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What is the true meaning of life?

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Life in itself has no meaning. Life is an opportunity to create meaning. Meaning has not to be discovered: it has to be created. You will find meaning only if you create it. It is not lying there somewhere behind the bushes, so you can go and you search a little bit and find it. It is not there like a rock that you will find. It is a poetry to be composed, it is a song to be sung, it is a dance to be danced.

Meaning is a dance, not a rock. Meaning is music. You will find it only if you create it. Remember it.

Millions of people are living meaningless lives because of this utterly stupid idea that meaning has to be discovered. As if it is already there. All that you need is to just pull the curtain, and behold! meaning is here. It is not like that.

So remember: Buddha finds the meaning because he creates it. I found it because I created it. God is not a thing but a creation. And only those who create find. And it is good that meaning is not lying there somewhere, otherwise one person would have discovered it -- then what would be the need for everybody else to discover it?

Can't you see the difference between religious meaning and scientific meaning? Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relativity; now, do you have to discover it again and again? You will be foolish if you discover it again and again. What is the point? One man has done it; he has given you the map. It may have taken years for him, but for you to understand it will take hours. You can go to the university and learn.

Buddha also discovered something, Zarathustra also discovered something, but it is not like Albert Einstein's discovery. It is not there that you have just to follow Zarathustra and his map and you will find it. You will never find it. You will have to become a Zarathustra. See the difference!

To understand the theory of relativity, you need not become an Albert Einstein, no. You have to be just of average intelligence, that's all. If you are not too much retarded, you will understand it.

But to understand the meaning of Zarathustra, you will have to become a Zarathustra -- less than that won't do. You will have to create it again. And each individual has to give birth to God, to meaning, to truth; each man has to become pregnant with it and pass through the pains of birth. Each one has to carry it in one's womb, feed it by one's own blood, and only then does one discover.

Now, you ask me: Why can't I see any meaning in life?

You must be waiting passively for the meaning to come... it will never come. This has been the idea of the past religions, that the meaning is already there. It is not! Freedom is there to create it, energy is there to create it. The field is there to sow the seeds and reap the crop. All is there -- but the meaning has to be created. That's why to create it is such a joy, such an adventure, such an ecstasy.

So the first thing: religion has to be creative. Up to now, religion has remained very passive, almost impotent. You don't expect a religious person to be creative. You just expect him to fast, sit in a cave, get up early in the morning, chant mantras... and this kind of stupid thing. And you are perfectly satisfied! What is he doing? And you praise him because he goes on long fasts. Maybe he is a masochist; maybe he enjoys torturing himself. He sits there when it is icy cold, naked, and you appreciate him. But what is the point, what is the value in it? All the animals of the world are naked in the icy cold -- they are not saints. Or when it is hot, he sits in the hot sun, and you appreciate him. You say, "Look! here is a great ascetic." But what is he doing? What is his contribution to the world? What beauty has he added to the world? Has he changed the world a little bit? Has he made it a little more sweet, more fragrant? No, you don't ask that.

Now, I tell you, this has to be asked: Praise a man because he has created a song. Praise a man because he has created a beautiful sculpture. Praise a man because he plays such a beautiful flute. Let these be religious qualities from now onwards. Praise a man because he is such a lover -- love is religion. Praise a man: because of him the world is becoming more graceful.

Forget all these stupid things! -- fasting and just sitting in a cave, torturing oneself or lying down on a bed of nails. Praise a man because he has cultivated beautiful roses. The world is more colorful because of him. And then you will find meaning.

Meaning comes out of creativity. Religion has to become more poetic, more aesthetic.

And second thing: sometimes it happens that you search for the meaning because you have already concluded. Out of a conclusion you search for it. You have already decided what meaning should be there, or has to be there... and then you don't find it.

The inquiry has to be pure. What do I mean when I say the inquiry has to be pure? It should be without any conclusion. It should not have any a priori in it.

You ask: Why can't I see any meaning in life?

