Who knows? Who has ever known?
Osho on English Philosopher Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, statesman, scholar, and author. He has been called the father of empiricism and his work indirectly influenced the development of the modern scientific method pertaining to a circle of six steps. He developed the idea of gaining scientific knowledge through inductive reasoning, observation, and skeptic methodology. Bacon is also credited with influencing the scientific revolution through his book Novum Organum (1620), talking about scientific experimentation and its role in prioritizing “knowledge of and power over nature”.
As a statesman, Bacon served as an Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of Elizabethan England. He only ever went upward in his ranks – he was appointed as Queen’s counsel under Elizabeth I of England and was knighted under James VI and I. Bacon was also a patron of libraries and developed a system of classification of sciences under history, poetry, and science – a system that was used in libraries and in 18th-century Encyclopedias. He wrote over 100 essays and books titled The Advancement and Proficience of Learning Divine and Human (1605) and New Atlantis (1626).
Osho mentions Bacon, “… Participate in it rather than trying to understand it. That way comes understanding — participate in it, dissolve in it, allow it to overwhelm you and overpower you. Be possessed by it. And these are two totally different attitudes.
When we try to understand something, we are trying to possess it, we are trying to control it. Knowledge is control. Lord Bacon has said, ‘Knowledge is power.’ It is. That’s what science goes on doing. Science tries to know things just to overpower them. Once you know them, you become the master.
Religion is, just the opposite, diametrically opposite. It is not a quest to know. It is a quest to be.
Whatsoever is happening, allow it to overpower you, not the other way round. Don’t try to understand it. Let it understand you.”
MANY TIMES I HAVE THOUGHT OF QUESTIONS FELT TO BE MEANINGFUL. EACH TIME THE QUESTION RESOLVED ITSELF OR SEEMED ABSURD AFTER LETTING IT GESTATE FOR A WHILE. THE PARADOX IS THAT THE WORDS DISSOLVE BUT THE QUESTION MARK REMAINS.
the question mark is bound to remain forever, because the question mark has nothing to do with the question at all. It has something to do with the mystery of life itself. Life never becomes known, it always remains a mystery, a question mark — and a question mark which cannot be dissolved. It is in the very nature of existence, it is the very center of existence; there is no way to find any answer or explanation for it. That’s why philosophy fails and poetry succeeds. That’s why mathematics fails and music succeeds. That’s why logic always lags behind and love reaches, arrives.
The question mark is immensely significant. All questions are absurd. And all questions are sooner or later resolved, are bound to be resolved, because all questions have answers. If you can formulate a question you can find an answer for it, but the question mark is not your formulation. It is there; it is on each leaf of the trees, on each sound of the birds. On each cloud, on each star, on each atom, the question mark is there.
Life is not a problem but a mystery. A problem is that which can be solved — at least theoretically is soluble. A mystery is that which can be lived but can never be solved.
An ancient Hassid story:
An old Hassid master asked one of his disciples, “What do we mean when we use the word god?”
The disciple wouldn’t answer, the disciple wouldn’t look in the eyes of the master. With bent head, ashamed of himself, he remained silent.
The question was asked again and again. Thrice the master asked. The more the master asked, the more silent the disciple became. And the silence was very embarrassing. The disciple has to respect the question of the master — and it was as if he has not even heard; no response from the disciple. The master was irritated and he asked, “Why don’t you answer me? What do we mean by the word god when we use it?”
And the disciple said, “Because I don’t know, how can I answer? I don’t know God!”
And the master laughed, a laughter which can happen only to those who have arrived. He said, “And do you think I know?”
Who knows? Who has ever known? But still God is, and still God has to be addressed. Whoever told you that God is an object of knowledge? God is not an object of knowledge, God is not an object at all. God is the silence that pervades you when words dissolve. God is the question mark that remains, Shantam, when questions are gone, evaporated. God is the mystery — unresolvable.
I am not here to give answers, I am here to provoke in you the question mark, the ultimate question mark. It is not a question, remember; the ultimate question mark is not a question. There is no question at all.
Simply you are encountering something ineffable, indefinable, infinite, eternal, with no beginning and no end, with no possibility to comprehend it, with no possibility to encompass it. On the contrary, God is the one who encompasses you, God is the one who comprehends you.
God is the one for whom you are not a question nor a question mark.
