“Don’t believe anything unless you have experienced it yourself”

Jainism is the most ascetic religion in the world, or in other words the most masochistic and sadistic. Jaina monks torture themselves so much that one wonders if they are insane. They are not. They are businessmen, and the followers of the Jaina monks are all businessmen. It is strange, the whole Jaina community consists only of businessmen—but not really strange because the religion itself is basically motivated for profit in the other world. The Jaina tortures himself in order to gain something in the other world which he knows he cannot attain in this.
I must have been about four or five years old when I saw the first naked Jaina monk being invited into my grandmother’s house. I could not resist laughing. My grandfather told me “Keep quiet! I know you are a nuisance. I can forgive you when you are a pain in the neck to the neighbors, but I cannot forgive you if you try to be mischievous with my guru. He is my master; he initiated me into the inner secrets of religion.”
I said “I am not concerned about the inner secrets, I am concerned about the outer secrets that he is showing so clearly. Why is he naked? Can’t he at least wear short pants?”
Even my grandfather laughed. He said “You don’t understand.”
I said “Okay, I will ask him myself.” I then asked my grandmother “Can I ask a few questions to this utterly insane man who comes naked in front of ladies and gentlemen?”
My grandmother laughed and said “Go ahead, and don’t take any notice of what your grandfather says. I allow you. If he says anything just indicate towards me and I will put him right.”
She was really a beautiful woman, courageous, ready to give freedom without any limits. She did not even ask me what I was going to ask. She simply said “Go ahead”
All the villagers had assembled for the darshan of the Jaina monk. In the middle of the so-called sermon I stood up. That was forty or so years ago, and since then I have been fighting these idiots continuously. That day a war began which is only going to end when I am no more. Perhaps it may not end even then; my people may continue it.
I asked simple questions that he could not answer. I was puzzled. My grandfather was ashamed. My grandmother patted me on the back and said “Great! You did it! I knew you were able to.”
What had I asked?—just simple questions. I had asked “Why don’t you want to be born again?” That’s a very simple question in Jainism, because Jainism is nothing but an effort not to be born again. It is the whole science of preventing rebirth. So I asked him the basic question, “Don’t you ever want to be born again?”
He said “No, never.”
Then I asked “Why don’t you commit suicide? Why are you still breathing? Why eat? Why drink water? Just disappear, commit suicide. Why make so much fuss over a simple thing?” He was not more than forty years of age. I said to him “If you continue in this way, you may have to continue for another forty years or even more.” It is a scientific fact that people who eat less live longer.
So I said to the monk—I did not know these facts then—”If you don’t want to be born again, why are you living? Just to die? Then why not commit suicide?” I don’t think anybody had ever asked him such a question. In polite society nobody ever asks a real question, and the question of suicide is the most real of all.
Marcel says: Suicide is the only real philosophical question. I had no idea of Marcel then. Perhaps at that time there was no Marcel, and his book had not been written yet. But this is what I said to the Jaina monk “If you don’t want to be born again, which you say is your desire, then why do you live? For what? Commit suicide! I can show you a way. Although I don’t know much about the ways of the world, as far as suicide is concerned I can give you some advice. You can jump off the hill at the side of the village, or you can jump into the river.”
The river was three miles away from the village, and so deep and so vast that to swim across it was such a joy for me. Many times while swimming across the river I would think it was the end and I would not be able to reach the other shore. It was so wide, particularly in the rainy season, miles wide. It looked almost like an ocean. In the rainy season one could not even see the other shore. When it was in full flood, that was when I would jump in, either to die or to reach the other shore. The greater probability was that I would never reach the other shore.
I told the Jaina monk “In the rainy season you can jump into the river with me. We can keep company for a little while, then you can die, and I will reach the other shore. I can swim well enough.”

He looked at me so fiercely, so full of anger, that I had to tell him “Remember, you will have to be born again because you are still full of anger. This is not the way to get rid of the world of worries. Why are you looking at me so angrily? Answer my question in a peaceful and silent way. Answer joyously! If you cannot answer, simply say, ‘I don’t know.’ But don’t be angry.”
The man said “Suicide is a sin. I cannot commit suicide. But I want never to be born again. I will achieve that state by slowly renouncing everything that I possess.”
I said “Please show me something that you possess because, as far as I can see you are naked and you don’t possess anything. What possessions do you have?”
My grandfather tried to stop me. I pointed towards my grandmother and then said to him “Remember, I asked permission of Nani, and now nobody can prevent me, not even you. I spoke to her about you because I was worried that if I interrupted your guru and his rubbishy, so-called sermon, you would be angry with me. She said to ‘Just point towards me, that’s all. Don’t be worried: just a look from me and he will become silent.'” And strange…it was true! He became silent, even without a look from my Nani.

