Science is exterior, Religion is interior
Osho on Science
I HAVE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT THE SENSE OF SCIENCE LIES IN ITS UTILITY FOR HUMAN NEEDS; IN HELPING TO PROVIDE ENOUGH FOOD, FINDING TREATMENTS AGAINST SICKNESS, CREATING MACHINES TO DELIVER MAN FROM HARD AND STUPID WORK, ETCETERA. UNTIL NOW I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN CONVINCED THAT THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SCIENCE, BUT RATHER WITH THE POPULAR ATTITUDE TOWARDS SCIENCE: THAT IT CAN DISCOVER THE INTERIOR LAWS OF LIFE.
NOW I HEAR IN YOUR WORDS THAT SCIENCE ITSELF IS A ROOT OF THE MISERIES IN THE WORLD, BECAUSE IT DESTROYS THE MYSTERIES OF LIFE AND HENCE LEADS TO AN ANTIRELIGIOUS ATTITUDE. ARE YOU AGAINST SCIENCE?
I am not against science, but I am certainly for a different kind of science, with a totally different quality to it. Science as it exists now is very lopsided; it takes account only of the material, it leaves the spiritual out of it — and that is very dangerous.
If man is only matter, all meaning disappears from life. What meaning can life have if man is only matter? What poetry is possible, what significance, what glory? The idea that man is matter reduces man to a very undignified state. The so-called science takes all the glory of man away from him. That’s why there is such a feeling of meaninglessness all over the world. People are feeling utterly empty. Yes, they have better machines, better technology, better houses, better food, than ever. But all this affluence, all this material progress, is of no value unless you have insight — something that transcends matter, body, mind — unless you have a taste of the beyond. And the beyond is denied by science.
Science divides life into two categories: the known and the unknown. Religion divides life into three categories: the known, the unknown and the unknowable. Meaning comes from the unknowable. The known is that which was unknown yesterday, the unknown is that which will become known tomorrow. There is no qualitative difference between the known and the unknown, only a question of time. The unknowable is qualitatively different from the known/ unknown world. Unknowable means the mystery remains; howsoever deep you go into it, you cannot demystify it. In fact, on the contrary, the deeper you go, the more the mystery deepens. A moment comes in the religious explorer’s life when he disappears into the mystery like a dewdrop evaporating in the morning sun. Then only mystery remains. That is the highest peak of fulfillment, of contentment; one has arrived home. You can call it God, nirvana, or whatsoever you like.
I am not against science — my approach is basically scientific. But science has limitations, and I don’t stop where science stops; I go on, I go beyond. Use science, but don’t be used by it. It is good to have great technology; certainly it helps man to get rid of stupid work, certainly it helps man to get rid of many kinds of slavery. Technology can help man and animals both. Animals are also tortured; they are suffering very much because we are using them. Machines can replace them, machines can do all the work. Man and animals can both be free. And I would like a humanity which is totally free from work, because in that state you will start growing — in aesthetic sense, sensitivity, relaxation, meditation. You will become more artistic and you will become more spiritual because you will have time and energy available. I am not against science, I am not antiscience at all. I would like the world to have more and more of science, so that man can become available for something higher, for something which a poor man cannot afford.
Religion is the ultimate in luxury. The poor man has to think about bread and butter — he cannot even manage that. He has to think about a shelter, clothes, children, medicine, and he cannot manage these small things. His whole life is burdened by trivia; he has no space, no time to devote to God. And even if he goes to the temple or to the church, he goes to ask only for material things. His prayer is not true prayer, it is not that of gratitude; it is a demand, a desire. He wants this, he wants that — and we cannot condemn him, he has to be forgiven. The needs are there and he is constantly under a weight. How can he find a few hours just to sit silently, doing nothing? The mind goes on thinking. He has to think about the tomorrow.
Jesus says: Look at the lilies in the field; they toil not, they don’t think of the morrow. And they are far more beautiful than even Solomon, the great king, in all his grandeur, ever was. True, the lilies toil not and they don’t think of the morrow. But can you say it to a poor man? If he does not think of the morrow, then tomorrow is death. He has to prepare for it; he has to think from where he is going to get his food, where he is going to be employed. He has to think. He has children and a wife, he has an old mother and an old father. He cannot be like the lilies of the field. How can he avoid toil, labor, work? — that will be suicidal. The lilies are certainly beautiful and I totally agree with Jesus, but Jesus’ statement is not yet applicable to the greater part of humanity. Unless humanity becomes very rich, the statement will remain just theoretical; it will not have any practical use. I would like the world to be richer than it is. I don’t believe in poverty and I don’t believe that poverty has anything to do with spirituality. Down the ages it has been told that poverty is something spiritual; it was just a consolation.
