Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism: Is It Essential to Have Something to Believe In?

Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism: Is It Essential to Have Something to Believe In?

by Osho

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In Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism, Osho brings his unique and often surprising perspective to the religious, political, social and economic forces that drive people into opposing camps, fanatical groups, and belief systems that depend on seeing every “other” as the “enemy.” As always, the focus is first and foremost on the individual

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In Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism, Osho brings his unique and often surprising perspective to the religious, political, social and economic forces that drive people into opposing camps, fanatical groups, and belief systems that depend on seeing every “other” as the “enemy.” As always, the focus is first and foremost on the individual psyche and consciousness, to identify the root causes and hidden demons of our human need to belong and have something to “believe in.”

The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on the most important questions in the life of the individual. Each volume contains timeless and always-contemporary investigations and discussions into questions vital to our personal search fo rmeaning and purpose. The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on questions specific to our inner life and quality of existence, for example: Is it possible to have an authentic spirituality without a belief in God? What is meditation and how does it work? What can I do as an individual  to make the world a better place?

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St. Martin's Press
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Osho Life Essentials Series
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5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

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Belief Is Not the Answer



I would like you all to be gnostics, to come to a point of experience where things beyond words happen, where language is left far away back, light-years back, where there is no possibility to conceptualize your experience.

You cannot say, “God is,” you cannot say, “God is not.” You cannot say, “I cannot say these things.” You can be simply silent. And those who can understand silence will understand the answer. You can help people—that’s what gnostics can do—you can help people to come to silence. Call it meditativeness, awareness—those are just names, but the essential quality is absolute silence, nothing stirring in you, nothing wavering in you. And in that state, godliness is. It is all over the place. It is within you, it is without you.

Do you believe in God?

I do not believe in believing. That has to be understood first.

Nobody asks me, “Do you believe in the sun? Do you believe in the moon?” Nobody asks me that question. Millions of people I have met, and for thirty years continuously I have answered thousands of questions. Nobody asks me, “Do you believe in the rose flower?” There is no need, you can see that the rose flower is there, or it is not there. Only fictions, not facts, have to be believed.

God is the greatest fiction that man has created; hence you have to believe in him. And why does man have to create this fiction of God? There must be some inner necessity. I don’t have that necessity, so there is no question, but let me explain to you why people have believed in God.

One of the significant things to understand about man’s mind is that the mind is always seeking and searching some meaning in life. If there is no meaning, suddenly you feel … then what are you doing here? Then why go on living? Then why go on breathing? Then why tomorrow morning do you have to get up again and go through the same routine—the tea, the breakfast, the same wife, the same children, the same phony kiss to the wife. Then the same office, the same work, and the evening comes, and bored, utterly bored, you are back home—why go on doing all this? The mind has a question: Is there any meaning in all this, or are you just vegetating?

So man has been searching for meaning. He created God as a fiction to fulfill his need for meaning. Without God, the world becomes accidental. It is no longer a creation of a wise God who creates it for your growth, for your development, or for something. Remove God, and the world is accidental, meaningless. And the mind has an intrinsic incapacity to live with meaninglessness, so it creates all kinds of fictions—God, nirvana, heaven, paradise, another life beyond death—and makes a whole system. But it is a fiction to fulfill a certain psychological need.

I cannot say, “There is God,” and I cannot say, “There is not God.” To me the question is irrelevant. It is a fictitious phenomenon. My work is totally different.

My work is to make your mind so mature that you can live with meaningless life, and yet beautifully.

What is the meaning of a rose, or a cloud floating in the sky? There is no meaning but there is such tremendous beauty. There is no meaning—the river goes on flowing. But there is so much joy, meaning is not needed! And unless a person is able to live without asking for meaning, moment to moment, beautifully, blissfully, for no reason at all.… Just to breathe is enough! Why should you ask, and for what? Why do you make life a business?

Is not love enough? Have you to ask what is the meaning of love? And if there is no meaning in love, then of course your life becomes loveless. You ask a wrong question. Love is in itself enough; it needs no other meaning to make it beautiful, a joy. The birds singing in the morning … what is the meaning? The whole existence, to me, is meaningless. And the more I became silent and became attuned with the existence, the more it became clear that there is no need for meaning. It is enough as it is.

Don’t create fictions. Once you create a fiction then you have to create a thousand and one other fictions to support it, because it has no support in reality.

For example, there are religions which believe in God, and there are religions which do not believe in God. So God is not a necessity for religion. Buddhism does not believe in God, Jainism does not believe in God. So try to understand, because in the West it is a problem. You are aware only of three religions, which are all rooted in Judaism—Christianity, Judaism, and Mohammedanism, all three believe in God. So you are not aware of Buddha—he never believed in God.

I am reminded of H. G. Wells, his statement about Gautam Buddha. He said, “He is the most godless person, yet the most godly.” A godless person, and godly? Do you think there is any contradiction? There is no contradiction. Buddha never believed in God, there was no need. He was so utterly fulfilled that his whole fulfillment became a fragrance around him. Mahavira never believed in God, yet his life was as divine as life can be.

