Osho on Buddha Statues

Question – While in an art museum in frankfurt recently, i entered one room with nothing but statues and carvings of buddha. I put absolutely no faith in stone idols, but i was surprised to feel a very strong energy current in the room, similar to what i feel here in the lecture. Was i imagining things? And if so, how can i trust what i feel here with you?

Osho – The question is from Anand Samagra. The first thing to be understood: you will be surprised to know that the Buddha statues have nothing to do with Gautam Buddha. They are all false, they don’t resemble Buddha at all, but they have something to do with buddhahood. Not with Gautam Buddha, the person – they have something to do with buddhahood.

You can go into a Jain temple and you will see twenty-four statues of twenty-four TEERTHANKARAS, the founders of Jainism, and you will be unable to make out any difference between them; they are all alike. To make a distinction, Jains make small symbols on them to know who is who, because they are all alike. So if somebody’s symbol is a line figure, then just underneath the feet is a small line figure. Then they know whose statue this is. Somebody’s symbol is a snake – then they know whose statue this is. If those symbols were hidden, not even a Jain could make any demarcation. Whose statue is this? Mahavir’s? Parswanatha’s? Adinatha’s? And you will also be surprised to know that they are exactly like Buddha – no difference.

In the beginning, when the West became acquainted with Mahavir, they thought it was nothing but the same story of Buddha, because the statue is the same, the philosophy is the same, the understanding is the same, the teaching is the same – so it was just the same thing; it was nothing different from Buddha. They thought Mahavir was another name for Buddha. And of course both were called Buddhas – ’Buddha’ means ’the awakened one’ so Buddha was called Buddha and Mahavir was also called Buddha. And both were called Jains – ’Jain’ means the ’conqueror’, one who has conquered himself. Buddha is called ’the Jain’ and Mahavir is called ’the Jain’, so they thought that they were just the same person.

And the statues were a great proof: they look absolutely alike. They are not photographic, they don’t represent a person, they represent a certain state. You will have to understand it, then the thing will be explained. In India, three words are very important: one is TANTRA, which we are talking about, another is MANTRA, and the third is YANTRA.

TANTRA means techniques for expanding your consciousness. MANTRA means finding your inner sound, your inner rhythm, your inner vibration. Once you have found YOUR MANTRA, it is of tremendous help: just one utterance of the MANTRA and you are in a totally different world. That becomes the key, the passage, because once uttering that MANTRA, you fall into your natural vibe. And the third is YANTRA. These statues are YANTRAS. YANTRA means a certain figure which can create a certain state in you. A certain figure, if you look at it, is bound to create a certain state in you.

Have you not watched it? – looking at a Picasso painting you will start feeling a little uneasy. Concentrate on a Picasso painting for half an hour and you will feel very bizarre – something is going crazy. You cannot look at a Picasso painting for half an hour. If you keep Picasso paintings in your bedroom you will have nightmares. You will have very dangerous dreams: being haunted by ghosts, tortured by Adolf Hitler and things like that; a war victim in a concentration camp – things like that.

When you watch something, it is not only that the figure is outside – when you watch something, the figure creates a certain situation in you. Gurdjieff used to call this ’objective art’. And you know it: listening to modern pop music, something happens in you – you become more excited sexually. There is nothing but sound outside, but the sound hits inside – creates something in you. Listening to classical music, you become less sexual, less excited. In fact, with great classical music you almost forget sex, you are in a tranquility, a silence, a totally different dimension of your being. You exist on another place.

Watching a Buddha statue is watching a YANTRA. The figure of the statue, the geometry of the statue, creates a figure inside you. And that inside figure creates a certain vibe. It was not just imagination that happened to you, Samagra, in the Frankfurt museum; those Buddha statues created a certain vibe in you.

Watch the state of Buddha sitting so silently, in a certain yoga posture. If you go on watching the statue, you will find something like that is happening within you too. If you are in company where ten persons are sad, and you are the eleventh person, how long can you remain happy? Those ten persons will function like a YANTRA, a YANTRA of sadness: you will fall into sadness sooner or later. If you are unhappy and you go into company where people are joking and laughing, how long can you remain sad? Those laughing people will create laughter in you. They will change your focus, they will change your gear; you will start moving in a different direction. This happens every day – knowingly, unknowingly.

