Osho on Religion and Politics
I HAVE HEARD YOU SAY THAT RELIGION AND POLITICS ARE OPPOSITE DIMENSIONS: A RELIGIOUS MAN CANNOT BE INTERESTED IN POLITICS, AND A POLITICIAN CAN NEVER BECOME RELIGIOUS WHILE REMAINING A POLITICIAN. IF THIS IS TRUE, IS THERE NO CHANCE FOR A BETTER WORLD?
I have said that, and I repeat it: the really religious person cannot be interested in politics. And the politician, remaining a politician, cannot have any religious experience, any taste of that flight to the unknown. But I have never said that there is no hope for a better world. This is true, that the politician cannot become religious — for the simple reason that politics, all politics, politics as such, is power politics. It is will-to-power. One wants to dominate, one wants to possess, one wants to be the decisive factor in people’s lives. These are the qualities of the ego.
Obviously this type of person cannot be religious because religion is basically the experience of egolessness.
In religion there is no place for will-to-power. In fact, in religion there is no place even for will. Will-to-power is far away; even will-to-be is not there. One is in the hands of existence, in a deep let-go. This let-go is what I call religiousness.
That’s why I said that religion and politics are opposite dimensions.
But don’t be worried; it does not mean that there is no hope for humanity, no hope for the future. I am a man who hopes even against hope. It is impossible for me to be hopeless. And when there is hope you can always find a way. The proverb is: “Wherever there is a will there is a way.” I don’t think it is right. Everywhere there is will, and there is no way. Some idiot must have made this proverb. But wherever there is hope there is always a way. I would like to change the proverb. I don’t have any right to change anything, but I am simply crazy, you can’t help it. I go on changing the meanings of words because my feeling is that no word has any ultimate meaning. All meanings are given meanings. If somebody else can give a meaning to it, why can’t I give a meaning to it too? Words in themselves are just sounds. A word means what you want it to mean — it depends on you. So I would like to change this old proverb. For my people, will is poison because will ultimately leads to politics. Will means, “I want to be something, somewhere, somebody.” I teach you will-lessness; that’s my meaning of let-go. The will clings, the will tries to force its own way; it wants existence to follow it.
When I say will-lessness, I am saying to you, don’t force your way. Just let nature take its own course. You just be a cloud. Wherever the wind blows the cloud moves, with no resistance, with no grumpiness: “I wanted to go south and what is happening? — I am going north, I hate it! I was destined towards the south, dreaming of the south, and everything is shattered by this wind.” No, the cloud simply moves with the wind. There is no conflict, there is no resistance. The wind and the cloud are not two. If the wind suddenly changes its movement — from going north it starts moving towards east or west — the cloud does not even raise a question: “This is inconsistent. We were going north; I had agreed, irrespective of the fact that I was destined to go to the south. I had sacrificed my goal just to be with you. Now this is too much! Somehow I managed to make myself agreeable to the idea of going to the north. And you seem to be just mad! You have started moving towards east or west, this is inconsistent. This is not friendly, this is not the way of lovers. This is a divorce. I cannot always be a follower, so that wherever you go I have to go. I am not just a hen-pecked husband. If you want to go to hell, go! I am not going.”
No, there is no question even that the wind is inconsistent. The cloud has no will; hence no conflict, no question, no doubt. The way of the wind is accepted as the way of existence, that’s what existence wants. The cloud is in a tremendous let-go, it has no will of its own. The cloud is not and cannot be a politician.
The religious man cannot be interested in politics for the simple reason that he has nowhere to reach — he has reached there already. He is there where the politician is trying to reach and never reaches — cannot reach because of the very nature of things. The religious person is already there. He has not reached there, he has discovered that he has always been there, always and always, from the very beginning; he has never been anywhere else. Even if he wants to move, it is impossible. He can only be where he is, nowhere else can he move. How can you move from yourself, from your being? And nothing is higher than that, nothing is more blissful. There is no need either. Hence the religious man cannot be interested in politics, because the politician’s way is against the flow, against the current.
The politician is trying to move above everybody’s head; whatsoever the cost, whatever evil means he has to use does not matter. All that matters is that he is determined to become somebody significant; he has to leave his name in the pages of history, although nobody reads those names…
The politician suffers from a tremendous inferiority complex. Deep down he knows he is nothing, and he wants to prove to the world that he is huge, powerful. He wants to stand first in the line of the whole humanity. But the trouble is, humanity follows a general universal law; it is one of the fundamental laws of the universe that things move in circles. The earth goes around the sun, the moon goes around the earth, the sun itself is going around some bigger sun which we have not yet been able to discover. But everything moves in circles, and that is true about humanity too. We are standing in a circle and moving in a circle, so there is always somebody ahead of you. This is the trouble, you cannot get out of it; somebody is always ahead of you. Yes, somebody is behind you — that gives a little satisfaction, but the person who is ahead of you kills it immediately. You are trying to pull the person back by his leg and be ahead of him. He will try his hardest not to be pulled that way, he will kick you as hard as he can. But even if you succeed …. If you fail, you fail; but if you succeed, then too you fail, this is the trouble, because again you find that there is somebody else ahead. And you will always find that, because it is a circle.
