What is rebellion? And what is the difference between reaction and the action of the rebellious man?
The first thing to be understood is the difference between rebellion and revolution.
Revolution is an organized effort to change the society forcibly, violently. But the trouble is, you cannot change the society through violence, because it is violence that is the very life current of the society. That’s why all the revolutions have failed. And there is no possibility of any revolution succeeding, ever.
Rebellion is individual, nonviolent, peaceful. It is out of love. Rebellion is not against something, but for something. Revolution is against something, but not for something. Revolution is so much engaged in being against, it forgets for what all this fuss is being made. It is anger. But anger cannot create a better society. Rebellion is not oriented against the society, but is oriented towards a new man, a new humanity.
Revolution is fighting with the past.
Rebellion is meditating for the future.
I said rebellion is out of love, silence, understanding, compassion – all the qualities that make man divine. Revolution is based on all the qualities that make man again an animal. Because rebellion is individual, there is no need of any struggle, of any fight. The society will not even be bothered by one individual being different than others. But even single individuals meditating, loving, hoping for a new sunrise, can create the possibility of a new society. Their very presence will be enough to transform others. Their love cannot fail – love never fails. Their understanding, their intelligence, their compassion are bound to succeed.
But rebellion has not been tried. Revolution seems to be easier, because against such a big society you need a big organization. But the moment you become organized you become the same type of society. You become just a reflection of what you are opposing. You stand before a mirror: the reflection in the mirror is your reflection, although it is opposed to you.
So just being opposed does not mean that you are really different; the methods are the same. The old society depends on violence; the revolutionaries depend on violence. The old society depends on enslaving people; the revolutionaries depend on the same. The old society depends on beliefs; revolutionaries also depend on belief. It makes no difference whether your belief is in the “Holy Bible” or in “Das Kapital.”
And one thing very significant to remember: if the revolutionaries are going to win they have to be more violent than the old society, more cunning, more clever, more political, more cruel; otherwise they cannot win. So, in fact, in the name of revolution more violence is becoming victorious, more cruelty is becoming victorious; more slavery, more submissiveness is demanded by the revolutionary party. You can see it happen in all the revolutions.
The Russian revolution has been the greatest revolution. The czars who ruled Russia were cruel, were violent – the very idea of ruling over somebody is violent. The communists dethroned the czar, but they could manage to do it only because they proved more violent. Nineteen members of the czar’s family were simply butchered, and one of the members, the youngest, was only a six-month old child. He had not done any crime against anybody – for what was he being punished? Just because he belonged to the royal family? Was that his responsibility? They wanted to destroy the whole family so there would be no possibility of any royal blood of the czars in the future. But the people who did it certainly showed a heartlessness.
Joseph Stalin became the leader of the revolutionaries. Stalin was not his real name, “Stalin” was given to him by the people. It means “man of steel.” And certainly he proved to be a man of steel, with no heart. He killed almost one million people after the revolution. Just suspicion was enough; there was no need for any trial, for any investigation. The communist party suspects that somebody is against the revolution – there is no proof, but the man has to be immediately destroyed.
The Russian revolution has proved one thing absolutely: that czars were never so violent; they had never killed one million people. And the society was not so deeply enslaved – that’s why the communist revolution was possible.
Now in Russia no revolution is possible, people are completely enslaved. Even to think against the status quo today is betraying the religion of communism. People are even afraid if they dream anything against the government. They don’t tell the dream to their wives, to their children, because nobody knows…. The system that came into force after the revolution is such that husbands are spying on their wives, wives are spying on their husbands, children are spying on their parents.
Almost everybody is spying on everybody else. And these people are rewarded. If a child comes to the communist party office and informs that his parents have been saying something against the government, he is rewarded. He is sent to a better school, given a better scholarship. Of course, his parents disappear.
Now there is no possibility to revolt against the communist regime in Soviet Russia. No freedom of expression, no freedom of getting together, no freedom of thinking – is this revolution? It is going backwards.
Rebellion is a spiritual phenomenon.
It is not against the society as such; it is simply the intelligence that shows that this society is dead, that this society is incapable of giving birth to a new human being, that it is spent, that it is almost on the verge of global suicide. It needs compassion; it does not need anger.
The rebel can do only one thing…. He is not going to organize, because the moment you organize you have to follow the same patterns as the society you are going to oppose; and you have to follow the same language, the same patterns, structures, that the society has practiced for so long.
