Read an Excerpt
From Action to Awareness
Your actions are not my concern; your consciousness is.
If your consciousness allows you to do something, it is right—do it. Don’t be worried by any holy scriptures, by any prophets. And if your consciousness does not allow you to do something, then don’t do it. Even if God says to you, “Do it!” there is no way—you cannot do it.
Please talk about morality.
The question of morality is immensely significant, because morality is not that which has been told to you for centuries. All the religions have exploited the idea of morality. They have been teaching in different ways, but the basic foundation is the same: unless you become moral, ethical, you cannot become religious.
By “morality” they mean that you have to be truthful, you have to be honest, you have to be charitable, you have to be compassionate, you have to be nonviolent. In one word, all these great values have first to be present in you, only then can you move toward being religious. This whole concept is upside down. According to me, unless you are religious you cannot be moral. Religiousness comes first, morality is only a by-product. If you make the by-product into the goal of human character, you will create such a troubled, miserable humanity—and for such a good cause. You are bringing the cart before the bullocks. Neither the bullocks can move, nor the cart can move; both are stuck.
How can a person be truthful if he does not know what truth is? How can a person be honest if he does not know even who he is? How can you be compassionate if you do not know the source of love within yourself? From where will you get the compassion? All that you can do in the name of morality is to become a hypocrite, a pretender. And there is nothing more ugly than to be a hypocrite. One can pretend, can try hard, but everything will remain superficial and skin-deep. Just scratch the person a little bit and you will find all the animal instincts fully alive, ready to take revenge whenever they can get the opportunity.
Putting morality before religiousness is one of the greatest crimes that religions have committed against humanity. The very idea brings a repressed human being. And a repressed human being is sick, psychologically split, constantly in a fight with himself, trying to do things he does not want to do.
Morality should be very relaxed and easy, just like your shadow—you don’t have to drag it with you, it simply comes on its own. But this has not happened; what has happened is a psychologically sick humanity. Everybody is tense, because whatever you are doing there is a conflict about whether it is right or wrong. Your nature goes in one direction, your conditioning goes just in the opposite direction. And a house divided cannot stand for long. So everybody is somehow pulling himself together; otherwise the danger is always there, just by your side, of having a nervous breakdown.
I do not teach morality at all. Morality should come of its own accord. I teach you directly the experience of your own being. As you become more and more silent, serene, calm, and quiet, as you start understanding your own consciousness, as your inner being becomes more and more centered, your actions will reflect morality. It will not be something that you decide to do, it will be something as natural as roses on a rosebush. It is not that the rosebush is doing great austerities, and fasting, and praying to God, and disciplining itself according to the Ten Commandments; the rosebush is doing nothing. The rosebush has just to be healthy, nourished, and the flowers will come in their own time, with great beauty, effortlessly.
A morality that comes with effort is immoral. A morality that comes without effort is the only morality there is.
That’s why I don’t talk about morality at all, because it is morality that has created so many problems for humanity—about everything. They have given you ready-made ideas about what is right, what is wrong. In life, ready-made ideas don’t work, because life goes on changing, just like a river—taking new turns, moving into new territories … from the mountains to the valleys, from the valleys to the plains, from the plains to the ocean.
Heraclitus is right when he says, “You cannot step in the same river twice,” because it is always flowing. The second time you step in, it is different water. I agree with Heraclitus so much that I say unto you, you cannot step in the same river even once, because when your feet are touching its surface the water underneath is flowing; as your feet are going deeper, the water on the surface is flowing; and by the time you have touched the bottom, so much water has gone … it is not the same water. Your step can not be said to be entering into the same river.
Life is just like the river, a flux. And you are all carrying fixed dogmas. You always find yourself unfit, because if you follow your dogmas, you have to go against life; if you follow life, you have to go against your dogmas. Hence my whole effort is to make your morality spontaneous. You should be conscious and alert, and respond to every situation with absolute consciousness. Then whatever you do is right. It is not a question of actions being right or wrong. It is a question of consciousness, of whether you are doing it consciously or unconsciously like a robot.
My whole philosophy is based on growing your consciousness higher, deeper, to the point when there is no unconsciousness inside you; you have become a pillar of light. In this light, in this clarity, to do anything wrong becomes impossible. It is not that you have to avoid doing it; even if you want to do it, you cannot. And in this consciousness, whatsoever you do becomes a blessing.
Your action out of consciousness is moral, out of unconsciousness is immoral … it may be the same action.
I am reminded of an old story: a king was getting old, and he told his only son, who was going to succeed him, “Before I die you have to learn the art of morality, because a king has to be a model for everyone else in the kingdom; nothing should go wrong in your actions. So I am sending you today to my old master. I am old, he is even older than me, so don’t waste time. Learn everything intensely, totally, without wasting a single moment.”
The prince went to the master and he was surprised—surprised by the fact that the master was a master of swordsmanship: “What has swordsmanship to do with morality? Has my father gone senile?” But he had come to the mountains, so he thought, “It is better to see the old man at least once.”
He went in. The old man was immensely beautiful and graceful, surrounded by an aura of silence and peace. The prince had been thinking he was going to meet a warrior, a swordsman, but here was a sage. He was getting even more puzzled. He asked the old man, “Are you the master swordsman?” He said, “You are right.”
The prince said, “I have been sent by my father, the king, who is your disciple, to learn morality from you. I cannot see any connection at all between morality and swordsmanship.” The old man laughed and he said, “Soon you will see.”
The prince said, “I am in a hurry. My father is old, and before he dies I want to fulfill his desire.” The master said, “Then get lost, because these things cannot be learned in a hurry. Patience, infinite patience is the very foundation of learning any art, whether it is swordsmanship or it is morality.”
Looking at the old man’s eyes, the prince decided to remain. He said, “When are my lessons going to start?” The old man said, “Just now they have started. Patience is your first lesson. And about the second lesson I should make you aware. The second lesson is that you will be cleaning the floors, cleaning in the garden, collecting the old leaves, throwing them out. Be very careful, because I may hit you with a wooden sword at any moment. Although it is wooden, it hits really hard. It has given many people fractures.”
The prince said, “But I have come here to learn morality, not to get fractures!” The old man said, “That will come in its own time, this is only the beginning.” Puzzled, confused … but he knew his father, that if he went back empty-handed the old man would be really enraged. He had to learn. On both sides two mad, old people.… “And this man is trying to teach me morality by hitting me! But let us see what happens.”
And the master started hitting him! He would be washing the floor, and suddenly a hit would come. He would be cleaning the path in the garden, and suddenly a hit would come. But he was surprised to see that within a week, a certain intuition was arising in him. Even before the old man had approached him, he would jump out of his way. Whatever he was doing, some part of his consciousness was continuously alert to the old man, where he was. The old man walked so silently that it was almost impossible to be aware of him, but the young prince started being conscious because getting so many hits, his whole body was hurting!
It continued for one month. But in one month he became so capable that the old man was no longer able to hit him. The old man said, “You are really the son of your father. He was also very keen, intense, and total in learning; it won’t take much time. Your first lesson is finished today, because for twenty-four hours I have been trying to hit you, but you have been always alert and saved yourself.
“From tomorrow morning you will have to be more alert, because the wooden sword will be replaced by a real sword. The wooden sword at the most could have given you a fracture, but the real sword may even cut off your head. So more awareness will be needed.”
But this one month had been of such great learning … the prince was never aware that inside him there was so much possibility of intuitive awareness. He was trained, well-trained intellectually, but he had no idea of any intuitiveness. And he was not afraid even of the real sword, because he said, “It is the same. If you cannot hit me with the wooden sword, you cannot hit me with the real sword either. It makes no difference to me.”
For one month the old man was trying in every possible way to hit him with the real sword, and naturally the prince became more and more alert—had to become, there was no other alternative. And one complete month passed and the old man could not even touch him. He was very happy, and he said, “I am immensely satisfied. Now the third lesson. Up to now I was hitting you only while you were awake. From this evening, remember that in the night when you are asleep I may hit you at any time. Again it will start with the wooden sword.”
The prince became a little worried—awake it was one thing, but when you are asleep? But these two months had given him tremendous respect, a trust in the old man and his art and also a confidence about his own intuition. He thought, “If he says it, then perhaps intuition never sleeps.”
And that proved to be the truth. The body sleeps, the mind sleeps, but the intuition is always awake; its very nature is awareness, but we never look at it. He had to look, he had to remain alert, even asleep.