So when I say God is a fiction, please do not misunderstand me. God is a fiction but godliness is not a fiction, it is a quality. “God” is a person—as a person, it is a fiction; there is no God sitting in heaven creating the world. And do you think a God would create such a mess that you call the world? Then what is left for the devil? If anybody has created this world it must be the devil, it cannot be God.

But fictions—and old fictions, repeated millions of times—start taking on a reality of their own. It has been repeated so much that you don’t even question what kind of world God has created, what kind of man God has created. This mad humanity … In three thousand years man has fought five thousand wars. This is a creation of God? And still man is preparing for the total, suicidal, ultimate war. “God” is behind it.

What kind of foolish fictions can become realities once you start believing in them! God created the world—Christians think it was exactly four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ. Of course it must have been a Monday morning, and the first of January, I assume—because the Bible says so. Now there are proofs, a thousand and one proofs that this earth is millions of years old. We have found, hidden in the earth, the remains of animals millions of years old, and even man’s fossilized bodies, thousands of years old. But what has the last pope said about it? He said, “The world was created exactly as it is said in the Bible.” Four thousand and four years before Jesus, that means six thousand years ago.

All the evidence goes against it. In India we have found cities that are seven thousand years old. In India we have the Vedas, which are at least ten thousand years old, according to a very scientific approach. According to the Hindus they are ninety thousand years old, because in the Vedas there is a mention of a certain state of the stars which happened ninety thousand years ago. Now, how can that be described in the Vedas if they are not ninety thousand years old?

But what has the last pope said? He said, “God created the world with all these things. Everything is possible for him; he created the world four thousand and four years before Jesus, with animal bodies looking millions of years old.” Everything is possible for God! One fiction, then you have to support it with another fiction, and you can go to the point of absurdity. And why? Again and again man has asked this question.

A simple, very simple argument has been behind it. You see an earthen pot. You know it cannot be created by itself; there must have been a potter. This has been the simple argument of all these religions: that if even a single earthen pot cannot be created by itself and needs a potter to create it, this vast universe needs a creator. And it has satisfied the simple human mind. But it cannot satisfy a sophisticated, rational mind.

If you say the universe needs a God to create it, then the question is bound to arise, “Who created God?” And then you fall into a regress absurdum. Then God one is created by God two, and God two is created by God three, and God three by God four, and then there can be no end. I don’t want to be absurd like that. It is better to stop the first fiction; otherwise you are sowing the seeds for other fictions.

I say existence itself is enough, it needs no creator. It is creativity itself.

So rather than asking me if I believe in a creator, you should ask me what is my substitute for God, the creator. My substitute is the existential energy of creativity. And to me, to be creative is the most important religious quality.

If you create a song, if you create music, if you create a garden, you are being religious. Going to the church is foolish, but creating a garden is tremendously religious. That’s why here in my commune, work is called worship. We don’t pray in any other way, we pray only through creating something. To me, creativity is God. But it will be better if you allow me to change the word god into godliness, because I don’t want to be misunderstood. There is no person like God, but there is tremendous energy—exploding, unending, expanding. This expanding, unending, exploding energy, this creativity, is divine.

I know it; I don’t believe in it. I have tasted it; I don’t believe in it. I have touched it, I have breathed it, I have known it in the deepest core of my being. And it is as much in you as it is in me. Just a look inward, just a little one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn, and you become aware of a truth. Then you don’t ask for beliefs. Only blind people believe in light. Those who have eyes … they don’t believe in light, they simply see it.

I don’t want you to believe in anything, I want you to have eyes; and when you can have eyes, why be satisfied with a belief and remain blind? And you are not blind. Perhaps you are only keeping your eyes closed. Perhaps nobody has told you that you can open your eyes. Then you live in darkness, and in darkness you ask, “Does light exist?”

I am reminded of a small story in Buddha’s life. A man was brought to Gautam Buddha who was blind, but was a very logical man. He was so logical that his village and the pundits of the village became utterly fed up with his logic. They could not prove to him that light exists. The whole village knew; everybody saw it, only the blind logician was unable to see it. But he was a very logical man. He said, “Anything that exists can be touched. Bring light—I would like to touch it. Anything that exists, you can hit it with something, it will make sound. Let me hear the sound of your light being hit by something. If it has any smell, bring it to my nose, I can smell it. If it has any taste, I can taste it. These are the four possibilities with me.”

Now, you cannot taste light, and you cannot create a sound out of it, and you cannot smell it, and you cannot touch it. And the blind logician would laugh and he would say, “You just want to prove me blind, hence you have created this fiction of light. There is no light. You are all blind just like me; you are befooling yourself.”

