09th September is the birthday of the famous Russian writer and philosopher Leo Tolstoy. Born in an aristocratic family in Russia in 1828, he was orphaned by the age of 9 and brought up by relatives. He lived a prodigal life of leisure and luxury as an adolescent. Abandoning his study of law and languages midway, Tolstoy started writing. During this phase he also ran up huge gambling debts. At 23, he joined the army serving in the artillery. Appalled by the deaths in warfare, soon he left the army. By the time he turned 30, Leo Tolstoy was transformed from a profligate and privileged society author to a non-violent and spiritual anarchist. He had 13 children and many grand and great-grandchildren mostly living outside Russia due to the public outrage and hostility towards czars and nobles. Tolstoy himself had renounced his aristocratic lifestyle and even the royalty from his books. He continued to live in Russia with his wife, with whom he was known to be irretrievably disengaged. He died in 1910 at the age of 82 on a railway station in Russia having fled his home the previous night.
His most famous novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina have been made into Hollywood movies. His highly acclaimed book A Confession deals with his own struggle with melancholy and existential crisis in his early fifties. It describes his search for an answer to the ultimate philosophical question: If God does not exist, since death is inevitable, what is the meaning of life?
Despite his prolific and extraordinarily brilliant work, Tolstoy did not win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Osho says nobody is more worthy of a Nobel Prize than Leo Tolstoy. His creativity is immense, he was unsurpassed by anyone. He was nominated, but refused by the committee because of his unorthodox stories on Christianity. The Prize committee opens its records every fifty years. When records were opened in 1950, researchers rushed to see whose names were nominated and cancelled and for what reason. Leo Tolstoy was nominated, but never given the prize as he is not an orthodox Christian.
Osho says Leo Tolstoy is one of Russia’s wisest men of the 20th century and his ideas on non-violence deeply influenced Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology. Mahatma Gandhi declared three persons his master. The first was Leo Tolstoy, the second was Henry Thoreau, and the third was Emerson.
Osho relates a beautiful anecdote from Tolstoy’s life. Osho says once Leo Tolstoy was asked – How many experiences did you have of divine ecstasy in your life? Tolstoy started crying. He replied – Not more than 7 in my life of 70 years, but I am grateful for those 7 moments and miserable too. In those moments it was evident that is could have been the flavour of my whole life but that didn’t happen. Those moments came and went on their own. But I am still grateful to God that even without any conscious effort on my part, once in a while He has been knocking at my doors.
PLEASE, IS THERE A WAY TO MAKE PEACE WITH MEN?
Prem Anna, the question you have asked reminds me of Leo Tolstoy, one of the greatest novelists the world has ever known. Strangely, one of his most famous novels, ANNA KARENINA… just your name. He was dying, and he had an old aunt who was a very religious person in an orthodox way.
Leo Tolstoy was a genuine spiritual being, but in a very rebellious way. He never went to church, he never bothered about priests; and the aunt was always worried. She thought that he was an atheist. And when he was dying, the doctor said, “It is only a question of a few minutes — or at the most one hour.” The aunt came close to Leo Tolstoy, whispered in his ear, “Now you have never listened to me, but at this moment make peace with God.” Leo Tolstoy opened his eyes and said, “But I have never been in any conflict with him. The very idea of making peace with God is strange to me because I have never quarreled with him; in fact we have never met.”
You are asking, “Please, is there a way to make peace with men?” You are asking as a woman.
The first thing is to make peace with yourself.
If you are peaceful, understanding, it is not difficult to make peace with men. In fact the man is always praying, “How to make peace with women?” After the whole day’s work he comes home tired, hoping for a few moments of peace, but they are not in his fate. The woman is full of energy; remaining inside the house she’s boiling up, gathering so much energy the whole day, that she is waiting… let that guy come home. And as the man enters the house, immediately some problem or other arises.
Every man feels tortured by women, and every woman feels tortured by men. This is strange, that millions of years have passed, men and women have had to live together, and they have not yet come to a certain understanding. Something seems to be basically wrong.
