Sannyasin: A Scientist, A poet, A Mystic
Osho on Science and Religion
OSHO, I AM A SCIENTIST WORKING ON THE QUESTION OF HOW LIFE ORIGINATED FROM NON-LIVING MATTER. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THIS STUDY OF HOW NON-LIFE IS TRANSFORMED INTO LIVING MATTER IS VITAL TO UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP OF SCIENCE TO RELIGION. THE REASON IS THAT THE STUDY IS A CLUE TO HOW OUR EMOTIONS AND SPIRITUALITY DEVELOPED IN THE FIRST PLACE. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
RELIGION AND SCIENCE ARE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE, and because they are diametrically opposite they are complementaries. Religion cannot support science, science cannot support religion. They are bound to oppose each other — in their very opposition is their complementariness. Hence, anything that science is going to discover is of no value to religion. In fact, EACH scientific discovery makes the existence of religion more and more difficult.
Science tries to demystify existence, hence the question ‘how?’ — how did life arise out of matter? Religion is basically a different approach: it does not want to demystify existence; its whole approach is to reveal the mystery of it. It is not a search for the answer: it is diving deep in the question itself, it does not ask any questions; it takes life for granted. The question is not how life arose: the question is how life should be lived, the question is how life should be celebrated. The scientific question will be: What is love? How does love arise? What is the causality? And the religious question will be: How to drown yourself in love? How to be in love? How to be love itself?
Science will come to certain clues; those clues look stupid in the eyes of a mystic. If you ask about love, science will answer with something which is nothing but chemistry: hormones, chemicals. And the grandeur and the splendour of love are reduced — reduced to a very mundane world. What does love have to do with chemistry? Love certainly has something to do with alchemy, but nothing to do with chemistry. It is a transforming force, but it cannot be reduced to hormones.
Life cannot be reduced to any answer. Once life is reduced to a certain answer life becomes meaningless, it is no more worth living. It is like coming across a lotus flower. The poet will enjoy the beauty of it; he will not be bothered where it comes from. He will simply enjoy the fragrance, the colour, the sun shining over it, the dewdrops on the lotus petals. And the mystic will dance around it, because he is not seeing only the lotus flower but he is seeing something of the transcendental in it. Hidden behind the lotus, its beauty, its splendour, its majesty, its magic, are the hands of God. The mystic not only feels the roseflower or the lotus flower, he also feels the mysterious presence of the unknown force called God surrounding it, protecting it, caring for it, caressing it.
The poet simply sees the lotus flower, the mystic goes beyond, he goes higher — he takes the rose flower or the lotus flower to the ultimate peak. And the scientist? — he will think about where it comes from. It comes from the mud. The scientist will start moving deeper and deeper into the mud; he will start enquiring about the mud and the elements that are in the mud. Just look at these three approaches: the scientist goes lower than the lotus, the mystic goes higher than the lotus, the poet remains with the lotus. In the ultimate analysis the scientist will think that the lotus is nothing but mud — a form of mud — and the mystic will think the lotus is nothing but a manifestation of God. And for the poet, a lotus is simply a lotus. Now, how can these three approaches meet?
The mystic cannot agree with the scientist — in fact, the mystic will think that the scientist is destroying something tremendously important. By all his logical answers, objective answers, he is destroying the subjectivity of the lotus. The mystic may agree a little bit with the poet, but only a little bit, not the whole way. He will nod to the poet: he will say, “You are on the right track, you have taken the first step. but don’t get stuck there — go on. The lotus is not enough: you have to find the face of God in the lotus. And if you cannot find the face of God in the lotus, where else are you going to find it?”
Adolph Smith, your question is important — but don’t remain in this confusion that if you can find some clue as to how matter becomes life you will be bringing some understanding between religion and science… you will be talking about mud! And the poet will not be convinced by you, because he knows the lotus. And what to say about the mystic? He will simply feel pity for you.
Everything can either be reduced to its beginnings — that’s what science goes on doing — or it can be raised to the ultimate peak; that’s what the work of religion is. And poetry is just the bridge between the two. The poetic approach is in a way closer to both science and religion. If you really want to understand religion, you have taken a wrong route. Religion does not think that life needs any answers. Life needs to be lived in its totality, life needs to be celebrated. Life needs to be penetrated — that is the only way to know it. Not in the lab, not going deep into life cells, not by analysing the elements; those are constituents of life, but life is more than the sum total of its parts.
