Woman: A Living Poetry
Osho on Mary Magdalen
St. Mary Magdalene, also called Mary of Magdala, was one of Jesus’ most celebrated disciples, famous, for being the first person to see the resurrected Christ. The unchallenged facts about her life establish that Jesus cleansed her of seven demons , probably implying that he cured her of a physical disorder rather than the popular notion that he freed her of evil spirits. She was one of the women who accompanied and aided Jesus in Galilee (Luke and all four canonical Gospels attest that she witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and burial; John further notes that she stood by the cross, near the Virgin Mary and the unidentified Apostle whom Jesus loved. Having seen where Jesus was buried, she went with two other women on Easter morning to the tomb to anoint the corpse. Finding the tomb empty, Mary ran to the disciples. She returned with St. Peter, who, astonished, left her. Christ then appeared to Mary and, according to John, instructed her to tell the Apostles that he was ascending to God.
Osho says,”All the great disciples in the world were women. Buddha had thousands of disciples, but the proportion has always been the same: three women, one man. So was the proportion with Mahavir. He had forty thousand sannyasins: ten thousand men, thirty thousand women. And so was the case with Jesus. The really devoted people around him were not the men but the women. When he was crucified, all the men escaped, there was not a single man. All those so-called ‘apostles’ had all disappeared, but the women were there. Three women were there: they had no fear, they were ready to sacrifice themselves. When Jesus was taken down from the cross, it was not by men — those disciples had gone far away, and one or two were there but they were hiding in the crowd women took down the body. And it is very significant that when Jesus appeared after three days, resurrected, he appeared first to Mary Magdalen, not to a man. This is very significant. Why? What about those twelve apostles? Why to Mary Magdalen? And she immediately recognised him, and she rushed to him and she said ‘So, My Lord, you are still alive!’…When she went to tell the male disciples that Jesus was resurrected, they laughed. They said ‘Woman, you are hallucinating.’ And they laughed and they said ‘This is how women always are — imaginative, dreaming, romantic. Now look at this foolish woman. Jesus is dead. We have seen him die on the cross with our own eyes.’ But she cried and she said ‘Listen to me. I have seen him.’ But they would not listen.
A woman can be a perfect disciple, and this is how it should be. Woman is receptive, an opening, a womb. They have never been Masters in the sense that men have been Masters — like Mahavir, Buddha, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu. No, they have never been Masters like that. But there have never been disciples like women; no man has ever been able to equal them as far as disciplehood is concerned. And let me tell you this, that as far as this division of male and female is concerned, the female mind is more blessed. Because the real thing is to receive the truth, the real thing is not to give it that is secondary. And a woman is always more total than a man. Whenever she receives the truth, she becomes luminous: her whole body, her whole being shows it; she carries an aura. Have you not seen a woman who is pregnant, how beautiful she becomes? Her face glows, she is carrying a new life within her. And this is nothing compared to a woman who really becomes a disciple. She is carrying God himself within her. Her glory is infinite.”
WHEN I REFLECT ON CHRIST’S PERSECUTION TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO, I FEEL THAT IN THE MEANTIME NOTHING MUCH HAS CHANGED IN PEOPLE’S ATTITUDES TOWARDS A LIVING MESSIAH IN THEIR MIDST. SUSPICION, CYNICISM AND MISTRUST SEEM TO BE ALL AROUND JUST AS BEFORE. COULD IT BE THAT YOU, TOO, ONE DAY WILL BE PERSECUTED BY THE ESTABLISHMENT? LOOKING AROUND THE AUDITORIUM, I FANCY THAT I CAN SPOT THE DOUBTING THOMAS, THE JOHN, THE SIMON PETER, MARY MAGDALEN, EVEN JUDAS AND THE REST OF THE GANG. COULD THIS ALL BE A LIVE-ACTION REPLAY?
It is. They are all here. They have to be — because the gang leader is here! And nothing ever changes, all changes are superficial. Deep down, humanity remains the same. It is natural. I’m not condemning it; I’m not saying that anything is wrong in it. It has to be so; that’s the way it is. When Jesus comes, the Doubting Thomases are bound to be there. When people who trust come, people who can’t trust also come. They create a contrast. And it is good, otherwise your trust will not be of much value. It becomes precious because of the Doubting Thomases around. You can compare, you can feel. You can see what doubt is, what trust is. The weeds will also come when you plant a garden. The weeds are also part. When a Jesus comes, the Judas is bound to be there because the whole thing is so tremendously significant that somebody is bound to betray it. It has such a great height that somebody is bound to feel very much hurt by it. The ego.