As you go on succeeding, go on succeeding, go on succeeding, one day you will find that a man who was once behind you is ahead of you. That is the ultimate failure. When somebody becomes a president, a prime minister, then he comes to know: “My God! The man ahead of me now is the same man who was behind me when I started the journey.” And you can see it every four years in America, and in India every five years: the president is begging for the vote of the man who was behind him. Now he has to ask and beg a vote from him, now his presidentship, his premiership depends on the vote of that man; he is ahead. I have been saying again and again that the leaders are the followers of their own followers. It is a very strange game. You have to pretend to be first, and yet you know the last man has the power to keep you there or not to keep you there. The politician’s life is a life of constant struggle and constant anguish. He tries hard to get beyond them, but if he remains a politician this is not possible. All these sufferings, miseries, are part and parcel of his political game…
The politician cannot be religious while remaining a politician. Remember the condition. The religious person is on such a fantastic journey, what does he care about being a president of a country, or a prime minister, a king or a queen? What value do these kings and queens have? In fact, there are only five kings in the world: four in the playing cards and one in England. And they have a similar value: nothing much. Do you want to be the sixth king? Politicians for centuries have been living in hell, for the simple reason that they think that through this hell they will attain one day to the highest power and position. But what are you going to do with the highest power and position?
This education minister was one day sitting with me in his car; we were just going for a ride, and a dog started chasing the car. I said to the driver, “Slow down a little — the poor dog is huffing and puffing so much, just slow down. Let him catch the car and see what happens.”
The politician said, “What will happen?”
I said, “You will see — exactly that which happens to a politician.”
The driver slowed down the car. The dog came close to us — and looked silly, because now what?
I told the education minister, “This is your position — now what? Chasing the car, he was far happier. At least there was something to do, a great challenge. But once he reaches the car he feels embarrassed, because now the challenge has disappeared. And he looks all around: he must be foolish, why are you staring? He never thought about why he is chasing the car, what he is going to do if he gets to the car. Even if he sits in the seat of the driver, what is he going to do?”
These great politicians sitting in great power in the White House and the Kremlin — just dogs sitting in a car looking all around, feeling silly, thinking, “Is this the end?” There is nowhere else to go. Once you have reached the White House you have nowhere to go. You are really caught — and by your own efforts — in a prison.
The politician cannot be religious because religion means understanding, awareness, silence, harmony, and a deep let-go with existence, a feeling of being at peace with everything as it is: no desire to be anybody else, no desire to be anywhere else, no desire for tomorrow. All is fulfilled in this moment.
The politician cannot afford this. And the religious man who is in this situation, in this ultimate state of being, for him politicians are just foolish people, although he may not say so just out of etiquette.
I am not a man of etiquette, I don’t know manners. I simply call a spade a fucking spade, because that’s what it is. I have made the spade actually what it is. The old proverb is, a spade is a spade. That doesn’t sound of any import. Of course a spade is a spade — so what! It does not say anything about the spade. So I simply say that these are all idiots. But there is still hope for humanity. The hope is not that religious people will become politicians, or that religious people will start taking an interest in politics, no. But religious people can become, should become, rebellious against all political stupidity. There is the hope. The religious person should not remain just contented with his blissfulness and allow all these idiots to go on doing harm to innocent humanity.
To me this is the only compassion: To rebel against the whole history of humanity. The religious person should rebel.
In the past he has not done that. That’s why I say, in the past religion has been just immature. Even the greatest religious personalities in the past will look like pygmies compared to the authentic religious person who is going to be born, because
the authentic religion is basically rebellion — rebellion against all superstition, rebellion against all stupidity, rebellion against all the nonsense that goes on being imposed on the human mind continuously. A rebellious religious man is a fire; his words will be words on fire. His silence is not going to be the silence of a cemetery. His silence will be the silence of a song, of a dance. His silence will be the silence of two lovers meeting, and not capable to find words to convey their love. Their love makes them wordless.
The moment lovers start talking too much you can understand; love has disappeared. Conversation has started; conflict is not very far away. Conversation is the beginning, soon there will be argument. Where else can conversation lead except to controversy? But two lovers when they are really in love, throbbing with a new energy, feel themselves stuck, suddenly wordless. Even to say “I love you” seems to be difficult, seems to be far below the fact of love. It seems somehow to be sacrilegious to bring words into something which is so silent, and so glowing in silence, and so alive in silence.
The religious person is silent, but it is not the silence of a cemetery, not the silence of a dead man. It is the silence of one who is really alive, fully alive, intensely alive. This intense aliveness is going to become his rebellion.
What have I been doing for thirty years continuously? — fighting every kind of nonsense. Was there any reward, was I seeking any reward out of all this fight? No, it was not for any reward. It was just the way my aliveness was asserting itself. It was not goal-oriented, there was no motivation; I was simply being myself. I enjoyed all that fight. In fact the people who came in conflict with me were very much surprised because it was an agony for them. To me it was an ecstasy. They could not understand how I was enjoying it. And I was surrounded on all sides with enemies. Alone, single-handedly I was moving among millions of people and against them, saying things which were very hurtful to their beliefs.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: From Darkness to Light
Chapter title: I am a man who hopes against hope
22 March 1985 pm in Lao Tzu Grove
Osho has spoken on ‘politics, religion, rebellion, silence’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- Come Follow To You, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6, 7, 8
- From Darkness to Light
- The Empty Boat
- The Rebel
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- From Misery to Enlightenment
- I Say Unto You, Vol 2
- Satyam Shivam Sundram
- The Secret
- Beyond Psychology
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Transmission of the Lamp
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 3