The Fundamental Mistake of the Religions

The Fundamental Mistake of the Religions

I Am for Religion but Against the Religions

Are you against all the religions? What is their most fundamental mistake?

“Yes, I am against all the so-called religions because they are not religions at all. I am for religion but not for the religions.

“The true religion can only be one, just like science. You don’t have a Mohammedan physics, a Hindu physics, a Christian physics; that would be nonsense. But that’s what the religions have done – they have made the whole earth a madhouse. 

“If science is one, then why should the science of the inner not be one, too? 

“Science explores the objective world and religion explores the subjective world. Their work is the same, just their direction and dimension are different. 

“In a more enlightened age there will be no such thing as religion, there will be only two sciences: objective science and subjective science. Objective science deals with things, subjective science deals with being. 

“That’s why I say I am against the religions but not against religion. But that religion is still in its birth pangs. All the old religions will do everything in their power to kill it, to destroy it – because the birth of a science of consciousness will be the death of all these so-called religions which have been exploiting humanity for thousands of years. 

“What will happen to their churches, synagogues, temples? What will happen to their priesthood, their popes, their imams, their shankaracharyas, their rabbis? It is big business. And these people are not going to easily allow the true religion to be born. 

“But the time has come in human history when the grip of the old religions is loosening. 

“Man is only formally paying respect to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Mohammedanism, but basically anybody who has any intelligence is no longer interested in all that rubbish. He may go to the synagogue and to the church and to the mosque for other reasons, but those reasons are not religious; those reasons are social. It pays to be seen in the synagogue; it is respectable, and there is no harm. It is just like joining the rotary club or the lions club. These religions are old clubs which have a religious jargon around them, but look a little deeper and you will find they are all hocus-pocus with no substance inside. 

“I am for religion, but that religion will not be a repetition of any religion that you are acquainted with. 

“This religion will be a rebellion against all these religions. It will not carry their work further; it will stop their work completely and start a new work – the real transformation of man. 

“You ask me: What is the most fundamental error of all these religions? There are many errors and they are all fundamental, but first I would like to talk about the most fundamental.

The most fundamental error of all the religions is that none of them was courageous enough to accept that there are things which we don’t know.

They all pretended to know everything, they all pretended to know all, that they were all omniscient. 

“Why did this happen? – because if you accept that you are ignorant about something then doubt arises in the minds of your followers. If you are ignorant about something, who knows? – you may be ignorant about other things also. What is the guarantee? To make it foolproof, they have all pretended, without exception, that they are omniscient. 

The most beautiful thing about science is that it does not pretend to be omniscient.

“Science does not pretend to be omniscient; it accepts its human limits. It knows how much it knows, and it knows that there is much more to know. And the greatest scientists know of something even deeper. The known, they know the boundaries of; the knowable they will know sooner or later – they are on the way. 

“But only the greatest scientists like Albert Einstein will be aware of the third category, the unknowable, which will never be known. Nothing can be done about it because the ultimate mystery cannot be reduced to knowledge. 

We Are Part of Existence – How Can We Know Existence’s Ultimate Mystery?

“We have come very late; there was nobody present as an eyewitness. And there is no way for us to separate ourselves completely from existence and become just an observer. We live, we breathe, we exist with existence – we cannot separate ourselves from it. The moment we are separate, we are dead. And without being separate, just a watcher, with no involvement, with no attachment, you cannot know the ultimate mystery; hence it is impossible. There will remain something always unknowable. Yes, it can be felt, but it cannot be known. Perhaps it can be experienced in different ways – not like knowledge.

“You fall in love – can you say you know love? It seems to be a totally different phenomenon. You feel it. If you try to know it, perhaps it will evaporate in your hands. You cannot reduce it to knowing. You cannot make it an object of knowledge because it is not a mind phenomenon. It is something to do with your heart. Yes, your heartbeats know it, but that is a totally different kind of knowledge: the intellect is incapable of approaching the heartbeats.

“But there is something more than heart in you – your being, your life source. Just as you know through the mind, which is the most superficial part of your individuality, you know something from your heart – which is deeper than the mind. The mind cannot go into it, it is too deep for it. But behind the heart, still deeper, is your being, your very life source. That life source also has a way of knowing.