The old man started hitting him, and a few times he got really bad hits. But he was grateful, not angry, because after each hit he was becoming more and more alert, even in sleep—just like a small flame, something remained alive in him, alert and watchful. And just in one month he was again able to protect himself even in his sleep. As the old man would come close, very silently, making no noise, no footstep sounds, but the young man would jump up out of his bed. He may have been fast asleep, but something remained awake.
The next morning the old man said, “Now the last lesson—I will be hitting you with a real sword. And you know my sword, just a single hit and you are finished. You have to gather all your consciousness.” The young man was a little worried, a little afraid, because the game was becoming more and more dangerous.
In the early morning sun the old man was reading a book, sitting under a tree in the rising sun, and the young man was gathering the old leaves from the garden. Suddenly a thought came to him, “This old man has been hitting me for months; it will be a great idea … I should try to hit him and see whether he is alert or not.”
And he was just twenty or twenty-five feet away, when he was just thinking this in his mind—he had not done anything yet—and the old man said, “Boy, I am very old, and your teaching is not finished yet. Don’t have such ideas.” The prince could not believe it. He came and touched his feet, and said, “Forgive me, but I had not done anything, I was only thinking … just an idea.”
The old man said, “When you become fully alert even the sound of your thoughts is heard. It is a question of awareness. You don’t have to do anything, you just think and I will know. And soon you will become capable of the same—just a little more patience.”
Soon the day came when he started suddenly becoming aware that the old man was thinking of hitting him … for no reason. The old man was sitting reading his book, but the idea came so clearly that he went to the master, and said, “So you are going to hit me again? Just a few seconds before I heard the idea.” The master said, “You are right, I was just thinking to finish the page and come. Now there is no need for you to be here. I know your father is old and is waiting for you.”
But the young man said, “What happened to the lessons in morality?” The old man said, “Forget all about it. A man who is so alert can only be moral. He cannot harm anybody, he cannot steal, he cannot be unkind, cruel; he will be naturally loving and compassionate. You forget all about morality!”
This awareness is what I call religiousness.
The prince went back. The father was waiting and waiting, and he said, “Have you learned the whole art of swordsmanship?” The young man said, “You sent me to learn the art of morality. From where have you got the idea of swordsmanship?” The king said, “I sent you to learn morality, swordsmanship was only a device.”
There are many devices, many ways and methods of meditation to create awareness, to wake up your sleeping intuition. And once it is awake, then there is no need to tell you what is good, what is moral, what is bad, what is immoral; your awareness will be decisive on its own. And it will be spontaneous, fresh and young, and always to the point, because all principles become dead. And if you try to fit your life according to principles, you also become dead.
That’s what has happened to Christians, to Hindus, to Mohammedans, to Jainas, to all the people around the world: they are living according to dead principles. And those dead principles don’t fit with the reality—they cannot fit. Only a spontaneous consciousness …
The difference is something like this: you have a photograph of yourself of the last year, or maybe of your childhood, and if you don’t know that it is your picture of your childhood, you may not even recognize it because you have changed so much. That picture is dead, it is not growing; you are growing. Morality is like photographs. Religiousness is like a mirror. If a child is facing it, it reflects the child; if an old man is facing it, it reflects the old man. It is always spontaneous, in the moment, responding to reality. A conscious human being is just like a mirror: he reflects reality and responds accordingly. His response is moral.
So I am changing the whole emphasis from action to awareness.
And if more and more people can become aware, the world will be a totally different place. A man of awareness will not go to war. Although religious scriptures say that to sacrifice yourself for your nation, for your religion is virtuous, a man of consciousness cannot follow that dead idea. To him, the nation itself is an immoral idea because it divides humanity. And war is certainly immoral. You may find good names, good words—sometimes it is religion, sometimes it is political ideology, sometimes it is Christianity, sometimes it is communism—good ideas, but the reality is turning human beings into butchers. You are killing people whom you have never even met. And you know perfectly well that just as you have left a wife behind, crying, who will be waiting for you, just as you have left your old mother and father back at home, hoping that their son comes back alive, just as you have left small children … the man you are killing has also a wife, has also children, has also an old father and mother. And he has done no harm to you; neither have you done any harm to him.
If the world becomes a little more conscious, soldiers will throw away their arms and hug each other, sit down together under a tree and gossip. The politicians cannot force all the armies to kill, to murder. Neither can the popes, the religious leaders, convince anybody that for God’s sake you have to kill. Strange … because God has created everybody. Whomsoever you are killing, you are killing God’s creation. If it is true that God created the world, then there should be no war. It is one family; there should be no nations. These are immoral things: the nations, the religions, anything that discriminates against people and creates conflict.
A man of awareness will not be greedy, because he will be able to see that his greed will create poverty; and the people who will be starving and dying through poverty are his brothers and sisters. It does not matter whether they live in Ethiopia or in India; it does not matter whether their skin is white or black.
Authentic morality is a by-product of consciousness. And the art of consciousness is religion. There is no Hindu religion, there is no Christian religion, there is no Mohammedan religion; there is only one religion, and that is the religion of consciousness—becoming so aware, so enlightened and awakened that you have eyes to see clearly and can respond according to that clarity.
A man of consciousness cannot be deceived by words. Mohammedans say that if you die in a religious war … how can there be a religious war? War is basically irreligious. But Christians, Mohammedans, and all other religions say that if you die in a religious war, your reward will be great in the other world. For this immoral act of killing people, you will be rewarded. Beautiful words, “religious war,” cover it up.
A man of awareness sees deeply and penetratingly through your words. Neither your God can deceive him, nor your holy books can deceive him, nor your nations, nor your politicians. He lives according to his consciousness. He has an individuality, a very crystal clear individuality—a pure mirror, unclouded by anything, with no dust covering it.
But for thousands of years just mere words, and sometimes such stupid, trivial causes, have been killing people.
Christianity in the Middle Ages burned thousands of women. They created a fiction, the fiction of the devil. There is no devil. There is no God! But people have lived in unconsciousness, and whatsoever the leaders, the so-called saints, go on saying, people have been told to believe: if you don’t believe you will suffer in hell; if you believe you will be rewarded. People’s intelligence has been destroyed. They have been kept retarded. Otherwise it would be impossible to burn thousands of living women for a strange reason … that these women are having sexual intercourse with the devil. Now, nobody is having sexual intercourse with the devil. Only in the Middle Ages, suddenly, the devil became so much interested in women, and that too, only in Europe…!
A special court was created by the pope, so that if anybody suspects any woman is having some friendship with the devil, you have just to report to the court and the woman will be immediately imprisoned, tortured. And the torture was so intense. They had invented special methods of torture …
Just five, six years ago, something went wrong with my back. There were so many body workers in the commune and they all tried, but nobody succeeded in fixing it. Finally the best expert in the world from London was called, and he suggested a machine called traction. The machine was brought, and I was put on the machine. And while they were fastening the belts and straps, I remembered that I have read that this traction machine was created in the Middle Ages by the Christian priests, to torture women. It pulls your legs to one side and your hands to another side. Naturally it pulls your backbone, so if the backbone has slipped somewhere it comes into line.
It was just an accidental invention. One old woman they were torturing had been suffering for twenty years from a bad back, and after their traction, she could not believe it when she stood up—her pain was gone. That’s how the traction machine was transferred from the church to the hospital. It is really torturous, and if you are using it just to torture, then you can go on pulling.… Sometimes even hands were broken, legs were taken out. The torture was so much that the women thought it was better to confess, because as long as they went on saying, “I have nothing to do with the devil, I don’t know the devil,” the torture continued. It would stop only when you confessed that you were having sexual intercourse with the devil. Thousands of women confessed that they had been having sexual intercourse with the devil. And once they had confessed before the court, then there was no problem. The punishment was to burn the woman alive at the crossroads in the middle of the city.
Nobody ever bothered about whether there was any devil. It was just a word—nobody had seen the devil. If you had tortured these women to make a confession that they are having intercourse with God, they would have confessed that too! There is a limit to the suffering one can tolerate.
Just mere words … but why have people enjoyed killing, suffering, torturing? Because they themselves are unhappy … so unhappy, so miserable, they cannot see anybody else being blissful, being joyous. They want everybody else to suffer more than they are suffering.
Morality has been a very good device to torture people: you don’t have to torture them, they torture themselves. Even to make love to your own wife is a sin! Sex is sin, and anything connected with sex becomes sin. Now sex is something natural—there is no way to avoid it. So you are putting man into a dilemma: fixing in his mind that sex is immoral, and giving him a nature which is sexual and sensuous.