Later on my Nani and I both laughed. I said to her “He did not even look at you.”
She said “He could not, because he must have been afraid that I would say ‘Shut up! Don’t interfere with the child.’ So he avoided me. The only way to avoid me was to not interfere with you.”
In fact he closed his eyes as if he was meditating. I said to him “Nana, great! You are angry, boiling, there is fire within you, yet you sit with closed eyes as if you are meditating. Your guru is angry because my questions are annoying him. You are angry because your guru is not capable of answering. But I say, this man who is sermonizing here is just an imbecile.” And I was not more than four or five years old.

From that time on that has remained my language. I immediately recognize the idiot wherever he is, whoever he is. Nobody can escape my x-ray eyes. I can immediately see any retardedness, or anything else whatsoever. I have been talking about an incident that is absolutely important in order to understand my life and its workings and it is still alive for me.
By the way, I was saying I can still remember, but the word ‘remember’ is not right. I can still see the whole incident happening. Of course I was just a young child, but that does not mean that what I said is not to be taken seriously. In fact it is the only serious thing that I have ever talked about: suicide.
To a Westerner it may seem a little rude to ask a monk—who is almost like a pope to the Jainas—such a question: “Why don’t you commit suicide?” But be kind to me. Let me explain before you conclude, or stop listening to me.

Jainism is the only religion in the world which respects suicide. Now it is your turn to be surprised. Of course they do not call it suicide; they give it a beautiful metaphysical name, santhara. I am against it, particularly the way it is done. It is very violent and cruel. It is strange that a religion which believes in nonviolence should preach santhara, suicide. You can call it metaphysical suicide, but after all, suicide is suicide; the name does not matter. What matters is that the man is no longer alive.

Why am I against it? I am not against the right of man to commit suicide. No, it should be one of the basic human rights. If I don’t want to live, who has the right to force me to live? If I myself want to disappear, then all that others can do is to make it as comfortable as possible. Note it: one day I would like to disappear. I cannot live forever.
I am not against the Jaina attitude to suicide, but the method… their method is not to eat anything. It takes almost ninety days for the poor man to die. It is torture. You cannot improve on it.
Jaina monks and their masochistic practices. They are superb! They never cut their hair, they pull it out with their hands. Look what a great idea!
Every year the Jaina monk pulls out his hair, beard and mustache, and all hair on the body, just with his bare hands! They are against any technology—and they call it logic, going to the very logical end of a thing. If you use a razor, that is technology; did you know that? Have you ever considered a razor a technological thing? Even so-called ecologists go on shaving their beards without knowing that they are committing a crime against nature.
Jaina monks pull out their hair—and not privately, because they do not have any privacy. Part of their masochism is not to have any privacy, to be utterly public. They pull their hair out while standing naked in the marketplace. The crowds, of course, cheer and applaud. And Jainas, although they feel great sympathy—you can even see tears in their eyes—unconsciously they also enjoy it, and without needing a ticket. I abhor it. I am averse to all such practices.
The idea of committing santhara, suicide, by not eating or drinking, is nothing but a very long process of self-torture. I cannot support it. But I am absolutely in support of the idea of the freedom to die. I consider it a birthright, and sooner or later every constitution in the world will contain it, will have to have it as the most basic birthright—the right to die. It is not a crime.
But to torture anybody, including yourself, is a crime. With this you will be able to understand that I was not being rude, I was asking a very relevant question. On that day I began a lifelong struggle against all kinds of stupidities, nonsense, superstitions—in short, religious bullshit. Bullshit is such a beautiful word. It says so much, in short.
That day I began my life as a rebel, and I will continue to be a rebel to my very last breath—or even after it, who knows.

