World is a Mirror
Osho on Russian Novelist Gogol
Born on 31st March 1809 in Ukraine, Nikolay Gogol was an Ukrainian-born humorist, dramatist, and novelist whose works, written in Russian, significantly influenced the direction of Russian literature. His novel Myortvye dushi (1842; Dead Souls) and his short story “Shinel” (1842; “The Overcoat”) are considered the foundations of the great 19th-century tradition of Russian realism.
According to Viktor Shklovsky Gogol’s strange style of writing resembles the “ostranenie” style ( to present a particular piece to the audience in a new strange way in order to give them newer perspectives to look into things) His early works, such as Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka, were influenced by his Ukrainian upbringing, Ukrainian culture and folklore.His later writing satirised political corruption in the Russian Empire (The Government Inspector, Dead Souls). The novel Taras Bulba (1835), the play Marriage (1842), and the short stories “The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarreled with Ivan Nikiforovich“, “The Portrait” and “The Carriage“, are also among his best-known works.
Osho talks about Communist Russia and mentions Gogol. He says, “Before 1917, when the Bolshevik revolution came about, Russia produced some of the most intelligent men of the world — names worth being written in letters of gold. But after 1917 Russia could not produce a single man of their stature. Not one man of the height of Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Lenin, Turgenev, Gogol, Dostoevsky! What is the matter? It is true that communist Russia produced writers and thinkers who received awards from their government, but not even one among them can come near the grandeur and glory of those whom Russia produced in the days of her utter poverty and degradation, in the worst days of the czars. Russia has yet to produce a thinker as intelligent and as creative as those of the pre-revolutionary times. Why? It is because the basic requirement of spiritual growth is denied in communist Russia.”
ONCE IT HAPPENED: Aesop, the greatest master of story-telling, was going out of Athens. He met a man who was coming from Argos. They talked. The man from Argos asked Aesop, “You are coming from Athens. Please tell me something about the people there: what manner of men they are, what they are like.”
Aesop asked the man, “First you tell me what type of people are there in Argos.”
The man said, “Very disgusting, nauseating, violent, quarrelsome.” And all these qualities flashed on the face of the man.
Aesop said, “I am sorry. You will find the people of Athens just the same.”
Later on, he met another man who was also from Argos, and he also asked the same question: “You are coming from Athens and you have lived your whole life there — what manner of men are they there? What are they like?”
And Aesop again asked, “First tell me what manner of men are there in Argos.”
And the man became aflame with nostalgia… a very loving memory of the people of Argos. His face shone and he said, “Very pleasant, friendly, kind, and good neighbours.”
Aesop said, “I am happy to tell you that you will find the people of Athens just the same.”
The story is tremendously beautiful. It tells a very basic truth about man:
wherever you go, you will always find yourself; wherever you look, you will always encounter yourself. The whole world is nothing but a mirror, and all relationships are mirrors. Again and again you encounter yourself — and again and again you misunderstand. You never realize the point, that it is your own face that you have looked at, that it is your own mood that you have come across.
Why have I started with this story of Aesop? — for a very basic reason.
You can recognize Jesus only if you have recognized something of the beyond within yourself; otherwise not. You can recognize Buddha only if a part of you has become like Buddha; otherwise you cannot recognize. You cannot recognize that which has not happened to you. If you are dark, only darkness can be recognized. If you are light, then you become capable of recognizing light. Your eyes can see light because they are part of the sun, because something within you has become of the nature of light. A deep transformation has happened within you. Only then is it possible to recognize a Jesus, a Buddha, a Krishna, a Mohammed. Otherwise you will misunderstand them;
you will think that you have understood them. It will be nothing but your own reflection, it will be nothing but your own echoes. It is your own voice that you have heard coming from them; it is your own face that you have looked at in their mirror.
So before you can understand Jesus, you have to understand yourself. Before you can have the vision that Jesus has something, at least something of the same vision has to be allowed within you. These sutras are very significant.
WHEN JESUS CAME INTO THE COASTS OF CAESAREA PHILLIPI, HE ASKED HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING, WHOM DO MEN SAY THAT I, THE SON OF MAN, AM?
Why did he ask this? The people were saying all sorts of things about him. People have always been gossiping. They feed on rumors and they go on expressing their opinions without knowing what they are doing. Have you watched the same tendency in yourself? If you watch and observe, it will drop, and it is one of the basic requirements.
