The Goose is Out!

All the situations that I see as problems have been created by my mind or our collective minds, by the rules that define the box that my mind tells me I have to live inside.

Osho (aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) gave a brilliant, extemporaneous series of talks in early 1981. You can find them in a book called, “The Goose is Out.” This story comes from page 2:

“A great philosophical official, Riko, once asked the strange Zen master, Nansen, to explain to him the old kōan of the goose in the bottle.

“‘If a man puts a gosling into a bottle,’ said Riko, ‘and feeds him until he is full-grown, how can the man get the goose out without killing it or breaking the bottle?’

“Nansen gave a great clap with his hands and shouted, ‘Riko!’

“‘Yes, Master!’ said the official, with a start.

“‘See!’ said Nansen, ‘The goose is out!'”

This is a kōan, a puzzle that the mind cannot answer. Spiritual masters use them to show the impossibility of understanding life with our minds.

Over and over in life, I am faced with situations just like the goose in the bottle. My mind creates these dilemmas that have no answer. (Why do I create puzzles that have no solution? The mind loves them and wants something to chew on!) Our society tells me (and us) that in these situations, we are supposed to hide ourselves, or disappear.

For example, what is wrong with nudity? If a person is young and beautiful, especially if she is female, she is supposed to cover this in some way because if she doesn’t, somehow this beauty becomes cheap. We are taught as young women that we should be “hard to get” so that our beauty isn’t “wasted.” If we flaunt this beauty, society says that we are asking to be raped, that this beauty will be taken from us because we didn’t protect it. Or, even if we’re not flaunting it, and simply being beautiful within the boundaries of what our particular society says is okay, if we shine and we aren’t careful, our innocence will be stolen from us.

(This makes as much sense as telling a flower, like this one, that it should hide because someone might come and pick it!)


When we’re older, and our bodies aren’t so “beautiful” anymore, then we’re not supposed to be naked (or show as much of our bodies) because we’re now “ugly.” Society says it’s distasteful to show ugliness. If we have cellulite, or a big belly, or scars, we should hide these things because they’re ugly.

So, on both sides, nudity or going without the appropriate level of clothing covering us is inacceptable. So we hide.

This happens in every aspect of our lives! It’s not just about clothing! We change the way we move, so that it’s acceptable. We change the way we speak, so that we fit in. We cut our hair, we choose our clothing, we buy the right cars, we root for the right football team. We act in ways that we think will get us the best jobs, the best lives. And it’s all about trying to get to a safe place, in which we can relax. When I get that husband, when I get to that level of my company and make enough money, when I am able to afford that apartment, when I have that baby, when I get the Academy Award, when I win an Olympic gold medal…

Why are we hiding? It’s over, guys! We don’t need to hide anymore! The goose is out! As Paul Lowe entitled his book, The Experiment is Over!!!!!

Hello, hello! I’m looking for playmates. Anyone want to join a game in which we’re all being ourselves? It’s really, really relaxing to let go of trying to be someone different than who you are. What a fucking relief. Whew. That was an intense game. Now I want to play something more fun!

Anyone in?