Osho Speaks on Walt Whitman

Osho on Notable People

Walter ‘Walt’ Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist.

A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection ‘Leaves of Grass’, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality. Whitman spent his entire life writing and re-writing ‘Leaves of Grass’, revising it in several editions until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades — the first a small book of twelve poems and the last a compilation of over 400 poems.The poems of Leaves of Grass are loosely connected and each represents Whitman’s celebration of his philosophy of life and humanity.

Walt Whitman

A man who knows how to be alone knows how to be meditative. Aloneness means meditation – just relishing your own being, celebrating your own being.

Walt Whitman says: I celebrate myself, I sing myself. That is aloneness. This man Whitman is really a mystic, not just a poet. He should be counted with the ancient rishis of the Upanishads. America has not given birth to many great mystics; Whitman is really one of the most precious gifts of America to the world. He says: I celebrate myself, I sing myself. That’s what a mystic has always been supposed to do, that’s what a mystic’s function is: to celebrate himself. But how will you celebrate? You will have to invite others. You will have to ask others to come and participate.

Meditation gives you the insight of your own inner treasure, and in love you share it. That’s what I mean when I say that a sannyasin has to be ready to be alone – so that one day he can be ready to love. Only a man who knows the beauties of solitude can love. But just a slight difference and you can miss the whole point.

Now, the difference between aloneness and loneliness is not much; as far as language is concerned there is no difference at all, they are synonyms. In the dictionaries you will find aloneness described as loneliness, loneliness as aloneness – but that is only in the dictionaries, not in life itself. In life itself it is totally different.

Don’t live through language, don’t become too much obsessed with language, because language is only utilitarian. It can mislead you – it misleads. It can’t help it; it has been invented by people who know nothing. I am saying “aloneness” and your mind hears “loneliness.” Once you translate aloneness as loneliness you are millions of miles away – not only miles but millions of light-years away from me.

Osho, The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 3, Ch 6

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