Why Does Terrorism Happen?


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What makes people decide to commit acts of terrorism, and what can be done about it? Research reflects that there are two reasons: Social and political injustice, and the belief that violence or its threat will be effective, and usher in change. The first is noble enough, the second, highly questionable, so what’s the alternative?

Osho is asked, “It is many years since World War II and this ‘peace’ seems to now be threatened by terrorism. Would you please talk about why terrorism is be threatened by terrorism. Would you please talk about why terrorism is happening now?

“Everything is deeply related with everything else that happens.

“The event of terrorism is certainly related with what is happening in the society. The society is falling apart. Its old order, discipline, morality, religion, everything has been found to be wrongly based. It has lost its power over people’s conscience.

“Terrorism simply symbolizes that to destroy human beings does not matter, that there is nothing in human beings which is indestructible, that it is all matter – and you cannot kill matter, you can only change its form. Once man is taken to be only a combination of matter, and no place is given for a spiritual being inside him, then to kill becomes just play.”

But how did we arrive at this state of affairs? What’s underneath it?

“Terrorism has many undercurrents. One is that because of nuclear weapons, the nations are pouring their energy into that field, thinking that the old weapons are out of date. They are out of date, but individuals can start using them. And you cannot use nuclear weapons against individuals – that would be simply stupid. One individual terrorist throws a bomb – it does not justify that a nuclear missile should be sent.

“What I want to emphasize is that the nuclear weapon has given individual people a certain freedom to use old weapons, a freedom which was not possible in the old days because the governments were also using the same weapons.

“Now the governments are concentrated on destroying the old weapons, throwing them in the ocean, selling them to countries which are poor and cannot afford nuclear weapons. And all those terrorists are coming from these poor countries, with the same weapons that have been sold to their countries. And they have a strange protection: you cannot use nuclear weapons against them, you cannot throw atom bombs at them.”

What is the role of religion in terrorism?

“Things are interconnected. The first thing that has to be changed is that man should be made more rejoicing – which all the religions have killed. The real criminals are not caught. These are the victims, the terrorists and other criminals.

“It is all the religions who are the real criminals, because they have destroyed all possibilities of rejoicing. They have destroyed the possibility of enjoying small things of life; they have condemned everything that nature provides you to make you happy, to make you feel excited, feel pleasant.

“They have taken everything away; and if they have not been able to take a few things away because they are so ingrained in your biology – like sex – they have at least been able to poison them.”

And what is the role played by politics?

“The first are the religions – their values should be removed so that man can smile again, can laugh again, can rejoice again, can be natural again.

“Second, what communism is saying has to be put clearly before the people – that it is psychologically wrong. You are falling from one trap into another. No two men are equal; hence the idea of equality is nonsense. And if you decide to be equal then you have to accept a dictatorship of the proletariat. That means you have to lose your freedom.

“First the church took away your freedom, the God took away your freedom. Now communism replaces your church, and it will take away your freedom.

“And without freedom you cannot rejoice.

“The terrorism is not in the bombs, in your hands; the terrorism is in your unconscious.”

That’s hard to hear, that terrorism is in my unconscious. What can I do to change it?

“The new situation is that every human being needs to go through therapies, needs to understand his unconscious intentions, needs to go through meditations so that he can calm down, become cool – and look towards the world with a new perspective, of silence.”

All quotes excerpted from Osho, Beyond Psychology, Talk #18

This article first appeared in the OSHO International Newsletter – July 2016

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  • Sundar Rajan

    Religion and politics are the root cause of terrorism. It is either a perceived injustice for one’ religion or one’s place in the society in question. It is horrible to see suicide bombers not valuing their lives, just jumping into death and taking along with them a few other innocent people who are in no way connected with the politics or religion. This horrendous state of affairs we see every now and then is just unacceptable. All the intellectuals and intelligent sensitive people must get- to-gether and devise ways to defuse this mad allegiance to one’ religion or state of being in some country.