“Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning … If I don’t long for meaning, then what is meaningless?”

This rather long quote was passed on to me by Christopher Leibow (Myoshin) of the Salt Lake Buddhist Fellowship:

Life looks meaningless because I am searching for meaning. Life is not meaningless; it becomes meaningless, it looks meaningless, because of my longing for meaning. The problem is my longing for meaning, not the meaninglessness of life. If I don’t long for meaning, then what is meaningless? Then great joy is released.

Sometimes the words “All is as it is” are added to the end.

Myoshin kindly pointed out that this (including the extra “All is as it is”) comes from a talk by Osho, who put these words in the Buddha’s mouth as having been said by him at the dawning of his Awakening. These words are presented as a direct quotation rather than as a paraphrase. There’s a reference to “the last star disappearing into the [morning] sky,” which suggests that Osho had in mind the Zen account of the Buddha’s awakening, which is of course much later than the Pali account. The latter runs like this, in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation of the Ariyapariyesana Sutta:

“Still in search, bhikkhus, of what is wholesome, seeking the supreme state of sublime peace, I wandered by stages through the Magadhan country until eventually I arrived at Senānigama near Uruvelā. There I saw an agreeable piece of ground, a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. I considered: ‘This is an agreeable piece of ground, this is a delightful grove with a clear-flowing river with pleasant, smooth banks and nearby a village for alms resort. This will serve for the striving of a clansman intent on striving.’ And I sat down there thinking: ‘This will serve for striving.’

“Then, bhikkhus, being myself subject to birth, having understood the danger in what is subject to birth, seeking the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unborn supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to ageing, having understood the danger in what is subject to ageing, seeking the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unageing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sickness, having understood the danger in what is subject to sickness, seeking the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the unailing supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to death, having understood the danger in what is subject to death, seeking the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the deathless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to sorrow, having understood the danger in what is subject to sorrow, seeking the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the sorrowless supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna; being myself subject to defilement, having understood the danger in what is subject to defilement, seeking the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna, I attained the undefiled supreme security from bondage, Nibbāna. The knowledge and vision arose in me: ‘My deliverance is unshakeable; this is my last birth; now there is no renewal of being.’

According to the commentary on the Dhammapada, the following verse represents his first words upon awakening:

O house-builder, you are seen! You will not build this house again. For your rafters are broken and your ridgepole shattered. My mind has reached the Unconditioned; I have attained the destruction of craving.

The later Chan/Zen tradition seems to have added the morning star reference, and says that his first words were:

When the morning star appeared, I and the sentient beings of earth simultaneously attained enlightenment.

Osho’s version doesn’t match any Buddhist rendition that I’ve come across. Osho, incidentally, was something of a scoundrel, to put it mildly. His community is renowned for having launched the first biological warfare attack on US soil (apart from those “smallpox on the blankets” allegations regarding the US Army and Native Americans). This was part of a plan to cripple a town on the eve of an election, since Osho’s community was in violation of planning laws.

Not long after, Osho was deported from the US. He then changed his name, which had formerly been Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. You can imagine why.

Osho’s Fake Buddha quote isn’t very widespread. So far I’ve found it in a few articles but not on social media.

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