When you watch a full moon, what happens to you? Or when you listen to the birds and look at the green trees, what happens to you? When you go into a forest and look at the greenery, what happens to you? Something green inside starts happening. Green is the colour of nature, green is the colour of spontaneity, green is the colour of life – something green starts happening in you. The outer colour reflects something inside, vibrates with something inside, creates something inside. Looking at a green tree you become more alive… you become younger!

When you go to the Himalayas and you see the mountains, the snow-capped mountains – eternal. snow which has never melted, the purest snow where no man has ever walked, uncontaminated by human society and human touch – when you look at a Himalayan peak, that uncorrupted, virgin snow creates something virgin in you. A subtle peace starts happening inside. The outer is not the outer, and the inner is not just the inner; they are joined together. So beware of what you see, beware of what you listen to, beware of what you read, beware of where you go – because all that creates you.

That’s what happened in Frankfurt. The Buddha statues, the many statues all around you created a certain geometry. You will be surprised: that is the basic reason why statues were created. They are not idols, as you think. The Christian and the Mohammedan and the Judaic idea has given a very wrong notion to the world. They are not idols, they are very scientific. They are not objects to be worshipped, they are geometries to be imbibed. It is a totally different thing.

In China there is one Buddha temple which has ten thousand Buddha statues, all Buddha statues. Wherever you look – the same figure. The ceiling has the same figure, all the sides have the same figure, the walls have the same figure. Ten thousand Buddha statues! Just think, sitting cross-legged in a Buddha posture and you are also surrounded by ten thousand Buddhas! It creates a geometry. From everywhere Buddha impinges upon you. From every nook and corner he starts surrounding you. You are gone. Your ordinary geometry is no longer there. Your ordinary life is no longer there. For a few moments you are moving on higher planes, at higher altitudes.

That’s what is happening here. While listening to me something is created – by my presence, by my words, by your attitude, by so many orange people around you. It is a situation, it is a temple. A temple is a situation. It is not just that you are sitting in a lecture hall. So many people listening to me with such love, gratitude, with such silence, with such sympathy, with such rapport this place becomes holy. This place becomes a TEERTHA; it is sacred. When you come into this place you are riding on a wave, you need not make much effort. You can simply allow it to happen. You will be taken away, far away to the other shore.

A marriage broker arranged with a family to bring over a girl he thought would be a fine match for their son. After dinner, the girl left and the family began to attack the marriage broker. ’What kind of a girl did you bring? A monster! One eye in the middle of her forehead, the left ear way up here, the right ear way down there and the chin way back!’
The marriage broker interrupted. ’Look, either you like Picasso or you don’t!’

Modern painting represents the ugly in existence. The ugly has become predominant for a certain reason. This century is one of the ugliest centuries: two world wars within fifty years; millions of people killed, destroyed; such cruelty, such aggression, such violence, such madness; this century is a nightmarish century. Man has lost track of his humanity.

What man has been doing to man! Naturally this madness has erupted everywhere – in painting, in music, in sculpture, in architecture – everywhere the ugly human mind has created ugliness. Ugliness has become an aesthetic value. Now the photographer goes and looks for something ugly. Not that beauty has stopped existing, it exists as much as before, but it is neglected. The cactus has replaced the rose. Not that the cactus is something new, it has existed always, but this century has come to know that thorns seem to be more real than a rose flower. A rose flower seems to be a dream; it does not fit with us, hence the rose flower has been expelled. The cactus has entered your drawing-room. Just one hundred years ago nobody would have ever thought to bring a cactus home. Now, if you are modern, your garden will be full of cactuses. The rose looks a little bourgeois; the rose looks a little out-of-date; the rose looks Tory, orthodox, traditional. The cactus looks revolutionary. Yes, the cactus is revolutionary – like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin and Mao Tsetung and Fidel Castro. Yes, the cactus seems to be closer to this century.