Buddha was passing by the side of the village, so the villagers thought, “It is a good opportunity; let us take this logician to Gautam Buddha, perhaps he may be able to help.” Buddha listened to the whole story and he said, “The blind man is right, and you are all wrong, because what he needs is not argumentation; he needs medicine for his eyes to be cured. And you have brought him to the wrong person. Take him to a physician.”

Buddha had his own personal physician, who was provided by a great king, Bimbisara, to take care of Buddha’s body. So Buddha said, “You need not go far to find a great physician, I have one with me. You can show the blind man to him.” He left the physician behind in the village, and he moved on. In three months the blind man’s eyes were opened. He was not really blind—just a small disease; a small, thin layer was covering his vision. It was removed. He came dancing. He fell at Buddha’s feet and he said, “If they had not brought me to you, my whole life I would have argued against light, and they would not have been able to prove it.”

Godliness is not something that argument can prove or disprove. It is something that you can experience.

You will be surprised to know that the word medicine and the word meditation come from the same root. Medicine cures the body, meditation cures your being; it is the inner medicine.

I have experienced godliness everywhere, because nothing else exists. But there is no God. And if you want to experience godliness—just a little bit of meditation, a little bit of becoming thoughtless and remaining aware. When your awareness is there, and thoughts start dropping like leaves in the fall, and when there is only awareness and there is not a single thought there, you will have the taste, the very taste on your tongue, of what I am saying. And unless you have tasted, don’t believe me; don’t believe anyone, because belief can become a beggar. You may become satisfied with the belief, and you may never try.

I just heard the other day that President Ronald Reagan wants one minute of silence in every school, college, and institution. The idea is great, but I don’t know whether Reagan understands what it means, one minute of silence. He must mean simply one minute keeping quiet, not speaking. Not speaking is not silence. You may not be speaking, you may not be uttering anything, but inside a thousand and one thoughts are running. There is a continuous flow of thoughts, day in, day out. I would like to tell President Reagan first to try one minute’s silence. That means for one minute no thought moves on the screen of awareness. It is not easy. It is one of the most difficult things in the world. But it can happen if you continue to try.

And if it happens for one minute, that’s enough. If for one minute you can be in a state where no thought moves … This has been my whole life’s work, teaching people how to be silent. People have tried keeping a watch by their side: not even twenty seconds—one minute is too big, not even twenty seconds can they remain without thought. One thought after another, running … And even if they can remain for twenty seconds, the thought comes, “Aha! Twenty seconds!” Finished—the thought has come.

If you can be silent for one minute, you have learned the art. Then you can be silent for two minutes, because it is the same; the second minute is not different from the first. You can be silent for three minutes; all the minutes are the same. Once you know the way … and the way is not something which can be told to you; you have to just sit with closed eyes and start watching your thoughts. In the beginning there will be a great rush hour, but slowly you will find the street is less and less crowded; fewer cars are passing, fewer thoughts are passing, fewer people are passing, gaps are becoming bigger. If one continues patiently, in three months’ time he will certainly be able to attain one minute’s silence.

I don’t know if President Reagan has ever tasted it, because any man who can taste silence will not try to be a president of a country, cannot be in politics. That is not for meditators, it is for mediocres. It is for all kinds of fools and idiots.

I have heard that before Reagan became president he used to have a monkey … I have just heard, I don’t know whether it is true or not. The day Ronald Reagan was elected president, one of my American sannyasins brought a picture to me of Ronald Reagan with his monkey, and he said, “Reagan is declared president today—what is your comment?”

I looked at the picture for a long time. The sannyasin appeared puzzled and asked, “What is the matter? What are you looking at in the picture?”

I said to him, “I cannot figure out who is Reagan and who is the monkey. Out of these two fellows, who has been elected the president?”

He laughed and showed me a picture of Reagan, and I still remember my comment, that “It would have been better if the monkey had been chosen as president.” Surely the Kremlin would have followed immediately and would have chosen a monkey as their prime minister. They cannot tolerate America being ahead of them. And one thing is absolutely certain: with a monkey in the White House and a monkey in the Kremlin, the world would be saved from a third world war, which is going to destroy the whole of humanity and the whole of life on earth.

Politicians are monkeys. In fact, monkeys should forgive me—politicians are worse.

But the idea is good; once in a while, even in a monkey’s mind a good idea can come. But if Reagan really means it, I can provide the people who can teach every university, every college and school, how to be silent. I can send my sannyasins all over America to teach silence.

I was shocked to hear you say that God does not exist. Then the question arose in me: How can there be any religion without God? Isn’t God the center and religion the circumference?

It is fortunate that you were shocked. It needs intelligence to be shocked. Millions of people on the earth have lost the quality of being shocked. They have been hypnotized for centuries, conditioned in such a way that no shock ever reaches them. All the religions, the so-called religions, pseudo-religions, have been doing only one work: creating shock absorbers in you. My function is to destroy all your shock absorbers and make you vulnerable so that you doubt, you question, you inquire.

