“All great religious teachers, compared to Gautam Buddha, fall very short. They want you to become followers, they want you to practice a certain discipline, they want you to manage your affairs, your morality, your lifestyle. They make a mold of you and they give you a beautiful prison cell.
Buddha stands alone, totally for freedom. Without freedom man cannot know his ultimate mystery; chained he cannot move his wings into the sky and cannot go into the beyond. Every religion is chaining people, keeping some hold on them, not allowing them to be their original beings, but giving them personalities and masks – and this they call religious education.
Buddha does not give you any religious education. He wants you simply to be yourself, whatever it is. That is your religion – to be yourself. No man has loved freedom so much. No man has loved mankind so much. He would not accept followers for the simple reason that to accept a follower is to destroy his dignity. He accepted only fellow travelers. His last statement before dying was, “If I ever come back, I will come as your friend.” Maitreya means the friend.
Osho, Ma Tzu: The Empty Mirror, Talk #5
India could not understand Gautam Buddha for this simple reason: it thinks that to sit silently, just being, is worthless. You have to do something, you have to pray, you have to recite mantras, you have to go to some temple and worship a manmade god. “What are you doing sitting silently?”
And that is the greatest contribution of Gautam Buddha: that you can find your eternity and your cosmic being only if you can sit silently, aimlessly, without any desire and without any longing, just enjoying being – the silent space in which thousands of lotuses blossom.
Gautam Buddha is a category in himself. Very few people have understood him. Even in the countries where Buddhism is a national religion – Thailand, Japan, Taiwan – it has become an intellectual philosophy. Zazen, the original contribution of the man, has disappeared.
Perhaps you are the only people who are the closest contemporaries of Gautam Buddha. In this silence, in this emptiness, in this quantum leap from mind to no-mind, you have entered a different space which is neither outer nor inner but transcendental to both.
Osho, Zen: From Mind to No-Mind, Talk #9
My message is: try to understand Gautam Buddha. He is one of the most beautiful men who has walked on this earth.
H.G. Wells, in his world history, has written one sentence which should be written in gold. Writing about Gautam Buddha he writes, “Gautam Buddha is perhaps the only godless man, and yet, so godly.”
In that illumination, in that moment of enlightenment, nirvana, he did not find any God. The whole existence is divine; there is no separate creator. The whole existence is full of light and full of consciousness; hence there is no God but there is godliness.
It is a revolution in the world of religions. Buddha created a religion without God. For the first time God is no longer at the center of a religion. Man becomes the center of religion, and man’s innermost being becomes godliness, for which you have not to go anywhere – you have simply stopped going outside. Remain for a few moments within, slowly, slowly settling at your center. The day you are settled at the center, the explosion happens.
So my message is: understand Gautam Buddha, but don’t be a Buddhist. Do not follow. Let the understanding be absorbed by your intelligence, but let it become yours. The moment it becomes yours, it starts transforming you. Until then it has remained Gautam Buddha’s, and there is twenty-five centuries distance. You can go on repeating Buddha’s words – they are beautiful, but they will not help you to attain what you are after.
Osho, The Sword and the Lotus, Talk #11
Gautam Buddha’s emphasis on compassion was a very new phenomenon as far as the mystics of old were concerned. Gautam Buddha makes a historical dividing line from the past; before him meditation was enough, nobody had emphasized compassion together with meditation. And the reason was that meditation brings enlightenment, your blossoming, your ultimate expression of being. What more do you need? As far as the individual is concerned, meditation is enough. Gautam Buddha’s greatness consists in introducing compassion even before you start meditating. You should be more loving, more kind, more compassionate.
There is a hidden science behind it. Before a man becomes enlightened, if he has a heart full of compassion there is a possibility that after meditation he will help others to achieve the same beatitude, to the same height, to the same celebration as he has achieved. Gautam Buddha makes it possible for enlightenment to be infectious. But if the person feels that he has come back home, why bother about anybody else?
Buddha makes enlightenment for the first time unselfish; he makes it a social responsibility. It is a great change. But compassion should be learned before enlightenment happens. If it is not learned before, then after enlightenment there is nothing to learn. When one becomes so ecstatic in himself then even compassion seems to be preventing his own joy – a kind of disturbance in his ecstasy…That’s why there have been hundreds of enlightened people, but very few masters.
To be enlightened does not mean necessarily that you will become a master. Becoming a master means you have tremendous compassion, and you feel ashamed to go alone into those beautiful spaces that enlightenment makes available. You want to help the people who are blind, in darkness, groping their way. It becomes a joy to help them, it is not a disturbance.
In fact, it becomes a richer ecstasy when you see so many people flowering around you; you are not a solitary tree who has blossomed in a forest where no other tree is blossoming. When the whole forest blossoms with you, the joy becomes a thousandfold; you have used your enlightenment to bring a revolution in the world. Gautam Buddha is not only enlightened, but an enlightened revolutionary.
His concern with the world, with people, is immense. He was teaching his disciples that when you meditate and you feel silence, serenity, a deep joy bubbling inside your being, don’t hold onto it; give it to the whole world. And don’t be worried, because the more you give it, the more you will become capable of getting it. The gesture of giving is of tremendous importance once you know that giving does not take anything from you; on the contrary, it multiplies your experiences. But the man who has never been compassionate does not know the secret of giving, does not know the secret of sharing.
Osho, The New Dawn, Talk #22