I am fifty, but I don’t yet feel really mature and fully grown up. What is the matter with me?
Maybe you have not yet killed anybody. That’s a must. If you want to become mature, you have to become a very, very skillful murderer. Unless you kill a few persons you will never become mature.
You have to kill your parents, you have to kill your teachers, you have to kill your leaders. They are all clamoring inside you, and they don’t allow you to become a grown-up person – they go on keeping you childish. They make you a dependant, they don’t allow you independence.
It happened, a monk was taking leave from Buddha – he was going far away to spread Buddha’s message. And when he came to touch his feet, Buddha blessed him and said to his other disciples, ‘Do you see this blessed monk? He has killed his mother, he has killed his father, he has killed his relatives, he has killed his king.’ The people were very much surprised, they could not believe their ears – ‘What is Buddha saying?’
One disciple gathered courage and asked, ‘Sir, what do you mean? Do you mean a murderer has some virtue? You are calling him blessed?’ Buddha laughed and he said, ‘Not only that, he has even murdered himself – he has committed suicide.’ Then Buddha sings a song, says a gatha, in which he explains what he means by it.
Everybody is brought up as a child. That is your first way into the world; that’s how you have been trained for years, to remain a child. Everything was ordered, and you were expected to obey. You have become very dependent – you always go on looking for father-figures, you always go on looking for authorities to say to you what should be done, what should not be done.
Maturity means the understanding to decide for oneself, the understanding to be decisive on your own. To stand on your own feet – that’s what maturity is. But it rarely happens, because parents spoil almost every child, more or less. And then there is the school and the college and the university – they are all ready to spoil you. It is very rare that somebody becomes mature.
The society is not happy with mature people. Mature people are dangerous people, because a mature person lives according to his own being. He goes on doing his own thing – he does not bother what people say, what their opinion is. He does not hanker for respectability, for prestige; he does not bother for honor. He lives his own life – he lives it at any cost. He is ready to sacrifice everything, but he is never ready to sacrifice his freedom.
Society is afraid of these people; society wants everybody to remain childish. Everybody should be kept at an age somewhere between seven and fourteen – that’s where people are.
In the First World War, for the first time, psychologists became aware of this strange phenomenon. For the first time on a large scale, in the army, people’s mental ages were searched for. And it was a strange discovery: the army people had the average mental age of twelve. Your body may be fifty, your mind remains somewhere below fourteen.
Before fourteen you are repressed – because after fourteen repression becomes difficult. By the time a child is fourteen, if he has not been repressed then there is no possibility to repress him ever – because once he becomes a sexual being, he becomes powerful. Before fourteen he is weak, soft, feminine. Before fourteen you can put anything into his mind – he is suggestible, you can hypnotize him. You can tell him everything that you want, and he will listen to it, he will believe in it.
After fourteen, logic arises, doubt arises. After fourteen, sexuality arises; with sexuality he becomes independent. Now he himself is able to become a father, now she herself is able to become a mother. So nature, biology, makes a person independent from parents at the age fourteen. This has been found long before psychologists entered into the world. Priests have found it long before – for thousands of years they have watched, and they have come to know: if you want to repress a child, if you want to make a child a dependent, do it as early as possible – the earlier, the better. If it can be done before seven, success is far more certain. If it cannot be done before fourteen, then there is no possibility to do it.
That’s why all kinds of people are interested in children and their education. All religions are interested; they say children should receive religious education. Why? Before they become independent, their minds should be conditioned.
So the greatest work for a man who really wants to become free, who really wants to become conscious, who really wants to become de-hypnotized – who wants to have no limitations of any kind, who wants to flow in a total existence – is that he needs to drop many things from the inside.
And when I say, when Buddha says, you have to kill your mother and father, that doesn’t mean that you have to go and actually kill your father and mother – but the father and mother that you are carrying within you, the idea.
Watch, observe, and you will find it. You are going to do something, and suddenly you will hear your mother’s voice: ‘Don’t do it!’ You can watch, and you will hear the voice, actual voice – it is a tape inside you. You are going to eat too much ice-cream: watch. Suddenly a moment comes when the mother speaks from within: ‘Don’t eat too much – enough is enough. Stop!’ And at that time you start feeling guilty.
If you are going to make love to a woman or to a man, suddenly all the teachers are standing there in a queue and saying: ‘You are going to commit a crime, you are going to commit sin. Beware! This is the trap. Escape before it is too late.’ Even while you are making love to your wife, your mother, your father, your teachers, are there in-between, destroying it.
It is very rare to find a man or a woman who really goes totally into love – you cannot go. Because for many years you have been taught love is something wrong – how can you drop it suddenly? Unless you are very capable of murdering all these voices… great courage is needed. And that’s what I mean by sannyas. My own definition of sannyas is: a person who is ready to drop all parental voices, who is ready to drop all authorities, who is ready to go into the unknown without any map, on his own. Who is ready to risk.
It happened; Alexander Eliot was studying under a Zen master. For months he was doing meditations, zazen, and he was entering into deeper waters of his own being. One night he had a dream, a very strange dream. But Zen people know about this dream. For Eliot it was strange – he was a Westerner, he was shocked. He relates his dream…
‘I recently had a dream in which Bodhidharma appeared. He was a floating huddle of a man – round, ghostly, with bulging eyes and bulbous brow.’
Just like me… Bodhidharma is a dangerous man. And Zen people have painted his face, very lovingly, in a very dangerous way. He was not like that – not actually, not physically. Physically he was one of the most beautiful men ever – but if you come across a picture of a Bodhidharma you will start getting scared. If you look into the eyes of Bodhidharma he looks like a murderer, he is going to kill you. But that’s all that a master does.
Even in the dream, Alexander Eliot became very much scared and started trembling.
‘Was he grinning, or grimacing? His coarse bristling whiskers made this impossible to tell. “You seem to be a grown-up man,” he whispered through the beard, “yet you have never killed anyone. How come?” ’
In a dream, Bodhidharma asks, ‘You have not killed anyone, and you seem to be a grown-up man. How come?’ He was so much shocked that he awoke, and he found himself perspiring and trembling.
‘What does this strange man mean? – “How come you have not yet killed anybody?”’
That’s what I mean when I say if you are feeling you are not yet a grown-up man, that simply shows you have not killed anybody yet. Fifty years is already too late – now don’t waste time any more. Kill immediately all the impressions inside you. Wash your inside of all old tapes, unwind your mind. And start living your life, from this moment, as if you don’t know, as if nobody has taught you anything – fresh, clean, from a b c.
And you will see maturity coming very soon – and without maturity life is not worth anything. Because all that is beautiful happens only in a mature mind, all that is great happens only in a mature mind. To be a grown-up is a blessing. But people simply grow up – they never become grown-ups. In age they go on growing, but in consciousness they go on shrinking. Their consciousness remains in the fetus; it has not come out of the egg, it is not yet born. Only your body is born – you are yet unborn.
Take your life into your own hands: it is your life. You are not here to fulfill anybody else’s expectations. Don’t live your mother’s life and don’t live your father’s life, live your life. And when you start living your life, you are living God’s life.
From Zen: The Path of Paradox, V.2, Discourse #6
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