Osho’s insights on Gorbachev expressed to a Russian TV crew in 1989 are startling in the light of current events. Just as the Soviet Union was beginning to crumble, Osho proposes a dramatically different perspective on what is happening and what is possible. He exposes the efforts of the West to seduce Gorbachev into dissolving the Soviet Union rather than transforming it.
Of course, as usual, politicians have no interest in wisdom and Osho’s advice is ignored. It is fascinating to now compare Osho’s proposals with what actually happened instead, and what those flawed decisions mean for us today.
The conventional wisdom is still being regurgitated as if nothing has been really learned. We have “the West” expressing its respect for Gorbachev who scuttled the whole Soviet threat and allowed the West to “win” the Cold War. While many in today’s Russia revile Gorbachev as they lament the loss of empire and power and the end of what they see as a more stable, secure world. Putin can’t even make his funeral, which won’t be a state affair. So there!
The West’s response at the time was triumphalist propaganda like Fukuyama’s, The End of History – implying that now the best future for humanity was obvious. Game over: Capitalism wins, Communism loses.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the Soviet Union was thrown into chaos. Lots of poverty and a really significant drop in life expectancy. Or dying as regular people call it!
The usual US-American arrogance and insensitivity prevented them from responding with any intelligence to this incredibly generous offer to end the cold war and the threat of nuclear armageddon. Hey, it just goes to show we are superior! You are inferior.
Oh, right. We forgot to ask. “How does that make you feel?”
Well, now we know. Or at least the Ukrainians do.
Osho’s insights at that time are dramatically different from either the traditional Western view or the conventional Russian view and in the light of current events tell a tragic story of missed opportunities.
Osho has no illusions about the failings of the 1917, Russian Revolution.
He is clear that all political revolutions are bound to fail. By just replacing one group of unconscious politicians, called reactionaries, with another group of politicians, called revolutionaries, who are reacting to the reactionaries can never lead to a real transformation of society. And every “revolution” has failed in the same way.
In particular, Osho is also clear that the original goals of Marx and Engels had not been achieved. In spite of their logic, expressed in Engels’ The Origin of Private Property, Family and the State, the result was that the family remained the foundation of an even more powerful state than before because the state had simply taken over all the private property for itself. The result was more power that was more concentrated in fewer hands.
The old classes of the capitalists and workers were now replaced by an even more oppressive class-based society of the Communist Party bureaucrats and “the rest.”
The challenge of dissolving private property and the family was never going to be easy, as Osho explains:
“When the revolution happened in 1917 in Russia, in the beginning, they had tried for three, four, or five years to dissolve marriage, to dissolve the family. But they found it very difficult.
“It is one of the most ancient institutions. Emotionally, sentimentally, psychologically, it is very difficult to dissolve it. It was difficult to dissolve private ownership of property and make it public – Stalin had to kill at least one million Russians just to make a classless society possible. They found it was difficult: ‘It can be taken care of later on when communism becomes more established; don’t take on too many problems.”’
Which meant, never.
Osho tells this story which illustrates how difficult this really is:
“It happened in the Soviet Union: after the revolution, a journalist was asking a poor man, ‘Are you really a communist?’
“He said, ‘Yes, I am a communist.’
“The journalist asked, ‘If you had two cars, would you give one to your neighbor?’
“He said, ‘Of course.’
“’If you had two horses, would you give one to your neighbors?’
“He said, ‘Of course.’
“’If you had two cows, would you give one cow to your poor neighbors?’
“He said, ‘Yes.’
“And the journalist finally asked, ‘If you have two hens, are you going to give one hen to your neighbors?’
“He said, ‘No!’
“The journalist said, ‘But this is absolutely illogical.’
“The man said, ‘It is not illogical. I have two hens – I don’t have two cars, I don’t have two houses, I don’t have two horses, two cows. That which I don’t have, who cares? – I can give. But two hens I have got, and I’m not going to give them!’”
The result of those failures are all too clear:
“The Soviet Union has become another class society.