When mind knows, we call it knowledge. 
When heart knows, we call it love. 
And when being knows, we call it meditation.

“But all three speak different languages, which are not translatable into each other. And the deeper you go, the more difficult it becomes to translate, because at the very center of your being there is nothing but silence. Now, how to translate silence into sound? The moment you translate silence into sound you have destroyed it. Even music cannot translate it. Perhaps music comes closest, but still it is sound.

“Poetry does not come quite as close as music, because words, howsoever beautiful, are still words. They don’t have life in them, they are dead. How can you translate life into something dead? Yes, perhaps between the words you may have a glimpse here and there – but it is between the words, between the lines, not in the words, not in the lines.

“This is the most fundamental error of all religions: that they have deceived humanity by blatantly posing as if they know all.

“But every day they have been exposed and their knowledge has been exposed; hence, they have been fighting with any progress of knowledge.

“If Galileo finds that the earth moves around the sun, the pope is angry. The pope is infallible; he is only a representative of Jesus, but he is infallible. What to say about Jesus – he is the only begotten son of God, and what to say about God…. But in the Bible – which is a book descended from heaven, written by God – the sun goes around the earth.

“Now, Galileo creates a problem. If Galileo is right, then God is wrong; God’s only begotten son is wrong, the only begotten son’s representatives for these two thousand years – all the popes who are infallible – are wrong. Just a single man, Galileo, destroys the whole pretension. The whole hypocrisy he exposes. His mouth has to be shut. He was old, dying, on his deathbed, but he was forced, almost dragged, to the court of the pope to ask for an apology.

“And the pope demanded: “You change it in your book, because the holy book cannot be wrong. You are a mere human being; you can be wrong; but jesus Christ cannot be wrong, God Himself cannot be wrong, hundreds of infallible popes cannot be wrong…. You are standing against God, His son, and His representatives. You simply change it!”

“Galileo must have been a man with an immense sense of humor – which I count to be one of the great qualities of a religious man. Only idiots are serious; they are bound to be serious. To be able to laugh you need a little intelligence.

“It is said that an Englishman laughs twice when he hears a joke: once, just to be nice to the fellow who is telling the joke, out of etiquette, a mannerism; and second, in the middle of the night when he gets the meaning of the joke. The German laughs only once, just to show that he has understood it. The Jew never laughs; he simply says, “In the first place you are telling it all wrong….”

“You need a little intelligence, and Galileo must have been intelligent. He was one of the greatest scientists of the world, but he must be counted as one of the most religious persons also. He said, “Of course God cannot be wrong, Jesus cannot be wrong, all the infallible popes cannot be wrong, but poor Galileo can always be wrong. There is no problem about it – i will change it in my book. But one thing you should remember: the earth will still go around the sun. About that I cannot do anything; it does not follow my orders. As far as my book is concerned I will change it, but in the note I will have to write this:’The earth does not follow my orders, it still goes around the sun.'”

“Each step of science, religion was against.

“The earth is flat, according to the Bible, not round. When Columbus started thinking of going on a trip with the idea that the earth is round, his arithmetic was simple: “If I continue journeying directly, one day I am bound to come back to the same point from where I started… the whole circle.” But everybody was against it.

“The pope called Columbus and told him, “Don’t be foolish! The Bible says it clearly: it is flat. Soon you will reach the edge of this flat earth and you will fall from there. And do you know where you will fall? Heaven is above, and you cannot fall upwards – or can you? You will fall downwards into hell. So don’t go on this journey and don’t persuade other people to go on this journey.”

“Columbus insisted that he was going; he went on the journey and opened the doors of the new world. We owe so much to Columbus that we are not aware of the world that we know was brought to light by Columbus. If he had listened to the pope, the infallible pope, who was talking just nonsense – but his nonsense was very holy, religious….

Religion Is Not All Knowing

“All the religions of the world are bound to pretend that whatsoever there is, they know it. And they know it exactly as it is; it cannot be otherwise.

“Jainas say their tirthankara, their prophet, their messiah is omniscient. He knows everything – past, present and future, so whatsoever he says is the absolute truth. Buddha has joked about Mahavira, the Jaina messiah. They were contemporaries twenty-five centuries ago. Mahavira was getting old, but Buddha was young and was still capable of joking and laughing. He was still young and alive – he was not yet established.

