What is jealousy?
Jealousy is one of the most prevalent areas of psychological ignorance about yourself, about others and more particularly, about relationship.
“People think they know what love is – they do not know. And their misunderstanding about love creates jealousy. By love people mean a certain kind of monopoly, some possessiveness – without understanding a simple fact of life: that the moment you possess a living being you have killed him.
Life cannot be possessed. You cannot have it in your fist. If you want to have it, you have to keep your hands open.
“But the thing has been going on a wrong path for centuries; it has become ingrained in us so much that we cannot separate love from jealousy. They have become almost one energy.
“For example, you feel jealous if your lover goes to another woman. You are disturbed by it now, but I would like to tell you that if you don’t feel jealous you will be in much more trouble – then you will think you don’t love him, because if you loved him you should have felt jealous. Jealousy and love have become so mixed up.
In fact, they are poles apart. A mind that can be jealous cannot be loving, and vice-versa: a mind that is loving cannot be jealous.
“What is the disturbance? You have to look it as if it is not your question – somebody else has asked, it is somebody else’s problem – so that you can stand aside and see the whole fabric. The feeling of jealousy is a byproduct of marriage.
“In the world of animals, birds, there is no jealousy. Once in a while there is a fight over a love object but a fight is far better than to be jealous, far more natural than to be caught up in jealousy and burn your heart with your own hands.
“Hence nature has not provided a mind that can adjust to marriage. But man found it necessary that there should be some kind of legal contract between lovers, because love itself is dream-stuff, it is not reliable…it is there this moment and the next moment it is gone.
“You want to be secure for the coming moment, for your whole future. Right now you are young; soon you will be old and you would like your wife, your husband, to be with you in your old age, in your sickness. But for that, a few compromises have to be made, and whenever there is compromise there is always trouble.
This is the compromise that human beings have made: to be secure about the future, to be certain about the tomorrows, to have a guarantee that the woman who loves you is going to love you forever, that it is not a temporary affair.
“That’s why religious people say that marriages are ‘made in heaven.’ A strange kind of heaven, because if these marriages are made in heaven, then what can you make in hell? They don’t show the signs, the fragrance, the freshness, the beauty of heaven. They are certainly disgusting, ugly…they show something of hell certainly.
But man settled for marriage because that was the only way to have private property.
“Animals don’t have private property – they are all communists, and far better communists than have appeared in human history. They don’t have any dictatorship of the proletariat and they have not lost their freedom, but they don’t have any private property.
“Man also lived for thousands of years without marriage, but those were the days when there was no private property. Those were the days of hunting; man was a hunter. And those people thousands of years ago had no cold-storage system, no technology – whatever food they got they had to finish as quickly as possible. They could only hope that tomorrow they will get some food again.
“Because there was nothing to accumulate, there was no question of marriage. People lived in communes, tribes; people loved, people reproduced.
In the beginning there was no word for father. The word mother is far more ancient and far more natural.
“You will be surprised to know that the word uncle is older than the word father – because all the people who were the age of your father…you didn’t know who your father was. Men and women were mixing joyously – without any compulsion, without any legal bondage, out of their free will. If they wanted to meet and be together there was no question of domination. The children never knew who their father was, they knew only their mother. And they knew many men in the tribe; someone amongst those men must have been their father, hence they were all uncles.
“As private property came into existence with cultivation. With hunting, man could not survive long. People have destroyed complete species of animals. Hundreds of species which once used to dance and sing on this earth…man has eaten them up. Something had to be done because hunting was not reliable. Today you may get food, tomorrow you may have to be hungry. And it was very arduous. The search for animals did not allow man to develop any of his other talents, his genius. But cultivation changed the whole life of man.
You must be reminded of the fact that cultivation is the discovery of women, not of men.
“The woman was confined – she was not able to go hunting. Most of the time she was pregnant, she was weak, she was carrying another soul within her. She needed care, protection…so she was living in the house. She started making the living space more beautiful – and this you can see even today, after thousands of years.
“If you enter into a bachelor’s room you can immediately say that it is a bachelor’s room. You may not be able to decide by seeing the bachelor whether he is bachelor or not, but his room certainly is a bachelor! The woman, her touch, is missing. The house of a bachelor is never a home, it is just a place where he sleeps. It is not something with which he feels a certain intimacy, a certain creative relationship.
