Question to Osho – OSHO, WHAT IS A PROBLEM?

Now you create a problem for me. The question is as if somebody comes and asks, “What is yellowness?” or “What is this color yellow?” There are yellow Flowers, there are yellow old leaves, there is the yellow gold sun, and a thousand and one things which are yellow; but have you ever seen yellowness? Yellow things you have seen; yellowness one never comes across, cannot come across.

There are problems and problems, but you never know what the problem is; then the question is abstract. There is nothing like “the problem.” There are problems because a problem is a conflict within you. You must be having two minds within you; then the problem arises. You don’t know where to go, this way or that; then the problem arises.

The problem is a question of your duality: you feel to do this, and you also feel to do that, and the problem arises. But if you are one, there is no problem. You simply move.

Whenever you ask an abstract question, like “What is a problem?” or “What is yellowness?” or “What is love?” it becomes difficult.

St. Augustine has said, “I know what time is, but when people ask me, ‘What is time?’” Suddenly I lose all track. Everybody knows what time is, but if somebody asks what it is, exactly, you will be in difficulty. You can show what the time is, but what is time, just pure, abstract?

But I understand why this problem has arisen. There are a few people who are so confused, they cannot even decide what the problem is. They are so confused, standing on such a crossroad, that to decide what the solution is is far away – they have not even decided what the problem is. There are many, because you have lost contact with your feelings, your existential heart. So even the problem has to be supplied by somebody else, not only the solution. You are asking me that I should tell you what your problem is? Not only do you depend on me for the solution, you depend on me for the problem also. But this is how it has been done in the past.

When people come to me I can immediately see whether their problem is theirs or they have borrowed it. If a Christian comes he brings a problem which no Hindu can ever bring. When a Jew comes he brings a problem no Christian can ever bring. When a Jain comes he brings a totally different problem which no Hindu can ever bring. What happens? These problems cannot be life problems because life problems cannot be Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Jain. Life problems are simply life problems. These problems are theological; they have been taught. They have been taught the problems also – what to ask.

Very cunning people have been exploiting humanity. First they teach you what to ask, and then they have the answer also. If you ask the right question, they will supply the right answer. And both are bogus because the question has been taught by them and then you ask. And they teach you only questions which they can answer. So the game goes on very well, perfectly well.

If you go to a Jain monk and you have not been taught by Jains what questions to ask, you will create trouble. You will create embarrassment there because you will ask questions to which the tradition – their tradition – does not supply the solutions. If you ask a Jain why God created the world, he will be puzzled because in his theology there is no God. In his theology there has never been anything created. The world has existed forever and forever and forever. Creation has never been there. So if you ask why God created the world, your question is totally absurd for a Jain because there is no God and there is no creation; the world has continued. The word “creation” does not exist in Jain language because creation implies the existence of a creator; and there is no creation, so how can the creator be there? The world is, but it is not a creation. It is eternal, uncreated; it has remained always there.

Never ask a theological question, because that is borrowed. Find out existential questions.

Find out where your difficulty is. Find out where your shoe pinches. Find out your own problems.

And your problem may not be another’s, so the other may not agree that this is a problem.

Problems are individual; they are not a universal phenomenon. My problem is my problem; your problem is your problem. They are as different as your thumbprints, and they have to be.

When I see that people are asking borrowed problems, they don’t have your signature on them, and then they are futile – not worth even asking, not worth answering. Your problem should have your signature on it. It should come out of your life, out of the struggle, challenge, response, out of your own confrontation.

I have heard: So finally the marriage broker induced Cohen to meet this girl. After all she was alleged to be beautiful, talented, educated, young, and with pots of money.

Cohen met her, liked her, and married her.

A day later he finds the marriage broker and rages: “Some dirty trick you played on me, eh? She admits herself that she had slept with half the men in Poona.”

“So? After all, how big is Poona?” said the agent.

Your problem is not the agent’s problem. Your problem is yours, nobody else’s.

Remember that if a problem is individual it can be solved because it is true. If you have borrowed it from tradition, society, somebody else, it can never be answered because in the first place it was not your problem. It is as if you have learned a disease from someone.

