Om Namah Shivaya

Om Namah Shivaya

I'll be grateful if you...

Nov 10, 2010

THE READER: Zorba - The Greek

“Zorba – The Greek” is one of the beautiful books I have read in last few months and enjoyed it thoroughly. Those who are familiar with OSHO and been to the ashram in Pune, would remember this name very much.

Zorba the Greek is a novel written by the Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), first published in 1946. It is the tale of a young Greek intellectual who ventures to escape his bookish life with the aid of the boisterous and mysterious Alexis Zorba. The novel was adapted into a successful 1964 film of the same name as well as a 1968 musical, Zorba.
Image curtsey

“Throughout my life my greatest benefactors have been my dreams and my travels; very few men, living or dead, have helped me in my struggle…” Prologue to greek edition of “Zorba the Greek”

Nikos Kazantzakis wrote many books like the great epic “The odyssey” and “The last Temptation”, which the Vatican placed on the Index in 1954. He also ran unsuccessfully a lignite mine in the Peloponnesus with George Zorbas, who was immortalized in the book “Zorba the Greek” which I am featuring here. Zorba the Greek movie was made in 1964, where Anthony Quin played the title role. This movie won three academy awards.

The practical and most of the times, profound thoughts of Zorba – the Greek got me thinking all the time. The beautiful relationship with him and his boss, the author perfectly a blend with the going on’s in the fiction. The story is so beautiful and I would recommend you to read it. Some of the thoughts that have touched me, I am reproducing below for you to have the feel of the book.

Nikos Kazantzakis epitaph on his tomb reads: ‘I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free’

This book is 'A Must Read' Read more about this book at Wikipedia
To read about Zorba - The Greek Movie, click here
Watch the very interesting Zorba Dance from the movie

Some of the excerpts from the book:

How bitter is to be slowly separated from great friends! Far better make a clean break and remain in solitude – the natural climate for man.

The human soul is heavy, clumsy, held in the mud of the flesh. Its perceptions are still coarse and brutish. It can divine nothing clearly, nothing with certainty.

‘It’s a mystery,’ he (Zorba) muttered, ‘a great mystery! So if we want liberty in this bad world, we’ve got to have all those murders, all those lousy tricks, have we? ... ‘And yet, the result of all that (Cruelty of war – murders, killing, looting etc), what’s it been? Liberty! Instead of wiping us out with a thunderbolt, God gives us liberty! I just don’t understand! … I (Author) tried hard to find Zorba another, simpler way of explaining it. ‘How does a plant sprout and grow into a flower on manure and muck? Say to yourself, Zorba, that the manure and muck is man and the flower liberty.’ ‘But the seed?’ cried Zorba, striking his fist on the table. ‘For a plant to sprout there must be a seed. Who’s put such a seed in out entrails? And why doesn’t this seed produce flowers from kindness and honesty? Why must it have blood and filth?’

Free yourself from one passion to be dominated by another and nobler one. But is not that, too, a form of slavery? To sacrifice oneself to an idea, to a race, to God? Or dos it mean that the higher the model the longer the tether of our slavery? Then we can enjoy ourselves and frolic in a more spacious arena and die without having come to the end of thee tether. Is that, then, what we call liberty?

The Buddhist song rose out of the very soil and found its way to the depths of my being.
When shall I at last retire into solitude?
Alone, without companions
Without joy and without sorrow
With only the sacred certainty
That all is a dream?
When, in my rags
- Without desires
- shall I retire contented into the mountains?
When, seeing that my body
Is merely sickness and crime
Age, and death,
Shall I
- Free, fearless and blissful
- Retire into the forest?
When, oh when?

Everything in this world has a hidden meaning, I thought. Men, animals, trees, star, they are all hieroglyphics; woe to any one who begins to decipher them and guess what they mean… when you see them, you do not understand them.
Image Curtsey

‘What is the mystery?’ he asks. ‘What is a woman, and why dos she turn our heads? Just tell me, I ask you, what is thee meaning of that?’ He interrogates himself with the same amazement when he sees a man, a tree in blossom, a glass of cold water. Zorba sees everything every day as if for the first time.

When the boss is hard, the men respect him, they work. When the boss is soft, they leave it all to him, and have an easy time, get me? (Zorba)

African savages worship the serpent because its whole body touches the ground and it must, therefore, know all the earth’s secrets. It knows them with its belly, with its tail, with its head. It is always in contact or mingles with the earth. The same is true of Zorba. We educated people are just empty-headed birds of the air.

While experiencing happiness, we have difficulty of being conscious of it. Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it do we suddenly realise – sometimes with astonishment – how happy we had been.

I at last realised that eating was a spiritual function.

‘As for you, boss,’ he said,’ I think you do your level best to turn what you eat into God. But you can’t quite manage it, and that torments you. The same thing’s happening to you as happened to the crow’
‘What happened to the Crow, Zorba?
‘Well, you see, he used to walk respectably, properly – well like a crow. But one day he got it into his head t try and strut about like a pigeon. And from that time on the poor fellow could not for the life of him recall his own way of walking. He was all mixed up, don’t you see? He just hobbled about.’

Why do you look at me like that? That’s how I am. There is a devil in me who shouts, and I do what he says. Whenever I feel I am choking with some emotions, he says: “Dance!” and I dance. And I feel better!

All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple frugal heart.

‘He (God) either give us men more sense,’ Zorba said,’ or perform an operation on us. Otherwise, believe me, we are finished.’

‘Because God, you know, is a great Lord, and that’s what being a Lord means: to forgive!’

The imperishable force which transforms matter into spirit is divine. Each man has within him an element of the divine whirlwind and that is how he can convert bread, water and meat into thought and action.

I realise today that it’s a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.

The human element is brutish, uncouth, impure – it is composed of love, the flesh and a cry of distress.

This, I thought, is how great visionaries and poets see everything – as if for the first time. Each morning they see a new world before their eyes; they do not really see it, they create it.

I came here, brought my destiny with me – it was not my destiny, which brought me: man does what he chooses.

Lots reflect hard; I have no need to reflect. I don’t rejoice over the good and don’t despair over the bad.

Religion had become degraded in me: It had become art.

You do miracles, if you concentrate your mind on one thing and only one. (Just like lens concentrates the power of sun’s energy)

All those who actually live the mysteries of life haven’t the time to write, and all those who have the time don’t live them!

All the problems I was trying to solve point by point in my solitude and glued to my chair, this man (Zorba) had solved up in the pure air of the mountains with his sword.

A real woman… gets more out of the pleasure she gives than the pleasure she takes from a man.

Happiness is doing your duty, and harder the duty, the greater the happiness.

 नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Previous                                 HOME                         Next


  1. I saw the movie many years ago, perhaps did not get the full impact of it then. The book sounds very wise. A man seeking enlightenment? I think I will read the book. Thanks for the suggestion and for all the excertps here.

  2. Thanks Myrna. The book is more complex and the thoughts of Zorba has a different feel and taste of sensitivity. You need to let it soak into you...
    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  3. This is such a wonderful concentration of this epic book... What a delight and many thanks to you..... I enjoyed reading this very much.

  4. I am always looking forward to your recommmendations.Thanks .


I appreciate your visit and it will be a great pleasure to know what you think of this post...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...