Osho, How can we teach children to be moral and religious?
Krishnaraj, are you mad? Are you asking me this question or to Ayatollah Khomaniac? To whom are you asking this question? You should go to Ayatollah Khomaniac.
I teach a religionless religion and I teach an amoral morality. It will be almost impossible for you, Krishnaraj, to understand. Your very question shows that you are not acquainted at all with my vision, with my way of looking at things.
The first thing: you are not to teach children religion and morality; you have to learn from them because they are far more closer to God than you are. They have come just now from God’s home; they are still carrying the fragrance. You have forgotten completely they have not yet forgotten; it will take time for them to forget. It will take time for them to be conditioned by you and destroyed by you. And that’s what you are asking me: how to destroy them, how to destroy their religiousness, how to destroy their morality, how to destroy their authenticity, how to destroy their sincerity – in short, how to destroy their intelligence.
Intelligence is the source of all religiousness and morality, and children are more intelligent than you are. Learn from them rather than trying to teach them. Drop this stupid idea that you have to teach them. Watch them, see their authenticity, see their spontaneity, see their watchfulness, see how alert they are, how full of life and joy, how cheerful, how full of wonder and awe.
Religion arises in wonder and awe. If you can feel wonder, if you can feel awe, you are religious. Not by reading the Bible or Gita or Koran, but by experiencing awe. When you see the sky full of stars, do you feel a dance in your heart? Do you see a song arising in your being? Do you feel a communion with the stars? Then you are religious. You are not religious by going to the church or by going to the temple and repeating borrowed prayers which have nothing to do with your heart, which are just head affairs.
Religion is a love affair – love affair with existence. And children are in that affair already. All that is needed from your side is not to destroy them. Help them to keep their wonder alive, help them to remain sincere and authentic and intelligent. But you destroy them. That’s what you want, actually, by asking this question: “How can we teach…?”
Religion can never be taught, it can only be caught. Are you religious? Have you the vibe of religion around you? Then you will not ask such a stupid question. Then your children will learn it just by being with you. If they see you with tears of joy watching a sunset, they are bound to be affected; they will fall silent. You need not tell them to be silent; they will see the tears and they will understand the language. They will see the sacredness of your tears; they will fall silent of their own accord. They will sit silently by your side. They will also watch the stars or the sunset or the moon.
Have they seen you dancing around a rosebush when roses have opened in the early morning and the air is fragrant? Have they seen you dancing around the roses? They will ask you, “Can we also participate? Can we also dance with you?”
In fact, if they want to dance you will say, “Stop this nonsense! Come to the temple with me, and pluck all the roses so that we can offer them to God.” This is religion? The roses were already offered to God; they were already dancing in the breeze, in the sun. Plucking them, you have killed them. You have killed the living roses and now you are going to offer them to a dead God! Some stupid God that you have made, invented. Just a stone which you have painted and put into a temple. Of course, this kind of religion has to be forced because children are intelligent people, very intelligent people. They resist this kind of enforcement. This is trying to destroy their freedom and to destroy their intelligence.
Watch the intelligence of the children. And whenever you find intelligence, rejoice in it and help them and tell them that “This is the way you should go on moving.”
Dad criticized the sermon, Mother thought the organist made a lot of mistakes. Sister did not like the choir’s singing. But they had second thoughts when the young son piped up, “Still, it was a pretty good show for twenty pence.”
The owner of a chicken farm wanted to make his son behave better, so he devised an object lesson.
“Do you see, my son? The chickens that were bad were eaten by a fox.”
“So?” replied his son. “If they had been good, we would have eaten them!”
Two six-year-olds were examining an abstract painting in a gift shop. Looking at a blotch of paint – “Let us run,” said one, “before they say we did it!”
A father returned home from his usual day at the office and found his small son on the front steps looking very unhappy.
“What is wrong, son?” he asked.
“Just between you and me,” the boy said, “I simply can’t get along with your wife.”
A father took his young son to an opera for the first time. The conductor started waving the baton and the soprano began her aria. The boy finally asked, “Why is he hitting her with his stick?”
“He is not hitting her, he is just waving it in the air,” replied the father.
“Then why is she screaming?”
You just watch small children a little bit; you just see their intelligence.
