September 15 is celebrated as International Day of Democracy. The word ‘democracy’ comes from two Greek words – ‘demos’ meaning people and ‘kratos’ meaning rule. Greece is considered to be the first democracy in the world in 508 BC. Aristotle’s work has been influential in development of modern-day democracy.
Every year United Nations declares a theme for the International Day of Democracy. There have been some powerful themes in the past like strengthening voices of democracy, engaging youth on democracy, dialogue and inclusiveness.
Democracy is the cornerstone of justice, equality, peace and sustainable development in tsociety and this day is an opportunity to reflect on the state of democracy in which we live and pledge to uphold the principles of democracy.
Osho has spoken widely on democracy. Osho says To me, democracy means there are no longer any politicians around. You individually choose somebody you feel is the right person; there are no political parties. In a real democracy, political parties cannot exist; there is no reason why they should exist. People are intelligent enough to choose on their own. The politician need not go and convince the people, “I am the right person and the other is wrong.” And the other is also doing the same, and the poor people in their utter confusion somehow choose somebody.
MOST PEOPLE, RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY, EQUATE DEMOCRACY WITH THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE THEIR POLITICIANS, YET YOU SEEM TO ENVISAGE A COUNTRY WHICH IS BOTH DEMOCRATIC AND POLLUTION-FREE, BECAUSE YOU SEE POLITICIANS AS POLLUTION. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
Just the very existence of nations, countries dividing humanity into stupid parts, is the whole game of the politician. And this I call pollution. It is poison to humanity. That’s why you don’t see really authentically alive people in the world. You are asking, “People generally understand democracy to mean the freedom to choose politicians.” Do you see the idiotic understanding of the people? It is choosing between poisons. The bottles contain the same poison — on one is written “Democratic,” on another is written “Republican.” Politicians have been befooling you. They have managed the whole strategy in such a way that you never become aware what is happening. You choose one kind of poison for five years; for those five years you have to suffer that poison. After five years you are fed up with this kind of poison. You change to another bottle — Republican, Liberal, Democratic, Communist, Socialist. They are all available in all shapes and sizes, whatsoever suits you. But you will fall in the same ditch. Maybe there are minor differences between poisons, but poison is poison.
I do not see democracy as the freedom to choose between the politicians.
To me, democracy means there are no longer any politicians around. You individually choose somebody you feel is the right person; there are no political parties. In a real democracy, political parties cannot exist; there is no reason why they should exist. People are intelligent enough to choose on their own. The politician need not go and convince the people, “I am the right person and the other is wrong.” And the other is also doing the same, and the poor people in their utter confusion somehow choose somebody.
I have never voted in my life, for the simple reason that all those politicians and political parties are basically the same. They want to exploit you, oppress you. And it is a good strategy that after five years when you get fed up with one party, you can choose another. People’s memory is not very strong. So for five years it is the Republican party sucking you, doing everything that is wrong, deceiving you and the whole world. After five years, it is the Democratic party doing the same thing behind a different label. And when for five years the Democratic party is ruling, you get fed up with them, and you forget completely that those Republicans had done the same before. Five years is enough time for people to forget. And you go on moving between two parties.
There may be more parties in other countries, but basically two parties are in a deep conspiracy against the people: “Five years we exploit them, then we will give you five years to exploit them. And again we will come back. “
In a real democracy what is the need of political parties? The real need is to make people more alert, more intelligent, so they can choose individually, not impressed by propaganda…My concept of democracy is people deciding on their own, without any political propaganda from anybody. Choose the candidates you like.
In fact, the candidate approaching the people and asking, “Please choose me,” is ugly, disgusting. If he is of any worth, people should reach him and ask him, “Please take this responsibility for us. We want you to be in the parliament.” Then a different quality of people will be coming into the assemblies and the parliament, people who will not have any political leadership of the party, its program. They will be free individuals acting out of their intelligence. They can choose the president, the prime minister — anybody. And they will be deciding on every issue according to themselves. People have given them immense respect by sending them to the government; they cannot be exploiters.
