A question posed to Osho by Laherubhai.
What is innocence? Why are innocent people suffering the most?
Laheru, I have never seen any innocent person suffering. Innocence is such a deep blissfulness that whatever happens around it makes no difference to its bliss. Even death is irrelevant.
But I can understand your question. It is not only yours; many people have asked me why innocent people suffer. First they don’t understand what innocence is. Secondly, when they suffer they think it is because of innocence that they are suffering, that the cause must be somewhere else.
The same kind of question has been asked from different angles – why good people, virtuous people, religious people suffer. I have never seen any religious person suffer, or a good person or a virtuous person. But what they mean is that they think themselves good, religious, virtuous, innocent. And all that is not right.
Perhaps they are good – but out of fear, not out of love. They are good because they are afraid of hell, they are virtuous because they are desirous and greedy of the pleasures of heaven.
And they are not innocent, but simply ignorant – and there is a very delicate, fine line between ignorance and innocence. A child is ignorant, not innocent. And when you are reborn in a spiritual way you become again like a child. Remember, I am saying “like a child.” I am not saying you become a child – you become like a child, innocent.
The division between ignorance and innocence is so fine, but the ignorant person is always trying not to be ignorant. These are the symptoms: he is trying to become knowledgeable. The innocent person is trying to be more innocent. If any knowledge has remained somewhere hanging around him, he is trying to throw it away. He wants to be completely clean.
One man came to me – and I know the person; certainly he is not a bad man, but that does not mean that he is a good man. He is simply a coward. He wants everything that bad people have, but he is cowardly. He wants all the riches, he wants prestige and power, he wants to become a president or a prime minister, but he is not ready to go through all the gutters that you have to pass before you become a president. It is a long, winding way through gutters and gutters, and it becomes more and more dirty the deeper you get into it. He does not want to do that. He wants simply to become a president because he’s a good man.
He wants to be the richest man, but he does not know that the rich man has earned through tedious effort, all kinds of cunningness, has been doing every type of cheating. All that makes him afraid, he does not want to go to jail. If you are afraid of jail then forget about being rich. Richness means a certain boldness, a daredevil courage, a readiness to fight, to compete without bothering whether the means are right or wrong. The rich man, the powerful man, the successful man… for them the end makes every means right – whether you have to cut throats, kill people, does not matter. Your goal is absolutely to succeed, and you are ready to pay everything for it.
Now, this man wanted all these things and also wanted to remain good, also wanted to remain virtuous, also wanted never to be cunning, never to be deceiving. You are asking too much.
If you are really in love with goodness, in love with innocence, in love with virtue, you will be ready to sacrifice everything for it – all success, all respectability, all prestige, everything. Even if the laws of existence change and it is declared from the skies that now only bad people will be able to enter into paradise and all good people will have to go to hell, you will be ready to go to hell but you cannot leave your goodness.
I am reminded of a beautiful incident. It happened that Edmund Burke, one of the great historians of England, had a friend who was as famous as Edmund Burke, but as a theologian. Even the king and queen used to come to listen to his sermons on Sunday, but Edmund Burke never went.
One day the friend asked him, “This is a little hard on me. I have been expecting that one day you would come. Even the king, the queen, the whole royal family comes. All the great scholars of the university come. You, who are my only friend, are the only person… just for courtesy’s sake, you should come at least once.”
He said, “It is because of that, that I have not come. But you are insisting. This Sunday I am coming – be ready.”
He said, “What do you mean by ‘be ready’?”
He said, “Everything will be clear when I come into the church.”
The friend prepared a really beautiful sermon. All Christian priests prepare their sermons. This is something unknown to the mystics – preparing a sermon. Are you a teacher in a school, a professor in a college? Don’t you have anything spontaneous to say? At least those who have experienced should have each moment a spontaneous flow of fresh water, fresh energy. A prepared speech, however articulate, is basically false because it is not of the heart.
Edmund Burke came. The friend had prepared his best sermon; he wanted to impress Edmund Burke. He continually watched the face of Edmund Burke – but no emotions, no feelings, no impact of what he was saying. He started stuttering, he became nervous: that man was sitting in the front row like a stone statue.