Slowly slowly, learn the ways of living in mystery. Mind continuously hankers to demystify everything; there is a deep urge in the mind to demystify. Why? — because it can control only when something is demystified. Mystery starts controlling it, hence mind escapes from mysteries. Mind wants explanations, because once something is explained it can be manipulated; once something is no more a secret, then the mind is the master. In the presence of a secret the mind feels simply impotent. The greater the secret, the more the impotence of the mind. But that is where prayer arises, meditation arises, and all that is beautiful. That is where truth is felt. Mind is not the door to truth, it is a door to power.
Francis Bacon is right when he says, “Knowledge is power.” Mind is a power seeker; mind is always after power, more and more power. Hence mind slowly slowly became too much attached to science; mind became science. Science is the search for power. And then automatically science becomes reduced to technology. What is technology? How to manipulate nature. That “how” is technology; know-how is technology. Science prepares the blueprint, science gives the idea how to demystify existence, and then technology implements it.
Religion is not of the mind, religion is of the heart. Mind raises questions, the heart knows only the ultimate question mark. It is beautiful, Shantam, it is tremendously important that you became aware of this phenomenon, that questions arise; in the beginning they look meaningful, but soon they are resolved. If one can wait, all questions resolve; there is no need to go anywhere to ask.
The mind that is capable of creating a certain question is capable of finding the answer too — in fact if you dissect the question deeply you will find the answer hidden there. The answer is always in the question. The question is only a form of the answer, the question is only the beginning of the answer. The question is the seed and the answer will be the sprout — and the seed contains the sprout.
If you wait a little, if you are a little patient, if you allow the question to move within you, you are capable of solving it. Either it will be solved or you will come to know that it is absurd. There are absurd questions which cannot be solved — and they are not mysteries either, remember, they are simply absurd questions. For example, linguistically it may look perfectly right, grammatically it may look perfectly right, and existentially it may be absurd. For example, you can ask, “What is the smell of the color red?” Linguistically, grammatically, there is no flaw in it. “What is the smell of the color red?” — the question can be raised, but if you look deep into it, it is not a question, it is simply absurd. Colors have nothing to do with smells; there is no relationship at all. Colors are colors, smells are smells; neither smells have colors, nor colors have smells.
It is just like asking how to see music with the eyes. The question looks perfectly right: How to see music? But music is not an object to be seen, it is not an object for the eyes; it can only be heard, not seen. Beauty can be seen but cannot be heard. We can make a thousand and one absurd questions. People have asked down the ages… the so-called wise too. In the Middle Ages, the whole Christian world was so concerned, and there was such great argument and controversy on such absurd questions as: How many angels can stand on the point of a needle? Great theologians wrote great treatises on these questions. In fact, the so-called learned people are always deep down very stupid people. Their learnedness is nothing but a cover up for this inner stupidity. They raise great fuss for nothing, great ado for nothing. They are clever, that is true — clever to create such absurd questions. At least they are able to give to those absurd questions an appearance of rationality.
How many hells are there? In the times of Buddha the question became so important in India…. Hindus believe in three hells, Jainas started believing in seven hells, and then there was really a man of insight, Sanjaya Vilethiputta, who must have been able to laugh at absurdities. He said, “Who says seven? I have exactly counted: there are seven hundred!” He must have been a wise man, he was simply joking about this absurd controversy. How many hells? How many heavens? How many angels? When did God create the world? Why did God create the world? All are absurd questions: you cannot solve them, because they are not questions in the first place. Neither are they mysteries, because
a mystery cannot be formulated in words. It is only a question mark, a question mark in the silent heart — just a great surprise, a wonder, awe.
And then each and every thing creates awe.
Allow this question mark to settle in you. The meaningful questions will be solved, the meaningless will be known as absurd; then finally remains only the question mark. I am happy, Shantam you say: “The paradox is that the words dissolve but the question mark remains.” Rejoice! Celebrate! This is a great moment, this is the door to the divine.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Book of Wisdom
Chapter title: The three rung ladder of Love
1 March 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assagioli, Wilhelm Reich, Aristotle, Berkeley, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Laing, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Socrates, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Hidden Splendour
- The Wild Geese and the Water
- This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
- Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Beyond Psychology
- Dang Dang Doko Dang
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Darkness to Light
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
- From Personality to Individuality
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1