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Zen Manifesto


Freedom From Oneself-excerpts from the Zen Manifesto by Osho

Zen certainly is the right approach towards existence, the ultimate truth. Without believing in anything, without being a follower or a believer, you simply enter into your own interiority, and you are entering into the immense nothingness of the whole. But it is the same nothingness from where you had come and to where you are going again.

When the source and the goal become one, you will have a great celebration. In that celebration you will not be, but the whole existence will be participating. The trees will be showering flowers, and the birds will be singing songs, and the oceans and the rivers will all be rejoicing.

The whole existence becomes your home the moment your heart melts into the universal heart. That is where Zen is happening. In that melting into the universe you are back to the original source, fresh, eternal, timeless, spacious. The only thing needed is freedom from the self. That is the very essence of Zen.

You have heard about many freedoms: political freedom, psychological freedom, economic freedom – there are many kinds of freedom. But the ultimate freedom is Zen, freedom from yourself. That is not to be accepted as a belief, that has to be experienced. Only then you know. It is a taste. Anybody can describe that sugar is sweet, but if you have not tasted sugar, you hear the word ‘sweet’ but you don’t understand what it is. The only way is for somebody to force some sweetness into your mouth.

The master’s function in Zen is to force nothingness into your experience, or in other words, to bring you to your own nothingness. The master devises methods, and when they become old and routine he drops them, finds new methods, new ways.

But it has been twenty-five centuries since Gautam Buddha gave a lotus flower to Mahakashyapa, without a single word, and told his congregation, ”What I could say I have told you. What I cannot say – although I want to, but it is simply not possible – I am transferring to Mahakashyapa.” That lotus flower was just a symbol: unless you open up like a lotus flower in the early morning sun when the dewdrops are shining like pearls on the lotus leaves... It is a silent transmission of the lamp. Nothing is said.

Mahakashyapa came for the first time close to Buddha, took the lotus flower, touched his feet, went back and sat silently under his tree. Mahakashyapa is the first patriarch of Zen. So the lineage of Zen, the family of Zen, is a branch, a very silent branch of Buddhism. They love Gautam Buddha, because Zen really originated in his disappearance. He transferred it to Mahakashyapa, and then it was the responsibility of Mahakashyapa to go on finding people to whom he could transfer it.

So since that moment, twenty-five centuries ago, it has been transferred without any arbitrary means, without any language, from master to disciple; from one who has come home to one who is just wandering around but cannot find the way.


The master functions as a friend. He holds your hand and takes you on the right path, helps you to open your eyes, helps you to be capable of transcending the mind. That’s when your third eye opens, when you start looking inwards. Once you are looking inwards, the master’s work is finished. Now it is up to you.

You can travel that small gap between your mind and no-mind in a single moment of tremendous intensity and urgency. Or you can travel slowly, hesitantly, stopping, being afraid that you are losing grip of your mind, you are losing grip of your individuality, that all boundaries are disappearing. What are you doing? You may think for a moment, ”This may bring a breakdown, you may not be able to come back to the mind again. And who knows what is going to happen ahead? Things are disappearing...”

If you pay too much attention to the things that are disappearing you may stop out of fear. The master goes on focusing your mind on things that are happening, not on things that are disappearing. He goes on forcing you to look at the blissfulness, look at the silence that is descending on you. Look at the peace, look at the joy, look at the ecstasy. He is continuously emphasizing that which is happening, not that which is going away – the anxiety, the despair, the angst, the anguish, he is not allowing you even to take note of them. What is disappearing is not worth keeping. Just go on looking at what is appearing out of nothingness.

So you gather courage, you become more daring. You know that nothing is going to be wrong. With every single inch of movement, something greater is happening. And finally, as you enter the very source of your being, the center of your being, the whole universe falls upon you, just as Kabir said before he died: ”The whole ocean has fallen into the dewdrop.”

Once you have experienced this beautitude, this ecstasy, this divine drunkenness, who cares about individuality? Who cares about the self? What has the self given to you except anxiety, except hell? And this nothingness is so pure, without boundaries. For the first time you find the infinity, the eternity, and all the mysteries of existence are suddenly opening their doors to you. And they go on opening... door after door....

There is no end to this journey, it is an endless pilgrimage. You are always arriving and arriving and arriving, but you never arrive. But each moment you are going deeper into bliss, deeper into ecstasy, deeper into truth, and there is no full stop.

The Zen Manifesto is absolutely needed, because all old religions are falling apart, and before they fall apart and humanity goes completely bananas, Zen has to be spread wide around the whole earth. Before the old house falls down, you have to create a new house.

And this time don’t commit the same mistake. You have been living in a house which was not there; hence you were suffering rain, winter, sun, because the house was only an imagination. This time really enter into your original home, not into any man-made temple, any man-made religion. Enter into your own existence. Why be continuously a carbon copy?

This time is very valuable. You are born in a very fortunate moment, when the old has lost its validity, its proof, when the old is simply hanging around you because you are not courageous enough to get out of the prison. Otherwise the doors are open – in fact, there have never been any doors, because the house you are living in is completely imaginary. Your gods are imaginary, your priests are imaginary, your holy scriptures are imaginary.

This time don’t commit the same mistake. This time humanity has to take a quantum leap from the old rotten lies to the fresh, eternally fresh truth.

This is the Manifesto of Zen. 

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