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Question - Beloved Master, What does Love mean?

Osho - Prem Jyoti, love has different meanings for all. To writers, love is words. To artists, love is color. To a comic, love is laughter. To a baby, it is mother. To bees, it's nectar. To flowers, it is sunshine. And to cows, it is a lot of bull.

It all depends on you what love is going to mean. Love is a ladder with many rungs. At the lowest it is physiology, biology, chemistry. It is nothing but a play of hormones. A man is attracted towards a woman, a woman is attracted towards a man. They think they are falling in love, but if hormones could laugh they must be laughing inside you -- you are befooled. What you are calling love is nothing but attraction between male and female hormones. It is pure chemistry; at the lowest point it is not more than that. It is animal, it is lust.

And millions of people know only love at its lowest. Because of these people there has arisen a great tradition of renouncing love. The people who think that lust is love have created great religions in which love has to be renounced. Both are wrong, because both have accepted the lowest rung as if it is the all. It is not so. If you go a little higher, a man's love for music is not chemistry, it is not hormonal, it is not physiology; it is psychological. A man's love for flowers cannot be reduced to sexuality. A man's love for painting... there have been painters who have sacrificed their whole lives just to paint.

Vincent van Gogh, one of the greatest painters, sacrificed himself totally just to paint: painting was far more important than life itself. Because of the painting he could not work; he was continuously painting so there was no time to work. His brother used to give him just enough money to live by, because nobody was interested in his being a painter. And he was a strange painter too, a very great genius. Whenever there is a genius it takes hundreds of years to recognize him. He was not a traditional painter. He was bringing to painting something new, a new vision.

So nobody was able to appreciate his paintings, they were not selling. You will be surprised to know that not even a single painting was sold while Van Gogh was alive; now each of his paintings is worth millions of dollars. Only a few paintings have survived, two hundred at the most -- he painted thousands. All are lost, because nobody cared to preserve them.

He used to give his paintings to friends just free, because nobody was interested in his paintings; not only were they not interested, they were not even courageous enough to put his paintings in their sitting rooms because people would laugh at them. His approach towards life and nature was so new. His brother used to give him enough money weekly just to live on. He would eat for only three days in the week; four days he would save money to paint. Now how long can you live in this way?

By the time he was thirty-seven, only thirty-seven, he committed suicide. And the note that he has left is of tremendous significance. He has written that "I am committing suicide not against anybody -- I have no complaint against anybody or life -- life has been a great fulfillment to me. I am committing suicide because all that I wanted to paint I have painted; now there is no point in living. I have done what I had come to do; my work is finished."

He wanted to paint the sun in all its possible faces. For one year he was continuously painting the sun. He was continuously standing in the open under the sun. His stomach was empty, he was hungry, and the hot sun... and he was continuously painting because there was not much time left. The sun drove him mad, it was too much. And then he committed suicide, because he had painted the sun from the sunrise to the sunset, all the faces, all the colors, all possible clouds. He had done his work. He died contentedly.

Now, this love for painting, this love for art, is something higher -- higher than biology, higher than chemistry, higher than physiology. It is not lust, you can't call it lust. It is as passionate as lust or more so, because very few people die for a woman and very few people die for a man. But this man died for his paintings. This is psychological; this is far better.

But there is still a higher state: the spiritual love, the love of a Buddha, the love of a Jesus, the love of a Krishna. It is totally different. It is not even aesthetic, psychological; it is spiritual. Now love has the expression of compassion -- passion has turned into compassion. Buddha loves the whole of existence, because he has too much and he has to share it. He is burdened by the love released in him; the love has to be shared with the trees, with the birds, with people, with animals, with whosoever comes by.

At the lowest when love is just lust, physiological, it is an exploitation of the other, it is using the other as a means. Soon it is finished. Once you have exploited the woman or the man you lose interest; the interest was only for the moment. The moment the woman is well-known to you you are finished with her. You have used the other human being as a means -- which is ugly, which is immoral. To use another human being as a means is the most immoral act in existence, because each human being is an end unto himself.

Psychological love knows how to sacrifice. The art, the poetry, the painting, the music, the dance, becomes the end, they are no more means. YOU become a means. The biological love reduces the other to a means; the psychological love raises the other as the end.

But in the spiritual world there is no question of means and ends, there is no question of the other; there are not two. Buddha loves the existence because Buddha has become the existence itself. There is no question of 'I' and 'thou'; it is not a dialogue. At the point of the ultimate consciousness love is not a dialogue; there is no I/thou relationship, it is not a relationship. It is pure overflowing of love.

Prem Jyoti, that is the meaning of your name: PREM means love, JYOTI means flame. A buddha is a flame of love, just pure flame with no smoke. The smoke comes from lust. When there is no lust, when you don't want to get anything out of your love, when you simply want to give, when you feel obliged because others accept your love, the flame is without smoke. It is pure, it is pure gold.

