Fear/Greed: Tools of Conditioning

Osho on Russian Physiologist Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov was a preeminent Russian physiologist, working in the field of natural science and classical conditioning. He had an instinct for research even as a child, making him that much more proficient as a student at the University of Saint Petersburg. He was the first son of a priest; consequently, he was brought up in a religious household and set to pursue theology. However, he quit his religious career and devoted his life to behavioral and psychological sciences, developing and implementing numerous theories for the same.

Pavlov is best known for his work with conditioned reflexes. He created various experiments to conclude that human behavior is conditioned by the reflexes of the mind and nervous system, which can be formed by repetition. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1904 and his research is used to this day in behavior therapy and systematic desensitization.

Osho talks about Pavlov, “But the ego is very clever. If you throw it out from the front door it comes from the back door, but it goes on grabbing you again and again. Now this can become your conditioning. Remember, even the idea that “I am unconditioned” can become a conditioning. Conditioning is a very subtle process.

I have heard about one man who was a disciple of the famous Russian psychologist, Pavlov. Pavlov has found the theory of conditioned reflex, and the whole of Russian psychology depends on that, because Pavlov tries to explain everything through conditioning. Pavlov says everything is conditioning, and he is ninety-nine point nine percent right, because he is wrong only about the Buddhas; otherwise he is right. Only a Buddha lives a life of unconditioned consciousness because only a Buddha lives a life of no-mind and no-self.

But the people we come across are ALL conditioned. The Christian is conditioned in one way, the Hindu is conditioned in another way, but they are all conditioned. Their ideas are different, their philosophy is different, their mythology is different, their superstition is different. They have different types of cells in which they live, their prisons are made in different ways, but they are prisons.”

Osho Says……



Gina Goyt,

there is nothing like mechanical goodness. Goodness cannot be mechanical and anything mechanical cannot be good. It is a contradiction in terms. Goodness can only be conscious, non mechanical; and evil can only be unconscious, mechanical. But I understand your question. It is relevant, because for centuries something like mechanical goodness has been taught to people because it is easy. People ARE mechanical. To bring real goodness in their lives, real virtue, you will have to transform their unconsciousness into consciousness, you will have to change their darkness into light. That is an arduous effort, and the society, moreover, is not interested in it at all.

In fact, it is afraid of it because whenever a REALLY good person has happened in the world he has created trouble for the society.

A Jesus, a Lao Tzu, a Buddha, a Kabir, these are the greatest rebels for the simple reason that they were so conscious that they could see through the whole stupid game that we go on playing. They could see through our lies, they could see through our deceptions. It was impossible to deceive them and it was impossible to exploit them and it was impossible to enslave them. Not only was it impossible to enslave them, but they created great movements of consciousness in the world. They created chains, they triggered chains. Many many people became enlightened through their efforts. Their efforts were thought to be antisocial. That’s why Jesus was crucified.

Where can you find a man who is more good than Jesus? What was his crime? His crime was that he was REALLY good. If he had been only mechanically good there would have been no trouble. There were many rabbis who were mechanically good. The society is not afraid of mechanical people; they are manageable. They are dependent on the society. They always live with the collective, they are always following the crowd. The crowd is very happy with these people. And it is easy to create mechanical goodness because, in the first place, people ARE mechanical. You have just to replace their evil ideas with good ideas, not changing at all their beings. For example, hell was created — the idea of hell — to create mechanical goodness. People are afraid, people live in fear; priests became aware of it in the very beginning of humanity, that it can be exploited: make them more afraid. They depicted hell in such detail, they created so much fear in people, that people became conditioned — out of fear.

It is the same type of conditioning that can be done now in easier ways because we have more developed technology. There is no need to teach for twenty-five years the idea of hell; then a person becomes mechanically good. Now you can ask Pavlov, Skinner and other behaviorists: they will teach you some methods. Just electric shocks will do. Somebody smokes and you don’t want him to smoke — just give him electric shocks. Whenever he smokes let him have an electric shock. Within three days he will drop smoking because the moment he takes a cigarette in his hand he will start trembling. He will become so much afraid that now the shock is coming. That’s how they teach rats, they teach monkeys and chimpanzees. And that’s how they are trying to teach human beings.

Religious people created hell, politicians created prisons — just to torture people. If you torture them enough, people become accustomed. Pavlov calls it “conditioned reflex.” He worked his whole life with dogs; he conditioned his dogs. If you bring food before a dog, of course, it affects his saliva. He starts salivating, his tongue starts hanging out, saliva starts dripping. Seeing delicious food, it is natural. But if you ring a bell it won’t happen. There is no connection between a bell and saliva glands, but Pavlov did one thing: whenever he would give food to his dogs he would ring a bell. Whenever he would ring a bell he would give food to the dogs. The bell and the food became associated, linked, hooked with each other. After fifteen days he just rang the bell and the dogs started salivating and their tongues hanging out. Now, there is no natural connection between the bell and the tongue, but a new, unnatural connection has been created.

Pavlov became the founder of communist psychology. That’s how in Soviet Russia, in China and other communist countries, people are being conditioned.

