Osho talks about Italians, and Indians, “I must have been an Italian; otherwise whatsoever I am now today would not have been possible.”
Is it true that you are really an Italian?
Antar Vittorio, not now, but I must have been in some of my past lives. One has to pass through all kinds of things; one has to be an Italian too. Without being an Italian you cannot become enlightened – that much is absolutely certain. If somebody becomes enlightened without being an Italian he will have to come back; he will relapse from his enlightenment. Hence it is a must to pass through.
To be an Italian is just the opposite of being enlightened. Have you ever heard about any Italian becoming enlightened? But it helps – to touch the opposite pole is very necessary; only then the journey begins towards the source. You have gone as much astray as you could, then the prodigal sons return. You have to come back – there is nowhere else to go. Once you are an Italian, where else can you go? What else can you do? You have reached the dead end of the road. So it is good to be an Italian – the sooner it happens the better!
To be an Italian is to be really upside down, and not half-heartedly! I must have been an Italian; otherwise whatsoever I am now today would not have been possible. And I can say the same about Gautama the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Bahauddin: all these people must have been Italian in some of their lives! You cannot bypass being an Italian. If you bypass, you are bypassing it at your own risk; you will have to come back. The Italian experience is something nobody can afford to miss.
Why is there such a low suicide rate among Italians?
It’s pretty hard to kill yourself jumping out of a basement window!
A German, a Frenchman and an Italian were captured during the second world war and brought to a prison camp.
“How many pairs of underwear do you need?” asked the quartermaster sergeant.
“Seven,” said the German; “a pair for each day of the week.”
“Four,” said the Frenchman; “one for each week in the month.”
“And how about you, Luigi?” asked the sergeant. “How many pairs of underwear do you need?”
“Twelve,” replied the Italian.
“What the hell do you need twelve for?”
“One-a for January, one-a for February, one-a….”
Luigi met his best friend Giancarlo in the street one day. “Hello, Giancarlo, what-a you got-a inna your coat?”
“Well-a,” said Giancarlo, “you know-a that fascist bastard Francesco? Well-a, every time I come-a to town, he says-a to me, ‘Hey, Giancarlo, how you doing today-a?’ Then he punches me in the chest-a with his fist-a and breaks-a all my cigars. So today I got-a four sticks-a of dynamite in my pocket. When he comes-a, I am-a gonna blow his goddamn hand-a off!”
Pierino comes home from school and asks his father, “Papa, what does ‘simultaneously’ mean?”
“It means at the same time,” replies the father. But Pierino still does not understand, so the father explains it.
“Well,” he says, “if you were born from a relationship between your mother and another man, not me, what would I be?”
“A cuckold!” replies the little boy.
“Right!” says the father. “And simultaneously you would be the son of a bitch!”
The Italian experience is very fundamental for spiritual growth. If you are not born an Italian, you can learn to be an Italian – it is easy. All that you need to do is exactly the same that you do in meditation, just a little bit different. In meditation you go beyond the mind; in being Italian you go below the mind. In both cases you go out of the mind! And it is better first to try to go below the mind; that will give you an out-of-the-mind experience – and then there is no possibility of relapsing.
Once you have tasted being an Italian, then you start praying to God, “No more of it! Enough is enough!” Then you start praying, “I don’t want any more birth and death. I am fed up with time, I want to dissolve into eternity.” But without being an Italian, this longing will not arise in you.
That’s why I am so much in love with Italians – every moment they are coming closer to enlightenment. The deeper they become Italians, the closer they are coming to enlightenment; then the jump can happen at any moment.
There are people who are just in the middle – neither here nor there; they don’t have much hope. For example, Indians – they don’t have much hope. They are middle-of-the-road walkers – very careful, very cautious; they never go to the extremes. Keeping themselves in the middle they miss both the ultimate in misery and the ultimate in ecstasy.
To be an Italian is to be in ultimate misery. The only hope is spaghetti; otherwise all is misery! Once you have experienced the ultimate in misery, now the only possible way left for you is to search for the ultimate bliss, and nothing less than that will help you. The ultimate misery can be removed only by ultimate bliss.
It is not an accident that so many Italians are here. They have tasted the misery there, they have seen. If you have seen Italy you have seen the whole world. It is a miniature world, and once you are fed up with Italy you are fed up with the world too. Then nirvana is possible. In fact, from Italy to nirvana there is a direct route; that is the most simple, direct and the shortest route.
