Truth is Eternal
Osho on Democritus
Born in 460 BCE in Abdera, Thrace, Democritus was an ancient Greek philosopher, a central figure in the development of philosophical atomism and of the atomic theory of the universe. Talking about Democritus as a person, the anecdotes about Democritus, attest to his disinterest, modesty, and simplicity, and show that he lived exclusively for his studies. He was cheerful, and was always ready to see the comical side of life, which later writers took to mean that he always laughed at the foolishness of people. Popularly known as the Laughing Philosopher (for laughing at human follies), the terms Abderitan laughter, which means scoffing, incessant laughter, and Abderite, which means a scoffer, are derived from Democritus. To his fellow citizens he was also known as “The Mocker”.
Talking about his work, None of Democritus’s writings have survived to the present day complete; only fragments are known from his vast body of work which include On Manliness or On Virtue, On the Mind, On the Rhythms and Harmony, On Contentment and others.
Democritus has been highly criticised too as his atomism has been the subject of extensive critical discussion in recent decades, as scholars have tackled core interpretive issues, including the intrinsic properties of Democritus’s atoms and his understanding of the infinite void.
Osho, talks about individualism when he mentions Democritus and says, “Individuation is not the unity of mind but the disappearance of the mind. When you are utterly empty of the mind, you are one. To be a no-mind is the process of real individuation. Jung was groping in the dark, coming very very close — just as Democritus was coming closer to the atomic structure of matter — but he was as far away from real individuation as Democritus was far away from real, modern physics. Modern physics is not a speculation, it is a proven phenomenon”
IS TRUTH A DISCOVERY OR AN INVENTION?
Once, when commenting upon Isaac Newton’s statement that ‘the purpose of the scientist is to sail the oceans of the unknown, and discover the islands of truth,’ Jerome Bruner impetuously burst forth with the claim: ‘Nonsense — the purpose of the scientist is to sail the oceans of the unknown, and INVENT the islands of truth!’ The emphasis — Isaac Newton says ‘to discover’, and Jerome Bruner says, ‘Nonsense. It is to invent.’ And I would like to say to Bruner: Bruner, this is all just bullshit. The purpose of the scientist is to sail the oceans of the unknown and REDISCOVER the islands of truth. It is neither discovery nor invention.
Discovery means ‘for the first time’. That is stupid. Eternity has been in the past — all the truths that we know again and again, are only rediscovered. They have been discovered many times; then we get fed-up, then we start forgetting a truth. It becomes too much, or boring — then we forget the truth. Then, after a few centuries, again we rediscover it.
Truth is not something that is discovered for the first time; it is rediscovered again and again. Truth is eternal.
We can move away from it — it is very natural for the human mind, it gets bored very soon. But once we have forgotten, the old again looks like new. And this is what historians say too.
For example, in this age, the truth of the atom is very important. It is one of the greatest discoveries — but it is not new. Democritus talks about it in ‘Eunon’, in Greek philosophy. Mahavira talks about it in India. Kanad, even before Mahavira, talked about it — so much that his name, his very name ‘Kanad’ means atom. He talked so much about the atoms that his name became Kanad — ‘the atomist’. We have forgotten his real name, he talked so much about atoms. His whole philosophy is atomic.
Now again we will forget. After a few centuries, Einstein will be forgotten — as Kanad is forgotten, as Democritus is forgotten, as Mahavira is forgotten. Once we have forgotten, when we stumble upon the same truth again, we call it ‘discovery’.
Isaac Newton is not right, truth is never a discovery. But Bruner is also not right, he says it is an invention. Truth is not an invention. I understand what Bruner means, he means that all truths are man-invented mind-constructs. We create them, they are not really there. We imagine them — it is imagination. He also has some point in it, because again and again we go on changing our truths. Truth cannot change, our imagination changes. When our imagination changes, we talk about another truth.
So all truths, according to Bruner, are inventions of the mind. But if the truth is an invention of the mind, then I would like to ask Bruner, ‘What will you say about lies?’ Then truth and lie will mean the same. A lie is an invention, an illusion is an invention — a mind-construct. A dream is an invention, a projection. Then what is the difference between a truth and a lie?
According to Bruner, there will be no distinction; both are mind-constructs. But there is a distinction. That’s why I say
truth is neither a discovery nor an invention, truth is a rediscovery. And truth is not a mind-construct — because only when mind ceases to function is there truth.
That’s why I don’t call scientific truths ‘truths’; they are only facts. Only religious truths are real truths; they are not facts. Because the scientist never loses his mind. He works THROUGH the mind, he works AS the mind — it is the mind that is trying to find out. Religious truth is ultimate truth, pure truth — with no lies, with no mind involved in it. And the basis of all religion is to drop the mind. That’s what meditation is all about — to put the mind aside, and then look. Look without the mind, look without this mechanism of the mind. Without the mind there can be no construct — because when the constructor is not there, there cannot be any construct. When the mind is not there, mind-constructs disappear. Look into things — but don’t think, don’t contemplate, don’t bring thinking in. Just look.
Science discovers facts. Facts are millions — that’s why, in science, truth is not singular, it is plural. There are truths, many truths. Biology has its own truths, and chemistry its own, and physics its own, and mathematics its own. — and so on, so forth. There are many truths, because there are many minds.
Religion talks about a single truth. It is not about truths — ONE. Because when the mind is dropped, you are no more separate from the universal, you are one with the universal. In that universal consciousness, in that cosmic expansion, whatsoever is known is truth. And it never never changes, it remains the same. What Buddha discovered, that’s exactly the same as what Jesus discovered later on — rediscovered. What Jesus rediscovered is the same as what Eckhart discovered — rediscovered. What Eckhart discovered is the same. Millions of saints have discovered it, all over the world — Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Christians and Jews, Sufis and Hassids and Zen people — they all have discovered the same thing again and again.Each individual comes to it alone; again he discovers it. But what he discovers is the same cosmic consciousness, is the same satchitanand — bliss, truth, consciousness.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse name: Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 2
Chapter title: There is No Back of this Book
28 June 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on notable philosophers Aristotle, Berkeley, Bukharin, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Schiller, Socrates, Voltaire, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Philosophia Perennis Vol.1-2
- Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky
- The Invitation
- Just Like That
- One Seed Makes the Whole Earth Green
- Light on the Path
- The Sun Rises in the Evening
- The Empty Boat
- Beyond Psychology
- What Is, Is, What Ain’t, Ain’t
- From Personality to Individuality
- From Death to Deathlessness