They don’t think that man is any different from dogs; maybe a little more developed, a little more complicated, but still a dog.

Skinner goes on working on rats and goes on finding how to condition rats, and he says the same is applicable to human beings.

You just create fear and then they will not do certain things; and you create greed…. And that’s why paradise, heaven were created. These are simple strategies for dominating people. Create fear for that which you want people not to do and create the idea of reward for that which you want them to do — and you have created a mechanical behavior. They will not do the bad and they will do the good.

But what kind of good is this? It is exploitation by the society, by the church, by the state — by the vested interests. It has not changed the BEING of the man. It has not made him more aware, alert, more joyous, more celebrating. It has not given him any taste of bliss. It has not opened any window for him from where he can have a little glimpse of God. I don’t call it goodness, virtue. My idea of virtue is that it should be a by-product of consciousness. You should become so conscious that you CAN’T do wrong — not because you are conditioned but because you can see it is wrong.

For example, I was born in a Jaina family. Now, Jainas are the most fanatic vegetarians in the world. In my house even tomatoes were not allowed because their redness reminds you of meat and blood. Even poor tomatoes, so innocent! In my childhood, the very idea of somebody eating meat was enough to make me sick. In my family there was no possibility to eat in the night. Jainas don’t eat in the night. Who wants to suffer in hell just for eating in the night? When I was eighteen years old, for the first time I ate in the night. It was so much against my whole background, but I had to because we had gone for a picnic and all the other boys were Hindus. They were not interested the whole day in preparing food, and I don’t even know how to prepare tea! So I had to depend on them. I told them many times, but they were not interested. They were interested in exploring the mountains we had gone to, the fort, a very ancient fort, and the statues and there were many other things.

The day was tiring and by the evening we were utterly tired. Then they started cooking food. The food was ready in the night. Tired, hungry… and the delicious food that they were preparing… and the aroma! And I was the only one who was in such suffering! I could not eat because just one night’s wavering and you suffer in hell for eternity. But I was wavering — naturally. On the surface I was keeping calm and cool as I was supposed to, but they were persuading me — and deep down I was ready to be persuaded. In fact, I was hoping that they would be able to persuade me! Finally they persuaded me and I ate. But I have never suffered so much. The whole night I was sick and vomiting. Nobody else was vomiting, nobody else was sick. It was just my conditioning. Now, this kind of vegetarianism is not good. It does not come out of your consciousness — it is mechanical.

Mechanical goodness is not real goodness; it is just a facade. Intelligence is needed to be good, awareness is needed to be good.

The unshaven and booze-smelling Polack was arrested for public drunkenness, and now he stood in front of the judge.

“Your honor,” he pleaded, “I honestly didn’t mean to drink a whole quart of vodka at one time.”

“Then why did you do it?” demanded the judge.

“I lost the cork.”

A contractor working for the U.S. government in Vietnam submitted a bill for the tiling of a roof. The government office was astonished at the total of over twenty thousand dollars, most of it for medical expenses incurred on the job. A lieutenant was dispatched to the hospital to investigate.

This was the contractor’s explanation: “At the outset of the job I attached a pulley to the edge of the roof and ran a rope through it. To one end I attached a large barrel; the other end I tied to a stake in the ground. I then filled the barrel half full with tiles, untied the rope, hoisted the barrel up to the roof, retied the rope to the stake, climbed up the ladder, unloaded the tiles on the roof, lowered the barrel, climbed down the ladder, and repeated this process several times until all the tiles were on the roof.

“Early in the evening the job was completed and I began loading the unused tiles into the barrel. I had overestimated the number of tiles needed and so had a full barrel of extras. I climbed down the ladder and unhooked the rope.

“It was then that I realized my error. The barrel, now full of tiles, was heavier than I and began descending. In my shock, I forgot to let go — up I went! Halfway up, the barrel and I met, breaking my right hip. I continued up, breaking several fingers and one hand as I hit the edge of the roof. Meanwhile the barrel hit the ground, tipped over and spilled out most of the tiles. The barrel, now lighter than I, came back up. I descended. Halfway down we met again — this time my ribs were crushed. When I hit the ground my left leg was broken.

“It was at this time that I had the presence of mind to let go of the rope. A few seconds later the barrel landed on my head giving me concussion!”

More intelligence is needed, more awareness is needed, and then life becomes naturally good, spontaneously good.


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

Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 10

Chapter #12

Chapter title: A new man with a new vision

3 March 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assagioli, Wilhelm Reich, Aristotle, Berkeley, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Laing, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Socrates, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Hidden Splendour
  2. The Wild Geese and the Water
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  5. Beyond Enlightenment
  6. Beyond Psychology
  7. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  8. The Discipline of Transcendence
  9. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  10. From Bondage to Freedom
  11. From Darkness to Light
  12. From Ignorance to Innocence
  13. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
  14. From Personality to Individuality
  15. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  16. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
  17. Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
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1 Comment

  • Someshwar H
    Posted June 1, 2022 11:24 am 0Likes

    Yes Master!!
    Love you Osho!

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