Today I was listening to Osho’s discourse on the 42 sutras of Buddha that have been collated under the title “Discipline of Transcendence”. Am on Volume 3 and this is discourse number 9. Posting an excerpt here related to happiness and misery !!
To read the entire transcript please click on this link – Away with the Passions.
“MAN IS IN MISERY, and man has remained in misery down the centuries.
Rarely can you find a human being who is not miserable. It is so rare that it almost seems unbelievable. That’s why Buddhas are never believed. People don’t believe that they ever existed. People can’t believe it. They can’t believe it because of their own misery. The misery is such, and they are entangled into it so deeply, that they don’t see that any escape is possible.
The Buddhas must have been imagined – people think – Buddhas are dreams of humanity. That’s what Sigmund Freud says: Buddhas are wish-fulfilments. Man wants to be that way, man desires to be out of misery, man would like to have that silence, that peace, that benediction – but it has not happened. And Freud says there is no hope – it CANNOT happen by the very nature of things. Man cannot become happy.
Freud has to be listened to very keenly and very deeply. He cannot be simply rejected outright; he is one of the most penetrating minds ever. And when he says that happiness is not possible, and when he says that hoping for happiness is hoping for the impossible, he means it. His own observation of human misery led him to this conclusion. This conclusion is not that of a philosopher. Freud is not a pessimist. But observing thousands of human beings, getting deeper into their beings, he realised that man is made in such a way that he has a built-in process of being miserable.
At the most he can be in comfort, but never in ecstasy. At the most we can make life a little more convenient – through scientific technology, through social change, through better economy, and through other things – but man will remain miserable all the same.
How can Freud believe that a Buddha has ever existed? Such serenity seems to be just a dream. Humanity has been dreaming about Buddha.
This idea arises because Buddha is so rare, so exceptional. He is not the rule.
Why has man remained in so much misery? And the miracle is that everybody wants to be happy. You cannot find a man who wants to be miserable, and yet everybody is in misery. Everybody wants to be happy, blissful, peaceful, silent, everybody wants to be in joy, everybody wants to celebrate – but it seems impossible. Now, there must be some very deep cause, so deep that Freudian analysis could not reach it, so deep that logic cannot penetrate it.
Before we enter into the sutras, that basic thing has to be understood: Man wants happiness, that’s why he is miserable. The more you want to be happy, the more miserable you will be. Now this is very absurd, but this is the root cause. And when you understand the process of how the human mind functions you will be able to realise it.
Man wants to be happy, hence he creates misery. If you want to get out of misery, you will have to get out of your desire for happiness – then nobody can make you miserable. Here is where Freud missed. He could not understand that the very desire for happiness can be the cause of misery. How does it happen?
Why in the first place do you desire happiness? And what does it do to you, the desire for happiness?
The moment you desire for happiness, you have moved away from the present, you have moved away from the existential, you have already moved into the future – which is nowhere, which has not come yet. You have moved in a dream.
Now, dreams can never be fulfilling. Your desire for happiness is a dream. The dream is unreal. Through the unreal, nobody has ever been able to reach to the real. You have taken a wrong train.
The desire for happiness simply shows that you are not happy right at this moment. The desire for happiness simply shows that you are a miserable being.
And a miserable being projects in the future that some time, some day, some way, he will be happy. Out of misery comes your projection. It carries the very seeds of misery. It comes out of you – it cannot be different from you. It is your child: its face will be like you; in its body your blood will be circulating. It will be your continuity.
You are unhappy today; you project tomorrow to be happy, but tomorrow is a projection of you, of your today, of whatsoever you are. You are unhappy – the tomorrow will come out of this unhappiness and you will be more unhappy. Of course, out of more unhappiness you will desire for more happiness in the future again. And then you are in a vicious circle: the more unhappy you become, the more you desire for happiness; the more you desire for happiness, the more unhappy you become. Now it is like a dog chasing its own tail.
In Zen they have a certain phrase for it. They say: Whipping the cart. If your horses are not moving and you go on whipping the cart, it is not going to help.
You are miserable, then anything that you can dream and anything that you can project is going to.bring more misery.
So the first thing is not to dream, not to project. The first thing is to be herenow.
Whatsoever it is, just be herenow – and a tremendous revelation is waiting for you. The revelation is that nobody can be unhappy in the herenow.
Have you ever been unhappy herenow? Right this moment you are facing me: is there any possibility of being unhappy right now? You can think about the yesterday and you can become unhappy. You can think about tomorrow and you can become unhappy. But right this very moment, this throbbing, beating, real moment – can you be unhappy right now? without any past, without any future?
You can bring misery from the past, from the memory. Somebody insulted you yesterday and you can still carry the wound, you can still carry the hurt, and you can still feel unhappy about it: Why? Why did it happen to you? Why did the man insult you? And you have been doing so much good for him, and you have been always a help, always a friend – and he insulted you! You are playing with something that is no more. The yesterday is gone.
Or you can be unhappy for tomorrow. Tomorrow your money will be finished – then where are you going to stay? Where are you going to eat? Tomorrow your money will be finished! – then unhappiness enters in.
Either it comes from yesterday, or it comes from tomorrow, but it is never herenow. Right this moment, in the now, unhappiness is impossible. If you have learnt this much, you can become a Buddha. Then nobody is hindering your path. Then you can forget all the Freuds. Then happiness is not only possible – it has already happened, it is just in front of you. And you are missing it because you go on looking sideways.
Happiness is WHERE you are; wherever you are, happiness is there. It surrounds you. It is a natural phenomenon. It is just like air, just like sky. Happiness is not to be sought: it is the very stuff the universe is made of. Joy is the very stuff the universe is made of. But you have to look direct, you have to look in the immediate. If you look sideways then you miss.
You miss because of you. You miss because you have a wrong approach.
THIS IS THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH Buddha brought to the world.
This is his contribution. He says: Go on dying to the past and never think of the future – and then try to be miserable. You will fail. You cannot be miserable.”
So what do you intend to do ?
I intend to try and be in the here-now and be happy …. the least I can do is try.
Go on, be happy, right here, right now !
3 thoughts on “Osho on Happiness and Misery”
The simple advice to “Be here now” sums up this excerpt from Osha. There is no room for desire when a person is fully attentive to the moment. Animals seem to know this.
Yes Katharine. Animals know it but they aren’t aware of it. Human beings can live with awareness but don’t 😊
Not easy to live with awareness. For instance, to coordinate even the simplest tasks requires intense focus of multiple body parts, but people like me take these abilities for granted, until the body parts don’t work the way we want them to, or until there is physical pain in the process.