Judas was hurt very much. And he was not a bad man, remember. In fact, he was the only one amongst all of Jesus’ disciples who was well-educated, cultured, belonged to a sophisticated society and family. He was, of course, the most egoistic. The others were just fishermen, farmers, carpenters — people like that, ordinary people, from the ordinary rung of society.
Judas was special. And whenever somebody feels special there is trouble. He wanted to guide even Jesus. Many times he tried. And if you listen to him, there is a possibility that you will be more convinced by Judas than by Jesus.
It happened: Jesus came to visit the home of Mary Magdalen. Mary was deeply in love. She poured precious, very precious, perfume on his feet — the whole bottle. It was rare perfume; it could have been sold.
Judas immediately objected. He said, “You should prohibit people from doing such nonsense. The whole thing is wasted, and in town there are people who are poor and who don’t have anything to eat. We could have distributed the money to poor people.”
He looks like a socialist — a forerunner of Marx, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, all would agree with him.
What did Jesus say? He said, “You don’t be worried about it. The poor and the hungry will always be here, but I will be gone. You can serve them always and always — there is no hurry — but I will be gone. Look at the love, not at the precious perfume. Look at Mary’s love, her heart.”
With whom will you agree? Jesus seems to be very bourgeois and Judas seems to be perfectly economical. Judas is talking about the poor and Jesus simply says, “It is okay. I will be gone soon, so let her welcome me as she would like. Let her heart do whatsoever she wants and don’t bring your philosophy in. Poor people will always be there; I will not be here always. I am only here for a tiny while.”
Ordinarily your mind will agree with Judas. He seems to be perfectly right. He was a very cultured, polished man of manners — sophisticated, a thinker. And he betrayed. Only he could betray, because on each step his ego was hurt. He always felt himself superior to all of Jesus’ disciples. He would always keep himself aloof, he would not move in the crowd. He always thought that he was not part of the crowd. At the most he was second only to Jesus — and that, too, reluctantly. Deep down he must have been thinking himself first. He could not say it, but it was in his heart. He was madly hurt. Continuously Jesus was hurting their egos. A Master has to, because if a Master goes on pampering your egos then he will not be of any help, he will be poisonous. Then you can commit suicide through him but you cannot resurrect.
Because Judas was the most egoistic, he was hurt more. And Jesus HAD to hurt him more. He took revenge. And he was a good man; there is no doubt about it. That is the problem with good men. He sold Jesus for thirty rupees. He was so concerned with the perfume and its cost — look at the mind! — and he sold Jesus for thirty rupees, thirty silver pieces. Jesus was not even that costly. But then, when Jesus was murdered, crucified, he started feeling guilty. That’s how a good man functions. He started feeling very guilty, his conscience started pricking him. He committed suicide. He was a good man, he had a conscience. But he had no consciousness. This distinction has to be felt deeply.
Conscience is borrowed, given by the society; consciousness is your attainment.
The society teaches you what is right and what is wrong: do this and don’t do that. It gives you the law, the morality, the code, the rules of the game. That is your conscience. Outside, the constable; inside, the conscience. That is the way that the society controls you. If you go to steal, the constable is outside to prevent you. But you can deceive the constable, you can find ways. So the society has placed a deep electrode within you: the conscience. Your hand starts trembling, your whole inner being — you feel that your inner being is saying, “Don’t do this; this is wrong.” This is society speaking through you. This is just society, implanted within you.
Judas had a conscience, but Jesus had consciousness. That was the rift.
The man of conscience can never understand the man of consciousness because the man of consciousness lives moment to moment, he has no rules to follow.
Jesus was more concerned with the love of the woman Mary. It was such a deep thing that to prevent her would be wounding her love; she would shrink within herself. Pouring the perfume on Jesus’ feet was just a gesture. Behind it, Mary Magdalen was saying. “I would like to pour the whole of the world on your feet. This is all that I have — the most precious thing I have. To pour water won’t be enough; it is too cheap. This is the most precious thing that I have, but even this is nothing. I would like to pour my heart, I would like to pour my whole being….”