The home, the village, the city and the whole civilization are because of the woman, because she was free from hunting and she had different values of the heart and of the mind.
“She was more aesthetic, more graceful, more earthly, not at all interested in hell and heaven and God and the devil and all that crap! No woman has written a single religious scripture. No woman has been a philosopher thinking about abstract, faraway things.
“Woman’s consciousness is interested only in the intimate surroundings – she would like a beautiful house, she would like a beautiful garden. She wants to create a small world of her own – cozy, comfortable. She imparts a certain quality to a dead house and it becomes a living home. It is a magical transformation.
“Man continued to hunt, and the woman started looking around…the man had no time. He has always been busy without business, but the woman had all the time there is. The basic work of hunting was being done by the groups of men and the woman started looking around. She discovered cultivation because she saw wild fruits growing, she saw many other things growing and she also saw that every year the crop dies, the seeds fall back into the earth and when the rains come, again those seeds sprout in thousands of plants. She started experimenting to find what was edible and what was not edible.
“Soon, as hunting was becoming more and more difficult, men had to agree with women: ‘We have to shift our whole economic focus. We have to go for cultivation, for fruits, for vegetables. And these are in our hands – we can produce as much as we want, as we need it, and there is tremendous variety.’
“Because hunters cannot stay in one place they have to go on moving as the animals escape. Once hunting was dropped and cultivation became our very measure of survival a new thing also happened alongside.
“There were people who were powerful people and there were people who were weak people. The people who were physically powerful managed to claim much ground as their property. They earned much…slowly, slowly the barter system started, because when you have too much of one crop, what are you going to do with it? You have to exchange it; then you can have many more things. Life became more complex, with more excitement.
“But a problem was felt: after a person dies, who is going to inherit his property? Nobody wanted their property to be inherited by any XYZ. They wanted their property to belong to their own blood.
It is out of economics, not out of the understanding of love that marriage came into existence. Its very birth was wrong, under the wrong stars.
“And because man had to agree for marriage…. The woman was very willing for the simple reason that for thousands of years in the hunting period she was not financially a part of the society; man was all. Man continued his power, although the whole social structure changed. The hunter’s nomadic life became a peaceful life in a village but man’s concern about his property. He wanted a contract with the woman to be certain that the son she was giving birth to is not somebody else’s, but his own. For this simple purpose all the woman’s freedom had to be destroyed. She had to live almost like a prisoner, or worse.
“Man agreed – under compulsion, he compromised. If the woman was losing a few things – her freedom of movement, her freedom in changing lovers – man was also ready to sacrifice his freedom. They would remain devoted to each other forever. But it is against nature. Even if you want to do it nature is not going to support you.
Nature is for freedom, not for any kind of bondage.
“So new problems started arising. Men started finding prostitutes who were no-one’s wives, or as it was phrased in India, the prostitute was the wife of the whole town: nagarvadhu. She belongs to anybody, she is a commodity; you have to pay and buy her time and her body. Because of marriage it was very difficult to find married women because then there were more complexities: they had their husbands, prostitutes were good.
“And you will be surprised to know that in India every city had its topmost prostitute – she was the most beautiful girl born in that city. Because she was so beautiful it was not right to let her get married to one person, she had to be shared. She was so beautiful that if she got married there would be trouble, there would be problems – people would go on falling in love with her. It was better to keep her free for anybody who would pay.
Marriage created suspicion. The husband was always suspicious about whether the child born to them was his own or not. And the problem is, the father had no way to determine that a child was his own. Only the mother knew.
“Because the father had no way of being certain, he created more and more walls around the woman – that was the only possibility, the only alternative – to disconnect her from the larger humanity. Not to educate her, because education gives wings to people, thoughts, makes people capable of revolt, so no education for women. No religious education for women, because religion makes you saints, holy people and it has been a male-dominated society for centuries and man cannot conceive a woman to be higher and holier than himself.
Man has been cutting from the very roots any possibility of woman’s growth. She is just a factory to manufacture children.
“She has not been accepted by any culture in the world as equal to man. There are even cultures like the Chinese which have denied the soul to woman; woman is only a machine, without a soul. In China you could kill your wife, no law existed against it. The wife was your possession and if you wanted to destroy it, it was nobody’s business to prevent it.