Just the other day, a French couple wrote a letter to me. They must be new arrivals here, they don’t understand me. They must have come with certain prejudices. They were worried, very much worried. They wrote in the letter that, “We don’t understand a few things. Why does this ashram look luxurious? This is against spirituality. Why do you drive in a beautiful car? This is against spirituality.” Now, for these three or four days I have been driving in an Impala. It is not a very beautiful car; in America it is the car of the plumbers! But in a sense I am also a plumber — the plumber of the mind. I fix nuts and bolts. It is a poor man’s car. In America, the people who use Chevrolet Impalas, etcetera, their neighborhood is called the Chevrolet neighborhood — that means poor people’s neighborhood. But this French couple must have the old idea that poverty has something spiritual about it. Man has lived so long in poverty that he HAD to console himself, otherwise it would have been intolerable. He had to convince himself that poverty is spiritual.
Poverty is not spiritual — poverty is the source of all crimes.
And I would like to tell the couple that, “If you want to cling to your beliefs and prejudices, this is not the place for you. Please get lost! — the sooner the better, because you may be corrupted here. Listening to me is dangerous for you.”
To me, spirituality has a totally different dimension. It is the ultimate luxury — when you have all and suddenly you see that, although you have all, deep inside there is a vacuum which has to be filled, an emptiness which has to be transformed into a plenitude. One becomes aware of the inner emptiness only when one has everything on the outside. Science can do that miracle. I love science, because it can create the possibility for religion to happen.
Up to now, religion has not happened on the earth. We have talked about religion but it has not happened; it has not touched the hearts of the millions. Only once in a while a person has been able to become enlightened. In a big garden where millions of bushes and trees are, if only once in a while in thousands of years a flower comes to a tree, you will not call it a garden. You will not be thankful to the gardener. You will not say, “The gardener is great, because look: after one thousand years, out of millions of trees, one tree has again blossomed with one flower.” If this happens that simply shows it must have happened in spite of the gardener! Somehow he has forgotten about the tree, somehow he has neglected the tree, somehow the tree has escaped his grip. Man has lived irreligiously: talking about God, certainly — going to the church, to the temple, to the mosque — yet his life showing no flavor of religion.
My vision of religion is totally different. It has nothing to do with poverty. I would like the whole earth to become as rich as paradise — richer than paradise — so that people can stop thinking about paradise. Paradise was created by poor people just to console themselves that, “Here we are suffering, but it is not for long. Only a few days more, or a few years, and death will come and we will be transported into paradise.” And what a consolation! — that those who are rich here will be thrown into hell. Jesus says a camel can pass through the eye of the needle, but the rich man cannot pass through the gate of heaven. What consolation! The poor people must have felt very satisfied, contented, that, “It is only a question of a few days more: then you will be in hellfire and I will sit in the lap of God, with all the luxuries, with all the riches, with all the joys that I am deprived of here and you are enjoying.” The idea of paradise seems to be just a revenge.
I would like this earth to be a paradise — and it cannot happen without science. So how can I be antiscience? Peter, I am not antiscience.
But science is not all. Science can create only the circumference; the center has to be that of religion. Science is exterior, religion is interior. And I would like men to be rich on both sides: the exterior should be rich and the interior should be rich. Science cannot make you rich in your inner world; that can be done only by religion. If science goes on saying there is no inner world, then I am certainly against such statements — but that is not being against science, just against these particular statements. These statements are stupid, because the people who are making these statements have not known anything of the inner.
Karl Marx says religion is the opium of the people — and he has never experienced any meditation. His whole life was wasted in the British Museum, thinking, reading, collecting notes, preparing for his great work, DAS KAPITAL. And he was so much into trying to gain more and more knowledge that it happened many times — he would faint in the British Museum! He would have to be carried unconscious to his home. And it was almost an everyday thing that he would have to be forced to leave the museum — because the museum has to close sometime, it cannot remain open for twenty-four hours. He had never heard about meditation; he knew only thinking and thinking. But still in a way he is right, that the old religiousness has served as a kind of opium. It has helped poor people to remain poor; it has helped them to remain contented as they are, hoping for the best in the next life. In that way he is right. But he is not right if we take into consideration a Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Lao Tzu — then he is not right. And these are the really religious people, not the masses; the masses know nothing of religion.
I would like you to be enriched by Newton, Edison, Eddington, Rutherford, Einstein; and I would like you also to be enriched by Buddha, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed, so that you can become rich in both the dimensions — the outer and the inner.
Science is good as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough — and it cannot go. I am not saying that it can go and it does not go. No, it CANNOT go into the interiority of your being. The very methodology of science prevents it from going in. It can go only outwards, it can study only objectively; it cannot go into the subjectivity itself. That is the function of religion.
The society needs science, the society needs religion. And if you ask me what should be the first priority — science should be the first priority. First the outer, the circumference, then the inner — because the inner is more subtle, more delicate. Science can create the space for real religion to exist on the earth.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 4
Chapter title: Meditate a little bit
29 August 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘science, technology, paradise, richness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- From Death to Deathlessness
- From Darkness to Light
- I Am That
- The Last Testament, Vol 4
- The New Dawn
- The Osho Upanishad
- The Secret
- Sermons in Stones
- Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 1, 2
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1, 2, 3
- YAA-HOO! The Mystic Rose
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 2