Italians live a very earthy life; they are earthy people. That’s what is good about them – they are down to earth. They are not too interested in heaven and paradise; they don’t care much about that. This earth is enough. But because it is not enough, sooner or later they start feeling an urge to seek for something else.
The Indians live on the earth, they are very mundane, but they go on talking about spirituality. That keeps them in a kind of illusion. Because of their talk they think they are spiritual. Because of their beautiful words which they have become very efficient in repeating… thousands of years of repeating and chanting mantras. They can do it very easily and befool others, but that is secondary – they can befool themselves. Hearing themselves using beautiful words, they can become infatuated with their own words. Words have then their own magnetism. If you use great words you will be influenced by those words – and your reality will be the same, it will not change. Words cannot change your reality, but they can hide, they can cover it up. They can give you a respectability.
The Indian lives in respectability. His whole effort is how to remain respectable, religious, spiritual; how to show others that he is a holy man. He is continuously making deliberate and not so deliberate efforts at pretending greatness, other-worldliness. You can see around him that stinking, ugly phenomenon of holier-than-thou.
Italians are beautiful in that way. They are simple people, down-to-earth, no-nonsense people. They don’t bother about spiritual rubbish. And it is good to be earthly. My own experience is, if you have never been earthly, down-to-earth, if you have never been really materialistic, absolutely earthly, if you have never been really an atheist, you will not become spiritual, ever. Materialism has to become the base; your down-to-earthness has to become your foundation. Then the temple, the shrine of spirituality can rise on top of it.
First be a Charvaka, an Epicurean, a Zorba the Greek; only then can you be Gautama the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Bahauddin, Nanak, Kabir…. If your foundation is missing, then your spirituality is hocus-pocus; it is just verbal.
I love the Italian rootedness into the earth, because from there the work can start. The body has to be accepted first, not only accepted but respected too. If you have not explored your body you will not be able to explore the soul. The methodology of exploration is the same, but begin with the body because the body is the visible part of your soul. Start with the visible and then slowly move towards the invisible. Start with the known and then move towards the unknown. Start from the periphery and then go deeper towards the center.
There are millions of people in the world who live in words – repeating the Bible, the Koran, the Gita, the Dhammapada – but they are like parrots, mechanical; they are gramophone records. They can repeat the scriptures perfectly, but they know nothing. Knowledge needs roots in the earth, just as a tree needs roots in the earth. The branches will rise towards the sky, the branches will try to reach to the stars. But at the same time the roots have to go deeper and deeper into the earth. Remember, there is a balance: the higher the tree goes, the deeper its roots have to go; it is totally balanced. You cannot have a big tree with small roots. It will fall, it will not be able to stand.
That’s how India has fallen…a big tree with very small roots. The most basic thing is to grow roots. But the roots cannot be grown into the sky, they have to grow into the earth, into the body, into matter. Then your branches can rise into the sky, into the world of the spiritual. They can reach to God.
Friedrich Nietzsche is right when he says, “When a tree wants to touch the feet of God, it has to reach to the very center of hell through its roots.” The roots have to go to the very rock bottom; then only can the branches and the flowers be offered to the feet of God.”
By Italian I simply mean a certain symbol, just as by Indian I mean a certain symbol. The Indian represents the hypocrite. Wherever he is born, that doesn’t matter; he may be born even in Italy. But wherever you find a hypocrite you will find an Indian, and wherever you find a realistic, pragmatic, practical person he will be an Italian. To me these words don’t represent geography, they represent something metaphorical.
My commune is going to be one of the richest communes that has ever happened on the earth. I have chosen Deeksha to take care of your bodies – an Italian, a perfect mamma! And she is taking care as beautifully as possible.
My commune consists of all kinds of people. They will all pool their different energies to make it the richest commune in the whole of existence that has ever existed. Around Buddha there were only Indians, around Jesus there were only Jews, around Mohammed there were only Mohammedans. Around me there are all kinds of people – theists, atheists, materialists, spiritualists, Catholics, Communists, Jainas, Jews, Italians, Indians, Germans…all kinds of people, and they have all developed different sides of humanity. No country has developed the whole human being, only partial human beings.
We can create the whole human being, multidimensional, immensely rich, rooted in the earth and yet longing for the stars.
Osho, Come, Come, Yet Again Come, Ch 12, Q 3