What is desirelessness? Is it to be totally without desire or to be totally free to have or not have desire?
To be totally free of desire will make you dead – will not be alive any more. That's what has been taught: Be desireless! But what can you do? You can go on cutting desires; the more desires are cut, the poorer your life becomes. If all desires are destroyed, then you have committed suicide, spiritual suicide. No, desire is the energy of life, desire is life. Then what do I mean when I say: "Be free of desire?"
The second is my meaning: to be free, totally free, to have or not have desire.
Desire should not be an obsession – that is the meaning. You should be capable... for example, you see somebody's beautiful house, newly built, and a desire arises in you to have such a house. Now, are you free to have this desire or not? If you are free, I will say you are desireless. If you say, "I am not free. This desire persists. Even if I want to drop it, I cannot drop it – it haunts me. I see dreams of that house, I think about it. I am afraid to go on that road, because that house creates jealousy in me, that house creates disturbance in me." If you say, "I am not capable of either having or not having the desire," then you are not in a healthy shape – then desires are your masters, you are a victim. And you will suffer much because there are millions of things going around, and if so many desires take possession of you, you will be torn apart.
That's how it is happening: somebody has become the prime minister, now you want to become the prime minister; somebody has become very rich, now you want to become very rich; somebody has become a famous writer, now you want to become a famous writer. And somebody is something else... and somebody is something else... and all around there are millions of people doing millions of things. And from every nook and corner a desire arises and jumps on you and takes possession of you, and you are not capable of saying yes or no – you will go mad.
That's how the whole of humanity is mad. All those desires are pulling you into so many directions. You have become fragmentary, because many desires have possessed parts of your being.
And those desires are contradictory too. Then it is not only that you are fragmentary: you become a contradiction. One part of you wants to become very rich, another part of you wants to become a poet – now, this is difficult. It is very difficult to become rich and remain a poet. A poet cannot be that cruel; it will be very difficult for him to become rich.
Money is not poetry: money is blood, money is exploitation. A poet worth the name cannot exploit. And a poet worth the name will have some vision of beauty. He cannot be so ugly himself as to deprive so many people just for his desire to hoard money.
Now, you want to become a politician, and you also want to meditate; you want to become a meditator too. This is not possible. Politicians cannot be religious. They can pretend to be religious, but they cannot be religious. How can a politician be religious? – because religion means non-ambitiousness and politics is nothing but pure ambition.
Religiousness means: I am happy as I am.
Politics means: I will be happy only when I am at the top – I am not happy as I am. I have to run and rush, and I will destroy if it is needed. If by right means, okay; if not, then by wrong means – but I have to be at the top. I have to prove myself.
A politician naturally suffers from an inferiority complex. A religious man has no complex – inferiority or superiority. Politicians pretend to be religious because that pays in politics.
To be religious means to be non-ambitious, to have no ambitions of being somewhere else, somebody else – to be here now!
Now, if you have these two ideas together, that you want to be politician and you also want to be a meditator, you will be in difficulty – you will drive yourself crazy. If you are honest, you will go mad; if you are dishonest, then you will not go mad – then you will become a hypocrite. That's what your politicians are.
And I am not saying that all those who are in religion are not politicians: out of a hundred there are also ninety-nine who are politicians. They are there in a different kind of politics: the religious politics. They have their hierarchy and the priest wants to become the pope – again it is politics. Or, the sinner wants to become the saint – again it is politics, again it is inferiority complex; again, once you have started doing something holy, religious, saintly, you will carry around yourself that ego of 'holier than thou'. Then you will have a condemnation of others in your eyes; then everybody is doomed and only you are going to be saved. Then you can look at others with pity: these people are going to hell. This is again politics.
A [really] religious man knows no ego. He is not even humble – remember – he is so egoless he is not even humble. Humbleness is also a pretension of ego; the humble person is also trying to be humble and trying to prove that "I am humble"; or even may have ideas deep inside his heart that "I am the most humble man in the world." Again it is the ego!
Many desires will take possession of you and many will be contradictory and you will be pulled apart and you will start falling into pieces, you will lose integrity, you will no more be an individual.
You ask: "What is desireless?"
