What is Morality? – Osho

Please talk about morality.

Shantam Divyama, the question about morality is immensely significant, because morality is not that which has been told to you for centuries. All the religions have exploited the idea of morality. They have been teaching in different ways, but the basic foundation is the same: unless you become moral, ethical, you cannot become religious.

By morality they mean that you have to be truthful, you have to be honest, you have to be charitable, you have to be compassionate, you have to be nonviolent. In one word, all these great values have first to be present in you, only then you can move towards being religious.

This whole concept is upside down. According to me, unless you are religious you cannot be moral.

Religion comes first, morality is only a by-product. If you make the by-product into the goal of human character, you will create such a troubled, miserable humanity – and for such a good cause. You are bringing the cart before the bullocks – neither the bullocks can move, nor the cart can move; both are stuck.

How can a man be truthful if he does not know what truth is? How can a man be honest if he does not know even who he is? How can a man be compassionate if he does not know the source of love within himself? From where will he get the compassion? All that he can do in the name of morality is to become a hypocrite, a pretender. And there is nothing more ugly than to be a hypocrite. He can pretend, he can try hard, but everything will remain superficial and skin-deep. Just scratch him a little bit, and you will find all the animal instincts fully alive, ready to take revenge whenever they can get the opportunity.

Putting morality before religion is one of the greatest crimes that religions have committed against humanity.

The very idea brings a repressed human being. And a repressed human being is sick, psychologically split, constantly in a fight with himself, trying to do things which he does not want to do.

Morality should be very relaxed and easy – just like your shadow; you don’t have to drag it with you, it simply comes on its own. But this has not happened; what has happened is a psychologically sick humanity. Everybody is tense, because whatever you are doing there is a conflict about whether it is right or wrong. Your nature goes in one direction; your conditioning goes just in the opposite direction, and a house divided cannot stand for long. So everybody is somehow pulling himself together; otherwise the danger is always there, just by your side, of having a nervous breakdown.

I do not teach morality at all. Morality should come on its own accord. I teach you directly the experience of your own being. As you become more and more silent, serene, calm and quiet, as you start understanding you own consciousness, as your inner being becomes more and more centered, your actions will reflect morality. It will not be something that you decide to do; it will be something as natural as roses on a rose bush. It is not that the rose bush is doing great austerities, and fasting, and praying to God, and disciplining itself according to the Ten Commandments; the rose bush is doing nothing. The rose bush has just to be healthy, nourished, and the flowers will come in their own time, with great beauty, effortlessly.

A morality that comes with effort is immoral. A morality that comes without effort is the only morality there is.

That’s why I don’t talk about morality at all, because it is morality that has created so many problems for humanity – about everything. They have given you ready-made ideas about what is right, what is wrong. In life, ready-made ideas don’t work, because life goes on changing, just like a river – taking new turns, moving into new territories… from the mountains to the valleys, from the valleys to the plains, from the plains to the ocean.

Heraclitus is right when he says, “You cannot step in the same river twice,” because it is always flowing. The second time you step in, it is different water. I agree with Heraclitus so much that I say unto you, you cannot step in the same river even once – because when your feet are touching its surface, the water underneath is flowing; as your feet are going deeper, the water on the surface is flowing; and by the time you have touched the bottom, so much water has gone… it is not the same water, that your step can not be said to be entering into the same river.

Life is just like the river – a flux. And you are all carrying fixed dogmas. You always find yourself unfit, because if you follow your dogmas, you have to go against life; if you follow life, you have to go against your dogmas.

Hence my whole effort is to make your morality spontaneous. You should be conscious and alert, and respond to every situation with absolute consciousness. Then whatever you do is right. It is not a question of actions being right or wrong, it is a question of consciousness – whether you are doing it consciously or unconsciously like a robot.

My whole philosophy is based on growing your consciousness higher, deeper, to the point when there is no unconsciousness inside you; you have become a pillar of light. In this light, in this clarity, to do anything wrong becomes impossible. It is not that you have to avoid doing it; even if you want to do it, you cannot. And in this consciousness, whatsoever you do becomes a blessing.

Your action out of consciousness is moral, out of unconsciousness is immoral… it may be the same action.

I am reminded of an old story: A king was getting old, and he told his only son, who was going to succeed him, “Before I die you have to learn the art of morality, because a king has to be a model for everyone else in the kingdom; nothing should go wrong in your actions. So I am sending you today to my old master. I am old, he is even older than me, so don’t waste time. Learn everything intensely, totally, without wasting a single moment.”

The prince went to the master and he was surprised – surprised by the fact that the master was a master of archery: “And what has archery to do with morality? Has my father gone senile?” But he had come to the mountains, so he thought, “It is better to see the old man at least once.”

