It was a coincidence that you were born in a certain family and those people conditioned your mind in a certain way.
They gave you certain ideologies, gave you a certain religious outlook, gave you a certain theological jargon; and you learned it like a parrot.
“I know that a child cannot do anything against it, he is helpless; he has to learn whatsoever is taught to him. Even without being taught he picks up things from the environment, parents, friends, the neighborhood. He goes with his parents to the church, to the synagogue, to the temple, and he is continually imbibing. Whether you are directly teaching him or not, he is being indirectly conditioned.
“But parents and teachers don’t take any chances; they don’t leave it just to indirect influences. They make every effort to directly convert the innocent child who comes into the world absolutely unconditioned, a pure mirror capable of reflecting anything.
The society, the culture, the religion start painting on the mirror. They can paint a Krishna, they can paint a Christ, they can paint a Moses, they can paint anything.
“They can paint Karl Marx, they can paint Christianity, Communism, Fascism – anything. And the child is so helplessly dependent he cannot say no. He really has no idea of no.
“The child believes and trusts the people who are giving him everything, helping him, supporting him: his mother, his father, his family – the warmth, the coziness…. They are providing all the opportunities for his growth; they are not to be distrusted. The question does not arise in the mind of the child, and it is natural that it does not.
But because of this natural situation all the religions have committed the greatest crime in the history of man.
“That is, making the child a Christian, a Mohammedan, a Jew, a Hindu, a Communist – without the child’s acceptance, without the child’s readiness, willingness. Of course the child has not said no, but he has not said yes either. If people are sensitive they will wait for the child’s yes.
“If they really love they will wait till the child asks them, ‘What is this church all about?’ They should make every effort to see that he is not being indirectly influenced; the question of direct influence should not even arise. He should be left clean, pure, as he was born, till the time when he picks up some intelligence.
“Growth takes a little time; just a little patience is needed. He will ask questions because everybody is born with a potential for search, inquiry. He will come up with questions. Then too, if you are alert, loving, compassionate toward this young fellow traveler…
He is not your possession, he has just come through you. You have been only a passage – never forget that. He does not belong to you, he belongs to the whole existence.
“You have been just a path for him to come into this body.
“Don’t destroy the child’s natural potentialities. Don’t divert the child according to your vested interests. Don’t be political, at least with your own child. But all over the earth, all the parents, all the teachers, have no idea of what they are doing. In the name of religion they are committing a sin. Ordinarily I don’t use that word. To me, in life there may be mistakes, errors – not sins – because man is fallible. Man is not born omniscient, knowing all. He is not a born pope – infallible. He will fall many times, and he will get up again. This is the way he learns to walk; this is the way he learns to see, to inquire.
Yes, many times he will go on the wrong path. Nothing is wrong in that.
In going on the wrong path, you are learning that it is wrong, because when you are moving in the wrong direction you cannot feel comfortable: it is a natural indication. You will feel uneasy, your stomach cramped; you will feel tense – because wherever you are going is not the natural way for you. All these are indications to change the route and know forever that this is not right for you.
“But about religion I cannot use very ordinary words like mistake, error – no. Something really heavy is needed.
So I say the so-called religion is the only sin in the world because it commits a crime against somebody who is absolutely helpless and in your hands. It is a crime of tremendous proportions.
“So if you become a Christian, if you become a Hindu, if you become a Buddhist, it is understandable. But when a man becomes enlightened what does it mean? It means really undoing what society, culture, religion, the state, the education system, parents have done all together in conspiracy against the small child.
To undo it is to be enlightened: to regain your childhood, to regain that freshness, that mirror-like quality of simply reflecting with no judgment.
“The mirror simply reflects. When you stand before the mirror, the mirror is not making any judgment about you – good, bad, beautiful, ugly – no judgment at all. The mirror simply reflects. It does not get involved in any way.
“I remember my own childhood. The moment I became aware of what was happening – it must have been nearabout the age of four or five – that I was being driven in a certain direction that I had not chosen. I asked my father, ‘Do you think that just by being born a son to you I have to follow your religion, your politics; that I will have to become a member of the Lions Club, that I will have to do your business? Does it mean that because unfortunately I am born to you, I will have to do all these things?’
“He said, ‘Who said to you that you have to become a member of the Lions Club or that you have to become a member of the political party of which I am a member? Who said this to you?’
“I said, ‘There is no need for anybody to say it, for five years continually you have been doing it.
Why have you been taking me to the Jaina temple? Who are you to decide?
“Why have you been telling me to bow down before Mahavira’s statue, before certain scriptures I know nothing about?’ I was not even able to read at that time. The scriptures were just books like any other books, but everybody was bowing down to them.
“I said, ‘You were bowing down and you were encouraging me to bow down, and it looked awkward for me to stand there when everybody else was showing so much respect. But you had not asked me; it was not with my consent that you took me to the temple. Just by the side there is a mosque – my friend is being taken there. Why don’t you take me there? Why don’t my friend’s parents take him to the Jaina temple?
“’What else is politics? You are giving me certain ideas, filling me with certain attitudes. And you started so early that I was not even aware of what was happening.’ I said, ‘From now onward, stop it; leave me alone. Now I am capable of saying no.
‘And remember, unless I am capable of saying no, how can I be capable of saying yes? The capacity to say one is also the capacity to say the other; they both come together.
“’So don’t be offended by my no. I will say yes, but you will have to wait. Perhaps I may not say yes to this temple, but to some other temple; not to this book, but to some other book. Nothing can be predicted right now; I am not a thing, predictable. Tomorrow the chair will still remain a chair, the table will still remain a table; they are predictable. What to say about the child of a man? – I am not predictable.’
“But people go on thinking that the child will remain the same as they are making him. Yes, most people remain the same because it is comfortable, convenient. Why bother? When all the answers have been given to you, why be skeptical?
Skepticism is condemned by all the religions. In reality, skepticism is the beginning of a really religious man.
“Skepticism means inquiry; skepticism means ‘Whatsoever you have told me I cannot accept unless I experience it.’ But it is inconvenient. You will have to travel a long way, and you never know whether you will reach the point where you find the answer on your own.
“Most people, the greater mass, want convenience, comfort, ready-made things, ready-made answers. It is understandable. It is an ugly fact about human beings, that even for truth they are not ready to take a little trouble. People want even truth cheap. And because you want truth cheap, there are peddlers who are selling it cheap. Not only cheap, they are selling it without taking anything from you. Not only that, they are rewarding you: if you purchase their truth they are going to reward you. The Christians will call you a saint, the Hindus will call you a mahatma, a sage. Without any effort, without paying anything you gain so much respectability. All that you have to do is to pretend, to be a hypocrite.
The whole human society is pretending. What do you know about Christ’s experience? And without having any taste of it, you are a Christian? If this is not hypocrisy, then what is hypocrisy?
Knowing nothing about God, you believe in God. If this is not dishonesty, then what else can dishonesty be?
“You are not even honest toward God. An honest, sincere person will start from skepticism. He will inquire. He will put a question mark on every conditioning that his parents and his society have burdened him with.”
Excerpted and abridged from Osho, From Personality to Individuality, Talk #7 – The Enlightened Fragrance of Revolution
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