The photographer looks for some ugly thing – he will go and photograph a beggar. Not that the beggar has not existed before, he HAS existed before. He is REAL, certainly real, but nobody has been making art out of him. We are feeling humble before the beggar; we are feeling apologetic before the beggar; we are feeling that something which should not be is still there; we want the beggar not to be there. But this century goes on searching for the ugly.

The sun still penetrates the pines on a certain morning. The rays penetrating the pines create such a web of beauty. It still exists, but no photographer is interested that no longer appeals. Ugliness appeals because we have become ugly. That which appeals to us shows something about us. Buddha is a rose flower: that is the highest possibility. And remember, it is not exactly a Buddha figure; nobody knows what Buddha looked like. But that is not the point. We were not interested in those days, at least not in the East, we were not interested in the real at all; we were interested in the ultimately real. We were not interested in the factual; we were interested in truth itself.

Maybe Buddha’s nose was a little longer, but if the artist thought that a nose which was a little smaller would be more in tune with meditation, then he dropped that long nose of Buddha – he made it a little smaller. Maybe Buddha had a big belly. Who knows? Japanese Buddha statues have big bellies, but Indian Buddhas don’t have big bellies – different attitudes.

In Japan they think that a meditator has to breathe from the belly, from the navel. And when you breathe from the belly, the belly of course becomes a little bigger. Then the chest is not as protruding as the belly; the chest is relaxed. So Japanese Buddhas have big bellies. That too is for a certain reason: to indicate to you that belly-breathing is the right breathing. It has nothing to do with Buddha; nobody knows whether he had a big belly or not.

Indian statues don’t have big bellies, because Indian yoga does not insist on belly-breathing: the belly has to be in. That too has a certain different reason. If you want the sexual energy to move upwards, then it is better not to belly-breathe. When the belly is pulled in, the energy is sucked upwards more easily – different techniques.

Belly-breathing is also good for a certain meditator – it is very relaxing. But then the energy cannot move in the same way as it moves when the belly is pulled in. The Indian statues of Buddha have small bellies – almost no bellies. Nobody knows exactly how Buddha looked. The statues are very feminine, very round; they don’t look masculine. Have you ever seen any statue with a moustache and beard? No, the people who painted Jesus were more realistic. The people who painted Buddha were not concerned with facticity, they were concerned with ultimate truth. They were not concerned how Buddha looked, they were concerned how Buddhas should look. The emphasis was not on Buddha but on the people who would be looking at these statues – how this statue was going to help those people.

So Buddha is not painted as old. He must have become old, he became eighty-two. He was very old – certainly, very old and ill – a physician had to follow him continuously. But no statue has painted him as old, ill, because that is not the point. We are not interested in the physical body of the Buddha, we are interested in his inner geometry. That inner quality of Buddha is always young, it is never old. And it is never ill, it is always in a state of well-being; by its very nature it cannot be ill. The body is young, the body is old, the body becomes crippled, the body dies. Buddha is not born, never dies: Buddha remains eternally young.

Looking at a young statue, something of youth will happen in you, and you will feel something fresh. Now, Indians would never have preferred Jesus to be pictured, painted, sculptured on the cross. It is ugly, it is sad. Even if it is historical, it is not worth remembering because whatsoever you think has happened, you tend to help it happen again. There is no obligation towards facts: we don’t owe anything to the past, we need not remember the past as it was. It is in our hands to choose the past – to choose the past in such a way that a better future can be created.

Yes, Jesus was crucified, but if he were crucified in India, we would not have painted that. Even on the cross we would have painted a totally different thing. The Western painting is of Jesus in anguish, in sadness – naturally, he is being killed. When you watch, when you concentrate, meditate, on Jesus, you will feel sad. It is not accidental that Christians say that Jesus never laughed. And it is not accidental that you are not allowed to dance and laugh and be gay in a church. Church is a serious affair: you have to be very serious… long faces. In fact, when Jesus is crucified just there on the altar, how can you laugh and sing?

In India you can sing and laugh and enjoy. Religion is a merriment, a celebration. The whole point is that the Western mind is historical, the Eastern mind is existential. The West pays too much attention to mundane facts, the East never pays any attention to history. You will be surprised to know that until Western people came to India, India had not known anything like history.