It has been discovered that millions of men around the world suffer from migraines after making love. I was reading a report of a Christian scientist—because he is Christian, his mind is conditioned himself. He is trying to find all kinds of causes why men suffer from migraines. He has been working on the project for one year continually. Just now he has produced his report, giving many, many causes—physiological, chemical—and the reality is so simple, there is no need of any investigation. The reality is that you have divided men’s minds into two parts. One part says, “What you are doing is wrong. Don’t do it”; the other part says, “It is impossible to resist the temptation. I’m going to do it.” These two parts start struggling, conflicting. Migraine is nothing but a conflict, a deep conflict, in your mind. No aboriginal suffers from migraine after making love. Catholics suffer more than anybody else, because their conditioning is so deep that it creates a split in their mind. What they have been saying for centuries is without any base, without any evidence, but they go on repeating it. And once … even if a lie is repeated too often, it starts looking as if it is true.
One should be very much aware about words.
A man goes into a bar and begins to tell a Polish joke. The man sitting next to him, a big, hulking, powerhouse of a man, turns and says menacingly, “I’m Polish. Now you just wait a minute till I get my sons.”
He then calls out, “Ivan, come out here; and bring your brother.” Two men, bigger than the first, appear from the back room. “Joseph,” the man calls out, “You and your cousin come in here.” Two more men, the biggest of all, come in through the back door. All five men crowd around the man with the joke.
“Now,” says the first Polish man, “Do you want to finish that joke?”
“No,” says the man.
“No? And why not?” says the Polish man, opening and closing his fist. “Are you scared?”
“No,” says the man, “I just don’t feel like having to explain it to five men.”
People are very clever with words. They can hide any kind of reality. He is afraid—those five men can kill him—but he finds a beautiful excuse: “I don’t want to bother myself, explaining to five people the meaning of the joke.”
All the religions have been playing with words, and have not allowed man to be intelligent enough to see through the words. They have created a jungle of words and theologies and dogmas and creeds and cults. And poor man is simply carrying the whole load of it in the name of morality.
I want to tell you, never bother about morality. The only concern for a sincere seeker is awareness, more consciousness. Your consciousness will take care of all your acts. Without any effort, your acts will become moral—just like flowers, without any act, without any effort they will blossom around you.
Morality is nothing but a conscious person’s lifestyle.
Don’t people need a certain code of conduct? And isn’t a moral character necessary for a spiritual life?
My whole effort is to give you a consciousness, not a character. Consciousness is the real thing, character the false entity. Character is needed by those who don’t have consciousness. If you have eyes, you don’t need a walking stick to find your way, to grope your way. If you can see you don’t ask others, “Where is the door?” Character is needed because people are unconscious. Character is just a lubricant; it helps you to run your life in a smooth way.
George Gurdjieff used to say character is like a buffer. Buffers are used in railway trains; between two compartments there are buffers. If something happens, those two compartments cannot clash with each other; these buffers prevent them from clashing with each other. Or it is like springs: cars have springs so you can move smoothly, even on an Indian road. Those springs go on absorbing the shocks; they are called shock absorbers.
That’s what character is: it is a shock absorber. People are told to be humble. If you learn how to be humble it is a shock absorber. By learning how to be humble you will be able to protect yourself against other people’s egos. They will not hurt you so much; you are a humble man. If you are egoistic you are bound to be hurt again and again. The ego is very sensitive, so you cover up your ego with a blanket of humbleness. It helps, it gives you a kind of smoothness, but it does not transform you.
My work consists of transformation. This is an alchemical school: I want to transform you from unconsciousness into consciousness, from darkness into light. I cannot give you a character; I can only give you insight, awareness. I would like you to live moment to moment, not according to a set pattern given by me or given by the society, the church, the state. I would like you to live according to your own small light of awareness, according to your own consciousness. Be responsive to each moment.
Character means you have a certain ready-made answer for all the questions of life, so whenever a situation arises you respond according to the set pattern. Because you respond according to the ready-made answer it is not a true response, it is only a reaction. The man of character reacts, the man of consciousness responds: he takes the situation in, he reflects the reality as it is, and out of that reflection he acts. The man of character reacts, the man of consciousness acts. The man of character is mechanical; robot-like he functions. He has a computer in his mind, full of information; ask him anything and a ready-made answer rolls out of his computer.
A man of consciousness simply acts in the moment, not out of the past and out of the memory. His response has a beauty, a naturalness, and his response is true to the situation. The man of character always falls short, because life is continuously changing; it is never the same. And your answers are always the same, they never grow—they can’t grow, they are dead. You have been told a certain thing in your childhood; it has remained there. You have grown, life has changed, but that answer that was given by your parents or by your teachers or by your priests is still there. So if something happens, you will function according to that answer which was given to you fifty years ago. And in fifty years so much water has gone down the Ganges; it is a totally different life. Heraclitus says you cannot step in the same river twice. And I say to you that you cannot step in the same river even once, the river is so fast-flowing.
Character is stagnant; it is a dirty pool of water. Consciousness is a river.
That’s why I don’t give my people any code of conduct. I give them eyes to see, a consciousness to reflect, a mirrorlike being to be able to respond to any situation that arises. I don’t give them detailed information about what to do and what not to do; I don’t give them ten commandments. And if you start giving people commandments then you cannot stop at ten, because life is far more complex.
In Buddhist scriptures there are thirty-three thousand rules for a Buddhist monk. Thirty-three thousand rules! For every possible situation that may ever arise, they have given a ready-made answer. But how are you going to remember thirty-three thousand rules of conduct? And a person who is cunning enough to remember thirty-three thousand rules of conduct will be clever enough to find a way out always; if he does not want to do a certain thing he will find a way out. If he wants to do a certain thing he will find a way to do it.
I have heard about a Christian saint: somebody hit him on his face, because just that day in his morning discourse he had said, “Jesus says if somebody slaps you on one cheek, give him the other.” One man who was listening to that discourse wanted to try it, so he hit the saint, really hit him hard on one cheek. The saint was really true to his word: he gave him the other cheek. But that man was also something: he hit even harder on the other cheek! Then he was surprised: the saint jumped on him and started beating him! The man said, “What are you doing? You are a saint, and just this morning you were saying that if somebody hits you on one cheek, give him the other.”
He said, “Yes, but I don’t have a third cheek and Jesus stops with two. Now I am free; now I will do what I want to do. Jesus has no more information about it.”
It happened exactly like that in Jesus’ life also. Once he told a disciple, “Forgive seven times.” The disciple said, “Okay.” The way he said, “Okay,” Jesus became suspicious; he said, “Seventy-seven times, I say.”
The disciple was a little disturbed, but he said, “Okay—because numbers don’t end at seventy-seven. What about seventy-eight? Then I am free, then I can do what I want to do!”
How many rules can you make for people? It is stupid, meaningless. That’s how people are religious and still they are not religious: they always find a way to get out of those rules of conduct and commandments. They can always find a way through the back door.
Character can, at the most, give you only a skin-deep, pseudo mask. Not even skin-deep—just scratch your saints a little bit and you will find the animal hidden behind. On the surface they look beautiful, but only on the surface.
I don’t want you to be superficial; I want you to really change. But a real change happens through the center of your being, not through the circumference. Character is painting the circumference; consciousness is transformation of the center.
Once a carpenter was working in a church and he hit his thumb with a hammer. “Fuck’s sake!” he yelled.
The vicar happened to be passing and heard him. “You cannot use that kind of language here. This is a house of God,” he admonished.
“Pardon, Vicar, but what’s a man to say when he whacks his thumb with a hammer?”
“You can say, ‘God preserve me,’ or ‘Jesus help me,’” suggested the vicar.
Later, when the carpenter was sawing a piece of wood, he sawed right through his finger, which dropped to the floor. “God preserve me!” cried the carpenter, and the finger jumped back upon the hand and healed itself.
“Fuck’s sake!” exclaimed the vicar.
Are you against even the effort to cultivate a moral character?
First, to cultivate anything is to become pseudo. Cultivation means you will be creating something around yourself which you are not. Cultivation means you will create a split, cultivation means you will create a facade. Cultivation means you will live camouflaged: you will be one thing and you will pretend to be something else; you will do one thing and you will say another thing.
Cultivation means you will repress—that’s why I am against cultivation. Cultivation does not create true morality; it creates only ugly puritans. It creates only the so-called righteous; it creates people who are pretenders. It creates the attitude of holier-than-thou, that’s all. It gives a great ego satisfaction.