One who doubts to the very end finds the answer. One who inquires to the very end comes to know. Those who go on believing without doubting, without questioning, without inquiring remain dull, dead, idiotic. So I congratulate you that you are shocked; it is a good beginning. The stupid person will be angry, not shocked. He will immediately become an enemy; he will not be shocked. To be shocked means that something in you is still alive, that the priests, the politicians, the pedagogues have not been completely successful with you. Perhaps a window has remained open; that’s why you are shocked. And do you see the miracle of the shock?—immediately a question of tremendous importance arises in you.

Your question is not out of anger, it is not out of irritation. It is a valid, intelligent, tremendously significant question: How can there be religion without God? That’s what you have been told for centuries, that God is the center and religion is its circumference. This is an absolute lie. Religion has nothing to do with God at all. Yes, it has much to do with you, your consciousness, your being.

You ask, how can there be a religion without God? One day, if you go on inquiring, you will ask me how can there be a religion with God? And I would like you to contemplate how there can be a religion with God.

God is nothing but our idea of the ultimate dictator, the ultimate Adolf Hitler.

He creates the world, just whimsically; there is no reason to create it. No religion has been able to answer why he created the world in the first place—and this world: ugly, nauseous, disgusting; this humanity, which religions go on proclaiming to be the highest peak of God’s creation. God created man in His own image—what can be higher than that? And what has man been doing? In three thousand years, five thousand wars! The whole of history is a history of murder, rape, crime—and murder, rape, and crime in the name of God. Millions of people have been killed, burned alive in the name of God. And God created man in His own image?

So you can think something about God too, just a little inference that if this is the image, then what will be the real? If Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini and Mao Tse-Tung are only carbon copies, then what will be the original? It is going to be terrible!

If God created this world, man and everything, it should show signs of divinity, signatures of God, but they are completely missing. If he cannot read and write, he can at least make a thumbprint. There seems to be no signature anywhere. It seems more probable that it was created by the devil than by God, because 99 percent of proofs are for the devil, not for God.

With God you cannot create religion, for the simple reason that God has already created the Bible for the Christians, the Torah for the Jews, the Vedas for the Hindus.… He has created them already; he has given you ready-made religions. He has not allowed you to seek and search and find.

And there is something of immense importance about truth: unless you find it, it never becomes truth to you. If it is somebody else’s truth and you borrow it, in that very borrowing it is no more true—it has become a lie.

That is one of the reasons that the great mystics of the world have been saying again and again that truth is inexpressible, because the moment you express it, in the very process of expression it becomes a lie. All your holy scriptures are full of lies.

God has not given you the chance to discover religion, but has given you ready-made religion; and he does not allow you even to question, to doubt: that is a great sin. There are all kinds of stupidities in your religious scriptures, but you have to believe in them totally.

A man like Bertrand Russell became very puzzled, for the simple reason that there are things which anybody who has a little intelligence cannot trust—but to doubt makes you a sinner; you start feeling guilty. Finally he wrote a book, Why I Am Not a Christian, and collected all the points that hindered him from becoming a Christian. For example: the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It is so unscientific that to believe it is to destroy all your intelligence. To have faith in such an idea is suicidal; you are destroying yourself. And what are you gaining?—a stupid idea … virgin birth!

If Bertrand Russell could not believe in it, we cannot blame him. It was the Bible that prevented a man who could have been religious.… Russell asked, “Why in the trinity is there not a woman included?” God the father, God the son, and the Holy Ghost—what kind of family is this? This holy family seems to be very idiotic. Why could they not put a woman in it? Because all the religions have been against women. To put a woman into the trinity, in the highest position of power, was impossible for them; hence they had to put the Holy Ghost.

Now, nobody knows about the Holy Ghost, whether he is man or woman or neutral. And this Holy Ghost is the person responsible for making Mary pregnant—and still he is holy! He is a rapist, because Mary was not aware of it; she was not a willing partner in it, and she was already married to a person. But the Holy Ghost did this; perhaps he is still around the world—and he is one third of God! A man like Bertrand Russell is prevented from being a religious person because of your idea of God.

But any idea of God will create problems. The Hindu God … instead of the trinity the Hindus have trimurti, parallel—one god with three faces; three persons joined together in one person. But all three are constantly fighting each other, so childish is their behavior. It is good that Sigmund Freud was only aware of Christian and Judaic traditions. If he had been aware of Hindu tradition he would have found immense support for his hypothesis.

In Hinduism, God created the world. The first being he created was a woman, naturally, because without a woman nothing else can grow—the woman has to come first. But in creating a beautiful woman, he himself became infatuated. Now, the father becoming infatuated with his own daughter—that’s what Freud was looking for but nobody informed him that that was available. For his whole life, Freud was trying to prove that each father is infatuated with the daughter and each mother is infatuated with the son. And there is some truth in it—but God getting infatuated with his own daughter…!

