Why have men done everything possible to block the progress of women, including our spirituality?
Man suffers from a great inferiority complex because he cannot give birth to children.
It is one of the deepest unconscious inferiorities in man.
He knows the woman is superior, because in life there can be nothing higher than giving birth to life.
“Man’s function, his participation in giving birth to life, is negligible. It is not more than a syringe injection. It can be done by a syringe – he can be absolutely relieved of taking part in reproduction. He must have felt it from the very beginning. And the only way to overcome this inferiority complex was to reduce the woman in every possible way to such an inferior position that man can forget his inferiority complex and start believing that he is superior.
“All the societies of the world, all the cultures, all the religions in different ways have been doing the same: reducing the woman to a secondary category of humanity not equal to man – so inferior that in China, for thousands of years, to kill your own wife was not even considered a crime. The husband was not punished, for the simple reason that the woman was understood to be only a possession like your furniture. If you want to kill your chair, it is not a crime. You can destroy all your furniture; it is your furniture. The law has nothing to do with it.
The woman has been thought of as just part of the furniture. The husband is the owner.
“In India, the woman has been taught for centuries that she is a dassi, a slave, and the man, her husband, a swami, a master – an owner. She has not been allowed by any culture to be educated, to be financially independent, to move in the society as freely as man. Her house is the periphery; she should not get out of it. The house is almost an imprisonment.
“How can you suppose a woman can be a spiritual master? For centuries she has not even been allowed to show her face in half of the world. In India, the husband and wife cannot talk in the daytime in front of the elders of the family. They can only whisper in the darkness of the night. For hundreds of years many husbands have not been able to see their own wife’s face, because in the daytime they cannot meet. In a joint family there is always some elder there. Only in the darkness of night…. And then too, in a joint family where fifty or sixty people are living in one house like cattle, there is no possibility of communication, of discussing something philosophical, something religious.
Almost all the religions have denied women the possibility of entering into paradise from the body of a woman.
“She can be virtuous. Her husband is her god. She should serve the husband with total commitment and devotion. This is the only religion as far as the woman is concerned. This will bring her into the body of a man in her next life, and then the doors open. Then she can strive for spiritual heights. Then she can become an enlightened master.
“There are religions which don’t allow women to read the religious scriptures. There are religions which don’t allow the women to enter their temples. The woman has been enslaved. She has been reduced into producing children, taking care of them her whole life. She has not to be respected as a human being. She is just a reproductive mechanism.
“Man has done everything wrong that can be done, everything inhuman that can be done.
In Hinduism, if the husband died, the woman had to jump alive into his funeral pyre.
“She cannot live without a husband – she was just a shadow. Now what is she going to do without a husband? Man has been so possessive, that not only when he is alive should his woman remain his, but he is afraid even after death. When he is no more, who knows? – the woman may fall in love with someone else. He has taken every precaution. What works best is that she jumps into the fire with the dead body of her husband. It is not an easy job.
“Just put your finger in the flame of a candle, and you will know what it means to throw your whole body alive into a funeral pyre. But millions of women have done that – have been forced to do that. If they had chosen not to do it, that was a sure sign that they had betrayed their husband. They were condemned for the rest of their lives. So rather than living a condemned life it was better to suffer a respectful death.
But it was such an agony that the brahmin priest had to manage it in such a way that nobody else became aware of the agony the woman was going through.
“Whenever a woman had to jump on a funeral pyre tons of ghee, purified butter, had to be poured over her and over the funeral pyre. This created great smoke, a cloud of smoke; nobody could see what was happening. And there were priests standing around the funeral pyre with long torches, burning. If the woman tried to escape – because that is human and natural that she may start getting out of the funeral pyre – they pushed her back into the funeral pyre, with those burning torches.
“And then there was always a crowd of musicians playing as loudly as possible on musical instruments so that you could not hear the screams of the living woman that you were burning.
This was thought to be something spiritual. This is pure murder – and a very crude and primitive murder.
“For millions of years it was a great spiritual thing, but it is strange that the man never did such a great spiritual thing. No man in the whole of history has ever jumped into the funeral pyre of his dead wife. No brahmin followed the rule that he has made for women.
“If it is true, then is it not very strange why the man is not doing the same? No, for the man things are totally different – a double standard of values. While the dead body of the wife is burning, people are thinking about the man – when he should get married again and to whom.
“It was with difficulty that this ugly ritual of murdering people was stopped, although it still happens once in a while.
You have to understand that in the past, man has not behaved compassionately, lovingly, respectfully with women. His behavior has been very criminal.
