Queston – Please explain the nature of the experiences we call Boredom and Restlessness.
Osho – Boredom and restlessness are deeply related. Whenever you feel boredom, then you feel restlessness. Restlessness is a by-product of boredom.
Try to understand the mechanism. Whenever you feel bored you want to move away from that situation. If somebody is saying something and you are getting bored, you start becoming fidgety. This is a subtle indication that you want to move from this place, from this man, from this nonsense-talk. Your body starts moving. Of course, because of politeness you suppress it, but the body is already on the move — because the body is more authentic than the mind, the body is more honest and sincere than the mind. The mind is trying to be polite, smiling. You say, ‘How beautiful,’ but inside you are saying, ‘How horrible! I have listened to this story so many times and he is telling it again!’
I have heard about Albert Einstein’s wife, Frau Einstein. A friend of Albert Einstein used to come many times and Einstein would tell some anecdotes, some jokes, and they would laugh. But the friend became curious about one thing: whenever he came, and whenever Einstein started telling jokes….
Einstein was a Jew, and Jews have the best jokes in the world. Because they have suffered so long they have lived by jokes. Their life has been so miserable that they had to tickle themselves — hence they have the most beautiful jokes. No other country. no other race, can compete with them. In India we don’t have good jokes at all because the country has lived very peacefully — no need to tickle. Humor is needed when one is in constant danger; one needs to laugh at anything. Any excuse will do to laugh.
….Einstein would tell some joke, some anecdote, some story and they both would laugh. But the friend became curious because whenever Einstein would start saying something, the wife would immediately start knitting or doing something.
So he asked, ‘The moment Einstein starts telling some joke, why do you start knitting?’
The wife said, ‘If I don’t do anything, it will be tremendously difficult for me to tolerate because I have heard that joke a thousand and one times. You come sometimes — I am always here. Whenever anybody comes he tells the same joke. If I didn’t do something with my hands, I would become so fidgety that it will be almost impolite. So I have to do something so that I can move my restlessness into work and I can hide behind the work.’
Whenever you feel bored you will feel restless. Restlessness is an indication of the body; the body is saying, ‘Move away from here. Go anywhere, but don’t be here.’ But the mind goes on smiling and the eyes go on sparkling, and you go on saying that you are listening and you have never heard such a beautiful thing. The mind is civilized; the body is still wild. The mind is human; the body is still animal. The mind is false; the body is true. The mind knows the rules and regulations — how to behave and how to behave rightly — so even if you meet a bore you say, ‘I am so happy, so glad to see you!’ And deep down, if you were allowed, you would kill this man. He tempts you to murder. Then you become fidgety, then you feel restlessness.
If you listen to the body and run away, the restlessness will disappear. Try it. Try it. If somebody is boring you simply start jumping and running around. See. Restlessness will disappear because restlessness simply shows that the energy does not want to be here. The energy is already on the move; the energy has already left this place. Now you follow energy.
So the real thing is to understand boredom not restlessness. Boredom is a very, very significant phenomenon. Only man feels bored, no other animal. You cannot make a buffalo bored. Impossible. Only man gets bored because only man is conscious. Consciousness is the cause. The more sensitive you are, the more alert you are, the more conscious you are, the more you will feel bored. In more situations you will feel bored. A mediocre mind does not feel so bored. He goes on; he accepts; whatsoever is, is okay; he is not so alert. The more alert you become, the more fresh, the more you will feel as if some situation is just a repetition, as if some situation is just getting hard on you, as if some situation is just stale. The more sensitive you are, the more bored you will become.
Boredom is an indication of sensitivity. Trees are not bored, animals are not bored, rocks are not bored — because they are not sensitive enough. This has to be one of the basic understandings about your boredom — that you are sensitive. But Buddhas also are not bored. You cannot bore a Buddha. Animals are not bored and Buddhas are not bored, so boredom exists as a middle phenomenon between the animal and the Buddha. For boredom a little more sensitivity is needed than is given to the animal. And if you want to get beyond it then you have to become totally sensitive.
