God is Dead and Man is Free
Birthday of German Philosopher Feuerbach
Born on 28 July 1804, Ludwig Feuerbach was a German philosopher and public figure known for his unconventional theories and morals. He studied philosophy and natural science during his education and proceeded to write more than twenty books demonstrating the false equivocation of God in various religions and renouncing the notions in the process of embracing atheism. Feuerbach influenced generations of philosophers and thinkers to come such as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, etc.
Feuerbach’s published works include Theogonie (1857), God, Freedom, and Immortality(1866), On Philosophy and Christianity(1839), and his most revered work – The Essence of Christianity (1841). His work essentially followed the idea that God, as perceived by humans, is anthropologically inconclusive and that God cannot be looked at as a separate entity. Feuerbach concludes his philosophies by inferring that the concept of religion arises out of human needs and wants, adopting a certain revolutionary path between religion and materialism.
Osho mentions Feuerbach, “It fills me with great surprise that the whole Western sphere has never thought about rebirth. Great philosophers from Plato to Kant, to Feuerbach, to Bertrand Russell, to Jean Paul Sartre — a great line of immensely intelligent geniuses, but not a single person has ever thought about rebirth. Their whole idea has remained …just one life. It is too miserly. Existence is not miserly; it is overflowing with abundance.
Every death is a beginning of a new life, except only rarely, when somebody becomes enlightened. Then his death is the ultimate death. He will not be born again. He will not be engaged in a body again; he will not suffer the agony of another mind again. His consciousness will melt, just like an ice cube melting in the ocean and becoming one with it. He will be all over, but he will not be in any particular place, in a particular form. He will be all over, but formless. He will be the very universe.
Each time a man becomes enlightened, the whole universe gets a little higher in consciousness, because this man’s consciousness spreads all over the existence. The more people become enlightened, the more existence will be richer. So it is not only a question of a single person becoming enlightened. In his enlightenment, the whole universe gains immensely. It becomes richer, more beautiful, more joyous, more celebrated.”
The modern mind is feeling more meaningless than ever has been the case, because the past centuries lived in a kind of stupor, sleep. Orthodoxy was much. Convention was heavy and strong. The citadel of religion was very, very great, powerful, dictatorial. People lived for centuries in belief. This century has dared to drop beliefs. Those beliefs were to give people a feeling that there is meaning in life. Now those beliefs have disappeared. This is good. As far as it goes it is good that beliefs have disappeared. This is the first age of agnosticism. For the first time man has become mature, mature in the sense that he does not rely on beliefs, on superstitions. We have dropped all superstitious beliefs. So a kind of vacuum has come into existence. The beliefs have disappeared — and with the beliefs the false sense of meaning has disappeared. An emptiness has settled in.
We have done the negative part, we have demolished the old building, now the positive part has to be done — we have to erect a new building. The old temple is no more, but where is the new temple? Belief has been destroyed, but where is trust? Belief has gone — this is good — but this is not enough. It is necessary but not enough. Now you will have to grow into trust. Let me explain these two words to you. Belief is borrowed; somebody else gives it to you — your parents, your society, your priest, your politician, they give it to you. Immediately the child is born we start — either we circumcise the child or we baptise the child. We do something. Immediately we start conditioning him. Before he becomes alert, beliefs have gone deep into his blood and bones, even into his marrow. Before he becomes alert and before he can think clearly, he is already poisoned. The beliefs have become unconscious. He has already been conditioned. He is not free to think.
That’s why all religions are so interested in teaching children religion. They are interested immediately. The first thing they want to do is to teach children religion. Psychologists say that the only possibility to teach a child religion is to teach him before he is seven. Once he has left the age of seven then it will become more and more difficult to teach him because he will start questioning, he will start arguing. He will become doubtful, he will become sceptical. Up to the age of seven a child simply trusts the parents. He believes that whatsoever they do is right. He has no doubt. This is a natural phenomenon. The child has to trust the mother. The child is so helpless that he cannot exist on his own. It is a necessity, a must for his survival, to trust the parent. And he trusts.