And then there was the question hour, and the first to stand up was Edmund Burke. He said, “I have a question. You said in your speech that a man who is good, virtuous, a believer in God, goes to heaven. And a man who is not good, not virtuous, does not believe in God, goes into hell, into eternal fire. My question is,” he said, “that you have simplified things too much. I want to know: if a man is good and virtuous and does not believe in God, where does he go? A man who is bad, who is not virtuous but is a believer in God – where does he go?”
The theologian was at a loss, because any answer would be troublesome. He said, “Forgive me, I cannot answer it spontaneously.”
Edmund Burke said, “I knew it, because the whole speech was not spontaneous at all. You are a parrot. How much time do you need to look into scriptures and libraries and find out the answer? You don’t have the answer, and you have the nerve to say so emphatically who goes to hell and who goes to heaven. And I have asked a simple question… “
The theologian said, “I want seven days. Next Sunday I will answer.”
Those seven days were really hellfire. He tried hard, this way and that way, “But whatever you say seems to be wrong. A man who does not believe in God but is good, is virtuous – you cannot send him to hell. Then what is the need of being good and virtuous? A man who believes in God but is not good, is not virtuous – you cannot send him to heaven, because if you send him to heaven then what is wrong in being a sinner, being bad, not being virtuous? Just believe in God… Then drop all this nonsense, make it simple: those who believe in God go to heaven and those who don’t believe in God go to hell. Then why unnecessarily bring these qualities of goodness and virtue?”
He was going crazy. He could not sleep and Sunday came – and it came fast. Time is very nasty. When you want it to go slowly it goes fast, and when you want it to go fast, it goes very slowly. It always goes against your wishes.
He went to the church one hour before he had to give the sermon. Still, he had no answer. He thought he should pray to Jesus Christ: “Help me. Scriptures are of no help. Libraries… for seven days I have worked hard, but no answer. In fact, Edmund Burke was right; it was out of courtesy that he was not coming. I unnecessarily dragged him in and now he has created trouble not only for me, but for my whole congregation. Now it is up to you to help me.”
So bowing down before the statue of Jesus Christ, putting his head at his feet, he said, “Help me because it is not a question of my prestige; your whole religion is at stake. I am simply a representative.”
He had not slept for seven days, so he fell asleep just at the feet of Jesus Christ. He had a dream, a dream in which he saw that he was sitting in a train, a very fast train, and he inquired, “Where is this train going and where am I going?”
They said, “This train is going to heaven.”
He said, “This is good. It is better that I should see with my own eyes what kind of people are there.” So he figured it out: if he can find Socrates there, that means that just goodness, innocence, sincerity is enough; there is no need for belief in God. “If Socrates is there, Gautam Buddha is there, Mahavira is there… but if I don’t find these people there, then I can see what kind of people are there – because Adolf Hitler believes in God, Napoleon Bonaparte believes in God, Alexander the Great believes in God and goes on killing people. Nadirshah believes in God, and his only joy is to burn people alive. If I find these people there then I am finished; I have to say the truth to the congregation.”
He reached heaven. He could not believe his eyes. He cleaned his glasses, looked again. The station was looking just like a wreck, a ruin. There was written ‘Paradise’ but the word had faded; it was perhaps millions of years before that somebody had written it. And all over, it was dirty.
Perhaps he thought… has he come to India or what? This is not paradise, maybe Vileparle. What kind of paradise is this?
But he got down from the train, went to the inquiry office – there was nobody. He tried to find out…. “I want to inquire about a few people, whether they are here – Gautam Buddha, Socrates, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Epicurus, Mahavira, Lao Tzu.”
People said, “Never heard of them.”
And he saw people… just dry bones, as if all juice had been taken out of them, skeletons. He inquired, “Who are these people? And somebody was a great saint – he had heard the name. Somebody was Saint Francis, somebody was Ekhart…
He said, “My God!” And dust, layers of dust on all these people – and the whole place looked as if the rains had not come for centuries. Everything was dry, nothing was green – no flowers, no foliage. He had never seen such a place. He said, “My God, if this is paradise, God save the queen! This is a dangerous place.”
