Life: Whole Spectrum of a Rainbow
Osho on Aristotle
Born in 384 BC, in Chalcidice, Greece, Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, one of the greatest intellectual figures of Western history. He was the author of a philosophical and scientific system that became the framework and vehicle for both Christian Scholasticism and medieval Islamic philosophy. Even after the intellectual revolutions of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment, Aristotelian concepts remained embedded in Western thinking.
Aristotle’s intellectual range was vast, covering most of the sciences and many of the arts, including biology, botany, chemistry, ethics, history, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, philosophy of mind, poetics, political theory, psychology, and zoology. He was the founder of formal logic, devising for it a finished system that for centuries was regarded as the sum of the discipline. His writings in ethics and political theory as well as in metaphysics and the philosophy of science continue to be studied, and his work remains a powerful current in contemporary philosophical debate.
His most known treatises are Physics, Metaphysics, Ethics, Nicomechian Ethics, Politics and On the Soul and Poetics. What is most credited to Aristotle is Aristotelianism which is a philosophical tradition inspired by his works usually characterized by deductive logic and an analytic inductive method in the study of nature and natural law.
Osho says, “Mind is the disease. And what is the name of that disease? Aristotle is the name, or if you really want to make it look like a disease then you can coin a word: ARISTOTLITIS. Then it looks exactly like a disease. Why is Aristotle the disease? Because Aristotle says, “Either this or that. Choose!” And choice is the function of the mind; mind cannot be choiceless. Choose and you are in the trap, because whenever you choose you have chosen something against something else. If you are for something, you must be against something; you cannot be only for, you cannot be only against. When the ‘for’ enters, the ‘against’ follows as a shadow. When the ‘against’ is there, the ‘for’ must be there — hidden or not hidden. When you choose, you divide. Then you say, “This is good, that is wrong.” And life is a unity. Existence remains undivided, existence remains in a deep unison. It is oneness. If you say, “This is beautiful and that is ugly,” mind has entered, because life is both together. And the beautiful becomes ugly, and the ugly goes on becoming beautiful. There is no boundary; no watertight compartments are there. Life goes on flowing from this to that…What to do with life? You cannot choose. If you want to be WITH life, with the whole, you have to be choiceless”
I’M PROBABLY ASKING FOR IT, BUT HERE GOES: ALL MY LIFE I HAVE NEVER TRAINED MY ARISTOTELIAN MIND IN ANYTHING. IS THIS A MISFORTUNE?
Aristotle is the greatest misfortune that has fallen over the Western mind. I have renamed him, because I don’t think Aristotle has been, in any way, a help in the evolution of human consciousness. On the contrary, he has been like a great disease. Hence I have named him Aristotelitis.
And you are thinking that this is a misfortune, that you have not trained yourself and your mind in Aristotelian logic! You are fortunate. It is unbelievable that being a Greek you could manage to escape from Aristotelitis, because it is so widespread. It is bound to be so, since Athens was the place from where Aristotle spread the disease his whole life. He has made the whole Western mind, and if the West is going to destroy the entire world in a third world war, the whole credit will go to Aristotle, two thousand years ago; because he was the man who had sown the seeds which are now flowering, like nuclear weapons. The whole scientific approach is based on Aristotle’s method.
Aristotle divides life into black and white. Either something is right or something is wrong. He does not allow any middle ground. He does not allow any other alternative. `A’ is `A’ and `A’ can never be `B’, that is his foundation. Either you are my friend or you are my enemy. Those who are not my friends are my enemies. Aristotle’s way of thinking is childish. Life is not so simple, life is like the whole spectrum of a rainbow — all the colors and also the negation of all the colors and also the combination of all the colors. It is more than the rainbow because in the rainbow two things are missing, the white and the black. It is very strange that for Aristotle only white and black exist. In reality, only white and black don’t exist — all other colors exist. Black is only the absence of all the colors and white is the presence of all the colors. Because all the colors are present, no color shows up.
You have to understand a little bit about the colors because they will help you to understand Aristotle and his fallacy. When you see the color white, it means all the rays that are falling on the object are being reflected. Nothing is left behind. You can try a small experiment: you can make a fan with seven wings with all the seven colors of the rainbow on it and connect it to electricity. Then let all the seven wings of the fan move fast and you will be surprised — all colors have disappeared, there is only a white wheel moving. Small things in life… you don’t think about them. Why do you always use a white umbrella in the sun? Because it returns all the rays outwards, it does not absorb. That’s why in the hot summer under a white umbrella you feel cool, because the sun’s rays don’t enter. They are all reflected back. These are the two colors which are not included in existence itself, and these are the two colors on which the whole of Aristotelian logic depends: black and white.