“The bureaucrats have become a class and the non-bureaucrats, the public, are another class. So the bureaucrats, who are the communists, have replaced the capitalists. The Soviet Union is still not classless; it has created a new class friction. Because it is not classless, it could not dissolve the family; otherwise there would be no problem to dissolve marriage and the family. Now the family has become the nucleus of communism, which is a contradiction.”
Osho is clear how the Soviet Union had not solved the problems of capitalist societies, and had ended up making many things worse!
“The capitalists have individual freedom to exploit people, although they are supported by the government from the back door, because they support the politicians in their elections. So it is a combination, but on the surface it seems to be separate.
“The capitalist has no power and the politician has no money, so they go together well.
“But at least the capitalist has no power, so he cannot harass people; and the politician depends on votes, so he has also to be aware not to harass people too much; otherwise they won’t give him their votes.
“In a communist country the state is both: it is the only capitalist – it owns everything in the country – and it has all the power. And because there is only one party, the communist party, there is no question of any voting.”
For sure Osho really understands the impact that the fear of communism had on the capitalists.
“If even one country becomes communist, it is dangerous. It is dangerous to all the capitalist countries because that fragrance will start spreading.”
This forced the capitalists to alleviate the crudest outcomes of their greed.
“The capitalist goes on postponing. Even though he sees the poverty he is creating, the beggars he is creating, the starving people he is creating, he goes on thinking that a few reforms will do. A little higher wages, a few more facilities for the poor, for the proletariat – that’s what I call socialism. Socialism is an invention of the capitalist mind to distract people from communism. Socialism is reformist, it is not revolutionary. And reforms can keep people hoping. It is a welfare state; it is just renovating the old house which is getting ready to fall down any moment.
“Revolution means demolishing the old completely and creating the new, discontinuous with the past.”
At that point, Osho takes a very different approach from everyone else.
Osho exposes the whole game which Gorbachev just didn’t understand. He was being seduced into saving capitalism, not changing the Soviet Union in a new direction, which was what he wanted.
“It seems Gorbachev has become too much interested in America – the high-rise buildings, miles and miles of cars – the richness has overwhelmed his mind. He has been reported to have said, ‘What should I call my revolution?’ It is not a revolution in the first place, it is anti-revolutionary. And then he thought about it, and said, ‘Perhaps I should call it socialist capitalism, or capitalist socialism.’ In both ways, capitalism will be the victor and communism will be the defeated. He has already stopped talking about communism, he is talking about socialism.”
“Socialism I have been against always, because it is an effort to keep the capitalist incentive for people to work.
“What is the capitalist incentive for people? Private property: my house, my car, my wife, my children.
“That is the incentive, and it creates competition. My house should be better than your house. My wife should be more beautiful than your wife. My children should be educated better than your children. It starts competition, it starts ambition.
“Of course, people start working harder. That’s what Gorbachev is thinking, that people are not working as hard in the Soviet Union as they are working in every capitalist country.”
Soon the inevitable lure of the Nobel Prize was tantalizingly close – for what!
“Gorbachev will get a Nobel Prize if he cuts down his army and weapons. If he opens the doors of the Soviet Union to capitalism, he will be given a Nobel Prize. And a world-famous leader…he will become the topmost leader in the world, but at the risk of destroying the sacrifice of twenty million Russians and a tremendously great experiment in changing the social structure of the society. Nobody for hundreds of years will be able to do it again.”
Again, Gorbachev was really supporting the enemies of the revolution, not its friends.
One of his key efforts was to cut down on military aid to small communist countries:
“One can see clearly that his mind is determined to completely demolish communism from the earth. Now those small countries like Cuba, or Czechoslovakia, or Yugoslavia – they are so small that if the Soviet Union is not behind them, capitalist countries can run over them, there is no problem. Cuba will be immediately finished. Once the Soviet Union withdraws its armies from Cuba, America will take over it without any difficulty.
“Gorbachev is behaving very unconsciously, not understanding exactly the implications for humanity. He is playing into the hands of enemies.”
Worse, Gorbachev was unaware of the dangers of opening the Soviet Union to anything and everything. That was not going to create a new more civilized society. It was simply returning to the very values that the revolution had struggled so hard to eliminate.