It also creates a prison. When you cultivate something, you are imprisoned in it because deep down you are just the contrary. For example, you are violent—you can cultivate nonviolence. What will be the result? On the surface there will be a thin layer of nonviolence, but only on the surface; it will not even be skin deep. Scratch any nonviolent man just a little bit and you will find violence arising. Beware of nonviolent people; they are the most dangerous people if you scratch them.
If you scratch a violent person he may not be so violent, because he does not carry a long-repressed violence in him; he does not accumulate. He explodes once in a while so there is no accumulation. But the nonviolent person, the Gandhian, the so-called religious person, beware of him; he is a dangerous person. He is carrying great explosive forces in himself. Just a little scratch will prove to be a spark and he will explode; he can prove murderous, he can be very dangerous. And when you create nonviolence around yourself and inside you are boiling with violence, you live in a prison.
A newspaper was running a competition to discover the most high-principled, sober, well-behaved local inhabitant. Among the entries came one which read: “I don’t smoke, touch intoxicants, or gamble. I am faithful to my wife and never look at other women. I am hardworking, quiet, and obedient. I never go to the theater or the cinema. I go to bed early every night and rise at dawn. I attend chapel regularly every Sunday without fail. I have been like this for three years … but just wait till next spring when they let me out of here!”
Just look at your so-called moral people—they are living in a prison. And they all have to become hypocrites. They all have to have back doors to their lives, otherwise they will go crazy. Cultivated morality arouses only two alternatives: one is to go mad—if the person is sincere he will go mad—and the other alternative is that he will be a hypocrite. Naturally, people choose to be hypocrites rather than going mad, and I cannot condemn them either. That is more intelligent.
That’s why you see such hypocrites all over the place around the world. They are everywhere—pretenders. You know them. They live a totally different life behind the walls. They have two lives, and their real life is underground. They are living in such inner conflict that they cannot be happy. And the person who is not happy will not allow anybody else to be happy, either. These people are sad, they have long faces; they are tense, they live in constant conflict and anguish, and they would like everybody to live like that. Naturally, they will condemn all joy, they will condemn all laughter. They will condemn everything that is playful, that is fun. They will reduce you to utter seriousness, and seriousness is illness, it is pathological.
Life is available only to those who are playful. Life is not for the serious; for the serious is the grave. Life is for those who are festive, who know how to celebrate.
I am against cultivating a moral character because cultivating a moral character does not give you real morality. That’s why I am against it. The real morality has not to be cultivated: it comes as a shadow of being more aware. It is a consequence of consciousness.
If your conscience is not a consequence of your consciousness, then your conscience is ugly, dangerous, poisonous. Then your conscience is nothing but the policeman that the society has implanted in you. Then your conscience is nothing but your parental voice, the priests shouting inside you, “Don’t do this—do that!” You are not free, you are not a free human being: you are controlled from within—a very subtle strategy to control humanity. That’s what your so-called conscience is.
The real conscience does not come from the outside: it wells up within you; it is part of your consciousness. I don’t say cultivate morality; I say become more conscious, and you will be moral. But that morality will have a totally different flavor to it. It will be spontaneous; it will not be ready-made. It will be moment-to-moment alive, flowing, changing. It will reflect all the colors of life. It will be appropriate to the moment; it will be responsible. You will respond to the situation with full awareness—not because Moses has said to do it, not because Jesus has said to follow it, but because your own God inside feels this is the way to respond. Then you are functioning from the very source of consciousness, and that is true morality. It has not to be cultivated. The cultivated means the false.
That’s why I say the real person of character has no character. The real person of character is characterless. The real person of character cannot afford to have a character, because the character means that which you have learned in the past; character means the past. You have to respond to the present moment—your character will come between you and the present. It will force you to behave according to the past pattern, and when you behave according to the past pattern you are never appropriate.
So your so-called moral people are never appropriate, they cannot be. They miss the moment. They function out of the past so they cannot relate to the present. And there is only one life, and that is to relate to the present.
He met a girl at a football game, and they hit it off so well that he took her to a show. That went fine, so he asked her to dinner. They enjoyed a leisurely dinner at a good hotel and followed that with a nightclub and dancing.
Along toward midnight, they were having a snack at a table for two and he said to her, “You know, I have had a wonderful time ever since I met you this afternoon. I think we have hit it off swell together, don’t you?”
“Sure,” she agreed. “I have enjoyed it too.”
“I would like to have breakfast with you in the morning.” And he looked at her eagerly. “May I?”
“Yes,” she answered, “I would like that very much.”
“All right, what will I do: call you or nudge you?”
These are the roundabout ways, diplomatic ways. The so-called moral people cannot go direct in anything; they always go roundabout. They always have to be cautious, because they have to keep their masks; they cannot drop their masks. One lie leads into another ad infinitum, and slowly a person becomes just a bundle of lies.
The true man of character is authentic, is whatsoever he is. He is utterly nude, naked; he is not hiding. I would like the new humanity to be of those who are brave. Long we have lived like cowards; long we have suffered like cowards. It is time now to come into the open, under the sun—to be sincere, to be authentic, to be whatsoever you are. There is no need to hide, because every other human being is just like you. There are neither saints nor sinners but only human beings.
The whole dichotomy of the saints and the sinners is the by-product of the cultivated character. And you will be surprised that sinners are more innocent than your so-called saints. You will see in the eyes of sinners more the quality of childlikeness, more sincerity, more innocence, more truth than you will ever find in the eyes of your so-called saints. Their eyes will be cunning—they have to be, because cultivation brings cunningness.
I would like a totally different humanity in the world, where saints and sinners have disappeared, where there are only authentic people, open to the wind, open to the rain, open to the sun … open!
This will be a great problem for the society, because the open person immediately makes you uneasy if you are closed, because the open person immediately hits at the very root of your being. The open person immediately makes you feel inferior, ugly, false. The open person immediately makes you feel unintelligent, stupid.
That’s why Socrates is poisoned—he was an open person. Not a saint, but a man of tremendous awareness. A sage, not a saint. Jesus is crucified—a sage, not a saint—because he was not fulfilling the expectations of the society. He was moving with thieves—now saints don’t move with thieves. He was moving with socially condemned people: gamblers, drunkards, prostitutes. He was at ease with humanity at large, with everybody. This was not tolerable. The rabbis, the saints of those days, the moralistic people, the puritans, could not tolerate it. He had to be crucified.
This has been happening down the ages. Now this has to be stopped! You have crucified enough. Now we have to explode in such a tidal wave on the earth that even if they want to crucify, they cannot find so many crosses. One Jesus can be crucified, one Socrates can be poisoned.… My effort is to create so many open people that it becomes almost impossible to crucify and to poison them. To give the quality of openness, simpleness, innocence, to so many people—only then can the quality of this rotten society be changed, can it be made alive. It is dull, dead. Life no longer circulates in its veins.
I am against the cultivated moral character because it is neither moral nor healthy. I am against character because character creates only an armor around you; it is a defense measure, it does not allow you to be open. And a person who is not open lives in a grave.
People become cunning; they can’t say what they want. They can’t be true; they are always hiding, playing games, deceiving others and deceiving themselves. This is not the true way to live this tremendously beautiful life. This is not the way to appreciate this gift from God. One should live authentically. Authenticity is morality—and by “authenticity” I don’t mean following somebody else’s commandments but living according to your own light.
Be a light unto yourself, that’s all. That is my only message, and it will bring character and a character that will not be a prison. It will bring morality, and a morality which will not be hypocrisy. And it will bring a totally new kind of life to you: responsible, alive, innocent, playful … it will open the doors of the mysterious to you. If you are authentic, available, then God showers on you from all directions. It will bring great benediction to you—not the cultivated character but the uncultivated, spontaneous consciousness.
In your vision of religiousness, is there such a thing as sin?
Sin is a technique of the pseudo-religions. A true religion has no need of the concept at all. The pseudo-religion cannot live without the concept of sin, because sin is the technique of creating guilt in people.
You will have to understand the whole strategy of sin and guilt. Unless you make a person feel guilty, you cannot enslave him psychologically. It is impossible to imprison him in a certain ideology, a certain belief system. But once you have created guilt in his mind, you have taken all that is courageous in him. You have destroyed all that is adventurous in him. You have repressed all possibility of his ever being an individual in his own right. With the idea of guilt, you have almost murdered the human potential in him. He can never be independent. The guilt will force him to be dependent on a messiah, on a religious teaching, on God, on the concepts of heaven and hell, and the whole lot.
