A question by Prem Neeto.
Osho, what is the difference between longing for the divine and loving another?
There is no difference at all — all desires are the same. You can desire money, you can desire meditation, you can long for power, you can long for God, but you remain the same. What you long for cannot change you, the object of longing has no effect on your inner being; it is the same game played again with new words, with new objects of desire.
You long for a person, you desire a person. Why? Because you are feeling lonely. In yourself you don’t feel sufficient. There is a kind of emptiness in you which you would like to be filled by the presence of the other. You feel meaningless and you want the other to impart meaning to your life. It never happens; it is only a longing and a hope. It is never fulfilled — it cannot be fulfilled in the very nature of things. It is impossible because the other is desiring you for the same reason; he is also feeling empty. Now two empty persons are hoping to be fulfilled through each other: two meaningless lives are hoping from each other to become meaningful and significant.
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This is the utmost absurdity. Sooner or later one becomes aware of the phenomenon because again and again there is frustration, again and again there is failure, again and again the hope evaporates and you are left in a far deeper mess than you were ever in before. Again and again you are disillusioned. It is because of this that Jean-Paul Sartre used to say: “The other is hell.” He is unconsciously groping in the dark and has unknowingly stumbled upon a fact, although the way he expresses it is not exactly what it should be. The other is not hell, your desire for the other is hell — that’s what all the Buddhas have said down the ages — not the other, because when Sartre says, “The other is hell,” it seems as if the other is responsible for your misery, disappointment, disillusionment. The other is not responsible, it is your own expectation that has been shattered. The greater the expectation the more will be the frustration.
Hence wherever arranged marriages have disappeared and love marriages have become prevalent there is more frustration. In an arranged marriage your expectations are not very big; it is not a romantic affair at all, you are not hoping to reach to paradise through it. It is a mundane phenomenon, arranged by your parents, grandparents, arranged by the society, the family, the priest, the astrologer, arranged by others. Your dreams are not very involved in it. Hence the arranged marriage moves on far smoother ground: it has no peaks, no ups and no downs. It is just like a plain superhighway — not even an Indian one but a German superhighway. Nothing grows on it, it is dead; made of asphalt or tarmac or cement — utterly dead, but safe. It is not a hilly track. You are not moving in the unknown. You can have a map and there are milestones everywhere, pointers indicating where you are, where you are moving, how far the destination is, how far you have moved from your place. Everything is clear; that’s how the arranged marriage functions.
And if the arranged marriage happens when you are just a small child, with no idea of love, of sex, of romance, then you start taking your wife for granted or your husband for granted, just as you take your brothers and sisters for granted. Nobody ever thinks of changing one’s mother. If the marriage happens when you are a child, a small child, then you never think of divorce. You grow together; the husband and the wife grow together just as brothers and sisters grow together. They have lived together so long, as long as they can remember.
When my mother got married she was only seven years old. My father was not more than twelve years old. Now what dreams are possible? What can they hope for? In fact they were enjoying the whole show of marriage, they were enchanted with the music, the bands and all kinds of fireworks — it was a really enjoyable experience — with no idea of what they were getting into. And by the time they became aware they were already rooted; they had become indispensable to each other.
But in a love marriage it is going to be difficult. In America, out of two marriages one is going to be shattered. That is the proportion of divorce: one divorce out of two marriages. And remember, the one marriage that has not shattered is not moving in a joyous world; it is not moving, it is simply because of cowardice, security, safety that people go on clinging. As they become more courageous, the divorce rate is going to become higher and higher, it is going to become bigger and bigger.
Why do love marriages fail? — for the simple reason that there is deep expectation and it cannot be fulfilled. Soon you have to realize that you have been a fool. Soon, even before the honeymoon is over, the marriage is over. It may linger on… it depends how much courage you have. If you are a coward it may linger on your whole life. If you are courageous and if you can see the point you may divorce immediately after your honeymoon is over because the marriage will also be over, because you will have seen that all those illusions that you were carrying were just illusions. You were living in a world of rainbows, you were living in a world of poetry, not of reality.
Sartre is not right when he says that the other is hell, but in an unconscious way he has come very close to the truth.
The Buddhas say: Not the other but the desire for the other is hell. To make the other responsible is a very common characteristic of human beings.
One of Murphy’s maxims says: To err is human and to blame the other for it is even far more human.
That’s what Sartre has done: you have erred, now you are blaming the other. If you really see the point, then you will see that desire is the cause; if you don’t see that, then you will change the other. Then this other is causing you problems — change him. So after one divorce another marriage, and then another marriage and then another marriage. And it is the same illusion you live again and again! And people are so unintelligent, so unaware that they never see the point: that you can go on changing the whole world, again and again you can change the partner, but it will remain the same story because you are the same. Wherever you go you will remain the same; your heart is in the same state. There is confusion, there is no light inside you, there is only darkness.
