Be miserable if you like

To be happy or miserable is up to us. It's a choice we can consciously make every moment

happy and sad face masksHow is it that we usually choose to be unhappy? How is it that we don’t feel aware that it is a choice? This is one of the most complex human problems. It has to be considered deeply, and it is not theoretical—it concerns you.

This is how everybody is behaving…always choosing the wrong, always choosing the sad, the depressed, the miserable. There must be profound reasons for it, and there are.

The first thing: The way human beings are brought up plays a definite role in it. If you are unhappy, you always gain something from it. If you are happy, you always lose. From the very beginning, an alert child starts feeling the distinction.

Whenever he is unhappy, everybody is sympathetic towards him, he gains sympathy. Everybody tries to be loving towards him, he gains love. And even more than that: whenever he is unhappy, everybody is attentive towards him, he gains attention.

Attention works like food for the ego, a very alcoholic stimulant. It gives you energy; you feel you are somebody. Hence there is so much need, so much desire to get attention.

If everybody is looking at you, you become important. If nobody is looking at you, you feel as if you are not there, you are no more, you are a non-being. People looking at you, people caring about you, gives you energy.

The more people pay attention to you, the more you gain ego. If nobody looks at you, the ego dissolves. If everybody has completely forgotten you, how can the ego exist? How can you feel that you are?

Hence the need for societies, associations, clubs. These societies and clubs exist only to give attention to people who cannot get attention in other ways.

It is difficult to become a president of a country. It is difficult to become a mayor of a corporation. It is easier to become the president of a club; then a particular group gives you attention. You are very important—doing nothing! The president goes on changing; one this year, another next year.

Everybody gets attention. It is a mutual arrangement, and everybody feels important.From the very beginning the child learns the politics. The politics are: look miserable, then you get sympathy, then everybody is attentive.

Look ill; you become important. An ill child becomes dictatorial; the whole family has to follow him—whatsoever he says is the rule.

When he is happy, nobody listens to him. When he is healthy, nobody cares about him. When he is perfect, nobody is attentive. From the very beginning we start choosing the miserable, the sad, the pessimistic… the darker side of life. That’s one thing.

A second thing related to it is: whenever you are happy, whenever you are joyful, whenever you feel ecstatic and blissful, everybody is jealous of you. Jealousy means that everybody is antagonistic, nobody is friendly; at that moment everybody is an enemy. So you have learnt not to be so ecstatic that everybody becomes inimical towards you —not to show your bliss, not to laugh.

Look at people when they laugh. They laugh very calculatingly. It is not a belly laugh; it is not coming from the depth of their being. They first look at you, then they judge…and then they laugh.

And they laugh to a particular extent, to the extent you will tolerate, to the extent which will not be taken amiss, the extent where nobody will become jealous.

Even our smiles are political. Laughter has disappeared; bliss has become absolutely unknown, and to be ecstatic is almost impossible because it is not allowed.

If you are miserable, nobody will think you are mad. If you are ecstatic and dancing, everybody will think you are mad. Dance is rejected, singing is not accepted. A blissful man…we think something has gone wrong.

What type of society is this? If someone is miserable, everything is okay; he fits because the whole society is miserable, more or less. He is a member; he belongs to us. If somebody becomes ecstatic we think he has gone berserk, insane. He doesn’t belong to us…and we feel jealous.

Because of jealousy we condemn him. Because of jealousy we will try in every way to put him back to his old state. We call that old state normality. Psychoanalysts will help, psychiatrists will help to bring that man to the normal misery.

In the West, the whole society is turning against psychedelics [drugs that alter perception/cognition]. The law, the state, the government, the legal experts, the high courts, the legislators, priests, popes…everybody is turning against them.

They are not really against psychedelics; they are against people being ecstatic. They are not against alcohol, they are not against other things which are drugs, but they are against psychedelics because the substances can create a chemical change in you.

And the old crust that the society has created around you, the imprisonment in misery, can be broken. You can come out of it, even for a few moments, and be ecstatic.

Society cannot allow ecstasy. Ecstasy is the greatest revolution. I repeat it: ecstasy is the greatest revolution. If people become ecstatic, the whole society will have to change, because this society is based on misery.

If people are blissful, you cannot lead them to war—to Vietnam, or to Egypt, or to Israel. No. Someone who is blissful will just laugh and say: This is nonsense!

