Osho on Laziness

Question – The danger of your talks on taoism is that there are a lot of lazy, irresponsible people around who rationalise their bad habits by claiming to be inactive taoists. please clarify the difference between a taoist and a lazy escapist.

Osho – The question is from Anand Prem. The first thing, there are two dangers I have talked about: one is of egoism, another is of lethargy, laziness. And remember, if you have to fall into any trap, the trap of laziness is better than the trap of egoism. That is more dangerous, because the lazy person has never done anything wrong, a lazy person cannot do. He will never do any good — okay, but he will never do any wrong either. He will not bother to kill anybody, to torture anybody, to create concentration camps, to go to war he will not bother. He says ‘Why? When one can rest, why?’ A lazy person is not naturally a danger. The only thing that he may miss may be his own spiritual growth, but he will not interfere with anybody else’s growth; he will not be an interference. He will not be a do-gooder and these are the greatest, most mischievous people in the world the do-gooders. A lazy person is almost absent. What can he do? Have you ever heard of any lazy person doing anything wrong?

No, Anand Prem, the real problem comes from the egoist, and that is Anand Prem’s possibility. Don’t be worried about a few people here getting lazy — let them, nothing is wrong. The real problem is from the egoist; one who wants to be spiritual, one who wants to be special, one who wants to become a SIDDHA, one who wants to attain spiritual powers. One wants to prove something spiritually in the world: that is the real danger. If you have to fall, choose laziness. If you cannot fall, if you have to avoid, good to avoid BOTH.

Laziness is just like the common cold — nothing much to worry about. Ego is like cancer. It is better not to have either. But if you have to choose and you would like to have something to cling to, the common cold is good — you can depend on it, it never kills anybody, it has never killed anybody. But never choose cancer, and that is the greater possibility.

Now she asks ‘The danger of your talks on Taoism is that there are a lot of lazy, irresponsible people…’. The first thing: the moment you start thinking about others you are getting into an ego-trip. Who are you to think about others and their life? It is their life. If they feel like being lazy, who are you to interfere? Anand Prem has a do-gooder in her being; she is very worried about others — that is a dangerous thing. And of course she is condemnatory. This question has a condemnation: ‘The danger of your talks on Taoism is that there a lot of lazy, irresponsible people around who rationalise their bad habits by claiming to be inactive Taoists.’ Who are you to tell them that their habits are bad?

Laziness is a better habit than to be obsessed by activity. To be obsessed by activity is madness. A lazy person can be sane. Sometimes the laziest people have been found to be the sanest. I have the feeling that if Anand Prem comes across Lao Tzu, she will think he is lazy. He will look lazy to all purposes. If she comes across Diogenes, she will think he is lazy. If she comes around Buddha she will think he is lazy. Sitting under the Bodhi Tree…’what are you doing? At least you can run a primary school and teach children, or you can open a hospital and serve ill people. So many people are dying, starving… what are you doing here sitting under the Bodhi Tree?’

Anand Prem would have jumped upon Buddha and taken him to task. ‘What are you doing? Just sitting, meditating? Is this the time to meditate? Is this the time to be just sitting silently and enjoying your bliss? This is selfish!’ This condemnatory attitude is really dangerous: it gives you an idea of holier than thou, ‘I am better than you. You… you lazy people!’ She goes on writing questions every day that I have not been answering; every day — that ‘these people are hippies, these people are useless.’

She is in search of a lover, but she cannot find one here because she thinks that nobody here…. She wants a ‘straight person’ and she cannot find a straight person here. These are all ‘hippies and yippies’ and she wants somebody who is well-established.

She wrote a letter. ‘… well-established, has a bank account, is a gentleman, a squire, has prestige, respectability. Here these people are just hobos, wanderers, vagabonds.’ She would have refused Buddha, she would have refused Lao Tzu: they were not straight. She writes to me: ‘… these long-haired people!’ With such disgust she writes, and because of this disgust she has become a very disgusting person and she will not find. For one year she has been in the West in search. She is a Jew.

First she searched in America, then she went to Israel to search for a man. She could not find in America, she could not find in Israel — she will never find anywhere. Even if she goes to heaven, God will look like a hobo. She has such condemnatory attitudes that she cannot love a simple human being. Yes, there are flaws, there are limitations, but everybody has those limitations. If you want to love, you have to love a man with all his limitations.

You cannot find a perfect person. Perfection does not exist. God never allows perfection because perfection is so monotonous. Just think: living with a perfect person… twenty-four hours, and you will commit suicide. Living with a perfect person? Then how will you live? He will be more like a marble statue, dead. The moment a person becomes perfect, he is dead. An alive person is never perfect, and my teaching is basically not for perfection but for totality.

Be total, and remember the difference. The ideal of perfection says: Be like this — no anger, no jealousy, no possessiveness, no flaws, no limitations. The ideal of totality is totally different: If you are angry, be totally angry. If you are loving, be totally loving. If you are sad, be totally sad. Nothing is denied — only partiality has to be dropped, and then a person becomes beautiful. A total person is beautiful. A perfect person is dead.

