Marc’s rude awakening when he found out as a child that he was duped to believe in the existence of a Father in heaven.
In Holland, children and their parents celebrate the birthday of Santa Claus on the 5th of December.¹ If you had behaved well, sweets and presents were given. If you had been naughty, there was a threat of punishment in the air, but it never happened.
When I was six years old, my parents told me that there is no real Santa Claus with a book in which the good and evil deeds of all children are recorded. It was just my father who played that role dressed up… What? Was it all fake? No all-knowing, old man with a long white beard? In the beginning I was shocked about this information, and then realised that people can seriously fool you.
As a child growing up in a Christian culture, I also learned and used to pray (in Dutch) the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Shortly after that mind-blowing St. Nicholas event, I realised that there is also no Father in heaven whose kingdom will come. What are all those people saying and doing in church then?
It left me in a limbo. Twenty years later, Osho made clear to me why God is a concept and a projection of the human mind:
Heaven and hell are not geographical. If you go in search of them you will never find them anywhere. They are within you, they are psychological. The mind is heaven, the mind is hell, and the mind has the capacity to become either. But people go on thinking everything is somewhere outside. We always go on looking for everything outside because to be inwards is very difficult. We are outgoing. If somebody says there is a god, we look at the sky. Somewhere, sitting there, will be the divine person.
One psychologist in an American school asked small children what they thought about God. Children have clearer perception: they are less cunning, more truthful. They are more representative of the human mind, they are un-perverted. So he asked the children and the answers were collected. The conclusions were very ridiculous. Almost all the children depicted God something like this – an old man, very tall, bearded and very dangerous. He created fear. If you didn’t follow him he would throw you into hell; if you prayed and followed him he would give you paradise and all the pleasures. He was sitting on a throne in the sky watching everybody. You couldn’t escape him; even in your bathroom he was looking.
The outgoing mind projects everything outside. This is your God too. Don’t laugh, don’t think this is a child’s conception – no, this is you.
This is how you think about God – as a cosmic spy, always searching to condemn, to punish, to throw you into hell… as very ferocious, revengeful. That’s why all religions are based on fear. Religions say if you do this you will be appreciated, rewarded; if you don’t do this, you will be punished. The base seems to be fear. God just seems to be a very powerful emperor sitting on a throne in heaven. The whole concept is foolish but human; the human mind is foolish. The whole concept is anthropocentric.
In the Bible it is said God created man in his own image. In reality, it seems to be quite otherwise: man created God in his own image. We have projected God in our own image; he is just a blow-up of the human mind. He is a bigger human mind, that’s all. Remember, if you think God is somewhere outside you, you have not even taken the first step towards being religious.
The same happens with all such concepts. We say heaven is without, hell is without; it is as if there exists nothing within. What is within you? The moment you think of the within it seems that everything goes empty. What is within? The world is without, sex is without, sin is without, virtue is without. God, heaven, hell – everything is without. What is within you? Who are you? The moment you think of the within your mind goes blank, there is nothing. In reality, everything is within; the outer is just a projection. Fear is within you; it is projected as a hell. Hell is just a projected image on the screen – of the fear that is within you, of the anger, of the jealousy, of all that is poisonous in you, of all that is evil in you. Heaven is, again, a projected image on the screen – of all that is good and beautiful, of all that is blissful within you. The Devil is the fallen human being, God is the risen human being. God is the ultimate possibility of your beatitude; the Devil is your ultimate fall. There is nobody like the Devil existing somewhere. You will never meet him unless you become him. And you will never encounter God unless you become God.
Thank you, Osho.
¹ Footnote: The name of the historical fourth-century Greek bishop Saint Nicholas morphed centuries later into modern global Santa Claus, the British Father Christmas and the Dutch Sinterklaas. Most predominantly Christian countries celebrate St. Nicholas on 6th December; Holland is an exception.
Quote by Osho from A Bird on the Wing, Ch 3 (excerpt)
Marc is a regular contributor
More articles by the same author on Osho News