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Osho on Divine Madness, Sanity and Insanity

Question - Beloved Master, The more i watch the desires and needs of the mind, The more i come to a space that looks like madness. Please comment.

Osho - It is madness, but it is higher than what you call sanity. There are two kinds of madness. Madness simply means out of the mind. You can be out of the mind, falling below the mind – that’s where insanity starts. But you can also be out of the mind going beyond the mind – that’s where meditation starts. In one sense they are similar in that both are out of the mind. Hence one can feel, living in the beauty of the present moment, as if it is madness, because madness and meditation have a similarity but only on one point: both happen outside the mind. In every other sense they are different.

To go below the mind means to become unconscious. To go beyond the mind means to become superconscious. And the superconscious and unconscious are as distinct as two things can be, as far away from each other as there is possibility. They have nothing in common except that one point. Hence in the beginning every meditator feels that it is something like madness. But it is saner than your sanity. You have to wait a little, to become acquainted with the new territory of the world of meditation. Others may also think that you are mad, because sometimes you will be doing things like a madman. But the basic difference is that no madman ever acknowledges, ever accepts that he is mad. He refuses it vehemently. You can go to any madhouse, not a single madman will accept that he is mad.

Osho on Madness Sanity and Insanity

But the meditator can accept it smiling. He is aware of the similarity. He can understand the outsider’s judgment, and he can accept it. He can see also that the action... for example, a meditator sometimes feels so blissful that you will see a smile on his face although there is no reason at all to smile. And we forgive people for being miserable without any reason, but we cannot forgive people for being so happy without any reason. We ask people, ”What is the cause? Why are you smiling?”

And a man who is experiencing something within himself, joyful, something immensely sweet – what can he say to you? And whatever he is going to say, you are not going to believe it, because it is not your experience. You can believe only if it is also your experience. Two meditators can sit silently and smile without asking each other why they are smiling. They can laugh, they can dance without asking each other why they are doing it.

Our life is always dominated by something from outside. The meditator’s life is inspired from inwards, he cannot show anything outside as a cause. He can simply say he is feeling so blissful he would like to dance just as the birds sing in the morning, or the flowers release their fragrance. It is a known fact that great poets cannot explain why they are writing certain poetry. One of the great English poets, Coleridge, when he died left forty thousand incomplete poems. And his whole life people were asking him why he went on collecting incomplete poems, and saying that he should complete them. Just one line was needed, or two lines were needed... but only a poet of the quality of Coleridge can understand why he was not completing them.

People thought he was mad, because he used to say, ”I don’t write. Something in me begins to write it. And if it completes, good, if it does not complete, I am not going to complete it, because I have tried it – it looks totally different. It does not have that quality, it looks ordinary. So unless it happens again, and the unknown in me completes it... I am always willing to complete it. But I cannot do it willfully, because whenever I have done it willfully it is not of the quality that I would like it to be.”

It happened in one of the great Indian poets, Rabindranath Tagore’s life.... He translated his own book, GITANJALI – offering of songs. For this book he received the Nobel Prize. But before taking it to England, to show his poet friends, he showed it to one of the great Christian missionaries, C.F. Andrews – just a translation. He was a little suspicious whether he had been able to bring the quality of the original into the translation or not, and whether the language, the grammar, was correct or not.

C.F. Andrews suggested to change four words at four different points, because they were not linguistically right. C.F. Andrews was not a poet, but he was a great scholar. Rabindranath understood it, and he changed those four words. In England, one of the great English poets, Yeats, called a meeting of all great poets to listen to Rabindranath Tagore’s GITANJALI. While listening to it, Yeats himself said that at four points it seemed somebody else had interfered in the translation. Exactly those four points were the four words that C.F. Andrews had suggested. Rabindranath was simply shocked. He could not believe it. He said, ”These are the four words suggested by C.F. Andrews.”

Yeats said, ”You drop those words. They may be linguistically right, but they have not the poetic quality. They are like blocking stones – they stop the current, the flow, the spontaneity. Please put your original words that you had before C.F. Andrews suggested these four words to you.”

Rabindranath put back his old words, and Yeats and the other poets said, ”They are linguistically wrong, but they are far superior poetically. You leave what you had originally written. Don’t listen to anybody.”

A poet cannot be corrected by a grammarian, by a linguist, by a scholar – and another poet of the same depth can immediately see. That was the trouble with Coleridge. He completed only seven poems in his whole life. Just those seven poems make him one of the greatest poets in the world. And he has left forty thousand incomplete poems. But that does not matter, he was sincere and honest. He could have managed, but that would not have been coming from the heart, it would have been coming from the head, and the head is far inferior to the heart. And the heart cannot be ordered, it is like a breeze – whenever it comes, it comes.