I am not trying to create MAHATMAS here. Enough! Those MAHATMAS have done enough nonsense in the world. We need beautiful people, flowering, flowing, alive. Yes, they will be sometimes sad, but what is wrong in being sad? Sometimes they will be angry, but what is wrong in sometimes being angry? It simply shows that you are alive, that you are not a dead thing, that you are not driftwood. Sometimes you fight, sometimes you let go. Just like climates change: it is rainy sometimes and it is cloudy, and sometimes it is sunny and the clouds have disappeared. And all seasons are needed — the cold, the heat, the winter, the summer — all seasons are needed. And a real man, an authentic man, has all the climates in his being — only with one awareness: that whatsoever he is doing he should do totally and should do with full awareness — enough, that’s enough, and you have a beautiful person. But Anand Prem is in search of a perfect man.

I have heard…. Once a man travelled all over the world…. Whenever I look at Anand Prem, I again and again remember that man, He travelled all over the world in search of a perfect woman. He wanted to get married, but how to accept an imperfect model? — he wanted a perfect woman. He came back, his whole life wasted; he could not find. Then one day a friend said ‘But now you are seventy and you searched your whole life, couldn’t you find a single perfect woman?’
He said ‘Yes, once I came across one woman who was perfect.’

So the friend asked ‘Then what happened?’
But the man became sad, he said ‘What happened? That woman was in search of a perfect man, so nothing happened!’

Remember, the ideal of perfection is an egoistic ideal.

Ronald Coleman told Herb Stein about a Hollywood phony who spoke with a fake Oxford accent, wore a fake Purple Star and Phi Beta Kappa key — and worst of all, passed a lot of fake cheques. At the end of his rope, he decided to commit suicide, and went down to the Santa Fe railroad tracks. He calmly smoked several imported cigarettes while three or four heavy freights puffed by. A tramp who was watching jeered. ‘lf you’re gonna do it, why don’t you do it?’
‘Don’t be vulgar’ squelched the phony. ‘A man like me waits for the Super Chief.’

Even if an egoist goes to commit suicide, he waits for the Super Chief, the best train. He says ‘Don’t be vulgar. A man like me waits for the Super Chief.’ Even if he is committing suicide, he will not commit under a goods train.
Marriage is like suicide — you can commit anywhere. You should not wait for the Super Chief. Anand Prem is in search and it is impossible for her, the way she looks at things with such condemnation, to find anybody whom she can love.
‘Please clarify the difference between a Taoist and a lazy escapist.’

There is not much, and if there is, it is so inner that only the person will know — you will never be able to judge from the outside. Look at me. I am also a lazy person. Have you seen me doing anything, ever? It is very difficult from the outside to know. And I love lazy persons… Taoists or not; I love lazy persons because out of lazy persons never any Adolf Hitler is born, never any Genghis Khan, never any Tamburlaine. Lazy people have silently lived their lives and disappeared, without leaving any trace on history, without contaminating humanity. They have not polluted consciousness. They were here as if they were not. To be lazy and aware… and you have become a Taoist. It does not mean that you become inactive. It simply means that the obsessive activity disappears. It simply means that you have become capable of not-doing too.

It is said about a Zen Master that a person asked one of his disciples ‘What miracles can your Master do?’
And the disciple said ‘Are you a follower of somebody?’

And the man said ‘Yes, I am a follower of a certain Master and he is a great-miracle-man; he can do great miracles. Once it happened that I was standing on this shore of the bank and he was standing on the other shore, and he shouted to me “I want to write something in your book.” And it was almost a half-mile-wide river. So I took my book out, raised it, and from the other shore he started writing with his fountain pen and the writing came on my book. This miracle I have seen and the book is with me — you can see.’

And the disciple of the other Master laughed and he said ‘My Master can do greater miracles.’
So the man said ‘What miracles?’
And the disciple said ‘My Master can do miracles, and he is so capable… SO CAPABLE that he is capable of not doing them too.’

‘Not doing them too.’ See the beauty of it. He is ‘so capable… SO CAPABLE… of not doing them too.’

A Taoist is a man who does only that which is absolutely necessary. His life is almost like a telegram. When you go to the Post Office you don’t write a long letter when you are giving a telegraphic message. You go on cutting words, this and this can be dropped and then you come to ten or nine or whatsoever. If you write a letter you will never write only ten words. And have you watched the thing? A telegram is more expressive than all letters. It says much more in very few words. The unnecessary is dropped, only the most necessary is there. A Taoist is telegraphic, his life is like a telegram. The obsessive, the unnecessary, the feverish, has been dropped. He does only that which is absolutely necessary. And let me tell you that the absolutely necessary is so little that you will see a Taoist almost as if he were lazy.