And the saints were there, sitting under trees which were naked, without any leaves. He asked whether spring comes here or not – they said, “Never heard of it before. What do you mean by spring?” No dance, no song, no joy…
He rushed back to the railway station and inquired whether there was any train going to hell. They said, “Just now it is standing on the platform.” He went on the train to see hell, what the situation was – because if this is the situation in heaven… you cannot conceive what the situation will be in hell! But as he went closer, the breeze was becoming cooler, fragrant. And when he reached the station he saw beautiful people – men, women, children. He said, “My God, there seems to be something wrong. This place should be paradise, everybody looks so happy.”
He got down and he asked somebody, “Have you heard about Socrates, Gautam Buddha, Bodhidharma, Basho?”
They said, “Those are the people who have changed the place. This place used to be so rotten, but since those fellows came here, they have changed the whole place. Now everything is green, an oasis. There is love, there is song, there is music. Wait for the night, when everybody dances, sings; right now everybody is working in the fields. Look at that man – he’s Socrates working in the field.”
It was such a shock. He woke up, and it was time for the congregation to arrive. People had started coming and they were standing around him and watching him: “What is the matter? Has he fallen asleep, is he unconscious or what?”
Edmund Burke had come to listen to the answer.
The theologian said, “I tried my hardest but could not find the answer. Just now I have had a dream – I will relate the dream to you and you can draw your own conclusions. My conclusions are this: I’m sorry, but what I have been telling you was not right. It is not the question that the good people or the virtuous people go to heaven; on the contrary, it is just that wherever the virtuous people and the good people go, they create heaven. And belief in God is irrelevant. It is your individual whim – you can believe, you can not believe. It does not matter in the ultimate conclusions of life.
Laheru, you are asking why the innocent people suffer.
One thing is certain: they are not innocent. They don’t know the beauty of innocence. The innocent person cannot suffer. Wherever he is, he is in paradise. And the cunning person, wherever he is – he may be in paradise – he is going to suffer.
But if you are innocent out of fear, out of fear that you may be caught by the police so you don’t commit any crime, out of fear that there is law and there are courts and you have to be good… if your goodness, your innocence, your virtue is out of fear, then you are not really virtuous. You are simply a coward, and cowards suffer; they deserve it. To be innocent means to be really brave. In this world of cunningness, to be innocent means to be really brave. And you will enjoy being innocent – suffering may surround you, flames may surround you but they cannot burn you.
I have never come across a good man who has suffered, because each good act is a reward in itself, and each bad act is a punishment in itself. There are not rewards and punishments afterwards, beyond death, beyond this world. If you put your hand into the fire, it will be burned right now – not in the next life, not in hell. Cause and effect are connected; they cannot be separated.
So if you are suffering, then think again whether your innocence is innocence. Your suffering should become a question mark. And you will find that your innocence is not innocence, you are simply a coward. If your innocence is innocence, the whole sky can shower suffering on you and you will remain untouched.
Remember always that life is cash, it is not a promissory note; you do something and immediately, in that very doing, is the result.
But people are very strange.
I remember one friend; he has known me for at least forty years. When I came back from America, he came to see me. Naturally he was very sad because I had been illegally put into jail and must have been tortured, harassed. And he had tears in his eyes.
And I was talking to a journalist so I could not say anything to him, but he sat and listened to me. And I told the journalist, “It has been a beautiful experience: you can handcuff me, you can put chains on my legs, you can put chains on my waist… but still I am the same, my freedom is untouched. You have caught my body but not me.”
And after I had been in the jail for three days, even the jailer himself told me, “You are strange. We have never seen anybody enjoying the jail so much.”
I said, “This is the first time I have been in jail, and I don’t want to miss a single moment. I am enjoying everything because everything is new; this is a totally different world.”
They had orders from above to torture me in every possible way, and they did whatsoever they could.
But as time passed… one day, the second day they started asking questions to me – the jailer, the doctor, the nurses. When thousands of telegrams and telephone calls and telexes started coming, and thousands of flowers started coming from all over the world, and inquiries about me, they became aware that “This is a rare opportunity. We should not miss it. If there is something we have to ask…”
The nurses told me that the jailer used to come once a month to the hospital section. Now he was coming six times a day. The whole staff was coming and going to the hospital section just to see me – somebody wanted my autograph, somebody wanted a picture, somebody had brought his wife and children to have my picture taken with them. I said, “You are making my jail time such a joy.”
