Osho, Are children really so intelligent

Question: Osho, Are children really so intelligent as you always say they are?
: Gautami, Intelligence is not something that is acquired, it is inbuilt, it is inborn, it is intrinsic to life itself. Not only children are intelligent, animals are intelligent in their own way, trees are intelligent in their own way. Of course they all have different kinds of intelligences because their needs differ, but now it is an established fact that all that lives is intelligent. Life cannot be without intelligence; to be alive and to be intelligent are synonymous.

But man is in a dilemma for the simple reason that he is not only intelligent, he is also aware of his intelligence. That is something unique about man, his privilege, his prerogative, his glory, but it can turn very easily into his agony. Man is conscious that he is intelligent; that consciousness brings its own problems. The first problem is that it creates ego.

Ego does not exist anywhere else except in human beings, and ego starts growing as the child grows. The parents, the schools, colleges, university, they all help to strengthen the ego for the simple reason that for centuries man had to struggle to survive and the idea has become a fixation, a deep unconscious conditioning, that only strong egos can survive in the struggle of life. Life has become just a struggle to survive. And scientists have made it even more convincing with the theory of the survival of the fittest. So we help every child to become more and more strong in the ego, and it is there that the problem arises.

As the ego becomes strong it starts surrounding intelligence like a thick layer of darkness. Intelligence is light, ego is darkness. Intelligence is very delicate, ego is very hard. Intelligence is like a rose flower, ego is like a rock. And if you want to survive, they say — the so-called knowers — then you have to become rock-like, you have to be strong, invulnerable. You have to become a citadel, a closed citadel, so you cannot be attacked from outside. You have to become impenetrable.

But then you become closed. Then you start dying as far as your intelligence is concerned because intelligence needs the open sky, the wind, the air, the sun in order to grow, to expand, to flow. To remain alive it needs a constant flow; if it becomes stagnant it becomes slowly slowly a dead phenomenon.
We don’t allow children to remain intelligent. The first thing is that if they are intelligent they will be vulnerable, they will be delicate, they will be open. If they are intelligent they will be able to see many falsities in the society, in the state, in the church, in the educational system. They will become rebellious. They will be individuals; they will not be cowed easily. You can crush them, but you cannot enslave them You can destroy them, but you cannot force them to compromise.

In one sense intelligence is very soft, like a rose flower, in another sense it has its own strength. But that strength is subtle, not gross. That strength is the strength of rebellion, of a non-compromising attitude. One is ready to die, one is ready to suffer, but one is not ready to sell one’s soul.

And the whole society needs slaves; it needs people who function like robots, machines. It does not want people, it wants ancient mechanisms. Hence the whole conditioning is: make the ego strong. It serves a double purpose. First: it gives the person the feeling that now he can struggle in life. And secondly: it serves the purposes of all the vested interests. They can exploit him; they can use him as a means to their own ends.

Hence the whole educational system rotates around the idea of ambition; it creates ambitiousness. Ambitiousness is nothing but ego. “Become the first, become the most famous. Become a prime minister or a president. Become world known Leave your name in history.” It does not teach you to live totally, it does not teach you to love totally, it does not teach you to live gracefully, it teaches you how to exploit others for your own purposes. And we think that the people who are clever are the ones who succeed. They are cunning, but we call them clever. They are not intelligent people.

An intelligent person can never use another person as a means; he will respect the other. An intelligent person will be able to see the equality of all. Yes, he will see the differences too, but differences make no difference as far as equality is concerned. He will have tremendous respect for others’ freedom — he cannot exploit them, he cannot reduce them into things, he cannot make them stepping stones to the fulfillment of some absurd desire to be the first. Hence we go on conditioning children, and the question arises…

Your question is relevant, Gautami, because it is not only I who am saying that children are intelligent, it has been said by Buddha, by Lao Tzu, by Jesus, by all the awakened ones. Jesus says: Unless you are like a small child there is no hope for you. Again he says: Unless you become like small children you cannot enter into my kingdom of God. Again and again he repeats one of his most famous beatitudes: Blessed are those who are the last in this world, because they will be the first in my kingdom of God. He is teaching non-ambitiousness — to be the last. He says: Blessed are the meek, for theirs is the kingdom of God — the meek, the humble, the people who are standing last in the queue. It was natural, very natural that the society he was born in was against him because he was destroying the very roots of their ambitiousness.

