Osho - Why do Hasids exclude women from their religious practices (ecstatic religious dancing)
Question - Today at the lecture you extolled the virtues of Hasidism. But if they are so praiseworthy, So full of feeling of brotherhood, etc., Why do they exclude women from their religious practices, and particularly their ecstatic religious dancing?
Osho - Pratima has asked the question. It is very relevant, and has to be understood. The first thing to remember, to always remember, is never to judge the past by present standards. That is not compassionate. For example, when Hasidism was arising, to allow women into a religiously ecstatic dance would have been impossible. Not that Hasidic mystics were not aware, not that they would not have liked to allow it -- they would have loved it -- but it was impossible. Even Buddha was afraid to initiate women into his order.
What was the fear? Was he an orthodox person? No, you cannot find a more revolutionary mind, but he insisted for many years on not allowing women into his order. No, the reason is to be found somewhere else. A religion has to exist in the society. If the society is too much against a certain thing, even the founder has to make a few compromises. Otherwise the religion as such will not exist at all. Society is not in a condition of perfection, society is not yet as it should be, but a religion has to exist in this society, in the framework that this society allows it. Revolutionaries try to go a little further than the boundary, but even they cannot go too far. If they go too far they will be uprooted.
For example, I have no objection if you go naked when meditating. I have
no objection. In fact I will support it, because clothes are part of the
repressive culture. I know it, but still I have to insist on you not
being naked in the meditations. Because that creates such trouble that
even meditation becomes impossible. That will be too much. To destroy
the whole possibility of meditation just for clothes or nudity would be
foolish. It would have been good if I had been able to allow you to be
absolutely free -- free from clothes also. But then society would not
allow us to exist at all, and we have to exist in society. So we have to
choose the lesser evil.
Many people start their journey towards God, truth, samadhi, because they have had a certain glimpse somewhere. Maybe through drugs, maybe through sexual orgasm, maybe through music, or sometimes accidentally. Sometimes a person falls from a train, is hit on the head and he has a glimpse. I'm not saying make a method of that! But I know this has happened. A certain centre in the head is hit by accident and the person has a glimpse, an explosion of light. Never again will he be the same; now he will start searching for it. This is possible. The probable is no longer probable, it has become possible. Now he has some inkling, some contact. He cannot rest now.
I am not for drugs, I am not against drugs. But still, in this community, in my commune, drugs cannot be allowed. Politicians have never been very intelligent and one should not expect too much from them. In fact, only stupid people become interested in politics. If they were intelligent they would not be in politics at all. So just for some ordinary, small thing the whole movement cannot be destroyed. That would be foolish. After a hundred years my attitude that drugs cannot be allowed in the Ashram will be thought anti-revolutionary. Naturally, I know it is anti-revolutionary. So let it be here on the record.
The Hasidic Masters knew it well. It is inhuman, anti-revolutionary. not to allow women to participate in ecstatic religious ceremonies, in ecstatic dances. But that society was very much against it. Because of this the whole movement would have died. So they had to prohibit it.
Buddhism died in India. Do you know why? It was because Buddha finally allowed women into his order. He himself is reported to have said, 'My religion would have lived at least five thousand years, but now it will not live more than five hundred, because I am taking a very great risk.' Just allowing woman into his order was such a risk that Buddha said, 'The life of my religion is reduced by four thousand, five hundred years -- at the most it will last only five hundred years.' And it happened exactly that way. For only five hundred years Buddhism lived, and that life was also not at the climax. not at the optimum. Every day the life was slowing down, every day death was coming closer and closer. What happened?
The society. Society has long been male-oriented. To allow women into a religious order was to destroy the old hierarchy, the superiority of man. Even a man like Mahavir, a very revolutionary man, is reported to have said that women cannot enter moksha directly as women. First they will have to be born as men and then.... So no woman has entered into the Jaina moksha, into nirvana, directly as a woman. First she has to change her body, take a male shape and form, and then she can enter.
Why should Mahavir say this? Society, the politics of the country, the priests and the politicians, they were too chauvinistic. Some compromise was needed, otherwise they would not allow anything. Mahavir lived naked, but he himself did not allow any women to go naked because the society was not ready to accept even him in his nudity. By and by people accepted him, grudgingly, reluctantly, but to accept the idea that women could go naked would have been too much.
And because Mahavir said, 'Unless you leave everything -- even clothes -- unless you are as innocent as a child, as you were on the first day you were born, you cannot enter into my kingdom of God,' he had to say that women Could not enter directly. If he had said that women could enter directly then a few courageous women would have come forward and would have thrown off their clothes also -- would have become naked. Just to avoid nude women he had to make a very false statement, untrue. And I know he knew that it was untrue -- I know because I make many untrue statements. But we have to exist in a society, in a particular state, i n a particular confused state, in a particular neurotic state. If you live with mad people you have to make a few compromises. If you live with mad people at least you have to pretend that you are also mad.
