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Politics Versus Meditation

You have said we must move to the opposite pole; we must choose both science and religion, rationality and irrationality, West and East, technology and spirituality.
Can I choose both politics and meditation? Can I choose to change the world and to change myself at the same time? Can I be a revolutionary and a sannyasin at once?

Yes, I have said again and again that one has to accept the polarities. But meditation is not a pole. Meditation is the acceptance of the polarities, and through that acceptance one transcends beyond the polarities. So there is no opposite to meditation. Try to understand. You are sitting in your room full of darkness. Is darkness the opposite of light, or just the absence of light? If it is opposite to light, then it has its own existence. Does darkness have its own existence? Is it real in its own way, or is it Just the absence of light? If it has a reality of its own, then when you light a candle it will resist. It will try to put the candle off. It will fight for its own existence; it will resist. But it gives no resistance. It never fights, it can never put a small candle.... Vast darkness and a small candle, but the candle cannot be defeated by that vast darkness. The darkness may have ruled in that house for centuries, but you bring a small candle: the darkness cannot say, "I am centuries old and I will give a good fight." It simply disappears. Darkness has no positive reality, it is simply the absence of light, so when you bring light it disappears. When you put the light off, it appears. In fact it never goes out and never comes in, because it cannot go out and cannot come in. Darkness is nothing but the absence of light. Light present, it is not there; light absent, it is there. It is absence. Meditation is the inner light. It has no opposite, only absence. The whole life is an absence of meditation, as you live it, the worldly life - the life of power, prestige, ego, ambition, greed. And that is what politics is. Politics is a very big word. It does not include only the so-called politicians, it includes all the worldly people, because whosoever is ambitious is a politician, and whosoever is struggling to reach somewhere is a politician. Wherever there is competition there is politics. Thirty students studying in the same class and calling themselves class fellows - they are class enemies, because they are all competing, not fellows. They are all trying to overtake the other. They are all trying to get the gold medal, to come first. The ambition is there: they are already politicians. Wherever there is competition and struggle there is politics. So the whole ordinary life is politics-oriented. Meditation is like light when meditation comes politics disappears. So you cannot be meditative and political. That is impossible: you are asking for the impossible. Meditation is not one pole: it is absence of all conflict, all ambition, all ego-trips. Let me tell you a very famous Sufi story.

It happened...

A Sufi said, "None can understand man until he realizes the connection between greed, obligement, and impossibility." "This," said his disciple, "is a conundrum which I cannot understand." The Sufi said, "Never look for understanding through conundrums when you can attain it through experience directly." He took the disciple to a shop in the nearby market where robes were sold. "Show me your very best robe," said the Sufi to the shopkeeper, "for I am in a mood to spend excessively." A most beautiful garment was produced, and an extremely high price was asked for it. "It is very much the kind of thing I would like," said the Sufi. "but I would like some sequins around the collar and a touch of fur trimming. "Nothing easier," said the seller of the robes, "for I have just such a garment in the workroom of my shop.'' He disappeared for a few moments and then returned having added the fur and the sequins to the selfsame garment. "And how much is this one?" asked the Sufi. "Twenty times the price of the first one," said the shop-keeper. "Excellent," said the Sufi. "I shall take both of them."

Now, the impossibility, because it is the selfsame garment. The Sufi was showing that greed has a certain impossibility in it impossibility is intrinsic to greed. Now don't be too greedy, because this is the greatest greed there is to ask to be a politician and a meditator together, simultaneously. That is the greatest greed possible. You are asking to be ambitious and nontense. You are asking to fight, to be violent, to be greedy, and yet peaceful and relaxed. If it were possible then there would have been no need for sannyas, then there would have been no need for meditation. You cannot have both. Once you start meditating, politics starts disappearing. With politics all the effects of it also disappear. The tense state, the worry, the anxiety, the anguish, the violence, the greed - they all disappear. They are by-products of a political mind. You will have to decide either you can be a politician or you can be a meditator. You cannot be both, because when meditation comes, the darkness disappears. This world, your world, is an absence of meditation. And when meditation comes, this world simply disappears like darkness. That's why Patanjali, Shankara, and others who have known, go on saying that this world is illusory, not real. Illusory like darkness: appears to be real, when it is there, but once you bring light in, suddenly you become aware it was not real, it was unreal. Just look into darkness. How real it is. How real it looks. It is there surrounding you from everywhere. Not only that - you are feeling afraid. The unreal creating fear. It can kill you, and it is not there! Bring light. Keep somebody by the door to see whether or not he comes to see the darkness going out. Nobody ever sees darkness going out; nobody ever sees darkness coming in, It appears to be and it is not. The so-called world of desire and ambition, politics, only appears to be and it is not. Once you meditate you start laughing about the whole nonsense, the whole nightmare that has disappeared. But please don't try to do this impossible thing. If you try you will be in much conflict; you will become a split personality. "Can I choose both politics and meditation? Can I choose to change the world and to change myself at the same time?" Not possible. In fact, you are the world. When you change yourself you have started to change the world - and there is no other way. If you start changing others you will not be able to change yourself, and one who is not able to change himself cannot change anybody. He can only go on believing that he is doing great work, as your politicians go on believing.

(Osho - Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 7)