Osho answers the question, “Why do revolutions fail?”
First, because they are not revolutions. Revolution is possible only in the individual soul. The social revolution is a pseudo phenomenon, because the society has no soul of its own. Revolution is a spiritual phenomenon. There can be no political revolution, no social revolution, no economic revolution. The only revolution is that of the spirit; it is individual. And if millions of individuals change, then the society will change as a consequence, not vice versa. You cannot change the society first and hope that individuals will change later on.
That’s why revolutions have been failing: because we have taken revolution from a very wrong direction. We have thought that if you change the society, change the structure, economical or political, then one day the individuals, the constituent elements of the society, will change. This is stupid. Who is going to do this revolution?
For example, in 1917 a great so-called revolution happened in Russia. But who is going to take charge of this revolution? Who is going to become powerful? Joseph Stalin became powerful. Now Joseph Stalin had not gone through any revolution himself; he was a by-product of the same society that he was changing or was trying to change. He proved a far more dangerous czar than the czars that he had destroyed, because he was created by those czars. He was a by-product of a feudal society. He tried to change the society, but he himself was a dictatorial mind. He imposed his dictatorship on the country, revolution became counter-revolution – and this has been the misfortune of all the revolutions that have happened in the world because the revolutionary is the same type of person. He has been created by the past, he is not new. What is he going to do? – he will repeat the past. Labels will be new – he will call it communism, socialism, fascism; that doesn’t matter. You can have fancy names; fancy names only befool people.
Mulla Nasruddin went to a doctor, told him to check him and said, “Please, tell me in plain language. I don’t want any of the abracadabra of medical science. You simply tell me plainly what the problem is with me. Don’t use big names in Latin and Greek. Simply say in plain language what exactly is the matter with me.”
The doctor checked and he said, “If you want to know exactly, in plain language – there is nothing wrong with you, you are simply lazy.”
He said, “Good. Thank you. Now give it a fancy name to tell my wife. And the bigger the name, the better. Make it as difficult as you can.”
We go on giving fancy names, but deep down the reality remains the same. Nothing happened in 1917. One czar was replaced by another czar, and of course more dangerous. Why more dangerous? – because Stalin had destroyed the czar, he was a stronger man, certainly more cunning. He knew how the czar had been destroyed, so he had all the ideas of how to protect himself so he did not go the same way. He created a greater slavery in Russia than there was before. Because he was afraid that sooner or later he would be thrown away, so he had to break all the bridges and he had to throw all the ladders that he had used. And he was more cautious; the czar himself was not so cautious because he was a born czar. He had got it through inheritance, he had taken it for granted. Stalin had worked his way himself; it had been a torturous way and a long journey, and he had to destroy many enemies.
After the revolution he started destroying and killing all those people who could be in some way competitors with him. Trotsky was murdered because he was the next man, very close, and in fact more influential in Russia than Joseph Stalin because he was an intellectual Jew, was a greater orator, had more mass appeal. Stalin was nothing intellectually compared to Trotsky. He had to be killed. And there are possibilities that even Lenin was poisoned by the doctors. And then the years that Stalin remained in power, he destroyed all potential competitors. One by one, all the members of the Politburo were killed. He must have been the strongest man in the whole history of humanity, and he turned the whole country into a big prison.
This is how revolutions fail. The first reason is because we try from the wrong end.
Secondly, once a revolution has succeeded we have to destroy the revolutionaries, because the revolutionaries are dangerous people. They have destroyed the first society, they will destroy the second, because they are addicted to revolution. They know only one thing, they are experts only in one thing: in throwing governments – they don’t care what government. Their whole expertise and their whole power is in throwing governments. Once a revolution succeeds the first work of the people who come in power is to destroy all the remaining revolutionaries – and they had succeeded because of them! So each revolution turns to counter-revolution because the people who had brought them into power are more dangerous people.
Try to understand. The mind of a revolutionary is a destructive mind: he knows how to destroy, he does not know how to create. He is very capable of provoking people into violence, but he is absolutely incapable of helping people to become calm and quiet and go to work and create. He does not know that language. For his whole life he has been a revolutionary. His whole work, his whole expertise, is to provoke people to destroy; he knows only that language. And you cannot hope to change his whole life pattern at the end of his life.
So those who are in power have to destroy all the remaining revolutionaries. Each revolution kills its own fathers – it has to be done – and once those fathers are killed, the revolution has turned into a counter-revolution. It is no more revolutionary, it is anti-revolutionary.
[…] Revolution cannot be imposed from above. Who will impose it? The people who impose it will be part of the past; they will continue the past. Tell the people that there is no future for political revolutions. Only one kind of revolution is possible, and that is spiritual revolution. Each individual has to change in his being, and if we can change millions of people then the society will change. There is no other way, there is no shortcut.
And this too has to be understood: It is an inherent characteristic of any developing system that heroes emerge and are heroes only in the context which stimulated their creation. As these heroes overcome and change such contexts, the heroes themselves become the context to be changed.