What meaning are you looking for? You must be looking for a certain meaning. You will not find it -- because from the very beginning your inquiry is polluted, your inquiry is impure. You have already decided.

For example, if a man comes into my garden and thinks if he can find a diamond there then this garden is beautiful, and he cannot find the diamond, so he says there is no meaning in the garden.... And there are so many beautiful flowers, and so many birds singing, and so many colors, and the wind blowing through the pines, and the moss on the rocks. But he cannot see any meaning because he has a certain idea: he has to find the diamond, a Kohinoor -- only then will there be meaning.

He is missing meaning because of his idea. Let your inquiry be pure. Don't move with any fixed idea. Go naked and nude. Go open and empty. And you will find not only one meaning -- you will find a thousand and one meanings. Then each thing will become meaningful. Just a colored stone shining in the rays of the sun... or a dewdrop creating a small rainbow around itself... or just a small flower dancing in the wind.... What meaning are you searching for?

Don't start with a conclusion, otherwise you have started wrongly from the very beginning. Go without a conclusion! That's what I mean when I say again and again: Go without knowledge if you want to find truth. The knowledgeable person never finds it. His knowledge is a barrier.

Goldstein had never been to a show in the legitimate theater. For his birthday, his children decided to give him a present of a ticket for the Jewish theater.

The night after the show, they came to visit him and asked him eagerly what he thought of the show.

"Ash," he answered, "it was simply nonsense. When she was willing, he wasn't willing. And when he was willing, she wasn't willing. And when they both were willing, down came the curtain!"

Now, if you have a fixed idea, then you are only looking for it, only looking for it.... And because of this narrowness of the mind, all that is available is missed.

Meaning has to be created. And meaning has to be searched for without any conclusions. If you can drop your knowledge, life will suddenly take on color, it will become psychedelic. But you are continuously carrying the load of your scriptures, books, theories, doctrines, philosophies... you are lost in all that. And everything has become mixed, hotchpotch. And you cannot even remember what is what.

Your mind is a mess. Clean it! Make it a blank. The empty mind is the best mind. And those who have been telling you that the empty mind is the Devil's workshop are the Devil's agents. The empty mind is closer to God than anything. The empty mind is not the Devil's workshop. The Devil cannot do without thoughts.

With emptiness the Devil cannot do anything at all. He has no way Into emptiness.

So many thoughts in the mind, mixed up; nothing seems to be clear; you have heard so many things from so many sources -- your mind is a monster. And you are trying to remember, and you have been told to remember: Don't forget! And, naturally, the burden is so much that you cannot remember. Many things you have forgotten. Many things you have imagined and added on your own.

An Englishman visiting America attended a banquet and heard the Master of Ceremonies give the following toast:

"Here's to the happiest moment of my life,

Spent in the arms of another man's wife -- my mother."

"By Jove, that's ripping," the Englishman thought to himself. "I must remember to use it back home."

Some weeks later when he returned to England, he attended a church luncheon and was asked to give a toast. In thunderous tones he addressed the crowded room:

"Here's to the happiest moment of my life,

Spent in the arms of another man's wife..."

After a long pause the crowd began to grow restless, glaring at the speaker indignantly. The speaker's friend sitting next to him whispered, "You had better explain yourself quickly."

"By Jove," the speaker blurted out, "you will have to excuse me. I forgot the name of the "blooming" woman."

That is happening. You remember this -- Plato has said this. And you remember that -- Lao Tzu has said that. And you remember what Jesus has said, and what Mohammed has said... and you remember many things. And they have all got mixed up. And you have not said a single thing on your own. Unless you say something on your own, you will miss the meaning.

Drop the knowledge and become more creative. Remember, knowledge is gathered -- you need not be creative about it; you have only to be receptive. And that's what man has become: man is reduced to being a spectator. He reads the newspapers, he reads the Bible and the Koran and the Gita; he goes to the movie, sits there and sees the movie; he goes to the football match, or sits before his TV, listens to the radio... and so on and so forth. Twenty-four hours a day he is just in a kind of inactivity, a spectator. Others are doing things, and he is simply watching. You will not find meaning by watching.