He went in. The old man was immensely beautiful and graceful, surrounded by an aura of silence and peace. He had been thinking he was going to meet a warrior, an archer, but here was a sage. He was getting even more puzzled. He asked the old man, “Are you the master archer?” He said, “You are right.”

The prince said, “I have been sent by my father, the king, who is your disciple, to learn morality from you. I cannot see any connection at all between morality and archery.” The old man laughed and he said, “Soon you will see.”

The prince said, “I am in a hurry. My father is old, and before he dies I want to fulfill his desire.” The master said, “Then get lost, because these things cannot be learned in a hurry. Patience, infinite patience is the very foundation of learning any art, whether it is archery or it is morality.”

Looking at the old man’s eyes the prince remained, and he said, “When are my lessons going to start?” The old man said, “Just now they have started. Patience is your first lesson. And about the second lesson I should make you aware. The second lesson is that you will be cleaning the floors, cleaning in the garden, collecting the old leaves, throwing them out. Be very careful, because I may hit you with a wooden sword at any moment. Although it is wooden, it hits really hard. It has given many people fractures.”

The prince said, “But I have come here to learn morality, not to get fractures!” The old man said, “That will come in its own time, this is only the beginning.” Puzzled, confused… but he knew his father, that if he went back empty-handed the old man would be really enraged. He had to learn. On both sides two mad, old people…. “And this man is trying to teach me morality by hitting me! But let us see what happens.”

And the master started hitting him. He would be washing the floor, and suddenly a hit would come. He would be cleaning the path in the garden, and suddenly a hit would come. But he became surprised, within a week, that a certain intuition was arising in him. Even before the old man had approached him, he would jump out of his way. Whatever he was doing, some part of his consciousness was continuously alert the old man, where he was. And the old man used to walk so silently that it was almost impossible to remain conscious. But he started being conscious, because getting so many hits, his whole body was hurting.

It continued for one month. But in one month he became so capable that the old man was no longer able to hit him. The old man said, “You are really the son of your father. He was also very keen, intense, and total in learning; it won’t take much time. Your first lesson is finished today, because for twenty-four hours I have been trying to hit you, but you have been found always alert, and saved yourself.

“From tomorrow morning you will have to be more alert, because the wooden sword will be replaced by a real sword. The wooden sword at the most could have given you a fracture, but the real sword may even cut off your head. So more awareness will be needed.”

But this one month had been of such great learning… he was never aware that inside him there was so much possibility of intuitive awareness. He was trained, well-trained intellectually, but he had no idea of any intuitiveness. And he was not afraid even of the real sword, because he said, “It is the same. If you cannot hit me with the wooden sword, you cannot hit me with the real sword either. It makes no difference to me.”

For one month the old man was trying in every possible way to hit him with the real sword, and naturally the prince became more and more alert – had to become, there was no other alternative.

And one complete month passed, and the old man could not even touch him. He was very happy, and he said, “I am immensely satisfied. Now the third lesson. Up to now I was hitting you only while you were awake. From this evening, remember that in the night when you are asleep I may hit you at any time. Again it will start with the wooden sword.”

The prince became a little worried – awake it was one thing, but when you are asleep? But these two months had given him tremendous respect, trust in the old man and his art, and also a confidence about his own intuition. And he thought, “If he says it, then perhaps intuition never sleeps.”

And that proved to be the truth. The body sleeps, the mind sleeps, but the intuition is always awake; its very nature is awareness, but we never look at it He had to look, he had to remain alert, even asleep.

The old man started hitting him, and a few times he got really bad hits. But he was grateful, not angry, because after each hit he was becoming more and more alert, even in sleep – just like a small flame, something remained alive in him, alert and watchful. And just in one month he was again able to protect himself even in his sleep. As the old man would come close, very silently, making no noise, no footstep sounds, the young man would jump up out of his bed. He may have been fast asleep, but something remained awake.

And in the next lesson the real sword in appeared his sleep. The next morning the old man said, “Now the last lesson – I will be hitting you with a real sword. And you know my sword, just a single hit and you are finished. You have to gather all your consciousness.” The young man was a little worried, a little afraid, because the game was becoming more and more dangerous.

In the early morning sun the old man was reading a book, sitting under a tree in the rising sun, and the young man was gathering the old leaves from the garden. Suddenly a thought came to him, “This old man has been hitting me for months; it will be a great idea… I should try to hit him and see whether he is alert or not.”

And he was just twenty or twenty-five feet away, when he was just thinking this in his mind – he had not done anything yet – and the old man said, “Boy, I am very old, and your teaching is not finished yet. Don’t have such ideas.” The prince could not believe it. He came and touched his feet, and said, “Forgive me, but I had not done anything, I was only thinking… just an idea.”

The old man said, “When you become fully alert even the sound of your thoughts is heard. It is the question of awareness. You don’t have to do anything, you just think and I will know. And soon you will become capable of the same – just a little more patience .”

