One of the twentieth century’s greatest spiritual teachers reveals how to find true north on your moral compass even while living in a divisive world.
“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.”—Osho
In a global world, we are in search of universal values—values based on a contemporary understanding that unifies us as human beings beyond the divisions of religions, nations, and race.
In Moral, Immoral, Amoral: What Is Right and What Is Wrong?, Osho speaks directly to this contemporary search as he introduces us to a quest for values that make sense in the world we live in—a quest that goes far beyond moral codes of behavior and comes from an inner connectivity and oneness with existence.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Moral, Immoral, Amoral
What is Right and What is Wrong?
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 OSHO International Foundation
All rights reserved.
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.
Excerpted from Moral, Immoral, Amoral by Osho. Copyright © 2013 OSHO International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Table of Contents
1. From Action to Awareness,
2. The Roots of Corruption,
3. Fighting with Shadows,
4. To Be Whole Is to Be Holy,
5. The Flavor of Understanding,
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