There is an ancient Chinese saying: “To have a bad friend is not as bad as to have a bad enemy.”
Looks strange, but it has great meaning in it – because if you have an enemy, then sooner or later you will have to follow his tactics and strategies to fight with him; there is no other way. If you want to be victorious you have to be far ahead of him in his own methods. Hence, I always say, friends you can choose without much consideration, but enemies have to be chosen with great consideration, because they are going to change your character.
The rebel has no enemy. He simply has a vision that the old is finished. It need not be fought against, it is dying itself. Fighting with it is to give it life. Just ignore it. It is already on the deathbed; it will die of its own accord. Don’t give it energy by fighting.
The rebel can do only one thing: he can transform himself into the new man, he can become his own vision. That is the only proof that his vision is not a dream. The rebel starts transforming his vision into a reality.
I want you all to be rebellious.
That’s why I don’t believe in organization. I don’t want you to be another religion, another ideology, because that will be simply a repetition of the old patterns. You can be together without any conditions, without any bondage, just out of sheer friendship; no ideology dominating you, but just pure love – because you are on the same path, discovering yourself, finding out whether the vision of a new man can become a reality or not. You can help each other, you can support each other, you can encourage each other.
There are moments when encouragement is needed, because to change – and to change totally – is not an easy job. Many times the mind wants to fall back into its old patterns, old habits; therefore, the commune.
The commune is not an alternative society. It is not another organization: it is something totally new.
It is a loving togetherness of fellow travelers who are all working on themselves. But five thousand people all working on themselves creates an atmosphere of great encouragement – you are not alone. And if five thousand people are trying, there is hope. You can see people ahead of you, you can see people behind you – on all the rungs of the ladder. That makes it clear that human beings just like you are carving the way, changing themselves. It becomes an individual challenge for you not to be a coward and fall back into old habits. You cannot fall back into old habits, because five thousand people are watching you and they are very optimistic about you. They have great hopes for you; they see that the sunrise is not far away.
Yes, it is very dark right now, but to find the light you need not go back. To find light you have to go forward. The darker the night, the closer is the morning; and a few have reached the morning. You can see the sunlight in their eyes; you can see the flowers of their being blossoming. You can feel the fragrance that is released. So it is only a question of a little more patience, a little more courage.
But rebellion remains individual. Rebels can live together; they can create an atmosphere, a milieu, a buddhafield where awakening becomes easier. But they are not organized; they are not bound to any belief. They are free individuals; out of their free choice they have joined these seekers of the sunrise.
You ask me, “What is the difference between reaction and action as far as the rebellious person is concerned?”
The rebellious person has no reaction; he has only action. The revolutionary has only reaction; he does not have any action. The difference is significant.
Just a few days ago I received a letter from an old woman who is the president of the Atheists’ Association of America. She must be the oldest atheist in the whole world, because I used to know in India one man, Gora, who was her follower, and he was old himself. She has opened, in many countries, associations for atheists.
On some television she must have listened to my words – that there is no God – and she was immensely happy. She wrote the letter to say, “You are certainly a man of great courage. Although I am very old, I would like to come and see you, meet you, talk to you.”
I told Hasya to write to her that she is welcome, but she must understand that I am not an atheist: “If she is coming here thinking that I am an atheist because I have declared there is no God, then she will be disillusioned. It is better to make it clear.”
To me, atheism is reaction, reaction against theism. There are people who believe in God, millions of people; a few people react to it, and they start disbelieving in God. This is a reaction.
You can check it very easily by a simple method. If all the theists disappear, if there is no theism at all in the world, can atheists exist? They were secondary, they were simply a reaction. When there are no religions and nobody is saying there is God, what is the point of disbelieving in God? You will look a little silly. With the death of theism, atheism will die automatically. That means it was only a shadow, it was not a reality in itself. A reaction is a shadow.
When I say there is no God, I am not saying that I disbelieve in God; even for disbelief, God has to be. Whether you believe or disbelieve, that is your approach, but for both God is needed. For the theist he is needed, for the atheist he is needed. I am simply saying there is no God, has never been. All theists and all atheists are wrong. Those who believe are wrong, and those who disbelieve are wrong.
I don’t think that old woman will come. I would love her to come, because in her whole life she may not have met a man who is neither theist nor atheist. Because there is no God, there is no point in being either one.