But Judas was blind to it. He was a man of conscience: he looked at the perfume and he said, “It is costly.” He was completely blind to the woman and her heart, and the expansion of consciousness in the gesture. Perfume looked too precious and love — love was completely unknown to him. Love was there. The immaterial was there and the material was there. The material is the perfume, the immaterial is the love. But the immaterial Judas could not see. For that, you need eyes of consciousness.
A man of conscience will always be in conflict with a man of consciousness because the man of consciousness sees things which the man of conscience cannot see. And the man of consciousness follows his consciousness: he has no rules to follow. If you have rules you are always consistent because rules are dead. You are also dead with them: you are predictable. But if you have consciousness, you are unpredictable — one never knows. You remain a total freedom. You respond, you don’t have any ready-made answers to give. When the question arises, you respond and the answer is born. Not only is the listener surprised by your answer — you are also surprised.
When I answer you, it is not only that you are listening to it. I am also a listener. It is not only that you hear it for the first time; I also hear it for the first time. I don’t know what the next word or sentence is going to be. It can move in any direction, it can move in any dimension. That’s what I mean when I say that I remain a learner. Not only are you learning with me; I am also learning with you.
I am never in a state of knowledge because a state of knowledge is dead. You have known something: it is readymade. Now if somebody asks you can give it to him; it is already material.
I am never in a state of knowledge; I am always in the process of knowing. To be in the process of knowing is what I mean when I say I am learning. Knowledge is already past; knowing is Present. Life is not a noun, it is a verb. God is also not a noun, God is a verb. Whatever the grammarians say, I am not concerned. God is a verb, life is a verb.
Knowing, learning, means that you always remain in a vacuum. You never gather anything. You always remain empty like a mirror, not like a photographic plate.
A photographic plate immediately comes to a state of know]edge. Once exposed, it is already dead. Now it will never mirror anybody else; it has mirrored once, forever. But a mirror goes on mirroring. When you come before it, it mirrors you. When you are gone, it is again empty.
This is what I mean: a man of learning remains empty. You raise a question. It is mirrored in my emptiness… an answer comes and flows to you. The question gone, the answer disappeared, the mirror is again in a state of nonknowing — empty, again ready to reflect. It is not hindered by its past, it is always in the present and always ready. Not ready-made, but always ready to reflect, to respond. When Jesus comes — a man of consciousness, a man of learning not of knowledge — Judas is bound to be there. He’s a scholar, the man of knowledge. He must have felt many times that he knew more than Jesus. And maybe he was right also. He may know more, but he does not know the state of knowing. He knows only knowledge, dead information. He is a collector of dead information. He will betray Jesus.
And, of course,
when Jesus is there, there will be women who will love him deeply: a Mary Magdalen, a Martha. They are bound to be there because whenever a man the quality of Jesus arises, that quality has to be understood first by women and then by men. Trust is the door to it, and women are more trusting, more innocently trusting. That’s why it is so difficult to find a woman scientist. Sometimes a Madame Curie happens — that must be a freak of nature. Or the woman may not have been much of a woman. Deep down, a woman is a poet. Not that she writes poetry. She lives it. And she knows how to trust — it comes easy to her, it comes spontaneously to her. In fact, for a woman to doubt is a difficult training. She will have to learn it from a man, just like she will have to learn science from a man. She is illogical, irrational. Those are not good qualities as far as the world is concerned — they are disqualifications in the world — but as far as the inner kingdom of God is concerned, they are the qualifications.
Man cannot have both worlds. At the most he can have one where he’s topmost: the outer world. He can have it, but then he will have to lose the other. There he cannot be the top; he will have to follow women.
Have you seen Jesus being crucified? No male disciple was near him, only women — because the male disciples started doubting. This man cured illnesses, this man revived dead people, and now he cannot save himself? Then what is the point of believing in him and trusting in him? They were waiting for a miracle. They were hiding in the crowd and waiting for a miracle, for something miraculous to happen. Then they would have believed. They needed proof and the proof never happened; Jesus simply died like an ordinary man. But the women were not waiting for any proof. Jesus was enough proof, there was no need for any miracle. HE was the miracle. They could see the miracle that happened that moment — that Jesus died with such deep love and compassion. Even for his murderers he had a prayer in his heart. His last words were, “God, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”
The miracle had happened, but for the male eye it never happened. The women around there understood immediately. They trusted this man and this man’s innermost heart was opened to them. They understood that the miracle had happened. The man had been crucified and he was dying with love, which is the most impossible thing in the world: to die on the cross with a prayer for those who are killing you. But this was love.
