And then you ask: WHY DO THEY POISON THEIR RIVERS, THEIR AIR AND THEIR OWN FOOD?
That is again creating a mass suicide very slowly. When you live unintelligently, insensitively, you live such a dull kind of life that your interest naturally starts moving towards death. That’s why there are constant wars. And the periods that you call days of peace are not much concerned with peace, they are only preparations for a new war. So either you are in war or you prepare for war. There are only two kinds of periods in history: actual fighting and preparation for the fighting. There has never been a period of peace. The peace is absolutely false, pretentious. Underneath the peace, underground, you are preparing for another war.
Why is there so much attraction for war? — because only when people are dying do they become a little alert. When there is danger you become a little alert. You don’t know how to be alert in any other way. That’s why when there is war you will see people’s faces more alive. Something is happening. Otherwise nothing happens. It is the same old tale told by an idiot, full of fury and noise, signifying nothing. Every day you get up and the same life starts in the same rut. Every night you go to bed and you have again ended a repetition of a day. And you can be certain that tomorrow you will do the same again. When war happens, things are no longer a routine; suddenly there is news in the air; something new is happening. So people are destructive — they create war.
And they create many kinds of war. They have been constantly fighting with nature. And
nature is our life, nature is our very source.
But even a man like Bertrand Russell writes a book with a title, CONQUEST OF NATURE. ‘Conquest’, the very idea is aggressive, it is as if we are against nature or nature is against us. We are one.
We are nature.
The trees are nature — are people not nature? The air is nature and the sun and moon are nature — are the eyes and the smiles and the tears not nature? Just as the earth goes on growing into trees, so it goes on growing into people too. It is the same nature, it is the same ecology, it is one whole — and it is interdependent. And everything depends on everything else.
But the Western mind has been very aggressive. Nature has to be conquered. You have to fight amongst yourselves, you have to fight with nature; not only that, you have to fight with yourself. These are the three fights: man fights with other men, man fights with nature, man fights with himself. When man fights with other men it is politics. When man fights with nature it is science. And when man fights with himself it is religion.
This is a foolish kind of approach — as if the whole thing depends on fighting. Whom do you call the religious man? — the one who fights with himself continuously, repressing, cutting his life into fragments, choosing, judging, destroying, becoming split and schizophrenic. This is the same attitude — an aggressive, violent attitude. It shows in politics because it is the same man. It shows in religion because it is the same man. It shows in what you do with nature.
You ask me: WHY DO THEY POISON THEIR RIVERS, THEIR AIR AND THEIR OWN FOOD? — because they are poisoned with violence. So whatsoever they do becomes poisonous. They are suicidal because they don’t know what life is and they don’t know how to live it. They don’t know the joy and the celebration. They don’t know that it is a gift, that it is a great gift. They don’t know gratitude. So they go on being destructive in every possible way. The Western attitude has been growing more and more towards death and every day it is bringing death closer to this planet. Any day this planet can explode into utter annihilation. The whole intelligence — technology, science, politics, everything — is directed towards one thing: how to commit a global suicide.
But it is the same man. I would like you to become just the contrary: the man who loves, who does not fight; the man who loves himself.
That’s why my religion is a love for yourself. The man who loves himself loves others. Then there will be a totally different kind of politics; it will be based on love. The man who loves himself and loves other people, loves nature too — because trees are people, birds are people, animals are people. Then there will be a different kind of science in the world. But the science has to come from religion, because religion is the deepest core. Because you hate yourself, you hate others, you hate nature. Those are just reverberations of the original hate that you go on carrying with yourself.
WHY DO THEY JUSTIFY IT ALL WITH THEIR REASONING, PSYCHOLOGY AND LAWS? What else can they do? One has to justify everything. In fact, when you are doing something wrong, you have to justify it immediately, otherwise you yourself will become aware of the wrong that you have done. And you will be a criminal in your own eyes. To avoid that, you have to find rationalizations. Once a scientist was staying with me. I love my garden to be a jungle, so I had a beautiful jungle around my house. The scientist said to me, ‘Are you aware of what you are doing? If you allow these trees to grow so close to the house they will run over the house. These are dangerous things. There is a constant fight between man and trees. If you don’t keep them away, within years their roots will enter into your walls and they will destroy your house.’ He said, ‘I hate trees.’ That has been the attitude of man: destroy. If you take that attitude then everything becomes inimical — even poor trees, innocent trees. And there is some fact to it, so you can base your reasoning on it. Yes, it is true that if trees are left to grow completely in freedom then they will run over your towns and your houses. That’s true, it is factual. But to base your whole life on that small fact and make it a philosophy, is wrong.
