Q: Today at the lecture you extolled the virtues of Hasidism. But if they are so praiseworthy, so full of feeling of brotherhood, etc., why do they exclude women from their religious practices, and particularly their ecstatic religious dancing?
Pratima has asked the question. It is very relevant, and has to be understood.
The first thing to remember, to always remember, is never to judge the past by present standards. That is not compassionate. For example, when Hasidism was arising, to allow women into a religiously ecstatic dance would have been impossible. Not that Hasidic mystics were not aware, not that they would not have liked to allow it – they would have loved it – but it was impossible. Even Buddha was afraid to initiate women into his order.
What was the fear? Was he an orthodox person? No, you cannot find a more revolutionary mind, but he insisted for many years on not allowing women into his order. No, the reason is to be found somewhere else.
A religion has to exist in the society. If the society is too much against a certain thing, even the founder has to make a few compromises. Otherwise the religion as such will not exist at all. Society is not in a condition of perfection, society is not yet as it should be, but a religion has to exist in this society, in the framework that this society allows it. Revolutionaries try to go a little further than the boundary, but even they cannot go too far. If they go too far, they will be uprooted.
For example, I have no objection if you go naked when meditating. I have no objection. In fact I will support it, because clothes are part of the repressive culture. I know it, but still I have to insist on you not being naked in the meditations. Because that creates such trouble that even meditation becomes impossible. That will be too much. To destroy the whole possibility of meditation just for clothes or nudity would be foolish. It would have been good if I had been able to allow you to be absolutely free – free from clothes also. But then society would not allow us to exist at all, and we have to exist in society. So we have to choose the lesser evil.
Or, take the question of drugs. I am not in support of drugs, but I am not against them either. I am not in support of Timothy Leary, I don’t think that you can attain samadhi by drugs – about that I am absolutely certain. No one has ever attained samadhi by drugs, notwithstanding what Aldous Huxley and others say. It is too cheap, and through chemicals there is no possibility to attain the ultimate. But I am aware that drugs can help in a certain way. They can give you a glimpse; they cannot give you the reality, but they can give you a glimpse of the reality, and that glimpse can become a breakthrough. That glimpse can uproot you from your past and can send you on a search for the real. If you have seen God, even in your dream, your whole life will be transformed. Of course, the God in a dream is a dream, but the next morning you will start looking into the world – where can you find this phenomenon that has happened in your dream?
Many people start their journey towards God, truth, samadhi, because they have had a certain glimpse somewhere. Maybe through drugs, maybe through sexual orgasm, maybe through music, or sometimes accidentally. Sometimes a person falls from a train, is hit on the head and he has a glimpse. I’m not saying make a method of that! But I know this has happened. A certain centre in the head is hit by accident and the person has a glimpse, an explosion of light. Never again will he be the same; now he will start searching for it.
This is possible. The probable is no longer probable, it has become possible. Now he has some inkling, some contact. He cannot rest now.
I am not for drugs, I am not against drugs. But still, in this community, in my commune, drugs cannot be allowed. Politicians have never been very intelligent and one should not expect too much from them. In fact, only stupid people become interested in politics. If they were intelligent, they would not be in politics at all.
So just for some ordinary, small thing the whole movement cannot be destroyed. That would be foolish. After a hundred years my attitude that drugs cannot be allowed in the Ashram will be thought anti-revolutionary. Naturally, I know it is anti-revolutionary. So, let it be here on the record.
I am existing here in a very alien and strange world. I would like to give you many things but I cannot, because you yourself will resist. I would like to make you aware of many things in your being, but you will be against me. I have to go very slowly, I have to be very roundabout; it cannot be done directly.
Just see. I have done what Pratima was enquiring about in relation to Hasidism. I have done it. In my community, men and women are no longer separate. That’s why Indians have stopped coming to my Ashram. They cannot come. When they used to come, their questions were more or less all concerned about what type of Ashram this was – men and women mixing and meeting, holding each other’s hands, going together? Even after meditations hugging, kissing each other? What type of things were these? This is not good.
They used to come to me and say, ‘This is not good, this should not be allowed. Osho, you should interfere.’ I never interfered because to me there is nothing wrong – man and woman should not be made in any way distinct. They are not separate, nobody is higher and nobody is lower. They are different but equal. Difference is beautiful, it has to be there. The difference has to be enhanced, but the equality has to be saved. And to me, love is a way towards God.
I didn’t listen to them. By and by they disappeared. Now only very courageous Indians can enter here. Now only a few Indians can enter here, those who have no repressed mind in them, who are post-Freudians – only they can enter here. But India as a whole is pre-Freudian. Freud is still unknown in India. Freud has not yet entered into the Indian soul.
But I have done it. And I am a Hasid, so you can forgive the old Hasids. Time was not ripe at that time; even now it is very difficult. I have to encounter difficulties every day. For every small thing there are difficulties. Those difficulties could be avoided if I behaved in an orthodox way. I cannot behave in an orthodox way – because then there is no point in my being here, then I could not deliver the message to you – and I cannot be absolutely revolutionary because then there would be no possibility of something happening between you and me.
And I am not in any way interested in being a martyr because that too seems to me to be a sort of masochism. People who are always seeking to become martyrs are not really aware of what they are doing – they are seeking suicide. I am not a martyr. I love life, I love all that is implied in life, and the original Hasid Masters were as much in love with life as I am. That’s why I have chosen to talk about them. When I choose to talk about some path, I choose it only because it appeals to me tremendously.
The Hasids were not people who wanted to become political revolutionaries. They were not reformists. They were not trying to reform the society, they were trying to bring a mutation to the individual soul. And they had to exist in the society. Remember that always.
But then what happens whenever a tradition gets settled? Now Hasidism is a settled tradition, now it itself has become an orthodoxy. Now the time is ripe. If the community exists in New York – a Hasidic community exists in New York – now the time is ripe, but now they themselves have become orthodox. They have their own tradition; they cannot go against Baal-Shem. And these people who are now Hasids are not really Masters, they are simply followers of the followers of the followers.
You are here with me. You are face to face with something original. When you tell it to somebody else it will not be the original. You have heard it from me, then you will tell it to somebody else and much of it is lost. And then that person goes to somebody else and delivers the message. Again much is lost. Within a few years, within a few transfers, the truth is completely distorted, only lies are left. And again a revolutionary movement becomes an orthodox tradition.
Osho, The Art of Dying, Ch 6, Q 1 (excerpt)