Then again the boredom disappears. But in the middle the boredom is there. If you become animal-like, then boredom disappears. So you will find that people who live a very animalistic life are less bored. Eating, drinking, marrying — they are not very bored, but they are not sensitive. They live at the minimum. They live only with that much consciousness as is needed for a day-to-day routine life. You will find that intellectuals, people who think too much, are more bored, because they think. And because of their thinking they can see that something is just repetition.
Your life is repetition. Every morning you get up almost the same way as you have been getting up all your life. You take your breakfast almost the same way. Then you go to the office — the same office, the same people, the same work. Then you come home — the same wife. If you get bored it is natural. It is very difficult for you to see any newness here; everything seems to be old, dust-covered.
I have heard an anecdote.
Mary Jane, the very good friend of a wealthy broker, opened the door cheerfully one day, and then quickly attempted to close it when she discovered the person on the threshold to be her lover’s wife.
The wife leaned against the door and said, ‘Oh, let me in, dear. I don’t intend to make a scene, just to have a small friendly discussion.’
With considerable nervousness Mary Jane let her enter, then said cautiously, ‘What do you want?’
‘Nothing much’ said the wife, looking about. ‘I just want the answer to one question. Tell me dear, just between us, what do you see in that dumb jerk?’
The same husband every day becomes a dumb jerk; the same wife every day…you almost forget how she looks. If you are told to close your eyes and to remember your wife’s face, you will find it impossible to remember. Many other women will come in your mind, the whole neighborhood, but not your wife. The whole relationship has become a continuous repetition. You make love, you hug your wife, you kiss your wife, but these are all empty gestures now. The glory and the glamour has disappeared long before. A marriage is almost finished by the time the honeymoon is over, then you go on pretending.
But behind those pretensions a deep boredom accumulates. Watch people walking on the street and you will see them completely bored. Everybody is bored, bored to death. Look at their faces — no aura of delight. Look at their eyes — dust-covered, no glimmer of inner happiness. They move from the office to the home, from the home to the office, and by and by the whole life becomes a mechanical routine, a constant repetition. And one day they die… almost always people die without ever having been alive.
Bertrand Russell is reported to have said, ‘When I remember, I cannot find more than a few moments in my life when I was really alive, aflame.’ Can you remember? How many moments in your life were you really aflame? Rarely it happens. One dreams about those moments, one imagines those moments. one hopes for those moments — but they never happen. Even if they happen, sooner or later they also become repetitive. When you fall in love with a woman or a man you feel a miracle, but by and by the miracle disappears and everything settles into a routine.
Boredom is the consciousness of repetition. Because animals cannot remember the past, they cannot feel bored. They cannot remember the past, so they cannot feel bored. They cannot remember the past, so they cannot feel the repetition. The buffalo goes on eating the same grass every day with the same delight. You cannot. How can you eat the same grass with the same delight? You get fed up.
Hence people try to change. They move into a new house, they bring a new car home, they divorce the old husband, they find a new love affair, but again that thing is going to become repetitive sooner or later. Changing places, changing persons,, changing partners, changing houses, is not going to do anything. And whenever a society becomes very bored, people start moving from one town to another. from one job to another, from one wife to another, but sooner or later they realize that this is all nonsense because the same thing is going to happen again and again with every woman, with every man, with every house, with every car.
What to do then? Become more conscious. It is not a question of changing situations; transform your being, become more conscious. If you become more conscious you will be able to see that each moment is new; but for that, very much energy, tremendous energy of consciousness is needed.
The wife is not the same — remember. You are in an illusion. Go back home and look again at your wife — she is not the same. Nobody can be the same. Just appearances deceive. These trees are not the same as they were yesterday. How can they be? They have grown. Many leaves have fallen, new leaves have come. Look at the almond tree. How many new leaves have come! Every day the old are falling and the new are coming. But you are not that much conscious.
Either have no consciousness — then you cannot feel repetition — or have so much consciousness that in each repetition you can see something new. These are the two ways to get out of boredom.
