“It seems that as man becomes more and more intelligent, his crimes also become more and more intelligent. His criminal mind is far ahead of his effort to become enlightened.” Osho, The New Dawn, Chapter 32
I stood in front of the Atomic Dome at Hiroshima and the tears came from nowhere. I noticed Bhuti, my Japanese friend next to me, was also crying. It was the strong contrast to the wonderful meditation event we’d had the previous day and our lively dinner afterwards with the participants. Standing at Ground Zero seeing for myself the enormous destructive power humanity is capable of unleashing on itself was to say the very least — a deeply moving experience.
The Atomic Dome is one of the few buildings to remain standing more or less intact in the wake of the biggest weapon of mass destruction ever used by one country against another. Motionless, I stood in front of the memorial plaque and read the account of what happened in 1945: How, as both Japanese and American politicians split hairs over how to word Japan’s surrender terms, America went ahead and decided to drop two atomic weapons on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It was a decision that effectively erased a quarter of a million human lives in a single moment and one that will forever remain a black spot on the history of mankind.
“America’s whole approach is: everything should be made better They are obsessed with the idea of bettering things. You have to have more speed, better machines, better technology, better railroads, better roads — better everything! And you can see what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: America really did it better than anybody else has ever done it.” Osho, Theologica Mystica, Volume 2
Even among the scientists who helped create the bomb there was opposition, voices of dissent, and caution in the ranks. Japan had already been defeated. It just hadn’t formally surrendered. In the months leading up to the Hiroshima, politicians on both sides of the war fretted over petty details of surrender terms, while at the same time a strong momentum builbing to use the weapon: either as a means to exact vengeance and punish the Japanese for the emotional pain inflicted by the war; or simply to try out Oppenheimer’s new toy, a creation he himself dubbed his “Little Boy”. Whatever the motives, choices were made and the rest — including the innocent people used as a test group — is history.
“And because the whole American system depends on doing it better, then of course, in the same way you need a better man. It is the same logic. Then he fits with the whole American style of life. But the New Man is not necessarily the better man. He will be livelier, he will be more joyous, he will be more alert – but who knows whether he will be better or not? As far as politicians are concerned he will not be better, because he will not be a better soldier. He will not be ready to be a soldier at all.”
Osho, Theologica Mystica, Volume 2
An atomic bomb is no simple thing to make. It takes a certain intelligence to understand its physics, design, and to build it. My point is: Whether you are an uneducated Palestinian mother who blows herself up at an Israeli check-point or a master of atomic physics like Oppenheimer — both individuals are essentially human beings with the same heart beating in their chest. Acting out of desperation or calculation, it is still individuals who make such decisions to achieve certains ends — responsible or irresponsible as they may be. So while I am not in total agreement The National Rifle Association, they do make a valid point: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Guns are intrinsically neutral. Just as a bomb is. They don’t go off unless someone pulls the trigger or presses the button. In my opinion, this ability to choose is what defines us as human beings.
“The New Man will have a totally different vision of life. He will not be competitive. He will know that money cannot buy love or joy, that it is not the goal of life. He will live in a more loving way, because to him: Love is richness.”
Osho, Theologica Mystica, Volume 2
What about the issue of responsibility? If we as people have two choices before us, is there a responsibility in choosing one option over another? For example: Is there a valid argument for whole-scale slaughter over less destructive methods of solving disagreements? Or let’s put responsibility aside for a moment. Perhaps there is no such thing as choice at all: that the only options available are conditioned, knee-jerk responses. Recently, I read about two teenagers having an argument after school in Richmond, Virginia. The girl turned away and the other party shot her in the back. She was the 100th person to die from gun-related violence in this small, American city last year. In this particular case, I wonder: Were these people even remotely aware of the choices available to them? We read about it all the time: Someone driving a car gets angry with another driver at a traffic intersection. Emotions flare and out comes a gun. Add another statistic to the eleven thousand people who die each year from gun-related crime in America. As I see it, the ability to choose — and choose responsibly — doesn’t exist as long as we remain asleep, unconscious, unaware; at the mercy of our mind and emotions. Could it be we are forever-destined to settle our disputes like animals? Just like primitive man throwing rocks at one other. Are not atom bombs anything more than sophisticated rocks? Rocks or bombs — are they not the same to the fragile flower of human life?
“The man of the future has to be cosmopolitan. He cannot be an Italian, a German, an Indian, an African. No, he can only be a human being.”
Osho, From Bondage to Freedom, Chapter 22
I am not so naive as to suggest that all humanity needs is Osho Dynamic Meditation. I know the world we live in is a complex place. But are solutions really so complex? What is so complex about love? What is so complex about creativity? What is so complex about vipassana meditation? Are the stages of the Nataraj Dance Meditation really so difficult to grasp? At the risk of over-simplifying, I have to ask another question: Have we as humanity really explored meditation as an option? Have we given it a chance? I will be the first to admit, getting out of bed for Dynamic Meditation is never an easy thing at 6AM. But all joking aside, I do feel each one of us ultimately has a choice: either to be creative with our energies or destructive.
“In spite of the third-rate politicians, America is going to evolve, evolve into the New Man, evolve into a new humanity. I have chosen to be here. I have called you to be here.” Osho, From Bondage to Freedom, Chapter 22
The mayor of Hiroshima has written a beautiful letter in the aftermath of 9/11. It hangs in one of the exhibition halls at Peace Park. It is addressed to President Bush, urging him to exercise restraint in his reactions. While offering sincere condolences to the American people, it invites the President and all the world’s leaders to visit Peace Park, to witness for themselves the horror and senseless tragedy of armed conflict. Hopefully, they will gain some insight into humanity’s seemingly endless cycle of violence, thus better understanding the devastating effects of war on the lives of ordinary human beings everywhere. The eloquent mayor offers no ready answers. He just extends an open palm to the world as if to say, “Let us use intelligence to seek more positive and creative solutions to settle our differences.” I was dismayed to learn how few world leaders have visited Peace Park.