Religions use that natural trust to condition the child. The mother takes him to the church or to the temple, to the priest or to the minister, and the child follows the mother and the parent and the family. By the very atmosphere of the family a subtle conditioning starts going in. By the time the child can think, can formulate, he is already conditioned. Those conditionings have gone so deep now that he will never be able to drop them easily.
A Master will be needed to hammer. You will need somebody whom you can love more than you love your father, whom you love more than you love your mother. You will need a Master — only then. The Master can go to those deepest layers of your being where conditioning has happened, and he can destroy.
Unless the Master becomes more significant than your parents, it is not possible, it is not psychologically possible. That’s why Buddha says, ‘Until you destroy and kill your father and mother, you cannot come to me.’ A strange statement. Jesus says, ‘If you don’t hate your father and mother you can’t follow me.’ It does not look very good. Jesus, the apostle of love and peace, Buddha, the most compassionate human being that has ever walked on earth, talking about hating? — not only hating, but killing? What do they mean? They don’t mean your actual parents, they mean the parents that have gone deep into your being, that have become your base. that base has to be destroyed.
Once that base disappears you will again become a child. Once that conditioning has been dropped you will suddenly become again a child, innocent. And this time you will be in a far better situation because you will not be helpless, you will be on your own feet — and innocent like a child. This is the meaning of Sannyas. This is the meaning of initiation. This is the meaning when Sufis say that somebody has become a SADHAKA, somebody has become a disciple. In this age, slowly, slowly, belief has disappeared. And nothing has appeared in its place.
You must have heard about a German thinker, Ludwig Feuerbach. He seems to be the herald of the contemporary mind. Feuerbach explained God away in terms of the infinite desire of the human heart. He said, ‘There is no God. God does not exist as an objective reality. It is only a wish-fulfilment. Man wants to become omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. Man wants to become God — this is man’s desire, the desire to become infinite, a desire to become immortal, a desire to become absolutely powerful.’ This was the first hammering on the belief of God: that God is not objective; that God is not there; that God is just a projection in the human mind; that God has no ontology, he is only a psychological dream; that man is thinking in terms of God because he feels himself very impotent. He needs something to make him complete.
He needs an idea that gives him a feeling that he is not a stranger here; that in this world there is somebody who looks after him. God is nothing but a projected father. Man wants to lean upon something. It is just a pure desire. It has no reality.
Then came Karl Marx. Marx explained God away in terms of an ideological attempt to rise above the given reality. Marx said that because people are poor, in suffering, in misery, they need a dream — a dream that can give them hope. People are living in such hopelessness, in such utter misery, that if they cannot dream that somewhere in the future everything will be perfect, they will not be able to tolerate this intolerable reality. So God is the opium. Religion is the opium for the masses. It is a drug. It helps, consoles. It is a kind of tranquilliser. You are in such pain that you need a pain-killer — the idea that today, yes, today is miserable, but tomorrow everything is going to be good. Marx says that’s why Jesus’ beatitudes have become so important: ‘Blessed are the poor.’ Why? Why ‘Blessed are the poor’? Because ‘they shall inherit the kingdom of God.’ Now the poor can hope. Here he is poor but there he will inherit the kingdom of God. Not only that, Jesus says, ‘Those who are the first here will be the last there and those who are the last here will be the first there.’ Now the poor man feels really happy. He forgets his poverty. He is going to be the first there. Jesus has different meanings for these stimulants but Marx thinks these are just drugs.
And Marx also looks very logical. When people are in misery they have only one way to tolerate it: to pass time away they can imagine a better future. You are in the hospital — you can imagine that tomorrow you will be getting out of hospital and you will be going home and everything will be okay. It is only a question of a few hours more. You can tolerate it. This world is a question of a few years, don’t be worried about it. Soon paradise is waiting for you. And the poorer you are, the higher you are going to be in paradise. And all that you are missing here is abundantly supplied there. You don’t have a beautiful woman? Don’t be worried. In paradise everybody will be having as many as they want — and the most beautiful women you can conceive of, APSARAS. They are so beautiful that they never age, they always remain stuck at the age of sixteen. They never grow beyond that. These are the dreams of man.
