As society’s hold on people’s minds begins to disintegrate, in times of social crisis such as now there seems to be a tendency for an increasing number of people to fall below the mind into madness. Also, is it true that this is paralleled by a tendency for people to look at the possibility of going beyond the mind into enlightenment?
“Times of crisis are both dangerous and immensely important. They are dangerous for those who have no courage to explore new dimensions of life. They are bound to disintegrate into different kinds of madness, because their minds were made by the society. Now the society is disintegrating, the mind cannot remain; its roots are in the society. It is constantly nourished by the society. Now that nourishment is disappearing.
“Because the society is disintegrating, a great suspicion, a doubt that was never there before, is bound to arise in the individuals. If they were just obedient people who have never gone beyond any limit that society has decided, who have always been respected, honorable citizens – in other words, just mediocre – they will immediately go mad.
“They will start committing suicide, they will start jumping from high buildings; or even if they live, now they don’t have a mind which can help them to figure out the situation for their lives. They will become retarded, stupid, idiotic, may become schizophrenic, split into two persons – or perhaps a crowd. In times of crisis, the danger is for those who have enjoyed the times when the society was settled, when there were no problems, everything was at ease, they were honored, respected. These were the people who had enjoyed the obedience of the mind, and they are going to be the sufferers. It is a simple arithmetic. They will go psychotic, they will go neurotic. And these words don’t make much difference; I have heard a definition:
“A psychoanalyst was asked, ‘What is the difference between psychosis and neurosis?’
“The psychoanalyst said, ‘The psychotic person believes that two and two are five. And the neurotic person knows that two and two are four, but is not at ease with the fact that two and two are four.’
“So the difference is very fine. Both are in trouble.
“But times of crisis are of tremendous significance for those daring souls who have never bothered about society’s respectability, its honors; who have never bothered about what others think about them, but have done only that which they felt right to do; who have in a certain way always been rebellious, individualistic. For those people the times of crisis are just golden, because the society is disintegrating. Now it cannot condemn anybody – it is itself condemned, cursed. It cannot say to others that they are wrong. It is itself proving wrong; its whole wisdom is proving just foolish, superstitious.
The daring individual can use this opportunity to go beyond mind, because now the society cannot prevent him, cannot hinder him. Now he is free.
“It is almost like a situation in a jail when the doors are open, the guards have disappeared and the jailer is nowhere to be found. The people who have some sense, some intelligence, will use it for freedom. But those who have become so enslaved that they cannot think of freedom – imprisonment has become their home – will simply panic, ‘What is going to happen today? No guards? No jailer? The doors are open! Who will take care of us? Who will provide food for us?’
“There will be people whose slavery has penetrated to their very soul; those people will go berserk. But the people who were always in search of a moment when they can escape from the prison will be immensely happy. This was the time they have been waiting and praying for. They will escape out of the prison into the open sky. Going beyond the mind is going into the open sky, full of stars, the moon, the sun, the immensity of it. It becomes yours; the whole existence becomes yours. The mind is a small cage.
So moments of crisis are both, and that is what is happening all around the world. There has never been so intense a search for spiritual growth, for meditation. But there has never been so much madness either. Both are happening because the status quo is no longer powerful; it has lost control.
“When Galileo found that the earth moves around the sun, not vice versa as the Bible says, the pope asked him to be present in his court. Many things happened that day. One was very important. Galileo asked, “What does it matter if one statement in the Bible is proved wrong? It does not prove the whole Bible wrong. I am a devout Christian, a practicing Christian, and I don’t see that if one statement is wrong that it makes any difference.”
“But the pope said, ‘You don’t understand’ – and the pope was right. He said, ‘When one statement is proved wrong, then thousands of problems will arise. One: that God can be wrong. And if he is wrong about one statement, what is the certainty about other statements?’ Just one brick taken out of the palace, and the whole palace may collapse.
“’I cannot allow,’ the pope said, ‘any statement in the Bible to be wrong.’
“His argument is significant. Today not only one thing about the old mind, the old society, is wrong, but so many things are wrong that it needs an absolute idiot to still believe in it. Just a little intelligence and it is impossible to be part of the old mind. It has lost credibility – and not in one place, but all over the world. There are different kinds of old traditions, but they all have come to a point where so many things are scientifically proved wrong.
