While speaking about languages and religion, Osho quotes Mark Twain.
Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens, November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910) was an American author and humorist, well known for ‘The Adventures Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ as well as for dozens of novels, essays, letters and other writings. William Faulkner famously called him “the father of American literature.” His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
Think of a day when all languages, all forms of speech suddenly disappear from the earth for twenty four hours. What will happen to our philosophical debates? If only your languages – not your religions and beliefs – are taken away from you, what will you do to assert your convictions? In the absence of language, will you be a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian? Will you then be a believer or a non-believer? But surely you will be there even without your languages, your beliefs and non-beliefs. And I say this: you who will be without any ideas and beliefs and dogmas will be a truly religious person.
I would like to close my talk with an anecdote. Mark Twain is the author of this joke.
Once the people of this world decided to carry out an experiment. They hit upon the idea that if all the people of the world agree on a time to shout with one voice, the noise will reach the moon. And if there are people living on the moon, they will hear our shout. And if they make a similar effort we can hear their answering shout from the moon. Man has always been fascinated by the moon, and his desire to relate with that planet is as old as the earth. That is why every child on coming into the world begins to ask for the moon. So a decision was taken and a time appointed when all the inhabitants would speak together to the moon in one voice. They were sure their call would reach the moon, and if the moon is also inhabited by people like us, they will answer in the same way.
“Hoo Hoo” was chosen as the form of their shout.
The appointed time came. With a tremendous sense of anticipation the people all over the earth gathered on housetops, on raised platforms, on hills and mountains. But as the clock struck twelve, strangely enough an immense silence descended on the earth. Not even a whisper was heard. The reason was that everyone, being anxious to hear that rare and united “Hoo-Hoo” of all mankind, decided on his part to keep silent. He thought a single person’s non-participation would not make any difference when the whole world was going to speak with one voice. Why should one miss such an opportunity? Consequently, the silence that prevailed on the earth in that particular moment was unprecedented. Never before had the world experienced such a moment of penetrating silence.
If ever you come upon such utter silence, when words, concepts, and languages disappear from your mind, you will know the truth, the reality, or whatever you call it. It is only in utter silence that reality comes into being.
One half of truth lies with the theists and the other half with the atheists. And a half-truth is worse than a lie – it is always so. It is so because you can easily give up a lie, but it is tremendously difficult to give up a half truth. A half truth looks like truth itself. How can you give it up? And remember truth is indivisible; it can never be fragmented. And if you have a half truth with you, you can make it into a great doctrine. But a doctrine can be refuted; there is no way to refute and dismantle truth. Neither the theist is right nor the atheist; they cling to fragmentary truths and fight for them endlessly.
Osho, Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy, Ch 17, Q 5 (excerpt)