Somebody is playing on a guitar, beautiful music. The scientist will become interested in the guitar, not in the music. He will think, “From where is it coming?” He may become interested in the fingers of the musician and in the instrument. He will analyse the instrument and he will find some wood some strings, this and that — but that is NOT music! And if he analyses the fingers of the musician he will find some blood, some bones, skin — and that is not music! Music is something more. The hands of the musician and the guitar are simply an opportunity for the beyond to descend to the earth. The poet will listen to the music; he will not be worried about the musician and the musical instrument. He will be drunk with the music. But the mystic will dance with abandon, because in music he will hear the ultimate music. The poet will forget about the musician and the instrument, and the mystic will even forget about the music, because it reminds him of something deep in his own being. It reminds him of what Kabir calls the music of SOHAM — I am that. He will forget all that is happening outside; it has triggered a process in his being. He is transported into another world.
ADOLPH SMITH, if you really have any interest in religion then you will have to meditate — analysis won’t help, scientific investigation won’t help. And remember, I am not against scientific investigation — if you are interested in it, DO it! But know perfectly well: it is not going to bridge science and religion — they cannot be bridged. There is no need to bridge them either. They have different functions to fulfill; there is no need to create a synthesis between them — because the synthesis will impoverish both, it will not enrich.
Existence remains alive through the tension of the polar opposites: the negative and the positive, man and woman, birth and death, darkness and light, love and hate — religion and science. These are the polar opposites. Life needs them. Without them life will become a stagnant pool, it will not be a dialectical process any more. Life is dialectics; it moves through the thesis and the antithesis, and again the synthesis becomes a thesis and creates antithesis. That’s how life goes on progressing. Religion and science don’t need to be synthesized — they need to be purified. Science should be pure science, utterly scientific; and religion should be pure religion, utterly mystic.
I would like you to be reminded of a great statement of a Christian mystic, Tertullian. Somebody asked him, “Why do you believe in God?” And he said, CREDO QUIA ABSURDUM — I believe in God because he is absurd.” Now, what kind of answer is this? But this is the answer of a mystic, not the answer of a scientist. The scientist will try to prove, will answer WHY he believes; he will argue. But Tertullian simply says, “Because God is absurd, hence I believe. I believe in the mysterious, in the miraculous, in the unanswerable, in the unknowable.”
If you have any interest in religion… and you can be both! I am not saying that a man who is a scientist cannot be religious — a man who is a scientist can be religious — but then he will have to create a dialectics in his own being. He will have to be very conscious. When he is working in the lab he has to forget all about religion; religion should not interfere in his scientific work. And when he leaves the lab and sits in his meditation chamber he should forget all about analysis, experimentation, observation — there he should be a lover, in prayer, in meditation.
A scientist can be both. And my approach is this, that I would like many many people to be both scientists and religious. And if some person can be all three, that is my vision of a real, true sannyasin: a scientist, a poet, a mystic. In him humanity will have blossomed to its ultimate possibilities. The potential in him will have been transformed into actuality. He will have bloomed in all possible ways. He will be a multi-dimensional man.
And to be a scientist does not mean that you have to be a physicist or a chemist or this and that — to be a scientist means having a scientific approach. There are problems which can be tackled only by science. When somebody comes with an illness to me, I tell him to go to Navanit, to Darshan, to Amrit, to Hamid — go to the doctors! Your illness needs a scientific approach. In India it happens that ill people go to the saints for their blessings, and the East has remained ill, poor, because of this nonsense. If you are poor, don’t go to the saints; go to the technologists, go to the scientists, go to the economists, enquire “Why are we poor?” But you go to the saints and enquire “Why are we poor?” You are foolish and so are your saints. And they answer you, why you are poor; they tell you, they have to, because when you question them they cannot show their ignorance. They tell you because in your past lives you have been committing so many sins, that’s why you are suffering. You ask a foolish question and you will get a foolish answer.
Go to the scientist when it is a question about the material world. And if you have fallen in love, then don’t go to a scientist — avoid him! Even if he meets you on the way, escape, because he will destroy your whole love. He will say, “It is all nonsense. It is just the attraction between female and male hormones — don’t be befooled. Those hormones are deceiving you.” Don’t go to the scientist; if you want to kiss your woman, don’t go to the scientist. He will say, “This is dangerous. All kinds of infections are possible. And millions of germs are transferred in a single kiss.” He will make you so afraid that even if you kiss, you will not be totally there in it. And you will start carrying Dettol and things like that with you — so kiss and then immediately wash, or before you kiss, wash. Don’t go to the scientist when you are in love — go to the poet. He knows about love.
And when you want to know the ultimate mystery, the poet cannot be of much help either; he remains on the surface. When you want to know the ultimate mystery, go to a mystic, become a disciple to a Master, because those secrets can only be imbibed in deep trust, surrender, love.
Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.
Chapter title: In Search of the Miraculous
19 April 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘religion, love, mystic’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Art of Dying
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Divine Melody
- The Hidden Splendor
- The Messiah
- The Path of the Mystic
- The Path of Love
- Sufis: The People of the Path