The wife comes back as a ghost

1001 Tales Discourses

“The intelligent person stops creating, stops projecting and watches the mind so clearly that the mind cannot project anything. As the projections disappear, the world disappears,” says Osho.

Henpecked husband

We impose our projections and then we start reacting to our own projections.

A Zen story says:

A man’s wife was dying. The wife had controlled the man like anything; he was the most perfectly henpecked husband. And he was feeling a little happy that the wife was dying; his day of freedom was not far away.

But the wife was not going to leave him so easily. While she was breathing her last she said, “Look! Don’t feel so happy, because I am going to become a ghost and I will haunt you and I will see that you don’t do anything wrong. Never fool around, because I will catch you every night!”

The wife died. The husband was very much afraid, but after a few days he thought, “Now she is dead. Who knows whether she has become a ghost or not? Why not be really free now? I have always wanted this woman, that woman. I have wanted to go to the pub. Now is the time! And so many days have passed and she has not come.”

That night somebody knocked on the door. He opened the door and the wife was there! And she said, “So, you have started dreaming, you have started thinking about and planning such things! Beware! I am not far away, I am always here! You may see me, you may not see me. Don’t think of your freedom, etcetera, stop all that nonsense!”

And she said everything that he had thought, every single thing that he had thought – going to the pub, thinking of the neighbor’s wife – she said everything. Now it was absolutely clear that she did know, and it was very difficult. His life became that of great misery; he was free and yet not free.

And from that day the wife started coming to him almost every night and she would tell him what he had been thinking in the office, what he had been thinking about the typist girl – each single thought!

He was so tired, he went to a Zen master and asked him, “Help me! She tortured me my whole life, now she is dead and she is killing me! I have no peace of mind. I cannot even dream freely! At least while she was alive I used to dream freely – now she even reads my dreams. In the morning she shakes me up and says, ‘So you were having a sexual dream!'”

The Zen master laughed. He gave him a small bag and told him not to open it. “It contains a few pebbles. You take it home and when your wife comes, ask her how many pebbles are in the bag. If she can give you the right number – count them immediately – if she can give you the right number then come to me. If she cannot give you the right number then she is just a fantasy of your own mind, your projection. Then too come just to tell me.”

The man went home. The wife was waiting already. When he entered the room the wife was sitting in his chair. She said, “So you went to that phony, that Zen master? I know him well! And he has given you a bag – it contains pebbles — and he has told you to ask me how many pebbles it contains.”

The man became so frightened that she knew everything already! But still, the master had said she would. So he remembered, he said, “Okay, you know everything. Now just tell me the number of pebbles.”

And the wife disappeared! Because he himself did not know the number, he could not project it. The chair was empty. He looked around; the wife was not there. Since that day the wife stopped coming.

He went to the Zen master. He said, “What trick did you do? What magic is in this bag?”

The master said, “There is no magic.” He opened the bag; there were only a few pebbles in it. He said, “There is no magic, nothing. It is a simple process. You were projecting her: because you were the projector, your projection was reflecting your dreams, your ideas, your thoughts. Now, because you did not know how many pebbles there are in this bag, how could she know? She was your projection! If you had known…. She knew that you had been to the Zen master because you knew. She knew what I told you because you knew, but she could not tell you the number of pebbles, and now she will never come back. Be finished with her!”

We can create a thousand and one hallucinations about ourselves, we can pour our reality into them – and they can look so real. There are many people who are afraid of hell – and we have created hell; there is no hell. And there are many people who are so greedy for paradise – and we have created paradise; there is no paradise. Our projections, and we become burdened by them – afraid, greedy, frightened. We have created our gods in the temples, in the churches, and we are the worshippers. We go on worshipping our own creations! This is the way of the stupid mind.

The intelligent person stops creating, stops projecting and watches the mind so clearly that the mind cannot project anything. As the projections disappear, the world disappears. One day, when the mind is no more there to project anything, all is transparent.

Osho, The White Lotus – Discourses on Fragmentary Notes of Bodhidharma’s Disciples, Ch 9 (excerpt)

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

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