If ever you want to know truth, you have to drop all gossiping. If you want to know what truth is, you have to stop making opinions without knowing anything. It is such a foolish attitude. You don’t know anything about yourself, but if you come across a Jesus, you immediately create an opinion about him. Have you ever thought about it — about what you are doing? You go on judging, not knowing anything even about yourself, which is the nearest point of consciousness to you. Who is more close to you than yourself? — and you have not known even that.
Jesus is far away from you. Stop rumouring, because those rumours will cloud your eyes; those rumours, those opinions, will destroy your perception, your clarity. Why does Jesus ask what people are saying about him? Whenever a man like Jesus happens, the whole world is agog with rumours. People go on talking about him. Sometimes I have come across people….Once it happened: I was travelling and I had another passenger in my compartment — only two persons, he and I. He was reading a book, so I asked him — he was reading one of my books, but he didn’t know me, and he started saying things about me — I asked him, “Are you certain?”
He said, “Absolutely certain.”
“Have you seen this man you are talking about?”
He said, “Yes. Not only seen, we have been class-fellows.” Once you utter a lie, you have to utter many more lies.
I told the man, “I’m the man you are talking about.” He laughed. He said, “You are joking.” He wouldn’t believe me. Whenever a man like Jesus is there, a thousand and one rumours spread. People say all sorts of things. Why do they say them? — to show that they know.
There is a story of Gogol, the Russian master. He tells that in a small town there was a very simple man and people used to think that he was an idiot. A sage visited the town, and the idiot came to the sage and asked, “I’m in constant trouble. The whole town thinks that I am an idiot, and before I have said anything, people start laughing — before I have even said anything, so I cannot say a single word. I am so afraid. I cannot move in the society, because wherever I go people ridicule me. You are a wise man. Help me. Give me some clue as to how I can protect myself. My whole life is destroyed.”
The sage said something in his ear. He said, “Do only one thing: whenever somebody says something, immediately deny it; contradict it, negate it. Whatsoever it is, don’t be bothered. Somebody is saying, ‘Look, how beautiful the moon is!’ Immediately say, ‘Who says so? Prove it!’ Nobody can prove it. Somebody says that Buddha or Christ are enlightened people — immediately deny it; contradict it — ‘Who says so? What is enlightenment? — all nonsense, rubbish!’ “
The simple man said, “But I may not be able to prove that it is rubbish.”
The old sage said, “You need not worry; nobody will ask you. They will be trying to prove whatsoever they are saying.”
“Never say anything positively, and you will never be in trouble. Just negate. If somebody says, ‘God exists,’ say, ‘No. Where is God? Prove it!’ “
The man tried the trick and after seven days the whole town was simply surprised. People started saying, “We never knew that this man was so wise!” If you want to look wise, you have to utter nonsense. And the best way is to deny, to say no, because life is such a mystery that nothing can be proved. If somebody says, “Look, this woman is so beautiful,” say, “Who says so? What is there about her? Why do you call her beautiful? I don’t see anything.” Nobody can prove it. All the poets of the world can stand against you, but you are going to win. Things are so mysterious — they cannot be proved; they cannot be reduced to an argument.
Nobody wants to feel that he does not know. If you say that yes, Jesus is enlightened, it will be difficult to prove, almost impossible. Twenty centuries of constant argument have not proved anything. Jesus remains as mysterious, as riddle some as he was. Twenty centuries of theology, constant argument, elaboration, explanation, analysis, interpretation — nothing has been proved. Jesus remains as mysterious as he ever was — maybe even more so — because he is lost in these explanations.
You cannot prove that Jesus is enlightened, because enlightenment is something beyond the mind. You have to taste it; you cannot talk about it; and when you taste it you become silent. But if you want to say that he is nothing, nobody, you can prove it. That is simply very easy.
So people were saying many things, contradicting, negating, arguing that this man is nothing.
WHEN JESUS CAME INTO THE COASTS OF CAESAREA PHILLIPI, HE ASKED HIS DISCIPLES, SAYING, WHOM DO MEN SAY THAT I, THE SON OF MAN, AM?
What are people saying about me?
AND THEY SAID, SOME SAY THAT THOU ART JOHN THE BAPTIST; SOME, ELIAS; AND OTHERS, JEREMIAS, OR ONE OF THE PROPHETS.
This happens always. People have only one criterion and that is of the past. And a man like Jesus is of the present; he is not from the past. He does not belong to any tradition — he cannot belong. A man like Jesus is a rebellion. He cannot be part of any tradition. But the ordinary human mind has no other criteria. At the most, you can think about the past. You can say, “Maybe he is John the Baptist, or Elias, or Ezekiel or Jeremias, or one of the old, past prophets.” When those prophets were present, you never understood them. You never looked into them, directly and immediately. You never encountered them, because to encounter them is great daring.
