These days being ordinary can sound like being dull. With the media full of people doing exciting things: winning awards, hitting the jackpot, discovering cures, breaking records, overcoming setbacks, it’s easy to think we’re missing out by not being special in some way, by not being extraordinary.
Osho has a different understanding.
“To be ordinary is the only way to be religious. All other extraordinary things are ego trips.
“Just to be ordinary is the most extraordinary thing in the world because everybody wants to be extraordinary.
“Nobody wants to be ordinary. To be ordinary is the only extraordinary thing. Very rarely does somebody relax and becomes ordinary. If you ask Zen masters, ‘What do you do?’ they will say, ‘We fetch wood from the forest, we carry water from the well. We eat when we feel hungry, we drink when we feel thirsty, we go to sleep when we feel tired. This is all.’
“It does not look very appealing – fetching wood, carrying water, sleeping, sitting, eating. You will say, ‘These are ordinary things. Everybody is doing them.’ These are not ordinary things, and nobody is doing them. When you are fetching wood, you are condemning it – you would like to be the president of some country. You don’t want to be a woodcutter. You go on condemning the present for some imaginary future.
“Carrying water from the well, you feel you are wasting your life.
“You are angry. You were not made for such ordinary things. You had come with a great destiny – to lead the whole world toward a paradise, some utopia. These are all ego trips. These are all ill states of consciousness.
“Just to be ordinary – and then suddenly what you call trivia is no longer trivia, what you call profane is no longer profane. Everything becomes sacred. Carrying wood becomes sacred. Fetching water from the well becomes sacred.
“When every act becomes sacred, when every act becomes meditative and prayerful, only then are you moving deeper into life – and then life opens all the mysteries to you. Then you are becoming capable. Then you are becoming receptive.
“The more receptive you become, the more life becomes available.
“This is my whole teaching: to be ordinary, to be so ordinary that the very desire to be extraordinary disappears. Only then can you be in the present; otherwise you cannot be in the present.”
Osho, Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, Talk #3