That day was significant, historically significant. I have always remembered that day along with the day when Jesus argued with the rabbis in the temple. He was a little older than I was, perhaps eight or nine years older. The way he argued determined the whole course of his life.
I don’t remember the name of the Jaina monk; perhaps his name was Shanti Sagar, meaning “ocean of bliss.” He certainly was not that. That is why I have forgotten even his name. He was just a dirty puddle, not an ocean of bliss or peace or silence. And he was certainly not a man of silence, because he became very angry.
Shanti can mean many things. It may mean peace, it may mean silence; those are the two basic meanings. Both were missing in him. He was neither peaceful nor silent, not at all. Nor could you say that he was without any turmoil in him because he became so angry that he shouted at me to sit down.
I said “Nobody can tell me to sit down in my own house. I can tell you to get out, but you cannot tell me to sit down. But I will not tell you to get out because I have a few more questions. Please don’t be angry. Remember your name, Shanti Sagar—ocean of peace and silence. You could at least be a little pool. And don’t be disturbed by a little child.”
Without bothering whether he was silent or not, I asked my grandmother, who was by now all laughter “What do you say, Nani? Should I ask him more questions, or tell him to get out of our house?”
I did not ask my grandfather of course, because this man was his guru. My Nani said “You can ask whatsoever you want to, and if he cannot answer, the door is open, he can get out.”

That was the woman I loved. That was the woman who made me a rebel. Even my grandfather was shocked that she supported me in such a way. That so-called Shanti Sagar immediately became silent the moment he saw that my grandmother supported me. Not only her, the villagers were immediately on my side. The poor Jaina monk was left absolutely alone.
I asked him a few more questions. I asked “You have said, ‘Don’t believe anything unless you have experienced it yourself.’ I see the truth in that, hence this question….”

Jainas believe there are seven hells. Up to the sixth there is a possibility of coming back, but the seventh is eternal. Perhaps the seventh is the Christian hell, because there too, once you are in it you are in it forever. I continued, “You referred to seven hells, so the question arises, have you visited the seventh? If you have, then you could not be here. If you have not, on what authority do you say that it exists? You should say that there are only six hells, not seven. Now please be correct: say that there are only six hells, or if you want to insist on seven, then prove to me that at least one man, Shanti Sagar, has come back from the seventh hell.”
He was dumbfounded. He could not believe that a child could ask such a question. Today, I too cannot believe it! How could I ask such a question? The only answer I can give is that I was uneducated, and utterly without any knowledge. Knowledge makes you very cunning. I was not cunning. I simply asked the question which any child could have asked if he were not educated. Education is the greatest crime man has committed against poor children. Perhaps the last liberation in the world will be the liberation of children.