“All over the world the woman has been suppressed. The more she has been suppressed, the more her whole energy has turned sour. And because she has no freedom and man has every freedom, all her repressed emotions, feelings, thoughts – her whole individuality turns into a jealous phenomenon. She is continuously afraid that her husband might leave her, might go to some other woman, might become interested in some other woman. He might abandon her, and she has problems: she is not educated, she is not financially capable of standing on her own feet. She has been brought up in such a way that she cannot go into the world; she has been told from the very beginning that she is weak.
“Indian scriptures say that in childhood the father should protect the girl; in youth the husband should protect the girl; in old age the son should protect the woman. She has to be protected from the very childhood to the grave. She cannot revolt against this male chauvinist society. All she can do is go on finding faults, which are bound to be there. Mostly she is not wrong; she is mostly right.
“Whenever a man falls in love with another woman something in him towards the first woman changes. Now they are again strangers, there is no bridge. She has been crippled, enslaved and now she has been abandoned. Her whole life is a life of agony.
Out of this agony arises jealousy. Jealousy is the anger of the weak – one who cannot do anything but is boiling within, who would like to burn the whole world but cannot do anything except cry and scream and throw tantrums.
“This situation will continue until marriage becomes a museum piece.
“Now there is no need for marriage. Perhaps it was useful. Perhaps it was not useful, but it was only an excuse to enslave the woman. Things could have been worked out in a different way, but there is no point in going into the past.
Right or wrong, one thing is good about the past: it is no more.
As far as the present and the future are concerned, marriage is absolutely irrelevant, inconsistent with human evolution and contradictory to all the values we love – freedom, love, joy.
“Because man wanted the woman to be completely imprisoned, he wrote religious scriptures making her afraid of hell, making her greedy for heaven…if she follows the rules. Those rules exist only for women, not for men. Now it is so clear that to let women live any longer in this poisonous situation of jealousy is against their psychological health.
“And women’s psychological health influences the psychological health of the whole of humanity – man is also born of woman. The woman has to become an independent individual.
“The dissolution of marriage will be a great, festive event on the earth – and nobody is preventing you: if you love your wife or your husband you can live for lives together, nobody is preventing you.
Withdrawing marriage is simply giving you your individuality back. Now nobody possesses you.
“You are not to make love to a man just because he is your husband and he has the right to demand it. In my vision, when a woman makes love to a man because she has to make love, it is prostitution – not retail, but wholesale!
“Retail is better, you have a chance to change. This wholesale prostitution is dangerous, you don’t have a chance to change. And you have married for the first time – you should be given chances because you are an amateur. A few marriages at least will help you to become mature; perhaps then you can find the right woman. And by right woman I don’t mean the woman who is ‘made for you.’
“No woman is made for you and no man is made for any woman. By the right woman or the right man I mean that if you have understood a few relationships, if you have been in a few relationships, you will understand what things create miserable situations amongst you and what situations create a loving, peaceful, happy life. Living with different people is an absolutely necessary education for a right life as far as love is concerned.
“You should first graduate from a few relationships. In your college, in your university you should pass through a few relationships. And you should not be in a hurry to decide – there is no need, the world is big, and each individual has some unique quality and beauty.
As you go through a few relationships you start becoming aware of what kind of woman, what kind of man is going to be a friend to you – not a master, not a slave. And friendship needs no marriage because friendship is far higher.
“You are feeling jealous because that jealousy you have received as an inheritance. With me you will have to change many things – not because I say to change them but because you understand that a drastic change is needed.
“For example, the idea has been spread all over the world that if a husband sometimes goes to some other woman then this is going to destroy the marriage. It is absolutely wrong. On the contrary, if every marriage has the weekend free it will cement your relationship more strongly, because your marriage is not disturbing your freedom, because your wife understands the need for variety. These are human needs.
“The priests and the moralists and the puritans first decide on an ideal. They make beautiful ideals and then they force the idea on you, for you to become like the ideals. They want to make you all idealists. For ten thousand years we have lived under a very dark and dismal shadow of idealism.
I am a realist. I don’t have any ideal. To me, to understand reality and to go with reality is the only right way for any intelligent man or woman.