If people are blissful you cannot make them obsessed with money. They will not waste their whole lives just accumulating money. It will look like madness to them that a person is destroying his whole life, just exchanging his life for dead money, dying and accumulating money.

And the money will be there when he is dead. This is absolute madness! But this madness cannot be seen unless you are ecstatic. If people are ecstatic, the whole pattern of this society will have to change.

This society exists on misery. Misery is a great investment for this society. So we bring up children…from the very beginning we create a leaning towards misery. That’s why they always choose misery.

In the morning for everybody there is a choice. And not only in the morning, every moment there is a choice to be miserable or to be happy. You always choose to be miserable because there is an investment.

You always choose to be miserable because that has become a habit, a pattern, you have always done that. You have become efficient at doing it, it has become a track. The moment your mind has to choose, it immediately flows towards misery.

Misery seems to be downhill, ecstasy seems to be uphill. Ecstasy looks very difficult to reach but it is not so. The real thing is quite the opposite: ecstasy is downhill, misery is uphill.

Misery is a difficult thing to achieve, but you have achieved it, you have done the impossible…because misery is so anti-nature. Nobody wants to be miserable and everybody is miserable.

Society has done a great job. Education, culture, and the culturing agencies, parents, teachers—they have done a great job. They have made miserable creatures out of ecstatic creators. Every child is born ecstatic. Every child is born a god. And every man dies a madman.

Unless you recover, unless you reclaim your childhood, you will not be able to become the white clouds I am talking about. This is the whole work for you, the whole sadhana—how to regain childhood, how to reclaim it. If you can become children again, then there is no misery.

I don’t mean that for a child there are no moments of misery—there are. But still there is no misery. Try to understand this.

A child can become miserable, he can be unhappy, intensely unhappy in a moment, but he is so total in that unhappiness, he is so one with that unhappiness that there is no division. The child separate from unhappiness is not there. The child is not looking at his unhappiness separate, divided.

The child is unhappiness—he is so involved in it. When you become one with unhappiness, unhappiness is not unhappiness. If you become so one with it, even that has a beauty of its own.

So look at a child—an unspoilt child, I mean. If he is angry, then his whole energy becomes anger; nothing is left behind, no holding back. There is nobody manipulating and controlling it. There is no mind. The child has become anger; he is not angry, he has become the anger.

And then see the beauty, the flowering of anger. The child never looks ugly; even in anger he looks beautiful. He just looks more intense, more vital, more alive…a volcano ready to erupt. Such a small child, such a great energy, such an atomic being—with the whole universe to explode!

And after this anger, the child will be silent. After this anger the child will be very peaceful. After this anger the child will relax. We may think it is miserable to be in that anger but the child is not miserable—he has enjoyed it.

If you become one with anything, you become blissful. If you separate yourself from anything, even if it is happiness, you will become miserable.

So this is the key. To be separate as an ego is the base of all misery; to be one, to be flowing, with whatsoever life brings to you, to be in it so intensely, so totally, that you are no more, you are lost, then everything is blissful.

The choice is there, but you have even become unaware of the choice. You have been choosing the wrong so continuously, it has become such a dead habit, that you simply choose it automatically. There is no choice left.

Become alert. Each moment when you are choosing to be miserable remember: this is your choice. Even this mindfulness will help, the alertness that this is my choice and I am responsible, and this is what I am doing to myself, this is my doing. Immediately, you will feel a difference. The quality of mind will have changed. It will be easier for you to move towards happiness.

Once you know that this is your choice, then the whole thing has become a game. Then if you love to be miserable, be miserable. But remember, this is your choice and don’t complain. There is nobody else who is responsible for it.

This is your drama. If you like this way, if you like a miserable way, if you want to pass through life in misery, then this is your choice, your game. You are playing it. Play it well! Then don’t go and ask people how not to be miserable.

That is absurd. Don’t go and ask masters and gurus how to be happy. The so-called gurus exist because you are foolish. You create the misery, and then you go and ask others how to uncreate it. And you will go on creating misery because you are not alert to what you are doing. From this very moment try, try to be happy and blissful.

Excerpted from My Way: The Way of the White Clouds/Courtesy: Osho International Foundation/

Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.


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