Osho is clear that unconscious communism goes nowhere, and the missing ingredient is consciousness. What is required, he says, is a “spiritual revolution.”
“Marx and Engels are out-of-date. The Soviet Union needs a new revolution, a spiritual revolution, and I think Gorbachev is making a great mistake in allowing the old priests back in the name of opening the doors of the Soviet Union.
“Perhaps he does not understand these old priests – Catholic and Protestant, or old Russian Orthodox. They belonged to a certain society; they belonged to a feudal society. They cannot belong to a communist society.
“Opening the doors of Russia is beautiful. Open the doors for science, open the doors for art, open the doors for meditation. But that does not mean that you have to open the doors to all kinds of diseases.
“Christianity is a disease, and if you open the doors for the pope you are going against Karl Marx, you are going against communism.
“You don’t understand the implications: these are the people who are the real agents of capitalism. They are against any revolution.”
“Beware! Don’t allow any priests of any religion in the Soviet Union if you want to save communism. Otherwise, these priests will prove just like a cancer. They will destroy the whole of communism and they will bring all the old rotten ideologies back into people’s minds. Beware of so-called religions.”
In short, Gorbachev was being conned into destroying what had been achieved without offering anything new. In fact everything old!
“Gorbachev should not take the responsibility of destroying the Soviet Union. But by opening it, he is being praised by the capitalist press, by the capitalist news media all over the world. That is very cunning. They are making him a great hero, and by becoming a hero he will completely forget the implications that will follow the opening of the doors of the Soviet Union to all and sundry, to Tom, and Dick, and Harry.”
Osho explains why it is so important that communism not be destroyed!
“Communism is a better opportunity than any other kind of social structure because it is
negative, because it is without God, without heaven, without hell, without the idea of
reincarnation. And it creates a certain equality of opportunity for man and woman.”
Osho also explains why he is against Gorbachev’s actions and what is missing:
“Communism creates a vacuum – that is why I support it. My whole vision is that that vacuum can be only filled by meditation.
“And I am against Gorbachev because he is filling it with Coca-Cola, bringing the priests back, opening the churches. I have some fundamental reason to oppose him because he is opening the doors to all the rubbish that took the communists seventy years to finish.
“Now is the time that meditation should be introduced in the Soviet Union.”
About meditation Osho explains:
“Meditation makes you innocent, it makes you childlike. In that state, miracles are possible.
That state is pure magic. A great transformation happens – in innocence you transcend the mind, and to transcend the mind is to become the awakened one, the enlightened one.
“This is the only revolution, real revolution: the great rebellion that happens within you. This is what the Soviet Union needs today.”
Then Osho is asked, “What would you do if you went to the Soviet Union?”
“It has been too long since the Soviet Union has seen revolution. Of course, my revolution will be of spirituality. I want the Soviet Union to add something more to its dignity: meditation.
“Just economic equality is not enough – a spiritual equality is needed.
“Just being a body is so poor. I want the Soviet Union to become richer – not only richer in objects but richer in consciousness, in enlightenment. I want the Soviet Union also to have awakened people like Gautam Buddha, or Lao Tzu, or Chuang Tzu.
“I would like to introduce Zen to the Soviet Union. That is my revolution.”
He explains in detail:
“In seventy years they have with great difficulty been erasing the programming of Christianity from the Soviet mind. Now the Soviet mind at least is free of Christianity, free of God, free of heaven, free of hell. This is perfectly good. Don’t introduce all these things again.
“But one thing certainly the Soviet Union needs, which Christianity cannot provide. That can be provided only by Zen.
“Zen is pure meditation. It has nothing to do with hell, heaven, God, Jesus’ miracles – it has nothing to do with. It does not even talk about any of these things. It simply talks about the science, step by step, of how to enter your own inner world and see the life eternal.
“Once you have seen your life as eternity – from eternity to eternity – you are a totally different man.
“Your life becomes of great significance. Thousands of blossoms start arising in you. Your life becomes creative. You know that existence cares for you.”
