Osho answers a question about the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster that happened at the time he was in Uruguay during the World Tour.
Beloved Osho, In the last days I often have the feeling that the ground is going beneath my feet. It seems to me as if all that I love or loved in the past is being destroyed.
The recent disaster in the soviet nuclear station makes painfully clear how fragile and mortal everything is. My parents, my son, my brother and sister, my friends and my beloveds – all are in danger.
It is so hard for me to conceive that there is nothing but the moment. I am fearfully asking myself, “what is going to happen next?” but who is asking whom? All seems so absurd and empty. Sometimes I even feel I am going mad. Beloved Osho, is this part of growth or just a disease?
Times of disaster make you aware of the reality as it is. It is always fragile; everybody is always in danger. Just in ordinary times you are fast asleep, so you don’t see it: you go on dreaming, imagining beautiful things for the coming days, for the future. But in moments when danger is imminent then suddenly you become aware that there may be no future, no tomorrow, that this is the only moment you have got.
So times of disaster are very revealing. They don’t bring anything new into the world; they simply make you aware of the world as it is – they wake you up. If you don’t understand this, you can go mad; if you understand this, you can become awakened.
[…] It depends on you how you use the moment: you can panic, you can go mad, you can break down in fear, in tears. But that is not going to help your family or your friends or your beloved. It is not going to help you either.
This disaster in Russia has simply created a situation in which those who have a little intelligence can start devoting more and more of their time to meditation, because tomorrow is really uncertain. It has always been uncertain, but now it is more uncertain than ever. This disaster may be just the beginning of a chain of disasters, because all these nuclear plants don’t have any intrinsic safety. If anything goes wrong – and now we know that one plant has gone wrong – then they don’t have any power, they are simply helpless. They cannot control the energy that they are creating.
The same disaster can happen in America, can happen in Germany. Just next to this plant which has burned down there are two other plants of the same age; they were made at the same time and had the same architect. They must have the same faults. There is every possibility that the second plant will blow up soon, and the third will not be far behind. And these disasters can trigger panic in thousands of people who are working in other plants; they can lose their so-called controlled behavior. They can start committing mistakes that they have never committed, just out of a feverish, frenzied state. And it is only a question of pushing a wrong button. But you can use this as a great moment.
We are all always in danger.
You know the old saying: “Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls. It always tolls for thee.” When somebody dies, the church bell informs the whole village. But never send anybody to ask for whom the bell tolls; it always tolls for thee. Whoever may have died right now… each death is your death, because each death is a reminder that you are not going to be here forever. Each death is an opportunity to be awake. Before death comes use the opportunity of life to attain something which is beyond death.
It is pointless to be worried because you will be simply missing this moment and you won’t help anybody. And it is not that only your parents and your friends, your beloved, are in danger: the whole world is in danger. It is only a question… Somebody is in danger today, somebody else will be in danger tomorrow — but the danger is there. So learn the secret of how to transcend the danger.
The secret is, start living more fully, more totally. Be more alert so that you can find within yourself something that is unreachable by death. That is the only shelter, the only security, the only safety. And if you want to help your friends and family, let them become aware of this secret.
What has happened is going to happen again and again, because there are so many nuclear plants, even in undeveloped countries which don’t have the technical know-how, which are technologically still in the bullock-cart age, almost two or three thousand years back. They are not contemporaries, so these latest technical developments are very strange for them. But they have to develop them because others are developing, and the competition and the fear…
And this has happened in the Soviet Union, where they are technologically contemporary. What will happen if it happens in Pakistan or in India? They don’t have any technological sensibility. There is such a distance between them and nuclear technology that it cannot be bridged. American and Soviet technologists can go and make a plant and hand it over to them, but for them it is going to be difficult.
[…] There are going to be disasters. This is just the beginning. Use the opportunity to be awake – that’s all you can do. There is nothing else that you can do.
[…] So it is not a small tragedy; its scale is tremendous. And many things are not known which will be known as time passes. The fish in the ocean will get the radiation: you eat the fish and you get the radiation. The water becomes undrinkable, because radiation ashes settle easily on the water. The atom bomb that was used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the second world war was a small toy compared to these nuclear plants and nuclear missiles. But even now the effects continue because they go from generation to generation. And you cannot control fish; they will move to any place, and you don’t know where they have moved.
[…] Another accident like that… And it all depends on the winds. You cannot control it; the winds can take the clouds, the fumes, the radiation in any direction, to any country, to anywhere. So it is not only a question of one place and its surroundings being affected. The place may be anywhere and you may be thousands of miles away but you can be affected because the winds can carry radiation. And you will be more vulnerable because you will not be so alert about it and you will not take any precautions.
There is one medicine – and this is the first time it is being used– which people think can prevent your being affected by radiation, but all stocks are finished everywhere in every country. People are dying to get the medicine, particularly in Europe, but there is no stock because nobody thought that suddenly there would be so much demand. And no other country is willing to give it because who knows? – the cloud may move towards them and they will be in the same position.
The danger is more, but as life is itself always in the grip of death, it is a good opportunity to be aware. Otherwise your death comes without any pre-information: suddenly it comes and you don’t have even a single moment. And even in cases where death is certain – in cancer or in AIDS – the doctors, the family, the friends, everybody tries to hide the fact that it is so close… with good intentions, but good intentions won’t do. They are harming the person.
The person should be made aware: “Your death is going to come within one month. You don’t have any more life, so this month do the best thing that can give you a taste of immortality.” Then when you die there is no sadness, no misery – you simply move from this body into another body, or if you become enlightened… A sudden awareness of death can make you enlightened.
[…] So it is only a question of how to use everything – whatever it is. Use it rightly. The disaster is great, the danger is great, but great is the opportunity too.
Osho, The Path of the Mystic, Ch 4, Q 1 (excerpts)