“My understanding is – and it is based on thousands of experiments – that if marriage is not such a tight thing, rigid, but is flexible, just a friendship…so that a woman can tell you she has met a beautiful young man and she is going this weekend to be with him. She says, ‘And if you are interested I can bring him back with me, you will also love the person.’ And if the husband can say, not as a hypocrite but as an authentic human being, that ‘Your joy, your happiness is my happiness. If you have found someone, forget about the house, I will take care. You enjoy, because I know whenever you come back, enjoying a fresh love will make you fresh also. A fresh love will bring fresh youth to you. You go this week, and next week I may have my own program.’
“This is friendship. And when they come home they can talk about what kind of man she met, how he turned out, that it was not that great. You can tell her about the new woman you have met. You have a shelter in the home. You can go once in a while into the sky, wild and free, and come back and always your wife is there waiting for you – not to fight but to share your adventures.
“It simply needs a little understanding. It has nothing to do with religion, but just a little more intelligent behavior.
“You know perfectly well that howsoever beautiful a man or woman might be, she starts becoming heavy on your nerves sooner or later. Because the same geography, the same topography, the same landscape….
“Man’s mind is not made for monotony; neither it is made for monogamy. It is absolutely natural to ask for variety. And it is not against your love. In fact, the more you know other women, the more you will praise your own woman – your understanding will deepen. Your experience will be enriching…the more you have known a few men, the more accurately you will be able to understand your own husband.
“The idea of jealousy will disappear – you both are free, and you are not hiding anything.
“With friends we should share everything, particularly those moments which are beautiful – moments of love, moments of poetry, moments of music…they should be shared. In this way your life will become more and more rich.
You may become so attuned to each other that you live your whole life together, but there is no marriage. Jealousy will persist as long as marriage remains the basic foundation of society.
“Just give the man, with your full heart, absolute freedom. And tell him he need not hide anything: ‘To hide anything is insulting. That means you don’t trust me.’ And the same has to happen to man, that he can say to his wife: ‘You are as independent as I am. We are together to be happy, we are together to grow into more blissfulness. And we will do everything for each other but we are not going to be jailers to each other.’
Giving freedom is a joy, having freedom is a joy. You can have so much joy, but you are turning that whole energy into misery, into jealousy, into fight, into a continuous effort to keep the other under your thumb.
“I have heard about a man who was in utter rage and despair because of his wife’s behavior. It was not her fault…she was a nymphomaniac. Now what can you do? Somebody has a headache, somebody is a nymphomaniac. She was continuously falling in love with anybody! He took her to the doctor.
“She was a beautiful woman. The doctor asked her to go inside the examination room. He went with her and soon, after a few minutes, moans and groans…and the husband was sitting in the office listening – it was too much! He just entered the room and what he saw he could not believe – the doctor was making love to his wife.
“The husband said, ‘What is happening?’
“The wife said, ‘You idiot, you will never understand. Now you are asking what is happening! Can’t you see?’
“But the husband was furious. He said, ‘I am not asking my wife, I am asking you, doc! What is happening?’
“The doctor said, ‘Nothing is happening, John, you are doing everything. I am simply taking her temperature.’
“John was afire. He had suffered so much and even the doctor…and what nonsense is he talking, that he is taking her temperature? So he took out his switchblade knife and started rubbing the knife against the doctor’s shoulder. The doctor said, ‘What do you mean? What are you doing?’
“He said, ‘Nothing. Just be careful. When that thing comes out, remember – it had better have numbers on it!’
“We have created this circus instead of a culture. It goes on and on in different ways. I hope that in your life you can drop being a part of this stupid game.
“And it is easy: if you understand yourself, you will be able to understand your wife too. Don’t you have other women in your dreams? In fact, to see your own wife in a dream is a rare phenomenon. People never see their wives or their husbands in their dreams. They have seen enough of them! Now even in the night, even in the dream, no freedom….
“In your dreams you have the wives of your neighbors, the husbands of your neighbors…you should understand that somehow we have made a wrong society, a society which is not according to human nature.
“The more intelligent you are the more variety you would like – there is some relationship between intelligence and variety. A buffalo is satisfied with one kind of grass; for her whole life she will not touch another kind of grass. She does not have the mind to change, to know new things, to discover new territories, to adventure into new spaces.