We have never written history, we have never bothered about it. That’s why we don’t know when exactly Buddha was born, when exactly he died – we have never paid much respect to facts. Facts are mundane! What does it matter whether he was born on Monday or Tuesday or Thursday? What does it matter? How does it matter? In fact, it does not matter at all – any day will do, and any year will do. That is not the point. The point is: WHO was born? Who was this man in his innermost core?

History thinks about the periphery, myth thinks about the innermost core. India has written mythology but not history. We have PURANAS. PURANAS are mythology, they are not histories. They are poetic, mystic visions of how things should be, not how they are. They are the vision of the ultimate. And Buddha is the vision of ultimate SAMADHI.

Those Buddha statues you saw in the Frankfurt museum are the states of inner silence. When a person is absolutely silent, he will be in that state. When everything is still and quiet and calm inside – not a thought moves, not a small breeze blows; when everything has stopped, time has stopped – then you will also feel to sit like a Buddha. Something of the same geometry will happen to you.

It is objective art – less concerned with the reality of Buddha, more concerned with those people who will be coming and will be seeking Buddhahood. The emphasis is different: what will happen to those who watch these statues, and will kneel down before these statues, and will meditate on these statues.

In India there are temples like Khajuraho where all sorts of sexual postures are sculptured. Many postures are so absurd that even a de Sade or a von Sacher-Masoch would not be able to imagine them. The most perverted person also could not imagine them. For example, the man and woman standing on their heads and making love – it does not seem that anybody is going to try or imagine it. Why did they paint these pictures? They are examples of objective art.

These temples of Khajuraho were no ordinary temples. They were a kind of therapy: they exist as a therapy. Whenever somebody was suffering from some sexual perversion he was sent to Khajuraho. He had to watch and meditate on all those abnormal, bizarre things. He had something perverted in his mind: that perversion was inside the unconscious. What does psychoanalysis do? It tries to bring things from the unconscious to the conscious, that’s all. And psychoanalysis says that once something comes from the unconscious to the conscious, it is released; you are free of it.

Now this was a great psychoanalysis this Khajuraho. An abnormal, perverted man is brought. He has repressed his perversions – sometimes they erupt, but he goes on repressing. He knows that something is there like a wound, but he has never been able to see it face to face. He is brought to Khajuraho. He moves slowly, meditating on each statue, each bizarre posture. And one day, suddenly, one posture fits with his inner perversion. Suddenly, from the unconscious, the perversion surfaces to the conscious, and it is released without any Freud or Jung or Adler there – just the temple will do. He is left in the temple. For a few weeks he can be there. For each meditator who really wanted to go into deep meditation in those days, it was good to visit a temple like Khajuraho.

On the walls of the temple are all these statues – very abnormal, very crazy, very perverted. Inside the temple there is no sexual painting, no sexual statue at all, no sexuality at all. Inside is neither Buddha’s statue. Shiva’s statue nor Krishna’s statue.

What is the meaning of it? Why sex on the wall just outside, and inside no sex? It is a technique. First you have to move on the periphery, so that you can become free of sex. When a person feels that these sexual statues don’t attract him at all – now he goes on sitting before them and nothing happens inside, he remains calm and quiet, no sexual arousal, no excitement; for weeks he waits, and no sexuality is felt then he is capable of entering the temple.

It is symbolic. Now his sexuality can go beyond. These temples were Tantra temples: one of the greatest experiments ever done. They are not obscene, they are not pornographic, they are spiritual – a great experiment in spirituality, a great experiment in transforming human energy towards higher levels.

But first the energy has to be freed from the lower level. And to free it there is only one way: to make it absolutely conscious, to bring all the fantasies of the unconscious mind to the conscious. When the unconscious is completely unburdened, you are free. Then you don’t have any blocks, then you can move inwards. Then you can go inside the temple. Then you can meditate on Buddha, on Shiva, or Krishna.

It was not imagination, Samagra, it was objective art which you stumbled upon unknowingly.

Source – Osho Book “The Tantra Vision, Vol 2”

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