Changing outside things is not going to help. It is just like arranging the furniture in your room again and again. Whatsoever you do — you can put it this way or that way — is the same furniture. There are many housewives who continuously think about how to manage things, how to put things, where to put them, where not to put — and they go on changing. But it is the same room, it is the same furniture. How long will you deceive in this way?
A brief television skit I once saw was of a caveman and a cavewomen who were kissing wildly and hysterically. They broke apart only to say, ‘Gee, this is great!’ then they turned to kissing again.
Finally the cavewoman pulled away to say, ‘Listen. Do you suppose this wonderful thing we have discovered means that we are married?’
The caveman bent his small mind to the matter and finally said, ‘Yes, I guess we are married. Now let us kiss some more.’
Whereupon the cavewoman put her hand to her head and said in sudden anguish, ‘Oh, I have such a headache!’
Two persons meet, strangers — everything is wonderful, beautiful. But sooner or later they become acquainted with each other. That’s what marriage means. It means that now they are settling, now they would like to make it a repetition. Then the same kissing and the same hugging is no longer beautiful; it becomes almost a duty.
A man came home and found his friend kissing his wife. He took the friend into another room. The friend was trembling with fear. Now there is going to be something! The friendship will be broken.
The husband seemed to be very angry, but he was not. He closed the door and asked the friend, ‘Just tell me one thing. I HAVE to — but why were you kissing?’
‘I HAVE to, but why were you kissing?’
By and by everything settles, newness disappears, and you don’t have that much consciousness or that quality of consciousness which can go on finding the new again and again. For a dull mind, everything is old; for a totally alive mind there is nothing old under the sun. Cannot be. Everything is in flux. Every person is in flux, is river-like. Persons are not dead things. How can they be the same? Are you the same? Between when you came this morning to listen to me and when you went back home, a lot has happened. Some thoughts have disappeared from your mind, other thoughts have entered. You may have attained to a new insight. You cannot go the same as you had come. The river is continuously flowing; it looks the same but it is not the same. The old Heraclitus has said that you cannot step twice into the same river because the river is never the same.
One thing is that you are also not the same, and another thing is that everything is changing…. but then one has to live at the peak of consciousness. Either live like a Buddha or live like a buffalo, then you will not be bored. Now the choice is yours. I have never seen anybody the same. You come to me — how many times you have come to me — but I never see the old. I’m always surprised by the newness that you bring every day. You may not be aware of it. Remain capable of being surprised.
Let me tell you one anecdote.
A man entered a bar, deep in private thoughts of his own. He turned to a woman just passing and said, ‘Pardon me, Miss, do you happen to have the time?’
In a strident voice she responded, ‘How dare you make such a proposition to me!’
The man snapped to attention in surprise and was uncomfortably aware that every pair of eyes in the place had turned in their direction. He mumbled, ‘I just asked the time, Miss.’
In a voice even louder the woman shrieked. ‘I will call the police if you say another word!’
Grabbing his drink and embarrassed very nearly to death, the man hastened to the far end of the room and huddled at a table, holding his breath and wondering how soon he could sneak out the door.
No more than half a minute had passed when the woman joined him. In a quiet voice she said, ‘I’m terribly sorry, sir, to have embarrassed you, but I am a psychology student at the University and I am writing a thesis on the reaction of human beings to sudden, shocking statements.’
The man stared at her for three seconds, then he leaned back and bellowed, ‘You will do all that for me, all night, for just two dollars?’
And it is said that the woman fell down unconscious.
Maybe we don’t allow our consciousness to rise higher because then life would be a constant surprise and you might not be able to manage it. That’s why you have settled for a dull mind, there is some investment in it. You are not dull for no reason, you are dull for a certain purpose — if you were really alive then everything would be surprising and shocking. If you remain dull then nothing surprises you, nothing is shocking. The more dull you are, the more life seems to be dull to you. If you become more aware, life will also become more alive, livelier, and there is going to be difficulty.
