One of the greatest spiritual teachers of the twentieth century addresses the conflicts that arise between people with opposing views and the dangers of losing your individual identity in your desire to belong to a group with shared values.
In Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism: Is It Essential to Have Something to Believe In?, 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.”
Osho challenges readers to examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit their capacity to enjoy life in all its richness. He has been described by the Sunday Times of London as one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century” and by Sunday Mid-Day (India) as one of the ten people—along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha—who have changed the destiny of India. Since his death in 1990, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.
About the Author
Osho is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world. He is the author of many books, including Love, Freedom, Aloneness; The Book of Secrets; and Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder.
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Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism
Is it Essential to have Something to Believe In?
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2012 OSHO International Foundation, New York
All rights reserved.
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.
Excerpted from Belief, Doubt, and Fanaticism by Osho. Copyright © 2012 OSHO International Foundation, New York. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. Belief Is Not the Answer,
2. In Search of Salvation,
3. Moving into the Unknown,
4. Doubt Is the Door to Trust,
5. From Darkness to Light,
Epilogue: Peace Has to Dance, Silence Has to Sing,
OSHO International Meditation Resort,
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Also by Osho,