“Once you become an established religion, then you have your vested interests. Mahavira had an established religion thousands of years old, perhaps the oldest religion of the world – because Hindus say, and say rightly, that they have the oldest book in the world, the Rig Veda. Certainly it is now scientifically proved that the Rig Veda is the oldest scripture that has survived. But in the Rig Veda, the first Jaina messiah is mentioned; that is proof enough that the Jaina messiah has preceded the Rig Veda. And he is mentioned: his name is Rishabhadeva.

“He is mentioned with a respect that it is impossible to have towards a contemporary. It is just human weakness, but it is very difficult to be respectful towards somebody who is contemporary and alive, just like you. It is easy to be respectful to somebody who has died long ago. The way the Rig Veda remembers Rishabhadeva is so respectful that it seems that he must have been dead for at least a thousand years, not less that that, so Jainism is a long-established religion.

“Buddhism was just starting with Buddha. He could afford to joke and laugh, so he jokes against Mahavira and his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. He says, “I have seen Mahavira standing before a house begging” – because Mahavira lived naked and used to beg just with his hands. Buddha says, “I have seen him standing before a house which was empty. There was nobody in the house – and yet this man, Jainas say, is a knower, not only of the present, but of the past and the future.”

“Buddha says, “I saw Mahavira walking just ahead of me, and he stepped on a dog’s tail. It was early morning and it was not yet light. Only when the dog jumped, barking, did Mahavira come to know that he had stepped on his tail. This man is omniscient, and he does not know that a dog is sleeping right in his way, and he is going to step on his tail.”

“But the same happened with Buddha when he became established.

“After three hundred years, when his sayings and statements were collected for the first time, the disciples made it absolutely clear that “everything written here is absolutely true, and it is going to remain true forever.”

“Now, in those statements there are so many idiotic things which may have been meaningful twenty-five centuries ago but today they are not meaningful because so much has happened in twenty-five centuries. Buddha had no idea of Karl Marx, he had no idea of Sigmund Freud… so what he has written or stated is bound to be based only on the knowledge which was available at that time.

“A man is poor, because in his past life he has committed bad actions.” Now, after Marx, you cannot say that. “A man is rich because he has committed good actions in his past life.” Now, after Marx, you cannot say that. And I don’t think Buddha had any idea that there was going to be a Karl Marx, although his disciples say that whatsoever he said is going to remain true forever – another way of saying that he is omniscient. 

“This was a good consolation for the poor, that if they did good works, in their future lives they also would be rich. It was a joy for the rich too: “We are rich because we have done good works in our past life.” And they know perfectly well what good works they are doing right now… and their riches are increasing every day; their past life is finished with long ago and yet their riches go on increasing. The poor people go on becoming poorer and the rich go on becoming richer.

“But in India no revolution has ever been thought about; there is no question of its happening – and India has lived in poverty such as no other country has lived. India has lived longer in slavery than any other country of the world. But slavery, poverty, suffering – everything has to be accepted because it is your doing. You cannot revolt against it. Against whom are you going to revolt? The only way is to do something to balance your bad actions with good actions. The very idea of revolution has never happened to the Indian mind. If slavery comes, you have to accept it.

“The Hindus know all the answers. They say, “Without God’s will nothing happens. So if you are a slave….” And for two thousand years India has been in slavery. It is a miracle that such a big country has remained in slavery for two thousand years. And the people who invaded India were small barbarian tribes; they were nothing compared to India. They could have been simply crushed by the crowd, there was no need even to take sword in hand.

“But anybody – Hunas, Moguls, Turks, Mohammedans, Britishers – anybody who was ambitious and wanted to invade India was always welcome. It was ready – obliged that you came from so far away, and you took so much trouble! The simple reason was that the Hindus know the answer: it is God’s will; nothing happens without God’s will, so this slavery is God’s will. And a man like Mahatma Gandhi – one would think that a man like Gandhi would show a little more intelligence, but no. If you are a Hindu you cannot show more intelligence than you are supposed to.

