Seriousness versus playfulness || Acharya Prashant, on Osho (2016)

Take life easily, lovingly, playfully, non-seriously.

Seriousness is a disease, the greatest disease of the soul,

and playfulness the greatest health.

~ Osho

Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! It is easy to say that don’t take things seriously, this seriousness comes from fear. Even you have said, “Fear is our primary motivator.” And to get work done, fear is often used by others.

But we don’t know any other way of living. How to make sense of what Osho is saying?

Acharya Prashant Ji: I will repeat the quoted lines again.

“Take life easily, lovingly, playfully, non-seriously. Seriousness is a disease, the greatest disease of the soul and playfulness the greatest health.”

What is meant by ‘seriousness’ first of all? It’s important to understand this because another contemporary mystic J. Krishnamurti was a great advocate of this word – ‘seriousness’. He would often say that we need to be very serious. And Osho says, “Seriousness is a disease.”

In fact Osho has gone on to say that the only thing that he doesn’t quite like about J.Krishnamurti is that Krishnamurti is quite serious. We need to understand what these two mean by this word, and why does Osho say, “Seriousness is a great disease. Not only great, the greatest disease of the soul.”

Why does he say so?

When Krishnamurti says, “Serious,” he means sincere. He means a particular commitment towards the Truth. It is in this sense he uses the word ‘serious’. When he says, “We all need to be very serious in enquiring, in seeking what is going on in the world, he doesn’t mean to suggest that we need to be heavy, or loaded, or gloomy. All he means to communicate is – sincerity.

And ‘sincerity’ means – a certain earnestness, a certain honesty, a certain dedication. It means that you are not divided. It means that if you are saying that you want to know, then you actually want to know. It is not just that you are pretending.

Do you get this?

That is what he means by ‘seriousness’. By ‘seriousness’ he means that you mean it. Do you mean it, or are you just talking? Is sitting here just a pretext for you, just a time-pass? Or are you here with a very deep intention to really understand, really change?

Do you get this?

That’s how he uses the word ‘seriousness’.

Whereas when Osho uses the word ‘seriousness’, it has a totally different connotation. So it is the difference in the connotation, not in the intention. The funny thing with the language is that the same word can be used to point towards two very different things. Exactly the same is happening with the word ‘seriousness’.

When Osho disparages seriousness, he is condemning the attitude of the mind to be associated with something and to have great expectations or great fear from it.

That is seriousness, not sincerity.

When the mind gets associated with something and starts having great hope or great fear with respect to it, that is the seriousness that Osho is condemning as the greatest disease. Yes!

Why does the mind do that? We come to the crux of the question now. Why does the mind do that? Why does the mind have expectations or fear from something?

It happens when due to the various processes of gathering knowledge, due to the whole conditioning, you begin to feel as if your essence is a ‘thing’ of this world. Whenever you have looked at this world, you have seen things appear and disappear. And if you start feeling that your essence is that of the world, you immediately come to the conclusion that you too will disappear one day, just as everything else in this world disappears.

You haven’t ever seen in this world anything that has permanence or stability. Whenever you have looked, you have only looked at change, impermanence and dissolution. You fear the same happening to you.

Now with that fear that – ‘I will pass away’- you start holding onto things, you start clutching. And when you clutch something with the expectation that it will give you a deep innermost security, then your clutching has seriousness.

Great expectations, great seriousness!

Similarly, when you are running away from something thinking that, that thing might take away your innermost, then your running, your escape has a certain intensity.

That intensity is ‘seriousness’.

Now obviously it is not intensity that Osho is condemning. He is condemning the feeling, the assumption, the hypothesis that something can come to you, invade you, rob you of your innermost. Similarly, he is calling the feeling that – ‘you can gain the essential from something outside of yourself’ – as a lie.

The more you think that you lack something, the more viciously, the more intensely you will clutch something outside of you.

The more you are convinced of your own completeness, the less will be your tendency to be serious about affairs outside of you.

Are you getting this?

The question is: We only know only fear as the motivator and there is no other way of living, from where does fearlessness come?

It is great that there is no other way of living. Now you have nothing else to blame. You have known only one way of living, and this way of living has been no good. It hasn’t given you any kind of relaxation.

Had you lived in two different ways, then blame could have been tossed about, then you could have said, “Oh, probably this way is not responsible. That way is responsible.” You have known only one way of living, which means that if you have problems, if you have anxiousness, only that way of living is responsible. Right?

If you have known only one way, and that way is doing no good, why don’t you just give it up? Does it require great Spirituality to now this? is it not common-sensical?

Fear is the motivator only when we feel that, that which should have been here (within) is outside as a motive, and one needs to reach that motive.

Accustomed to one way of living it becomes difficult to think of any other way.

When I am saying all this, kindly do not start conceptualising and fantasising what the other way of living would be like. The other way of living cannot be pre-determined, so you will not be able to think about it sitting here as you are. That’s a very-very common mistake. Don’t commit it again.

See, what happens is that we come to see that ‘this’ is false, but if ‘this’ is false, then this goes. If this goes, then there is emptiness. We cannot tolerate this emptiness, we want to fill it up with something, so we start dreaming of what will fill it up.

And that which will really fill it up is beyond dreams, is beyond conceptualisation. So we find nothing that can fill it up. Hence what do we say? “If there is nothing else that can fill it up, let me then rather continue with that which already is.”

So we do not change.

That which we are, continues simply because we start imagining that what will happen after the change.

After the change, your imaginations themselves will be no more valid.

So how can you then imagine?

Why do you even try this cleverness?

Drop, without expecting the next thing.

Whatever is there ready and fit to be dropped, drop it without bothering what will come next.

Whatever deserves to come next has already come.

That is why now you are empowered to drop that, which is rotten.

Questioner: Die, before death.

Acharya Prashant Ji: Don’t put it in popular proverbs because they have been with you since very long, and they haven’t helped you. All these clever adages, have they helped you? So don’t try to compare what I am saying with what you already know, and then come to some kind of a fix.

People often do that.

“Okay, so what you are saying is similar to Chapter Three of the Gita.”


You have always known Chapter Three of the Gita. If that hasn’t helped you, how will this help? So listen without comparison. Please.

Let’s say you have a bruise on the skin, and immediately to take care of it, what appears is a clot. That clot solidifies in some time and that acts as a protection over the wound. That’s the purpose of the clot, right? Now when does the clot come-off on it’s own?

Listeners: When the wound is healed.

Acharya Prashant Ji: When the wound is healed, then the clot finds it suitable to be dropped, and it gets dropped on it’s own. Even if you don’t touch it, you will wake up one morning and find that it has withered away, just like a leaf drops from a tree. It has outlived it’s utility, it’s gone.

Now don’t ask: “What will come when this clot goes away?” Because only when the new has arrived, already arrived, does the old go away. So the going away of the old does not require the question: “What will come next?”

What is to come next has already come. Beneath this clot is already a layer of fresh, pink skin, and that is why the clot can now go away.

Let the clot go away.

But if you hold it and say, “No, no I cannot let it go away because it’s substitute has not yet arrived,” and if you look at it you find that there is no substitute, then where is the substitute?

Listeners: Beneath the clot.

Acharya Prashant Ji: It is beneath the clot. So you will not find any substitute. You will say, “I cannot let the clot go, I cannot drop it.”

Let it go.

The substitute has arrived, that is why the clot is going.

Let it go!