You can see a thousand and one lovers making love and you will not know what love is -- you will not know that orgasmic abandonment by watching. You will have to become a participant. Meaning comes through participation. Participate in life! Participate as deeply, as totally, as possible. Risk all for participation. If you want to know what dance is, don't go and see a dancer -- learn dancing, be a dancer. If you want to know anything, participate! That is the true and the right way, the authentic way, to know a thing. And there will be great meaning in your life. And not only one-dimensional -- multi-dimensional meanings. You will be showered by meanings.

And life has to be multi-dimensional, then only is there meaning. Never make life one-dimensional. That too is a problem.

Somebody becomes an engineer, and then he thinks all is finished. He becomes identified with being an engineer. Then his whole life he is just an engineer. And there were millions of things available. But he moves only on one track, becomes bored. Is fed up. Is tired, wearied. Goes on dragging. Waits only for death. What meaning can there be?

Have more interests in life. Don't be always a businessman. Sometimes play too. Don't be just a doctor or an engineer, or a headmaster, or a professor -- be as many things as possible! Play cards, play the violin, sing a song, be an amateur photographer, a poet.... Find as many things as possible in life, and then you will have richness. And meaning is a by-product of richness.

I have heard a very meaningful story about Socrates:

Socrates, while awaiting death in prison, was haunted by a dream that kept urging him, "Socrates, make music!" The old man felt he had always served art with his philosophizing. But now, spurred on by that mysterious voice, he turned fables into verse, indited a hymn to Apollo, and played the flute.

In the face of death, philosophy and music briefly went hand in hand, and Socrates was as blissful as never before.

He had never played on the flute. Something inside him persisted, "Socrates, make music!" Just in the face of death! It looked so ridiculous. And he had never played, he had never made music. A part of his being had remained suffocated. Yes, even a man like Socrates, had remained one-dimensional. The denied part insisted, "Enough of logic -- a little music will be good, will bring balance. Enough of argumentation -- play on the flute." And the voice was so persistent that he had to yield to it.

His disciples must have been puzzled: "Has he gone mad? Socrates playing on the flute?" But to me it is very significant. The music could not have been very great, because he had never played. Absolutely amateurish, childish it must have been -- but still something was satisfied, something was bridged. He was no more one-sided. For the first time in his life, maybe, he was spontaneous. For the first time he had done something for which he could not supply any reason. Otherwise, he was a rational man.

Just the other night I was reading a story about the great Hassidic mystic, Baal Shem:

It was a holiday, and the Hassidim had gathered to pray and to have a communion -- sat sang -- with the Master.

A man had come with his retarded child. He was a little worried about the child, the boy. He may do something, so he was keeping an eye on the boy. When the prayers were said, the boy asked his father, "I have got a whistle -- can I play on it?"

The father said, "Absolutely no -- where is your whistle," because he was afraid. He may not even listen to his "no." He showed the whistle and the father kept his hand on his pocket, the boy's pocket. Then there was dancing, and the father forgot and he also started dancing. And Hassids are dancers, joyous people -- the cream of Judaism, the very essence of Judaism is with them, with those mad people.

When everybody was praying to God and dancing, suddenly the boy could not resist any more. He took out his whistle and blew on it. Everybody was shocked! But Baal Shem came, hugged the boy, and said, "Our prayers are heard. Without this whistle, all was futile -- because this was the only spontaneous thing here. All else was ritual."

Don't allow your life to become just a dead ritual. Let there be moments, unexplainable. Let there be a few things which are mysterious, for which you cannot supply any reason. Let there be a few doings for which people will think you are a little crazy. A man who is a hundred percent sane is dead. A little bit of craziness by the side is always a great joy. Go on doing a few crazy things too. And then meaning will be posible.

Osho, The Perfect Master, Volume 2, Chapter 4


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