A real democracy will choose the wise people. They are all around. But remember, a man of wisdom is not going to beg you for a vote. He is not going to kiss your children and shake hands with you. He is not going to act on the television screen so that he appears to be the way you would like your president to be. The wise man is not interested — in fact, he will not be inclined to be dragged into this mess. You will have to persuade him. The whole scene changes — not the politician persuading you, but you persuading someone to represent you. More fresh blood will be coming into the government. And secondly, democracy can exist only if the countries are dissolved.
With so many countries preparing to fight with each other continuously, of course you choose the most cunning politician you can, because he will be safer. You want him to be smarter, more cunning than the Soviet premier. The same is the situation in every country. The wise people remain out of politics. It is so dirty, stinkingly dirty. And it will remain dirty till nations dissolve and we have one world where there is no question of any war, no question of preparing for war. You can divide history in two parts: one, when people are really fighting, killing, burning people — innocent people who have not done anything wrong to you. In fact, you don’t know whom you are killing. Or the second part of history, when you are preparing for the next war. Of course, a little time is needed between two wars, and if the wars are going to be world wars, then at least ten or fifteen years’ gap is needed…
The world needs to be free from politicians, only then can it be free from pollution. What is the need for nations? Why can’t we have the right to move freely around the earth? This is our earth! Now I have been here for four years, and I am still a tourist. It seems I am going to die as a tourist. The government agencies who are responsible for deciding are in a difficulty. If they say no to me, I am going to fight the courts up to the Supreme Court. That will give me enough time — almost twenty years. So they are afraid to say no. Yes, of course, they cannot say. So they are in a dilemma, just waiting for some miracle to happen. But I am not a miracle man! But who are these men to decide? They are also foreigners, America is not their country. Perhaps they came four generations ago and I came a little later, just four years ago. But they are invaders — I am not an invader. I have come to the country as a friend.
Man should have a birthright of free movement around the earth, and one day a birthright to move around the stars. We have to dissolve all the boundaries and all the nonsense that exists because of these boundaries.
Anybody who divides man, for any excuse, is unforgivable. Black and white…. And what about me? — neither black nor white. In India, we have a beautiful joke…. When God created man — of course he was an amateur, he had never created before — so when he put the man made of mud into the oven, he pulled Him out a little too soon. These are the white men, uncooked. And it is natural — because he saw that this is an uncooked man, next time he waited a little longer, went to the other extreme, and when he pulled the man out, he found a Negro. He said, “This is going to be a difficult job.” So he decided on a time exactly in the middle. That’s why there are people like me neither uncooked nor cooked too much.
But what difference does color make? What difference does sex make? Why should woman be treated differently than man?
In China, for centuries it was thought that the woman has no soul. Great thinkers! Great discoverers! They have not bothered about themselves, whether they have any soul or not, but they decided unanimously that the woman has none. She is a thing to be possessed. Therefore, for centuries in China if a husband killed the wife it was not murder, it was not something against the law. You could not drag the man to the court as a murderer, because the idea was that the woman was a thing. If you destroy your chair it is your business, if you want to put your house on fire, it is your house. The wife belongs to you, you can do anything to the wife.
And they did everything to the woman. From her very childhood the Chinese girl was given iron shoes, so that her feet remained very small. That was their idea of beauty. In fact, they crippled the woman. Of course, her body want on growing, but her feet remained small. They thought they looked very dainty — they were simply out of proportion. The feet should grow in proportion to the body, because they have to take the whole load of the body. It was difficult for the Chinese woman to dance or to walk properly. All kinds of ugly things around the world… just because one is man, another is woman. And what is the difference between a Christian and a Jew and a Hindu and a Mohammedan? Just their conditionings are different; otherwise, they are exactly the same people. But they have been labeled by their conditioning as Jews, as Christians, as Mohammedans. You are not a thing. You should refuse to be labeled.
Man has to rebel against all these stupidities, because stupidities have divided the world. And divided, naturally everybody is afraid of everybody else. Your neighbor starts doing gymnastics; you get paranoid. Why is this man trying to become stronger? — you join a gymnastics course immediately. Seeing you — that you are going for a gymnastics program, you have joined the gym — the neighbor becomes afraid. He starts making better efforts, because it is going to be a tough fight…If you look clearly, the way I see, Because I am nobody; I don’t belong to any nation, I don’t belong to any religion, I don’t belong to any political party. I am simply an individual, the way existence created me. I have kept myself absolutely uninfluenced by any idiotic ideology — religious, political, social, financial. And the miracle is that because I am not burdened with all these glasses on my eyes, and curtains before me, I can see clearly.
