Question : Osho, to me it seems that the christian concept of the soul is the same as what you mean by the real i, the one who is the watcher. Why didn’t Jesus speak about the possibility of reincarnation of the soul? This seems to be a difference between eastern and western religions. Can you say something about it?
Osho : Jaap-Willem, JESUS KNEW PERFECTLY WELL about reincarnation. There are indirect hints spread all over the gospels. Just the other day I was saying, quoting Jesus: “I am before Abraham ever was.” And Jesus says, “I will be coming back.” And there are a thousand and one indirect references to reincarnation. He knew about it perfectly well, but there is some other reason why he did not talk about it, why he did not preach it.
Jesus had been to India and he had seen what had happened because of the theory of reincarnation. In India for almost five thousand years before Jesus the theory was taught. And it is a truth, it is not only a theory; the theory is based in truth. Man has millions of lives. It was taught by Mahavira, by Buddha, by Krishna, by Rama; all the Indian religions agree upon it. You will be surprised to know: they don’t agree on anything else except this theory.
Hindus believe in God and the soul. Jainas don’t believe in God at all but only in the soul. And Buddhists don’t believe in the soul or God either. But about reincarnation all three agree — even Buddhists agree, who don’t believe in the soul. A very strange thing…then who reincarnates? Even THEY could not deny the phenomenon of reincarnation, although they could deny the existence of the soul; they say the soul does not exist but reincarnation exists. And it was very difficult for them to prove reincarnation without the soul; it seems almost impossible. But they found a way — of course it is very subtle and very difficult to comprehend, but they seem to be closer, the closest to the truth.
It is easy to understand that there is a soul and when you die the body is left on the earth and the soul enters into another body, into another womb; it is a simple, logical, mathematical thing. But Buddha says there is no soul but only a continuum. It is like when you kindle a candle in the evening and in the morning when you are blowing it out a question can be asked of you: Are you blowing out the same light that you started in the evening? No, it is not the same light, and yet a continuity is there. In the night when you lit the candle… that flame is no more there, that flame is continuously disappearing; it is being replaced by another flame. The replacement is so quick that you can’t see the gaps, but with sophisticated scientific instruments it is possible to see the gaps: one flame going out, another coming up, that going out, another coming up. There are bound to be small intervals, but you can’t see them with bare eyes.
Buddha says that just as the candle flame is not the same — it is changing constantly, although in another sense it is the same because it is the same continuum — exactly like that, there is no soul entity in you like a thing but one like a flame. It is continuously changing, it is a river. Buddha does not believe in nouns, he only believes in verbs, and I perfectly agree with him. He has come closest to the truth; at least in his expression he is the most profound.
But why did Jesus, Moses, Mohammed — the sources of all the three religions that have been born outside India — not talk about reincarnation directly? For a certain reason, and the reason is that Moses was aware… because Egypt and India have been in constant contact. It is suspected that once Africa was part of Asia and that the continent has slowly shifted away. India and Egypt were joined together, hence there are so many similarities. And it is not strange that South India is black; it has partly Negro blood in its veins, it is negroid — not totally, but if Africa was joined with Asia then certainly the mingling of the Aryans with the Negroes must have happened, and then South India became black.
Moses must have been perfectly aware of India. You will be surprised that Kashmir claims that both Moses and Jesus are buried there. The tombs are there, one tomb for Moses and one tomb for Jesus. They saw what happened to India through the theory of reincarnation.
Because of the theory of reincarnation India became very lethargic; there is no hurry. India has no time sense, not even now. Even though everybody is wearing a wristwatch there is no time sense. If somebody says, “I will be coming at five o’clock in the evening to see you,” it can mean anything. He may turn up at four, he may turn up at six, he may not turn up at all — and it is not taken seriously! It is not that he is not fulfilling his promise — there is no time sense! How can you have time sense when eternity is available? When there are so many many lives, why be in such a hurry? One can go on slowly; one is bound to reach some day or other.
