CAN YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT VIRTUE?
Fantastic! Here, we are not concerned about virtue at all. Virtue is for people who are unconscious; it is a training for them to say, “Don’t say bullshit, say fantastic!”
Virtue is a training a discipline imposed on unconscious people. All the religions talk about virtue as being against sin. They have made fixed categories. Some things are condemned as sin and some things are praised as virtues.
The virtuous man will have immense reward after death, and the sinner will be condemned to hellfire for eternity. This is the strategy of fear and greed, because man can be easily manipulated by these two things — fear and greed. Heaven is nothing but greed exaggerated; so hell is fear exaggerated, and human beings are afraid of eternal hellfire. Out of fear they somehow try to avoid whatever is sin.
And the trouble is anything that gives you joy, anything that gives you pleasure is sin. Out of fear they lose all contact with life, they become dry and dead before their death. There is only one consolation: that they are declared saints, they are worshipped. Just their ego is satisfied greatly; otherwise they are suffering deep down immensely.
That is why your saints cannot laugh: laughter needs a little juice. There is no juice in them; everything is dry. They are deserts where nothing grows green. So on the one hand the pressure of fear…I have seen pictures of the Middle Ages: there were Christian preachers who made so much fuss about hell and its tortures that just to be in the church listening to their sermons many ladies used to faint. Just the idea that they were going into such detail… what would be done to you? The people thought the preachers were great according to how much they could infect people’s psychologies. The greatest preacher was one in whose congregation almost everybody fainted. A deep fear psychology, a deep guilt psychology on the one hand, and on the other hand greed to be fulfilled as a reward. You will be getting everything in paradise: all those things which are sins here on the earth, they will also be available to you. Mohammedans are against alcohol, but in their paradise there are rivers of alcohol. You don’t have to go to a small pub, you can drink, you can drown, you can swim. All the rivers, they don’t consist of water — pure wine. Here it is condemned: you should not fall in the trap of love. A woman is condemned and in the heaven — in every religion’s idea of heaven — women are freely supplied. Of course, according to your virtue you will get. If your virtue is great perhaps, Sophia Loren — it all depends on your virtue…
Religions have used fear to prevent you from living, and greed to help you so that you can be patient and hope that great things are ahead. Just the small things you are leaving, and for eternity you will enjoy all the pleasures that you want — and you don’t have to pay for them. Virtue is the currency of heaven. The more virtuous you are, the bigger a bank balance you have in heaven. I don’t teach you virtue because your virtue is false, because deep down there is greed. I teach you only awareness. Out of awareness whatever you do is virtue according to me. And out of unawareness whatever you do is sin according to me. And according to me, your sins are not going to take you to hell. Your sins immediately give you hell — here, just now. And your virtues are not going to give you an eternity of paradise. Your virtues give you joy, blissfulness, the moment you act with full awareness.
The punishment and the reward is immediate: the reward follows your action. But it depends where your action will lead you. It can be unconscious action, then hell herenow. It has nothing to do with geography; it is something to do with your psychology. Acting consciously, you are in paradise wherever you are. Once you have learned, you will not ask, “What is virtue?” You will ask, “What is awareness? What is consciousness?” You will ask, “What is meditation?” — because that is going to make you conscious and make you alert. What brings misery is sin. Whatever brings joy is virtue. Alfred North Whitehead has made a beautiful statement: It requires a very unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious. To me, it is absolutely obvious that virtue or sin, heaven or hell are secondary. The primary is your alertness, your awareness, but people won’t ask the obvious. These are by-products, and by getting entangled with by-products you will be in trouble…
Just don’t get into nonsense; otherwise, you will always feel what Leonardo da Vinci has confessed in his letters: I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have. Now, Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest geniuses, and whatever he has done is incomparable. There is nobody else who even comes close to him. But even such a great man feels a little guilt, “I have not reached the quality it should have.” This is the atmosphere that religions have created in the world. They don’t allow anybody to be at ease, even the greatest genius. They go on telling you that you are still not doing right; you are still far away from the goal. You are still unworthy; you are always unworthy. They will not leave you at peace so that you can enjoy life and love life and be grateful to God, and be grateful to the universe — which both mean the same to me. God is not a person. It is this whole universe — these trees, these clouds, the sun, the stars, you and everybody, whether asleep or awake, whether committing sins or virtues, you are part of one organic universe.