Then the woman becomes afraid and she tries to escape, and the only way to escape is to change shapes, forms, disguises. She becomes a cow, but how can you deceive God? He becomes a bull. She becomes other kinds of animals, and God follows. That’s how the whole creation comes into being—the woman running and the father following her and trying to rape her. He is still doing the same thing.

With such a God, what kind of religion do you think is possible? This God is a sexual maniac; he needs psychotherapy. He cannot be the center of religion; he cannot even be on the circumference of religion—he should be inside a mental asylum. But if you read Hindu scriptures you will be very much disturbed by the kind of things that millions of people of the oldest religion in the world are carrying.

These are the three phases of the Hindu God: Brahma is the creative phase, he creates the world; Vishnu, the second phase, he maintains the world; and Shiva—he destroys the world when the time comes to destroy it. In a way it is perfectly balanced; there are all the three functions that existence needs: creation, maintenance, and one day, de-creation. But if you look into the inner life of these three persons, you cannot believe it.

One day, Vishnu and Brahma are quarreling about something. In the first place, the idea of a quarrel between two parts of God makes him schizophrenic. If both your hands start fighting each other … and that’s what you are doing in the mind—one part fighting against the other part. Sometimes you become so split that you are already two persons, and sometimes you are many persons. God is already three persons—he is not one whole, one piece—and all the three are constantly quarreling.

These two were quarreling and they could not find some way to settle the argument, so they both thought it would be better to look for Shiva; perhaps he could be helpful. So they went to look for Shiva. Shiva must have been American—it was morning and he was making love to his wife, Parvati. Indians don’t do that; that is absolutely unheard of. I think Shiva is the first American … making love to his wife in the morning, with the doors open. Perhaps it would be better to call him Californian—doors open!—just American will not do.

Brahma and Vishnu both entered, not knowing what was happening inside, and Shiva was so much into his act of making love that he didn’t bother about them. Both were very angry. In the first place, making love in the morning does not suit a god; secondly, with doors open, anybody could come in. And thirdly, he does not even tell them to sit down; he has not even looked at them. Both the gods were very angry, so angry that they cursed Shiva, saying, “You will be known in the world by the phallic symbol.” That’s why in India you find no statue of Shiva, only the phallic symbol. This is the curse of those two gods: “You will be known and recognized as a phallic symbol.”

You may not be aware that shivalinga, the phallic symbol for Shiva, is not alone; it is placed in a vagina. Both are in marble, and for thousands of years Hindus have been worshipping it. And still Shiva is one third of God!

You can take any other conception of God and you will find it impossible to make a religion around it. But up to now this has been the case. The fiction of God is there in the center and around the fiction, all other fictions have been created—of heaven and hell, and sin and punishment, repentance, forgiveness. And this whole circus is nothing but exploitation by the cunning priests of all the religions.

Yes, without God there can be no priest. Without God there can be no concept of sin. Without God there can be no heaven and hell. Without God there can be no temple, no synagogue, no church. If you think these are the things that make a religion, then of course you will find it difficult: How can there be a religion without God? But these things have nothing to do with religion. In fact, to me these are hindrances in finding religiousness.

And let this be another shock to you: the authentic religion is going to be godless—and also religionless.

I am teaching you a religionless religion.

You will have to go a little deeply into this because the words seem to be contradictory: religionless religion. When I say religionless religion I mean that the priest, the synagogue, the rabbi, the pandit, the pope, the church, the prayer, the holy scriptures, the holy and unholy ghost—all these have to be dropped because this is what you have known as religion. The holy scriptures are nothing but religious fiction, just as there are science fictions. And it is beautiful to write a science fiction, it is art. Those religious fictions are not even artistic—they are 90 percent rubbish, crap. Nobody reads them except a few people who have some vested interest in reading them.

I have heard … a man who was selling dictionaries, house to house, rang the bell of a house. The housewife came out and asked, “What do you want?”

He said, “I have beautiful dictionaries. You must have children; they may need dictionaries, and I have all kinds for all ages.”

The woman wanted to get rid of him, so she said, “But we have got a dictionary.” And far away in the corner, on a table, there was a thick book looking like a dictionary.

The salesman laughed; he said, “That’s a Bible.”

The woman could not believe it because from that distance it was impossible to figure out that it was a Bible. She said, “You surprise me. Yes, it is a Bible. I was just trying to get rid of you, saying that we have got a dictionary. But how did you manage it? Tell me and I will purchase one dictionary from you—but tell me the trick.”

He said, “There is no trick. I just saw how much dust had gathered on it.”

Only Bibles, holy books, gather dust. A Playboy magazine does not gather dust. Who wants to open a holy book? It has not been opened perhaps for years; perhaps it has never been opened.

Religious fiction has to be dropped because it is hindering your way, preventing you from reaching reality. You have to get rid of all nonsense that has been told to you by your parents, by your society, by your teachers, by your religious elders. Unless you clean yourself completely you cannot take the first step toward being religious.

Religiousness is a quality of your being; it has nothing to do with any ritual outside you, it is a quality of your being.

