Religion : Opium of the People

Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosophereconomisthistoriansociologistpolitical theoristjournalist and socialist revolutionary. Today is his birthday. Due to his political publications, Marx became stateless and lived in exile with his wife and children in London for decades, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and publish his writings, researching in the reading room of the British Museum. His best-known titles are the 1848 pamphlet ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and the three-volume ‘Das Kapital’ (1867–1883). Marx’s political and philosophical thought had enormous influence on subsequent intellectual, economic and political history.

Marx’s critical theories about society, economics, and politics, collectively understood as Marxism, hold that human societies develop through class conflict. For Marx, class antagonisms under capitalism would eventually lead to working class conquest of political power and the establishment of a classlesscommunist society. Marx actively pressed for its implementation, arguing that the working class should carry out organised proletarian revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic reform.

Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and his work has been both lauded and criticised.His work in economics laid the basis for some current theories about labour and its relation to capital. Many intellectuals, labour unions, artists and political parties worldwide have been influenced by Marx’s work, with many modifying or adapting his ideas.

Osho has spoken on jews and praised for their intelligent mind. He says ‘Jews have given the greatest minds to the world; the people who have dominated this century were all Jews. Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, the three great minds who have dominated, who have left their immense impact on modern humanity, were all Jews. Jews snatch more Nobel prizes than anybody else. That is one part: the mind can become very intelligent. But the other part is, it can become very cunning, mean, calculative.’

Osho says ‘Karl Marx seems to be right, at least in a certain sense, that religion has been used as an opium to dupe people and dull their intelligence. Real religion is not opium, but real religion is rare. It exists only when there is a living master — otherwise priests go on pretending that they have the keys of religion. They don’t have any keys; all that they do is serve the politicians.’


Zen Fire and Zen Wind  —  that is what is missing in communism.

I have to go into a deeper analysis…

Karl Marx was an intellectual giant, but he had no idea of religiousness other than Judaism and Christianity. Both are religions of prayer. Both believe in God, which is a fiction. Both believe in things which are irrational.

For example, Moses passing through the sea, and the sea giving way  —  nature makes no exceptions. And Jesus pretending to be the only begotten son of God is absolutely absurd to any rational man like Karl Marx. Jesus’ miracles are mythological. He made Lazarus come out of his grave, raised him back to life  —  and he could not do anything when he was on the cross! He could not even produce a little water  —  he was thirsty, it was a hot day, and he was asking continuously for water. And this man has touched people and restored their eyes; even by touching his robe people have lost their paralysis. He has walked on water, and this man could not fly with the cross towards God, his father? He was utterly helpless on the cross. That shows all those miracles are simply invented by the Christians to befool the world. Even Christian scholars are being embarrassed by all these miracles, by his virgin birth, by his shouting towards God on the cross, “Have you forsaken me?”

Karl Marx was aware only of Judaism  —  he was a Jew, just as Jesus was a Jew  —  and he was aware of Christianity and all its crimes against humanity. Burning millions of women alive, forcing them to confess that they are having intercourse with the devil, continuous torture to any woman  —  beating, not letting her sleep, not giving her food, putting ice on her chest for hours…These were the people who, by chance, invented the traction machine, because they were putting women on a traction machine which pulled the legs from one side and the head and the arms from the other side. One woman was suffering from backache  —  suddenly her backache disappeared. Now that traction machine has been transferred from the churches to the medical colleges, to hospitals. I know it from my personal experience!

And when they were torturing those people on the traction machine, sometimes the legs would come out, sometimes the arms would be broken. Sometimes the head would be stretched so much that the woman would start saying, “I confess that I have been having sex with the devil.” And once she confessed, then they told her how to describe the devil: that he has two horns, that his sexual machinery is forked  —  all the details that she had to confess in a special court appointed by the pope, the grand jury. The poor woman has to accept it; otherwise they will torture her to death. So what is the point? She knows that confessing it means being burnt, but death seems to be more peaceful than this life of continuous torture. More people have been killed by the Christian church than by anybody else.

Karl Marx was reacting to these two religions, which are not religions at all but fictions, superstitions, cults. He was not aware of Taoism, he was not aware of Lao Tzu, he was not aware of Gautam Buddha and Mahavira. He was not aware that there are religions in the world which don’t believe in God, which don’t believe in prayer, which don’t believe in heaven and hell. Because of this unawareness of the whole Eastern phenomenon, he created communism as materialism, dialectical materialism. It was out of ignorance. Otherwise I have absolute trust that if he had been aware of the Eastern research into the interior space of man…Karl Marx was not an ordinary being, but a very extraordinarily intelligent person. He would have understood that Christianity and Judaism are not the only religions in the world. Buddhism has not killed a single person, and converted the whole of Asia just by simple dialogue, just by intellectual conversation, just by leading people into meditation.