Just the other night I was reading that in a famous physician’s office there is a notice especially for ladies, saying, please don’t talk about your diseases and symptoms to other ladies – don’t exchange symptoms – because that confuses the doctor. Ladies waiting for the doctor are bound to talk, and bound to be impressed by others’ symptoms. And certainly that confuses the doctor because he cannot know what is what.

There are people who get diseases through advertisements of medicines in the newspapers. I have heard about one man who in the middle of the night rang up his doctor.

The doctor was of course angry, in the middle of the night, his sleep was broken. He took the phone; he said, “What is the matter?” And the man started describing his disease. The doctor said, “Cut it short, I have also read the article in the news magazine. Cut it short.”

People learn their diseases from magazines. Just watch your mind. It is so imitative that you can be impressed by others’ problems, and you can get so suggestible that you start thinking this is your problem. Then there is no way to solve it, because in the first place it is not a problem to you.

This is my observation: that if a problem is real it can be solved. That is my definition of a problem: that it can be solved. If it cannot be solved then it is not a problem. A disease is a disease if it can be cured. All diseases are curable, at least theoretically curable; but if you don’t have the disease, then you have an incurable disease. Then nobody can help; then it is just in your mind. No medicine can be of any help to you.

So the first thing to understand about a problem is that it should be existential, not theological, speculative, philosophical. It should be psychological rather than being philosophical, and it should come out of confrontation with life.

Ninety percent of your problems arise because you are caught in dead thoughts, and you cling to those thoughts. When a situation arises which doesn’t fit with your-thought, the problem arises – and you want to try changing the situation rather than changing the thought. If you come across a situation which doesn’t fit with your ideology, you struggle hard to change the situation rather than to change the ideology. Then the problem arises.

Always be ready to change your mind because life cannot be changed just because of your ideologies. And we have learned the ways how to look at life, how to interpret life, and we become fixated in certain routines.

Let me tell you one anecdote.

A mousy little man used to be very frightened of his boss. One day he told a fellow worker that he was sick.

His friend said, “Why don’t you go home?”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that!”

“Why not? Don’t be silly, he will never know. He is not even here today.”

Finally the man was convinced and went home.

When he got there, he looked in the window – and there was his boss, kissing and hugging his wife. So he ran all the way back to the office. “A fine friend you are!” he said to his pal. “I nearly got caught.”

Just an old pattern of thought. The situation was totally different. He could have caught the boss, but just the old idea that always the boss has been catching him.

Watch life and don’t be addicted to your mind. Ninety percent of your problems will disappear simply without any bother. Ten percent of your problems will remain, they are existential; and they are needed to be there because you have to grow through them. If they are dropped you will not grow. The conflict is needed. The pain is needed. The suffering is needed. Because that will make you crystallized, that will make you more aware. And if you can transcend it you will have earned the bliss that comes after one has transcended a problem.

It is just like mountaineering. You are going up, uphill, tired, perspiring, breathing is difficult, it seems impossible to reach the top; and then you reach the top and you lie down under the sky and you rest and you are relaxed and you are happy that you decided to climb. But only after a hard climb. You can reach that top by a helicopter, but then you have not earned it. So a man who reaches to the top by the helicopter and the man who moves on his feet reach to different peaks. They never reach the same peak. Your means change your end. The man who has dropped by helicopter will enjoy it a little; he will say, “Yes, it is beautiful.” But his enjoyment will be like a man who is completely stuffed with food and then a delicious plate comes before him; he says, “Good,” he can smell it a little, but he is so stuffed he has no appetite. And just by his side there is another man who is hungry.

To reach the top one needs to have the appetite also; and that appetite grows while you are climbing. You become more and more hungry, you become more and more tired, you become more and more ready… and when you reach the top you rest. You have earned it.

In life you cannot get anything unearned. And if you try to be clever with life, you will miss many opportunities.

So drop those problems which are not yours. Drop those problems which you have learned from others. Drop those problems which arise because of your fixed ideologies.


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