Now, these are the two things: you know desirelessness, then you have to cut your life completely, then everything has to be cut. Then you become a Jaina monk – just an empty shell utterly discontented with everything, with yourself; uncreative, no celebration, no flowers ever bloom. Or you know desirefulness: then you become torn apart. Both are ugly states.
The right thing to do is to be so totally free from desire that you can choose, that you are always able to choose: to have or not to have. Then you are really free. And then you will have both the creativity, the celebration, the joy of desires, and the silence and the peace and the calmness of desirelessness.
How can I distinguish between enlightened self-love and egomania?
The distinction is subtle but very clear, not difficult; subtle, but not difficult. If you have egomania, it will create more and more misery for you. Misery will indicate that you are ill.
Egomania is a disease, a cancer of the soul. Egomania will make you more and more tense, will make you more and more up-tight, will not allow you to relax at all. It will drive you towards insanity.
Self-love is just the opposite of egomania. In self-love there is no self, only love. In egomania there is no love, only self. In self-love you will start becoming more and more relaxed. A person who loves himself is totally relaxed. To love somebody else may create a little tension, because the other need not be always in tune with you. The other may have his or her own ideas. The other is a different world; there is every possibility of collision, clash. There is every possibility of storm and thunder because the other is a different world. There is always a subtle struggle going on.
But when you love yourself, there is nobody else. There is no conflict – it is pure silence, it is tremendous delight. You are alone; nobody disturbs you. The other is not needed at all. And to me, a person who has become capable of such deep love towards himself becomes capable of loving others. If you cannot love yourself, how can you love others? It must first happen at close quarters, it must first happen within you, to spread towards others.
People try to love others, not being at all aware that they have not even loved themselves. How can you love others? That which you don't have you cannot share. You can give to others only that which you have already with you.
So the first and the most basic step towards love is love of oneself; but it has no self in it. Let me explain it to you. The 'I' arises only as a contrast to the 'thou'. 'I' and 'thou' exist together. The 'I' can exist in two dimensions. One dimension is 'I-it': you – your house, you – your car, you – your money; 'I-it'. When there is this 'I', this 'I' of 'I-it', your 'I' is almost like a thing. It is not consciousness; it is fast asleep, snoring. Your consciousness is not there. You are just like things, a thing amidst things: part of your house, part of your furniture, part of your money.
Have you watched it? A man who is too greedy about money, by and by starts having the qualities of money. He becomes just money. He loses spirituality, he is no more a spirit. He is reduced to a thing. If you love money, you will become like money. If you love your house, by and by you will become material. Whatsoever you love, you become. Love is alchemical.
Never love the wrong thing, because it will transform you. Nothing is so transforming as love. Love something which can raise you higher, to higher altitudes. Love something beyond you. That is the whole effort of religion: to give you a love-object like God so that there is no way to fall down. One has to rise.
One sort of 'I' exists as 'I-it'; another sort of 'I' exists as 'I-thou'. When you love a person, another type of 'I' arises in you: 'I-thou'. You love a person, you become a person.
But what about self-love? – there is no 'it' and there is no 'thou'. 'I' disappears because 'I' can exist only in two contexts: 'it' and 'thou'. 'I' is the figure, 'it' and 'thou' function as the field. When the field disappears the 'I' disappears. When you are left alone, you are, but you don't have an 'I', you don't feel any 'I'. You are simply a deep am-ness.
Ordinarily we say, "I am." In that state, when you are deep in love with yourself, 'I' disappears. Only am-ness, pure existence, pure being remains. It will fill you with tremendous bliss. It will make you a celebration, a rejoicing. There will be no problem in distinguishing between them.
If you are getting more and more miserable, then you are on the trip of being an egomaniac.
If you are becoming more and more tranquil, silent, happy, together, then you are on another trip – the trip of self-love.
If you are on the trip of ego you will become destructive to others – because the ego tries to destroy the 'thou'. If you are moving towards self-love, the ego will disappear.
And when the ego disappears, you allow the other to be himself or herself; you give total freedom. (…) Love gives total freedom. Love is freedom – freedom for you and freedom for the object of your love.
This is an excerpt from “The Book of Ego: Freedom from Illusion” by Osho. If you are looking for more, we encourage you to read the whole book.
Copyright © 1999 Osho International Foundation, Switzerland. www.osho.com