Beloved Master, You said that for Buddha Freedom is the Highest. But his “Dhamma” means “the law,” which inhibits Freedom. How do Freedom and Law go together? Please comment.
Anand Maitreya, freedom for Gautama Buddha is the very law of life. Hence there is no contradiction. Life itself is rooted in freedom. We are not machines, we are not preprogramed. We are utter freedom — now it is up to us what to make of it. All the alternatives are open, we can choose any alternative that is our choice. We can become anybody that is our choice.
It is as if you find a marble rock — now it depends on you what you want to make out of it. You can sculpt a Christ, you can also sculpt a Judas. The rock is totally available to you; now you have to decide, it is your decision, your conscious decision, what you want to make out of it.
Michelangelo was passing by a shop which used to sell marble. He saw a big marble rock outside the shop, he had seen it lying there for years. He asked the owner, “What’s the matter? Can’t you sell it?”
The man said, “I have dropped the idea. I can’t sell it. Nobody is ready to purchase it, it is useless. I have thrown it out. But if you are interested you can take it free of charge so at least my place will be empty and I can put other rocks there.”
Michelangelo took the rock with him, and after one year he invited the owner to see. The owner could not believe his eyes; he had never seen such a beautiful Jesus. He said, “How could you do it? You are really a magician! That rock was utterly useless; no other sculptor was ready to take it even free of charge.”
And Michelangelo is reported to have said, “It has nothing to do with me. When I was passing, Jesus called out from the rock saying, ‘I am imprisoned here! Help me to get out of this rock!’ And I have just removed the unnecessary chunks, I have freed him.”
But a Michelangelo is needed to hear it, to hear the Jesus inside the rock calling him to help him to be freed. A rock is just a rock; it depends on you what you make out of it. That’s what existentialists say: that man is born absolutely free. In the ancient days, philosophers used to think that man is born with an essence. Existentialists say man is born only as an existence, with no essence. He has to create the essence out of his own choice. And I perfectly agree with this approach.
Buddha is the first existentialist of the world and far more truly an existentialist than Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jaspers and others, because after all they are only thinkers — they think about existence. Buddha really transformed himself. He was not talking about the essence — he created it, he showed the world what man can make out of himself.
Gurdjieff used to say that man is not born with a soul. The meaning is the same. It looks very strange when you hear for the first time that man is not born with a soul. The soul has to be created, man is born empty. And millions die only as hollow emptinesses. Their souls are never born because they never make any effort. The old idea is that everybody is born with a soul; it frees you from the great responsibility of creating your own being, of creating yourself. When there is no responsibility to create, you go on living accidentally, like driftwood.
Buddha says freedom is the very law of life. What he means by it is that there is nothing higher than freedom. But by the word ‘law’, please don’t misunderstand him. In fact for dhamma, the word ‘law’ is only approximately right. In the English language there is not exactly the right word for dhamma. In Chinese there is a word tao that exactly means dhamma. The closest word in English is logos, but that has gone out of use. Hence ‘the law’ is used, but ‘law’ has other associations: the ordinary law of the state, of governments, of societies. That is not the meaning of Buddha. Of course, these laws are inhibitions; they prohibit you, they hinder you from freedom.
Buddha is saying freedom is the only real law and anything that hinders your freedom is against the law of life. Be free. All those laws have to be broken, sabotaged. You have to take your life in your own hands and you are responsible for it. No fate is responsible, no destiny is responsible. You have to create yourself by your own effort.
You are just a tabula rasa. You can write beautiful poems on it, beautiful calligraphy, you can do beautiful paintings on it; or you can leave it as it is. Or you can simply throw colors on it, meaninglessly, in an insane way, like a small child. You can destroy the whole thing. And there is nobody else who is responsible except you; the total responsibility is yours.
That is the most emphatic thing that Buddha wants you to remember: don’t shirk your responsibility. Whatsoever you are is your own work and whatsoever you want to be you can be. But you can be that only if freedom is the law of life. If everything is destined, if there is something like fate, if there is something which has been preprogramed in you, then you are not a man at all, then you are just a biocomputer. You are simply going to repeat the program, you are a gramophone record. You don’t have any freedom, you can’t change anything. You are just play-things in the hands of unknown forces.
Buddha says this is not true. Hence he even denies the existence of God for the simple reason that if God is there then there will be trouble; then he will be the suprememost being. His very presence will become an inhibition to you. That’s exactly the logic of Friedrich Nietzsche. He said: God is dead, therefore man is now free. But Nietzsche was only a philosopher. He could not contain that much freedom. He went mad.
Buddha is not a philosopher at all, he is a mystic. He used the freedom. He really became responsible for himself. He created his own being and he became the most beautiful person who has ever lived on the earth. He followed the law of freedom and achieved the ultimate joy, the ultimate truth.
You can do the same too. That is his message. He says, “Whatsoever has happened to me can happen to you. If it is not happening, nobody else is responsible except you.” So take the total responsibility in your own hands, feel and be responsible, and use the law of freedom because it is available. Life has been given to you with no preprogram; now it is up to you what you want to make out of it.
You can become an ugly monster — a Genghis Khan, a Tamerlane, a Nadirshah — or you can become a Gautam Buddha, a Jesus Christ, a Lao Tzu, a Zarathustra. It all depends on you, it is your freedom. Choose! But you can choose only when you are conscious; you can choose only when you are aware, alert. The more aware you are, the more you are capable of choosing the course of your life. The more aware you are, the more you know, the more you can feel a sense of direction.
Freedom is the foundation of life and freedom is the ultimate goal too. Freedom is the source and freedom is the goal.
Use freedom to be free from all bondage.
Use freedom to become ultimately free.
Use freedom to become freedom itself.
Source – Osho Book “The Dhammapada, Vol 12”