I think it is simply stupid: if there is no God, then a person wasting his whole life establishing atheist associations all over the world – this is sheer wastage of one’s life. If there is no God, then why bother? But no, this has become her whole life. But just denying, just disbelief cannot make anybody blissful.
And my statement that there is no God is an action, not a reaction. I am not speaking against anybody; I am simply giving expression to my own experience. I have searched for him within myself, and I have not found him.
I have found, instead, godliness.
I have found eternal consciousness.
I have found immortality.
I have found eternal light – but no God.
I don’t think this woman has ever thought of looking inwards. She is simply fighting with the theists.
Those theists are idiots; in fighting with them you are bound to become an idiot. Reaction cannot take you farther than those you are reacting against. The revolutionary is reactionary. He is against the society; he is against its economic structure, he is against its political way. He is against so many things – his whole life is negative. It depends on being against this, against that, against thousands of things – there are so many no’s in his life. But you cannot live a life of benediction, bliss, out of thousands of no’s.
A single yes is far more powerful than a thousand no’s. The no is empty. It shows your anger, it shows your violence, it shows your destructiveness, but it does not show that you have anything creative that you are going to contribute to life and existence.
Action means, something not related to anything but coming out of your own silence, out of your own spontaneity.
The rebel knows no reaction, he knows action. Action means yes.
The rebel creates; he gives birth to himself. He becomes a new man, he heralds a new age. He opens himself to all possibilities, he allows himself unknown dimensions. Not against anybody – it is simply a growth, just like a rosebush is growing. Do you think it is growing against the rocks? Do you think it is growing against anybody? It is growing, not as a reaction; it is growing because growth is its nature. It is growing to blossom, to bring its potential to actuality. It is a process of actualization.
Action means the process of actualization. Reaction is simply hate, anger, jealousy, violence, destructiveness. Those are not the qualities to be valued. So, in my vision, the revolutionary has no value, only the rebel. And you can see….
Socrates is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Gautam Buddha is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Heraclitus is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. And these are the greatest heights humanity has reached.
Revolutionaries are on the same ground as those whom they are opposing. They have to be on the same ground to fight with them. The rebel is not fighting against anybody. The rebel is making himself free so that he can grow, grow to his own destiny. The rebel has a beauty; the revolutionary is a political, social criminal. The rebel is the only holy man, he is sacred.
But the moment you start organizing rebellion you change its character, it becomes revolution. It is no longer the same thing. That’s why I had to insist again and again…. The tendency to organize is very deep rooted, because it is millions of years old. And to be alone needs guts.
To be alone… but you can be together with people who are also trying to be alone. Your togetherness is just a friendship of two fellow travelers. There are no conditions. It does not make you a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist. You remain yourself, the other remains himself.
And this is the only respect expected of sannyasins: do not destroy the dignity of the other person.
He is as valuable in existence as you are. There is no need to impose your ideas on anybody. Who are you? What authority have you got to impose your ideas on others? You can share, you can tell, you can expose your heart. And if the other feels that something falls in tune with him, and chooses it, it is his decision, not your imposition.
Revolutionaries are trying to impose their ideas on others. They are doing the same thing as the old religions have been doing. That’s why I categorize communism as one of the religions; there is no difference. It does not matter that communism does not believe in God, because there are older religions which do not believe in God: Buddhism does not believe in God, Jainism does not believe in God. So that is not a problem. A religion is something that you try to impose on others. It is an effort to convert people, it is always missionary.
A rebel is never a missionary, he is always a friend. He can invite you to his innermost being and, if you see something that suits you, that is helpful to you, that is going to nourish you, make your search easier, you can choose it. But it is out of your freedom – nobody is converting you.
That’s how it should be in the commune. Whatever I say to you, you need not believe it. You have just to be available to it, so that you can decide. The decision has to be yours. And if it suits you, suddenly if it rings a bell in your heart, then I am no longer responsible for it: the bell is ringing in your heart. But if it doesn’t suit you, my love for you remains the same, because it is not based on converting you.
And, in fact, each individual has to be unique. That is the prerogative of human beings – to be unique. And all the religions, all the political ideologies, they have all tried to destroy that privilege.
I want to encourage your privilege. On no account should your individuality be interfered with.
Your freedom is absolute, and the highest value.
From From Bondage to Freedom, Discourse #37
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation