Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul: What Is the Meaning of Life?

Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul: What Is the Meaning of Life?

by Osho


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One of the greatest spiritual teachers of the twentieth century shares his philosophy on self-discovery, free will, and the search for a place and purpose in life.

“I myself am a question. I know not who I am. What to do? Where to go?”—Osho

Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul: What Is the Meaning of Life? explores deeply human questions, such as: Is there really such a thing as “soul,” and if so, what is it? Where does the concept of karma fit in? Does my life have a special meaning or purpose?

Osho challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit their capacity to enjoy life in all its richness. He has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century” and by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people—along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha—who have changed the destiny of India. Since his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312595432
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/13/2010
Series: Osho Life Essentials
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 622,737
Product dimensions: 5.49(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

Osho is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world. He is the author of many books, including Love, Freedom, Aloneness; The Book of Secrets; and Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder.

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Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul

What Is the Meaning of Life?

By Osho

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 OSHO International Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-59543-2


The Mystery of "Who Am I?"

Who am I?" has to be asked in the deepest recesses of your being. You have to resound with this question. It has to vibrate in you, pulsate in your blood, in your cells. It has to become a question mark in your very soul.

And when the mind is silent, you will know. Not that some answer will be received by you in words, not that you will be able to write it down in your notebook that "This is the answer." Not that you will be able to tell anybody, "This is the answer." If you can tell anybody, it is not the answer. If you can write it down in a notebook, it is not the answer. When the real answer comes to you, it is so existential that it is inexpressible.

I myself am a question. I know not who I am. What to do? Where to go?

Remain with the question. Don't do anything, and don't go anywhere; and don't start believing in any answer. Remain with the question.

That is one of the most difficult things to do — to remain with a question and not to seek the answer. Because the mind is very cunning, it can supply a false answer. It can console you; it can give you something to cling to; and then the question is not answered but suppressed. Then you go on believing in the answer, and the question remains deep down in your unconsciousness like a wound. The healing has not happened.

If you remain with the question, I'm not saying that you will receive the answer. Nobody has ever received any answer. If you remain with the question, by and by the question disappears. Not because the answer is received; there is no answer. There cannot be, because life is a mystery. If there is any answer, then life will not be a mystery.

It has no answer to it; it cannot be solved. It is not a puzzle; it is a mystery. And that is the difference between a puzzle and a mystery. A puzzle can be solved, howsoever difficult it is to solve. A mystery cannot be solved — not that it is difficult. It is very simple, but its nature is such that it cannot be solved.

Remain with the question — alert, aware, not seeking, not trying to find an answer. Very arduous it is, but if you can do that ... it can be done. I have done it. And all those who have dissolved their questions have done it. The very awareness, the fire of awareness, burns the question. The sun of awareness melts the question; it disappears, it evaporates. One day, suddenly, you find you are there, and the question is not there. Not that the question is replaced by an answer. There is none. But the question has simply disappeared. You are there and without a question. That is the answer.

You, without a question, is the answer. Not that you will be able to say who you are — you will laugh at the very question. The question has become absurd. In the first place, the very asking was wrong. But right now, you cannot understand that; you have to ask. You have to ask very intensely. Ask the question, but don't ask for the answer.

That is the difference between theology and religiousness. Theology gives you the answer; religiousness gives you awareness. Theology supplies you answers — ready-made, manufactured, polished, perfect. Religiousness doesn't give you any answer; it simply helps you to penetrate deep into the question. The deeper you go into the question, the more you find it is melting, it is disappearing. And when the question has disappeared, a tremendous energy is released within you. You are there, with no question.

And when there is no question, of course, there is no mind. Mind is the questioner. When there is no questioning, the mind has also disappeared — pure consciousness — just the sky without any clouds, the flame without any smoke.

That's what godliness is. That's what a Buddha is; that's what a Christ is. Remember, I repeat it again and again: Buddha has not found the answer; that's why Buddha never answers the most essential questions. You ask him, "Does God exist?" He will avoid the question; he will not answer. You ask him, "What happens when a person dies?" He will avoid it; he will start talking about other things. He will not answer.

He is not a metaphysician, and he is not a philosopher. He has come to face the question, and the question has disappeared. The question disappears as darkness disappears when you kindle a light, when you bring a lamp. Bring more awareness to the question.

You say, "I myself am a question." Beautiful! That's how it should be — reduce all questions to the basic question, and that is, "Who am I?" Don't go on moving around the periphery with questions like "Who made the world? Why was the world created?" Those are all nonsense questions. Come to the basic question, the most fundamental question: Who am I?