“In Bihar, one of the provinces of India – the poorest province – there was a great earthquake. It was already poor; every year it suffers from floods. And then this earthquake… thousands died. And what did Gandhi say? Gandhi said, “Bihar is suffering because of its bad actions.” In the twentieth century? – an earthquake? – and the whole population of Bihar?

“It was understandable that you had been explaining to single individuals that they were suffering because of their bad karmas, but the whole state suffering because of its bad karmas…! As if all these people in their past life were also in this same state, and they all committed such bad karmas that the earthquake happened. And the whole of the rest of India did not suffer from the earthquake because they had done good karmas in their past life. Strange!

“It is even more strange because Bihar is the birthplace of Mahavira, of Gautam Buddha, of Makhkhali Gosal, of Ajit Keshkambal – great teachers and great prophets – and Bihar is suffering because it has committed bad karmas! In India no other state has given birth to so many prophets, philosophers, thinkers. And what wrong could Bihar have done? But Hinduism knows everything.

I want you to remember that the basic mistake that all the religions have committed is that they have not been courageous enough to accept that there are limits to their knowing. 

“They have not been able to say on any point, “We don’t know.”

“They have been so arrogant that they go on saying they know, and they go on creating new fictions of knowledge.

True Religion, Not the Religions

“That’s where the true religion will be different, fundamentally different.

“Yes, once in a while there have been single individuals who had the quality of true religion; for example, Bodhidharma. One of the most loveable human beings, he went to China fourteen hundred years ago. He remained for nine years in China and a following gathered around him. But he was not a man belonging to the stupidity of the so-called religions.

“Formally he was a Buddhist monk, and China was already converted to Buddhism. Thousands of Buddhist monks had already reached China before Bodhidharma, and when they heard Bodhidharma was coming, they rejoiced, because Bodhidharma was almost equal to Buddha. His name had reached them long before he came. Even the king of China, the great Emperor Wu, came to receive Bodhidharma on the boundary of China and India.

“Wu was the medium to transform the whole of China into Buddhism, to convert it from Confucius to Gautam Buddha. He had put all his forces and all his treasures into the hands of Buddhist monks, and he was a great emperor. When he met Bodhidharma he asked, “I have been waiting to see you. I am old, and I am fortunate that you have come after all; all these years we have been waiting. I want to ask a few questions.”

“The first question he asked was: “I have devoted all my treasures, my armies, my bureaucracy – everything that I have – to convert this vast land to Buddhism, and I have made thousands of temples for Buddha.” He had made one temple to Buddha in which there were ten thousand statues of Buddha; the whole mountain was carved. Because ten thousand Buddhas had to be carved, the whole mountain was finished – carved into Buddhist statues, so the whole mountain became a temple. He asked, “What will be my benefit in the other world?”

“That’s what the other monks were telling him, “You have done so much to serve Gautam Buddha that perhaps when you reach the other world, he himself will be standing there to welcome you. And you have earned so much virtue that an eternity of pleasures is yours.”

“Bodhidharma said, “All that you have done is absolutely meaningless. You have not even started on the journey, you have not taken even the first step. You will fall into the seventh hell – take my word for it.

“The Emperor Wu could not believe it: “I have done so much, and this man says ‘You will fall into the seventh hell’!”

“Bodhidharma laughed and he said, “Whatsoever you have done is out of greed, and anything done out of greed cannot make you religious. You have renounced so many riches, but you have not renounced them unconditionally. You are bargaining; it is a business. You are purchasing in the other world. You are putting your bank balance from this world into the other world, transferring it. You are cunning: because this world is momentary – tomorrow you may die – and these other monks have been telling you the other world is eternal…. So what are you doing? Giving momentary treasures to gain eternal treasures? Really a good deal! Whom are you trying to deceive?”

“When Bodhidharma spoke to Wu in this way, before all the monks and the generals and the lesser kings who had come with Wu and his whole court, Wu was angry. Nobody had spoken in this way to him before. He said to Bodhidharma, “is this the way for a religious person to talk?”

“Bodhidharma said, “Yes, this is the only way a religious person talks; all other ways are of people who want to cheat you. These monks here have been cheating you; they have been making promises to you. You don’t know anything about what happens after death; nor do they, but they have been pretending that they know.

