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Osho Wisdom Stories

  1. Desires
  2. Golden Bed
  3. The Way Out
  4. Spend Thrift's
  5. Three Old Men
  6. Holy Scriptures
  7. Buddha's brother
  8. Truth is what Work
  9. A great King, Yayati
  10. Alexander & Diogenes
  11. Thread becomes Bridge
  12. Giver should be thankful
  13. Lao Tzu and His Donkey
  14. The scorpion & the Sage
  15. Donkey's Common Sense
  16. Jalauddin Rumi & Students
  17. Meditation transform Anger
  18. Goddess of Beauty Ugliness
Story - Truth is what Works

Osho : Have I told you the story of Thomas Alva Edison?

He had gone for a holiday to a resort village. The village had a small high school, and they were having their annual function. The students from different departments had made things as an exhibition for all the villagers to come and see. The art students had made paintings, toys. The science students had made a few electrical things which amazed the villagers.

For example, you put your hand underneath the tap and the water immediately comes out. Without touching any button or anything; just the presence of your hand is enough to trigger it and the water comes. As you take your hand away, the water stops. They had made railway trains, small trains running round and round on tracks. And they had made many other things.

Thomas Alva Edison, just wandering around the village, enjoying the open air and the trees and the sun and the sea air, crisp and salty, came across the school, and he saw a great crowd going there. He said, ”What is the matter?”

They said, ”It is the annual function and our students have made many beautiful things. We are going to see. Would you like to come?” He had the time, so he joined the crowd. He went directly to the electrical section; that was his lifelong work. He was the first man to see the electric bulb light up, in the whole history of man. Three years it took for him .... You just push the button, you don’t know how hard people have worked just to create a button for you.

Three years.... Twenty colleagues started, and by and by everybody left, because this man seemed to be mad: ”Nothing is working, everything fails, electricity does not come!”

They told him, ”Drop it, you will simply waste your life. You have many other things to do.”

He said, ”When I put my hand to one thing, unless I finish it or I get finished there is no way to distract me. If you are tired, frustrated ... you don’t understand scientific research.”

They said, ”What do you mean, we don’t understand scientific research? We are all scientists!”

He said, ”You may be scientists, but you don’t understand the fundamentals. One fundamental is that every failure brings you closer to success. If there are three hundred possibilities and I have failed two hundred and ninety-nine times, now is the time. One never knows. Yes, three years have passed. You are frustrated but I am rejoicing that so many things are cut out. Now very few alternatives remain. The day is not far away ....” And within three months he managed it.

One night he was working hard – it must have been past three o’clock, it was already morning – when suddenly for the first time in the whole history of man, he saw the light bulb radiating light. He was almost hypnotized. He just looked and looked at the beauty of it. He could not believe that he had succeeded. And at that time Mrs. Thomas Alva Edison screamed, ”Put that light out and come to bed!” She had no idea that this was no ordinary light.

But Edison went in and said, ”You don’t know .... It is not any old light that you know, it is the result of my three years and three months’ continuous work. Twenty people started with me and all have left, some after one year, some after the second year, some after the third year. Electricity has been caught. You come and see.” The wife was amazed. She never believed in Thomas Alva Edison – no wife believes in her husband – that this fellow was going to succeed. ”Forget all about it. He is simply mad.”

So when he went into the school, he saw the trains running, he saw the water coming from the tap just by the presence of the hand underneath it. He asked a student – who was very happy to show him because he knew that this was not a man from the village; just by his dress and everything he looked like a visitor. The student was very interested to show him everything, and Thomas Alva Edison took great interest in everything that the students had made. Then he asked a question: ”How are these things working?”

The boy said, ”Electricity.”

Edison asked, ”What is electricity?”

The boy said, ”What is electricity? That I don’t know. I know how it works. But I will call my science teacher, he is a graduate, a B.Sc. first class; he will certainly know.”

So he called his science teacher, who also said, ”Forgive me, sir. We know how to use it, but we don’t know what it is. But perhaps our principal, who has a Ph. D. – he must know what electricity is.”

So they took the principal aside, and the principal said, ”Forgive me, sir. I know how it works, but what it is, I am sorry to say I don’t know.”

Edison laughed. He said to them, ”Don’t feel embarrassed. I am Thomas Alva Edison, and I also don’t know what electricity is. All that I know is how it works.”

Science will accept Buddha’s statement, ”Truth is what works.” Don’t ask what it is. Another great philosopher, G.E. Moore, has written a book on ethics, and the only subject in two hundred and fifty pages is ”What is ‘good’?” Without knowing good, how can you manage ethics, morality, and all kinds of things? First you should define exactly what ‘good’ is. And after two hundred and fifty pages of very dense argumentation, finally he comes to the conclusion, ”Good is indefinable.”

It is just as if somebody asks you, ”What is yellow?” You can say, ”Yellow is yellow,” but what is it? We are living in a mysterious world where nothing is known. All that we know is how to use things. If we go to the root of knowing, we will be confronted with an immense mystery which has not been, solved even in ordinary matters. What is yellow? What is good?

Source: " Yakusan: Straight to the Point of Enlightenment " - Osho