Reverence for Life
02nd October is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who needs no introduction anywhere in the world! His successful campaign based on non-violent resistance for India’s independence from British rule has inspired freedom and civil rights movements around the world. In 2007, the UN voted to establish Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as International Day of Non-Violence.
Osho has spoken extensively on Mahatma Gandhi in His discourses. Osho says You can either creative or destructive – these are the only two choices. If your energies are not released into creativity, they are bound to become sour, bitter, poisonous. Then they will make you angry, full of hatred and violence. And there are two ways for that violence to be channelised: one is to be violent with others and the other is to be violent with yourself. Buddha is against both types of violence, so am I. But the politician – Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao – is violent with others. Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of nonviolence, is violent upon himself. That’s how your saints and mahatmas are created. Politicians are sadists and saints are masochists; both are psychologically ill. Buddha says if you live an authentic life; when you accept both polarities of your being, the love and the hate, in you and in others; then you become authentic. Buddha is not telling you to repress. He is simply saying, become more aware. Repression because that is an unconscious effort; it does not transform you.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHY OF NONVIOLENCE AND PARTICULARLY ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN DOGMA OF TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK?
I am not a philosopher. The philosopher thinks about things. It is a mind approach.My approach is a no-mind approach. It is just the very opposite of philosophizing.It is not thinking about things, ideas, but seeing with a clarity which comes when you put your mind aside, when you see through silence, not through logic. Seeing is not thinking. The sun rises there; if you think about it you miss it, because while you are thinking about it, you are going away from it. In thinking you can move miles away; and thoughts go faster than anything possible. If you are seeing the sunrise then one thing has to be certain, that you are not thinking about it. Only then can you see it. Thinking becomes a veil on the eyes. It gives its own color, its own idea to the reality. It does not allow reality to reach you, it imposes itself upon reality; it is a deviation from reality.
Hence no philosopher has ever been able to know the truth. All the philosophers have been thinking about the truth. But
thinking about the truth is an impossibility. Either you know it, or you don’t. If you know it, there is no need to think about it. If you don’t, then how can you think about it? A philosopher thinking about truth is just like a blind man thinking about light. If you have eyes, you don’t think about light, you see it. Seeing is a totally different process; it is a byproduct of meditation.
Hence I would not like my way of life to be ever called a philosophy, because it has nothing to do with philosophy. You can call it philosia. The world “philo” means love; “sophy” means wisdom, knowledge — love for knowledge. In philosia, “philo” means the same love, and “sia” means seeing: love, not for knowledge but for being — not for wisdom, but for experiencing. So that is the first thing to be remembered.
Nonviolence is a philosophy to Mahatma Gandhi; it is not a philosophy to me, it is a philosia. That’s where I have been constantly struggling with Gandhian philosophers, thinkers. Gandhi wrote his autobiography entitled EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH. Now that is an utter absurdity; you cannot experiment with truth.
When you are silent, truth is there in its fullness, in its absolute glory. And when you are not silent, truth is absent. When you are silent, truth does not appear like an object before you. When you are silent, suddenly you recognize you are the truth. There is nothing to see. The seer is the seen, the observer is the observed; that duality no more exists. And there is no question of thinking. There is no doubt, there is no belief, there is no idea.
Gandhi was trying to experiment with truth. The simple implication is: you know what truth is; otherwise how are you going to experiment with it? And for a man who knows truth, what is the need to experiment? He lives it for him there is no alternative. To Gandhi everything is philosophy, to me everything is philosia. Gandhi is a thinker, I am not a thinker. My approach is existential, not mental.
Non-violence — the very word is not appealing to me, it is not my taste, because it is negative. Violence is positive, non-violence is negative. Nobody has paid any attention to the simple fact that you are making violence positive, solid — and non-violence is simply negating it. I call it reverence for life, I don’t use the word non-violence. Reverence for life — it is positive; the nonviolence happens just of its own accord. If you feel reverence for life, how can you be violent? But it is possible you can be non-violent and still you may not have any reverence for life…
I have no philosophy of non-violence, but I have a way of life which you can call reverence for life. And this is a totally different perspective. Non-violence simply says don’t kill others. Do you think that is enough? It is only a negative statement: don’t kill others, don’t harm others. Is that enough?
Reverence for life says share, give your joy, your love, your peace, your bliss. Whatsoever you can share, share. If you are reverent towards life then it becomes a worship. Then everywhere you feel God alive. Then watching a tree becomes worship. Then feeding a guest becomes worship.
And you are not obliging anybody, you are not doing a service; you are simply enjoying yourself. The same way those people are enjoying torturing, you are enjoying sharing. So I want it to be remembered by you once and for all that reverence for life is my approach. Non-violence comes automatically, there is no need to bother about it. And when it comes of its own accord it is never ugly…
Never do any harm to anybody, but never allow anybody to do any harm to you either; only then can we create a human world. We have tried the other way in India, and the experiment has completely failed. Twenty-five centuries of slavery, slaughter, rape, and still nobody raises a finger and says that Buddha and Mahavira are responsible for it. They created this impotence in the whole country, this weakness in the whole country. No, I am not in favor of creating impotence, slavery, and provoking people to do violence to you.
Never do violence of your own accord, but never allow anybody else to do it to you either. Only then is there a possibility of creating a human world.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse name: From Ignorance to Innocence
Chapter title: The other cheek: the masochist’s slap-up feast
30 November 1984 pm in Lao Tzu Grove
Osho has spoken on ‘Gandhi, Non-violence, Politics, India, Independence, Partition, Nationalism, Secularism, Communism’ in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Bird on the Wing
- And the Flowers Showered
- The Dhammapada: The Way of The Buddha
- The Art of Dying
- Be Still and Know
- Beyond Psychology
- From Darkness to Light
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Come Follow to You Vol.1-2
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- The Osho Upanishad
- The New Dawn
- The Messiah Vol.1-2
- The Miracle
- No Mind: The Flowers of Eternity