The theory of reincarnation made India very lethargic, dull. It made India utterly time-unconscious. It helped people to postpone. And if you can postpone for tomorrow, then today you will remain the same as you have been and the tomorrow never comes. And India knows how to postpone not only to tomorrow but even to the next life.
Moses and Jesus both visited India, both were aware. Mohammed never visited India but was perfectly aware, because he was very close to India and there was constant traffic between India and Arabia. They decided that it was better to tell people, “There is only one life, this is the LAST chance — the first and the last — if you miss it, you miss forever.” This is a device to create intense longing, to create such intensity in people that they can be transformed easily.
Then the question arises: Were Mahavira, Buddha and Krishna not aware? Were they not aware that this theory of reincarnation would create lethargy? They were trying a totally different device. And each device has its time; once it is used…it cannot be used forever. People become accustomed to it. When Buddha, Mahavira and Krishna tried the device of reincarnation they were trying it from a totally different angle.
India was a very rich country in those days. It was thought to be the golden country of the world, the richest. And in a rich country the real problem, the greatest problem, is boredom. That is happening now in the West. Now America is in the same situation, and boredom has become the greatest problem. People are utterly bored, so bored that they would like to die.
Krishna, Mahavira and Buddha used this situation. They told people, “This is nothing, one life’s boredom is nothing. You have lived for many lives, and remember, if you don’t listen you are going to live many more lives; you will be bored again and again and again. It is the same wheel of life and death moving.”
They painted boredom in such dark colors that people who were already bored with even one life became really very deeply involved with religion. One has to get rid of life and death; one has to get out of this wheel, this vicious circle of birth and death. Hence it was relevant in those days.
Then India became poor. Once the country became poor boredom disappeared. A poor man is never bored, remember; only a rich man can afford boredom, it is a rich man’s privilege. It is impossible for a poor man to feel boredom; he has no time. The whole day he is working; when he comes home he is so tired he falls asleep. He need not have many many entertainments — television and movies and music and art and museums — he need not have all these things, he CANNOT have them. His only entertainment is sex: a natural thing, inbuilt. That’s why poor countries go on reproducing more children than rich countries — the only entertainment.
If you want to reduce the population of poor countries, give them more entertainment. Give them television sets, give them radios, movies — something that can keep them distracted from sex. I have heard about American couples that they become so much obsessed with the television that even while making love they go on watching the television. Love becomes secondary, television becomes primary. They don’t want to miss the program that is going on.
A poor country knows only one entertainment because it cannot afford any other; it can afford only the natural, inbuilt one. So a poor country goes on producing people; it becomes more and more crowded. And they are not fed up with life. What life do they have? First you have to have life to be fed up with it. You have to have money to be fed up with it. You have to have many women to be fed up with them. You have to have many experiences of the world to be finished with it.
The moment India became poor the theory of reincarnation became an escape, a hope — rather than a boredom it became a hope, a possibility to postpone. “I am poor in this life. Nothing to be worried about; there are many lives. Next life I am going to strive a little harder and I will be richer. This life I have got an ugly woman. Nothing to be worried about; it is only a question of one life. Next time I am not going to make the same mistake again. This time I am suffering from my past karmas. This life I will not commit any wrong things so that I can enjoy the coming life.” It became postponement.
Jesus saw it, that the device was no longer working in the way it was meant to work. The situation had changed. Now Jesus had to create another device: there is only one life — so if you want to be religious, if you want to meditate, if you want to become a sannyasin, BE ONE RIGHT NOW — because the tomorrow is not reliable. There may be no tomorrow. Hence the West has become too conscious of time; everybody is in a hurry. This hurry is because of Christianity. The device has again failed. No device can work forever.
My own experience is that a particular device works only while the Master is alive, because he is the soul of it; he manages it in such a way that it works once the Master is gone, the device falls out of use or people start finding new interpretations for it.