The other thing is as much a fact as this — we exist with the trees. Destroy all the trees and you will die. You breathe oxygen in, trees exhale oxygen. You exhale carbon dioxide, trees inhale carbon dioxide. So when you are surrounded by trees you are more alive. It is not just poetry. ‘When you go into a jungle and a great jubilation comes to your heart, you suddenly feel more alive — as if the greenery makes you also green. It is not just poetry, it is pure science. It is because there is more oxygen, more life throbbing all around, more vitality. And when you breathe that oxygen in, your blood is purified; you can throw the toxins out more easily and you live at the maximum. So there is a partnership with the trees: they take your poison in and purify it and create oxygen for you; you take oxygen in, you use the oxygen and throw the carbon dioxide outside. Trees use carbon dioxide as their food. So there is an absolute partnership.
Man cannot live without trees and trees cannot live without man. Animals are needed for trees and trees are needed for animals. They are not separate; they are part of one rhythm. This too is a fact. And life should not avoid this. One has to understand the totality of it; and one has to live in such a way that no one becomes, or pretends to become, the whole. There is no need to destroy. There is no need to fight. That is the approach of Tao, the approach of Sufism, Zen.
There is a famous Zen story….
A king told his old carpenter that he would like a certain table. The old man said, ‘I am very old and my son is yet not ready. He is learning by and by. But I will try, I will do my best. Give me time.’
For three days the old man disappeared in the forest. After three days he came back.
The king asked, ‘It takes three days to bring a little wood for the table?’
The old carpenter said, ‘Sometimes it takes three days, sometimes three months. And sometimes you may not find wood for three years. It is a difficult art.’
The king was puzzled. He said, ‘Explain it. ‘What do you mean? Explain in detail.’
And the man said, ‘First I have to go on a fast — because only when I am on a fast does my mind by and by slow down. When my mind slows down, all thoughts disappear. all aggression disappears. Then I am no longer violent, then there is pure compassion and love — a different vibe. When I feel that vibe of no-mind, then I go into the forest, because only through that vibe can I find the right tree. With aggression, how can you find the right tree?’ And I have to ask the trees themselves whether one of them is willing to become a table. I go, I look around, and when I feel that this tree is willing…. That willingness can be felt only when I have no mind. So there is fasting, meditating — and when I become absolutely empty, I simply roam around with the trees to have a feel. ‘When I feel that this tree fits, I sit by its side and ask its permission — “I am going to cut a branch from you. Are you willing?” If the tree says yes wholeheartedly only then do I cut — otherwise who am I to cut its branch?’
Now this is a totally different approach. There is no fight between the man and the tree, there is a friendship. The man tries to fall en rapport with the trees, and he asks their permission. This is absurd for a Western mind. The Western mind says, ‘What nonsense are you talking about? Asking a tree? Have you gone crazy? And how can the tree say yes or no?’ But now even Western science is gradually becoming aware that the tree can say yes or no. Now sophisticated instruments exist which can detect the moods of a tree — whether the tree is willing, whether the tree is unwilling, whether the tree is happy or unhappy? Now subtle instruments have been developed — just like a cardiogram. You can have a cardiogram of the tree. Electronic instruments can detect the moods of the tree.
When a woodcutter comes around the tree the tree is shaken with fear, is sad, is afraid, clings to her life. No Taoist will cut a tree in that state, no, not at all. If the tree is not willing, then who are we? When the tree on its own is ready to share, then only can it be cut. Now this table will have a different quality to it. It has been a gift from the tree; it has not been taken away. The tree has not been robbed, it has not been conquered. It will not be difficult to understand that this table will have a different vibe to it. It will have something sacred about it. If you put this table in your room you will create a certain kind of space around the table which will not be possible with other tables. It will be there befriending you because you befriended it. It will be there as part of your family, not as a limb cut from an enemy.
The Western mind has been too aggressive against itself and against nature. It has created schizophrenia against people, it has created politics, war, and it has created the ecological crisis.
But things have gone now to the extreme. Either man has to turn back and drop the Western aggressive attitude or man has to get ready to say goodbye to this planet. This planet cannot tolerate man anymore; it has already tolerated him for long enough.
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 2
Chapter title: Earth and Sky Apart
30 August 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘nature, ecology, environment, interdependence, life’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 9
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- From Death to Deathlessness
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- Hari Om Tat Sat
- Just Like That
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 1
- Unio Mystica, Vol 1
- Guida Spirituale
- Om Mani Padme Hum
- Come Follow To You, Vol 3
- The Golden Future