Name: Belief, Doubt, And Fanaticism
Series: Life Essentials
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Edition / Year of Publication: First Edition / April 2012
Cover Design: Kerri Resnick
Cover Photograph: Cavan Images / Getty Images
Jesus is remembered to have said, ‘Having eyes, see ye not.’ It is not that the people whom he was addressing were physically blind but that they were all blind on a deeper spiritual level, everybody is. The truth has always been here and now, but believing works as an illusion and the believer thinks that he knows but when indeed one does not. One believes when one does not know. A belief is a cheap alternative for truth.
The journey towards knowing the truth begins when one accepts that one knows nothing. Socrates said, ‘I know that I know not.’ It was not really that he does not know but that he saw within the society an inertia towards clinging to beliefs and not using the reason to question the status quo. He meant that one must be courageous enough to let go of all that he knows and start afresh with wonder and awe towards everything. Hence he highlighted on the saying inscribed at the Temple of Delphi, ‘Know thyself,’ because it is only through knowing oneself that the beliefs get shattered, and one encounters the truth in reality.
Buddha also stressed the importance of knowing oneself and so did the ancient Hindu Vedantists who gave prominence to Atma Gyana, that is self-knowing. All others who have ever known the truth have tried to keep the seekers away from the beliefs, for they know that it works only as a hindrance and make no way towards the truth.
Osho likewise emphasizes upon the very human inclination towards clinging to beliefs and then how those belief systems that we mistook for guiding us towards the truth or providing a structure to our lives, in turn, end up leaving us nowhere and drifts us far away from the truth. Osho reveals to the reader the destructiveness of belief systems and how we can live our lives beautifully without believing.
To arrive at the truth, it is important first to suffer and succumb to the fear that crops up when we let go of all the beliefs. It is through that experience of not withholding any ideology or theory that the one comes closer to the day of revelation. It is important to start with doubt, questioning one’s beliefs, considering the possibility if one is wrong. The doubt then must be supported with further inquiry.
It happens that when one denies one’s beliefs, one starts getting attracted to the opposite. Hence so many atheists end up being believers, and so many believers become atheists. It is a difficult position to maintain to remain without beliefs, but it is also this time that is the most transformative because one encounters the naked reality on one’s own without any external theoretical support. Moreover, it is only then that the Gautama who leaves his home in search for truth comes out as the Buddha.
The Buddha does not mean God but a man who is Awake. That is the very meaning of the word Buddha, the one who is Awake. However, one comes to this awakening when one leave ones home. Leaving one’s home is a metaphor what it means is to leave behind all that the society has imprinted on the psyche. Leaving behind all the conditioning with which one identifies oneself and others and everything.
The identification is the cause of differences within all of us. These difference does not allow us to see the connectivity that we share. Many emphases have been put in the Upanishads to disidentify oneself from what one believes oneself to be, hence the method of Neti Neti. Neti Neti means, neither this nor that, a process where one keeps on disidentifying oneself with everything until nothing remains with which one could identify oneself with, and it is only then that one encounters the absolute truth and also when one knows who one is.
Buddha said, ‘everything is connected,’ and one could believe in his statement but that would do no good to him unless one transforms oneself and tries to dust off the illusion of beliefs that are making it difficult to see the truth that ‘everything, indeed is connected.’ A belief is a synthetically manufactured fruit, that looks tasty but is just a decorative item that could beautify the dining table but cannot fulfill the appetite.
One cannot arrive at truth by believing but one must walk on the path to discover the truth. Both, a believer who believes God is or a disbeliever who believes that God is not, is nowhere close to the truth. One must arrive at truth, Osho stresses, through doubt and not by believing. Belief, in the hope of creating a society, where everybody knows, instead, creates a society where everybody becomes stubborn and dogmatic about their own beliefs and ends up being fanatics.
All beliefs based on economic, religious, social, political and cultural differences divide the society within two, and each side believes themselves to be the one who knows and the other as wrong and an opposing force that is always an enemy of one’s belief. Osho asks to stop believing anymore so that one would realize that those who are on the other side is no other than oneself, standing out there under a different garb of beliefs.
Osho is not a contemporary mystic who is giving some esoteric religious knowledge that is inaccessible to the reader. He is a man who is Awake, and the essence of his teachings lies in waking up and becoming the Buddha.