The East never fell victim to any kind of Aristotelian logic. In the East not a single person ever proposed a logic which simply divides existence into black and white. Gautam Buddha proposes a logic which divides life in four. The alternatives become more, the choices become more. If somebody is not your friend, it does not mean he has to be your enemy. He may be simply indifferent or he may be simply ignorant. He may not know anything about you and your enmity at all. Or he may know, but he has no interest in your enmity; hence, he does not have any participation. Mahavira’s logic is perhaps the most perfect in the whole world. He accepts seven alternatives, the whole rainbow. Naturally his logic becomes as complicated as life itself. If you ask Mahavira any question, you cannot hope to get a yes or no answer. If you ask the same question to Aristotle, he will be absolutely ready, either yes or no, because those are the only two alternatives.
Mahavira has used a certain word in a way that is unique in the whole history of mankind. He never uses yes or no, because that creates the fallacy that life is divided in two; it is too simplistic. Mahavira always answers everything with a `perhaps’ — he keeps open other alternatives. That’s why he could not gather a great following. The greatest teacher, the most logical man, could not get a great following.
Even today, his followers are not more than three and a half million. After twenty-five centuries, even if he had converted thirty-five couples, they would have produced that many children by this time. Three and a half million… for the Indians it is not a big job. But he could not attract the ordinary mind. The ordinary mind found that whatever Mahavira says simply goes above his head. You ask him about God and he says, “perhaps.” You want some solid answer, whether God exists or not, and he says, “perhaps.” Perhaps what? What should we understand by perhaps? It does not mean God exists, it does not mean God does not exist. It simply means: it depends on you, from what aspect you look at it.
There is an aspect from which it is significant to say God exists; there is another aspect from which to say, significantly, God does not exist. And there is also a third possibility: to say that God exists and does not exist, together. There is also a fourth possibility… just to remain silent; not to answer, because the question is unanswerable. And in this way he goes on. By the time he has finished his discourse about the seven aspects of God, you return home more confused than you had ever been before. Who is going to follow this man? About everything he begins with “perhaps.” But he was the most logical man. Twenty-five centuries ago he talked about the theory of relativity. It took twenty-five centuries for the West to understand — when Albert Einstein brought the theory of relativity into the field of science. This man, Mahavira, must have had a tremendous insight into existence. He had no lab, nothing to experiment with except his logical correctness.
So, Mukta, you should not think that it is a misfortune. It is a blessing that you never got trapped into Aristotelian thinking. That has destroyed half of the mind of all humanity. It has made everybody look at life in terms of either/or, and life is much more mysterious. It is closer to Mahavira’s `perhaps’, than a simple yes and no.
I have heard about a great philosopher who had gone to challenge Mahavira about his philosophy of perhaps. And he said, “You give me any concrete example.”
Mahavira said, “The whole of life is the example; but for your pleasure, just visualize in a court a judge asks you, `Have you stopped beating your wife or not? Answer yes or no, choose. Have you stopped beating your wife or not?’ If you say, `Yes, I have stopped,’ it means you were beating her. If you say `no,’ it means you are still beating her. But it does not allow you any possibility to say, `I have never beaten my wife.'”
Life cannot possibly be answered in simple ways of yes and no. And now even the scientists in the West are getting rid of Aristotle. Particularly modern physics, after Albert Einstein, has dropped Aristotle and his logic. They have moved closer to Mahavira without knowing anything about Mahavira; because they have penetrated energy fields and they have found life is so complex, you cannot say yes, you cannot say no. You have to find something different, a third alternative. One logician has suggested a new word, which is being used and becoming more and more current, and that is `po’. When you cannot say yes, when you cannot say no, say po. But po means `perhaps’, it cannot mean anything else.
With Aristotle’s logic, Euclid created a certain geometry, Euclidean geometry. And as Aristotle’s logic is falling down, losing its credibility, two-thousand-year-old Euclidean geometry — which is still being taught in the colleges and the universities — is also losing its credibility in the eyes of great scientists. Because it was based on Aristotle’s logic, the base has proved false and now a thousand and one questions have arisen about Euclid’s geometry.
For example, Euclid says that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That is his definition of a straight line: the shortest distance between two points. Modern physics says that you cannot draw a straight line, because you are sitting on a globe. So though it may look like a straight line because it is so small, just go on increasing it from both the ends and finally you will meet again at the same point and you will say, “My God, it has become a circle.”
If it becomes a circle when stretched from both the ends, that means that when you were thinking it was a straight line it was only a part, a small part, of a vast circle. No part of a circle can be straight. It has to be an arc, but the arc is so small that it is almost invisible to the eyes.
All the definitions of Euclid have fallen flat. A line is that which always has length, but you cannot draw a line which has only length. A point is defined by Euclid as that which has neither breadth nor length; but you cannot draw a point in actuality. Euclid is absolutely fictitious.
Mukta, you are also fortunate that, although you have been born in Athens, in Greece, you remained out of the contagious disease of Aristotle and Euclid. It is not a misfortune, on the contrary it is a great blessing.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Rebel
Chapter title: Laughter is divine
11 June 1987 pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assaguoli, 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 New Dawn
- This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Beyond Psychology
- Light on The Path
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Dhammapada
- 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