Every society tells itself fairy tales. About its history, its origins, its great leaders, its glorious past…. Noam Chomsky calls them, “necessary illusions” as he describes them in Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies. Or we can call them “approved conspiracy theories” – or just lies. Hey, picky picky.
Every new arrival into any society is given mother’s milk, stirred and shaken, with a sufficient dose of “America the Beautiful” or “God Save the Queen,” or whatever is needed to convey the emotional essence of the fairy tale. The child is helpless. To survive, swallowing the milk is choiceless, no matter how contaminated. The same was done to the mother when she was also small and helpless.
Soon, more and more details are added to embellish the fairy tale and establish its “truth.” Every culture has its own version. One society might insist that there is a God in the sky who is superior to all and everything. That he has a “son” who can walk on water as proof of his superiority over his sheep. That his earthly lieutenants are superior to ordinary sinners. That even a God-fearing sinner is superior to any non-believer.
These Gods will vary from one society to another, but the key ingredient of the story will be the same: a supreme white heterosexual male somebody or other at the top of an imaginary pyramid, setting in stone the basic acceptance of hierarchy, obedience, and control. The “rules” of this holy game are so unnatural as to ensure failure. This results in guilt and shame – and our enslavement to the system is complete. Order is further maintained by the primitive Pavlovian trick of reward or punishment in some imaginary afterlife.
Only when we have been forced to repress our natural intelligence and accept these stories as “the truth,” are we then accepted into the flock.
As “one of us” – true believers in the lie. Always remembering that continuing membership is conditional on remaining faithful to the basic fundamentals of the fairy tale. Deviance is punishable in so many ways: by exclusion and threats to our material or psychological wellbeing, even by death.
Rebels beware – your planned protest does not have government approval – unless you can guarantee it will be completely ineffective.
Now that all the sheep are herded into a well-ordered flock, the fairy tale can be endlessly embellished in the interests of the existing hierarchy and the status quo.
The fairy tale will include of course, that men are superior to women, that people with whiter skins are superior to those with darker skins, that the West is superior to the East, that we are “civilized,” but they come from “shithole countries.” Of course, this storyline is camouflaged beneath a smokescreen of equality, freedom, democracy, human rights….
The list of accepted beliefs is endless but is always based on a hierarchy that needs to be obeyed and respected to ensure that “good,” that’s us, wins over “evil,” that’s them. That however we define what is “right” wins over “wrong.” Above all that our fairy tale is better than their fairy tale. So superior in fact that we need to be prepared to sacrifice everything, even our lives if necessary, if violence is required to prove it. Such a sacrifice is “heroic” and the depth of our loyalty to it further confirms its superiority.
As Osho puts it so delicately, “Loyalty is a wonderful quality – in a dog.” And that “Loyalty is the antithesis of intelligence.”
In effect, once we have sacrificed that natural intelligence in order to “belong,” we can be relied upon to give carte blanche to “our great leader.” For Germans in the 1930’s, Hitler was “good.” For Americans, Truman’s decision to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki was “good.” (And for most still is!). For Europeans, the barbarism of our colonial leaders was “good,” – as was the slave trade that was embedded in it – until they proved how really good they were by changing their minds, well sort of.
Anything goes. The death and destruction based on this competition between fairy tales is unimaginable.
If you want to see the lists of our greatest killing sprees, try for example, our war crimes?
Or our genocides? Or our ethnic cleansing campaigns? Or our honor killings? If you happen to be identified with “the land of the free and the home of the brave” fairy tale, the reality is less poetic. Nothing much exceptional there!
Based on the fairy tale, the leaders of whatever ideology has power can lie, for the common good, of course, knowing the seeds have already been sown for the sheep to bray on cue.
During this process, each one of us is not only conditioned to accept the values and beliefs of the society we happen to be born into, but also to identify with them as who we are. They become our identity. We just accept that “I am” those beliefs. “I am” this religion or that religion, this nationality or that. “I am” a superior, white-skinned male – or not. All the ugly prejudices that blight our world are indoctrinated into us, not just as “ideas” but as who we really are. Similarly, we identify with our well-trained “personality” – a well-rehearsed cabaret we become an expert at performing. “My ego” – that twisted entity struggling to keep our heads above the stinking dishonesty washing all around – is “me.”
This ancient game of “let’s pretend” has just become much more difficult for those in power to manage.