The story is the same from the very beginning… it has not changed. As Adam wandered about the Garden of Eden, he noticed two birds up in a tree. They were snuggled together, billing and cooing. Adam called the Lord, “What are the two birds doing in the trees?” “They are making love,” said the Lord. A little while later, Adam wandered into the fields and saw a bull and a cow together. Adam called the Lord, “Lord, what is going on with that bull and cow?” “They are making love, Adam,” said the Lord. “How come I don’t have anyone to make love with?” asked Adam. So the Lord said, “We will change that. When you awake tomorrow things will be different.” So Adam lay down beneath the olive tree and fell asleep. When he awoke, there was Eve next to him. Adam jumped up, grabbed her hand, and said, “Come with me. Let us go into the bushes.” And so they went. But a few moments later Adam stumbled out, looking very dejected, and called to the Lord, “Lord, what is a headache?”
The story is so old — from the very beginning. The reasons I see… first, is that
men and women cannot live in peace unless they live in freedom. Marriage is an imprisonment, it is heavy on both. Men and women can live peacefully only as friends, not as husband and wife. Every relationship is a bondage.
But to make it possible, the woman has to be financially independent, educationally equal to men. Politically, socially, in every way, she needs the equal opportunity to grow. To me, this is women’s liberation; and also man’s liberation. They both are enslaved by each other. Hence they are continuously fighting; you cannot love somebody who’s enslaving you, you cannot love somebody who has taken away all your freedom. You are going to take revenge with a vengeance.
The woman has her own ways of taking revenge… the headache is one of the techniques. Whenever the man wants to make love to her either she’s tired, or she’s not in the mood — most commonly she has a headache. Headache is such a thing, you don’t have to prove it. Even a physician has just to believe your word; he cannot make any judgment whether you are really suffering from a headache or not.But this is a natural consequence. The woman feels that she’s being used just as an object, a sexual object; that she is not being respected as a human being. In China, for centuries it has been believed that the woman is without a soul. Hence in Chinese law, if a husband kills his wife it is not a crime because if she has no soul she is just furniture. And if the owner can destroy his chair he can destroy his wife. And for centuries women were sold in the marketplaces just like any other commodity.
The whole history of man is so ugly, and what man has done with women is simply obscene; and naturally, the woman had no other way than to nag the husband, to torture him in different ways, burn his food, give him tea when it has become cold. I have heard: a man entered into a restaurant, and before entering he read on the board in front of the restaurant, “Here you will find yourself almost as if you are in your own home. We serve people the way they should be served.” A waitress came with the menu. The man ordered, “A few burned chappatis.” The waitress said, “Burned?” He said, “Just listen to my order. Some tasteless vegetables, uncooked. Things like that.” The waitress thought that this man is insane, but what to do? She went and prepared his strange order, and she placed everything in front of him and asked him, “Are you satisfied?” He said, “One thing more. Sit in front of me, and while I’m eating, you nag me.” The woman said, “This is strange. I’m a waitress here.” He said, “Whoever you are — but in front it is written, `You will find our services just like in your home.’ Call the manager! Otherwise, sit in front of me and nag me. I want to feel at home.”
The woman has been taking revenge — which cannot be condemned; because the sole responsibility goes to man who has taken her social freedom, who has taken her opportunities for education, opportunities for financial equality. He has deprived her completely, and imprisoned her in the home. The home is no more a home, but a prison.
There can be peace between men and women, but we will have to change the whole past that has been our heritage. No marriage, because life cannot be lived through contracts. No marriage, because love is enough. Law is not needed, law cannot be above love. Love should be the only decisive factor, whether people want to live together or not. The children should be possessed by the commune so that the burden of children is no more a problem; and now, people have to live together just because of children…
Children should be a part of the commune, the responsibility of the commune; and men and women should live like friends as long as they want to live together. And the day they feel things are becoming bitter, it is time to move… with no grudge, with no complaint; but only with gratitude for all those beautiful moments that they have given to each other in the days they were together. It is not only possible, it is going to happen; because men and women cannot suffer anymore. This century will see the end of the old, rotten structures, and the beginning of a new man, a new humanity.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Discourse series: The Rebel
Chapter title: The field of awakening
13 June 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on prominent writers and philosophers like Albert Camus, Aristotle, Byron, Descartes, Fyodor Dostoevsky, D.H. Lawrence, H.G. Wells, Hegel, Huxley, John Milton, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Kant, Leo Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Rabindranath Tagore, Shakespeare and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- Beyond Psychology
- The Dhammapada: the way of the Buddha Vol.1,3,7,9,10,12
- The Transmission of The Lamp
- I am That
- The Perfect Master
- The Golden Future
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind