Out of “The Meaning Crisis” – The Freedom to Be Oneself

meaning crisis - freedom to be oneself

You have explained in detail how the modern mind is feeling more meaningless than has ever been the case. You have explained very clearly how we got here. Can you explain where you see that we need to go from here?

“This is the situation in which you have been born. If you are contemporary at all, this is the situation. You are more in tune with Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche than you are in tune with Patanjali, Kapil, Kanad. They are far away; we don’t belong to them, they don’t belong to us. The distance is too much. Our real prophets are these – Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Darwin.

And these people have destroyed the whole fabric, the whole structure, the pattern of belief. And I would like to tell you that they have done a great service to humanity.

“But don’t misunderstand me. They have cleaned human consciousness completely of belief, but this is only half the job. Now something is needed. It is as if you are preparing for a garden and you prepare the ground and you throw away all the weeds and you throw away all the stones and the ground is ready – and then you simply wait and you don’t bring the rosebushes and you don’t sow new seeds.

These people have done a great service to humanity. They have uprooted all the weeds.

“But just by uprooting the weeds the garden is not ready, cannot be ready. It is part of preparing a garden to uproot the weeds, but this is not the garden itself. Now you have to bring the roses. Those roses are missing, hence the meaning is missing.

People are stuck. Either they have become communists or they have become Freudians or they have become fascists.

“And they think that this clean patch of ground where no belief grows, where no desire springs up about the unknown and the beyond, is the garden. Then you are looking all around and there is nothing, it is a desert. These people have cleaned the ground, but have only created a desert out of it.

Man has become very, very anxious. Anxiety has been created. The anxiety has been repressed for centuries because of conforming with the political party, with the religion, with the sect, with the society. For thousands of years the anxiety has remained locked. Man has functioned as a slave. Now the lock has been broken, man is no longer a slave and the whole anxiety, repression, of thousands of years has broken loose. Man is turning mad.

“What these people have done can turn into a great liberation or it can become just a loss. It depends. If you use this situation rightly and you start growing rosebushes in your heart, soon you will find a great thankfulness toward Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and all the people who have destroyed belief, who have destroyed the old religion.

They have prepared the way for a new kind of religion – more mature, more adult, more grown up.

I am all for them, but I don’t stop with them. If you stop, meaninglessness will be your destiny.

“Yes, it is good that there exists no God – the God of belief – but then, then start finding what exists in your inner being. Then go on an exploration and you will stumble upon godliness. And this godliness will not be the God of the belief. This godliness will be the God of your experience.

“They have created a situation in which you can say, ‘I don’t know’ – that’s what agnosticism is – now use this as a jumping board to go into the unknown. You are ready to go into the unknown. Knowledge is not binding, nobody is fettering your feet. You are free for the first time – but what are you doing standing there? You were standing there because you were chained and now you are still standing there although the chains have been removed. Move forward.

Now explore! The whole of existence is yours. Explore it with no concept, with no prejudice, with no a priori philosophy. Explore it with an open mind and you will be surprised to find that godliness is.

“But this will be a totally new godliness, utterly new, absolutely new. This will be the godliness one comes to know, not the God one believes in. This will be an alive godliness that throbs in your heart, that breathes, that flowers in the trees, that sings songs in the birds. This will be the godliness of the mountains and the rivers and the stars. This will be the godliness of life.

This will not be a God who exists somewhere in heaven, no, this will be the godliness that exists herenow – in me, in you, in everybody. This is the godliness that is equivalent, synonymous with existence.

“But this godliness can come only through knowing, not through knowledge. Knowledge has been destroyed and that’s good. These three people – Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche – have done a good job of clearing away the whole nonsense of centuries, but remember, even they were not benefited by it. Nietzsche died in a madhouse, and if you are stuck with Nietzsche you are waiting for madness and nothing else. Nietzsche did a great service, he was a martyr, but he became stuck in his own negativity. He destroyed the belief, but then he never went to explore what is there. Without belief what is there? With no belief what is there? There is something. You cannot say there is nothing. There is something: What is it? He never went into meditation.

Thinking, logical thinking, can do one thing: it can destroy belief. But it cannot lead you into truth.

“You can be led into truth only by the door of meditation or by the door of lovemarifa or mahaba, either by knowing or by loving. Either by becoming a lover, an ashik, a bhakta, a devotee; or by becoming a yogi, dhyana, a meditator. These are the only two ways – either through intelligence or through feeling. These are the two doors to godliness.

Man has to create meaning now. The meaning is no longer given by the society, no longer by the church – is no longer given by anybody else.

“Martin Heidegger says, ‘Once one has become aware of the meaninglessness of life and existence, there arises great anxiety, angst, anguish. This happens through unlocking that which subjection to conformity and conditioning of centuries had locked. Once this liberation has happened one can act – but not according to norms given by anybody or anything. One has to fall upon oneself.’

“Heidegger is right. You have to fall upon yourself. Now you cannot lean on anybody. No scripture will help.

The prophets are gone, the messengers are no longer there. You will have to lean upon yourself. You will have to stand on your own feet. You will have to become independent.

“Heidegger calls it resolve. You will have to come to a resolve, a resolution that ‘I am alone and no help is coming from anywhere. Now what am I going to do? And I don’t know anything. No belief exists to give me a map. No chart exists and the uncharted is all around. The whole of existence has again become a mystery.’

“It is a great joy for those who have courage because now exploration is again possible.

This is what Martin Heidegger calls resolve. This is what Hindus have called sankalpa. Now you have to resolve. He calls it resolve because through it the individual becomes resolute, the individual becomes individual. No God, no conventions, no laws, no commandments, no norms, no principles – one must be oneself and one must decide where to go, what to do, and who to be. This is the meaning of the famous existentialist motto:

Existence precedes essence.’ That is, there is no essential human nature. Man creates what he is, man projects himself.

The meaning has to be projected, the meaning has to be created. You have to sing your meaning, you have to dance your meaning, you have to paint your meaning, you have to live your meaning.

“Through living it will arise, through dancing it will start penetrating your being, through singing it will come to you. It is not like a rock lying there, it has to bloom in your being. It has to become an inner lotus.”


Osho, Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol. 1, Talk #5 – The Moment of Not Knowing

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