Following a map of a river

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

Osho says, “If you float with the river of life, you will come to find your question and you will come to find your answer.”

River map

Rivers are not logical, not consistent. They are simply alive. […]

Let me tell you a story.

It happened: a certain man was fascinated by the river that flowed by his village. And he wanted to go downstream, to the very end – to see where the river fell into the ocean. Of course, he started studying old scriptures to find if anybody had ever gone down the river. Many people had gone. In many centuries many people were fascinated. But he was puzzled because their answers differed. He could not believe it.

One answer said that the river was straight. But another said something else: that after five miles the river takes a turn to the right, and another said that after exactly five miles the river takes a turn to the left.

Seeing much confusion in scriptures, he started meeting people. Maybe somebody is alive who had gone down the river. Many people pretended because it feels so good to advise. To become a guru is such a deep desire in everybody and it feels good to the ego. Everybody becomes a wiseman whenever it is a question to advise somebody else. In his whole life he may have proved a fool, but whenever somebody else is in difficulty he becomes a wiseman with plenty of advice. Of course, nobody takes it and it is good that nobody takes anybody’s advice. So, many advisers and pretenders were in the town. He visited them. He was even more confused because everybody had his own idea.

He gathered much material. He planned a map. On paper everything looked perfectly beautiful; on paper it is always so. That’s how every scripture is beautiful – Gita, Koran, Talmud – on paper. And he dropped all contradictory things; he made a consistent whole of the whole thing. Now, this consistent river was just a mental concept. Then he was very happy with the plan, with the map, so he started moving down the river.

Immediately problems started arising because he had planned to move after five miles to the left – but the river wouldn’t follow the map. He was puzzled and he was afraid. Now the whole effort to gather wisdom had been futile – and the river wouldn’t listen. No river listens to your maps. He became so worried about moving into the unknown – dangers may be ahead. But he had to move with the river. If the river cannot move with the map, what to do? You have to move with the river. He couldn’t sleep the whole night.

Next morning he was waiting for a village on the bank of the river. It never turned up. He was hungry. Now he was at a loss. What to do?

Were all those scriptures false? – no, they were not false. But the river is a river; it changes its course. Sometimes a village may have existed; villages exist and disappear. The river goes on changing its course. Sometimes it may have turned towards the left; now it turns towards the right. Rivers are not logical, not consistent. They are simply alive. One never knows.

He was hungry, puzzled. The map looked absolutely absurd. What to do? The river was creating trouble.

Silently alone, floating on the river, he started to meditate: what to do? Scriptures have not helped, advice has been useless – what to do now? He started meditating. Suddenly a realization arose: ‘The river is not creating the trouble; my maps are. The river is not creating any trouble. The river is not even aware that I am here. And the river cannot be inimical to me.’

He threw the maps in the river. The trouble stopped. Now he started floating with the river, with no expectations. He was never frustrated again.

If you float with the river of life, you will come to find your question and you will come to find your answer.

Osho, The True Sage – Talks on Hassidism, Ch 2, Q 2 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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