You always live with dead expectations. Every day you come home and you expect certain behavior from your wife. Now look how you create your own misery: you expect a certain fixed behavior from your wife and then you expect your wife to be new. You are asking the impossible. If you really want your wife to remain continuously new to you, don’t expect. Come home always ready to be surprised and shocked, then the wife will be new. But she has to fulfill certain expectations. We never allow our total flux-like freshness to be known to the other. We go on hiding, we don’t expose, because the other may not be able to understand it at all. And the wife also expects the husband to behave in a certain way, and, of course, they manage the roles. We are not living life, we are living roles. The husband comes home; he forces himself into a certain role. By the time he enters the house, he is no more an alive person — he is just a husband.
A husband means a certain type of expected behavior. The woman there is a wife, and the man there is a husband. Now when these two persons meet there are really four persons: the husband and wife, which are not real persons — just personas, masks, false patterns expected behavior, duties, and all that — and the real persons hiding behind the masks. Those real persons feel bored.
But you have invested much in your persona, in your mask. If you really want a life which has no boredom in it, drop all masks, be true. Sometimes it will be difficult, I know, but it is worth it. Be true. If you feel like loving your wife, love her, otherwise say you don’t feel like it. What is happening right now is that the husband goes on making love to the wife, and goes on thinking of some actress. In imagination he is not making love to this woman, in imagination he is making love to some other woman. And the same is true about the wife. Then things become boring because they are no more alive. The intensity, the sharpness, is lost.
It happened on a railway platform. Mr. Johnson had weighed himself on one of those old-fashioned penny machines that delivered a card with a fortune printed on it.
The formidable Mrs. Johnson plucked it from her husband’s fingers and said, ‘Let me see that. Oh, it says you are firm and resolute, have a decisive personality, are a leader of men, and are attractive to women.’
Then she turned over the card, studied it for a moment and said, ‘And they have got the weight wrong as well’
No woman can believe that her husband is attracted to other women. There is the whole point, the whole crux. If he is not attracted to other women, how can she expect that he will be attracted to herself? If he is attracted to other women only then can he be attracted to her, because she is also a woman. The wife wants him to be attracted to her and not attracted to anybody else. Now this is asking something absurd. It is as if you are saying, ‘You are allowed to breathe only in my presence and when you go near somebody else, you are not allowed to breathe. How dare you breathe anywhere else?’
Just breathe when the wife is there, just breathe when the husband is there, and don’t breathe anywhere else. Of course, if you do that you will be dead and you will not be able to breathe in front of your wife also.
Love has to be a way of life. You are to be loving. Only then can you love your wife and your husband. But the wife says, ‘No, you should not look at anybody else with a loving eye.’ Of course you manage because if you don’t it creates such nuisance…. But by and by the glimmer in your eyes disappears. If you cannot look anywhere else with love, by and by you cannot look at your own wife with love — it disappears. The same has happened to her. The same has happened to the whole of humanity. Then life is a boredom; then everybody is waiting for death; then there are people continuously thinking of committing suicide.
Marcel has said somewhere that the only metaphysical problem facing humanity is suicide. And it is so, because people are so bored. It is simply amazing why they don’t commit suicide; how they go on living. Life doesn’t seem to give anything, all meaning seems to be lost, but still people go on dragging somehow, hoping that some day some miracle will happen and everything will be put right. It never happens. You have to put it right; nobody else is going to put it right. No Messiah is to come. Don’t wait for any Messiah. You have to be a light unto yourself.
Live more authentically. Drop the masks; they are a weight on your heart. Drop all falsities. Be exposed. Of course it is going to be troublesome but that trouble is worth it because only after that trouble will you grow and become mature. And then nothing is holding life. Each moment life reveals its newness. It is a constant miracle happening all around you only you are hiding behind dead habits.
Become a Buddha if you don’t want to be bored. Live each moment as fully alert as possible, because only in full alertness will you be able to drop the mask. You have completely forgotten what your original face is. Even when you stand before the mirror in your bathroom and you are alone, nobody is there, even standing before the mirror you don’t see your original face in the mirror. There too you go on deceiving.
Existence is available for those who are available to existence. And then I tell you, there is no boredom. Life is infinite delight.
Source – from Osho Book “Ancient music in the pines”