Why Is the Human Mind So Destructive?

Why Is the Human Mind So Destructive?
Spiral of Destruction: An Open Pit Mine in Chile

Why did the mind develop in a destructive direction?

Man has lived almost four million years on this planet. In these four million years most of the time there were dark nights without fire, wild animals, danger all around, and every moment full of fear. Out of this fear and danger man has had to create a certain capacity to survive.

“You may have observed that man’s child is the weakest child in the world. He needs care for years until it is possible for him to stand on his own. The mother was continuously afraid for the child: in the deep forest – all the wild animals were in search of food just as man was in search of food. That was the basic search for millions of years – food. And even today, for millions of people, that is the basic search.

Mind developed as a survival measure – how to hide yourself, how to find caves, how to make caves? How to live in darkness without being harmed, how to live in trees? It has been a difficult time for millions of years.

“And man’s child is so weak against any animal. You cannot fight hence you had to invent weapons as a substitute. You don’t have the claws of a tiger, you need something as a substitute. You don’t have the teeth of the lion or the crocodile; you needed to be inventive enough so that you were not too close. Because even if you had a knife in your hands – which was very difficult, the early knives were made of stone…even if you had a knife in your hand and a lion came, most probably you would tremble with fear and the knife would fall down! Just the roar of the lion and you would be frozen; you would not know what to do now.

“I have heard…a man with his wife and his mother-in-law had gone hunting. Suddenly they heard from a nearby cave the mother-in-law shouting, ‘Help! Help!’ The wife was sitting on a tree and she saw that a lion was there, so she asked her husband, who was underneath the tree with his gun, ‘My mother is in trouble – a lion is facing her. Do something!’

“The husband said, ‘The lion got into trouble himself – why should I do anything? Your mother-in-law is enough! She finished me, she will finish the lion. Now it is his problem, not my problem.’

“Man had to invent arrows so that he could be far away from the wild animals and still kill them. Slowly slowly other weapons came.

All these weapons came because of the helplessness of man.
When he found fire, then he was safer. When he discovered gunpowder, first in China, he became even more safe.

“Perhaps the Chinese became civilized before anybody else for the simple reason that they finished off the wild animals, and in finishing the wild animals a great fear, a constant fear and danger, disappeared.

But the mind remained, the mind that has been created through millions of years. It is still afraid of darkness, although you know there is no need to be afraid of darkness.

But the mind does not know that times have changed; millions of years’ habit still continues. The mind does not know, the mind is blind.

“One professor, a vice-chancellor of Varanasi University, Professor Rajnath Pandey, was staying with me, and he was very much against the way I grow trees around my house. I said, ‘Why are you so much against them?’

“He said, ‘These trees are enemies! If you don’t go on cutting them, if you don’t go on keeping them away, sooner or later your house will be a ruin and the trees will have overtaken it.’

“Man has been fighting with trees. We don’t think in that way now, but he was right, he was a man of history. I had never thought of it but he was right, that trees have killed man. We had to destroy trees to create towns, villages, and we had to destroy trees because they were hiding wild animals.

Man has passed through such a struggle for survival that he cannot forget those habits.

“So even though now we don’t have wild animals to attack, we are preparing nuclear weapons. We don’t have any reason to fight, but we are cultivating more and more arms just out of old animal habit. Everybody knows that the Third World War is impossible, simply because the Third World War will destroy everybody. Nobody is going to be the winner and nobody is going to be the loser. All will be finished, the whole planet will be a graveyard.

“The whole joy of fighting is in being victorious – but there will be no victory, what is the point? It is absolutely clear. Just now there are only five countries with nuclear weapons, but by the end of this century there will be twenty-five countries with nuclear weapons. One cannot understand…for what? Already we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy this earth seven hundred times.

“And only one man in the whole history, Jesus Christ, got resurrected. I don’t think that he will get resurrected seven hundred times….

“But the world powers are collecting nuclear weapons for ordinary people who only die once; they never resurrect.

“Only here do they resurrect – every night!

There are enough nuclear weapons. But it is out of fear – the mind is still the old mind repeating old fears, dangers – that if you stop making nuclear weapons, the enemy is not going to stop. And the enemy is also thinking in the same terms; every country is thinking in the same terms. So seventy percent of the world’s wealth, production, genius, everything, is devoted to a war which is never going to happen. Just by making it so total, you have made it out of date.

“Professor, the mind had to develop in a destructive direction just to save itself. But now it is no longer needed.

Now the destructive energy has to be transformed into a creative energy.

“And a mind that can create destructive weapons like atom bombs and hydrogen bombs, and destroy cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki within seconds…. And today the bombs that were thrown on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are – in comparison to American and Soviet nuclear missiles – child’s play, just toys. We have gone far in these forty years: we can destroy ourselves within ten minutes.

“This totality is a great blessing in disguise. This means, now we have to find ways to protect ourselves from our mind’s fear, to protect ourselves from our own weapons. Now there is no enemy to be killed; now the world war, if it happens at all, will be suicide.

We have to save ourselves from our own minds. This mind was created for a certain reason: to save us from the animals. For centuries we were in danger; now we are in danger from our own destructive weapons.

This is a great moment in the history of mankind.

“And perhaps in the whole history of the universe, because we only suspect that there are some planets where life may exist, but there is no certain proof. It may be that only on this earth has life come to such a point that a few people have become buddhas, a few people have come to know the universal secret of life. To destroy it is so idiotic, is so against the universe!

