We humans have an intrinsic urge to seek the truth.
It goes back a long way. Survival has always depended on knowing what is going on. Whether it is a plant that needs to find out where the sun is, or an animal who needs to find out where the food is, or you or me making sure that the rope we are about to tread on is not a snake!
The other side of this coin is that we are really uneasy with the unknown. Have you noticed how so many of us find it difficult to simply say, “I don’t know”? Try asking 10 people the way to the nearest pub and notice how some either know or say they don’t know. And how the majority really hasn’t a clue yet can’t just say so.
So, on one side we have this thirst for finding out what is happening, and at the same time we are really uncomfortable with, even fearful of, the unknown. Given our long history as hunter-gatherers, living through long winter nights surrounded by danger, this is hardly surprising.
But why does everyone say that they want the truth? They even declare that something is “my truth.” Is this just another lie?
“Man lives in illusion. Man lives through illusion. Man lives for illusion. In short, man lives because of illusion, hence the fear of truth. Nobody wants truth although everybody goes on seeking it. That seeking is a deception, that seeking is an avoidance; to seek truth means to avoid truth. It has to be understood how the seeker goes on avoiding truth. To seek means to look far away, to seek means to look somewhere else, to seek means to go on a trip.
“To seek means to postpone: to seek means it will happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, it is not happening right now. It is not here, it is there. It is not this, it is that. Man goes on living in illusion, but to live in illusion one needs to avoid truth because if truth comes, it will shatter all your illusions and all your so-called life and all your so-called love. Truth looks like a calamity.” 1
There have been two very different ways we humans have responded to this. One way has been to make up unverifiable stories to minimize those fears and give us the illusion that we “know” – which eventually coalesced into what today we would recognize as the different religions.
The other approach has been to actually go and look and find out what in fact is going on – what today has become science.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson explained, what is meant by science “can be summarized in one sentence, which is all about objectivity: Do whatever it takes to avoid fooling yourself into thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is.”
Neil Tyson, like almost all contemporary scientists, has not quite followed his own guidelines: he is only giving us half the story. By “objectivity,” he is talking about a science that discovers what is “out there.” But what about the science that discovers what is “in here”?
During what Karl Jaspers identified as the Axial Age there was a largely forgotten revolution in the search for truth. Japers identified a period about 25 centuries ago when the potential Galileos, Newtons, Darwins, and Einsteins of that time, from Ancient Greece through the Middle East, India, to China took the opposite route. They created what we can now see is that science of what is “in here” — subjective science.
Long before there were any religions or any scriptures to consult, brilliant, exemplary people of that Axial Age, like Socrates, Patanjali, Buddha, Mahakashyapa, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and so many others formed the basis for the worlds’ discovery of the methodology of this subjective science: meditation.
Instead of looking outside at the world around them they applied that same intense thirst, which motivates people like Tyson today, to a search inside themselves, to discover the source of their own subjectivity, what today we would call consciousness.
The reason this crucial half of the story has almost disappeared from view is that many of these inner scientists were later elevated by “followers” to be founders of what today we call “the religions.” Of course, the Buddha had never heard of Buddhism, any more than Jesus had heard of Christianity, but the same distortions arose.
In fact the story of the Buddha is specifically illustrative of how this inner science has been buried in misunderstandings. He had no God. He specifically instructed those around him that worship and belief were not helpful, and in particular that they were not to make any statues of him. His message was to not to look outwards but inwards. His last words said it all: “Be a light unto yourself.”
The result? It is said there are more statues of Buddha than anyone else in history. Moreover Buddhism followed the usual business model: Followers who look outward to worship the spiritual superman, guided by rituals that take place in temples organised by the middlemen. These rituals are based on “scriptures” which are to be scrupulously adhered to, while the “devotees,” the “flock,” the “sheep” become believers not seekers of truth, dependent on those same middlemen for access to someone else’s truth.
It means that these “religions” are in fact distortions of the original inspiration to look inwards. How could all those brilliant beings from the Axial Age have possibly wanted humanity to live in a world divided, often very violently, by thousands of competing religious ideologies — rather than be united by consciousness as they had originally proposed?
Science, whether subjective or objective, is based on doubt, while the religions are based on belief. These are incompatible values and this conflict has resulted in hundreds of years of effort by the religions to resist the findings of science, which bizarrely continues even to this day. It is a rearguard action: in the end, the truth will be out, whether subjective or objective. In desperation at the inevitable, the believers become ever more extreme, and as the basis of belief is irrational, that extremism knows no limits.