Johnny was just home after his first day at school.
“Well, darling,” asked his mother, “what did they teach you?”
“Not much,” replied the child. “I have got to go again.”
A young boy came to his first day of school in America. Since he was an Italian immigrant he spoke no English at all. So the school principal sent out an announcement that anyone who could speak Italian should please report to the office.
Soon a scruffy young boy showed up. “Do you speak Italian?” they asked him.
“Sure!” said the boy. “I live in an Italian neighborhood; I speak it all the time.”
“Good,” they said. “We need your help in translating. First ask him what his name is.”
“Okay. Hey, kid! What’s-a ya name?”
And that did! That is enough Italian.
If you watch small children, their inventiveness, their intelligence, their constant exploration into the unknown, their curiosity, their inquiry, you need not teach them any beliefs.
And what is religion in your mind, Krishnaraj? – teaching certain beliefs. And no belief is religious, all beliefs make people stupid. Religion is an experience, not a belief. You will make them Hindus or Mohammedans or Christians, but that is not making them religious. And you are not interested, in fact, in making them religious; you are interested in making them Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians. You want them to belong to your fold and you are afraid of their intelligence. You want to kill it and destroy it before it is too late – before they start revolting, before they start thinking on their own. It is a greatest crime to force children into any religious belief. Help them to understand and tell them to find their religion.
You don’t allow children to vote; for political ideology they have to wait for twenty-one years, then you think they are ripe enough to vote. And for religious ideology they are ripe enough when they are five or four! Do you think religious education is of lower grade than the political education? Do you think to belong to a political party needs higher intelligence, more maturity, than to belong to a religion? If twenty-one years is the age for political maturity, then at least forty-two years should be the age for religious maturity. Before forty-two years nobody should choose any religion. Inquire, search, explore, and explore all over the place, explore in every possible direction.
And when you decide your religion on your own it has significance: when it is imposed on you it is a slave; when you choose it, it is a commitment, it is involvement.
The Protestant booklet that I was just talking about also mentions one fact: that one thing has to be learned from Rajneesh and his sannyasins – that why they feel so committed. why they feel so involved, so deeply in love. No Christian seems to be so deeply in love with Christ. Why are they so in love with their own Master? There must be some reason behind it that has to be explored.
The reason is clear-cut: sannyas is not imposed upon you, you have chosen it. The same was the case with the disciples of Jesus, with the disciples of Buddha. But it happens only when the Master is alive; when the Master is gone…
In fact, children should be allowed to choose their own Masters. Parents should not enforce their own ideology on their children. If you really love your children, don’t teach them any religion. Yes, give them the feel of being religious, give them the feel of prayerfulness. And that you can give not by telling them how to pray but by just being in prayer yourself. If they see you in prayer they will catch. Prayer is contagious. They will start asking you, “How we can also participate in the prayer?” If you sit in meditation and they see the silence and the serenity and the stillness surrounding you and a certain aura that arises out of meditation, a certain radiation, they are bound to be interested in it. They are always interested in everything new.
And morality is a byproduct of religion. When one feels in the heart religion arising, a relationship, a communion with existence happening, one becomes moral. It is not a question of commandments, it is not a question of shoulds and should-nots; it is a question of love, compassion.
When you are silent, a deep compassion arises for the whole existence, and out of that compassion one becomes moral. One cannot be cruel, one cannot kill, one cannot destroy. When you are silent, blissful, you start becoming a blessing to everybody else. That phenomenon of becoming a blessing to everybody else is true morality.
Morality has nothing to do with so-called moral principles. These so-called moral principles only create hypocrites: they create only pseudo people, split personalities. A schizophrenic humanity has come about because of thousands of priests, so-called saints and mahatmas and their continuous teachings: “Do this, don’t do that.” You are not helped to be aware, to see what is right and what is wrong. You are not given eyes, you are simply given directions.
My effort here is to help so that you can open your eyes – to uncover your eyes, to remove all kinds of curtains from your eyes, so that you can see what is right. And when you see what is right you are bound to do it, you cannot do otherwise. When you see what is wrong you cannot do it; it is impossible.
Religion brings clarity and clarity transforms your character.
Osho, Zen: The Special Transmission, Ch 6, Q 4