“Wu asked, “Who are you to speak with such authority?”

“And do you know what Bodhidharma said? He said, “I don’t know. That is one point that I don’t know. I have been into myself, I have gone to the very center of my being and come out as ignorant as before. I do not know.” Now this I call courage.

“No religion has been courageous enough to say, “We know this much, and that much we don’t know; perhaps in the future we may know. And beyond that there is a space which is going to remain unknowable forever.”

If these religions had been that humble, the world would have been totally different.

Humanity would not have been in such a mess; there would not have been so much anguish.


“All around the world everybody is full of anguish. What to say about hell – we are already living in hell here. What more suffering can there be in hell?

“And the people responsible for it are your so-called religious people. They still go on pretending, playing the same game. After three hundred years of science continually demolishing their territory, continually destroying their so-called knowledge, bringing forth new facts, new realities, still the pope is infallible, still the shankaracharya is infallible!

“In Jaipur there was a Hindu conference and one of the shankaracharyas…. There are four shankaracharyas in India and they are equivalent to the pope; each one ruling one direction – for the four directions, four shankaracharyas. One of the shankaracharyas belonged to Jaipur, he was born in Jaipur. He was basically an astrologer, a great scholar, so when one shankaracharya died, he was chosen to be the shankaracharya of Jaganath Puri.

“I had known him before he was a shankaracharya and this conference was the first time that I had met him since he had become the shankaracharya. I asked him, “Now you must have become infallible. And I know you perfectly well – before you were not. Can you tell me on what date, at what time you became infallible?”

“He said, “Don’t ask inconvenient questions in front of others. Now I am a shankaracharya and I am supposed to be infallible.”

“I said, “Supposed to be?”

“He said, “That is for your information. If you ask me in public, I am infallible.”

“Now a polack has become pope. Have you ever heard of any polack becoming infallible? But one pope, a polack, has become infallible. How far has this world to fall? Now there is nowhere to fall. After the polack dies – because popes die very quickly, for the simple reason that by the time they become popes they are almost dead. It takes such a long time to reach the Vatican, that if they survive a few years that is enough. Now after this pope whom are you going to choose? Can you find anybody else? I think Oregon will be good. After Poland, Oregon will be the right place. You can find far superior idiots here, but they will also become infallible once they become the pope.

What Is Known Is Very Small, What Is Unknown and Unknowable Is Vast

“A true religion will have this humbleness of accepting that only a few things are known, much more is unknown, and something will always remain unknowable.

“That something is the target of the whole religious search.

“You cannot make it an object of knowledge, but you can experience it, you can drink of it, you can have the taste of it – it is existential.

“The scientist remains separate from the object he is studying. He is always separate from the object; hence knowledge is possible, because the knower is different from the known. But the religious person is moving into his subjectivity, where the knower and the known are one.

“When the knower and the known are one there is no possibility of knowledge. Yes, you can dance it, but you cannot say it.

“It may be in the walk, the way you walk; it may be in your eyes, the way you see; it may be in your touch, the way you touch – but it cannot be put into words.

Words are absolutely impotent as far as religion is concerned. And all these so-called religions are full of words.

I call it all crap! 

“This is the fundamental mistake. But there are other mistakes too, worth remembering. For example: every religion is egoistic. Although every religion teaches the followers to drop the ego, to be egoless, to be humble, the religion itself is not humble, it is very arrogant.

“Jesus says, “Be humble, be meek,” but have you ever thought – Jesus himself is not humble, not meek, not at all. What more arrogance and what more egotism can there be? – he declares himself to be the only begotten son of God! You cannot declare yourself to be another son of God – not even a cousin, because God has no brothers. You cannot have any relationship with God: that one relationship is closed, Jesus has closed the door.

“He is the messiah and he has come to redeem the world. Nobody seems to be redeemed, and two thousand years have passed. He himself died in suffering on the cross – whom is he going to redeem? But the idea that “I am going to redeem you, come follow me”…. This has been one of the most important factors in destroying humanity – because all religions claim that they are the only right religion, and all other religions are wrong. They have been continually fighting, killing each other, destroying each other.

