December 01 commemorates World AIDS Day. In 2019, the total number of persons infected with AIDS/HIV was 38 million of which only 67% were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally. In effect, 12 million people had no access to treatment and thus risk sexually transmitting HIV to their partners. So, while the world continues to grapple with multiple and growing challenges in 2021, it is imperative to remind ourselves of the gravity of AIDS/HIV and the need to evolve measures to stem it at its root.
Over the years, efforts have concentrated on raising awareness about AIDS and its prevention, removing the stigma & discrimination associated with the disease and improving the quality of life of the people affected by it. Yet, even today, the HIV remains one of the world’s most serious public health challenges.
Osho spoke on AIDS in His discourses as early as 1985, much before the world acknowledged its enormity and the United Nations founded the World AIDS Day in 1988. Osho’s discourses provide a rare insight into the metaphysics of AIDS and its prevention.
WOULD YOU PLEASE SAY SOMETHING ABOUT AIDS?
I do not know anything about even the first-aids, and you are asking me about the last AIDS! But it seems I will have to say something about it. And in a world where people who know nothing about themselves can talk about God, people who know nothing about the geography of the earth can talk about heaven and hell, it is not inconceivable for me to say something about AIDS, although I am not a physician. But neither is the disease, now called AIDS, just a disease. It is something more, something beyond the limitation of the medical profession. As I see it, it is not a disease in the same category as other diseases; hence the danger of it. Perhaps it will kill at least two-thirds of humanity. It is, basically, the incapability to resist diseases. One slowly, slowly finds oneself vulnerable to all kinds of infections, and one has no inner resistance to fight those infections. To me it means humanity is losing the will to live.
Whenever a person loses the will to live, his resistance falls immediately, because the body follows the mind. The body is a very conservative servant of the mind; it serves the mind in a religious way. If the mind loses the will to live, it will be reflected in the body by the dropping of resistance against sickness, against death. Of course, the physician will never bother about the will to live – that’s why I thought it better that I say something. It is going to become such an enormous problem all over the world that any insight from any dimension can be of immense help. Just in America, this year, four hundred thousand people are affected by AIDS, and each year the number will double. Next year it will be eight hundred thousand people, and then one million six hundred thousand people; that way it will go on doubling. Just this year America will need five hundred million dollars to help these people, and still there is not much hope of their surviving.
Just in the beginning it was thought to be a homosexual disease. And from all around the world researchers supported the idea that it was something homosexual; and it was found that it happens more in men than in women. But just yesterday a report from South Africa changes the whole standpoint. South Africa is greatly involved in researching about the disease because South Africa is the most affected area. It seems blacks are almost twice as vulnerable to the disease as white people. South Africa is suffering from a great epidemic of AIDS; hence, they have been researching. It is a question of life and death. Their report is very strange. It says that AIDS is not a homosexual disease at all, that it is a heterosexual disease, and it happens if people go on changing partners – mixing with many women, with many men, continually changing partners. This continuous changing is the cause of the disease. Homosexuality has nothing to do with it, according to their research. Now all the researchers in Europe and America are on one side, and the South African report is on the opposite side. To me it is very significant. It has nothing to do with either heterosexuality or with homosexuality. It has certainly something to do with sex. And why has it something to do with sex? Because the will to live is rooted in sex. If the will to live disappears, then sex will be the most vulnerable area of life to invite death.
Remember perfectly well that I am not a medical man, and whatever I am saying is from a totally different point of view. But there is much more possibility of what I am saying to be true than what these so-called researchers are saying, because their research is superficial. They think only of cases; they collect data, facts. That is not my way; I am not a fact-collector. My work is not of research but of insight. I try to see into every problem as deeply as possible. I simply ignore the superficial, which is the area of the researchers.
My work you can call in-search, but not research. I try to penetrate deeply, and I see clearly that sex is the phenomenon most related to the will to live. If the will to live declines, sex will be vulnerable.
Then it is not a question of heterosexuality or homosexuality… You suddenly feel you are an existential orphan. This existential feeling of being an orphan causes your will to live to disappear. And when the will to live disappears, sex will be the first thing to be affected because your life starts with sex; it is a by-product of sex.
So, while you are living, throbbing, hoping, ambitious, and the tomorrow remains the utopia – so that you can forget all the yesterdays which were meaningless, you can forget today which is also meaningless… but tomorrow when the sun rises and everything will be different…. All the religions have been giving you that hope. Those religions have failed. Although you go on keeping the label — Christian, Jew, Hindu — it is only a label. Inside, you have lost hope, the hope has disappeared. Religions could not help; they were pseudo. Politicians could not help. They were never intending to help; it was just a strategy to exploit you. But how long can this false utopia — political or religious — help you? Sooner or later, one day man will become mature; and that’s what is happening.