But remember, I am not praising laziness. I am simply condemning the egoistic attitude. Against ego — I am for laziness. But I am not for laziness itself; it should be full of awareness. Then you pass from activity and from laziness both. Then you become transcendental. You are neither active, nor inactive; you are centred. Whatsoever is needed you do it, whatsoever is not needed you don’t do it. You are neither a doer nor a non-doer. Doing is no more your focus. You are a consciousness.

So please don’t take whatsoever I have said in the sense that I am helping you to be lazy. To be REALLY lazy means not to be inactive, but to be so full of energy that you are a reservoir of energy. Lazy as far as the world is concerned, but tremendously dynamic inside, not dull.

A Taoist is lazy from the outside; from the inside he has become a river-like phenomenon, he is continuously flowing towards the ocean. He has dropped many activities because they were unnecessarily leaking his energy. The danger is always there — in whatsoever I say there is danger — the danger of interpretation. If I say ‘Be active’, there is the possibility that you will become egoists. If I say ‘Be inactive’, there is the possibility that you may become dull. Man is very cunning.

I have heard…. He was the kind of a guy who would bet on anything — provided he was sure of winning. ‘I’ll bet my wife’s first words will be “my dear” when I get home’ he said to Lucky.

Lucky took him up on it. He knew his wife very well and she would be the last woman in the world to say ‘my dear’. Must have been like Anand Prem.

Lucky took him up on it and they bet a hundred dollars. When they got to the sport’s house he stuck his head in the door and called ‘My dear, I’m home.’
‘”My dear” be hanged!’ roared his wife. ‘Wait till I get you inside!’
And he looked at Lucky and said ‘Give me a hundred dollars. Didn’t I tell you that the first words she would ever utter would be “my dear”?’

Mind is very cunning. The wife is saying ‘”My dear” be hanged I wait till I get you inside!’ But you can interpret… so he is demanding a hundred dollars. Mind is cunning. It goes on interpreting in its own ways; it goes on finding reasons, rationalisations, tricks to defend. It wants to remain as it is. That is the whole effort of the mind: it wants to remain as it is. If it is lazy, it wants to remain lazy. If it is active — too active, obsessively active it wants to remain active. So whatsoever I say, you have to be careful not to defend your mind. You have to come out of your mind.

The man burst angrily through the door, threw his wife off the stranger’s knee and angrily demanded ‘How do I find you kissing my wife?’
‘I don’t know’ said the stranger. ‘Maybe you’re home early?’

People can find reasons. Be alert. And be alert about your own self, not about others. This is none of your business what others are doing. This should be one of the basic attitudes of a religious person — not to think about what the other is doing; that is his life. If he decides to live it that way, that is his business. Who are you even to have an opinion about it? Even to have an opinion means that you are ready to interfere, you have already interfered.

A religious person is one who is trying to live his life the best, the most total way he can; the most alert way that he can he is trying. And he is not interfering with anybody’s life, not even by having an opinion. Have you watched, observed? If you pass somebody and you have a certain opinion about him, your face changes, your eyes change, your attitude, your walk. If you are condemnatory, your whole being starts broadcasting condemnation, disgust. No, you are interfering. To be really religious means to be non-interfering. Give freedom to people; freedom is their birthright.

Once it happened, I stayed with one of my professors, my teachers. Though I was a student and he was my teacher, he was very respectful of me. He was a rare, religious man but he was a drunkard, and when I stayed in his home, he was very afraid to drink in front of me. What would I think? I watched him, I felt his restlessness, so the next day I told him ‘There is something on your mind. If you don’t relax, I will immediately leave and go to a hotel; I will not stay. There is something on your mind. I feel that you are not at ease, my presence is creating some trouble.’

He said ‘Since you have raised the problem, I would like to tell you. I have never told you that I drink too much, but I always drink in my home and go to sleep. Now that you are staying here I don’t want to drink before you and that is creating the trouble. I cannot remain without drinking but I cannot even conceive of drinking in front of you.’

I laughed. I said ‘This is foolish. What have I to do with it? You will not force me to drink.’ He said ‘No, never.’
‘Then it is finished; the problem is solved. You drink and I will keep you company. I will not drink but I can drink something else Coca-Cola or Fanta, I will keep you company, you drink. I can fill your glass, I can help you.’
He could not believe it, he thought I was joking. But when in the night I filled his glass, he started crying. He said ‘I had never thought that you would not have any opinion about it. And I have been watching you’ he said ‘and you don’t have any opinion about my drinking, about my behaviour, about what I am doing.’

I said ‘To have an opinion about you is simply foolish. It is not something very great that I haven’t any opinion about you. Why should I have in the first place? Who am l? It is your life — you want to drink, you drink.’

To have an opinion about you means that deep down somewhere I want to manipulate you. To have some opinion about you, this way or that, means that I have a deep desire to be powerful over people. That’s what a politician is. A religious person should be non-interfering.

Source – Osho Book “Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1”

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