Question - How is it that India
could not Produce Wealth?
Osho - There are reasons for it. And I would like to go into a few of them. The first reason is that we, as a people, are anti-wealth. It must have been a most unfortunate moment in our long past when we decided to go against wealth. For thousands of years we have respected poverty, even deified it. And we also respect the poor. Perhaps the reason was that we were very poor, and because of our envy of the rich we began to respect the poor. If I am a beggar and there is no way whatsoever to be a king, then as a last measure, my mind may say that I am happy being a beggar, that I would never, like to be a king. This would be the last device of the poor man's ego.
India has remained poor for thousands of years. Our poverty has been so long that it became necessary to find a way to gratify our ego even in the midst of poverty. And we found it at last: we gave poverty many good names. We said, "It is simplicity, non-acquisitiveness, renunciation," and the rest of it. And if some wealthy person embraced poverty voluntarily, we bowed down to him, we touched his feet. All the twenty-four teerthankaras of Jainism were sons of kings. Why could not a poor man's son be accepted as a teerthankara?
There is a reason for it. The poor man has nothing to renounce, and we measure a man's greatness by what he renounces. Really, wealth is our measure, whether one amasses it or renounces it. Mahavira is great because he renounced a huge amount of wealth. Buddha is great because he renounced his riches. No one would have cared to take note of him if he had been born in a poor family. We would have asked, "How much gold, how many palaces, elephants and horses did you renounce?" And he would have said, "None, because I had nothing." How could one be a teerthankara if he had no wealth? To be a teerthankara, one needs to be a millionaire. We measure everything with money. Poor people measure everything with money. We measure one's wealth by the amount of wealth one has; we measure renunciation by the amount of wealth one gives up.
Once I visited Jaipur. A man came to me and said, "There is a great sannyasin here; you must see him. He is an extraordinary sannyasin." I asked, "How did you find out that he is a great sannyasin?" And he answered, "The king of Jaipur himself touches his feet." I told the man, "You respect the king of Jaipur, and not the sannyasin. What would you say if the king refused to touch his feet?"
On another occasion I happened to be the guest of a sannyasin. In the course of our talks, every now and then he said that he had renounced wealth worth hundreds of thousands of rupees. Once I asked him, "Can you tell me about the time when you renounced so much wealth?" And he said, "Almost thirty years ago." Then I said, "Your renunciation did not click, because you remember it even after the lapse of thirty years. You are still enjoying the wealth. Once your ego thrived on its possession, now it thrives on its renunciation. But in each case wealth remains the basis."
A poor man's measure is wealth. But it was most unfortunate that we accepted poverty and thought that it was a blessing. We said that contentment was of the highest. And that is why we failed to produce wealth, and we remained poor. Now in order to produce wealth we have to stop respecting poverty. We have to stop calling the poor by the name of daidranarain, saying the poor are God. We have had enough of this nonsense. The poor are not God, and poverty is not a virtue. Poverty is a great disease, a curse, a scourge. It is like a plague, and it has to be destroyed, and wealth has to be respected. We will produce wealth only if we respect it.
We create what we desire, intensely desire to create. We created poverty because we accepted it. If somebody asked Gandhi why he traveled in a third-class compartment, he used to say, "Because there is no fourth class on the railway trains." If there had been a fourth class Gandhi would have traveled in that class saying, "I travel in the fourth because there is no fifth class on the train." Now Gandhi would not he contented until he traveled in the train of hell itself. We say that Gandhi was a mahatma, a great soul, a saint, because he accepted the third class.
Because we all, being poor, travel in the third, we think of Gandhi as the real mahatma. Really, we are sick of traveling third class; we would travel by first class if w e could afford it . But that is not possible, so we have to lend respectability to the third class by honoring one who travels by it. Third class is now sought. It is turned into an object of our respect; it is made important -- and it gratifies our ego.
This false and senseless gratification of ego has ruined this country. It is time for it to go. We need wealth. Wealth is not everything, but it is certainly something. Self-realization is not possible through wealth, but it is also true that without wealth self-realization is more difficult to attain. There is at least one great value in wealth: it helps us to forget our bodies, bodily needs. Bread serves one great purpose: we are freed from our bodily concerns. In hunger it is difficult to forget the body. If I have a headache, I cannot forget my head, but with the headache gone I forget it completely. If I have a thorn in my foot, my whole mind enters and lives around the paining foot. With the thorn taken out, the mind leaves the foot, it becomes free, carefree. Where there is a want, there is a sore. It hurts and haunts us. The poor man lives in his body, he lives on the level of the body; he cannot think beyond it. The rich man has an advantage: he can forget his body.
That is why I feel that the whole world should be made prosperous and rich, so that every person can rise above his body. And the day we forget the body, we begin to take care of our soul. When the needs of the body are fulfilled, then the question arises: What next? What to seek next? The search for religion and God arises after all the physical needs of man have been satisfied. It is the last luxury. When you have all the good things of this world, the ultimate journey begins. So now we have to change all our old choices; they were illusory, ill-conceived and wrong.
There is yet another important matter to consider. Our acceptance of poverty has one other reason: We believe that a man is poor because of his past sins, the sins of his past lives. This was also a device of consolation. We said that the rich were rich because they had earned merits in past lives, and the poor were poor because of their past sins. This fatalist thinking again provided us with consolation. And it made poverty and misery bearable. But it also made it impossible to end poverty.
Poverty is not the result of any mistakes that we made in our past lives, it is the result of the mistakes made in the present life itself. If what we do in this life fails to produce wealth, then poverty is inevitable.
And secondly, poverty is not only the result of our individual ways of life, it is also the cumulative effect of our group or collective life and its inner organization.
If we understand two things -- fallacies of past karmas and individual
ways of life -- then we can get rid of our age-old poverty.
It is wrong to conclude from the history of the Tibetan custom that if these millions of children had been spared this ordeal they would yet have died because they were destined to die. It simply shows that their resistance was low. But resistance could have been improved. But the Tibetans opted for killing them.
Our lifespan increased when we realized that longevity was not determined by fate. We now live much longer. In the same way, we believed that diseases were caused by principles of karma, and so we did not do anything to fight or eradicate disease. However, when we dropped this belief, the situation changed radically. Now any number of diseases have disappeared, and a time will come when they will disappear altogether.
We are poor because we have decided to be so, and poverty can end only when we reject it with all our heart and mind. And if the whole country so decides and says goodbye to poverty, there will be no difficulty whatsoever. But the will to end poverty should come first -- the ending will follow inevitably.
Now the poor man is taught new stupidities, new superstitions in place of the old ones. He is being ceaselessly harangued that he is poor because he is exploited by the rich, and that in order to liquidate poverty the exploiter has to be liquidated first. This is an utterly senseless argument. Liquidation of the so-called exploiter will never end poverty.
Source - Osho Book "Beware of Socialism"
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