I was innocent, utterly unknowledgeable. I could not read or write, not even count beyond my fingers. Even today, when I have to count anything I start with my fingers, and if I miss a finger I get mixed up.
He could not answer. My grandmother stood up and said, “You have to answer the question. Don’t think that only a child is asking; I am also asking and I am your hostess.”
Now again I have to introduce you to a Jaina convention. When a Jaina monk comes to a family to receive his food, after taking his meal, as a blessing to the family, he gives a sermon. The sermon is addressed to the hostess. My grandmother said “I am your hostess today, and I also am asking the same question. Have you visited the seventh hell? If not, say truthfully that you have not, but then you cannot say there are seven hells.”
The monk became so puzzled and confused—more so by being confronted by a beautiful woman—that he started to leave. My Nani shouted “Stop! Don’t leave! Who is going to answer my child’s question? And he still has a few more to ask. What kind of man are you, escaping from a child’s questions!”
The man stopped. I said to him “I drop the second question, because the monk cannot answer it. He has not answered the first question either, so I will ask him the third; perhaps he may be able to answer that.”
He looked at me. I said “If you want to look at me, look into my eyes.” There was great silence, just as it is here. Nobody said a word. The monk lowered his eyes, and I then said, “Then I don’t want to ask. My first two questions are unanswered, and the third is not asked because I don’t want a guest of the house to be ashamed. I withdraw.” And I really withdrew from the gathering, and I was so happy when my grandmother followed me.
The monk was given his farewell by my grandfather, but as soon as he had left, my grandfather rushed back into the house and asked my grandmother, “Are you mad? First you supported this boy who is a born troublemaker, then you went with him without even saying goodbye to my master.”
My grandmother said “He is not my master, so I don’t care a bit. Moreover what you think to be a born troublemaker is the seed. Nobody knows what will come out of it.”
I know now what has come out of it. Unless one is a born troublemaker one cannot become a buddha. And I am not only a buddha, as Gautam the Buddha; that is too traditional. I am Zorba the Buddha. I am a meeting of the East and the West. In fact, I do not divide East and West, higher and lower, man and woman, good and bad, God and the devil. No! A thousand times no! I don’t divide. I join together all that has been divided up to now. That is my work.
That day is immensely significant in order to understand what happened during my whole life, because unless you understand the seed, you will miss the tree and the flowering, and perhaps the moon through the branches.
From that very day I have always been against everything masochistic. Of course I came to know the word much later, but the word does not matter. I have been against all that is ascetic; even that word was not known to me in those days, but I could smell something foul. You know I am allergic to all kinds of self-torture. I want every human being to live to the fullest; minimum is not my way. Live to the maximum, or if you can go beyond the maximum, then fantastic. Go! Don’t wait! And don’t waste time waiting for Godot.
I am not against the idea of ending life. If one decides to end it, then of course it is his right. But I am certainly against making it a long torture. When this Shanti Sagar died, he took one hundred and ten days of not eating. A man is capable, if he is ordinarily healthy, of easily lasting ninety days without food. If he is extraordinarily healthy then he can survive longer.
So remember, I was not rude to the man. In that context my question was absolutely correct, perhaps more so because he could not answer it. And, strange to tell you today, that was the beginning not only of my questioning, but also the beginning of people not answering. Nobody has answered any of my questions in these last forty-five years. I have met many so-called spiritual people, but nobody has ever answered any of my questions. In a way that day determined my whole flavor, my whole life.
Shanti Sagar left very annoyed, but I was immensely happy, and I did not hide it from my grandfather. I told him “Nana, he may have left annoyed, but I am feeling absolutely correct. Your guru was just mediocre. You should choose someone of a little more worth.”
Even he laughed and said “Perhaps you are right, but now at my age to change my guru will not be very practical.” He asked my Nani “What do you think?”
My Nani, as ever true to her spirit, said “It is never too late to change. If you see what you have chosen is not right, change it. In fact, be quick, because you are getting old. Don’t say, ‘I am old, so I cannot change’. A young man can afford not to change, but not an old man, and you are old enough.”
And only a few years later he died, but he could not gather the courage to change his guru. He continued in the same old pattern. My grandmother used to poke him saying, “When are you going to change your guru and your methods?”
He would say “Yes, I will, I will.”
One day my grandmother said “Stop all this nonsense! Nobody ever changes unless one changes right now. Don’t say ‘I will, I will.’ Either change or don’t change, but be clear.”
That woman could have become a tremendously powerful force. She was not meant to be just a housewife. She was not meant to live in that small village. The whole world should have known about her. Perhaps I am her vehicle; perhaps she has poured herself into me. She loved me so deeply that I have never considered my real mother to be my real mother. I always consider my Nani to be my real mother.
Whenever I had to confess anything, any wrong that I had done to somebody, I could only confess it to her, nobody else. She was my trust. I could confide anything to her because I have come to realize one thing, and that is: she was capable of understanding.
That moment in my life, asking the Jaina monk strange, irritating, annoying questions, I don’t consider that I did anything wrong. Perhaps I helped him. Perhaps one day he will understand. If he had had courage he would have understood even that day, but he was a coward—he escaped. And since then, this has been my experience: the so-called mahatmas and saints are all cowards. I have never come across a single mahatma—Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist—who can be said to be really a rebellious spirit. Unless one is rebellious one is not religious. Rebellion is the very foundation of religion. glimps08