And soon the day came when he started suddenly becoming aware that the old man was thinking of hitting him… for no reason. The old man was sitting reading his book, but the idea came so clearly that he went to the master, and said, “So you are going to hit me again? Just a few seconds before I heard the idea.” The master said, “You are right, I was just thinking to finish the page and come. Now there is no need for you to be here. I know your father is old and is waiting for you.”

But the young man said, “What happened about morality?” The old man said, ”Forget all about it.

A man who is so alert can only be moral. He cannot harm anybody, he cannot steal, he cannot be unkind, cruel; he will be naturally loving and compassionate. You forget all about morality!”

This awareness is what I call religiousness. The prince went back. The father was waiting and waiting, and he said, “Have you learned the whole art of archery?” The young man said, ”You sent me to learn the art of morality. From where have you got the idea of archery?” The king said, ”I sent you to learn morality, archery was only a device.”

There are many devices, many ways and methods of meditation to create awareness, to wake up your sleeping intuition. And once it is awake, then there is no need to tell you what is good, what is moral, what is bad, what is immoral; your awareness will be decisive on its own. And it will be spontaneous, fresh and young, and always to the point, because all principles become dead. And if you try to fit your life according to principles, you also become dead.

That’s what has happened to Christians, to Hindus, to Mohammedans, to Jainas, to all the people around the world – they are living according to dead principles. And those dead principles don’t fit with the reality – they cannot fit. Only a spontaneous consciousness…. The difference is something like this: you have a photograph of yourself of the last year, or maybe of your childhood, and if you don’t know that it is your picture of your childhood, you may not even recognize it – because you have changed so much. That picture is dead, it is not growing; you are growing.

Morality is like photographs. Religion is like a mirror. If a child is facing it, it reflects the child; if an old man is facing it, it reflects the old man. It is always spontaneous, in the moment, responding to reality. A conscious human being is just like a mirror – he reflects reality and responds accordingly. His response is moral.

So I am changing the whole emphasis from action to awareness.

And if more and more people can become aware, the world will be a totally different place. A man of awareness will not go to war. Although religious scriptures say that to sacrifice yourself for your nation, for your religion is virtuous, a man of consciousness cannot follow that dead idea. To him, the nation itself is an immoral idea, because it divides humanity – and war is certainly immoral. You may find good names, good words – sometimes it is religion, sometimes it is political ideology, sometimes it is Christianity, sometimes it is communism – good ideas, but the reality is turning human beings into butchers.

You are killing people whom you have never even met. And you know perfectly well that just as you have left a wife behind, crying, who will be waiting for you, just as you have left your old mother and father back at home, hoping that their son comes back alive, just as you have left small children… the man you are killing has also a wife, has also children, has also an old father and mother. And he has done no harm to you; neither have you done any harm to him.

If the world becomes a little more conscious, soldiers will throw away their arms and hug each other, sit down together under a tree and gossip. The politicians cannot force all the armies to kill, to murder. Neither can the popes, the religious leaders convince anybody that for God’s sake you have to kill. Strange… because God has created everybody. Whomsoever you are killing, you are killing God’s creation. If it is true that God created the world, then there should be no war – it is one family; there should be no nations.

These are immoral things: the nations, the religions, anything that discriminates against people and creates conflict.

A man of awareness will not be greedy, because he will be able to see that his greed will create poverty; and the people who will be starving and dying through poverty are his brothers and sisters. It does not matter whether they live in Ethiopia or in India; it does not matter whether their skin is white or black.

Authentic morality is a by-product of consciousness. And the art of consciousness is religion. There is no Hindu religion, there is no Christian religion, there is no Mohammedan religion; there is only one religion, and that is the religion of consciousness – becoming so aware, so enlightened and awakened, that you have eyes to see clearly and can respond according to that clarity.

A man of consciousness cannot be deceived by words. Mohammedans say that if you die in a religious war… how can there be a religious war? War is basically irreligious. But Christians, Mohammedans, and all other religions say that if you die in a religious war, your reward will be great in the other world. For this immoral act of killing people, you will be rewarded. But beautiful words “religious war”, cover it up.

A man of awareness sees deeply and penetratingly through your words. Neither your God can deceive him, nor your holy books can deceive him, nor your nations, nor your politicians. He lives according to his consciousness. He has an individuality, a very crystal clear individuality – a pure mirror, unclouded by anything, with no dust covering it.

But for thousands of years just mere words, and sometimes such stupid, trivial causes, have been killing people. Christianity in the middle ages burnt thousands of women. They created a fiction – the fiction of the devil. There is no devil. There is no God! But people have lived in unconsciousness, and whatsoever the leaders, the so-called saints, go on saying, people have been told to believe: if you don’t believe you will suffer in hell; if you believe you will be rewarded.

