International Day of Democracy
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 religion is individual flowering. Religion can exist only in an individualistic society where freedom to be oneself is allowed, where nobody interferes with you, where you are left alone to be yourself. The society interferes only when you start interfering with other people’s lives, otherwise not. If you are not harmful, nobody will interfere with you. This is possible only in a democratic country; in a capitalist country but not in a communist country. Communism does not allow the individual; it believes in the absolute domination of the society. An individual is considered a danger. I am all for democracy and capitalism. It is better to be poor but to remain democratic; better to remain uneducated but to remain democratic. Otherwise your stomachs will be full, but your spirits will be empty; otherwise your bodies will get nourishment, but your souls will die, starve.
AREN’T ALL PEOPLE REALLY THE SAME?
Sudarsho, ESSENTIALLY YES, BUT ACCIDENTALLY NO. At the center – YES; on the circumference – NO.
Essentially, we are made of the same stuff called God; but on the circumference, God comes in every shape and size, in every color, in every form. There is much difference AND it is beautiful because if people were really the same, both at the center and on the circumference, the world would be a very boring place. But it is not a boring place. It is immensely interesting; it is immensely beautiful, rich. And the richness comes because of variety. No two persons are the same on the circumference, although everybody is the same at the center – not only people but trees and rocks, they are also the same at the center. Call that center the soul and it will be easier for you to understand. Our souls are the same, there we meet and are one, but our bodies and minds are different, there we are separate.
And no effort should be made to make us similar on the surface. Down the ages people have been trying to do that; that creates only fascism. That’s what Adolph Hitler was trying to do. That’s what happens in every army: we try to make people similar even on the surface. In the army names disappear, numbers take their place. If a person dies you read on the board, “Number 14 has fallen.” Now, number 14 has no personality. Anybody can replace number 14, anybody can be given number 14; number 14 is replaceable. But the person who has died, is he replaceable? Can anybody in the world ever replace him? Who will be the husband of his wife and who will be the father of his children? And who will be the son of his old parents? And who will be the friend of his friends? Number 14 cannot do that. Number 14 is perfectly okay in the army; he will carry the gun and he will do the same things — the same stupid things — that the other number 14 was doing before. But as far as their real personality is concerned, number 14 is a different person.
All the military leaders of the world have been trying to force a certain pattern on people. They would like machines, not men. They would like God to make men the way Ford cars are made, on an assembly line, so similar Fords go on coming. God does not work with an assembly line; he creates each individual with uniqueness. So, Sudarsho, you have to understand two things. One: the variety, the difference, and love the variety and love the difference….
Mohammedans have been trying to convert the whole world to one religion; Hindus have been trying to do the same, Christians have been doing the same, Buddhists have been doing the same. The whole effort is to make all the world similar, so there are all Christians and Christians. It will be a poor world where no temple exists and no mosque, where there are only churches and churches, and the same prayer and the same scripture and the same silly Pope…it won’t be good! It is beautiful that there are three hundred religions in the world; more are needed.
In my vision, each person should have his own religion. There should be as many religions as there are people. Only then this conflict, this continuous conflict, will stop, this fight between religions will stop: when everybody has a religion and it is something unique like your signature, like the print of your thumb — unique. Then there will be no problem, no conflict; nobody will try to convert anybody.
You don’t try to convert people saying, “Make your signature just as I do.” In fact, if somebody does it you will inform the police: “This man is trying to imitate me.”
Religion should be a personal, intimate phenomenon.
But there are people who want to change the whole world into Christianity or communism. They want to make the whole world Catholic or Mohammedan or Hindu.
Mohammedans say there is only one God and only one prophet of God, that is Mohammed. Then God seems to be very poor — just ONE prophet? Can’t he create more prophets? Mohammed has not exhausted all the possibilities; nobody can exhaust them, neither Buddha nor Jesus. They are all unique peaks, but no peak can exhaust all the peaks. The Himalayas have their own beauty, but it is different from the beauty of the Alps; and the Alps have their own beauty, but it is different from the beauty of the Vindhyas. Each mountain has its own beauty, each peak has its own beauty, and it contributes to the richness of the world. I would not like all people to become Christians or Hindus or Mohammedans. I would like everybody to be free from these prisons, everybody to be just himself. This is a fascist idea, that everybody should be like everybody else. And this fascist idea is being imposed in different ways on different aspects of humanity…
On the circumference people are different, and they SHOULD be different, and everybody should maintain his individuality on the circumference. One should never compromise for any reason. Then only can we create a really democratic world. Real democracy means that the mob, the crowd, is no more in control of the individual life. Democracy is less a political phenomenon than a religious phenomenon; it is far more important than politics. Democracy is a totally new vision of life. It has not yet happened anywhere; it has yet to happen. Democracy means each individual has the right to live according to his light; he should not be prevented. Unless he becomes a disturbance or a nuisance to others he should be allowed every freedom in all the aspects of life. That’s my vision of a really democratic world. That’s how I would like my sannyasins to function: no interference in anybody’s life. A great respect has to be given to the other.
But at the center, everybody is the same. When you meditate you move towards the center. In the deepest moments of meditation, all differences disappear. You are universal there, not individual. And you have to be both: individual and universal. And you have to be very flexible and fluid between these two. It should be as easy as when you come out of your home, out of your house. When it is too cold inside you come out, you sit in the sun. When it becomes too hot you go in. It creates no problem; you just go in, you come out. There is no problem — it is your house.
A person should be capable of living on the circumference and at the center easily. He should be able to move from the marketplace to the meditative space and from the meditative space to the marketplace — with no problem, playfully, easily, spontaneously.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Ah, This!
Chapter title: Dying Into the Master
6 January 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘individuality, diversity, personality, 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