There are a few things which are qualities of your being and are in a dormant state because you have never thought that they are to be developed. Have you tried to develop your consciousness? Have you tried to develop your compassion? Have you tried to develop your intelligence?

The scientists say even the people who are geniuses use only 15 percent of their intelligence; 85 percent remains unused. And this is about a man like Albert Einstein or Karl Marx or Rutherford, the Nobel Prize winners.… What about the common man, how much does he use?—not more than 5 percent. And that 5 percent he uses because it is needed for day-to-day work: his business, his family, his so-called religion, his political party, and his club. Five percent is enough. You don’t have to be a great genius to become a Rotarian. I don’t think a genius would like to become a member of the Lions Club. A man trying to become a lion seems to be falling down rather than rising up.

If the genius himself uses only 15 percent, that means nobody is trying to sharpen their intelligence. You only go on using whatsoever life, its situations, and its circumstances force you to use. If there is nobody, no situation forcing you to use it, you will not use even 5 percent. That’s why you will not find rich people’s sons and daughters getting gold medals in the universities and topping the universities. No, they don’t need to use their intelligence; their servants can do that. And now computers are available. Soon you will not be using even 5 percent; people will be carrying a small computer. They are already carrying them. Have you not watched it…?

In my childhood, in my family, my father was very particular about handwriting. He would not allow a fountain pen in the house, because you cannot have the quality of an ordinary old pen with a fountain pen; the fountain pen is going to destroy your handwriting. And you can see it. Just look back: before the press was invented, all the books were written by hand—such beautiful, artistic handwriting. What the book contains is another thing; just the handwriting itself is a work of art. But that art disappeared with the fountain pen. And when the typewriter became available to people, even the little bit that was possible with the fountain pen disappeared—people are typing. Now tell them to write and their writing looks as if they are uneducated. People are now carrying small computers to calculate, calculators—they will forget the small calculations that you can do.

There is a woman alive in India, Shakuntala, who has toured all around the world and has been exposed to the greatest mathematicians. She is only a matriculate and knows nothing of higher mathematics, but even Albert Einstein was puzzled by her. You just write any figure, howsoever big it is doesn’t matter; tell her to multiply it by as big a figure as you want—and before you have finished writing that second figure down, the answer is there. Einstein said, “If I had done it, it would have taken at least three hours.”

But what is happening to this woman? She knows nothing about it. She says, “Just simply looking at the figures that have to be multiplied…” All that happens to her is a kind of silence; in that silence, figures start coming up, and she starts speaking, “Write down this figure … I don’t know how it comes.” It seems from birth she has had a very sharp intelligence, so that within a flicker of the eye something happens in her mind. And this is not the only case, there have been others.

A young boy, Shankaran, was so poor that he used to pull a rickshaw. Now, it is an ugly thing; it should not exist anywhere: that a man is pulling a vehicle with you sitting in it! And he was just a boy—but his father was old—and in Madras he was just pulling the rickshaw. The mathematics department of the university became interested in him by accident. One day the professor, the head of the department, went in his rickshaw and just started talking to him. He said, “You are so young: you should be reading and studying.”

The boy told him about his family. “But,” the boy said, “even without reading and studying—I know that you teach mathematics—I can do mathematics. That, somehow I know.” The professor tried him out, and he was amazed: the boy was a miracle. He sent the boy to Oxford, at his own expense, to display his ability, and wherever he went he simply amazed great mathematicians. Rutherford said that a certain question that had been bothering him for years, the boy solved within seconds. And once he solved it, Rutherford saw that it was so simple—how was he missing it? Somehow he had gone round and round, just missing that point, and this boy simply jumped on that point. But he was not educated.

Intellect can be sharpened; there are ways to sharpen it. Modern psychology is trying to measure it. I say don’t be foolish, don’t waste time in measuring it—what is there to measure? The average person remains at the mental age of thirteen; he may be seventy but his mental age remains thirteen, and he uses 5 to 7 percent of his intelligence.… Now why waste time in finding more accurate methods to measure it? Why not use methods which can sharpen the intellect? That is what I have been teaching you.

If you doubt, your intellect will be sharpened.

If you believe, your intellect will get rusted, it will start gathering dust: you are not using it.

Doubt is bound to sharpen it, for a fundamental reason: you cannot remain at ease with doubt. You have to do something about it; you have to find the answer. Till you find the answer the doubt is going to harass you, nag you—and that’s the way doubt sharpens your intellect. But all the religions teach that to doubt is sin, to believe is to be religious.

I say to you: to doubt is to be religious, and to believe is to be irreligious.

But those pseudo-religions were really cunning and clever. What psychologists have not found even now, they found five thousand years ago: that doubt is dangerous, it sharpens intellect. Belief is comfortable, convenient: it dulls. It is a kind of drug; it makes you a zombie. A zombie can be a Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan—but they are all zombies, with different labels. And sometimes they get fed up with one label, so they change the label: the Hindu becomes a Christian, the Christian becomes a Hindu—a new label, a fresh label, but behind the label the same belief system.