“Just the other day I saw a panel on the TV. One rabbi, one Protestant priest and one Catholic monk were discussing me. And they came to the conclusion… the rabbi suggested, “It is time now – we should make an effort to have a dialogue with this man.” I could not believe it – a rabbi talking to the Catholic priest, suggesting that a dialogue is needed. Why? There were so many rabbis in Jesus’ time, why wasn’t a dialogue needed with Jesus? Or was the crucifixion the dialogue?

“And this idiot Catholic agrees. He does not even say, “You, being a rabbi, do you believe in dialogue? Then what happened with Jesus? Was the crucifixion a dialogue?” No, he does not ask that. Nor does the rabbi wonder what he himself is saying. Jesus was a Jew – it would have been perfectly right for the rabbis to have a dialogue with a Jew. If he has gone astray, bring the Jew back on the right path; or perhaps he is right, then you come to his path. But was the crucifixion the dialogue? It was not even a monologue!

“But now they are all established. The Catholic, the Protestant and the rabbi have no trouble because now they are part of the vested business. And they all know that they are doing the same things, they are in the same business. Jesus was a trouble; perhaps a dialogue was not possible. It is not possible with me either, but the reasons are different.

“With Jesus the dialogue was not possible because he was the messiah, but who were you? A dialogue is possible only amongst equals. He is the son of God. Who are you? – son-in-law? You have to be a somebody, otherwise what dialogue? No, it was not possible because Jesus was so egoistic that the rabbis knew perfectly well a dialogue was not possible. Once or twice they had approached him.

“Once a rabbi asked Jesus, “On what authority are you speaking?”

“He said, “On my own authority – and remember, before Abraham was, I am.” Abraham was the forefather, the ancientmost; and Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am. What more authority do you want?” Now this man is saying, “Blessed are the meek,” but he himself is not meek; “Blessed are the poor, blessed are the humble….” But what is the reason? Why are they blessed? “… because they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

“A strange argument! Here you lose; there you gain a thousandfold. But what do you gain? – the same things. Here you are poor, there you will be rich. Here you are a beggar, there you will be a king. But what is the qualitative difference? – just here, and there – two different spaces. And these people are trying to be meek and humble and poor for one simple reason: to inherit the kingdom of God. Now this man is provoking and exploiting your greed. All the religions have been doing that.

A Dialogue with Osho

“A dialogue with me is also impossible, but for different reasons.

First: I don’t know myself – about that no discussion is possible – and that is the most fundamental thing to be discussed. What dialogue is possible? Either you have been within or you haven’t. 

“If you have been within, then just looking into your eyes is enough – that’s the dialogue. If you have not been within, then too just looking in your eyes is enough. The dialogue is finished before it begins.

“With me a dialogue is impossible because I am not a scholar. I cannot quote scriptures, I always misquote them. But who cares? – because I don’t pay any respect to those scriptures. I don’t believe them to be holy. They are just religious fictions, so misquoting from religious fictions is not a problem at all. In fact I have never read them carefully. I have gone through them, here and there just looking – and even then I have found so much garbage.

“So what dialogue is possible with me, on what points? There needs to be a certain agreement, and there is no agreement possible because I say there is no God. Now what dialogue is possible? You will have to prove God; then the dialogue can begin. Or bring God to the witness box; then we can discuss whether he is truly a God or just a phony American.

“I don’t believe that there is any heaven or hell. What dialogue is possible? Yes, in other religions you can have dialogues because these are the points of agreement. A Mohammedan, a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew – they can discuss God. One point is certain, that God is. Now, the question is only about his form, attributes, qualities – but the basic thing is agreed. They all agree on heaven and hell. Now, it may be that somebody believes in seven hells, somebody believes in five, somebody believes in three. This is only a question of numbers, not so very important. With me what kind of dialogue is possible?

“When I heard the panel, I started wondering that if a dialogue has to happen, how is it going to start? From where? There is not a single point of agreement, because all those religions are pseudo, they are not true religions; otherwise there would have been some possibility.

“With Bodhidharma I can have a dialogue. He says, “I do not know who I am.” That’s enough agreement. Now we can hold each other’s hand and go for a morning walk. Now there is no need to say anything more: all is said.