Now we have social media to amplify all the contradictions. Firstly, everyone is now watching. The casual murder of a black-skinned man by the police on a public road in the US, which before was so easily buried in some official report, is today seen by billions around the world. The Chinese oppression of the Uyghurs, or the Indian Covid catastrophe, or the Russian invasions of Ukraine, or Catholic pedophilia…. The endless list of corruption and ugliness by the priests and the politicians that totally undermines the official fairy tales are obvious everywhere.
Secondly, social media allows everyone to create their own fairy tales. These homemade, unofficial fairy tales are called conspiracy theories. A few crackpots believe that the Earth is flat, or that a hidden cabal of pedophiles are ruling the world, or that tens of thousands of scientists are secretly conspiring to pretend that Covid-19 is a pandemic, or that vaccines are a way to implant microchips into an unsuspecting public. Or Covid-19 is caused by 5G. Watch this video if you want to really see how this all plays out, and how “God” is really lurking beneath these fact-free ideologies, particularly the violent ones.
Are these mad ideas any more absurd than the official fairy tales?
Isn’t it much more disturbing that a zillion “normal” crackpots believe that Jesus died and then came back to life? Or that Lazarus did? Or that Angels are real? Or in “Intelligent design”? The belief that dinosaur bones were placed on the earth by God within the last 6,500 years – the true age of the Earth according to the Bible – to look like they are 65 million years old? Just to test our “faith.” Unintelligent design more likely! Or, as Richard Dawkins impishly pointed out: the absurd idea that a God, who is meant to be overseeing billions of galaxies, has the slightest interest in who you spent the night with.
These official traditional lies easily elide into more recent inventions: that Senator McCarthy was saving the USA from all the “reds under the beds.” Or that the Gulf of Tonkin incident justified the Vietnam War. Or the lies about the “missile gap” or the “War on Drugs.” Or that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11 or had nuclear weapons. Or the constant propaganda that Iran is to blame for a political conflict the US-Americans began in 1953.
Or that North Korea is responsible for the nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula when it was the Americans who abrogated the armistice agreement precluding nuclear weapons and just went ahead on their own and deployed them in South Korea.
Look at the coverage of the refugees queuing up at the US border with barely a mention of the decades of US policies that have destroyed those Central American countries those people are fleeing from.
Not to mention what was done to the rest of South America. Or that Mexico is almost a Narco-state these days – without any serious acknowledgment of who those narcotics are for, or where all their weapons come from.
Or that the ongoing catastrophe in Afghanistan was the fault of the original Russian invasion rather than Reagan’s preference to do the usual US-American “Me Tarzan You Jane” number and give the Russians and black eye. Instead of agreeing with Gorbachev’s proposal to allow the Russians to withdraw and create, together with the US, “an independent Afghanistan” with “demilitarization,” and “national reconciliation, including free elections,” Reagan armed the Taliban and Islamic Jihadist movements to deliver that black eye.
This demonstration of Reagan’s nationalistic egotism has cost the US about a trillion dollars, has devastated the Afghan economy, with a pending humiliating withdrawal and a humanitarian disaster yet to unfold.
Inspire of all the ugliness in the world caused by politics and religion, particularly the US-sponsored crimes resonating across Palestine and Jerusalem, it is hard to find another more glaring example of this blight on our poor planet than the 20 years of war in Afghanistan.
Perhaps a tipping point in the total loss of US-American political credibility – what to say of similar events in many other parts of the world today – is the revelation that in four years of his presidency Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims. More than half of which were in his last six months in office! His ultimate lie about losing the election has cost the US taxpayer over half a billion dollars so far! That is nothing compared to what else it will cost as Trump continues to persuade his fawning flock of the truth of his “big lie.” Just ask the Germans or the Jews about The Big Lie. In terms of dangerous conspiracy theories – move over Adolf.
As the lies pile up, eventually the absurdity becomes too obvious to deny. Even sheep have a limit. When the official lies start to fray at their edges, anxious fearful people, desperate for some security, some certainty, in an inevitably uncertain world, are further provoked to make up their own fairy tales. Without a fairy tale, we are lost, true or false is almost irrelevant. This only further fragments any pretense of a shared cultural experience as the basis for “society.”
Official lies, unofficial lies – they are all absorbed into one huge hypocritical mess struggling to survive its own contradictions.
Please stay on the line, your call is important to us.
If the resulting turmoil in our heads isn’t disruptive enough, just wait for the next iteration of our increasingly dystopian world: deep-fake videos. Or the arrivals of robots that look and sound totally human. Add to that the explosion of “augmented reality” or “virtual reality” and you can see that we are entering a new world. Increasingly powered by the ultimate in unaccountable and unconscious power: artificial intelligence.