Who? Let your consciousness penetrate into it, like a deep arrow going deeper and deeper and deeper. And don't be in a hurry to find the answer — because the mind is cunning. If you are in a hurry, impatient, the mind can supply you with an answer. The mind can quote scriptures; it is the devil! It can say, "Yes, you are a god, you are pure consciousness, you are the ultimate truth, an eternal soul, a deathless being." Those answers can destroy your very search.

A seeker has to be aware of ready-made answers. They are available; from every side they are being supplied to you. In fact, your mind has already been conditioned. The answers have been given to you before you even asked the question.

A small child — he has not asked who God is, and he is being supplied with the answer; he is being conditioned. He has not asked — the question is still not there, and already the answer is being given. Many people go on believing in these answers throughout their lives, and they never ask the question themselves.

If you have not asked the question, whatever you know is just rubbish. Throw it on the rubbish heap, all your knowledge — because in reality, there is no knowledge, there is only knowing. There is no answer, only a state of consciousness where the questioning disappears. Only a clarity, a clarity of vision and perception, a clarity of eyes; you can see through and through — not that you find an answer somewhere.

Existence is so vast, so mysterious ... and it is good that it is so. Just think of the misfortune if you could have found the answer. Then life would not be worth living; then it would not have any meaning. Because you cannot find the answer, life goes on having infinite meaning. God is not the answer; godliness is the state of being where the question has disappeared. Godliness is the state of no-mind.

Remain with the question. I am here to help you to remain with the question. I am not going to give you any answer; you already have too many. I am not going to burden you any more. I am to teach you how to unlearn the answers that you have learned, so that the question becomes crystal pure; so the question becomes authentic and yours; so the question arises from your innermost being.

And remain with it. Don't go here and there; don't be in a hurry. Be patient. Let this question become your constant companion.

This is the only discipline I teach: the discipline of questioning, and without being in any hurry for the answer.

And it is beautiful to remain with the question, because answers corrupt you. They destroy your innocence; they destroy your pure ignorance. They fill your mind with words, theories, dogmas; then you are no longer a virgin. They corrupt you. A question is pure; it does not corrupt you. In fact, it intensifies your purity; it makes you more and more clear.

Become aware of the question. Not that you have to continuously ask, "Who am I?" Not that you have to verbalize it. Let the question be there without any verbalization. Let it be like your breathing; let it be like your being. Let it be there, silent but continuous, as if you are pregnant with it. One day, if you have lived enough with the question, it starts disappearing. It evaporates, justas when the morning comes and the sun rises, and the dewdrops start disappearing. When the consciousness has become a fire, an intense light, the question starts disappearing.

And when the question has disappeared, you cannot say who you are, but you know. It is not knowledge; it is a knowing. You cannot answer, but you know. You can dance it; you cannot answer it. You can smile it; you cannot answer it. You will live it, but you cannot answer it.

Often I have the feeling that I am not doing something I ought to be doing, or doing something I should not be doing; that something has to change and fast — a schoolboy's worry that I am not going to make the grade, that I might be expelled.

This is how we all have been brought up. Our whole education — in the family, in the society, in the school, in the college, in the university — creates tension in us. And the fundamental tension is that you are not doing that which you ought to do.

Then it persists your whole life; it follows you like a nightmare, it goes on haunting you. It will never leave you at rest, it will never allow you to relax. If you relax, it will say, "What are you doing? You are not supposed to relax; you should be doing something." If you are doing something it will say, "What are you doing? You need some rest, it is a must, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy — you are already on the verge."

If you do something good, it will say, "You are a fool. Doing good is not going to pay — people will cheat you." If you do something bad, it will say, "What are you doing? You are preparing the way to go to hell, you will have to suffer for it." It will never leave you at rest; whatsoever you do, it will be there, condemning you.

This condemner has been implanted in you. This is the greatest calamity that has happened to humanity. And unless we get rid of this condemner inside us, we cannot be truly human, we cannot be truly joyous, and we cannot participate in the celebration that existence is.

And now nobody can drop it except you. And this is not only the questioner's problem, but this is also the problem of almost every human being. Whatever country you are born in, whatsoever religion you belong to, it doesn't matter — Catholic, communist, Hindu, Mohammedan, Jain, Buddhist, it does not matter to what kind of ideology you belong — the essential is the same. The essential is to create a split in you, so one part always condemns the other part. If you follow the first part, then the second part starts condemning you. You are in an inner conflict, a civil war.

This civil war has to be dropped; otherwise you will miss the whole beauty, the benediction of life. You will never be able to laugh to your heart's content, you will never be able to love, you will never be able to be total in anything. And it is only out of totality that one blooms, that the spring comes, and your life starts having color and music and poetry.