“But if communism knows how to transform people’s minds, how to make them clear of the past of private ownership, of possessiveness, how to make them more meditative and silent so that their actions come out of their silence and peace and love and compassion, then communism becomes a spiritual revolution.”
Osho explains exactly how he comes to these understandings:
“First I was deeply interested in communism, but finding that it is a corpse I became interested in anarchism – that was also a Russian phenomenon – Prince Kropotkin, Bakunin, Leo Tolstoy. All three were anarchists: no state, no government in the world. But I saw the point that they have a beautiful dream but with this criminal humanity, with this stupid mass, if there is no government and no court and no police there will be simply chaos, not anarchism.
“I have always been very scientific in my approach, either outside or inside. Communism can be the base. Then spiritualism has to be its growth, to provide what is missing. Once a society is given equal opportunity – to be unequal, to be unique – and once that society becomes interested in meditation and spiritual growth, then there is a possibility of anarchism. That will be the very final stage, when there is nobody who is interested in committing crime.
“Only then can the state be removed, not before it. Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Leo Tolstoy are perfectly right, but not relevant now. First communism has to be aided by spirituality.
“Once spirituality gains ground in your very being, crime becomes impossible. To do anything wrong becomes impossible. Obviously, the state will wither away. When there is nobody committing any crime, how long are you going to keep your courts empty and judges sitting there? Soon you will feel that it is better that these judges go into the fields and work. How long are you going to keep unnecessary policemen standing around? Armies, millions of people unnecessarily being fed, clothed – and they are getting the best food, the best clothes, and they are not working at all. Every country is filled with millions of people in armies. They should be brought back to the world, to work.
“But this is possible only if communism steps into spiritualism; then spiritualism can flower into anarchism. These are simple steps. But if communism disappears, then it becomes very difficult to transform the capitalist world towards spirituality. It is a difficult job. And anarchism becomes a very faraway, remote possibility – may be, may not be.
“Hence my support for communism: because I would love the world one day to have no nations, no religions, no boundaries, no policemen, no armies, no guns, no murderers.
“Healthy people, spiritually loving, growing deeper and growing higher simultaneously, getting roots and getting wings together, simultaneously – these will be the real superhuman beings, the new man I have been working for.
“I see in the Soviet Union great possibilities, great potentialities. If Gorbachev does not go wrong, those opportunities can be transformed into a reality.”
“So communism, to me, is just a basic ground. It is the roots. Spirituality is going to be the trunk and the branches and the foliage. And then at the highest peak comes the absolute freedom from all kinds of dominations, oppressions, suppressions, from all priests, from all politicians.
“You blossom like a buddha.”
Osho stresses that we don’t have much time to decide which way we are going. We have a simple choice to make:
“Most probably we will have either committed suicide or we will have changed the whole structure of the human mind and raised the consciousness and created millions of meditators and thousands of buddhas.
“That is the only alternative:
“War or meditation.
“War or spiritual revolution.
“And the war has to be understood as the culmination of our whole human history. It is not coming from the sky – it is coming from our past, accumulating more and more anger, more and more violence, more and more weapons. The first world war was smaller, the second became bigger. The third is going to be total.”
Of course, exactly the opposite has happened.
Who is going to listen to Osho when the media can so successfully persuade the lost masses that Osho is dangerous and should not be listened to? Better you pay attention to your priests and your politicians. After all, they have served you so well so far, correct?
With the Soviet Union in free fall, and so freed from any threat of any workers’ revolution, the Reagan-Thatcher people kick started a reactionary movement where workers’ rights were demolished and inequality around the world was allowed to reach the obscene levels we see today.
Russia has returned to pre-revolutionary ugliness with a Czarist, Imperial, Christian Fascist regime safely in charge of a mafia state. Now threatening the world with starvation, an exacerbation of the climate catastrophe, and even a nuclear war.
Nice one Gorby! You and your friend Ronnie did a great job!
All the Osho excerpts above are from the series of seven talks: Osho, Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind.
These talks were given in the presence of a Russian TV crew in early 1989.