The tension created by all this confusion – where the lines between fact and fiction dissolve – just adds more and more fault lines to any consensus about anything. Cracks in the thin veneer of what is called “normality” that become impossible to ignore.
When you add the real issues with potential for catastrophe to all this mental muddle, people tend to just run away into escapism: into entertainment, consumerism, drugs, in-groups of any kind, whatever we can come up with…. Anything will do to avoid the fundamental conflicts around us and inside us.
When the stress and tension provoked by this gap between lies and reality, fact and fiction, belief and doubt… becomes too great – what to say of the absence of truth, beauty, joy – we collapse into depression, and perhaps even suicide.
In the process, we take “society” down with us.
Now what? What are our options in these times of crisis?
There are really two. The first, the unconscious reaction, is already evident around the world. As people become fearful of the unknown, they will react as they have been programmed: to prefer hierarchy, obedience, and control. Our infantile, “Where is daddy” becomes “Heil Trump.” Or Putin, Xi Jinping, Modi, Assad, Min Aung Hlaing, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Erdogan, Lukashenko, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Kim Jong-un…. You can read the full list here.
With so much danger, naturally, the authorities want to know what is going on so they can protect you. With the help of modern technology, surveillance fascism is coming to a government near you.
For those few courageous souls who won’t allow themselves to be pulled into this whirlpool of dishonesty, corruption, and violence based on fairy tales, there is another possibility.
Enter Osho, the greatest rebel of them all. The reason for his almost universal outcast status engineered by the vested interests around the world – today called “cancelling” – is that he completely dissects, and exposes, the fairy tales that we tell about ourselves and our societies.
Not only does the emperor have no clothes, there is no emperor!
The establishments know no greater crime than to expose every lie in their fairy tales and then offer each human being a simple alternative. A doorway to an intelligent, natural reality, based on values that we all pretend to admire and aspire to, but never actually take the trouble, or have the courage, to experience.
Such people have to be silenced at all costs. Unsuccessfully, luckily for all of us.
To help us make sense of all this madness, and to explore the possibility of truth rather than lies, Osho makes the following points:
Firstly, all objective reality is relative.
“Albert Einstein brought the conception of relativity to scientific truths; otherwise, they used to be ultimate – they became relative. He was right. And Mahavira, Gautam Buddha have both talked about relativity.
One thing that is missing is that nobody makes a distinction between truth and fact. Facts are relative, and truth is ultimate, but if you get mixed up and you start thinking of facts as truth, then they will be relative.
Facts are relative, and you have to understand exactly what is meant by relative. It means that something can be true in a certain situation, and the same thing can be untrue in some other situation.” 1
“Something was a fact yesterday, today it is not. It was a fact for Jesus, Moses, Abraham, that the sun goes around the earth. It is no longer a fact, it is just the opposite: the earth goes around the sun.” 2
Which means that while scientific “facts” are more probably correct than the obvious lies that people like Facebook’s Zuckerberg profit from, they are nevertheless only probably correct, for now. They are not “the truth.”
The key point about science is that it has no use of beliefs. As Osho explains, “Anything based on belief is bogus.”
The Western scientific method which has developed over the last three hundred years always starts with a hypothesis, followed by experimentation and observation. Science is based on doubt. In contrast, ideologies, whether based on a secular idea or a religion, condemn doubt and demand only belief. The Christians will never fill their churches with a call to worship “the only begotten son of a hypothesis.”
So, science is obviously a more intelligent way forward. Superior to any belief-based system.
Science has demonstrated that superiority by fueling the technological revolution that has transformed our lives in so many ways.
Now we come to the final twist in this story. One more step is needed for courageous individuals.
Unfortunately, science as currently defined is limited to the objective world: objects that you can dissect, analyze, examine. Essentially its search for truth is restricted to the material universe. The problem with materialism is that it is yet another “belief” – that only the material is real, and the “immaterial” is an illusion, or at best, just an epiphenomenon.
The result of this is that contemporary science ends up denying the existence of, or failing to understand, the most important question humanity faces: what is the nature of consciousness?
As Max Planck made so clear: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”
Imagine the absurdity of a genius scientist peering down some amazing, technically advanced instrument looking for consciousness – while what is being searched for is the scientist peering down the instrument. These people are looking in precisely the wrong direction. Outwards instead of inwards.
It is the mirror image of the absurdity of traditional Eastern mysticism: their belief that only the inner world is real, and that the outer, the objective world, is just an illusion, maya.
