Basically, fundamentally, Lord Acton is wrong


Osho explains that power is not the cause of corruption, but only the opportunity for its expression.

Beloved Master,
In spite of dreadful political catastrophes, political action seems to be the only means to fight against injustice in the world. Does the search you are inspiring exclude political action?

I am in love with life in its totality. My love excludes nothing; it includes all. Yes, political action too is included in it. That’s the worst thing to include, but I can’t help it! But everything that is included in my vision of life is included with a difference.

In the past, man has lived without awareness in all the aspects of life. He has loved without awareness and failed in it, and love has brought only misery and nothing else. He has done all kinds of things in the past, but everything has proved a hell. So has been the case with political action.

Each revolution turns into antirevolution. It is time we should understand how this happens, why this happens at all – that each revolution, each struggle against injustice, finally turns into injustice itself, becomes antirevolutionary.

In this century it has happened again and again – I am not talking about a faraway past. It happened in Russia, it happened in China. It is going to happen if we continue to function in the same old way. Unawareness cannot bring more than that.

When you are powerless, it is easy to fight against injustice; the moment you become powerful, you forget all about injustice. Then repressed desires to dominate assert themselves. Then your unconscious takes over, and you start doing the same things that were done before by the enemies against whom you had been struggling. You had staked your very life for it!

Lord Acton says that power corrupts. It is true only in a sense, and in another sense it is absolutely untrue. It is true if you look at the surface of things: power certainly corrupts, whosoever becomes powerful becomes corrupted. Factually it is true, but if you dive deep into the phenomenon then it is not true.

Power does not corrupt: it is the corrupted people who become attracted towards power. It is the people who would like to do things which they cannot do while they are not in power. The moment they are in power, their whole repressed mind asserts itself. Now there is nothing to bar them, nothing to prevent them; they have the power. Power does not corrupt them, it only brings their corruption to the surface. Corruption was there as a seed; now it has sprouted. The power has proved only the right season for it to sprout. Power is only the spring for the poisonous flowers of corruption and injustice in their being.

Power is not the cause of corruption, but only the opportunity for its expression. Hence I say: basically, fundamentally, Lord Acton is wrong.

Who becomes interested in politics? Yes, with beautiful slogans people go into it, but what happens to those people? Joseph Stalin was fighting against the injustice of the czar. What happened? He himself became the greatest czar the world has ever known, worse than Ivan the Terrible! Hitler used to talk about socialism. He had named his party the Nationalist Socialist Party. What happened to socialism when he came into power? All that disappeared.

The same thing had happened in India. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers were talking about nonviolence, love, peace — all the great values cherished down the ages. And when power came he escaped. Mahatma Gandhi himself escaped because he became aware that if he took power in his hands he would no longer be the mahatma, the sage. And the followers who came into power were all proved as corrupted as anywhere else — and they were all good people before they were in power, great servants of the people. They had sacrificed much. They were not bad people in any way; in every possible way they were good people. But even good people turn into bad people — that is something fundamental to be understood.

I would like my sannyasins to live life in its totality, but with an absolute condition, categorical condition: and that condition is awareness, meditation. Go first deep into meditation, so you can cleanse your unconscious of all poisonous seeds, so there is nothing to be corrupted and there is nothing inside you which power can bring forth. And then do whatsoever you feel like doing.

Osho, The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6, Ch 4, Q 1

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