7th December is the birthday of the French philosopher Gabriel Marcel. He is famous for his book The Mystery of Being that explores existential philosophy. Marcel completed MA in Philosophy from The Sorbonne at a surprisingly young age of 20!
Hoping that his ideas reach a wider audience than just academia, Marcel wrote over 30 plays and only a dozen books! But he was disappointed that his reputation was entirely based on his philosophical treatises.
A major theme in Marcel’s work is the dehumanising effect of technology: how man’s subjectivity is being obliterated by a technologically-driven society. He argued that ‘scientific egoism’ devalues ‘mystery’ in existence, giving man a deluded perception of human life as a series of technical problems and solutions. In the end, man is convinced by science to rejoice in his own annihilation.
OSHO says the modern existentialists – Gabriel Marcel, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jaspers – found that life is accidental, absurd and meaningless. That there is no purpose in life and that joy is just hope! They created great despair and hopelessness in the intelligentsia of the world. Suicide looked like the only solution to this sorrow. In the East, whenever persons felt that life has no meaning, they have tried to find the meaning within themselves. The intelligent people of the East have always turned towards meditation. The West was looking for meaning outside; and there is no meaning outside!
I am not giving you any answer as such. What I am giving you is an insight into the mystery of life, not an answer but an insight into the mystery of life. If my answer provokes the mysterious in you, I have succeeded. If my answer becomes an answer to you, I have failed.
Don’t take my answers as answers. I am not a schoolteacher. I have no answers to give you. That which I have to give you is the sense for the mysterious and the miraculous.
But I understand. It is difficult – I speak one language, you speak another language. When I say ‘language’ I don’t mean English, German or French. I mean… my language comes from my being; your language comes from your being. We may be speaking the same language on the surface, but deep down it is almost untranslatable, what I am saying to you. It is impossible to translate it into your language.
Then why am I saying it at all? I am just crazy. I cannot resist. It is overflowing. There is no way to prevent it. I have to say it – just like a cloud is burdened with rainwater and it has to rain! Whether you are able to soak it in or not, that is not the point. Rocks may not be able to soak it in. Or, some soil may be able to soak it in and will be full of greenery and beauty will arise. But that is all undecided. It is an open thing. It may happen, it may not happen. It depends how you let me in.
I have heard a beautiful story:
A few years ago, in France, an extraordinary meeting took place. Some leading philosophers from England and America had been invited to meet with their continental counterparts. They were to exchange ideas, share experiences, and discover the extent of possible ‘communication’ among them. In a very congenial atmosphere, meetings were held, discussions took place, and speeches were made. Many friendships must have been established and no little quantity of wine consumed, but apparently no philosophic communication took place.
For instance, Gabriel Marcel was trying to explain his ideas about God, grace and transcendence. He continually met resistance from the audience, from other philosophers: “But what do you mean by that? But surely you don’t mean this? How is it possible that…? Isn’t it true that…? etc, etc…. “
After a while Marcel became exasperated, and the audience as a whole restless. Finally, someone in the audience asked Marcel why he did not simply say what he meant. Since he had been trying to do just this for some time, he merely replied, “Perhaps I can’t explain this to you; but if I had a piano here, I could play it.” And because there was no piano, no communication was possible.
But I am suspicious: even with a piano it may not have happened; because the other may not understand the language of music either. Yes, exactly that’s what is happening here.
What I am trying to say to you is a kind of music that I have heard. It has not been heard verbally. It is in the sound of the running water. It is in the wind passing through the pine trees. It is in the songs of the birds. It is in the silence of darkness. It is in the dancing rays of the sun. It is all over the place! But it is a music. And unless you are capable of understanding this music, you will not be able to understand me. You will go on misunderstanding me.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Gautam Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune, India.
The Perfect Master, Vol 1
Chapter title: Via Confusiva
24 June 1978 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on notable philosophers Aristotle, Bakunin, Berkeley, Bukharin, Camus, Carlyle, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Kropotkin, Marcel, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Russell, Sartre, Schiller, Socrates, Voltaire, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Communism and Zen Fire Zen Wind
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The Divine Melody
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing
- The New Dawn
- The Golden Future
- The Sun Rises in the Evening