“The poets, the painters, the dancers, the musicians, the actors – you will find these people more loving but their love is not focused on individuals. They are more loving but to as many individuals as they come in contact with. They are the intelligent people, they are our creative part.
“Idiots don’t want to change anything. They are afraid of change because any change means you will have to learn something again. The idiot wants to learn something once and remain with it his whole life. It may be a machine, it may be a wife, it may be a husband – it does not matter. You have known one woman, you know her nagging, you have become accustomed…sometimes not only accustomed, you have become addicted too. If suddenly your woman does not nag you, you will not be able to sleep that night – what happened? What has gone wrong?
“One of my friends was continually complaining to me about his wife; ‘She is always sad, long faced and I am so worried to enter the house. I try to waste my time in this club and that club but finally I have to go back home and there she is.’
“I said to him, ‘Do one thing just as an experiment. Because she has been serious and she has been nagging, I cannot imagine that you enter the house smiling.’
“He said, ‘Do you think I can manage that? The moment I see her something freezes inside me – smile?’
“I said, ‘Just as an experiment. Today you do one thing: take beautiful roses – it is the season; and the best ice-cream available in the city – tutti frutti; and go smiling, singing a song!’
“He said, ‘If you say so I will do it, but I don’t think it is going to make any difference.’
“I said, “’ will come behind you, and see whether there is any difference or not.’
“The poor fellow tried hard. Many times on the way he laughed. I said, ‘Why are you laughing?’
“He said, “I am laughing at what I am doing! I wanted you to tell me to divorce her and you have suggested I act as if I am going on a honeymoon!’
“I said, ‘Just imagine it is a honeymoon…but try your best.’
“He opened the door and his wife was standing there. He smiled and then he laughed at himself because to smile…And that woman was standing almost like a stone. He presented the flowers and the ice-cream, and then I entered.
“The woman could not believe what was happening. When the man had gone to the bathroom she asked me, ‘What is the matter? He has never brought anything, he has never smiled, he has never taken me out, he has never made me feel that I am loved, that I am respected. What magic has happened?’
“I said, ‘Nothing; both of you have just been doing wrong. Now when he comes out of the bathroom you give him a good hug.’ She said, ‘A hug?’
“I said, ‘Give him one! You have given him so many things, now give him a good hug, kiss him.’ She said, ‘My God….
“I said, ‘He is your husband, you have decided to live together. Either live joyously or say good-bye joyously. There is no reason…it is such a small life. Why waste two person’s lives unnecessarily?’
“At that very moment the man came from the bathroom. The woman hesitated a little but I pushed her, so she hugged the man and the man became so afraid he fell on the floor! He had never imagined that she was going to hug him. I had to help him up. I said, ‘What happened?’
“He said, ‘It’s just that I have never imagined that this woman can hug and kiss – but she can! And when she smiled she looked so beautiful.’
“Two persons living together in love should make it a point that their relationship is continuously growing, bringing more flowers every season, creating more joys. Just sitting together silently is enough.
“But all this is possible only if we drop the old idea of marriage. More than friendship is unnatural. And if marriage is stamped by the court, is killed under that stamp in the court. You cannot bring love under the rule of law.
“Love is the ultimate law. You just have to discover its beauties, its treasures. You have not to repeat, parrot-like, all the great values which make man the highest expression of consciousness on this planet. You should exercise them in your relationship.
“And this has been my strange experience: if one partner starts moving on the right lines, the other follows sooner or later. Because they both are hungry for love, but they don’t know how to approach it.
“No university teaches that love is an art and that life is not already given to you; that you have to learn from scratch.
“And it is good that we have to discover by our own hands every treasure that is hidden in life…and love is one of the greatest treasures in existence.
“But instead of becoming fellow travelers in search of love, beauty and truth, people are wasting their time in fighting, in jealousy.
“Just become a little alert and start the change from your side – don’t expect it from the other side. It will begin from the other side too.
And it costs nothing to smile, it costs nothing to love, it costs nothing to share your happiness with somebody you love.”
To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
Osho, Sermons in Stones, Talk #13 – Jealousy – The Byproduct of Marriage