“You will be surprised to know:
“A Jaina monk had come to see me; he had collected millions of rupees to make a lab to prove that man has not reached the moon. He wanted my support, that I should be the director of his lab. He would give any finance that was needed, but it had to be proved that no man has stepped on the moon.
“I said, ‘Why are you so worried about it?’
He said, ‘You don’t understand. In Jainism, the moon is a god, not a planet. You cannot walk on a god. They have not only walked on a god, they have brought stones and other things from the moon to be studied on the earth. It has to be proved that they are deceiving the whole world, that they had taken all these things from the earth, and they have brought them back. Nobody has been to the moon; nobody can have been, otherwise the whole system of Jainism will collapse.’
“I said, ‘Just for a single thing, that the moon proves to be a planet not a god?’
“He said, ‘If one thing is wrong, then everything becomes suspicious. We cannot afford anything to be wrong.’
“I said, ‘You are too late! Many things have already been proved wrong. You are not very knowledgeable. You have simply been reading the newspapers, and because it is a recent event, man landing on the moon…. Otherwise in three hundred years science has destroyed much that all the religions have believed in for centuries.’
“That man was really in tremendous anguish. I said, ‘For you, being a monk, it does not matter whether anything is wrong or right – your search is for the truth, for peace and silence. You are getting so upset; your very anguish shows that your own mind is shattered. It is not a question of Jaina scriptures, or the Jaina tradition, it is a question of your mind.
“’You are collecting all this money, not for Jaina scriptures but to save your sanity; otherwise you would go insane. You have sacrificed your whole life, and now you find that the gods you have been worshipping are not gods but just planets, as ordinary as the earth, and very poor – no water, no plants, no life. It is your mind that is going to be shattered. How will you account for your whole life?’
“This is the situation of many people of intelligence. Either they are going insane – you can see that psychotherapy and other schools of therapies are growing fast, and they are the most highly paid people. People are going through psychoanalysis for years. In fact people have started boasting. In women’s clubs you can hear it, that one woman will be saying, “How many years have you been in psychoanalysis? – just seven years? I have been in psychoanalysis for fifteen years.” It has become something of pride. But to be in psychoanalysis simply means you are insane; otherwise why are you taking the treatment? And it is spreading.
“But the most intelligent people are rushing toward the East to find some way, some method, some meditation – Yoga, Zen, Sufism, Hasidism. Somewhere somebody must know how to get over this critical stage, how to go beyond the traditional mind and still remain centered, sane, and intelligent. Thousands of people are moving toward the East.
“It is very hilarious because thousands of people are coming from the East to the West to study science, medicine, engineering, electronics, and the people who know all these are going to the East, just to learn how to sit silently and do nothing.
“But it is a beautiful time. The grip of society is lost. Yes, the mediocre will suffer, but anyway they were not enjoying, they were not really living; they were simply being hypocrites. By being insane at least they will be real, authentic. They won’t lose anything – of course they won’t gain much.
“The people who will go beyond mind will create the new man, the new mind. And the most special thing to be remembered about the new mind is that it will never become a tradition, that it will be constantly renewed. If it becomes a tradition it will be again the same thing.
The new mind has to become continuously new, every day new, ready to accept any unexpected experience, any unexpected truth – just available, vulnerable. It will be a tremendous excitement, a great ecstasy, a great challenge.
“So I don’t think this crisis is bad; it is good. A few people will lose their masks, and will be actually what they are – neurotic, psychotic – but at least they will be true and they will be honest. You may think they are mad; they are not mad, they are simply in a state of very great surprise. They have believed in the old mind too much, and it betrayed them.
“But the best of the intelligence will reach to heights unknown before. If even in a traditional world, a man like Gautam Buddha or Chuang Tzu or Pythagoras is possible, we can conceive that in the atmosphere that the new mind will create, a thousandfold more awakened people, enlightened people will become easily possible.
“If the new mind can prevail then life can become an enlightening process. Enlightenment will not be something rare, that happens once in a while to somebody very special; it will become a very ordinary human experience, that only once in a while some really idiotic person misses.”
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Osho, Beyond Psychology, Talk #41:Times of Crisis Are Just Golden