I was telling you of the incident that happened between me and the Jaina monk. It was not the end of that story, because that next day he had to come again to beg for his food from my grandfather’s house.
It will be difficult for you to understand why he had to come again when he had left our house in such anger. I have to explain the context to you. A Jaina monk cannot take food from anybody except another Jaina, and unfortunately for him, we were the only Jaina family in that small village. He could not beg elsewhere for his food, although he would have liked to, but it was against his discipline. So, in spite of himself, he came again.
I and my Nani were both waiting upstairs, watching from the window because we knew he had to come. My Nani said to me “Look, he is coming. Now, what are you going to ask him today?”
I said “I don’t know. First, let him at least eat, and then conventionally he is bound to address the family and the people who have gathered.” After each meal, a Jaina monk delivers a sermon of thanks. “Then don’t be worried” I told her “I will find something or other to ask. First let him speak.”
He was very cautious in speaking, and very brief, which was unusual. But whether you speak or not, if someone wants to question you, he can. He can question your silence. The monk was speaking about the beauty of existence, thinking perhaps that it could not create any trouble, but it did.
I stood up. My Nani was laughing at the back of the room—I can still hear her laughter. I asked him “Who created this beautiful universe?”
Jainas do not believe in God. It is difficult for the Western Christian mind to even comprehend a religion that does not believe in God. Jainism is far superior to Christianity; at least it does not believe in God, and the Holy Ghost, and the whole nonsense that follows. Jainism is, believe me or not, an atheistic religion—because to be atheist and yet religious seems to be contradictory, a contradiction in terms. Jainism is pure ethics, pure morality, with no God. So when I asked the Jaina monk “Who created this beauty?” obviously, as I knew he would, he answered “Nobody.”
That was what I was waiting for. I then said “Can such beauty be created by no one?”
He said “Please don’t misunderstand me….” This time he had come prepared; he looked more together. “Please don’t misunderstand me” he said “I am not saying that no one is someone.”
I said to the Jaina monk “I know that no one is no one, but you talk so beautifully, so praisingly of existence that it shocks me, because Jainas are not supposed to do that. It seems that because of yesterday’s experience you have changed your tactics. You can change your tactics but you cannot change me. I still ask, if no one created the universe how did it come to be?”
He looked here and there; all were silent except for my Nani, who was laughing loudly. The monk asked me “Do you know how it came to be?”
I said “It has always been there; there is no need for it to come.” I can confirm that sentence after forty-five years, after enlightenment and no-enlightenment, after having read so much and having forgotten it all, after knowing that which is, and—put it in capitals—IGNORING IT. I can still say the same as that young child: the universe has always been there; there is no need for it to have been created or to have come from somewhere—it simply is.
The Jaina monk did not turn up on the third day. He escaped from our village to the next where there was another Jaina family. But I must pay homage to him: without knowing it he started a small child on the journey towards truth.
Since then, how many people have I asked the same question, and found the same ignorance facing me—great pundits, knowledgeable people, great mahatmas worshipped by thousands, and yet not able to answer a simple question put by a child.
In fact, no real question has ever been answered, and I predict that no real question will ever be answered, because when you come to a real question, the only answer is silence. Not the stupid silence of a pundit, a monk or a mahatma, but your own silence. Not the silence of the other, but the silence that grows within you. Except that, there is no answer. And that silence that grows within is an answer to you, and to those who merge with your silence with love; otherwise it is not an answer to anyone except you….
When the monk had disappeared from that village we laughed continuously for days, particularly my Nani and I. I cannot believe how childlike she was! At that time she must have been nearly fifty, but her spirit was as if she had never grown older than a child. She laughed with me and said “You did well.”
Even now I can still see the back of the escaping monk. Jaina monks are not beautiful people; they cannot be, their whole approach is ugly, just ugly. Even his back was ugly. I have always loved the beautiful wherever it is found—in the stars, in a human body, in flowers, or in the flight of a bird… wherever. I am an unashamed worshipper of the beautiful, because I cannot see how one can know truth if one cannot love beauty. Beauty is the way to truth. And the way and the goal are not different: the way itself ultimately turns into the goal. The first step is also the last.
That encounter—yes, that’s the right word—that encounter with the Jaina mystic began thousands of other encounters; Jaina, Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, and I was ready to do anything just to have a good argument.
I was saying that my first encounter with the naked Jaina monk started a long, long series of encounters with many so-called monks—bullshitters. They all suffer from intellectuality, and I was born to bring them down to earth. But it is almost impossible to bring them to their senses. Perhaps they don’t want to because they are afraid. Perhaps not to have sensibility or intelligence is very advantageous to them.
They are respected as holy men; to me they are only holy cow dung. One thing about cow dung is good: it does not smell. I remind you of that because I am allergic to smells. Cow dung has this one good quality, it is nonallergic, nonallergenic.

Revolution for kids, Osho’s childhood autobiography
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