“After nine years, when Bodhidharma was returning to India, he gathered four of his chief disciples and he asked them, “Condense religion into a single statement so that I can know whether you have understood me or not.”

“The first one said, “Compassion is religion. That is Buddha’s basic message: compassion.”

“Bodhidharma said, “You have my bones, but nothing else.”

“The second disciple said, “Meditation. To be silent, to be so utterly silent that not a single thought moves inside you: that is the essence of religion.”

“Bodhidharma said, “You have my flesh, but nothing more; because in what you are saying, you are only repeating my words. In your eyes I don’t see the silence; on your face I don’t see the depth that silence brings.”

“The third one said, “It cannot be said. It is inexpressible.”

“Bodhidharma said, “You have my marrow. But if it cannot be said, why have you used even these words? You have already said it. Even in saying ‘It cannot be said, it cannot be expressed,’ you are saying something about it; hence I say you have only the marrow.”

“He turned towards the fourth. There were tears in the disciple’s eyes and he fell at Bodhidharma’s feet. Bodhidharma shook him and asked him again and again, “What is religion?” But only tears of joy… his hands holding his feet in gratitude. The disciple never spoke a single word, not even that it cannot be said, it is inexpressible.

“Bodhidharma hugged him and said, “You have me. Now I can go in peace because I am leaving something of me behind.”

“Now with these rabbis, Catholic priests, Protestant priests, what dialogue is possible? Two thousand years have passed and the rabbis have not apologized yet for crucifying Jesus. He may have been an egoist, he may have been wrong, he may have been teaching something faulty, but nobody has the right to crucify the man – he had not harmed anybody. All that was needed was a gentlemanly argument, but they were not competent enough to argue with him.

“Crucifixion is not an argument. You can cut off my head – that is not an argument. That does not mean that I am wrong and you are right. In fact, cutting off my head simply proves that you were incapable of arguing your point. It is always the weak who become angry. It is always the weak who want to convert you at the point of a sword. After two thousand years and still… I wonder that not a single rabbi has apologized. Why should they? They think they were right then and they are right now.

“I wonder what kind of Catholic is this monk and what kind of Protestant is this priest who are sitting with the rabbi and discussing me. They should talk first about themselves, about why they are sitting together.

“All these people have been egoists. Now, rabbis go on teaching people to be humble but they cannot give an apology. That is impossible. They have not even mentioned the name of Jesus in their scriptures, in their books. You will not find any mention of Jesus, his crucifixion or the birth of Christianity in Jewish sources, no: “It is not even worth mentioning.” But the same is the situation of other religions. Mohammed says, “I am the only messenger of God. One God, one messenger and one holy book, the Koran – if you believe in these three things, that’s enough, you are saved.”

The Religions Fear Doubt

“That brings me to the second point, that all these religions have been against doubt. They have been really afraid of doubt.

“Only an impotent intellect can be afraid of doubt; otherwise doubt is a challenge, an opportunity to enquire.

“They have all killed doubt and they have all forced on everybody’s mind the idea that if you doubt you will fall into hell and you will suffer for eternity. Never doubt. Belief is the in thing; faith, total faith – not even partial faith will do, but total faith. What are you asking from human beings? Something absolutely inhuman. A man – how can he believe totally? And even if he tries to believe totally, it means doubt is there; otherwise against what is he fighting? Against what is he trying to believe totally?

“There is doubt, and doubt is not destroyed by believing.

“Doubt is destroyed by experiencing.

“They say, believe!

“I say, explore.

“They say, don’t doubt!

“I say, doubt to the very end, till you arrive, and know and feel and experience.

“Then there is no need to repress doubt, it evaporates by itself. Then there is no need for you to believe. You don’t believe in the sun, you don’t believe in the moon – why do you believe in God? You don’t need to believe in ordinary facts because they are there. But they are not ultimate truth.

“A rose flower is there in the morning; in the evening it is gone. Still you “believe” in it but you don’t need to; you know it, there is no question of doubt. This “belief” in a rose flower is a simple belief, not against doubt. Just so that you don’t get confused between a simple belief and a complicated belief, I have a different word for it: it is trust.