To pull itself out of poverty, the East had to reach out to the West to catch up on all the science and technology that it had previously ignored, because it was only illusory.
By contrast, Western science has not even bothered to consider what it also might have missed out on by ignoring the East and it long history of investigating the inner. Yes,Western genius can do miracles with “things,” but life is not “a thing.”
The genius of the East – Patanjali, Buddha, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, Zarathustra… and so many more – has spent thousands of years devoted to discovering what “life” is, what “truth” is, what “consciousness” is. And in the process have thoroughly explored their inner reality – just as the genius of the West has been devoted to exploring the outer reality.
Imagine the incredible poverty that would exist today, if the East had decided that it had nothing to learn from Western science and technology, but instead stuck with the bullock cart to fuel its economic development!
That is exactly the poverty, an inner poverty, that blights the Western, science-dominated world today.
Only a humanity that has no experience of consciousness that can trash out the only planet it has, can blindly follow equally unconscious priests and politicians and their destructive fairy tales.
Our survival depends on understanding this. As Einstein put it so precisely, “A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”
Osho gives some perfect examples:
“Life is neither inner nor outer. Life is both. If a man concentrates on the inner, then he sees only the center and loses sight of the periphery. But how can there be a center without a circumference? The center only exists because the circumference exists.
“And if a man only concentrates on the circumference, then the center is lost to him. And how can there be a circumference without a center? Life is both. Life is never just inner or outer, never one particular state on its own.” 3
Osho explains the profound implications of this synthesis of the inner and the outer, “the East” and “the West” – how both can meet, and what then becomes possible.
“The East has treasures, the religious technologies, and the West has treasures, the scientific technologies. And if both can meet, this very world can become a paradise. Now there is no need to ask for another world; we are capable of creating the paradise here on this earth, for the first time. And if we don’t create it, then except for us, nobody else is responsible.” 4
Osho then explains the specifics of how both can meet:
“It is time that science moves inwards. It will do two things: it will make science complete; otherwise it is half, and half-truths are more dangerous than lies. And science is still a half-truth. That’s its destructiveness, that’s why it has disturbed the whole ecology. It is going to destroy the whole planet. And whatever it is doing, with all good intentions, turns out to be wrong. It does not help, it injures. So one thing – if it moves inwards, it becomes complete. Then the truth has both an inner heartbeat and an outer body.
“This is one side. On the other side, if science becomes whole, religions have to die. They don’t have any function, because science can do far better than these old religions have been doing.” 5
The key to this journey, Osho explains, is the science of meditation:
“Meditation has nothing to do with religion. Meditation is simply a scientific method, exactly the same as science – their areas are just different.
“Science begins with doubt; meditation also begins with doubt. The method of science is observation of objects, the objective world; and the method of meditation is to observe the inside world. Science experiments with objects; meditation is the experience of your interiority, your subjectivity.
“In fact science has two wings: one, moving into the outside universe; the other, moving into the inside consciousness.” 6
“Sooner or later experience and experiment have to meet. The meeting will release the greatest revolution in human history. That will also be the meeting of East and West, of the feminine mind and the masculine mind, of yin and yang, of the inner and the outer, of the mundane and the sacred.” 7
And where does meditation take us?
“To know oneself is to know all. And that is the only thing that I emphasize: no belief, no dogma, no creed, no church, no religion. By a simple process of inner observation you come to realize yourself. And the moment you know who you are immediately you know the essential core of the whole existence, of life itself – because you are part of it.” 8
“It is only a question of understanding the value of meditation. Then it is easily possible for millions of people to become undivided within themselves. And they will be the first group of humanity to become harmonious. And their harmoniousness, their beauty, their compassion, their love – all their qualities – are bound to resound around the world.” 9
To continue reading and see all available formats of these talks:
- Osho, Beyond Psychology, Talk #22 – Freedom Doesn’t Choose, It Discovers
- Osho, From the False to the Truth, Talk #15 – All Promises for Tomorrow Are Lies
- Osho, Revolution in Education, Talk #10 – Truth and Science
- Osho, The Secret, Talk #8 – A New Phase of Humanity
- Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 4, Talk #2
- Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Talk #28 – Education Is Amoral
- Osho, Don’t Let Yourself Be Upset by the Sutra, Rather Upset the Sutra Yourself, Talk #60
- Osho, Eighty-Four Thousand Poems, Talk #20
- Osho, Light on the Path, Talk #30 – Utopia Is Possible