“In spite of all this, you have to know that there have been women who were great spiritual masters. In spite of no education, no possibility to read the scriptures, no possibility to enter into the shrines, into the temples, into the synagogues. All the religions were prohibiting it, even the best of religions like Buddhism – even a man of the qualities of Gautam Buddha. Perhaps no other man has ever walked on the earth with such divine qualities….
“Jainism, another great religion, has denied women to enter into their liberation from the body of a woman. First they have to be born as a man. And it is strange that these same people are continuously saying that the soul, that the innermost consciousness, is neither male nor female.
If consciousness is neither male nor female, then what is the problem?
Why can a woman not attain to liberation, to the ultimate truth from the body of a woman? Consciousness is not a woman. The body never goes to liberation, so there is no problem. Neither is the man’s body going to enter into the ultimate, nor is the woman’s body going to enter into the ultimate. The bodies will be burned here on the funeral pyre!
“Do you think consciousness is also male and female? None of these religions have the courage to say that, because that will be absolutely untrue. Still, they go on insisting that woman cannot attain. And do you know what the reason is?
The reason is that the woman cannot control her monthly period.
“She has a visible symptom of sexuality – she cannot be celibate.
“But these people are absolutely blind that man cannot be celibate either, even though he does not have a periodical expression of his sexuality. He may have to release his sexuality more often – not less, but more….
“In spite of all this condemnation of the woman by all the religions, there have been great masters – of course very few. There would have been an equal number of great masters from women if they had been allowed the freedom, the same opportunity….
You think these people are religious, spiritual – who for centuries have been lying…?
“But this is not the case only with Jainism, it is the case with all religions….
“In the Christian holy trinity you can see the strangeness: God is the father; Jesus is the son. One wants to ask, “Where is the mother?” No, there is no mother. That would have been a good, simple family – a family who believes in birth control, very contemporary.
“But there is no woman. Just to avoid a woman in the trinity – because to give that much height to a woman no man can tolerate – they have replaced the woman with a strange figure, the Holy Ghost. Nobody knows who this guy is, what is his purpose, and why he is needed in the trinity. He is a strange fellow. Nobody knows whether he is a man or a woman – or neither! Most probably he belongs to a third sex… just a ghost? I have never heard that ghosts have sex! He belongs to the third sex.
But a woman has not been accepted in the highest trinity just because man is so much against it….
“A blind man can attain, a dumb man can attain, a man who has lost both his legs can attain, a man who cannot hear, is deaf, can attain…then what is the problem? Why cannot a woman attain?…
“There have been just a few more women around the world. They can be counted on the fingers. I have given you these three examples, but they are enough to prove that there is no intrinsic incapacity in being a woman that prevents you from rising to the status of being a master.
But the woman needs to assert her equality in every other field too.
She has to assert herself in education, in finance, in service, in jobs. Everywhere she has to stand by the side of man and assert her equality and her qualities, talents, her genius.
“Remembering one thing: she has not to imitate man – which is what is happening in the women’s liberation movement. That is again a wrong step. It happens always: one starts moving from one extreme to another. Man has repressed woman so much, that the woman can start imitating the man. In that way she will never become equal to man, because a carbon copy is a carbon copy; it can never be the original.
“So I don’t want you to become like a man.
You have to be a woman.
You have to keep your uniqueness, you have to keep your differences – and yet, you have to assert your independence, your freedom in every field.
Only then will it be possible for you to declare your freedom in the spiritual field too, because alone the spiritual field is not possible. It depends on many other factors.
“In all the other factors the woman has to be expressive. You have to be artists, you have to be poets, you have to be painters, you have to be sculptors, you have to be musicians, you have to be dancers. You have to assert yourself in all the dimensions, wherever your talent and your genius lead you. Don’t imitate man. Remain grounded in your womanhood.
“Your differences with man are your attraction, your beauty. Your differences with man are a necessary tension, otherwise life will become flat.
A woman has to be a woman.
A man has to be a man.
“The farther they are from each other, the greater will be the attraction between them. They are polar opposites, and that is the reason for their love and their fights….
“You have to preserve those qualities. Those qualities are your treasures. Yet you have to demand equal opportunity to be expressive, to do whatever you want to do. It has to happen in all the spheres of life. Only then can you hope to have the opportunity of becoming spiritually free, independent, even to the extent that you can attain to masterhood.
“It is possible. It has happened before, and there is no natural hindrance. All hindrances are created by men. The people who love me, who understand me, should start dropping those hindrances. That will be your great work of compensation.
What your ancestors have done to women, you have to undo. Then men and women can live in a friendship. There is no need for man to be the master and woman the slave. They are equal. But for thousands of years, you have been taught that you are not equal.”
To read the complete talk, follow the link below:
Excerpted and Abridged from Osho, The Sword and the Lotus, Talk #17, A Device to Find Yourself