Doubt is Your Nature

Birthday of Thomas Alva Edison

If all these religions disappear from the earth you all will become inquirers. And there is so much to inquire –

life is such a deep mystery, almost fathomless. And to enter into that exploration will make you for the first time a human being. It is a tremendous journey, the real pilgrimage, but it has to start with doubt. These two words have to be remembered: `belief’ and `doubt’.

All the religions are against doubt, obviously, because if they accept doubt all their beliefs will be found to be man-made. All the religions say that those who doubt will fall into hell; believe and you are saved. The helpless child does not want to fall into eternal darkness. He chooses to believe.

Science starts with doubt. It is just the polar opposite of religions — by religions I mean those that have existed up to now.

Science starts with doubt. The most fundamental thing in the scientific approach is: doubt everything unless you come to a point which is indubitable, which cannot be doubted. Even if you want to doubt, you cannot doubt it, it is there. Science is true religion because it leads you to truth. Your religions are nothing but superstitions. They prevent you from reaching towards the truth, they don’t allow you to inquire on your own. They fill your mind exactly the same way as a computer is filled — with information, scriptures, theologies. They don’t leave even a small space. They are so afraid that if even a small space is left in you, your natural potentiality will assert itself as a question, as a doubt.

Let me say to you that beliefs are given to you by others; doubt is your nature. Nobody gives you doubt; you come with it, you are born with it.

You can see every child asking embarrassing questions — embarrassing because you don’t know the answer, embarrassing because you cannot say, “I don’t know the answer.” By and by, the child also starts believing. He loves his mother, he loves his father, he respects his teacher; and because all these respect the priest, he starts believing in the priest. And fear is there: “If you don’t believe, you will suffer, and suffer badly.” And just for believing, you will get the eternal joys of paradise — just for believing. Paradise is sold so cheap, who would not like to buy it? So out of fear everybody has stopped asking, and out of greed everybody has started believing. The whole world is full of believers, but what is their contribution to human life? Religions have existed for at least ten thousand years — that is the minimum, perhaps they have existed longer than that. In ten thousand years what have religions given to you?

In three hundred years science has given you everything that you have. Just try to figure it out. Your clothes, your medicines, your glasses, your watches, your trains, your planes — all are contributions of science. And within three hundred years! And that too, fighting against traditions thousands of years old. If there had been no fight, in three hundred years we would have created paradise. And now we can do it very easily. But religions don’t want this earth to become a paradise; it is against their vested interest. They want this earth to remain poor, suffering, hungry, because only those people who are hungry, suffering, miserable, are their clients. They cannot make me a client. They cannot make anybody who has a little intelligence their customer. It is a question of business…

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You have asked, “If all these religions with all their nonsense disappear, what will be the state of science?”

There will be a tremendous explosion of joy, celebration, of health, longer life. You can imagine anything; all dreams can be fulfilled. There are hundreds of discoveries which are not being used, because they go against established businesses. For example, if a scientist discovers that cars can move without petrol, just by atomic batteries-which is possible and very simple. If your watches can move with a small battery for the whole year, it is simple arithmetic that batteries with atomic energy can be created, and your car can move for one year continuously without bothering about petrol. But the problem is, there are thousands of cars, factories, investments: what will happen to them? They will go bankrupt. What will happen to the oil kings in Texas, in Saudi Arabia? Their petrol will be worthless. No, this kind of battery cannot be allowed to be made. The politicians will force the scientist not to do such a thing. They are engaging the scientists, on the contrary, to make nuclear weapons. Strange world — millions of people are engaged around the earth in creating weapons to destroy humanity, life, everything…

Religion promises, but never supplies the goods. Science never promises, but always supplies the goods. Science cannot promise because it is an inquiry. Science had never promised that there would be electricity. The man who created the first electric bulb was Thomas Alva Edison. Three years he was working to create an electric bulb. All his colleagues by and by left, thinking that he was a crackpot — nobody had ever heard of such a thing! A few young students remained with him. But by and by, they were also getting bored, because every day the same experiment starts and every evening they find it has failed. Finally they were also ready to leave. Before leaving, just out of gratitude to the old man, they said to Edison, “Forgive us. We cannot be so patient as you are in your old age, when death can happen any moment. You come every morning so excited: `it is going to happen today!’ Sometimes we think either we are mad, or you are mad.”

The answer Edison gave is worth remembering. He said, “For three years we have experimented in hundreds of ways. To me, it means that we are coming every moment closer and closer to the right method, because wrong methods are being eliminated. We have knocked on hundreds of doors: yes, we have not found anything, but the number of doors is less every day. One day we are going to knock on the right door. When everything is eliminated, what is left is truth. Doubt is the method of eliminating.”

The night he discovered the first bulb, he was so enchanted…. It is understandable. An old man — his eyes becoming weak, death could take him before the experiment is over — ultimately found… at three o’clock in the morning, because he had been working the whole night. Now even the students had left, so there was no need to close the lab at a certain time. Now he was alone, and he was so absorbed at three o’clock he saw the first bulb radiating with light.

His wife was getting upset and bored and angry, and she shouted from the other room, “Are you going to sleep tonight or not? Put that light off!”

Edison said, “This is not the old light! You just come in and see! Doubt has succeeded.” The wife could not believe her eyes: a new light, with a new source of energy!


But religions go on insisting, telling people not to doubt. Every scientist has to doubt his predecessors. You should see the difference: every religious man has to believe in the predecessor. The more ancient the book is, the more true — that is the religious attitude. So every religion tries to prove that their holy book is the most ancient.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series:

From Death to Deathlessness

Chapter #19
Chapter title: Belief is a dirty word
24 August 1985 am in Rajneeshmandir


Osho has spoken on scientists like Aristotle, Chamberlain, Copernicus, Darwin, Descartes, Eddington, Edison, Einstein, Euclid, Galileo, Leibnitz, Kepler, Newton, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Ramanujan, Rutherford and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. What Is, Is, What Ain’t, Ain’t
  2. One Seed Makes the Whole Earth Green
  3. Sufis: People on the Path Vol.1-2
  4. The Sun Rises in the Evening
  5. The Empty Boat
  6. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  7. Beyond Psychology
  8. Zarathustra, the laughing prophet
  9. From Personality to Individuality
  10. From Ignorance to Innocence
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