People’s intelligence has been destroyed. They have been kept retarded. Otherwise it would be impossible to burn thousands of living women for a strange reason – that these women are having sexual intercourse with the devil. Now nobody is having sexual intercourse with the devil. Only in the middle ages, suddenly, the devil became so much interested in women, and that too, only in Europe…!

A special court was created by the pope, so that if anybody suspects any woman, that she is having some friendship with the devil, you have just to report to the court and the woman will be immediately imprisoned, tortured. And the torture was so intense. They had invented special methods of torture.

Just five, six years ago, something went wrong with my back. There were so many body workers in the commune, and they all tried, but nobody succeeded in fixing it. Finally the best expert in the world from London was called, and he suggested a machine called traction. The machine was brought, and I was put on the machine. And while they were fixing their belts, I remembered that I have read that this traction machine was created in the middle ages by the Christian priests, to torture women. It pulls your legs to one side and your hands to another side. Naturally it pulls your backbone – so if the backbone has slipped somewhere it comes into line.

It was just an accidental invention. One old woman they were torturing had been suffering for twenty years from a bad back, and after their traction, she could not believe it when she stood up – her pain was gone. That’s how the traction machine was transferred from the church to the hospital. It is really torturous, and if you are using it just to torture, then you can go on pulling…. Sometimes even hands were broken, legs were taken out. The torture was so much that the women thought it was better to confess, because while they went on saying, “I have nothing to do with the devil, I don’t know the devil,” the torture continued. It would stop only when you confess that you are having sexual intercourse with the devil.

Thousands of women confessed that they have been having sexual intercourse with the devil. And once they had confessed before the court, then there was no problem. The punishment was to burn the woman alive at the crossroads in the middle of the city.

Nobody ever bothered about whether there was any devil. It was just a word – nobody had seen the devil. If you had tortured these women to make a confession that they are having intercourse with God, they would have confessed that too! There is a limit to what one can tolerate suffering.

Just mere words… but why have people enjoyed killing, suffering, torturing? Because they themselves are unhappy… so unhappy, so miserable. They cannot see anybody else being blissful, being joyous. They want everybody else to suffer more than they are suffering.

Morality has been a very good device to torture people: you don’t have to torture them, they torture themselves – even to make love to your own wife is a sin. They don’t say it about somebody else’s wife, sex is sin; and anything connected with sex becomes sin. Now sex, is something natural – there is no way to avoid it. So you are putting man into a dilemma: fixing in his mind that sex is immoral, and giving him a nature which is sexual and sensuous.

It has been discovered that millions of men around the world suffer from migraine after making love. And I was reading a report of a Christian scientist – because he is Christian, his mind is conditioned himself. He is trying to find all kinds of causes why men suffer from migraines.

He has been working on the project for one year continually. Just now he has produced his report, giving many, many causes – physiological, chemical – and the reality is so simple, there is no need of any investigation. The reality is that you have divided men’s mind into two parts. One part says, “What you are doing is wrong. Don’t do it”; the other part says, “It is impossible to resist the temptation. I’m going to do it.” These two parts start struggling, conflicting.

Migraine is nothing but a conflict, a deep conflict, in your mind. No aboriginal suffers from migraine after making love. Catholics suffer more than anybody else, because their conditioning is so deep that it creates a split in their mind. What they have been saying for centuries is without any base, without any evidence, but they go on repeating it. And once… even if a lie is repeated too often, it starts looking as if it is true.

One should be very much aware about words.

A man goes into a bar and begins to tell a Polish joke. The man sitting next to him, a big, hulking, powerhouse of a man, turns and says menacingly,“I’m Polish. Now you just wait a minute till I get my sons.”

He then calls out, “Ivan, come out here; and bring your brother.” Two men, bigger than the first, appear from the back room. “Joseph,” the man calls out, “You and your cousin come in here,” Two more men, the biggest of all, come in through the back door. All five men crowd around the man

“Now,” says the first Polish man, “Do you want to finish that joke.”

“No,” says the man.

“No? And why not?” says the Polish man, opening and closing his fist, “Are you scared?”

“No,” says the man, “I just don’t feel like having to explain it to five men.”

People are very clever with words. They can hide any kind of reality. He is afraid – those five men can kill him – but he finds a beautiful excuse: “I don’t want to bother myself, explaining to five people the meaning of the joke.”

All the religions have been playing with words, and have not allowed man to be intelligent enough to see through the words. They have created a jungle of words and theologies and dogmas and creeds and cults. And poor man is simply carrying the whole load of it in the name of morality.

I want to tell you, never bother about morality. The only concern for a sincere seeker is awareness, more consciousness. And your consciousness will take care of all your acts. Without any effort, your acts will become moral – just like flowers without any act, without any effort they will blossom around you. Morality is nothing but a conscious man’s life style.

-Osho

From The Razor’s Edge, Chapter 19

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

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