The tirtha is a mass experiment

Discourses Hidden Mysteries

“There is one other thing to be understood. Ordinarily we have the illusion that we are all separate individuals. This is a wrong belief,” declares Osho. From ‘Hidden Mysteries’, Ch 2, Part 7 of 9.

There are many of us sitting here, but if all of us sit silently separate individuals do not remain but only one individuality. One individuality of silence remains, and our consciousnesses begin to vibrate together and flow into each other.

The tirtha is a mass experiment.

On one special day in a year, hundreds of thousands of people gather at a tirtha – all with one desire, one expectation. People will come from hundreds of miles away to be together at a certain hour, under a certain star or constellation. With so many people and this one desire, this one expectation, one prayer and one aim, a bridge of consciousness is created. Then there are no longer many individuals.


If we look at the huge gatherings at the Kumbha Mela festival we do not see one individual; you see just a crowd, without a face. In a crowd separate faces cannot be found – just a faceless crowd of thousands of people. Who is who? There is no meaning in trying to know. Who is poor and who is rich? Who is a king and who is a beggar? There is no meaning in trying to make a distinction. The consciousnesses of everyone has begun to flow into each other. If a bridge can be made of the consciousnesses of these ten million people, if it can become one integrated consciousness, then it will be easier for the divine to enter than to enter so many individuals separately.

Nietzsche has written somewhere that he was walking in a garden when his foot fell upon one small insect, which immediately contracted and rolled over. Nietzsche was very puzzled as to why it behaved like this. He wrote that after thinking about it for some time, he realized that the insect was trying to decrease its field of contact, to prevent being hurt. With a larger insect there are more possibilities of being trodden on and killed because it takes up a bigger area. So this is the small insect’s form of self-protection – reducing its field of contact.

So when human consciousness forms a bigger contact field, the possibility of the divine descending into it becomes greater. The descending of the divine is a great happening. The greater the happening, the greater a place we have to create for it.

So the original form of prayer was group oriented; individual prayer was born much later, when the individual became more egoistic and it was more difficult for him to melt with others. So from the time individual prayer was done in the world, the real benefits of prayer were lost. In fact, prayer cannot be individual. When we are invoking such a great force as the divine, the larger a contact field we provide, the easier it is for that force to descend.

In this sense, tirthas create large contact fields. Again, when such a field is created at a particular moment, on a particular day, under a certain constellation, and in a particular place, the chances are better.

All events repeat
in a certain order.

It should also be understood that the life cycle is periodical. How is it? The monsoon begins at a particular time of the year. If it doesn’t, it is because of our interference; otherwise it is fairly fixed, even to the day and the hour. Summer and winter also arrive at particular times; and even our bodies work that way. Women’s menstruation is regulated, and related in some way with the cycles of the moon. If the body is healthy and normal, after twenty-eight days menstruation occurs. If the cycle is broken, then somewhere within the body of that woman something has gone wrong.

All events repeat in a certain order. If the coming of the divine has happened at a particular moment, on a certain day in a certain month, next year at the same time you can expect it to happen again. That moment has become powerful, and at that moment the divine energy can flow again. So year after year for hundreds of years, people have gathered together to wait at certain places. If this has happened many many times, then the repetition of that event at that moment becomes likely or even certain.

For example, at the time of the Kumbha Mela festival there are many disputes and quarrels over who will take the first dip in the Ganges, because it is impossible for hundreds of thousands of people to simultaneously have a dip. The special moment is prearranged and of short duration. Who will take the first dip at the right moment? Those will whose traditions have worked for it and searched for the moment; they will be the first.

Sometimes the right moment is just missed. The moment of enlightenment is just like a flash of lightning. It just flashes and becomes lost. If at that moment you are completely open, egoless and totally aware, then there will be the experience of the happening. If at that moment your eyes become blinded or closed, if your awareness has faltered, then the event will be lost to you.

The third use of the tirtha was a mass experiment. The ultimate power could be drawn more easily when people were innocent and simple. So tirthas were more relevant in the distant past – no one returned empty-handed from them. But the pilgrim of today does return empty-handed, and so he must go again and again. The more innocent and simple a society, the less people were aware of their individual personalities, the more successful was this mass experiment.

Even today, there are primitive tribal communities in which the individual is unaware of his personality. There is less of an idea of ‘I’; more of ‘we’ is there. There are a few tribal languages in which the word ‘I’ does not exist. Tribals speak in the language of ‘we’. It is not because of the language that there exists no concept of ‘I’ because their life is so community-bound. That has produced some very surprising results.

Balinese Painting

On a small island near Singapore, at one time some Westerners led an invasion. The chief of the tribe came to the shore and told the invaders that his people were unarmed but were not going to be slaves. The Westerners insisted on enslaving them – the tribe refused to fight, but said they knew how to die. The Westerners couldn’t believe this, they thought that no one would die just like that. They landed on the island, and five hundred tribesmen gathered together on the seashore. The Westerners could not believe their eyes: First, the chief fell down and died. Then all the others began falling to the ground and dying – one after the other – without being hit by any weapon. At first the Westerners thought they were just falling down out of fear, but when they approached them they found that all the tribesmen had actually died.

If the consciousness of ‘we’ is predominant, death can be contagious. If one dies, then death spreads. Some animals die like that. One sheep dies, then death spreads. Sheep do not have any awareness of ‘I’, only of ‘we’. If you see sheep walking, it is as if they are all joined together – only one life moving. If one sheep dies then the others feel like dying; the inner feeling to die begins to spread.

So when the society was more conscious of the feeling of ‘we’ and there was not much awareness of ‘I’, the tirtha was more relevant. The utility of such a place will be lost as the awareness of ‘I’ increases.

Osho, Hidden Mysteries, Ch 2  (translated from Hindi), Part 7 of 9

Previous parts
1. There are hidden meanings not visible from the outside
2. The whole purpose of the places of pilgrimage
3. All religions have developed their own code languages
4. Every religion has its own keys
5. The whole of the River Ganges is an experiment of alchemists
6. All methods of helping a seeker were found in tirthas and temples

List of all excerpts published: Hidden Mysteries

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