If you commit a sin… The word `sin’ has been contaminated by the religions; otherwise it simply means in its roots, forgetfulness, unawareness. It means exactly what I am saying to you. Sin is your unawareness. Any action done in unconsciousness is sin. But religions have completely destroyed the original meaning of the word. Whatever you are doing consciously is virtue and there is no ready-made list of what are virtues, because in a different situation, the same thing may become sin. The thing that was virtue in one condition, in one context, may not be virtue in another context; it all depends…
Mohammedans have been allowed by their founder, Mohammed, four wives, and it is perfectly virtuous to have four wives. Mohammed himself married nine wives. Obviously he was a prophet, no ordinary man, but, it was perfectly right in those times because the Arabs were continuously fighting and killing. But only men were killed; it was against their culture to kill any woman. The women were raped, but not killed. So there was a strange situation; there were four times more women than men. If he had insisted that monogamy was virtue, as is being insisted all over the world — polygamy or even bigamy is a crime, is a sin — he would not have been right. Because if monogamy had been virtuous, what would have happened to the three women who are left without men? They would corrupt the whole of society. They will become prostitutes and the whole society would become an ugly scene. So Mohammed is perfectly right; I support him.
But not now in India, where women and men are equal as they are everywhere, nature keeps a balance, an exact balance. To keep the balance nature has to take care: it gives birth to one hundred and fifteen boys when it gives birth to one hundred girls, because fifteen boys will pop off before the time of marriage — boys are weak and fragile. The ordinary idea that women are weak and fragile is just male chauvinistic imposition. Nature knows better: fifteen boys per hundred are going to die. Girls don’t die; they have a greater resistance against diseases. They are not so often sick and they live longer than men, five years longer all over the world. So by the time the marriageable age comes, there are a hundred boys and a hundred girls. Monogamy seems to be absolutely right in this context, but Mohammedans go on insisting that it is part of their religion… So even in India they are allowed to have four wives. It is such an ugly situation because it means three men will remain without wives. So the Mohammedans abduct women from other religions. Hindus particularly are very touchy people. If a woman has been forcibly taken by the Mohammedans to their homes, even if they have not touched her she will not be accepted back in the Hindu fold, she has to go to the Mohammedans. She has fallen below the dignity of a Hindu.
So Mohammedans have been continually stealing women from other societies. They have to, because what to do with the three men that are without women? Those three men will start relationships with others’ wives and that will create a mess. And the Indian constitution, which, in the name of religion, doesn’t want to interfere in any religion, cannot do anything to prevent Mohammedans from this polygamy. And those four women that they marry, they use as economic, financial help; they work and the husband rests. This is great! The Mohammedan priests go on insisting on no interference, because a man with four women can create four children per year, very easily, but a woman with four men cannot create four children; she will create only one child. The population of Mohammedans goes on increasing as nobody else can increase the population the way they can. So you will not be surprised that India has been divided; Mohammedans have taken Pakistan and made it separate. The country has been cut into three parts: one side is Pakistan, given to Mohammedans; another side is Bangladesh, given to Mohammedans. And still, within forty years, in India Mohammedans are again number two to Hindus.
Again they can ask for another country. And you will also be surprised that India is a Hindu country but the number of Mohammedans in India is more than in any Mohammedan country in the world — not even Arabia, or Egypt, or Iran, or Libya, or Palestine… No Mohammedan country has so many Mohammedans as India has. India is the greatest Mohammedan country in the world if you take the number of the Mohammedans. And the number goes on growing four times more. Hindus are simply puzzled what to do because soon they will be outnumbering Hindus. They have taken Pakistan, they have taken Bangladesh, and it is not far away when they will be the majority and Hindus will become the minority in their own country.
Situations, contexts should be taken into account and that is possible only if you are living a very alert and conscious life; otherwise you will follow dead, ready-made things which may have been relevant at some time. Those times have changed and they have become irrelevant, but the list continues to be the same. So I don’t give you any list. I have been asked by priests, Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, that I should make a clear-cut statement: what are sins, what are virtues and what are my fundamental principles of religion? I said, “My first fundamental and the last fundamental is that religion cannot be a fixed thing. It has to be spontaneous. It has to come out of your awareness. Nobody can decide it. No catechism can be given according to me.
I can only teach you awareness and then you find out with your awareness, with your own light where to go, what to do. Anything done with awareness is virtue. Anything done with unawareness is sin.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Invitation
Chapter title: Virtue is the currency of heaven
2 September 1987 am in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Osho has spoken on ‘Virtue, awareness, herenow, unawareness’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Christianity: The Deadliest Poison and Zen: The Antidote to All Poisons
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 2, 5, 6, 8
- The Golden Future
- Philosophia Perennis, Vol 1
- That Art Thou
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- The Book of Wisdom
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- Walk Without Feet, Fly Without Wings and Think Without Mind
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2
- The Hidden Splendor
- Satyam Shivam Sundram
- The Ultimate Alchemy, Vol 2