The meditator enters into a world beyond mind, a space which is so beautiful and so blissful that he cannot contain it. It starts overflowing him. Then it will look as if he is mad. He will be silent where it is needed for him to speak. And he may be speaking when he is alone and there is nobody to speak to. There are moments when something in him wants to be expressed. If he is a poet, it may be expressed in poetry; if he is a musician, it may be expressed in music; if he is a dancer... It all depends on his talents, on his genius, on his qualities. If he is articulate, to say something – and he is so full of it – then it does not matter whether anybody is there to listen or not, he will say it; he has to say it. It is almost like a cloud full of rain. The cloud comes and showers itself. It cannot contain.

A meditator is a rain cloud. The clouds don’t discriminate about where the fertile land is and where the mountain is and where the river is, and where one country’s boundary ends and another country’s boundary begins. The rain cloud does not care about all these things, he simply showers when he is too full. A meditator sometimes behaves... particularly in the beginning, when he is entering that wonderland of his own being for the first time. As he becomes more and more acquainted, his madness stops showing any indications to the outside world. As he becomes perfect in his meditation, there is no madness left at all. Then he is pure sanity. But it takes time to reach to such maturity.

In the beginning it is such a surprise, the experience is such that one had never thought about, had never dreamed about it – it is unbelievable. Its unbelievability drives one crazy. And these are the moments when the master is helpful. He goes on telling you, ”Don’t be worried and don’t be afraid. It is not madness, it only looks like madness. It is the beginning of meditation. You just have to become more acquainted, take it more calmly and quietly – just a few days more.”

There is an anecdote in Gautam Buddha’s life.... He and his disciple Ananda have lost their path into a forest. They inquired of an old woman who
was collecting wood, ”How far is the village?”

The old woman said, ”My sons, it is not very far, just two miles. You go directly.”
Two miles passed, and there were no signs of any village. They come across another man, who was cutting a tree. They ask the woodcutter, ”How far is the village? Have we lost the way?”
And the woodcutter said, ”No. The village is just close by, just two miles.”
Ananda said, ”It is strange. The old woman said two miles. We have gone two miles. This man again says two miles.”
Buddha said, ”After two miles, ask again.”
Ananda said, ”What do you mean? After two miles also we are not going to get to the village?”
Buddha said, ”I don’t believe them. They are just compassionate people. They are simply encouraging you. If they say it is ten miles, you may get discouraged.”

It turned out to be exactly ten miles, and each time they asked everyone on the way, just simple villagers, all said, ”Just two miles, it is just... you have almost reached.”
When they reached the town Ananda asked, ”How did you know that it must be at least ten miles? It turns out to be exactly ten miles.”
Buddha said, ”That is my whole business. That’s what I have been doing my whole life, telling people, ‘Just a little more. Soon you will be reaching,’ just to keep them going.”

A friend, a guide, a master is immensely helpful in many ways; otherwise you may get tired, you may think you have lost the way. You may think it is a futile search, you may think it is really madness and it is better to stop doing such things. People may start to think of you as insane: you are getting into danger. Your own children, your wife, your father, your mother, your friends have started thinking that you are going a little cuckoo. It is best to stop right now, before it is too late, before you have gone too far and you cannot come back.

A master is needed to assure you, ”This is only a momentary phase, it will go away. You have to go a little farther. Going back is meaningless. Go on, in spite of what happens, in spite of what people think of you. You will pass over it.”

Somebody with great authority and experience has to keep you inspired, courageous. There are moments of weakness, there are moments of doubt, and somebody is needed to keep your spirit awake, strong, ready to go on the full adventure. The master cannot take you to the goal, but without the master it is almost impossible to reach.

There are so many other difficulties, which you alone may not be able to cross over. This is one, and this is one of the most significant because nobody wants to be thought about as crazy or mad. But it comes to every meditator. This is the price one has to pay. You cannot get the highest experience in life without paying any price. These are the prices you have to pay. And when these moments come, feel grateful to existence that the journey has started, that you have entered at least into the new space of your innermost being. Be thankful for this madness. It happens only to those who are blessed. And if it is happening to you, you are blessed.

Source - Osho Book "The Sword and the Lotus"


Related Osho Discourses on Madness:

  1. Osho on Nijinsky Dance and Cause of Nijinsky Madness
  2. Osho - What's the difference between a Madman and a Devotee?
  3. Osho - Madness cannot do anything. If you remain unidentified, alert
  4. Osho - Madness is the outcome of repression. That's why so many people are mentally ill

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