“For thousands of years the human mind has believed that by going to a holy pool, to a river or to a pond, all will be good. You want to find cheap ways to get rid of all that you have been doing, you don’t want to take its responsibility on yourself,” states Osho. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
In the East the holy pools have been believed in for ages – that if you go to the Ganges you will be purified; nothing else is needed. Very cheap, very easy to do. But very tricky; you are befooled by the priests.
Kabir says, ’There is nothing but water in the holy pools’ – he takes the hammer in his hand and he starts destroying your so-called religion.
The holy pools have been of immense value to the Hindus. The water certainly cleanses the body, but it cannot cleanse the soul. How can it cleanse your consciousness? You commit wrong, and you go and take a dip in the Ganges and you think it is finished.
A follower of Ramakrishna was going to the Ganges on a certain auspicious day, and he asked permission of Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna was not like Kabir. A very polite man, he would not take a hammer in his hand. But truth is truth. He would hit with a flower, not with a hammer – but hitting is hitting, and sometimes a flower hits more deeply than a hammer.
He said, “Good, you go – the Ganges is beautiful, it purifies. But remember one thing: don’t come back, remain in the Ganges for ever. Because the moment you get out, the effect is lost. And have you seen the trees on the bank of the Ganges?”
And the devotee said, “Yes, there are big trees on the Ganges.2
And Ramakrishna said, “Have you ever pondered over it, why they are standing there?”
He said, “No, I have never thought about it.”
And Ramakrishna said, “When you take a dip in the Ganges and you go underwater, naturally, the Ganges is so pure that your sins leave you immediately. But they jump on the trees and sit there. And when you are coming back home, they jump upon you again.”
But this is saying the same thing. It is just that Ramakrishna’s and Kabir’s way of saying it are different – Kabir is just blunt, Ramakrishna is polite.
Just look at the stupidity of human mind. For thousands of years it has believed that by going to a holy pool, to a river or to a pond, all will be good. And in the same way others have believed other things – going to sacred cities, Jerusalem, or the Weeping Wall, or going to Kaaba. They are all the same stupid attitudes. You want to find cheap ways to get rid of all that you have been doing, you don’t want to take its responsibility on yourself. You don’t want to transform yourself, that’s why you find these cheap ways. You remain the same.
Man has not changed – because of these things. And these things became a great consolation. A murderer goes to the river, a holy river, and takes a dip in the river and feels perfectly good. The same is being done by the Christians when they go to confess. You go to the priest and you confess, and you think it is finished just by confessing it. And next day you are ready to do it again. And you know that there is not much of a problem, you can do it again and go and confess again. You can go every year to the Ganges, take a dip, and the whole year is clean and you have earned great virtue.
When you think over it, it looks so stupid. But that’s how man has lived up to now. In the name of religion, man has just been postponing his transformation. And the real religion should be a transforming force. But the so-called religion has not been a transforming force; on the contrary, it has been a hindrance. It has been the greatest obstacle in man’s change.
So religious people go on moving in a circle. They go on doing certain things, hoping that everything will be okay, and they remain the same. They go, year in, year out, to the temple. They go on playing with their beads, they go on repeating sacred names, and they remain the same – not even a slight change. Nothing ever changes. In fact their beliefs are their ways to protect themselves from change; their beliefs are their defenses, their beliefs are the arm around themselves. They want to remain the same. They still want to have that pleasure also, that they are religious, that they are holier then others – that they are not ordinary people, they are extraordinary. And these things give you beautiful dreams of yourself being extraordinary, superior, holier-than-thou.
These are ego trips. They are all the same stupid attitudes. You want to find cheap ways to get rid of all that you have been doing, you don’t want to take its responsibility on yourself. You don’t want to transform yourself, that’s why you find these cheap ways. You remain the same.
And Kabir says it out of his own experience. He had been going to all these places – to the temple and to the mosque and to the holy river and to the sacred places, he had travelled along. But he was travelling with eyes open, watching what is happening. And nothing was happening.
He says it out of his own experience. He is not a theoretician, remember it always – whatsoever he says, he says because he has experienced it. His statement has a validity; he is not only philosophizing, it is not only an idea, that there is nothing but water in the holy pools. He says:
‘I know, I have been swimming in them. All the gods sculpted of wood and ivory can’t say a word.’
And you go on praying to them. And see the absurdity of it, the ridiculousness of it: you have created them! You have purchased them from the marketplace and then you start worshipping them. They are playthings, toys to play with, and you go on deceiving yourself. And you can be so auto-hypnotized by your own deceptions that the whole life can go down the drain without knowing a single glimpse of truth.
Destroy all these idols. It will be painful, because they have a certain consolation. It will become very very painful, because you will be left alone with no god to cry to, to pray to.
You will be left alone in this vast emptiness of existence. But that is the first step towards reality, towards the true God, towards godliness.
Be naked of all beliefs and be free of all idols.
Osho, The Revolution – Discourses on Kabir, Ch 1 (excerpt)