It is only out of totality that suddenly you feel the presence of godliness all around you. But the irony is that the split has been created by your so-called saints, priests, and churches. In fact, the priest has been the greatest enemy of real religiousness on the earth.

We have to get rid of all the priests; they are the root cause of human pathology. They have made everybody ill at ease; they have caused an epidemic of neuroses. And the neuroses have become so prevalent that we take them for granted. We think that this is all life is about, we think this is what life is — a suffering, a long, long, delayed suffering; a painful, agonizing existence; an autobiography of much ado about nothing.

And if we look at our so-called life, it seems so, because there is never a single flower, never a single song in the heart, never a ray of divine delight.

It is not surprising that intelligent people all over the world are asking what the meaning of life is. "Why should we go on living? Why are we so cowardly as to go on living? Why can't we gather a little courage and put a stop to all this nonsense? Why can't we commit suicide?"

Never before in the world have there been so many people thinking that life is so utterly meaningless. Why has this happened in this age? It has nothing to do with this age. For centuries, for at least five thousand years, the priests have been doing harm to the human psyche. Now it has reached the ultimate peak.

It is not our doing; we are victims. We are the victims of history. If man becomes a little more conscious, the first thing to be done is to burn all the history books. Forget the past — it was nightmarish. Start anew from ABC, as if Adam is born again. Start as if we are again in the Garden of Eden, innocent, uncontaminated, unpolluted by cruel priests and their ideas.

The priests have been very mean, because they discovered something tremendously significant for themselves: Divide a person, split a person, make him basically schizophrenic, and you will always remain in power. A divided human being is a weak human being. An undivided person, an individual, has strength — strength to accept any adventure, any challenge.

A man was looking for a good church to attend and found a small one in which the congregation was reading with the minister. They were saying, "We have left undone those things we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done."

The man dropped into a seat and sighed with relief as he said to himself, Thank goodness, I've found my crowd at last.

Go to any church, and you will find your crowd, you will find replicas of your being. Maybe the language is a little bit different, the ritual a little bit different, but the fundamentals are the same. The fundamental is that the human being has been reduced to an inner civil war.

The first day you recognize this, what the priests have done to you, is a day of great insight. And the day you drop all this nonsense is the day of the beginning of liberation.

Do what your nature wants to do. Do what your intrinsic qualities hanker to do. Don't listen to the scriptures. Listen to your own heart. That is the only scripture I prescribe. Yes, listen very attentively, very consciously, and you will never be wrong. And listening to your own heart, you will never be divided. Listening to your own heart, you will start moving in the right direction, without ever thinking of what is right and what is wrong.

So the whole art for the new humanity will consist in the secret of listening to the heart consciously, alertly, attentively. And follow it through any means, and go wherever it takes you. Yes, sometimes it will take you into dangers — but then remember, those dangers are needed to make you ripe. And sometimes it will take you astray — but remember again, those goings astray are part of growth. Many times you will fall. Rise up again, because this is how one gathers strength — by falling and rising again. This is how one becomes integrated.

But don't follow rules imposed from the outside. No imposed rule can ever be right, because rules are invented by people who want to rule you. Yes, sometimes there have been great enlightened people in the world, too — a Buddha, a Jesus, a Krishna, a Mohammed. They have not given rules to the world; they have given their love. But sooner or later the disciples gather together and start making codes of conduct. Once the master is gone, once the light is gone and they are in deep darkness, they start groping for certain rules to follow, because now the light in which they could have seen is there no more. Now they will have to depend on rules.

What Jesus did was his own heart's whispering, and what Christians go on doing is not their own hearts' whispering. They are imitators — and the moment you imitate, you insult your humanity, you insult your God.

Never be an imitator; be always original. Don't become a carbon copy. But that's what is happening all over the world — carbon copies and carbon copies.

Life is really a dance if you are an original — and you are meant to be an original. And no two people are alike, so my way of life can never become your way of life.

Listen to your own heart's whisperings — and they are whisperings. The heart speaks in a very still, small voice; it does not shout.

A Buddha is a Buddha, a Krishna is a Krishna, and you are you. And you are not in any way less than anybody else. Respect yourself, respect your own inner voice and follow it.

And remember, I am not guaranteeing that it will always lead you to the right. Many times it will take you to the wrong, because to come to the right door, one has to knock first on many wrong doors. That's how it is. If you suddenly stumble upon the right door, you will not be able to recognize that it is right.


Excerpted from Destiny, Freedom, and the Soul by Osho. Copyright © 2010 OSHO International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. The Mystery of "Who Am I?",
2. In Search of Meaning,
3. Self, No-Self, and Reincarnation,
4. Destiny, Fate, and Karma,
5. In Search of Freedom,
About the Author,
Osho International Meditation Resort,
For More Information,
About the DVD,

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