To create guilt, all that you need is a very simple thing: start calling mistakes, errors, “sins.” They are simply mistakes, human. Now, if somebody commits a mistake in mathematics—two plus two, and he concludes it makes five—you don’t say he has committed a sin. He is not alert, he is not paying attention to what he is doing. He is unprepared, he has not done his homework. He is certainly committing a mistake, but a mistake is not a sin. It can be corrected. A mistake does not make him feel guilty. At the most it makes him feel foolish.
What the pseudo-religions have done—and all the religions of the world have been pseudo-religions up to now—is to have exploited mistakes, errors, which are absolutely human, and condemned them as sin. Sin means it is not a simple mistake: you have gone against God; that’s the meaning of the word sin. Adam and Eve committed the original sin: they disobeyed God. Whenever somebody condemns you as committing a sin, he is saying in some way or other you are disobeying God.
Now, nobody knows who this God is, what is for him and what is against him. There are three hundred pseudo-religions on the earth. Just think of three hundred sciences upon the earth, three hundred schools of physics, condemning each other, finding fault with each other, declaring, “Only our school is the true school, and all the other schools are misleading humanity.” What will be the situation of the earth if there are three hundred schools of physics, three hundred schools of chemistry, three hundred schools of medicine, three hundred schools of mathematics—what will be the situation? The whole earth will go mad. And that is what has happened as far as religion is concerned.
And when I say three hundred, I am not counting sects within religions. For example, I am counting Christianity as one religion, not Catholics, Protestants—in fact they are two religions. And then there are subsects. If you counted them all, then three hundred would be a very small number; there might be three thousand. Everybody is giving you the word of God, and all these religions are giving contradictory statements.
If you listen to all religions, you cannot even breathe for a single moment, because whatever you do is a sin. Fortunately you are conditioned by only one pseudo-religion, so you don’t become aware that there are other idiots also—you are not alone—who are doing the same thing. Their rules are different, but they are playing the same game.
For example, a Jaina monk.… Now Jainism is a very small religion, only three hundred thousand people. We have more sannyasins than there are followers of Jainism. But they have two major sects, just like Catholics and Protestants, and then there are at least thirty subsects. And each subsect believes that this is the true Jainism, and the other twenty-nine either are befooling themselves or are cheating others.
One of these sects is Terapanth. The word terapanth means the divine way, God’s way. The monk of this sect keeps his nose covered, always covered—twenty-four hours a day, day and night, even in sleep—with a cloth, because to breathe directly is a sin. You are all committing sin and you have committed so much that now there is no hope; your whole life you have been committing sin. Except these few seven hundred people—there are only seven hundred monks in this sect—except these seven hundred people, the whole earth is full of sinners.
Just this much is enough to throw you to the seventh hell, because with each breath you are killing millions of germs. And, according to Jainism, the smallest germ that you cannot even see with your bare eyes—you need a microscope, you need to magnify it at least one thousand times, then you can see it—those smallest germs have the same soul as you have. There is no qualitative difference. Whether you kill a man or you kill a germ, it is all the same as far as God is concerned. In his eyes, you will not be given special treatment.
So the moment you breathe out, you throw out hot air. That hot air is enough to kill millions of germs in the air. When you breathe in, you breathe in millions of germs with your breathing, which will be killed inside you. So with each breath, what Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong did—what all three did combined—seems to be nothing. You are doing it in a simple breath.
Even at night they cannot remove the cloth. To talk to these people is difficult, because the cloth is covering their nose and their mouth too, because when you speak, air comes from your mouth, air goes in from your mouth, so they can’t speak without the cover. So the direct hit is avoided. But to talk to these people is very difficult; even to understand what they are saying is very difficult. They are just mumbling inside the covered mouth, the covered nose.
And the people who have not become monks but believe in Terapanth are continuously feeling guilty that they are breathing. I used to stay with a few Terapanthi friends in Bombay and this was the great burden on their soul, that they were not yet capable of renouncing the world and becoming monks—because unless you become a monk and renounce the world, you cannot avoid committing sin. If even breathing is a sin, then you can think anything can be a sin.
One of the oldest senators in India was my friend. He was known as the father of the Indian parliament. From 1916 up to ’78 he was a member of the parliament. Only one man in the whole history of the world was his competitor, and that was Winston Churchill; otherwise he has defeated everybody—just the length of time and continually being chosen. But he was a very mediocre man. Perhaps that was the reason people were choosing him again and again. He was not cunning; he was not really capable of being a politician; otherwise a man who remains for more than half a century a member of the parliament would have become a prime minister, a president, naturally. But he could not manage even to become a minister or a governor of a state. He was simple—better to say he was a simpleton.
What brought him to me was the death of his son. His son was also a politician, and very promising. He was already a deputy minister and in the next election he was going to become a minister. And the father—his name was Seth Govindadas—was projecting all his ambitions on the son. He could not become the prime minister of India, but his son was going to be. And he was very young, so there was every possibility that by the time he was fifty, sixty, he would become the prime minister.
But he suddenly died when he was only thirty-six. His death was a great shock to the old man. He was very rich. The British government had given Seth Govindadas’ father the title of Raja, the title of a king, although he was not a king. But he had so many riches and so much land, and he served the British government in every possible way, so the government recognized his services and gave him the title of Raja.
Seth Govindadas was the son of Raja Gokuldas, and his prestige was because he revolted against the British government and became a freedom fighter. That was his only quality, and the reason why people went on choosing him for parliament. That was enough for the poor people: that he was so rich, and that although the government respected his father so much, he had revolted against his father, revolted against the government, and his father had disowned him. These became his qualifications; otherwise he had no quality, intelligence, or anything. And because of him, his son went into the same profession. The son was cunning and intelligent, well educated.
His death was a great shock to Seth Govindadas. He started going to saints and asking, “Why has it happened?” And wherever he went—the simple answer of all pseudo-religions is the same—they all said, “You must have committed a sin in your past life. This is a punishment.”
I want to emphasize the point that he went to different religious saints, but the answer was the same. The strategy was the same: “You have committed some sin, this is the result of it. Now, repent! Now, do something good, be virtuous.” Of course the virtue prescribed by all these saints was different. One Hindu monk suggested, “From now onward stop eating salt completely.”
He asked, “But how is that going to help?”
The monk said, “That is going to help because when you don’t eat salt, your whole food becomes tasteless”—particularly Indian food will become absolutely tasteless without salt—“and to eat not for taste is a virtue; to eat for taste is a sin. To eat for taste is to follow the body and your soul is being manipulated, enslaved by the body. That’s what sin is, the body on top of your soul; the body is the master, and the soul is functioning like a slave, so wherever the body takes it, it goes.
“Just turn it the other way round: whatsoever your body says, don’t do it. Your body will ask for salt—don’t eat salt. Slowly stop eating sugar. Slowly make your food absolutely tasteless, so you just eat it to keep the life that God has given to you somehow alive; then you are not interested in this life, you are preparing for the future life.” Now, salt is a need of the body. You need a particular amount of salt in your body, otherwise you will become weak. Your body, whatsoever it asks, is not wrong. It asks because it is its need.
These people are making your physical needs into sins. Naturally your body will continue to ask for salt. You will force the body not to eat salt, but the body will be continuously asking and hankering for it. That will make trouble: either you will torture your body or you may start eating the salt and committing the sin. In both ways, just a simple thing, salt, has turned you into a sick person. Now your psychology is not healthy.
Meeting many of these people … and Seth Govindadas was a famous person, so any saint was ready to meet him, happy to meet him, and always ready to suggest ideas to him. I had lived in his own city for twenty years, and he had never bothered to come to me. In fact, any politician in India was afraid to be seen with me or to be known to come to me. The masses will turn against the politician—and not just small politicians. This man was a very established person, fifty years, more than fifty years as a member of parliament. Then what has he to fear? But he had never come to see me.
He used to hear about me. People were talking about me, even the prime minister. While he was in parliament, many prime ministers changed. One prime minister, Lalbahadur Shastri, inquired about me. Seth Govindadas said, “I have heard his name, but I don’t know him personally.” Lalbahadur told me, “It is strange: this man is a member of parliament from your constituency, and he does not know you.”
I said, “You should understand his position. If he comes to see me … of course I am not going to see him, I have no reason to see him. I have never voted for anybody because all the idiots are the same. Only the labels are different, so there is no point in voting. I have never voted. What should I go and see him for? There is no reason. And from his side … you should understand, you are a politician. Are you courageous enough to come to my house?”
He was a very nice man. He laughed, he said, “You are right; now I understand. Anybody coming to your house would get into difficulty. This man’s seat could be lost.”
