Plato dismisses an inquiring student

1001 Tales told by the Master

“Life itself is enough unto itself. And if you are trying to fulfill some goal, you will miss life.”

 Plato’s Academy mosaic — from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii.

Never ask what you are for. You are for yourself.

And unless you realize this, you will miss much. Deep down, your innermost being is always waiting for someone who will love you for yourself; for nothing else, just for yourself… somebody who will say, ‘I love you for love’s sake. I love you the way you are. I love you because you are. I love you, your being, and there is no end to it, no purpose behind it.’

Unless somebody comes and loves you meaninglessly, you will not have the glory of life. Remember, in that meaninglessness is hidden the whole significance of life. When somebody loves you meaningfully, he has already reduced you to an object. You are a thing and he is a purchaser.

When somebody loves you just for you, for no other reason at all, then suddenly your inner flower blooms. You are accepted as you are.

Love always accepts you as you are, and through that acceptance, much transformation happens.

You can bloom. Now there is no fear. Now nothing is expected from you; you can relax. Now there is no goal beyond you; you are the goal. You can dance and celebrate.

It happened:

In the fourth century BC, the great Athenian philosopher Plato established a school, The Academy, at which mathematics was a key portion of the curriculum.

Plato loved mathematics tremendously. He was a poet of mathematics, a lover. On his academy door it was written: If you don’t know mathematics, please don’t enter. One had to learn mathematics before one could enter The Academy.

It was taught with the utmost rigor of which the times were capable, and it dealt with idealized shapes on which idealized operations were performed.

One student, who was put to stern mental exercises over the platonic conception of mathematics, kept searching in vain for some application to the various forms of artisanry for which he knew mathematical concepts were useful.

Finally he said to Plato, ‘But, master, to what particular use can these theorems be put? I don’t see any practical use. The theorems are beautiful, they are pure mathematics, but what is the utility? To what use can these theorems be put? What can be gained from them?’

The old philosopher glared at the inquiring student, turned to a slave and said, ‘Give this young man a penny that he might feel he has gained something from my teachings and then expel him.’

It is difficult to understand, because for Plato, mathematics was his love, his beloved. Profit was not the question, achieving anything was not the question. Just to contemplate those forms, those pure forms of mathematics, was enough. That very contemplation leads one into the unknown.

It is not a question of any gain. Life itself is enough unto itself. And if you are trying to fulfill some goal, you will miss life.

That’s what has been taught to you from the very beginning. Every parent is trying to force you into some utility. They are worried that you may become a vagabond, you may become a wanderer. They are worried that you may become useless. They are worried that you may not prove yourself of any use in the world. Then who will appreciate you?

Their egos are worried because through you they are planning some fulfillment of their own unfulfilled egos. Their parents did the same with them; now they are doing the same with you. And you will go on doing the same with your children.

Dead people go on haunting you. Your father may be dead, but he will go on haunting you. Whenever you relax, you will hear the voice of your father: ‘What are you doing? Getting lazy! Do something!’ and you will jump out of your laziness and run around and do something because you are getting useless.

Because everybody has been conditioned to be of some utility, the question arises ‘for what?’ And if you cannot find the answer, you feel very puzzled and confused.

Drop all that nonsense. You are enough as you are.

I’m not saying become lazy. I’m not saying become a parasite. I am saying to live your life as an intrinsic value. Do whatsoever you want to do, but don’t do it to prove that you are useful. Do it because you love it. Do it because you feel happy doing it. Do it because it is your love. And suddenly everything has a different color and everything becomes luminous.

Osho, Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, Ch 8, Q 2

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

Featured image: Plato’s Academy mosaic — from the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii –

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