A certain hero is born in a certain situation. For example, Mahatma Gandhi was born because of the British Empire. He was meaningful only in the context of the British Empire. Once the British Empire died Mahatma Gandhi was meaningless. The context was not there; from where can you get the meaning? So once the context is changed, then the hero himself becomes a useless burden. Lenin became a burden to those who came into power, Gandhi became a burden to those who came into power. Jayaprakash has become a burden right now to those who are in power – and this is the history, the whole history. But there is a fundamental law working: It is an inherent characteristic of any developing system that heroes emerge and are heroes only in the context which stimulated their creation.
Political leaders are temporary leaders. They exist in a certain context; when the context is gone they are gone.
That is where Buddhas are different: their context is eternity. Their context is not a part of time. This is where Jesus, Zarathustra, Lao Tzu remain eternally meaningful: because they are not part of time; their message is eternal. Their message exists in the context of human misery, human ignorance. Unless the whole existence becomes enlightened, Buddha will not become irrelevant.
That’s why I say political leaders come and go, they are on the stage just for a few moments. Only spiritual beings remain, abide.
Buddha is still meaningful and will remain meaningful, forever and forever, because enlightenment will always be a need. Politicians don’t make the real history of humanity; they only create noise. The real history is something else that runs like an undercurrent. The real history has not yet been written, because we become too engrossed in the temporal things. We become too obsessed with the newspaper which is only relevant today and tomorrow will be meaningless.
If you have eyes to see, see the point: become interested in the eternal.
Old, ancient societies were not interested in the day-to-day too much. Their interest was deeper. They were not brought up on the newspaper, radio and television. They recited the Koran, they meditated on the Gita, they chanted the Vedas, they contemplated the statues of Buddha and Mahavir. These are eternal phenomena.
That’s why I say the events that happen every day are almost meaningless, because the moment they happen, immediately they disappear because their context changes. Political revolutions have been happening and disappearing; they are bubbles, soap bubbles. Maybe for a moment they look very beautiful, but they are not eternal diamonds.
The eternal diamond is the inner revolution. But the inner revolution is difficult because the inner revolution needs creativity and the outer revolution needs destructiveness. Hate is easy, love is difficult. To destroy is easy. To create a Taj Mahal takes years – it took forty years and fifty thousand persons working every day – but how many days will you take to destroy it? Just take a bulldozer and within a day the land will be flat.
To destroy is very easy, so people become very interested in destruction; they think this is a shortcut. To create is very difficult.
And again I will remind you: because all political revolutions are destructive – they are capable in destroying – they can provoke people into destruction. It is very easy to provoke people into destruction because people are frustrated, people are in misery; you can provoke them into any revolt. But the moment they have destroyed, the problem arises: “Now what to do?” They don’t know how to create, and your so-called revolutionaries don’t know what to do now. Then everybody is at a loss. The misery continues, sometimes even becomes deeper, uglier. After a few years, again people forget and again they start thinking in terms of revolution – and the political leader is always there to lead you into destruction.
My work here is of creativity. I am not provoking you into any destruction, I am not telling you to blame others for your misery. I am telling you: You are responsible, so only those who have the guts to take this responsibility can be with me. But this is a real revolution. If you take the responsibility for your life you can start changing it. Slow will be the change, only in the course of time will you start moving into the world of light and crystallization, but once you are crystallized you will know what real revolution is. Then share your revolution with others; it has to go that way, from heart to heart.
Governments, social structures, have been changed many times, but nothing really changes. Again the same thing is repeated.
That’s why I don’t call my sannyasins revolutionary but rebellious – just to make the differentiation. Revolution has become too contaminated with the social idea. Rebellion is individual.
Rebel! Take responsibility for your life. Drop all that nonsense which has been put inside you. Drop all that you have been taught and start learning again from ABC. It is a hard, arduous journey.
And remember one thing more: …thus both coping systems and governments begin as useful and gradually become counter-productive. This is the nature of the evolutionary process itself.
Whatsoever happens on the outside may look in the beginning as if it is very productive; soon it becomes counter-productive – because life goes on changing. Life goes on taking jumps into the unknown and your structures always lag behind. And each structure in its own turn becomes a grave; it has to be broken again.
But I am showing you a way where there is no need for any structure inside. Consciousness can remain unstructured. That is the meaning of the word ‘freedom’. Consciousness need not have any structure, any character. Consciousness can live moment-to-moment without any structure, without any morality, without any character, because consciousness is enough. You can respond, and your response will be good and virtuous because you responded consciously. Live consciously, without any structure, so you will never be caught in a counter-productive system. Otherwise that too happens: you learn one thing; it is beautiful, but only for a few days will it remain beautiful. Soon it will become a habit and again you will find yourself surrounded by a habit, encaged.
Real life has to be lived without habits. You have heard, again and again you have been told, “Drop bad habits.” I tell you: Drop habit as such! There are not good and bad habits: all habits are bad. Remain without habits, live without habits; then you live moment-to-moment out of freedom – and this is the life of a revolutionary.
Osho, The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2, Ch 6, Q 2 (excerpt)