Being and Nothingness


Osho speaks to a small group of people during dental sessions on a variety of ancient, old and contemporary books.

Being and NothingnessThe first book, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.

First I must mention that I don’t like the man. I don’t like him because he is a snob. He is one of the most snobbish people of this century. I call him a snob because he has become the leader of Existentialism without knowing at all what it means to be existential. But the book is good – not for my disciples but for those who have gone a little bit nuts, just a little bit. It is unreadable.

If you are a little bit nuts it will bring you to your senses. It is a great work in that sense – medicinal. Devaraj, note it: medicinal. It should be prescribed in all mad asylums. Each madman should be forced to read it, study it. If it cannot bring you to sanity nothing can. But only to first-degree nuts, like philosophers, professors, mathematicians, scientists – but only the first degree, not those very advanced in madness.

The existentialism of which Jean-Paul Sartre is the representative is a mockery. Without ever knowing anything of meditation he talks about ‘being’, and he talks about ‘nothingness’. Alas, they are not two: being is no-thingness; that is why Buddha has called being, anatta – no-self. Gautama the Buddha is the only man in history to call self ‘no-self’. I love Buddha for a thousand and one reasons; this is only one of the reasons. The thousand I cannot count because of the shortage of time. Perhaps one day I may start talking about those one thousand reasons too….

But Jean-Paul Sartre I dislike – just dislike, not even hate, because hate is a strong word; I save it for the second book. Jean-Paul Sartre knows nothing of existence, but he has created a jargon, a philosophical jargon, intellectual gymnastics. And it really is gymnastics. If you can read ten pages of Being and Nothingness, either you will become sane or insane. But to read ten pages is a difficult task. When I was a professor I gave it to many of my students, but nobody ever completed it. Nobody could even read ten pages – one page was too much; in fact one paragraph itself was too much. You cannot make any head or tail of it. And there are a thousand pages or more. It is a big book.

I remember it in my postscript because though I dislike the man, I may dislike his philosophy… yes, I will call it philosophy, even though he wanted it to be called anti-philosophy. I cannot call it anti-philosophy for the simple reason that every anti-philosophy ultimately proves to be only another philosophy. Existence is neither philosophical nor anti-philosophical. It is.

I include the book because he has done such a tremendous task. It is one of the most monumental books ever written, with such skill, such logic. And yet the man was just ordinary, a communist – that’s another reason why I dislike him. A man who knows existence cannot be a communist, because he will know that equality is impossible. Inequality is the way things are. Nothing is equal and nothing can ever be equal. Equality is only a dream, a dream of stupid people. Existence is multidimensional inequality.

Osho, Books I Have Loved (Excerpt)

Related discourse: The Other is Hell

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