Here you can’t get alcohol — or even if you can, it is difficult or it is costly or there are a thousand and one problems in getting it. And the politicians are always thinking about prohibition. But in FIRDAUS, in paradise, there are streams of wine, alcohol — all kinds. You can drink as much as you want, you can swim, you can absolutely soak yourself in it. These dreams are just consolations for those who are down-trodden, oppressed. So Marx says that religion is just a trick… a trick to exploit people, a trick to keep them under rule, a trick so that they cannot rebel. He hammered very hard on the old beliefs.
And then the third hammer came with Friedrich Nietzsche. He said, ‘God is nothing but a weakening of the will to love.’ When a person becomes old or a society becomes old, rotten, dull and dying, it starts thinking of God. Why? Because death is coming close by and one has to accept death. One is going to renounce life, life is slipping out of the hands, one cannot do anything about it — but one can accept death. God is a trick to accept death. And death is accepted by only those who have become weak, weaklings.
Nietzsche used to say that the very idea of God comes out of the feminine mind. He used to say that Buddha and Christ are both effeminate. They are not really masculine. They are too soft. They are the people who have accepted the defeat. They are fighting no more. They are not fighting for survival. When a person stops fighting for survival he becomes religious. When the will to power is no more functioning one starts shrinking and dying and one starts thinking of God and other related things. God is against life. Life is the will to power. Life is struggle, constant struggle. Life is conflict and one has to win. When people become too weak and cannot win, those defeated minds start becoming religious. Religion is defeatism. Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, these three together created the atmosphere where it could be declared that God is dead and man is free.
This is the situation in which you have been born. If you are contemporary at all, this is the situation. You are more in tune with Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche than you are in tune with Patanjali, Kapila, Kanada. They are far away. We don’t belong to them, they don’t belong to us. The distance is too much. Our real prophets are these — Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Darwin — and these people have destroyed the whole fabric, the whole structure, the pattern of belief. And I would like to tell you that they have done a great service to humanity.
But don’t misunderstand me. They have cleaned human consciousness completely of belief but this is only half the job. Now something is needed. It is as if you are preparing for a garden and you prepare the ground and you throw away all the weeds and you throw away all the stones and the ground is ready — and then you simply wait and you don’t bring the rose bushes and you don’t sow new seeds. These people have done a great service to humanity. They have uprooted all the weeds. But just by uprooting the weeds the garden is not ready, cannot be ready. It is part of preparing a garden to uproot the weeds but this is not the garden itself. Now you have to bring the roses. Those roses are missing, hence meaning is missing. People are stuck. Either they have become communists or they have become Freudians or they have become fascists. And they think that this clean patch of ground where no belief grows, where no desire springs up about the unknown and the beyond, is the garden. And then you are looking all around. It is nothing. It is a desert. These people have cleaned the ground but only a desert is created out of it.
Man has become very, very anxious. Anxiety has been created. The anxiety has been repressed for centuries because of conforming with the party, with the religion, with the sect, with the society. For thousands of years the anxiety has remained locked. Man has functioned as a slave. Now the lock has been broken, man is no more a slave and the whole anxiety, repression, of thousands of years has broken loose. Man is turning mad. What these people have done can turn into a great liberation or it can become just a loss. It depends. If you use this situation rightly and you start growing rose bushes in your heart, soon you will have a great thankfulness towards Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and all the people who have destroyed belief, who have destroyed the old religion. They have prepared the way for a new kind of religion — more mature, more adult, more grown-up. I am all for them but I don’t stop with them. If you stop, meaninglessness will be your destiny. Yes, it is good that there exists no God — the God of belief — but then, then start finding what exists in your inner being. Then go on an exploration and you will stumble upon God. And this God will be the God of your experience.