Indira Gandhi was continuously asking him how I am, what I am doing, what is going on. She wanted to come to see me; at least five times the date was fixed, and at the last moment she would find some excuse and never managed to come to see me … “Because,” her colleagues would say to her, “this is dangerous. Your going to see him will be very dangerous for your political career. And the opposition party will use your going to him as one of the most important factors against you.” So every time she backed out.
But when the son, Raja Gokuldas, died, this old man—perhaps in that deep sadness—forgot about his politics and parliament and came to see me. And he said, “Everywhere that I have gone they say I must have committed some sin, that’s why I am suffering this loss of my young son. And they have suggested measures so that in the future life I don’t suffer.”
I said, “They have given you enough measures to suffer right now, in this life. And you should have asked what sin you have committed in your past lives. They all would have differed; they cannot know what sin you have committed in your past lives, they all would have had to do some guesswork. It is so stupid … that just by stopping eating salt or sugar, you think you will become virtuous? You will only become guilty.”
He said, “You are right. That is what I have become. I have been following all these people, thinking that they are wise people, and they have made me a mess. Whatsoever I do is wrong. And whatsoever they suggest I should do seems to be unnatural, forced. Even if I try, I fail.”
Sin is a strategy to destroy you, to demolish you, to slaughter you as an individual. And then you are in the hands of the priest. Then whatsoever he says, you have to follow. You cannot argue because it is written in the scriptures. And to argue against the scriptures is again a sin. The scripture has to be treated like a person.
I was staying in Jalandhar in Punjab. In the morning when I was going for a walk, I passed by a place where the Sikhs keep a small temple—those who can afford to build a temple, and this was a very rich man’s house. It was a beautiful marble temple, a small temple, in which they keep the Guru Granth Sahib, their holy book. That was okay. The holy book was there, but by the side of the holy book there was toothpaste, a brush, and a jug full of hot water, because it was winter.
I asked my host, “What is the matter? I can understand the temple. I can understand the Guru Granth Sahib.…” In fact, to use the word sahib is to make the book a person. Sahib is not used for things, it is just when you are paying respect to somebody. It came with the Britishers in India. They were the masters and Indians started calling them sahib. It was an old word, but sahib means “very respectful person.” Nobody calls a book sahib. But Sikhs call their book Guru Granth Sahib—guru means the master.
The tenth guru of the Sikhs proclaimed, “I am the last guru, and from now onwards the book”—in which the sayings of all the ten masters, including him, the last, are collected—“will be the master. From now onwards, there will be nobody who will be the master but the book.” So guru means the master; granth means the collection, because it is not one person’s written book but ten people’s statements, so it is a compilation, a collection. And then sahib: that means honorable, respectable master.
I said, “I can understand that you pay respect to the sayings of your masters, but why are you keeping this water, toothpaste, toothbrush in the temple?”
He said, “You are not aware of our customs. The master, in the morning, will need to wash his mouth, to clean his teeth. The book…”
I said, “Okay, but has any of your ten masters known about the toothbrush or toothpaste? At that time there was no toothpaste available.”
He said, “That’s right. This is very modern.”
Five hundred years ago, certainly, Binaca toothpaste…? And made in Switzerland—when you give to the guru, you give something imported. Binaca toothpaste is made in India also, the same company makes the paste, but when you offer it to the guru then you offer the imported Binaca toothpaste. If you don’t do it, then you will feel guilty, because all the Sikhs are doing it. At breakfast time, you will bring breakfast—and you know that this is a book! You know it, you are not blind. Lunchtime, lunch … and every time you carry everything back. The book eats nothing, but that is beside the point. If your society conditions your mind for any stupidity and you don’t want to do it, your conscience will prick you.
You have to understand these two words: conscience and consciousness. Consciousness is yours. Conscience is given by the society. It is an imposition over your consciousness. Different societies impose different ideas over your consciousness, but they all impose something or other. And once something is imposed over your consciousness, you cannot hear your consciousness; it is far away. Between your consciousness and you stands a thick wall of conscience that the society has imposed on you from your very childhood—and it works.
Up to the age of sixteen I had never eaten anything in the night. It is impossible in a Jaina house. You cannot find anything to eat because everything, as the sun sets, is finished. If something is left, it is given to the beggars; in the house you cannot find a single thing to eat. So there is no question even of stealing or, when your parents have gone to sleep, going to the kitchen. There is nothing; you cannot find anything.
You cannot go out in a small village, because everybody knows everybody. You cannot go to a restaurant because they will immediately say, “What…?!” They may not be Jainas but they know you are a Jaina. They will say, “So you have started eating in the night? Okay. Tomorrow, let your father pass by and I will speak to him.” So even if you are feeling hungry, there is no way.… Up to the age of sixteen I had never eaten during the night.
When I was sixteen, the whole school was going for a picnic to a nearby castle, a very beautiful mountain covered with jungle, so I went with them. All the students in my class except me were Hindus or Mohammedans. I was the only Jaina. The day was so beautiful, and there was so much to see and wander around, they were not interested in preparing food during the day. They said, “Food we will take in the night.” It was going to be a full moon night, and a beautiful river was at the side of the castle, so “we will take food in the night.” They were not going to prepare it earlier just for me, and I could not say to them, “I cannot eat in the night.” I thought it was better to starve rather than to become a laughingstock, because they would all laugh and say, “Then you can make some food for yourself!” and I had never made anything, not even a cup of tea, in my life.
Even today I cannot manage a cup of tea. In fact I don’t know where the kitchen is. I cannot find it unless somebody leads me. I don’t know where the kitchen is in this house. And in my own house as a child, of course, I was not allowed in the kitchen at all. That’s why I cannot even prepare a cup of tea. Because I was mixing with Mohammedans and Hindus and untouchables I was not allowed in the kitchen. My family said, “Unless you change your ways…”
The whole house used to eat inside the kitchen, I used to eat outside the kitchen. I was just an outcast, because they could not rely on me, from where I was coming, with whom I had been talking, whom I had touched; they had no idea. “Either you take a bath right now, and then you can enter…” Now, how many times would I have to take a bath? So I settled it, I said, “It is good; also, no quarrel every day. I will eat outside, and I am perfectly happy outside.”
Those boys on the picnic prepared really beautiful food, and it was even more beautiful because I was so hungry … and the smell of it … and they started persuading me: “Nobody is going to tell your parents, we promise that nobody will talk about it at all.” I was hungry, on the one hand, and their food was really delicious, the way they were making it. They were persuading and they were promising, and I thought, “If all these people are going to hell, why worry? I can also go to hell. In fact, without all my friends, what am I going to do in heaven? With those Jaina monks it is not going to be good company. I don’t like them and they are not going to like me either. The people I like are these, and these are all going to hell, that is certain.” That had been told to me from the very beginning—that eating in the night is the greatest sin.
Now it’s strange … but in Mahavira’s time perhaps there was some point in it because there was no light in most of the people’s houses. People were so poor that they used to eat in darkness, so they could eat any insect, anything. Mahavira’s concern was not the night, his concern was that people not eat insects, ants, any living thing. And that was his teaching: if you eat any living thing, you have committed a sin. So to keep the question completely closed, he declared, “To eat in the night is a sin.” He cut the whole situation from the very roots. But now more light is available than there is in the day, now there is no problem. But the scriptures were written twenty-five centuries ago, and Mahavira has closed the door. Nothing can be added, nothing can be deleted. The final word is there.
So I thought that at the most I would be going to hell, but all my friends would be there and they were good cooks; it would be worth it. So I said, “Okay.” But I was not aware of the phenomenon of conscience, up to that moment. I ate with them. It was delicious, and I was hungry. The whole day moving around for miles on the mountain had made me even more hungry. But somewhere deep down there was a revolt. I started feeling nauseous, and as I finished I started vomiting. There was nothing wrong with their food, because nobody else had the nausea, nobody was vomiting; it was not food poisoning or anything. Until I had thrown all the food out, I could not sleep. It took me almost half the night to be clean of that food, and then I could go to sleep.
That day I discovered that my nausea was not because of the food, but because of those sixteen years’ conditioning, the continual hammering of the idea that eating in the night is a sin. Now, it was absolutely psychological poisoning, not food poisoning, and it had been done by the priest, by the monks, by my parents, by my society.
The conscience is the constable inserted within you by the society. The society tries to control you and your behavior in two ways: a constable outside, a court outside, a judge outside, a jail outside; and a conscience inside, fear of punishment, fear of hell, God the judge, his court … before God you cannot hide anything. You will be standing naked, with all your sins written all over you. There is no possibility of hiding.