And Jews have always been very ambitious people, so much so that for centuries, against all hazards, they have carried the idea in their minds that they are the chosen people of God. A thousand and one calamities have happened because of this stupid idea; if they can drop it they will be more acceptable in the world. But they cannot drop it — their whole ego is involved in it. And it is an ancient ego, at least three thousand years old. Since Moses they have been carrying the idea that they are the chosen people of God.

And here comes this man who says, “Be the last”! “We are meant to be the first, and he says, ‘Be humble and meek’! And we are the chosen people; if we are humble and meek then those who are not chosen will become the first!” And Jews are earthly people; they don’t bother much about the other world. They are worldly. “Who knows about the other world? He is saying, ‘If you are the last here you will be the first in my kingdom of God.’ But where is your kingdom of God? It may be just a fiction, just a dream.”

Jesus looks like a dreamer, a poet maybe, but he is destroying their very foundation. They cannot forgive him; they have not even forgiven him yet. They still carry the idea that “we are the chosen people.” They have suffered much for it; the more they have suffered the stronger the idea has become — because if you have to face suffering you have to become more and more egoistic, more rock-like so that you can fight, struggle, so that nobody can destroy you. But they have also become very closed.

Jesus was creating an opening for them; they refused him. He was telling them to come into the open sky. He was telling them to be just ordinary: “Drop this nonsense of being special.” If they had listened to Jesus their whole history would have been different, but they could not listen.

Hindus have not listened to Buddha for the simple reason — the same reason — that Hindus are also carrying the idea they are the holiest people in the world and their land is the holiest land. Even gods long to I e born in India! No other country is so holy. And Buddha said, “This is all nonsense!” They had to reject him. Buddhism was thrown out of this country. No society can tolerate such people, who are telling the truth, because they seem to sabotage the very structure.

But now the time has come when we have suffered enough. All over the world, in different ways, people have suffered much, and it is time to have a look at history and its stupidity and its ridiculousness and drop the whole idea of these egoistic patterns.

Watch small children, Gautami, and then you will not ask me — you will see their intelligence. Yes, they are not knowledgeable. If you want them to be knowledgeable, then you will not think that they are intelligent. If you ask them questions which depend on information, then they will look not intelligent.

But ask them real questions which have nothing to do with information, which need an immediate response, and see — they are far more intelligent than you are. Of course your ego won’t allow you to accept it, but if you can accept it it will help tremendously. It will help you, it will help your children, because if you can see their intelligence you can learn much from them.

A Sufi mystic, Hasan, was dying. When he was dying a man asked him, “Hasan, you have never told us who your Master was. We have asked again and again; you always somehow managed not to answer it. Now you are leaving the world. Please tell us who your Master was. We are very curious.”

Hasan said, “I never answered the question for the simple reason that there has not been just a single Master in my life, I have learned from many people. My first teacher was a small child.”
They were puzzled. They said, “A small child! What are you saying? Have you lost your senses because you are dying? Have you gone mad, crazy?”

He said, “No, listen to the story. I went into a town. Although I had not known the truth up to that time, I was very knowledgeable. I was a scholar. I was well known all over the country; even outside the country my name was spreading. People had started coming to me thinking that I knew it. I was pretending that I knew it, and I was pretending without knowing that I was pretending — I was almost unconscious. Because people believed that I knew they convinced me that I must be right, I must be knowing, otherwise why should so many people be coming to me? I had become a teacher. Without knowing, without experiencing anything of truth, without ever entering into my own inner world, I was talking about great things. I knew all the scriptures; they were on the tip of my tongue.

“But for three days I was moving in a country where nobody knew me and I was very much hankering to find somebody to ask me something so that I could show my knowledge.”

Knowledgeable people become very exhibitionistic; that is their whole joy. If a knowledgeable person has to remain silent he would rather commit suicide. Then what is the point of living in the world? He has to exhibit his knowledge. Only a wise man can be silent. For the wise man to speak is almost a burden; he speaks because he has to speak. The knowledgeable person speaks because he cannot remain silent. There is a vast difference; you may not be able to know it from the outside because both speak. The Buddha speaks, Jesus speaks, and Hasan was also speaking. And they all say beautiful things. Sometimes the knowledgeable people say wiser things than the wise people because the wise persons may speak in contradictions, in paradoxes, but the knowledgeable person is always logical, consistent; he has all the proofs and arguments, he has all the scriptures to support him.

But for three days he had to keep silent. It was almost like fasting, and he was feeling hungry — hungry for an audience, hungry for somebody. But he had not come across anybody who knew him so nobody asked anything.