When one becomes too fed up with ordinary relationships with people one starts imagining a relationship with God; that is the longing for the divine. Now God is a little better in the sense that you can never be disappointed because you will never meet him; for the simple reason that there is going to be no honeymoon, the honeymoon can never be over; for the simple reason that there is going to be no living together with God, you can go on hoping. Now you are alone: it is a monologue, it is not a dialogue.
All human relationships fail because the other is there and you start clashing with each other, you start dominating each other, you start being jealous of each other, you start being possessive of each other. You are afraid that you may lose the other. And then one day you see that there is nothing to lose — the other is as empty as you are. One dream is shattered, then another dream….
That is the beauty of the religious dream: you can go on dreaming, it can’t be shattered. The relationship with God can never be on the rocks — it is impossible because you are simply alone. When you are praying, what are you doing? Talking to yourself! It is like whistling in the dark — there is nobody to listen.
God is not a person with whom you can have any relationship. God is not somebody in particular whom you can address, whom you can long for. But all your frustrations, all your relationships, which have failed, have not made you alert enough to the fact that it is better to drop the whole idea of desiring the other. Now you are trying to desire something which you are never going to get. One thing is good about it: you can go on hoping for lives. There is never going to be any end to it; the journey is unending. The other does not exist at all; now you are living in pure dreams. First you were living in dreams but the other was there, so between the two realities the dreams were bound to be crushed — and they were crushed. But now there is nobody else, you are alone. You can make your God the way you want.
In India people worship God in such ways that one feels sorry for them.
Once I was staying with a woman; she was a great lover of Krishna, so much so that she had stopped sleeping with her husband — how can you love two persons? That is a betrayal. She believed that her true husband was Krishna. Her poor husband was really in a very mad state. He could not say that she was wrong because he was also brought up in the same Krishnaite tradition. He could not say it, although he was a doctor, well educated. But in India education makes no difference to people, not at all. Their conditioning is so old and so ancient and so deep rooted that education remains just on the surface. Scratch any educated Indian and inside you will find the whole rotten past. So intellectually he knew that the wife was crazy but only intellectually; deep down he himself was afraid that she might be right, because Meera used to think the same way: that Krishna is her true husband. She left her own husband.
At least this woman had not left her husband, she simply had stopped sleeping with the husband. She used to sleep in another room; she would lock the room from inside. She would sleep with Krishna’s statue.
When I stayed in their home I watched the whole game. In the morning she would sing songs to wake up Krishna. Now Krishna needs to wake you up! But she would sing songs to wake Krishna up. And then Krishna would be up and then the whole morning routine: he would take a bath, he would be given a bath, and then breakfast… the whole day was devoted to Krishna. And it was just a statue made of silver — there was nobody there! But she used to talk to Krishna. And if you could have seen her you would have been impressed because she would cry tears of joy and she would dance in utter ecstasy — at least on the surface it would look like that.
And the more repressive she became about her sex — because she was not having any sexual relationship with the husband — the more and more obsessed she became with Krishna. Then she started dreaming that Krishna was making love to her in the night. Once she even got falsely pregnant — just hot air in her belly and nothing else.
When I talked to her…. It was really cruel of me, but I am a cruel man — I have to be. I had gone for only three days; I stayed there for seven days just to bring her to her senses. And finally she understood the point — she was an intelligent woman. She presented the statue to me and she said, “Now you take it from here, otherwise I can again get entangled into this stupidity. I have wasted my whole life. And I can see the point that I am just living in my own dream. There is no Krishna, nobody comes to make love to me, it is all my dream. It is just sexual repression.” And this whole nonsense of waking him up and giving him a bath and then breakfast and then lunch and then Krishna retires for the afternoon sleep and then tea — and everything, as if she were really serving a real person!
The statue remained with me for many days; I think I gave it to Mukta. Mukta must have it even now. But the woman was freed, freed from that stupid monologue.
It is madness. It is the same madness, even a little worse, because when you love a real person there is at least somebody real, good or bad, frustrating or not frustrating. But when you start longing for the divine it is simply living absolutely in the abstract.
Neeto, you ask me: What is the difference between longing for the divine and loving another?
There is no difference at all — longing is longing. Then what will I suggest? Try to understand the nature of longing, the nature of desire. When you understand the nature of desire, in that very understanding the desiring disappears. Then you start enjoying your aloneness, you become utterly joyous with yourself. There is no need for the other, there is no dependence on the other.