So society up to now has used a very subtle technology: create conscience by repeating that certain things are sin, certain things are virtue. Virtue is going to be rewarded a thousandfold. Here you give just one rupee as a donation, and in heaven you will get one thousand rupees’ reward. Now they are playing on your greed. This is good business.
This is almost a lottery—and sure and certain. It is not a question that your number may come, may not come. You give one rupee here to the Brahmin—remember, don’t make any mistake: “The Brahmin,” the scripture says: “Give it to the Brahmin, not to anybody else”—Brahmins are writing the scripture! Give to the Brahmin, and whatsoever you give, one thousandfold you will receive from God in heaven. That is a promise from God, and the Brahmin will stand as a witness to you.
In Brahmin books it is said, “When you donate to a Brahmin, never donate an old cow which does not give milk anymore.” Great! Because that’s what people do in India. When a cow becomes very old, what to do with the cow? It does not give you any milk anymore, it does not give you any more calves, which can be used in farming as cows or bulls. It is too old and an unnecessary burden on you. Either you give it to a butcher … that means you are a partner in the slaughter of the cow. In fact, you are the major partner: if you had not given it to the butcher, he could not have killed it. You gave it to the butcher; you will have to suffer the responsibility.
And do you know what Brahmin scriptures say? To kill a cow is almost equivalent to killing ten Brahmins. To kill one Brahmin is equivalent to killing ten human beings. So who is going to sell it to a butcher? And you cannot get much money from the butcher, either. The best way is to donate it to a Brahmin. So people used to donate them.
Brahmins knew that this was what was happening. Brahmins were in difficulty: they cannot refuse the donation; a donation has to be accepted gratefully. Now, what to do with this old cow? The Brahmin cannot sell it to the butcher. Now, the Brahmin himself is poor, and these old cows of the village will start gathering around him. So he has to write in his scripture—it is not God’s word, because why should God be bothered?—that a Brahmin should not be given an old cow as a donation: the emphasis is on “an old cow.” You should give the Brahmin a young cow who is giving enough milk, then you will be rewarded.
So these people who function as mediators between you and God, between you and heaven, are really the most cunning people. They have destroyed what is most precious in you, your consciousness. They have covered it layer upon layer. Your consciousness has gone down deep; on top of it are layers of conditioning.
You ask, in my vision of religiousness is there such a thing as sin? Impossible. Sin is an invention of the priest, and I am not a priest. Sin is the technique of the pseudo-religion, and I am not a messiah or an avatara or a paigambara. I am not creating a pseudo-religion. Pseudo-religion absolutely needs the concept of sin, because through sin he will make you guilty. Through guilt he will make you tremble inside. Now, somehow you have to be cleaned of guilt.
Brahmin scriptures say, “Don’t be afraid. You donate to the Brahmin and your guilt will be forgiven.” But donate to the Brahmin according to the guilt of course; if your guilt is big, if your sin is big, then you have to donate more. Then make temples.…
Birla was the biggest monopolist and a super-rich man in India. He was making hundreds of temples all over the country. The country is full of temples. People need houses; they don’t get them. God needs no house, and in India you will find millions of temples. In a city like Varanasi, for four houses you will find three temples. Who lives there? People are living on the streets—and millions of temples are empty, millions of churches are empty, millions of mosques are empty.
Birla was making beautiful temples, great temples wherever he could manage. I had a meeting with him. This old man I was talking about, Seth Govindadas, was a friend of Jugal Kisore Birla, the head of the Birla family. When Govindadas became more and more interested in me, he started talking about me with other people. He talked with Jugal Kisore Birla also, and told him that when I come to Delhi, “You have to meet him one time.”
When I next came to Delhi, I was staying with Govindadas. He told me, “Jugal Kisore is very interested in you … and he is an old man; it doesn’t look good that we should tell him to come here, and he is sick also. So on your behalf, I have promised that I will bring you to his house.”
I said, “If you have promised, then it is okay, but what is the purpose? To me, whatever he does is idiotic. He is wasting an immense amount of money on making marble temples all over the country, and he thinks he is earning virtue for paradise because that is what the scriptures say: make a temple and you will get a palace, a marble palace, in paradise. So he is calculating—he is a businessman, he is calculating how many marble palaces he is going to get in heaven. He should be the richest there too, if he can manage it, and all this money will be left here when he dies.” He never believed in his sons: he thought they would waste the money and everything would go down the drain. Before that happens, why not transfer the whole money to paradise? This was a simple bank transfer that he was doing.
I said, “He is idiotic, but if you have promised, I will come.”
I went there. He was very respectful. He welcomed me and he said—immediately, the moment I sat—he said, “I want you to do two things. I have heard about you from many people. Govindadas is only one”—they were of the same caste, and in some way related to each other—“so I had not agreed to it with anybody else but Govindadas, because he will keep it private. I don’t want anybody to know that we had a meeting.”
I said, “You are worried about having a meeting with me? I was thinking I was worried. I have just come because Govindadas had promised you, otherwise I would not have come. If you had simply invited me, I would have refused.” I said to Govindadas, “Look. You persuaded me that he is old and sick, that’s why I have come. And what he is saying is that he wants to keep it a secret. Now what is the point of meeting such a cowardly man? What can he do? And what can he understand from me?” But I said, “Yes, I have come, so you tell me what you want, because you have invited me. So you just tell me.”
He said, “I have heard about you, and I know about you. If you can do two things, I am ready to give all the financial support you want. I will give you a blank check.”
I said, “You tell me about those two things. The blank check I’m not that much interested in; I want to know about those two things, because they must be idiotic.”
And they were idiotic. One was: “You go around the world spreading Hinduism, and I will give you all financial support. Convert as many people to Hinduism as possible. And second: create a movement in the country so that the government is forced to stop cow slaughter. If you can do these two things, don’t worry about finances.”
I said, “I am not worrying about finances at all. You keep your blank check, I will never need it. I am not so stupid that I should waste my time changing a Christian into a Hindu, dragging him from one well and throwing him into another. I would be unnecessarily wasting my time. He was utterly drowning in one, happily drowning, now to unnecessarily pull him out … and it will take much effort to pull him out, because others who are in that well will pull him back. They will not allow him to get out of the hole, because nobody wants anybody to get out of his hole, his power. And anyway, if somehow I can manage to pull him out, then I have to throw him in another well, so what is the point of it all? Just for your blank check?
“My life would be wasted unnecessarily. He will be in the same game. Perhaps the jargon will be different. Now he will be carrying the Gita instead of the Bible, but he will be carrying a book, worshipping a book. Now instead of Christ he will be talking about Krishna.” And you will be surprised that linguistic scholarship has found that christ is nothing but a formation of the word krishna. Moving from Sanskrit to Bangla, it becomes christo; from krishna it becomes christo. From Bengal … now you can see very easily christo becoming christ. The Greek word christ is nothing but a transliteration of the word krishna.
So I told him, “In fact, between Christ and Krishna there is no difference at all; they are both the same word. And I am not interested at all in this kind of absolutely unnecessary work. If you want, I can drag people from their wells, whether the well is Christian, Hindu, Jew, Mohammedan, but on one condition: that I will let them be free and make them aware, ‘Now don’t fall into another well.’ If you want that, I can do it. I will be pulling Hindus out too, because to me it makes no difference: whoever is drowning in the well, whether Hindu, Christian, Muslim, I have to draw out. And as far as your second proposition is concerned…”
Humanity is dying. Perhaps twenty, thirty years more, and this earth will be dead, because man has behaved so wrongly with himself, with others, with nature, with the environment. For the whole of his history he has been preparing for an ultimate war—only one preparation, one goal. And now he has come very close to the goal; he has everything that is needed to destroy this whole earth. In fact we have seven hundred times more nuclear energy than is needed to destroy this small earth. We can destroy seven hundred earths like this; that much energy is already stored up. And we are piling it up every day, nobody knows for what. I said, “And you want me to be worried about cows not being slaughtered? If there is no man on the earth, do you think there will be any cow … or any crow? With man, the whole of life will disappear. So if you are really interested in life, then the most important thing right now is to save man from himself.”
He said, “I knew beforehand, I told Govindadas that whatsoever I had heard about this man is dangerous. There is no possibility of us working together.”
I said, “You are saying ‘working together’—I will be working against you my whole life. And I don’t need your blank check, but still, if you have courage and some mettle in your being, give me the blank check. I will be fighting against you!”
The man turned to Govindadas and he said, “Take this man away from here. I am very sick, old, and he may give me a heart attack.”
I told him, “A heart attack will do much good for you. At least you will stop making these temples around the country. You know perfectly well millions of people have no houses.”