“America is certainly the place where the new man is going to be born.”
Osho, The Last Testament, Volume 2, Chapter 28
Meanwhile, we Americans to sip our cafe lattes and drive our Hummers, while our chopper pilots shoot up schoolyards full of Afghani kids playing marbles. I just read how America is now asking hospitals in Iraq to stop keeping count of civilian casualties from Iraq. Amazing how the lives of innocent civilians are referred to as collateral damage (not Americans, of course) such as when one of our precision-guided bombs missed their mark as happened recently, killing over four hundred women and children hiding in a Baghdad bombshelter. Collateral damage we call it. Such a strange choice of words to describe a human life. I guess it’s an easy word for politicians and military brass when it isn’t their kids in the bunker. Now Donald Rumsfield is floating the idea America should begin development of smaller, less powerful nuclear weapons, ones that can be used on the battlefield, ones that don’t kill so many people at once like the Hiroshima/Nagasaki version. Brilliant idea. So instead of weapons of mass destruction we’ll have weapons of controlled destruction. How tidy and efficient. Sanitized warfare. And these are the people setting the agenda for a whole nation? A nation that is supposed to be leading the world by its example? I find this insulting to humanity.
“This is only the American government. Don’t make it equal to America. The people of America are the most innocent, fresh, young — and are capable of giving birth to the New Man.” Osho, Transmission of the Lamp, Chapter 25
In America, we live under an illusion, spun very cleverly by the status quo, of individual freedom, peace and prosperity while a disturbing policy of military adventurism is pursued behind the facade of making the world a safer place. Well, it seems we certainly aren’t making it any safer for the average Iraqi citizen. Why are we looking in someone else’s backyard for weapons of mass destruction when the reality is America is the world’s primary manufacturer of destructive weapons? Mass or otherwise — we make them,
we sell them, we use them at our whim. It’s our business. BIG business. Osho’s observation after living four years in the United States was incisive: “Violence is the religion of America”. My point is: In the current world climate has there ever been a better time to learn the art of celebration? Has there ever been a better time to meditate and to pull the plug on all the bullshit and wake up? “I know. The question is from Milarepa. I can understand your anger. Every sannyasin would like to say ‘To hell with America’! But just say, ‘To hell with the American government!’
“America is far bigger, far more important – and I still hope that the new man will be born in America. These governments come and go; the people remain. The people are the very soul. A country is not made of land, it is made of the people. I can understand your anger, but remember: always to be careful to draw fine lines so that only the criminal is hit, not the simple, poor, innocent people.”
Osho, Beyond Psychology, Chapter 33
As big as the United States is, with all its tremendous resources and potential, I guess I expect a little more from the country of my birth. After all, it does happen to be the place Osho indicated the New Man will appear. The unfortunate reality as I see it: meditation has yet to take root in America. I’m not saying that unless you are into Osho you can’t know meditation. But for a man who is universally regarded as one of the world’s greatest mystics and religious thinkers of all time, I find it bordering on conspiratorial his books are not more-readily available in mainstream bookstores across the country. You’ll have no problem finding titles reflecting the latest trends from Buddhism, yoga, Dr. Phil.. Perhaps it takes a Madonna or a Sting to start doing Kundalini; or Oprah reading “Way of the White Cloud” to turn our heads. But let’s face it: In America, it’s easier to be entertained than to meditate. Why? Because meditation is sure to change you. It is sure to shake your tree. Meditation doesn’t screw around. It works. It disturbs. Yes, it creates waves in our safe, comfortable little lives, there’s no way around that. And yes, there is every possibility if we start meditating we might come to see some not-so-pretty things about ourselves along the way; a possibility when we start peeling the layers of the collective onion, we’ll come across a little bit of Saddam or Bush hiding inside all of us. Let’s be honest: For most of us, I think that’s a very scary prospect. But then again, coming back to that word ‘choice’. We have to want to wake up. Meditation takes courage and commitment, to stand up, alone if need be, and say: No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis.
“What happened in America with me is nothing new. It has always been happening. You have to understand one thing, that whenever there is somebody who has a message for you which goes against your traditional ways, your orthodoxy, your conditioning – then your whole priesthood, your politicians, the status quo, all the vested interests are against such a man. For the simple reason: because he is a disturbance. If people listen to him there is going to be a revolution.”
Osho, The Last Testament, Volume 5, Chapter 23
Walking away from Peace Park, I felt a new clarity arising in me. I remembered all the times I heard Osho speak about the vested interests, politicians, priests, and the masses who worship their every word; how lies are continuously fed societies in an effort to manipulate and control them. I don’t think what’s happening now with George Bush is anything new. But for myself, I see my choices more clearly now. I get reminded of these choices every year at the events, seeing people from all different nationalities and backgrounds coming together to meditate, celebrate, dance, sing, to love and rejoice in their life-energy. They are just ordinary people like myself, making positive choice, for themselves and on behalf of humanity; choices that are in the interest of life, creativity, love, joy — not death, misery, and destruction. The responsible choice as I see for myself – and my answer to Hiroshima’s everywhere – is to wake up. Places like Peace Park remind the distance we still need to travel before claiming ourselves civilized. And for God’s sake, let us not forget our sense of humor.