“You trust a rose flower. It blooms, it releases its fragrance, and it is gone. By the evening you will not find it; its petals have fallen and the wind has taken them away. But it was not an eternal truth; you know it as a fact. And you know again there will be roses, again there will be fragrance. You need not believe; you simply know from experience, because yesterday also there were roses and they disappeared. Today again they appeared – and tomorrow nature is going to follow its course.

“Why believe in God? Neither yesterday did you have any experience of God, nor today – and what certainty is there about tomorrow? From where can you get certainty for tomorrow? – because yesterday was empty, today is empty, and tomorrow is only an empty hope, hoping against hope. But that’s what all these religions have been teaching: destroy doubt.

“The moment you destroy doubt you have destroyed something of immense value in man, because it is doubt which is going to help man to enquire and find. You have cut the very root of enquiry; now there will be no enquiry.

“That’s why, in the whole world, there is rarely, once in a while, a person who has the feel of the eternal, who has breathed the eternal, who has found the pulse of the eternal – but very rarely. And who is responsible? All your rabbis and all your popes and all your shankaracharyas and all your imams – they are responsible because they have cut the very root of enquiry.

“In Japan they grow a strange tree. There are, in existence, three-hundred or four-hundred-year-old trees, five inches tall. Four hundred years old! If you look at the tree, it is so ancient but such a pygmy of a tree – five inches tall. And they think it is an art! What they have been doing is to go on cutting the roots. The earthen pot in which the tree is has no bottom, so once in a while they take up the pot and cut the roots. When you cut the roots the tree cannot grow up. It grows old but it never grows up. It becomes older and older, but you have destroyed it. It may have become a big tree, because mostly those trees are bo trees.

“Japan is a Buddhist country, and Gautam Buddha became enlightened under a bo tree. The bo tree is called a bo tree in English too, because under it Gautam Siddartha became a Buddha, attained bodhi, enlightenment. The full name is bodhi tree, but in ordinary use it is enough to call it a bo tree. So all those trees are bo trees. Now no Buddha can sit under these bo trees. You have stopped who knows how many Buddhas from becoming Buddhas by cutting these bo trees.

“The tree under which Buddha became enlightened was so big that one thousand bullock carts could rest underneath it. It was so big. It is still alive – not the same tree of course, but a branch of the same tree. Mohammedans destroyed the tree. They could not tolerate that a tree exists underneath which somebody reached such heights. They burned the tree, they completely destroyed the tree.

“But one of the emperors of India, Ashoka, had sent one branch of the tree as a present to Ceylon with his own daughter, Sanghamitra, who had become a sannyasin. Sanghamitra carried a branch of the bo tree to Ceylon, and from that bo tree a branch has been brought back again and put in the place where Buddha had become enlightened. It is part of the same tree, but the third generation.

“But what these people in Japan are doing shows something significant: it is what religions have done with man. They have been cutting your roots so you don’t grow up – you only grow old.

“And the first root they cut is doubt; then enquiry stops.

“The second root they cut turns you against your own nature, condemns your nature. Obviously when your nature is condemned, how can you help your nature to flow, grow and take its own course like a river? No, they don’t allow you to be like a river, moving zigzag.

“All the religions have turned you into railway trains, running on rails, running from one station to another – and mostly just shunting, not going anywhere but still on rails. Those rails they call discipline, control, self-control.

“Religions have done so much harm that it is almost incalculable – their pot of sins is full, overflowing. It just needs to be thrown into the Pacific, five miles deep, so deep that nobody can find it again and start again the same idiotic process.

“The small number of people in the world who are intelligent should get rid of all that their religions have done to them without their knowing. They should become completely clean of Jewishness, of Hinduism, of Christianity, of Jainism, of Buddhism. They should be completely clean – just to be human is enough.

“Accept yourself.

“Respect yourself. Allow your nature to take its own course. Don’t force, don’t repress.

“Doubt – because doubt is not a sin, it is the sign of your intelligence. Doubt and go on enquiring until you find.

“One thing I can say: whosoever enquires, finds. It is absolutely certain; it has never been otherwise.

“Nobody has come empty-handed from an authentic enquiry.

To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
Osho, From Ignorance to Innocence, Talk #11 – Truth: Not a Dogma but a Dance

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