Why do we wear one hundred and eight beads on our malas? Does this belong to the world of ritualistic religion?
Yes, it belongs to ritualistic religion. Don’t become ritualistic, but don’t become anti-ritualistic either. A little ritual is beautiful. To become ritualistic is wrong, but a little ritual is just fine. A little ritual adds spice to life. It gives salt to your food, it is tasteful. A life without any ritual will be a very poor, impoverished life.
You meet somebody on the road and you say, “Hello”; it is a ritual. And he says, “How are you?” and you say, “Fine”; it is a ritual. You are not fine – he knows, you know, everybody knows. You meet somebody on the road, you smile; it is a ritual. You just watch: you will find that life needs a little ritual. It makes life run smoothly, it is lubricating. If the whole life becomes ritualistic, then it is dangerous; then you are only eating salt. A little salt in the food is good, but to just feed on salt is dangerous. You will die. But to drop salt completely is also dangerous. And remember this always: I am never totally against anything, and I am never totally in favor of anything. I always keep balance.
The orange robe, the mala, the locket: innocent ritual… but it adds spice. It gives you a feeling of community. And man needs a few fictions to live. The truth is too hard. Yes, one day you will become able to live with the truth, but right now, no. You have to pass through many stages. Only in the ultimate jump can you drop all fictions. Then too you may not drop them, because they are beautiful in themselves. They are not true, but they are beautiful in themselves.
I am not against ritual. I am simply saying that ritual is not religion, ritual is ritual. And a little ritual is always good: it keeps you in balance, it keeps you sane. Otherwise people start moving into extremes. There are a few people whose whole religion is ritualistic, there is no reality at all. Then there is Krishnamurti: his whole idea is non-ritualistic. There is no poetry, no fiction, no myth, no prayer, no meditation, nothing – just a bare, naked statement of truth.
I don’t believe in extremes. I would like you to remember the tightrope-walker. Always keep it in mind: the tightrope-walker. He is a symbol of life. He leans to the left, feels that now if he leans a little more he will fall; immediately he balances by leaning towards the right. Then he starts falling towards the right; immediately he balances himself again, leaning towards the left. He continuously leans from left to right, right to left. And that’s how he keeps himself in the middle. This is the mystery: to keep in the middle, he has to lean to the left, he has to lean to the right. To keep in the middle, he has to be very illogical – because the middle is not static, it is dynamic. Life is not static.
So always, if you want to keep yourself balanced, healthy, sane, you will have to lean to both sides: sometimes a little ritual, sometimes no ritual; sometimes a little scripture, sometimes no scripture; sometimes a little worship, sometimes no worship; sometimes a little prayer, sometimes no prayer. In this way you will become a tightrope-walker.
And remember, again I repeat: the middle is not a static posture. You cannot just stand there. You cannot say to the tightrope-walker, “Why do you go on leaning this way and that? Why all this effort? Just stand there in the middle!” Then he will fall. If you are static you will die.
Life is process – dynamic, river-like. Go and watch a river. Sometimes it flows to the north, sometimes to the east, sometimes to the south, and goes on leaning to both sides. And one day it reaches to the ocean.
Everything is accepted in proportion.
Osho, The Path of Love, Ch 6, Q 4