I am not saying that you will not be able to love then. In fact you will be able to love then and only then because then love will have a totally different quality, the quality of sharing. You will not be a beggar, you will be an emperor. You will love because you have something to give, not to get something. You will love because you are overflowing with joy and you would like to share it with people. But then it will not be a relationship at all.
I call it relating. You can relate, but there is no need to create any bondage, there is no need to create any marriage. You can relate with somebody, you can relate to the same person your whole life, but tomorrow remains open, it is not closed. Tomorrow is not settled today, you cannot take it for granted; tomorrow you may feel like sharing with the same person, the same person may like sharing or may not like sharing. Even if one of the two decides not to share, then you say good-bye to each other with great gratitude because all that joy and all that has happened before and all that has transpired before one is grateful for. With no grudge, with no complaint, with no quarrel, you simply depart. You know, “Our ways are parting now, we may not meet again,” so you depart with a song in the heart, with a smile on the lips; with a hug, with a kiss you depart. You depart in deep friendliness. It is not a divorce because there has not been any marriage at all in the first place. You were not bound to each other so you are not getting free from each other. You had always been free, you had always remained individuals.
Two individuals relating remain individuals; two individuals getting into a relationship lose their individuality. They become a couple, and to be a couple is an ugly thing. That means you have lost your freedom, you are no more yourself; the other is also no more himself or herself. Both have lost their freedom and nobody has gained anything out of it.
That’s why Sartre says, “The other is hell.” But still I would like to remind you: it is not the other it is the desire for the other. When you have understood the futility of desire, the utter stupidity of desire, then you relate in a totally different way; a qualitative change happens to you. You are happy with yourself; you are not seeking happiness through the other. You are so happy that you would like to share it with somebody, that’s why you relate.
Relationship originates in misery, relating originates in bliss.
And when you start relating with people you also start relating with existence. And that’s what true religion is: relating with existence. It is not a longing for God. You can call existence God, there is no problem in it, but it is better to call it existence because once you call it God, all the old associations with the word creep in and you start thinking of an old man sitting somewhere on a golden throne above in the sky looking at you, watching you, and then strange ideas happen out of it.
Carl Gustav Jung remembers in his memoirs that throughout his whole childhood he was obsessed with only one idea: that if God sits above and sometimes he pisses, then? — or shits, then? And his father was a priest so he used to ask his father and the father would get very angry. He would say, “Stop! Never ask such questions!” So he had to repress those questions. The more he repressed them the more they were there. He was continuously obsessed with the idea: what happens then? He must be eating, he must be drinking, and sitting above the head, anytime…. Then he started dreaming that God was urinating and it was falling all over the earth and his shit was falling all over the earth. He himself became very guilty, “What am I…?” See! If you think of him above, this is what is going to happen — any moment!
Then stupid questions arise; out of a stupid idea they are bound to come.
God is not a person at all, God is a quality — godliness, not God. Existence is full of godliness. When you are capable of feeling joyous, fulfilled, contented, then meditating on desires, seeing the futility of desires, desires disappear and you are left without desires. Suddenly a great peace descends on you. In that peace your self-nature starts exploding. That is bliss. That bliss radiates as love, it reaches to people, it reaches to trees, it reaches to animals, it reaches to the clouds and the stars. It starts reaching finally to the whole existence. That’s what relating to existence is. Then you see the sunset and in the very sunset you see God — not Jesus crucified or Krishna playing on his flute; those are all childish ideas. You see godliness.
Have you ever observed a beautiful sunset? What more godliness can there be? You see a rose flower — what more godliness can there be? Or just leaves of grass swaying in the wind…. All this green and the red and the gold! This whole existence is so full, so overfull, overflowing with silence, with peace, with joy, with ecstasy. When you are able to be silent, peaceful, joyous, you start relating with it. That relating is religion.
Religion is not a desire for God, it is an experience of godliness. And the question is not how to find God, the question is how to drop desiring. This has to be remembered, very emphatically remembered: if you start seeking and searching for God you will remain the same person, you will never change. If you start trying to understand the nature of desire you are bound to go through a radical revolution because anybody who is a little bit intelligent is bound to see the utter futility of desire — it leads nowhere. And the moment desire disappears from your being you have arrived.
You have always been there; it was only desire that was distracting you. Sometimes the desire was for money, sometimes for God, sometimes for power, prestige, sometimes for heaven, paradise, but any desire is enough to distract you from your nature. When there is no desire, where can you go? All desires lead you away from yourself. When there is no desire you are simply centered in your being. That very centeredness is bliss, is ecstasy, is samadhi, is nirvana.
Osho, Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Ch 7, Q 1 – 1 May 1980 am in Buddha Hall