The mystic Osho talks about “happiness” and “misery,” and turns the conventional wisdom about these seemingly polar opposites on its head.
We often first get interested in meditation because we’re seeking some peace, or that elusive state of well-being called happiness—qualities that always seem to take a back seat to stress, worry, hurry, or just “the daily grind.” Deep down everyone wants to be happy, and luckily our inner intelligence will keep on looking for it, as it can sense it is part of our birthright.
In response to a question about why it is so difficult to be happy, mystic Osho talks about “happiness” and “misery,” and turns the conventional wisdom about these seemingly polar opposites on its head. As is often the case, he comes to the question from a quite unexpected point of view. Read more in this excerpt from his new book A Course in Meditation: A 21 Day Workout for Your Consciousness.
Why is it so difficult to be happy?
Misery has many things to give to you which happiness cannot give. On the contrary, happiness takes away many things from you. In fact, happiness takes all that you have ever had, all that you have ever been; happiness destroys you. Misery nourishes your ego, and happiness is basically a state of egolessness. That is the problem, the very crux of the problem. That’s why people find it very difficult to be happy.
If this is understood then things become very clear. Misery makes you special. Happiness is a universal phenomenon, there is nothing special about it. Trees are happy, and animals are happy, and birds are happy. The whole existence is happy except man. Being miserable, man becomes very special, extraordinary.
When you are ill, depressed, in misery, friends come to visit you, to solace you, to console you. When you are happy, the same friends become jealous of you. When you are really happy, you will find the whole world has turned against you. Nobody likes a happy person, because the happy person hurts the egos of the others. The others start feeling, “So you have become happy and we are still crawling in darkness, misery, and hell. How dare you be happy when we are all in such misery!”
Look into your misery and you will find certain fundamental things are there. One: it gives you respect. People feel friendlier towards you, more sympathetic. You will have more friends if you are miserable. This is a very strange world, something is fundamentally wrong with it. It should not be so; the happy person should have more friends. But become happy, and people become jealous of you; they are no longer friendly. They feel cheated; you have something that is not available to them—why are you happy? So we have learned down the ages a subtle mechanism: to repress happiness and to express misery.
You have to learn how to be happy, and you have to learn to respect happy people, and you have to learn to pay more attention to happy people, remember. This is a great service to humanity. Don’t sympathize too much with people who are miserable. If somebody is miserable, help, but don’t sympathize. Don’t give him the idea that misery is something worthwhile.
We have to learn a totally new language, only then this old rotten humanity can be changed. We have to learn the language of health, wholeness, happiness. It is going to be difficult because our investments are great.
That is why it is so difficult to be happy and so easy to be miserable. One thing more: misery needs no talents, anybody can afford it. Happiness needs talents, genius, and creativity. Only creative people are happy.
Let this sink deep in your heart: only creative people are happy. Happiness is a by-product of creativity. Create something, and you will be happy. Write a poem, sing a song, dance a dance, and see: you start becoming happy.
You need intelligence to be happy. The intelligent person is rebellious. Intelligence is rebellion; without intelligence there can be no happiness. Man can only be happy if he is intelligent, utterly intelligent.
Meditation is a device to release your intelligence. The more meditative you become, the more intelligent you become. But remember, by intelligence I don’t mean intellectuality. Intellectuality is part of stupidity. Intelligence is a totally different phenomenon, it has nothing to do with the head. Intelligence is something that comes from your very center. It wells up in you, and with it, many things start growing in you. You become happy, you become creative, you become rebellious, you become adventurous, you start loving insecurity. You start moving into the unknown. You start living dangerously, because that is the only way to live . . . To decide that “I will live my life intelligently,” that “I will not be just an imitator,” that “I will live within my own being, I will not be directed and commanded from without,” that “I will risk all to be myself, but I will not be part of a mob psychology,” that “I will walk alone,” that “I will find my own path,” that “I will make my own path in the world of truth.” Just by walking into the unknown you create the path. The path is not already there; just by walking, you create it.
Intelligence gives you the courage to be alone, and intelligence gives you the vision to be creative. A great urge, a great hunger arises to be creative. And only then, as a consequence, you can be happy, you can be blissful.
Keep reading: Imaging Yourself Happy
Excerpted from A Course in Meditation: A 21 Day Workout for Your Consciousness, copyright 2019 by Osho International Foundation. Used by permission of Harmony Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.