Destroy your beliefs. Certainly it will be uncomfortable, inconvenient, but nothing valuable is ever gained without inconvenience.

In three hundred years, science has used doubt as its method, and given the world so much in three hundred years—in ten thousand years religions have not been able to give even one-thousandth part of it. The religions have not given anything. On the contrary they have prevented everything in every possible way. They were trying to prevent science too, and they tried hard—they are still trying.

Now the Catholic pope goes on teaching the Catholics that methods of birth control should not be used; they are against God. Strange, even the Holy Ghost must be using birth control methods, because Jesus says, “I am the only begotten son of God.” What happens to God? Has he stopped creating sons, daughters? Either he has become a brahmacharya, a celibate, which is not very likely, or he is using birth control methods. But the pope goes on continually against birth control—because it is against God; God is sending people.

This earth is already overloaded; it is already in such a situation that if we don’t cut its population by half it is going to die. There will be no need for a third world war: just the population itself will be enough to kill everybody, to starve everybody. And God is continually sending people … either he has no idea … that he should at least send a small piece of land with each child, or try some new way so there is nobody hungry. Rather than real babies, make plastic babies that run on batteries; that would be easier. Once in a while you go and you can get your battery charged … and for God everything is possible. He has been doing all kinds of miracles, his son was doing all kinds of miracles: this will not be much of a miracle, creating a baby who runs on a battery.

But he goes on giving us stomachs and hunger, and no land—but the old land is losing its fertility every day. And the Catholic pope goes on saying no birth control, no abortion. Why no abortion?—because it is killing. But it is very strange coming from a pope’s mind, because these popes have been making all kinds of crusades in the past and killing thousands of people. That has been their whole business: burning people, burning women just because of a fictitious idea.…

Anybody could write to the pope informing him, “In our village there is a woman who is a witch.” That was enough to start an inquiry; and there was a special court to inquire into whether the woman was a witch or not. They would torture the woman so much that she would find it easier to accept that she was a witch rather than being tortured continually. They would torture her till she accepted that she was a witch; and once she accepted that she was a witch, she had to be burned alive. Thousands of women they burned alive!

Now suddenly their interest is in nonviolence; abortion is violence. And the same pope’s predecessors blessed Benito Mussolini in the Second World War. That was not violence? The archbishop of Canterbury in England blessed the British forces—and that was not violence?—that was perfectly good? One wonders at what point abortion becomes violence.

At what point…? A child is conceived this moment—is he alive or dead? He is alive, but from where has the life come? He was alive in the semen cells before he became conceived in the mother’s womb; the semen cells are all alive. They have a small life span, just two hours, so if within two hours they can find a female egg, and can enter the egg, the child is conceived. The egg is alive: half of your being, the feminine part, is in the egg, and half of your being is coming from your father’s semen. And in a single intercourse millions of cells are rushing along.…

You will be surprised to know that it is there that politics starts. Everybody is running fast toward the egg, because whosoever reaches first becomes president of the United States. Those who are left behind, just a little behind … finished! Only one sperm is going to enter, then the woman’s egg becomes hard and no more can enter. That is the natural process; it is vulnerable only to one. Only once in a while does it happen that two male cells reach exactly at the same time and enter. That’s why sometimes you have twins, or three or four or five or six—even nine children have been known. But that is a very rare event.

Millions of sperm … and they are really fast. It is almost like a car race. They are all racing, and they have to be quick: within two hours, if they don’t reach, they are finished. In a single intercourse you are responsible for killing millions of beings. And what about an abortion?—just one. So whether it’s one million or one million plus one, what difference does it make?

But the Catholic pope is ready, just as the Mohammedan chief imam is ready, and the Hindu shankaracharya is ready to let the population grow, because numbers have a political significance. It is the politics of numbers—how many Catholics are there. The pope is not interested in humanity, in the future, in a global suicide, no. His whole interest is in how many Catholics there are: the more Catholics, the more power he has. The shankaracharya is interested in more Hindus, so he has more power.

Everybody is interested in power.

In the name of God they are simply trying to become more and more powerful.

If there is no God, what is prayer?

Prayer is a by-product of theism. You start with a belief in God, then naturally some kind of relationship between you and God is needed. That is prayer. You start praising him. Of course there is some motivation, you are asking for something through your prayer. Your prayer is not just a pure love affair, no—it is business. Hence, when you are in trouble you pray; when you are out of trouble you forget it. When you are in some difficulty, incapable of managing, you pray because you need God’s help. The moment you are out of difficulty, you forget God and prayer both.

A famous Sufi story is that a ship is coming back to its home country. Suddenly the ocean goes mad … great winds, and the ship is almost on the verge of sinking. Everybody starts praying. At such a moment who will not pray?—even the atheist will pray, the agnostic will pray, and pray, “Forgive what I have been saying, it was all nonsense. Forgive me, but let me reach the shore.”