The world can be a paradise any moment it decides! It will just have to drop a little crap: Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan, American, Russian. Politicians will not help you to do it, they will hinder you from doing it. Priests will not help you to do it, they will hinder you from doing it. All their greatness — the president of America, the premier of the Soviet Union, the infallible pope in the Vatican… what will happen to these people?
If you drop all your conditionings, and if you remove all the lines from the map, you burn all your identity cards, your passports, your visas, and you start moving around the world absolutely freely — it is our world — what will happen to these idiots who are sitting on your head? They will create every difficulty. But the time has come to face the fact; otherwise, you are on the very verge of a total global war which will destroy everybody. Before that happens, get free of all poisons — nations, politicians, priests, religions — and the world will be pollution-free. It is not the ordinary pollution that exists in L.A.; that is nothing. That too exists because of vested interests. A car can be created which does not pollute the air, but what will happen to all the manufacturers of hundreds of cars around the world? Their factories will go bankrupt. Right now they are billionaires; they will be beggars immediately.
You may not know that many inventions which are going to help humanity are prevented; their copyright is purchased by somebody whose vested interest will be interfered with. And the poor scientist, if he gets enough money, how can he refuse? There are hundreds of inventions which have been prevented. Money has been paid, and humanity goes on suffering.
Man has to declare his freedom. It is not a question of a nation being free, it is a question of every individual on the earth being free from all the jargon that the past has left within you.
The cars pollute the air but the politicians and the priests pollute your very soul. The air can be cleaned, the cars can be changed. If man is capable of reaching to the moon… I don’t see why the scientists who can reach to the moon cannot make a fountain pen which does not leak! It seems simply absurd. Man has come to a maturity, and now decisions have to be made by free individuals — not Americans, not Russians, not Indians. We can make this earth pollution-free, outwardly and inwardly.
That’s my message to my sannyasins: First, be free, and then let others taste your freedom and the joy it brings with it. It is not a difficult job at all. People are waiting for some savior to come and deliver them from all this misery. The savior is not going to come, but half of their waiting is right: they are waiting to be transformed. If they go on waiting for the savior they are waiting for God, who has never come, who will never come. They have to drop this idea that tomorrow somebody is going to come and deliver them from their suffering, misery. No, it is not going to happen.
You have to become the savior of yourself. I teach selfishness, because to me to be selfish is not wrong, it is natural. Everybody should be selfish, self-centered, not waiting for anybody’s help. Declare your freedom individually. And that’s my movement. You are here, not as a society, not as a community, you are here as an individual. There is nothing higher than an individual and his freedom. Just be a little courageous. And to suffer for freedom is not suffering, it is a joy. To suffer for individuality is not painful; it is a pleasure, because you are moving towards a blissful state. Just a little courageousness — I don’t ask you for great courage. Just a little courage, and the world can be free of politics and pollution. The world can be free of fights, murder, massacre, burning people alive….
If you look at history, it is so ugly. In my university, one day I went into the history department. I was looking around and getting introduced to all the subjects, so I could choose. And that was my last day too, because immediately I was fighting with my professor. I told him, “If this is history that you are teaching, then don’t poison people’s minds. It is better they forget all about the past. Don’t go on pouring rubbish into their heads, because then there will be no space for the present and no space for the future.” There is no need of history. All history is bunk!
It can happen in a single moment of understanding. That is the only miracle I know. All other miracles are inventions or gullible people, of stupid followers, of cunning scholars. But one miracle is part of nature. If you see something clearly, then don’t wait for the next moment. Do it right now, drop all nonsense. And you will see the birth of a new man in you.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Rajneeshmandir
Discourse Series: From the False to the Truth
Chapter title: Persecution cannot do any harm to you
21 July 1985 am in Rajneeshmandir
Osho has spoken on ‘essence, freedom, liberty, democracy, socialism, capitalism, communism’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Psychology
- The Book of Wisdom
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Darkness to Light
- From the False to the Truth
- Guida Spirituale
- Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
- Zen: The Mystery and The Poetry of the Beyond