Only the feminine mind can understand it. They were close to him.
When Jesus revived, resurrected, after the third day, he tried to approach his male disciples. They could not see him because they had settled the fact that he was dead, and you see only things which you expect to see. If you don’t expect, you don’t see. Your eyes are very choosy. If you are waiting for a friend, then even in a crowd you can see him. But if you are not waiting for him, if you have completely forgotten about him, then when he comes and knocks on the door, for a moment you are puzzled: who is he? They had settled the fact that Jesus was dead, so when Jesus came across their path they could not recognize him, they could not see him. It is even said that he walked for miles with two disciples while they talked about Jesus’ death. They were very miserable because of it — and Jesus was walking with them, they were talking to him! But they could not recognize him. Only love can recognize, even after death — because love recognized when you were alive. For love, death and life are irrelevant.
Jesus was recognized first by Mary Magdalen, a prostitute. She went running to the male disciples who were holding a great conference: what to do? how to spread the word to the whole world? how to create the church? When they were planning for the future, she came running and said, “What are you doing? Jesus is alive! “
They laughed. They said, “Mad woman, you must have imagined it” — man’s mind always thinks that such things are imaginations. They started talking to each other: “That poor woman, Mary Magdalen. She has gone mad. Jesus’ crucifixion has been such a shock to her.” They felt pity on her.
She insisted, “Don’t feel pity on me. Jesus IS resurrected!”
They laughed and they said, “We understand. You need rest, you are too shocked by the fact that he is dead. It is your imagination.”
Around Buddha, around Krishna, around Jesus, around Mahavir, a great number of women have always been there. They were the first-comers, they were the first disciples. It is natural.
So don’t be surprised. Two thousand or two million years… the human mind will remain the same.
Humanity as a whole remains the same; the revolution is individual. You can be transformed as an individual.
Then you go beyond the crowd. But don’t be worried about such things. This question is from Chaitanya Sagar. He’s always worried about such things. I never answer him, but he’s always worried: worried about others, worried about the world, worried about the organization, worried about the ashram, worried about my disciples, worried about me — never worried about himself. All these worries won’t help. Time is short, life is very short. Use it.
Just the other night I was reading a play by Samuel Beckett: a small book, the smallest possible in the world — a short play. The name of the play is BREATH. The length of the whole play is only thirty seconds… thirty seconds. There is no actor in it, no dialogue. Just a stage.
The curtain opens. Many things are lying around. Rubbish — just as if somebody has left the house in a hurry. All sorts of things are jumbled, with no order. Just a disorder — rubbish. And from the background, a sigh is heard of a small child, just born. Then, after thirty seconds, the gasp of an old man who has died. This is all — but this is all life is. Thirty seconds: a sigh and a gasp. The first effort to inhale and the last effort to cling to the breathing… and everything is gone.
Life is short, not even thirty seconds. Use it. Use it as an opportunity to grow, use it as an opportunity to be, and don’t be worried about other things; that is all rubbish. Only this is true: the sigh and the gasp, and all else is just rubbish. Forget about it — what do you have to do about it?
You should not be concerned with whether the world has changed or not. The world is the same, it has to be the same. Only you can be different; the world will never be different. When you become aware, conscious, you transcend the world.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Come Follow To You, Vol 1
Chapter title: God: The ultimate synthesis
28 October 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on many women mystics like Daya, Lalla, Sahajo, Mallibai, Magdalen, Rabiya, Theresa and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- And the flowers showered
- Showering without clouds
- Books I have loved
- The Last Morning Star
- The Perfect Master
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Sword and The Lotus
- Turn On, Tune In, and Drop the Lot
- Come, Come, Yet Again Come
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha Vol.8
- The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Light on the Path
- Tao: The Three Treasures Vol.2
- Beyond Enlightenment