But the Sufi was simply sitting there, not praying. The people became angry; they said, “You are a religious man, wearing the robe, the green robe of a Sufi. What kind of a Sufi are you? You should have been the first to pray. And we are not religious people, we are just businesspeople, and to us this prayer is, too, nothing but business. We are offering God, that ‘We will give you this, we will give you that, just save us.’ Why are you sitting silently? Why are you not praying?”

He said, “You have already said it: because I am not a businessman. If he wants to finish us all, good. If he wants to save us, good. I am in total agreement with him. Why should I pray? For what? Prayer means some disagreement, something is happening which you don’t want to happen. You want God to intercede, to interfere, to stop it, to change it.”

The Sufi said, “I have no business of my own. It is his business to bother whether to save or to drown us. If he wants this Sufi to be saved, it is his business, not my business. And if he wants me to die, that is his business. I had not asked for birth; suddenly I was here. I cannot ask about death. If birth is not in my control, how can death be in my control?”

Those people thought, “This man is mad.” They said, “We will take care of you later on. Let us get to the shore somehow and then we will take care of you. You are not a Sufi, you are not religious; you are a very dangerous man. But this is not the time to bother and quarrel with you.”

On board was the most wealthy, most famous man of the country, and he was coming with millions of diamonds and precious stones. He had earned much. He had a beautiful palace in the town—the most beautiful marble palace. Even the king was jealous. Even the king had asked him many times, “You give this palace to me—any price, and I will pay for it.”

But the madman, the rich man, said, “That is not possible. That palace is my pride.” When the ship was almost sinking, the man shouted to God, “Listen, I give that palace to you—just save me!” And as it happened, the winds disappeared, the ocean became calm, the ship was saved. They reached the bank.

Now, the rich man was in a very difficult position because of what he had said. And he had been angry with the Sufi—now he was not angry. He said, “Perhaps you were right just to keep quiet. If I had followed you I would not have lost my palace. But I am a businessman, and I will find a way.” And he found a way.

Next day he put the palace up for auction. He informed all the nearby kingdoms, whoever was interested. Many kings, queens, and rich people came; everybody was interested. They were all puzzled to see that, just in front of the palace, there was a cat chained to a marble pillar of the palace. The rich man came out and he said, “This palace and the cat, both are up for auction together. The price of the cat is one million dinars”—their dollars, one million dollars—“the price of the cat one million dollars, and the price of the palace, one dollar: one million and one dollars.”

The people said, “For this cat one million dollars, and for this palace just one dollar?”

The businessman said, “You don’t bother about it. If you are interested, both are going to be sold together. Less, I will not accept. If anybody is interested, this is my minimum price.”

The king of the country said, “Yes, I will give you the price, but please tell me, what is the secret of this cat and the palace?”

And he said, “No secret—I just got into trouble because of a prayer. I have told God that ‘I will give you the palace.’ And I am a businessman; if he is a businessman, I am also a businessman. The cat, one million dollars—that I will keep. And the palace: one dollar—that will go to God’s fund.”

Prayer is just your effort to persuade God to do things according to you. And it is absolutely your imagination. In the first place you don’t know God. You don’t know his likes and dislikes. You don’t know whether he exists or not, and you are praying. This is a poor state of affairs, and this is happening all over the world.

I am against prayer because it is basically business. It is bribing God. It is hoping that you can buttress his ego: “You are great, you are compassionate, you can do anything you want.” And all this is being said because you want something. There is a motivation behind it; otherwise you would not pray, if there is no motivation.

I am against prayer. I am for meditation.

And these are the only two dimensions: prayer, the false dimension; meditation, the right dimension.

In prayer you try first to imagine a God there, and then you project a prayer. In meditation you don’t have to project any God, you don’t have to believe in any God, you don’t have to utter a single word of prayer. On the contrary, you move inward. In prayer you are moving outward: a God there … and then a bridge of prayer between you and God.

In meditation you have no God, there. You search within. You search within for what is there. Who am I? What is this life energy? What is this consciousness in me? If only I can know this consciousness, this life in me, I have known the universal life, I am part of it.

Just taste the ocean from anywhere and it is salty. Taste yourself—it is the closest place, within yourself—taste your consciousness in silence and peace.

Prayer will be wordy. Again you will be talking, chanting, using a mantra or something. No, in meditation words have to be dropped and you have to learn to remain wordless, even for small moments. But in those small moments so much blessing descends. From those small gaps the whole universe starts pouring upon you.

I am for meditation and against prayer.

The meditator comes to know—feels reality throbbing within himself—the heartbeat of existence. And then there is a thankfulness that is without any motive, a gratitude to nobody in particular, simply a gratitude for all, for all that is. To me, if you want something like prayer … but then that is a love affair, authentic, without any motive. It is just a thank-you, not addressed to anybody in particular, addressed to the whole.


Copyright © 2012 by OSHO International Foundation

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