Now in the West the device has failed utterly; now it has become a problem. People are in a constant hurry, tension, anxiety, because there is only one life. Jesus wanted them to remember: because there is one life, remember God. And what are they doing? Seeing that there is only one life they want to drink, eat and be merry, because there is no other life. So indulge as much as you can. Squeeze the whole juice of life right now! And who cares about what will happen on the Judgment Day? Who knows whether the Judgment Day is there or not?
The professor at a girls’ college was a really dirty old man. He could not give a lecture without making some kind of obscene remark. Eventually the girls decided that the next time he did it they would all get up from their desks and leave the classroom.
The next morning the professor entered the room and started in right away: “Hey, girls, I heard that just yesterday a ship came into the harbor with thirty Negro sailors on deck. Just imagine, girls, thirty huge Negro pricks….”
At this point the whole class got up and started to go out of the room.
“Hey, girls,” shouted the professor after them, “no need to hurry. They are gonna stay here for another two weeks.”
A great hurry has arisen in the West about everything, because there is no other life.
Mary and John are both living in a big apartment-house in New York City. One day they meet and instantly fall in love with each other, but they don’t make any contact. This goes on for six months until John just can’t bear the tension any more and asks her to come to his apartment for a drink. Hesitatingly she says yes and as soon as they reach his flat they close the door behind them and rush into the bedroom and throw themselves on the bed.
After a few minutes John explains with a hoarse voice, “Listen, I am very sorry, but if I had known that you were a virgin I would have taken more time.”
Mary replies, “Well, if I had known that you had more time, I would have taken my pants off!”
Such a hurry! Speed is the mania, faster and faster. Nobody is bothered where you are going, but you have to go fast; invent speedier vehicles.
And this whole thing has happened because of the device. It worked in Jesus’ time. He was continuously telling his people, “Beware! The Day of Judgment is very close by. You are going to see the end of the world in your very own life and there is no other life. And if you miss you will be thrown into hell for eternity!” He was simply creating a psychological atmosphere. It worked when he was alive and it worked for a few more days when he was gone. It continued to work for a few days because of the closest disciples who had something of the climate of Jesus with them, some aura, but then it created just the opposite effect.
It has created the MOST worldly civilization the world has ever known. And the desire was that the idea of one life would make people so alert and aware that they would seek and search for God and they would drop ALL other desires and ALL other occupations. Their whole life would become one-pointedly a search, an inquiry, for God. That was the idea behind the device. But the ultimate result is that people have become absolutely worldly, because there is no other life, only one life — enjoy it the most you can! Enjoy it, don’t postpone it for tomorrow.
The Indian device failed because people became lethargic. It worked with Buddha. He really created one of the greatest movements in the world. Thousands of people renounced their lives, became sannyasins. That means they devoted their whole energy to the search for truth, because he created such an atmosphere of boredom that you would be bored if you missed.
But what happened later on was just the opposite. It is always going to be so. The Masters are bound to be misunderstood. And people are so cunning, so diplomatic, they can always find ways to destroy the whole device.
Jesus knows perfectly that life is eternal, reincarnation is a fact. He mentions it in indirect ways, maybe to his very close disciples he mentions it, but not to the masses — for a simple reason: he has seen that it failed in India, something else has to be tried.
I am creating many devices because others have failed. I know perfectly well that my devices will function only while I am here; they are bound to fail as every other device has failed. I am not living in any fool’s paradise thinking that my devices will remain as I create them forever. When I am not there, people are going to distort them. But that is natural, it has to be accepted; there is nothing to worry about.
Hence those who are here, please be alert and use these devices as deeply as possible. While I am here these devices will function perfectly well. In my hands they can be great situations for inner transformation, but once my hands are no more visible these same devices will be in the hands of the pundits and the scholars, and then the same story will be repeated as it has been in the past. Beware, be watchful. Don’t waste time.
Source – Osho Book “Be Still and Know”