They have created a situation in which you can say ‘I don’t know’ — that’s what agnosticism is — now use this as a jumping board to go into the unknown. You are ready to go into the unknown. Knowledge is not binding. Nobody is fettering your feet. You are free for the first time.
But what are you doing standing there? You were standing there because you were chained and now you are still standing there although the chains have been removed. Move forward.
Now explore! The whole existence is yours. Explore it with no concept, with no prejudice, with no a priori philosophy. Explore it with an open mind and you will be surprised to find that God is. But this will be a totally new God, utterly new, absolutely new. This will be the God one comes to know, not the God one believes in. This will be an alive God which throbs in your heart. which breathes, which flowers in the trees, which sings songs in the birds. This will be the God of the mountains and the rivers and the stars. This will be the God of life. This will not be a God who exists somewhere in heaven, no, this will be the God who exists herenow — in me, in you, in everybody. This is the God that is equivalent, synonymous with existence.
But this God can come only through knowing, not through knowledge. Knowledge has been destroyed and that’s good. These three persons — Feuerbach, Marx and Nietzsche — have done a good job of clearing away the whole nonsense of centuries, but remember, even they were not benefitted by it. Nietzsche died in a madhouse, and if you are stuck with Nietzsche you are waiting for madness and nothing else. Nietzsche did a great service, he was a martyr, but he got stuck with his own negativity. He destroyed the belief but then he never went to explore what is there. Without belief what is there? With no belief what is there? There is something. You cannot say there is nothing. There is something. What is it? He never went into meditation. Thinking, logical thinking, can do one thing: it can destroy belief. But it cannot lead you into truth.
You can be led into truth only by the door of meditation or by the door of love — MARIFA or MAHABA, either by knowing or by loving, either by becoming a lover, an ASHIK, a BHAKTA, a devotee, or by becoming a yogi, DHYANA, a meditator. These are the only two ways — either through intelligence or through feeling. These are the two doors to God.
Man has to create meaning now. The meaning is no longer given by the society, is no longer given by anybody else. Martin Heidegger says, ‘Once one has become aware of the meaninglessness of life and existence there arises great anxiety, angst, anguish. This happens through unlocking that which subjection to conformity and conditioning of centuries had locked. Once this liberation has happened one can act — but not according to norms given by anybody or anything. One has to fall upon oneself.’ Heidegger is right. You have to fall upon yourself. Now you cannot lean on anybody. No scripture will help. Prophets are gone. Messengers are no longer there. You will have to lean upon yourself. You will have to stand on your own feet. You will have to become independent. Heidegger calls it ‘resolve’. You will have to come to a resolve, a resolution that ‘I am alone and no help is coming from anywhere. Now what am I going to do? And I don’t know anything. No belief exists to give me a map. No chart exists and the uncharted is all around. The whole existence has again become a mystery.’ It is a great joy for those who have courage because now again exploration is possible. This is what Martin Heidegger calls resolve. This is what Hindus call SANKALPA. Now you have to resolve. He calls it resolve because through it the individual becomes resolute, the individual becomes individual.
No God, no conventions, no laws, no commandments, no norms, no principles — one must be oneself and one must decide where to go, what to do, and who to be. This is the meaning of the famous existentialist motto: ‘Existence precedes essence — that is, there is no essential human nature. Man creates what he is, man projects himself.’ The meaning has to be projected, the meaning has to be created. You have to sing your meaning, you have to dance your meaning, you have to paint your meaning, you have to live your meaning. Through living it will arise, through dancing it will start penetrating your being, through singing it will come to you. It is not like a rock lying there, it has to bloom in your being. It has to become an inner lotus.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
Chapter title: Singing Silence
15 August 1977 am
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:
- The Hidden Splendour
- The Wild Geese and the Water
- This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Beyond Psychology
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Darkness to Light
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
- From Personality to Individuality
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1