You ask me, “Why this mala? Why this picture?”
I will say, “Use it in this way, and this will happen,” and my answer is as scientific as possible. Religion never claims to be rational, the only claim is of being irrational.
Use the mala in this way: meditate on the picture, then the picture will not be there. It happens so. Then the absent picture becomes a door. Through that door communicate with me. It happens so. After doing meditation, take this mala off and feel, and then put this mala on and feel, and you will see the difference.
Without this mala you will feel totally unprotected, totally in the reins of a force which can be harmful. With this mala on you will feel protected, you will be more confident, settled. Nothing can disturb from the outside. It happens so; you will do the experiment and know. Why it happens cannot even be answered scientifically. And religiously there is no question to answer. Religion never claims, that is why so many rituals of religion become irrelevant.
As time passes by, a very meaningful ritual will become meaningless, because keys are lost and no one can say why this ritual exists. Then it becomes just a dead ritual. You cannot do anything with it. You can perform it, but the key is lost. For example, you can go on wearing the mala, and if you do not know that the picture in it is meant for some inner communication, then it will be just a dead weight. Then the key is lost. The mala may be with you, but the key is lost. Then one day or another you will have to throw away the mala because it is useless.
The mala is a device for meditation. It is a key. But this will come only through experience. I can only help you toward the experience. And unless it happens, you will not know. But it can happen, it is so easy, it is not difficult at all. When I am alive, it is so easy. When I am not there, it will be very difficult.
All these statues that have existed on this earth were used as such devices, but now they are meaningless. Buddha declared that his statue should not be made. But the work that was done by statues still will have to be done. Although the statue is meaningless, the real thing is the work that can be done through it.
Those who follow Mahavira can communicate with Mahavira through his statue even today. So what should Buddha’s disciples do? That is why the Bodhi tree became so important; it was used instead of Buddha’s statue. For five hundred years after Buddha there was no statue. In the Buddhist temples only a picture of the Bodhi tree and two symbolic footprints were kept, but this was sufficient. That still continues. The tree that exists in Bodhgaya is in continuity with the original tree. So still today those who know the key can communicate with Buddha through the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya. It is not just meaningless that monks from all over the world come to Bodhgaya. But they must know the key, otherwise they will just go and the whole thing will be just a ritual.
So these are keys – particular mantras chanted in a particular way, pronounced in a particular way, emphasized in a particular way with such-and-such frequencies. A wavelength should be created, the waves should be created. Then the Bodhi tree is not just a Bodhi tree; it becomes a passage, it opens a door. Then twenty-five centuries are no more, the time gap is not there. You come face to face with Buddha. But keys are always lost. So this much can be said: use the locket, and you will know much. All that I have said will be known, and more that I have not said will be known also.
Osho, I am the Gate, Ch 3, Q 2 (excerpt)