Franz Kafka (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was born in Prague, then part of Bohemia and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
He was a German-language writer of novels and short stories and regarded as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Most of his works, such as Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent-child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.
Trained as a lawyer, his writing started with short stories and he always complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.
Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime. He prepared the story collection Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist) for print, but it was not published until after his death. Kafka’s unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika (aka Der Verschollene, The Man Who Disappeared), were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed. Albert Camus, Gabriel García Márquez and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe existential situations like those in his writings.
I would like to tell you one of the most beautiful parables that has been written down the centuries. Parables have almost disappeared from the world because those beautiful people – Jesus, Buddha, who created many parables – have disappeared.
A parable is not an ordinary story, a parable is a device – a device to say something which cannot ordinarily be said, a device to hint at something which can be hinted at only very indirectly.
This parable is written in this age; a very rare man, Franz Kafka, has written it. He was really a rare man. He struggled hard not to write because, he said, what he wanted to write could not be written. So he struggled hard but he could not control the temptation to write, so he wrote.
And he wrote in one of his diaries,”I am writing because it is difficult not to write, and knowing well that it is difficult also to write. Seeing no way out of it, I am writing.” And when he died, he left a will in the name of one of his friends to say, “Please burn everything that I have written – my diaries, my stories, my parables, my sketches, my notes. And burn them without reading them. Because this is the only way that I can get rid of that constant anxiety that I have been trying to say something which cannot be said. And I could not resist so I have written. Now this is the only way. I have written it because I could not control myself. I had to write knowing well that it could not be written, so now, without reading it, destroy, burn everything utterly. Nothing should be left.”
But the friend could not do it. And it is good that he did not.
This is one of Kafka’s parables. Listen to it, meditate over it.
“I gave order for my horse to be brought from the stable. The servant did not understand me. I myself went to the stable, saddled my horse and mounted. In the distance I heard a bugle call. I asked him what this meant. He knew nothing and had heard nothing.
At the gate he stopped me, asking,’Where are you riding to, Master?’
‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘only away from here. Away from here, always away from here. Only by doing so can I reach my destination.’
‘And so you know your destination?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘Did not I say so? Away from here – that’s my destination.’
‘You have no provisions with you, ‘ he said.
‘I need none,’ I said. ‘The journey is so long that I must die of hunger if I don’t get anything along the way. No provisions can save me because the journey is so long, I cannot carry enough provisions for it. No provisions can save me because it is, fortunately, a truly immense journey.'”
Now this is the parable. “The destination,” he says, “is away from here. Away from here is my destination.” That’s how the whole world is moving: away from here, away from now. You don’t know where you are going but one thing is certain – you are going away from here, away from now.
The parable says it is an immense journey. It is really endless because you can never reach away from here. How can you reach “away from here”? Wherever you will reach, it will be here. And again you will be trying to go away from here. There is no way to reach this destination. If away from here is the destiny then there is no way to reach it. And we are all escaping away from here.
Watch. Don’t allow this parable to become your life. Ordinarily everybody is doing this – knowingly, unknowingly. Start moving into the here, start moving into the now. And then there is tremendous happiness – so much so that it starts overflowing from you. Not only you delight in it, it starts overflowing, it starts becoming your climate, it becomes like a cloud around you. So whoever comes close to you becomes full of it. Even others will start partaking of it, participating in it.
And the more you have, the more you will be drowning into the herenow. Then a moment comes when you don’t have any space left for yourself – only happiness exists; you disappear.
But of two things – the past and the future – be alert.
Osho, Dang Dang Doko Dang, Ch 10, Q 2 (excerpt)
Thanks to Sona