And do you know? -- love rises always upwards, just like the flame always rises upwards. The flame never goes downwards. Lust is like water, it goes downwards; love is like a flame, fire, it always goes upwards. And between the two is the psychological phenomenon: something of lust in it, passion, and something of compassion in it. It is just in the middle. It has some quality of the lower and some quality of the higher to it.

Hence when the poet is in his poetic mood he is almost like the mystic, but it is only a question of mood. When he is not in his poetic mood he is just as ordinary or maybe more ordinary than the so-called ordinary people. You may have observed it: when a musician drowns himself in his music he rises to such peaks, such ephemeral peaks, that you can feel the presence of great mystery. And the same musician you can see sitting in some hotel drinking tea, talking all kinds of nonsense. He looks too ordinary; you cannot believe that this man was creating such beautiful music, such celestial music!

If you read the poetry, the poet seems to be like a seer, a Kahlil Gibran. If you read THE PROPHET it is almost like a prophet, but if you meet Kahlil Gibran and see him in his ordinary moods you will be surprised: he is a very angry person, jealous, quarrelsome. He goes into very childish tantrums, throws things, is very possessive. If you meet Kahlil Gibran you will be surprised... how could this man write a book like THE PROPHET? -- because the book rises to the same heights as the Bible, as the Koran.

But the man is not abiding on those heights; only once in a while clouds are not there and the poet can see the sun, the ocean, can see the open sky and can give you a glimpse of it in his poetry, in his music. But soon the clouds are there again and the sun is no longer available... and the poet is as ordinary as you are or even more ordinary, because when you fall from a glimpse you fall into depths, just to keep balance.

So you can find a poet drunk, lying down in the gutter like a dog, shouting nonsense, and the same poet brings such beautiful flowers from the unknown. So in the middle both things will be together; it is a mixed phenomenon. Rise from the lower, but don't stop in the middle. Go on rising to the highest.

When I talk about love I always mean the highest, with one difference: when others speak of the highest they deny the lowest; I don't deny it, I accept it. I want to use it as a stepping-stone. The lower has to be purified by the higher. The lower has to be transformed by the higher, not denied, not rejected. If you reject it, it persists. If you reject it, if you repress it, it takes revenge. It makes you more ugly than you ever were before.

A woman with a baby, next in line in the crowded anteroom of a station of the Infant Welfare Society, was shown into the doctor's office by the nurse in charge.
The doctor examined the baby, and then asked the woman, "Is he breast-fed or bottle-fed?"
"Breast-fed," she replied.
"Strip down to you waist," he ordered. She did, and he examined her. He pressed each breast, increasing and decreasing pressure. He squeezed and pulled on each nipple. Suddenly he remarked, "No wonder this child is suffering from malnutrition -- you don't have any milk."
"Naturally," she replied. "I am his aunt. But I'm glad I came."

If you go on repressing things, then on the surface you may look like a saint, but only on the surface. It is better to be a sinner on the surface and a saint in the center than vice versa.

The old maid was walking down a dimly lit street when a holdup man jumped out of the bushes. "Give me your money!" he demanded.
"I don't have any," she managed to reply.
He proceeded to search her thoroughly. Every possible place of concealment was explored.
"I guess you were telling me the truth," he finally muttered angrily. "You don't have any money on you."
"For heaven's sake," she wailed, "don't stop now! I'll write you a check!"

I am not in favor of repressing the lower. The lower has to be raised to the heights, the lower has to be given wings. With insight, with understanding, it is possible. If you deny the lower you will never be able to reach the higher, because the lower rung is a necessary step. Yes, go beyond it, but you can go beyond it only if you don't reject it. Use it, but remember not to become obsessed with it. These two things have to be remembered: one is, not to be obsessed with it, not to stop at it, and the second is, not to reject and deny it but to use it as a stepping-stone.

Be skillful. Buddha's word is UPAYA -- skill. And when he says "upaya," he means be very artful in transforming your life. It is only a potential, a seed, but it can become a great tree and it can blossom in its own time. And when a tree blossoms, when thousands of flowers have arisen on the tree branches, there is great joy in the being of the tree, great ecstasy.

You are also a seed -- become a tree. The seed may be ugly -- seeds almost always are; the roots may be ugly, but remember, it is on the roots that the tree has to grow. The roots have to be used; without roots there will be no flowering. Without physiological attraction there will be no psychological growth. And without psychological love affairs with art, music, sculpture, there is no possibility of spiritual love. Poets and painters and dancers and musicians are a necessary step towards becoming a buddha.

Source - Osho Book "The Dhammapada Vol 6"

Related Osho Discourses:
Osho on what is Love
Osho discourse on Love - Am I in Love

Osho on Commitment and Non-Attachment in Love
Osho on importance of Commitment in a Relationship
Problems of Love - In my relationship I often lose my Self
Osho - Before you can Love Yourself you have to know yourself
If love becomes destroyed in Marriage, how are we to Live if we wish to share love

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