Osho, the most contemporary of inner scientists, rescues humanity, and science in particular, from these ideological cul-de-sacs by brilliantly reframing the situation, uniting again, after 25 centuries, the science of the inner with the contemporary science of the outer:
“Now, if you want anything in the world to be called religion, then you have to start from ABC, from the very scratch: a religion which is a science, and not a fiction.
“Just as science discovers in the objective world, outside, religion discovers in the inner world. What science is to objective existence, religion is to subjectivity.
“Their methods are exactly the same. Science calls it observation, religion calls it awareness. Science calls it experiment, religion calls it experience. Science wants you to go into the experiment without any prejudice in your mind, without any belief. You have to be open, available. You are not going to impose anything on reality. You are just going to be available to the reality whatsoever it is, even if it goes against all your ideas. You have to drop those ideas – but the reality cannot be denied.
“The scientific endeavour is risking your mind for reality, putting your mind aside for reality. Reality counts, not what you think about it. Your thinking may be right or may be wrong, but the reality will decide it. Your mind is not going to decide what is right and what is wrong. The same is the situation of an authentic religion, a scientific religion.
“If I am allowed, I would like to describe science as two dimensions, the outer and the inner. The word religion can be dropped. You have two sciences: one, objective science; the other, subjective science.
“And that’s what is going to happen; whether you call it a religion or science does not matter – names don’t matter, but the methodology is exactly the same: you should not go in with a belief. No believer is ever going to know the truth. To believe is to miss.
“You have to put aside your ideology. Howsoever beautiful it looks, howsoever systematic it looks, howsoever philosophical you have made and decorated it, you have to put it aside and see within. That’s the whole method of meditation, awareness, watchfulness.” 2
These insights provide the basis for a major paradigm shift.
Scientists can now listen carefully to what those inner scientists down the centuries have been explaining: the moment you make the subject an object, it is no longer the subject. Instead of looking for consciousness at the bottom of a test tube, they will have to look inside themselves.
Only when those scientists have looked can they decide the truth of one of their own favourite beliefs — in materialism — that life, existence, is essentially an elegant machine that will eventually be understood and demystified by the human nervous system. Maybe, maybe not. Let’s see what they find when they get there!
The reason this is so critical is that humanity is really at a crossroads: The believers will go on fighting each other over their ideologies as they have for centuries until science provides a smarter way to see things — a science that fully embraces consciousness.
Meanwhile, the immediate catastrophes that confront us are either caused by, or can be prevented by science– a science that today stubbornly refuses to question its own beliefs about consciousness, and its belief that it is unnecessary to even consider standing on the shoulders of the giants in this area who have preceded them.
We have stumbled blindly, unconsciously, into potentially catastrophic climate change, into planet earth’s sixth major species extinction, into a post-antibiotic era, not to mention the unresolved shadow of nuclear annihilation…. The examples of human mindless blindness are so many.
Today, scientists are taking us headlong into a new world of do-it-yourself, cut-and-paste genetic engineering; into an unknown world of almost limitless computerisation and connectivity, where vital utilities, even nuclear facilities are vulnerable to mischief and much worse.
Given these dire threats to our survival, more than ever scientists at least need to “know what is going on,” and not just on the outside! We urgently need conscious scientists as a critical element of a science of consciousness before it is too late.
We haven’t even mentioned the other major source of ideological violence: politics. Until scientists get to grips with consciousness, how can we insist that our political leaders are conscious enough to lead intelligently?
For example, former President G W Bush, talking about Saddam Hussein before 9/11 said, “After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.” Did this influence the decision to invade Iraq, with all its horrific consequences that we see around the world today? We don’t know — which doesn’t matter. Did GW Bush know? That is what is important? Or was it just another, blind, unconscious lurch into a catastrophe?
We are getting close to the edge, guys. Time to look wide.
Or as Osho elegantly puts it:
Science has to accept that it has been neglecting the most important part of existence: human consciousness. And once science starts moving into man’s interiority, religions will start disappearing on their own accord. They will become meaningless.
“When knowledge is available, who is going to believe?
“When experience is available, who is going to read it in a Bible, in a Koran?
When you have food available to eat, I don’t think you will choose a book on cookery and read it. That you can do later on, or perhaps you may not need to do it.
“You have within you the secret key, and now it is science’s responsibility to help you to find the key.” 3
To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
1 Osho, This Very Body the Buddha, Talk #6 – This Very Body the Buddha
2 Osho, From Unconsciousness to Consciousness, Talk #19 – Meditation: The Science of Awareness
3 Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Talk #20 – There is a Bigger Universe Within You