Karl Marx was right in his reaction against Christianity and Judaism. There is certainly no God as a creator. And because he denied God, as a corollary  —  a logical corollary  —  he denied the human soul. It was not his experience, it was simply a logical thing. To accept the human soul, which is not material, would be self-contradictory in his philosophy. By vocation I am a logician, and by mistake I am a mystic. But my mistake has paid me tremendously. Now I know that logic is just mental gymnastics. All the conclusions derived by Marx were based on logic, were based on thinking, philosophizing. He was not aware at all that there is something like meditation, that there is some way to go inwards. And the human soul, the human spirit, is not a by-product of matter. It has its own existence. The matter in the body seems to be alive, only because of the presence of consciousness in it. Once the consciousness leaves the body, the body is simply dead, a corpse. But because Karl Marx had no experience of meditation… And the West was not the right place for meditation; the whole Western mind was objective, and both Judaism and Christianity are objective  —  their God is outside.

There is no God outside, it is fiction. Karl Marx was denying fiction, not religiousness, but he thought this fiction was the only religiousness. Based on Karl Marx’s logic, the Soviet Union  —  the first communist country, the greatest experiment in the whole history of mankind  —  has remained hollow within. There is a deep urge for significance, for meaning, for eternity. A life which is just material has no meaning. You are just a machine, a robot. ( At birth you start breathing, mechanically, and at death you stop breathing. If this is the only life, between the cradle and the grave, then this life has no meaning. What meaning can it have? And then there is no good and no bad. Even killing a person you are not committing a murder, because it is only matter. If you kill your chair I don’t think any court is going to take action against you, that you murdered the chair.

In China, because they believed that women have no souls, husbands used to kill their wives. In China there was no law against murdering your wife, because she is just like furniture. You use it, and when you think it is useless, just finish with it! Find some new furniture. The same is the situation in Thailand. The woman has no soul and no rights; she is not human. But in accordance with Karl Marx, the Soviet Union was based on materialism. It was good in the beginning because it destroyed all the orthodox Christians and their monasteries and their monks. It turned the churches into hospitals, into schools, into colleges. Big monasteries  —  because the Russian Orthodox church is one of the oldest churches, older than the Vatican, and much more orthodox than any other church in the world. You will not believe that in the name of celibacy, the Russian Orthodox church allowed men to cut off their genitals. Every year when Christmas came, hundreds of people would cut off their genitals in the name of becoming celibate. Women were not left behind: they would cut off their breasts. But neither by cutting off your breasts do you become celibate, nor by cutting off your genitals do you become celibate, because the sex center exists in the brain, not in the genitals. The genitals are an extension of a center in the brain.

That’s why if you start just imagining about a beautiful woman, immediately your genitals start moving. You are only thinking  —  you can do it right now! The thought is in the mind. It is immediately transferred to the genitals, but it always begins in the mind. The genitals don’t have any thinking power. They don’t have eyes to see which woman is beautiful. It is your eyes which see and inform the brain, and then the genitals start functioning. If you really want celibate people, then they need a brain operation. The center of sex should be removed. But then you will be simply impotent  —  not celibate.

Karl Marx was right, that such religions should be finished. They are against humanity. They protect poverty and they protect the rich. They are against revolution, they are against any change  —  obviously, he was right to call them the opium of the people, the hope of the hopeless. If Christianity and Judaism were the only religions, then the Soviet Union would not have any need, any urge to find the inner world!

But just think about it. You cannot have the outside world without having the inside world; they exist together like two sides of the coin.

And there are scientific methods available. Zen is the most scientific method to inquire into your consciousness. It takes you beyond mind into a space called no-mind. No self, but pure awareness, and you have a taste of eternity and immortality. This is what is missing in Soviet communism.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind

Chapter #2

Chapter title: Raise the temple of consciousness

31 January 1989 pm in Gautam the Buddha 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:

  1. The Hidden Splendour
  2. The New Dawn
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  5. Beyond Enlightenment
  6. Beyond Psychology
  7. Light on The Path
  8. The Discipline of Transcendence
  9. The Dhammapada
  10. From Bondage to Freedom
  11. From Darkness to Light
  12. From Ignorance to Innocence
  13. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
  14. From Personality to Individuality
  15. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
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