On the third day, when I left the jailers told me at the airport, “When you came you were looking tired; now you are looking more fresh. It is strange.”
I said, “Three days of complete rest”… because the whole day I was not doing anything except lying down silently. Sleep was impossible because they had arranged two television sets just by my side. They were going full speed, loudly, from the morning till the middle of the night.
They arranged all the chain smokers… because they knew about my allergy, they had filled all the cells around me with chain smokers. So it was full of smoke… and continuous television. So there was nothing else to do but to lie down and just be inside, not to come out at all.
Strangely, for three days continuously in the smoke, my allergy was not disturbing me. Otherwise, just a little perfume, a little smoke, a little dust, and I will have an asthma attack. But I left the body outside, and I slipped as deep inside as possible to be far away from the smoke – let the body tackle it.
The doctors said, “You are allergic to smoke, but there is continuous smoking and you are not affected.”
I said, “It is because I have not been in the body for three days. I have been trying hard to keep myself as much inside as possible – indoors.”
I was not eating much, because it was all non-vegetarian food and the orders from above were that no special attention should be given to me. So they would not give me vegetarian food. I said, “Don’t be worried…” The inmates of the jail would bring their fruits, their milk. And they would say, “You are not eating anything and they are not giving you vegetarian food. But we get one apple every day, one glass of milk every day – and we are twelve people. You don’t be worried: you can have twelve glasses of milk, twelve apples.”
But I said, “It is better not to eat. I will take a little bit of the fruit you have brought with such love and I will drink the milk, but I simply want my body not to function much. Digestion means making the body function. So let it sleep – almost dead, no function. I don’t want them to know that they can create my asthma.”
And for twelve days they tried hard, but they could not create any problem for me. And every doctor from every jail had to write that my health was perfect and fine.
The situation was created to be totally destructive to my health. I lost eight pounds of weight, but there was no suffering. In fact, as I came out of the jail, Nirvano told me, “You are looking better than you ever looked before.”
I said, “I have lost eight pounds of weight.” Amrito, my doctor, had tried hard to bring my weight down. “He was not successful, but these American idiots have done it. I enjoyed it; I cannot say that there was any suffering in me. From their side, they were completely determined to make me suffer, and because they could not make me suffer they felt so frustrated…”
I was talking to this journalist, and my friend was listening. And when I was finished with the journalist I asked him, “How are you?”
He was very much shocked. It is something very important for you to understand. He had come from far away; he would have enjoyed being able to sympathize with me because I had been tortured, I had been harassed, and something should be done against the American government.
But when he heard that I had enjoyed the whole trip, his face fell; he looked very frustrated. He said, “We were thinking something else… “
I said, “You were thinking just according to your mind. When you came you were sad for one reason; now you are sad for another reason – because you cannot sympathize with me. You missed a chance.”
In fact, nobody can sympathize with me in any situation. I will not allow it, because I am capable of enjoying every situation.
Laheru, innocence cannot suffer. If it suffers, it is not innocence; it is simply cowardice. Anything that is sincere is always going to give you joy.
It is absolutely certain that wherever the good people are, there is heaven – not that the good people go to heaven; heaven comes to the good people.
I don’t want you to be prepared as it is being done in all the churches and temples and mosques and synagogues. They are preparing you to go to heaven, and if you don’t listen to them you will fall into hell. I am preparing you for a totally different experience. I am preparing you so that heaven enters into you. It is a psychological space, it is not geography.
When the first Russian astronaut, Gagarin, came back from space… He was the first man to go into space. He went around the earth taking photographs, and when he came back the first question was asked, which is natural in Russia – “Have you met God there?”
And he said, “No, there was no God.”
And in Moscow they have made a museum of all the things that the astronauts have been bringing from outer space, from the moon. On the front door, Gagarin’s sentence is written in golden letters: We have explored space and there is no God anywhere.
I would like to say to the Russian people and to the whole world: by exploring outer space you will not find God. Explore the inner space and it is there. It is not found as an object, it is found as a subject, as your very subjectivity. You are it, and once you have found it there is no suffering for you, no hell for you, no misery for you.
Then the whole of life is simply a magical, miraculous dance of festivity.
Osho, The Osho Upanishad, Ch 36, Q 2
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