Narendra is here. His father went mad thirty or forty years ago. He escaped from the house. After a few months he was caught in Agra and put into jail with mad people all around. There was a special jail in Lahore, only for mad people. He said that for nine months everything went okay because he was also mad. After nine months, just by accident he drank a whole jug of phenoil -- a mad man -- he found it in the bathroom and he drank it. That gave him vomits, nausea, diarrhea. Because of that diarrhea he was throwing things out for fifteen days continuously, and his madness disappeared then the real problem began, because he was amongst mad people. Now for the first time he became aware of where he was -- somebody was pulling his leg, somebody was hitting him on his head, and people were talking and dancing. And he was no longer mad. Those three months when he was not mad and was living with mad people, were the most painful; they were deep anguish and anxiety. He couldn't sleep.
And he would go to the authorities and he would say, 'Now let me out because I am no longer mad!' And they wouldn't listen because every mad person says that -- that he is no longer mad. So that was not proof. He had to comploete his sentence of one year.
He told me that he could never forget those three months; they were a continuous nightmare. But for nine months he was perfectly happy because he was also mad.
You cannot conceive of what happens to a person when he becomes a Buddha
or a Baal-Shem in a country, in a world, which is absolutely mad. He is
no longer mad but he has to follow your laws, otherwise you will kill
him. He has to make compromises. Of course he cannot hope that you will
make compromises with him. You are not in a state in which you can
think. But he can think. Only the higher can make compromises with the
lower, only the greater can make compromises with the lower, only the
wise person can make compromises with stupid people.
So it happened that women have never been accepted. It is only just in
this century, very recently, that women are coming out of the dark night
of the past history.
Two weeks later, Mrs. Gandhi stood before her cabinet. 'What did you
learn in Israel?' asked one of the members. 'Many things,' answered the
Indian Prime Minister. 'But most of all I learned that in Israeli
synagogues the men pray on the first floor and the Prime Ministers
worship in the balcony.'
The Hasids were a new way, but rather than destroying the whole movement they chose to go with the society and its rules and its regulations. At least let the message reach to men. If it cannot reach to women right now, later on it will -- but at least let the message be rooted on the earth.
I am existing here in a very alien and strange world. I would like to give you many things but I cannot, because you yourself will resist. I would like to make you aware of many things in your being, but you will be against me. I have to go very slowly, I have to be very roundabout; it cannot be done directly.
Just see. I have done what Pratima was enquiring about in relation to Hasidism. I have done It. In my community, men and women are no longer separate. That's why Indians have stopped coming to my Ashram. They cannot come. When they used to come, their questions were more or less all concerned about what type of Ashram this was -- men and women mixing and meeting, holding each other's hands, going together? Even after meditations hugging, kissing each other? What type of things were these? This is not good.
They used to come to me and say, 'This is not good, this should not be allowed. Osho, you should interfere.' I never interfered because to me there is nothing wrong -- man and woman should not be made in any way distinct. They are not separate, nobody is higher and nobody is lower. They are different but equal. Difference is beautiful, it has to be there. The difference has to be enhanced, but the equality has to be saved. And to me, love is a way towards God.
I didn't listen to them. By and by they disappeared. Now only very courageous Indians can enter here. Now only a few Indians can enter here, those who have no repressed mind in them, who are post-Freudians -- only they can enter here. But Inida as a whole is pre-Freudian. Freud is still unknown in India. Freud has not yet entered into the Indian soul.
But I have done it. And I am a Hasid, so you can forgive the old Hasids. Time was not ripe at that time; even now it is very difficult. I have to encounter difficulties every day. For every small thing there are difficulties. Those difficulties could be avoided if I behaved in an orthodox way. I cannot behave in an orthodox way -- because then there is no point in my being here, then I could not deliver the message to you -- and I cannot be absolutely revolutionary because then there would be no possibility of something happening between you and me.
And I am not in any way interested in being a martyr because that too seems to me to be a sort of masochism. People who are always seeking to become martyrs are not really aware of what they are doing -- they are seeking suicide. I am not a martyr. I love life, I love all that is implied in life, and the original Hasid Masters were as much in love with life as I am. That's why I have chosen to talk about them. When I choose to talk about some path, I choose it only because it appeals to me tremendously. The Hasids were not people who wanted to become political revolutionaries. They were not reformists. They were not trying to reform the society, they were trying to bring a mutation to the individual soul. And they had to exist in the society. Remember that always.
But then what happens whenever a tradition gets settled? Now Hasidism is a settled tradition, now it itself has become an orthodoxy. Now the time is ripe. If the community exists in New York -- a Hasidic community exists in New York -- now the time is ripe, but now they themselves have become orthodox. They have their own tradition. they cannot go against Baal-Shem. And these people who are now Hasids are not really Masters, they are simply followers of the followers of the followers.
You are here with me. You are face to face with something original. When you tell it to somebody else it will not be the original. You have heard it from me, then you will tell it to somebody else and much of it is lost. And then that person goes to somebody else and delivers the message. Again much is lost. Within a few years, within a few transfers, the truth is completely distorted, only lies are left. And again a revolutionary movement becomes an orthodox tradition.
Source - Osho Book "The Art of Dying"
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