Like Nelson Mandela, Politicians Should Practice Meditation

Like Nelson Mandela, Politicians Should Practice Meditation

Nelson Mandela, the legendary South African leader, was once asked how he kept himself from hating his tormentors. Mandela answered, “Hating clouds the mind… leaders can’t afford to hate.” I wish more politicians had this wisdom.

It was an enigma for everyone close to him how he did not carry any malice or grievance against captors who tortured and humiliated him. This unique spiritual quality made Mandela tower over his detractors. His fight was not merely against white people but was a fight to reclaim the dignity and freedom of people of color. Mandela was an unusual politician who was in search of himself.

Anthony Sampson in, Mandela The Authorised Biography, quotes a letter Nelson Mandela wrote to his wife, Winnie Mandela, on the subject of meditation when she was sent to prison in Kroonstad.

“You may find that the cell is an ideal place to learn to know yourself, to search realistically and regularly the processes of your own mind and feelings. In judging our progress as individuals we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education… but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life… at least, if for nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you.

“Regular meditation, say of about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative factors in your life, but the tenth attempt may reap rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner that keeps on trying.”

His magnanimous heart and his behavior with his fellow men had the fragrance of a maturity that can only blossom within the being of a meditator. He turned his twenty-seven years of incarceration into a retreat, where meditation transformed him into a rare human being.

Meditation has to become the foundation, the essence of human life, particularly in today’s chaotic, terrorized, cunning world. The days are gone when meditation was the prerogative of a handful of people who had renounced all in order to strive for their personal salvation. Now it has to be brought into daily activities and circumstances if we want to change the quality of human life. Especially for people in positions of power, the actual qualities of their development as human beings is crucial: authenticity, honesty, sincerity…. If they meditate regularly, they can become aware of their greed and lust for power. Then only will have the clarity and sensitivity to use that power wisely.

This is exactly what Osho has proposed for everyone in power, particularly the politicians:

“As far as I can see, all politicians should be meditators, should know something of the inner world. They should be more conscious, more compassionate, and should know the taste of love. They should know the experience of the silence of existence, and the beauty of this planet, and the gifts of existence. And they should learn to be humble and grateful.”1


“The world needs only one thing – not great scriptures, just a simple method of becoming silent, of becoming yourself, of coming to your innermost center. That center is the temple, the synagogue, the church. There is no other church, no other synagogue.

“Don’t go anywhere.
“Go inside, inward.
“And there is your paradise, your wisdom, your eternal life.
“A man who knows his wisdom and his eternal life cannot behave the way people are behaving all around the world.
The world needs only one thing – not great scriptures, just a simple method of becoming silent, of becoming yourself, of coming to your innermost center.
“Every politician should be forced to participate in some school of meditation, and unless he graduates from there, he cannot stand for any political post. All politicians, unless they are meditative, are disqualified. If they have any sense of dignity, they should renounce, they should immediately resign from their posts. They don’t know themselves; what are they doing there? They don’t know themselves, and they are controlling millions of people and their lives.”2

OSHOTimes Editorial Team

To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
1 Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Talk #31 – The Art of Being Human
2 Osho, The Hidden Splendor, Talk #6 – Politics Has No Heart, Religion is Pure Heart

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