And in India, the people who have houses … you cannot conceive what kind of houses they are. Those who have not, in a way their position is clear. But for those who have houses, they are not worth calling houses at all. I have been traveling in villages … not a single house will have a bathroom, not a single house will have an outhouse, a latrine. No, you have to go out by the side of the river or the tank, or wherever water is available you go there. People are doing everything there, and people are drinking the same water. I had to stop going into villages; it was so ugly, so inhuman.
What is a house in India? Just a shed, which you would not make even for a cow. They are living with their cows and their bulls and their other animals in the same house. And the families are joined, so in one house you may have thirty people, forty people, with all the animals. Every house is Noah’s ark! All the species … and such a smell, so much stink that even thinking of it I feel immensely sorry for people.
But that is not the case only in India, it is all over the third world. In Africa, in China, it is all over the third world. And you are making temples for God!? God can live very easily in the open sky; there is no trouble for him. He is all-powerful. The cold will not give him pneumonia, rains will not make him wet, hot sun will not burn him, so why bother making houses for God?
But the problem is greed. Hinduism has been telling Hindus, “Make houses for God; then you will be rewarded.” Christians are saying, “Make houses for the poor, hospitals for the poor, schools for the poor, orphans, old people, sick people, then you will be rewarded.” But the desire of both is to be rewarded. Only one motive is dominating all the religions.
In my vision, a truly religious person can have the idea of mistakes, errors, but cannot have the idea of sin. A true religious person cannot create in somebody else the wound of guilt, because that is for a specific reason: if you want to be a messiah then you have to create sin, then you have to create guilt.
The man who initiated Jesus into disciplehood, John the Baptist, his only message his whole life was, “Repent, repent, repent, because the messiah is coming. So get ready. Repent for your sins and get ready.” But how do you repent? First, guilt is needed; you have to feel guilty. So feel guilty, repent, and the messiah will come to save you.
I am reminded of a small Sunday school in a village. All the children come to the Sunday school, and the priest teaches them and he asks, after his long sermon about the beauties, joys, the glories of heaven that Christians are going to get … and all the children are excited, really excited to get quickly into the bus and go to heaven. Why waste time here? Then in the end he asked, “Now, tell me what is absolutely necessary to go to heaven?” One small kid raised his hand. The priest said, “Yes, stand up and tell me what is needed.”
The child said, “To commit sin.”
The priest said, “What! I have been telling you not to commit sin and you are answering that to get to heaven you have to commit sin!”
He said, “Yes. It is according to your sermon that I have concluded that unless you commit sin you cannot be guilty. If you are not guilty, how will you repent? And if you don’t repent, then there is no way. Commit sin first. Feel guilty, repent, and the messiah comes and takes you to heaven.”
I think the child was absolutely logical; what he was saying was absolutely right. This is how religions have been managing: commit sin. If you don’t commit sin, they will show you that you are committing sin although you do not know it. You must be doing something—that is enough! Out of that something, sin can be found. If you are not doing anything at all, that too is enough.
I was talking to a bishop, and I said, “If a person simply sits silently, doing nothing, at least then he is not committing a sin. You will allow that much.”
He said, “No. God has sent you here to do something, some service, duty, and you are sitting doing nothing. That’s a great sin.”
I said, “Then all the Buddhist monks have gone to hell, because that’s what they teach: just sit silently and do nothing. Only in that way will you become conscious.”
When you become conscious, the conscience simply falls apart because it is an artifact, artificially created by the society. It may be Jewish, it may be Catholic, it may be Protestant, or whatsoever; communist, socialist, fascist, whatsoever.
Your consciousness arises in silence, and it arises only in silence, because your whole energy is not going anywhere else, is not involved in action. So when the whole energy is not involved in action, where is it going to go? It starts collecting at your very center of being, like a pillar, a solid pillar of energy, which throws off the conscience and all the ideas of sin and all the ideas of guilt. But remember, with that also goes the messiah, the rabbi, the priest. With that goes God, the devil, heaven, hell, the whole nonsense that has been thought of, up to now, as religion. That is not religion.
I don’t have any need of the concept of sin. In my commune you cannot commit sin. Now, four thousand people have been living here for four years and not a single sin has been committed; can you think of this happening in a Catholic monastery? Four thousand of you living in a Catholic monastery, twenty-four hours a day … sin and sin and sin, and nothing else will be happening. Anything you do … you will smoke a cigarette and you are committing a sin. You may be loving towards a woman and you are committing a sin. You may enjoy one day to sleep a little longer and you are committing a sin. You may love to read a book that the Vatican has put on the blacklist … My books are on the blacklist. Even the books in which I have spoken on Jesus, and spoken very considerately so that nobody is offended, even those books!
By mistake, one Christian press in England, Sheldon, which is owned by a Christian association, published my books. First they published The Mustard Seed, then they became interested in me. Then they published other books, and the Sheldon Press people became involved with me. They forgot they were part of the Christian association, that they were owned by the Christians, and they were publishing the books the Vatican had put on the blacklist! Eight books they published. Then it was made clear to them that there had been some mistake. Now they have dropped all the eight books, they have returned all the copyrights.
Every year, the Vatican goes on putting together a list of which books you should read, which books you should not read. Right now they cannot do what they used to do in the past: in the past they used to burn the books. In the basement of the Vatican, just in the basement of St. Peter’s church, there is an immense library of all the books that they have burned in the past. One copy they have saved, but thousands … that means they have burned thousands of books, completely removed them from the whole earth. Wherever those books were found, they were burned. And whosoever resisted was killed or was also burned with the books.
In the library of the Vatican they don’t allow anybody. That library should be taken over by the United Nations immediately. It is not the property of the Vatican. And that library may reveal thousands of truths, inventions, discoveries which the popes down the ages have prevented from happening by burning the books. Now they cannot do that, but at least they can do one thing: they can publish, secretly, a blacklist, and they can put any book on that blacklist; then no Catholic is allowed to read it. If you read it you are committing a sin, a great sin—disobeying the pope, who is infallible.
I don’t see there is any need of sin. Yes, you are human beings and you will live like human beings, and sometimes you may commit a mistake. For example, if you are smoking a cigarette it may be a mistake, it may be a fault; but you are doing enough harm to yourself, you need not be punished in hell for it. You are punishing yourself enough. That cigarette may give you cancer, or at least will reduce your life by a few years. The cigarette will do it itself, there is no need for any devil to come and take you to hell and burn you there. You are doing it yourself, and paying for it. It is nobody else’s business; you pay for it, and you burn yourself, perfectly good.
But if you become conscious, cigarettes will disappear. So I don’t say don’t smoke—that will become a commandment. I say become more conscious. And if, in your consciousness, the cigarette disappears … It is bound to disappear, because a conscious person cannot be so stupid to go on taking the smoke inside, and then throwing it out, and taking it in again, and throwing it out … poisoning himself, poisoning the atmosphere and paying for it, on top of it all.
Your actions are not my concern; your consciousness is.
If your consciousness allows you to do something, it is right—do it. Don’t be worried by any holy scriptures, by any prophets. And if your consciousness does not allow you to do something, then don’t do it. Even if God says to you, “Do it!” there is no way—you cannot do it.
So it is not a question of your actions. I don’t decide about your actions. I am giving you the master key, rather than deciding each simple, single action, whether it is right or wrong—that is an impossible job.
I have told you Buddhist monks have thirty-three thousand rules. That’s how they came about, because they would go to Buddha with each single thing and ask whether it was right or wrong. And he would make a rule that this was right and that was wrong. One man made thirty-three thousand rules! It is good that for twenty-five centuries this has not continued, otherwise … You are doing millions of things. I am not going to bother about each single small thing that you do.
My concern is very fundamental, very foundational: your consciousness. I am not concerned with your doing, I am concerned with your doer. And once that doer is awake, it is impossible to do anything wrong. Then whatsoever you do is right. So if you ask me what is right, what is wrong, I will say: anything that you do consciously is right, anything that you do unconsciously is wrong. But I am not using the word sin at all. Even if you are doing something wrong, it is just an ordinary, human mistake, for which nobody needs to invent hell, nobody needs to invent heaven, nobody needs to come and redeem you and liberate you. You are the only one who has allowed yourself to be fettered by others.
Now, please remember one thing: others can fetter you, but nobody can redeem you.
Only you can redeem yourself, and that is by stopping others fettering you, putting more and more heavy chains on you, making bigger and bigger walls around you.
You are your own messiah, your own salvation.
Copyright © 2013 by OSHO International Foundation