Man is becoming mature, aware that he has been cheated by the priests, by the parents, by the politicians, by the pedagogues. He has been simply cheated by everybody, and they have been feeding him on false hopes. The day he matures and realizes this, the desire to live falls apart. And the first thing wounded by it will be your sexuality. To me that is AIDS. When your sexuality starts shrinking you are really hoping that something will happen and you will go into eternal silence, into eternal disappearance. Your resistance is not there. AIDS has no other symptoms except that your resistance goes on dropping.
At the most you can live two years if you are fortunate and don’t get accidentally infected. Each infection will be incurable, and each infection will be weakening you more and more. Two years is the longest the AIDS patient can live; and he may disappear sometime before that. And no treatment is going to help, because no treatment can bring back your will to live.
What I am doing here is multidimensional. You are not fully aware of what I am trying to do; perhaps you may become aware only when I am gone.
I am trying to give you, not a hope in the future, because that has failed; I am trying to give you a hope here-now.
Why bother about tomorrow? Because tomorrow has not helped. For centuries the tomorrow has been keeping you somehow dragging, and it has failed you so many times that now you cannot go on clinging to it. That would be sheer stupidity. Those who are clinging to it still are only proving that they are retarded in their minds.
I am trying to make this very moment fulfillment, a contentment so deep that there is no need for the will to live. The will to live is needed because you are not alive. The will keeps picking you up: you go on slipping down, the will keeps picking you up. I am not trying to give you a new will to live, I am simply trying to teach you to live without any will, to live joyously. And everybody is capable of living joyously. It is the tomorrow that goes on poisoning you. Forget yesterdays, forget tomorrows. This is our day! Let us celebrate it and live it. And just by living it you will be strong enough so that without the will to live you will be able to resist all kinds of diseases, all suicidal attitudes. Just being fully alive is such a power that not only can you live, you can make others aflame, afire.
This has been a well-known fact…. When there are great epidemics have you not wondered why the doctors, the nurses and others don’t get infected? They are human beings just like you, and they are overworked, more vulnerable to infection because they are continually tired.
When there is an epidemic you cannot insist on a five-hour day or six-hour day, and a five-day week. An epidemic is an epidemic; it does not bother about your holidays and your overtime. You have to work – people work sixteen hours, eighteen hours, every day, for months. Still, the doctors, the nurses, the Red Cross people, they don’t get infected. What is the problem? Why are others getting infected? These are similar kinds of people. If just having a Red Cross on your shirt… then put the Red Cross on everybody’s shirt; on every house, the Red Cross. If the Red Cross is preventing infection it would be so easy; but that is not the thing.
No, these people are so much involved in helping others, they don’t have any tomorrow. This moment is so involving, they don’t have any yesterday. They don’t have any time to think, or even worry, “I may get infected.” Their involvement…. When millions of people are dying, can you think of yourself, and your life, and your death? Your whole energy is moving to help people, to do whatever you can do. You have forgotten yourself, and because you have forgotten yourself you cannot be infected. The person who could have been infected is absent: he is so involved in doing something, he in so lost is some work.
It does not matter whether you are painting or sculpting, or you are serving a dying human being — it does not matter what you are doing, what matters is:
Are you totally involved in the here-now? If you are involved in the here-now, you are completely out of the area, where infection is possible.
When you are so much involved, your life becomes such a torrential force. And you will see: even a lazy doctor, in a time of epidemic, when hundreds of people are dying, suddenly forgets his laziness. An old doctor suddenly forgets his age…
AIDS to me is an existential sickness, that’s why the medical profession is going to be in tremendous difficulty unless they try to understand the very root. And for that, medicine will not help; only meditation can help. Only meditation can release your energy here-now. And then there is no need for any hope, for any utopia, for any paradise anywhere. Each moment is a paradise unto itself. But as far as my qualifications are concerned, I am not qualified to say anything about AIDS. I have never even taken the course on first aid. So please forgive my entering into something which is not my business. But I go on doing that, and I am going to continue to do that.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
From Misery to Enlightenment
Chapter title: AIDS: disease of the existential orphan
25 February 1985 pm in Lao Tzu Grove
Osho has spoken on ‘AIDS’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses: