You Can Change Only The Individual


Beloved Osho,
The longing for a better life, for a utopia, has been constantly in man’s mind since he became aware of his consciousness. On the other hand he became more and more afraid of all his irrational powers. Can you please comment?

The yearning for a utopia is basically the yearning for harmony in the individual and in the society. The harmony has never existed; there has always been a chaos.

Society has been divided into different cultures, different religions, different nations  – and all based on superstitions. None of the divisions are valid.

But these divisions show that man is divided within himself: these are the projections of his own inner conflict. He is not one within, that’s why he could not create one society, one humanity outside.

Osho Kathmandu

The cause is not outside. The outside is only the reflection of the inner man.

Man has developed from the animals. Even if Charles Darwin is not right… His theory of evolution – that man has developed out of the apes – does look a little childish, because for thousands of years these apes have been there, but none of them have developed into human beings. So it is strange that only a few apes developed into human beings, and the remaining ones still are apes; and there seems to be no sign that they are going to change into human beings.

Secondly, he could not find a link between man and the ape, because whenever things develop there are always steps, not jumps. The ape cannot simply jump and become a human being. There must be a process of evolution; there must be a few in between stages, and those stages are missing. Charles Darwin worked his whole life to find the missing link, but he could not find anything.

Different people come from
different animal bodies.

But according to Eastern mysticism, in a very different way, man is evolved from the animals – not as far as his body is concerned, but as far as his being is concerned. And that seems to be more relevant. Charles Darwin has almost lost his ground in scientific fields. Now the anti-Darwinians are winning, and Charles Darwin is almost out of date. It was only a fiction.

But Eastern mysticism has the same theory – not that the ape’s body develops into a human body, but that an ape’s soul or an elephant’s soul, or a lion’s soul, can develop into a human being. First the soul develops, and then, according to the soul’s need, nature provides the body. So there is no bodily evolution, but there is a spiritual connection.

This is profoundly supported by modern psychoanalysis, particularly Carl Gustav Jung’s school, because in the collective unconscious of man there are memories which belong to animalhood.

If man is taken deep into hypnosis, first he enters the unconscious mind, which is just the repressed part of this life. If he is hypnotized even more deeply, then he enters into the collective unconscious, which has memories of being animals.

People start screaming – in that stage they cannot speak a language. They start moaning or crying, but language is impossible; they can shout, but in an animal way. And in the collective unconscious state, if they are allowed to move or they are told to move, they move on all fours – they don’t stand up.

In the collective unconscious there are certainly remnants that suggest that they have been sometime in some animal body. And different people come from different animal bodies. That may be the cause of such a difference in individuals. And sometimes you can see a similarity – somebody behaves like a dog, somebody behaves like a fox, somebody behaves like a lion.

And there is great support in folklore, in ancient parables like Aesop’s Fables, or Panchtantra in India – which is the most ancient – in which all the stories are about animals, but are very significant for human beings and represent certain human types.

Charles Darwin may have failed because he was only looking for a link between bodies, physical bodies; and there may not be any link between physical bodies. But Eastern mysticism may be right that man has evolved spiritually from animalhood.

Man still carries much of the animal’s instinct – his anger, his hatred, his jealousy, his possessiveness, his cunningness. All that has been condemned in man seems to belong to a very deep-rooted unconscious. And the whole work of spiritual alchemy is how to get rid of the animal past.

Without getting rid of the animal past, man will remain divided. The animal past and his humanity cannot exist as one, because humanity has just the opposite qualities. So all that man can do is become a hypocrite.

Utopia is possible.

As far as formal behavior is concerned, he follows the ideals of humanity – of love and of truth, of freedom, of non-possessiveness, compassion. But it remains only a very thin layer, and at any moment the hidden animal can come up; any accident can bring it up. And whether it comes up or not, the inner consciousness is divided.

This divided consciousness has been creating the yearning and the question: How to become a harmonious whole as far as the individual is concerned? And the same is true about the whole society: How can we make the society a harmonious whole – where there is no war, no conflict, no classes; no divisions of color, caste, religion, nation?

Because of people like Thomas Moore, who wrote the book Utopia, the name became synonymous with all idealistic goals – but they have not grasped the real problem. That’s why it seems their idea of a utopia is never going to happen. If you think of society as becoming an ideal society, a paradise, it seems to be impossible: There are so many conflicts, and there seems to be no way to harmonize them.

Every religion wants to conquer the whole world, not to be harmonized.

Every nation wants to conquer the whole world, not to be harmonized.

Every culture wants to spread all over the world and to destroy all other cultures, not to bring a harmony between them.

So utopia became synonymous with something which is simply imaginary. And there are dreamers – the very word ‘utopia’ also means “that which is never going to happen.” But still man goes on thinking in those terms again and again. There seems to be some deep-rooted urge…. But his thinking is about the symptoms – that’s why it seems to be never going to happen. He is not looking at the causes. The causes are individuals.

Utopia is possible. A harmonious human society is possible, should be possible, because it will be the best opportunity for everyone to grow, the best opportunity for everyone to be himself. The richest possibilities will be available to everyone.

So it seems that the way it is, society is absolutely stupid.

The utopians are not dreamers, but your so-called realists who condemn utopians are stupid. But both are agreed on one point – that something has to be done in the society.

Prince Kropotkin, Bakunin, and their followers, would like all the governments to be dissolved – as if it is in their hands, as if you simply say so and the governments will dissolve. These are the anarchists, who are the best utopians. Reading them, it seems that whatever they are saying is significant. But they have no means to materialize it, and they have no idea how it is going to happen.

Democracy is
only mobocracy.

And there is Karl Marx, Engels, and Lenin – the Marxists, the communists, and different schools of socialism, connected with different dreamers. Even George Bernard Shaw had his own idea of socialism, and he had a small group called the Fabian Society. He was propagating a kind of socialist world, totally different from the communist world that exists today.

There are fascists who think that it is a question of more control and more government power; just the opposite pole of anarchists, who want no government – all the source of corruption is government. And there are people, the fascists, who want all power in the hands of dictators.

It is because of the democratic idea that the society is falling apart, because in democracy the lowest denominator becomes the ruler. He decides who is going to rule; and he is the most ignorant one, he has no understanding. The mob decides how the society should be. So according to the fascist, democracy is only mobocracy, it is not democracy – there is no democracy possible.

According to the communists, the whole problem is simply the class division between the poor and the rich. They think that if all government power goes into the hands of the poor, and they have a dictatorship of the proletariat – when all classes have disappeared, and the society has become equal – then soon there will be no need of any state.

They are all concerned with the society. And that is where their failure lies. As I see it, utopia is not something that is not going to happen, it is something that is possible, but we should go to the causes, not to the symptoms. And the causes are in the individuals, not in the society.

[…] There have been attempts all over the world to make a harmonious human society, but all have failed for the simple reason that nobody has bothered why it is not naturally harmonious.

It is not harmonious because each individual inside is divided, and his divisions are projected onto the society. And unless we dissolve the individual’s inner divisions, there is no possibility of really realizing a utopia and creating a harmonious society in the world.

So the only way for a utopia is that your consciousness should grow more, and your unconsciousness should grow less, so finally a moment comes in your life when there is nothing left which is unconscious: you are simply a pure consciousness. Then there is no division.

…not revolution,
but meditation,

And this kind of person, who has just consciousness and nothing opposed to it, can become the very brick in creating a society which has no divisions. In other words, only a society which is enlightened enough can fulfill the demand of being harmonious – a society of enlightened people, a society of great meditators who have dropped their divisions.

Instead of thinking in terms of revolution and changing the society, its structure, we should think more of meditation and changing the individual. That is the only possible way that some day we can drop all divisions in the society. But first they have to be dropped in the individual – and they can be dropped there.

[…] The world can come to a harmony if meditation is spread far and wide, and people are brought to one consciousness within themselves. This will be a totally different dimension to work with.

Up to now it was revolution. The point was society, its structure. It has failed again and again in different ways. Now it should be the individual; and not revolution, but meditation, transformation.

And it is not so difficult as people think. They may waste six years in getting a master’s degree in a university; and they will not think that this is wasting too much time for just a degree which means nothing.

It is only a question of understanding the value of meditation. Then it is easily possible for millions of people to become undivided within themselves. And they will be the first group of humanity to become harmonious. And their harmoniousness, their beauty, their compassion, their love – all their qualities – are bound to resound around the world.

My effort is to make meditation almost a science so it is not something to do with religion.

So anybody can practice it – whether he is a Hindu or a Christian or a Jew or a Mohammedan, it doesn’t matter. What his religion is, is irrelevant; he can still meditate. He may not even believe in any religion, he may be an atheist; still he can meditate.

Meditation has to become almost like a wildfire. Then there is some hope.

And people are ready: they have been thirsting for something that changes the whole flavor of the society. It is ugly as it is, it is disgusting. It is at the most, tolerable. Somehow people have been tolerating it. But to tolerate is not a very joyful thing.

It should be ecstatic.

It should be enjoyable.

It should bring a dance to people’s hearts.

And once these divisions within a person disappear, he can see so clearly about everything. It is not a question of his being knowledgeable, it is a question of his clarity. He can look at every dimension, every direction with such clearness, with such deep sensitivity, perceptiveness, that he may not be knowledgeable but his clarity will give you answers which knowledge cannot give.

This is one of the most important things – the idea of utopia – which has been following man like a shadow for thousands of years. But somehow it got mixed up with the changing of society; the individual never got looked at .

Nobody has paid much attention to the individual – and that is the root cause of all the problems. But because the individual seems to be so small and the society seems so big, people think that we can change society, and then the individuals will change.

This is not going to be so – because ‘society’ is only a word; there are only individuals, there is no society. The society has no soul – you cannot change anything in it.

You can change only the individual, howsoever small he appears. And once you know the science of how to change the individual, it is applicable to all the individuals everywhere.

And my feeling is that one day we are going to attain a society which will be harmonious, which will be far better than all the ideas that utopians have been producing for thousands of years.

The reality will be far more beautiful.

Osho, Light on the Path, Ch 30, Q 2 (excerpt)

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