No other courage is more dangerous than to encounter a man who has known, because he is deathlike; he is an infinite abyss.
If you look into Jeremias or Ezekiel or Elias, you are looking into a bottomless abyss. You will start shaking and trembling; you will start perspiring, and you will be afraid. One step, and you can be lost forever, and you cannot come back again.
Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna, they are absolute emptinesses. Their ego has disappeared. They are just vast spaces of being — no boundaries, no maps. The territory is uncharted. Look into it and you will lose your balance. The very earth below your feet will disappear. You will find yourself falling and falling and falling — and the falling is endless. So people never look directly. When Jesus is there, they talk about John, they talk about Elias, they talk about Ezekiel, they talk about Jeremias, they talk about Abraham, Moses — they can talk about the whole past, but they will not look at this man who is right now here. They have been doing the same to Moses, to Abraham and to everybody. When Moses is there, they will not encounter him. That is too dangerous and risky. Then they will talk of somebody else.
The disciples said,
SOME SAY THAT THOU ART JOHN THE BAPTIST: SOME, ELIAS; AND OTHERS, JEREMIAS, OR ONE OF THE PROPHETS.
A few things are to be understood. Whenever a Jesus happens, he is absolutely fresh and virgin. He does not come from the past; he comes from above. That is the Hindu meaning of avatar: he descends. He is not part of the chain. He is not horizontal; he is vertical. Whenever YOU become alert and aware, immediately your whole being turns. Then you are no more horizontal; suddenly you find yourself vertical.
If a man is lying down and fast asleep, he is horizontal. Sleep is horizontal. It is very difficult to stand and sleep — you have to lie down. That is the most comfortable position. If you try to sleep standing up, it will be almost impossible. Sleep is horizontal, unconsciousness is horizontal. But when a man awakes, he sits, he stands up, he becomes vertical. Take it symbolically. The same happens in the inner world. When a man is unconscious, unaware, he is horizontal; his consciousness is horizontal. When he becomes alert, aware, conscious, he stands. Then the consciousness becomes vertical.
And this is the meaning of the Christian cross: two lines, one horizontal, one vertical. The horizontal line is of unconsciousness and the vertical line is of consciousness. The horizontal line you can call ‘of matter’, the vertical ‘of consciousness’; the horizontal line, the world, the MAYA; and the vertical, the God, the BRAHMA. The cross is very, very significant and multi-dimensional.
You must have seen Jesus on the cross. Have you observed that his hands are on the horizontal line and his whole body on the vertical? Why? — because doing is horizontal and being is vertical. Hands are just representatives of doing. Whatsoever you do, you do with matter. Whatsoever you do, becomes part of the world. Whatsoever you do, moves into history. Whatsoever you do, becomes part of time; it becomes horizontal. But whatsoever you are — the pure being — is not part of the world. It may be in the world, but it is not of the world. It penetrates the world. That’s why Hindus have given it a beautiful name — AVATAR. It comes down from above. Like a ray of light it penetrates the darkness. The ray may be in the darkness, but it is not of the darkness. It comes from above.
Zen says that by doing, you cannot attain, because whatsoever you do will move outwards. That’s why Zen says even meditation is not to be done — one has to be meditative. Prayer cannot be done; one has to be prayerful. Love cannot be done; one has to be loving. The difference is between doing and being. When you are loving, it is part of the vertical. When you are meditative, it is part of the vertical. When you start meditating, it becomes horizontal. All effort, all doing has to cease. That is the meaning of Jesus’ hands on the horizontal line. And the whole, except the hands, is on the vertical. Except for what you do, all your being is part of God. Whatsoever you do is part of 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 3
Chapter title: There is no Future God; there is no past
13 December 1975 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on eminent poets and writers like Byron, Coleridge, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, Heinrich Heine, John Ruskin, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Keats, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Milton, Oscar Wilde, Rabindranath Tagore, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Rumi, Rudyard Kipling, Shakespeare, Shelley, William Blake, Kazantzakis, Wordsworth and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Book of Wisdom
- The Sword and The Lotus
- Returning to the Source
- Light on the Path
- The Secret
- The Hidden Splendour
- The New Dawn
- Beyond Enlightenment
- Come Follow To You, Vol 1
- Beyond Enlightenment