He entered this town. It was just getting a little dark, the sun had just set. A small child was carrying an earthen lamp, and he asked the child, “My son, can I ask you a question? Where are you taking this earthen lamp?”

And the child said, “I am going to the temple. My mother has told me to put this lamp there because the temple is dark. And this has been my mother’s habit: to always put a lamp there in the night so at least the god of the temple does not have to live in darkness.”
Hasan asked the child, “You seem to be very intelligent. Can you tell me one thing — did you light this lamp yourself?”
The child said, “Yes.”

Then Hasan said, “A third question, the last question I want to ask you: if you lit the lamp yourself, can you tell me where the flame came from? You must have seen it coming from somewhere.”

The child laughed and he said, “I will do one thing — just see!” And he blew the flame out and he said, “The flame has gone just in front of you. Can you tell me where it has gone? You must have seen!”
And Hasan was utterly dumb; he could not answer. The child had shown him that his question, although it looked very relevant, meaningful, was absurd. He bowed down to the child, touched his feet.

He said to the inquirer, “That child was my first Master. That very moment I realized all my metaphysics, all my philosophy was meaningless. I didn’t know a thing on my own. I didn’t even know from where the light comes into a lamp, where it goes to when the light has been put out — and I have been talking about who made the world, how he made the world, when he made the world! For that moment I have always remembered the child. He may have forgotten me, he may not even recognize me, but I cannot forget that incident.

“And since then thousands of people have taught me. I have avoided the question again and again because there is not a single person I can call my Master. Many have been my Masters, I have learned from many sources, and from each source I have learned one thing: that unless you know through your own experience, all knowledge is futile.

“Then I dropped all my learning, all my knowing; all my scriptures I burned. I dropped the idea of being a scholar, I forgot all my fame. I started moving like a beggar, absolutely unknown to anybody. And slowly slowly, going deeper into meditation, I discovered my own intelligence.”

Even though the society destroys your intelligence it cannot destroy it totally; it only covers it with many layers of information. And that’s the whole function of meditation: to take you deeper into yourself. It is a method of digging into your own being to the point when you come to the living waters of your own intelligence, when you discover the springs of your own intelligence. When you have discovered your child again, when you are reborn, then, only then will you understand what I have been meaning by emphasizing again and again that children are really intelligent.

But start watching children, their responses — not their answers but their responses. Don’t ask them foolish questions, ask them something immediate which does not depend on information and see their response.

The mother was preparing little Pedro to go to a party. When she finished combing his hair she straightened his shirt collar and said, “Go now, son. Have a good time… and behave yourself!”
“Come on, mother!” said Pedro. “Please decide before I leave which it is going to be!”

You see the point? The mother was saying, “Have a good time… and behave yourself.” Now, both things cannot be done together. And the child’s response is really of tremendous value. He says, “Please decide before I leave which it is going to be. If you allow me to have a good time, then I cannot behave; if you want me to behave, then I cannot have a good time.” The child can see the contradiction so clearly; it may not have been apparent to the mother.

A passerby asks a boy, “Son, can you please tell me what time it is?”
“Yes, of course,” replies the boy, “but what do you need it for? It changes continuously!”

A new transit sign was put in front of the school. It read: “Drive Slowly. Do Not Kill a Student!”
The following day there was another sign under it scribbled in a childish writing: “Wait for the Teacher!”

Little Pierino comes home from school with a big smile on his face.
“Well, dear, you look very happy. So you like school, do you?”
“Don’t be silly, mom,” replies the boy. “We must not confuse the going with the coming back!”

While slowly walking to school the little boy prays, “Dear God, please do not let me arrive at school late. I pray you, God, let me arrive at school on time…”

At this moment he slips on a banana peel and slides on the path for a few meters. Pulling himself up he looks at the sky annoyed and says, “Okay, okay, God, there is no need to push!”

A little boy is having a test with a psychologist. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” asks the shrink.
“I want to become a doctor or a painter or a window washer!” replies the boy.
Puzzled, the psychologist asks, “But… you aren’t very clear, are you?”
“Why not? I’m very clear. I want to see naked women!”

The father was telling stories to his sons in the living room after dinner. “My great-grandfather fought in the war against Rosas, my uncle fought in the war against the Kaiser, my grandfather fought in the war of Spain against the Republicans and my father fought in the Second World War against the Germans.”
To which the smallest son replied, “Shit! What’s wrong with this family? They can’t relate to anybody!”

Source: Osho Book “Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 1”

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