beings.
But always remember: whenever you can find any book, any poetry of a man who was condemned by his contemporaries, look into the poetry, into the book, into the statement; because that statement must be carrying something of tremendous value which the contemporaries could not understand. The great man has to wait centuries to be understood. The people who can understand them come when they are long dead. They live a life disrespected, dishonored in their own lands by their own people. And they give tremendous treasures, but there is no appreciation in their contemporaries. These rebels are the very salt of the earth. It is because of these rebels that humanity has a little hope, that consciousness has grown a little bit higher.
Just take away these few rebels from the history of man, and mankind disappears and there are only barbarious, inhuman, ugly creatures left behind. But the people who have given you all the wisdom that you have, all the consciousness that you have, all the sensibility that you have… you have paid them with crucifixions.
…even today he would have been before his time;
still his time has not come.
Oscar Wilde lived his life being deported from this place to another, from that place to another, without any honor. Still, not a single word of complaint, no grudge against anybody, but a simple acceptance that “I have come before my time. It is not their fault, it is just my fault. I should have waited a little longer.”
But perhaps even today he would have been before his time; still his time has not come. I have looked into his words and I can say it authoritatively: still he will have to wait for his people. The people who are living around the earth, even today, misbehave with him as the people of his own day did.
But I would like my people to understand these rebels, because these are authentic human beings. These are the crystallized souls, integrated consciousnesses.
Not your bogus saints, but great poets, great mystics, great painters, great creators in any dimension… they have a vision which goes to infinity; they have a depth like the Pacific and they have the heights of the Himalayan peaks. If you can make friends with these rebels, something of their flavor may enter into your own being too. It may become a seed in you, and in the right time may bring great flowers and great fragrance.
Once Gautam Buddha was asked, “Why don’t you teach your people to pray?” It was an obvious question – a religion without prayer is simply inconceivable to many people. And the answer Buddha gave is as fresh today as it was twenty-five centuries before, as new and as revolutionary. He said, “I don’t teach my people to pray because their prayers will harm them. Right now they are not conscious enough to ask for anything, and whatsoever they ask will be wrong. First, let them become conscious enough. I teach them how to become more conscious and then it is up to them. When they are fully conscious, if they want to pray, they are free. They are not my slaves. But I can say one thing: that anybody who is fully conscious has nothing to ask for. He has got everything that one can ever ask for.”
Mildred had been nagging her family for years, and everyone had become accustomed to her whining and her sour face. One day she attended a “positive thinking” lecture, where the speaker talked for an hour on the winning qualities of the face with a smile. Mildred went home, very impressed, and decided to reform.
Next morning she got up early, put on her favorite dress, and prepared a good breakfast. When the family came in to the dining room she greeted them with a beaming smile. Her husband George took a good look at her face and collapsed in a chair.
“Along with everything else,” he moaned, “she has gone and developed lockjaw.”
He could not believe that her smile could be true. It must be lockjaw!
People try to pray, people try to smile, people try to look happy, people try to be truthful, honest – whatever qualities are praised. But their unconsciousness stands there behind every act of theirs, and their unconsciousness distorts their honesty, distorts their smiles, distorts their truth. But no morality in the world teaches people to first be conscious and only then to find, by your own consciousness, what qualities you would like to blossom in your being…. Honesty, sincerity, truth, love, compassion?
Except for a very few rebels like Gautam Buddha, nobody has thought about your unconscious – that first it has to be dropped, changed, your inner being has to be full of light, and then whatever you do is going to be right. Out of a totally conscious mind nothing can go wrong. But who listens?
For forty-two years continuously, Gautam Buddha went on telling people only one thing: be more alert, be more conscious. They became accustomed to hearing him, and for forty-two years continuously he said, “I am not here for you to worship me. If you have any respect for me, do what I am saying – don’t waste your life by worshipping me, because that is not going to help. And the worship of unconscious human beings is absolutely futile, meaningless; it is a deception – a deception that you have understood me.”
The last day of his life he repeated again, for the last time, “Don’t make my statues. If you love me, do what I have been telling you for forty-two years continuously: be more alert. Don’t raise temples and statues in my name.”
But it is something that shows how our unconscious mind functions. Gautam Buddha’s statues were the first statues to come into existence. And he has more statues in the world than anybody else. There are temples which are almost a whole mountain, carved. One temple in China has ten thousand statues of Gautam Buddha. The whole mountain has been carved in statues, it is called the temple of ten thousand Buddhas.
In the Arabian countries, people became aware that something like statues were possible, by seeing Buddha’s statues in Mongolia. And because those statues were called buddhas… that’s why in Arabic, in Persian, in Urdu, the word for statue is buth. It is just a word derived from buddh. The word buddh itself became synonymous with a statue, and yet the man had devoted his whole life… saying that he should not be worshipped, he should be understood.
But rebels are either to be crucified or they have to be worshipped – which are exactly the same. Crucifixion is a barbarous way of getting rid of them; worshipping is a little more civilized way of getting rid of them. But in both ways, we simply get rid of them.
What Oscar Wilde is saying, you should remember. My place is not a place of prayer. My place is not a place where you can come for your wishes to be fulfilled. My place exists only to help you become more conscious, alert, so that you can be a light unto yourself. Then whatever you do is good, is beautiful, is spiritual, is godly.
Osho, The Rebel, Ch 26, Q 1