The only way is to find something within you which can overpower your mind. Otherwise the mind knows nothing else except destruction; that was the function it was created for.

“It is not its fault, but it is continuously afraid for no reason at all. Sometimes it knows that there is no reason to be afraid; then it starts asking, ‘Why is there no reason to be afraid?’

Mind knows only one language – that is of fear, danger, and how to survive and make yourself safe against an antagonistic universe.

“Even a great man like Bertrand Russell wrote a book, Conquest of Happiness. The same fear of the mind – we have to conquer. This idea has to be changed. The idea should be that now we have to rejoice in nature, we have to find the mysteries and secrets of nature, and we have to go beyond mind. This artifact is not our nature.

“That’s what we are doing in meditation.

Meditation is finding something in you that is superior to the mind. Only then can the mind be prevented from destroying humanity and this beautiful planet.

“It was perfectly okay to be destructive up to now, but now the situation and the context is totally different.

“Somebody asked Albert Einstein, ‘What do you think about the Third World War?’
“He said, ‘I cannot say anything about the Third World War, but I can say something about the Fourth World War.’
“The questioner was puzzled. He said, ‘If you don’t know about the third, how can you know about the fourth?’
“Albert Einstein said, ‘The fourth will never happen; that much can be said. If we just let the third happen…finished.’

“Look at the past of the mind: Genghis Khan killed thirty million people, alone. His successor, Tamerlane, killed forty million people. We don’t know the exact numbers for Nadir Shah, but we know about Adolf Hitler; he killed thirty million. And now we are ready to kill five billion human beings, not to say anything about millions of birds, millions of animals, millions of trees – because the Third World War will be an end to all life on this planet. It is not just human beings who will be killed, it is going to be a loss to the whole universe.

“Scientists say that there are perhaps five hundred planets where some kind of life exists, but it is all guesswork. No certainty, no communication has been possible up to now. All we know is that in this vast infinity we are the only people alive with a potentiality of becoming eternal, of becoming immortal.

In every possible way this earth should be saved – from our minds.

The only way I can see is meditation.

“Up to now, mind has been our survival. From now onwards only meditation can be our survival because meditation means going beyond mind, searching for something in your consciousness which is higher than your mind, which can dictate to the mind, which can rearrange the mind.

Mind is just a biocomputer; it needs new data, that’s all. Instead of fear it can learn to love; instead of being in danger it can start enjoying the eternity of its life source.

“There is no death. Only forms change, life continues on and on.

“This is what we are trying to do here. This is what all the buddhas of the past have been doing, but in the past they were not so relevant. Today the situation is different: today either you listen to the buddha or you commit suicide.

There is no other choice – meditation or suicide, global suicide. That is the simple alternative, there is no third way.

“In Gautam Buddha’s time there was not much difficulty – small wars, a few people killed, there was no harm.

But now the destructive mind has brought us to a situation where we have to re-code the mind for construction, for creation. And if the mind can be so destructive, it can be transformed in the same way to great creativity, with the same energy. Energy is neutral: you can put it in the service of death or you can put it in the service of life.

Our effort here is to put our minds, our bodies, in the service of life – in creativity, in music, in poetry, in dance.

“Great is the moment when we can change the mind, feed it with new information. And the same mind that brings nuclear weapons can bring great joys, plenty of food, better clothes, more health, longer life, less disease; it can eliminate old age completely.

“And the moment is ripe because nobody who is a little bit intelligent can be in favor of a third world war; only a few retarded politicians – and even they cannot openly say that they are in favor of a third world war. But their preparation continues. That preparation is dangerous, dangerous in many ways, because a third world war may happen accidentally: the weapons have become so sophisticated that just a push of a button….

“Just a few days ago I was telling you about a Soviet nuclear base which had a map of the whole world in the office showing the distance and the time, how much time it would take for its nuclear weapons to reach to this land or that land. The map also had push-buttons on it and a janitor, seeing that too much dust had gathered on the board, was dusting it. The professor in charge came in. He said, ‘You idiot, what are you doing?’

“He said, ‘I am simply dusting, there is too much dust….’
“He said, ‘Do you see? Where is England? You have dusted it off!’
“He had pushed the button.

“But I don’t think we would like to be dusted off in this way. It is now time…. No greater question has ever been asked, and there has never been such a parting of the ways. Those who want to commit suicide can commit suicide on their own, but they cannot be allowed to destroy the whole world!

Professor Wessling, your question absolutely fits with the Zen series, because Zen is a search for no-mind, or a cosmic mind, beyond the human mind.

“Before we enter into our inner being, our every-evening meditation…. I don’t want Professor Wessling to understand that we are serious people. We are very nonserious. We are absolutely playful; whatever happens we will sing and dance to the very last moment….

An Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian Jew are discussing the meaning of true happiness.
“Coming home from work to a loving wife with a gin and tonic,” spouts the Englishman.
“Ah, you English!” says the Frenchman. “Real happiness is meeting a cute little girl who spends the night with you. She entertains you and then leaves you quietly and with no regrets.”
The Russian Jew is sitting, thinking.
“True happiness,” he says, “I experienced a few years ago. In the middle of the night the KGB knocked on my door and shouted: ‘Herman Fingel! You are under arrest!’”
The Englishman and the Frenchman look at him in alarm.
“Yes!” says the Russian Jew, smiling happily. “And I shouted back: ‘Herman Fingel lives upstairs!’”


Excerpted from, Osho, Turning In, Talk #1 – The Absolute Host
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