Osho on Generation Gap

Question – Beloved Osho, What is this generation gap? I hear so much about it these days.

Osho – Jayesh, two old men of eighty were sitting in their club when one said, “Do you think there is as much love, as much fun going on as there used to be?”
“Yes, certainly,” said the other, “but there is a whole new bunch doing it.”

That’s what the generation gap is.

A large crowd had been waiting quietly at the foot of a mountain. Moses had been gone for hours. Suddenly his white robe was seen fluttering in the breeze, and now the lawgiver stood before his flock: “People of Israel! I have been with the Lord for seven hours and I now have some good news, and some bad news….”
“Speak, O Moses!” shouted the crowd.
“The good news,” says Moses, “is that I have managed to bring the number of commandments down to ten!”
The people cheered. Then they cried, “Moses, what is the bad news?”
Moses sadly replied, “Adultery is still in.”

For the new generation it is no longer in. That’s the generation gap, Jayesh. Now the whole meaning of adultery has changed: it simply means to be adult. There has never been any generation gap in the past. Hence, one has to look deeply into it because this is the first time in the whole history of man that even the expression “generation gap” has been used. And the gap is growing bigger and bigger every day. Things seem to be unbridgeable.

There is certainly a great psychology behind it. In the past there used to be no young age. You will be surprised to know about it: children used to become adult without being young. A six-year-old, seven-year-old child would start working with his father; if the father was a carpenter he would learn carpentry, or at least help his father. If the father was a farmer he would go to the farm with the father, would help him with the animals, cows, horses. By the age of six or seven he had already entered into life. By the age of twenty he would be married and have a few children.

In the past there was no “younger generation” hence there was no gap. One generation followed another generation in a continuity, with no gap between them. By the time the father died his son would have already replaced him in every field of his life. There was no time to play and there was no time to get educated; there were no schools, no colleges,
no universities.

The new generation is a by-product of many things. In the past the only way of learning was to participate with the older generation, work with them — that was the only way to learn. And of course the older generation was always respected, because they were the teachers. They knew, and you were ignorant; the ignorant necessarily respected the knowledgeable. Hence in the past it was almost inconceivable that the younger people would disrespect the old people, or could even think in their dreams that they knew more than the older people. Knowledge was very decisive.

The people who knew had the power, and the people who did not, had no power. It was in those old days that the proverb must have been coined: “knowledge is power.” That was the only criterion in life, so you never heard of any revolt of the young against the old.

This generation has come to a new, totally new stage. The child never goes following in his father’s footsteps. He goes to the school; his father goes to his shop or to the office or to the farm. By the time he comes back from his university he is twenty-five years old.

For these twenty-five years he has no connection with the older generation. His only connection is financial; they help him financially. In these twenty-five years many things happen: one, he knows more than his parents because his parents had been to school at least twenty, twenty-five years before. In these twenty-five years, knowledge has taken such quantum leaps — it has grown so much….

I was very much puzzled when I was in the university: my professor of psychology was quoting names and books which had been out of date for almost three decades. And because I was so interested to know everything — before I entered into myself, I had to know everything that was happening around — I was continuously in the library.

And it is impossible to respect a professor who knows less than you know, who is outmoded. He should be ashamed to remain in the seat of the professor. That’s what I told my professor of psychology: “It is simply undignified for you to remain in that seat, because you don’t know what is happening in the field of psychology today. You know what was happening thirty years before. Since the day you left your university you have not touched a single book.”
He was very angry. He said, “Who says that?”

I said, “Come with me, I have checked in the university register.” For twenty years he had been a professor in that university and he had not taken a single book from the library. I had looked into twenty years’ registers, just to check whether this man had ever had issued in his name even a single book. He could not believe… when I took him to the library he said, “Where are you taking me?”
I said, “This is the library.”

He said, “But what is the point of it? What are we going to do in the library? How are you going to prove that I have not been reading?”
I said, “You just come in.” And I had those twenty years’ registers there, and I told him, “These are the registers for all twenty years and your name is not mentioned even a single time. And now I am coming with you to your home.”
He said, “For what?”
I said, “Just to see what you go on doing, how many books on modern psychology are in your home. I am giving you a chance: perhaps you have your own collection and you don’t come to the library.”

He said, “No, there is no need!”
I said, “You don’t be worried. I have been there this morning already — I don’t take chances. I asked your wife and she said, `That idiot, all he reads is the newspaper.'”

Education has created one of the most important elements of the generation gap. Teachers complain that students don’t respect them — why should they? When addressing a meeting of professors, I said to them, “Every professor is complaining about only one thing: `Something has to be done; students don’t pay respect to us.’ And I am here to say something exactly the opposite: Something certainly has to be done, because no professor seems to be respectable. It is not a question of students not paying respect to you; it is a question of your own. You are no longer respectable. Why were you respectable in the past? — do you understand? You knew more. Today, students know more than you. Unless you remain ahead of your students you cannot be respected.”

Respect needs some rationale. Parents are continually complaining that their children don’t respect them, because children are no longer the old kind of children who were following in their footsteps. A new dimension of education has opened in this century which is not in the direction of the old. The old direction was simple: follow the elders, because they know and you don’t know. There was only one way of knowing and that was by experience. Naturally, the older person had more experience.

Now, through education, experience is not at all a necessity. By learning, studying, you can know as much as you want. Just sitting in the library you can know the whole world in all its dimensions, whatsoever is happening. You need not even move out of the library.

It reminds me of Karl Marx — the founder of communism, the last religion in the world. He spent his whole life, without a single holiday, in the British Museum, just reading and reading and reading. He used to reach the British Museum before it opened; he would be waiting on the steps. And there were many occasions when he was pushed out forcibly because the museum had to be closed. There were a few occasions when he was taken away in an ambulance… because he had been reading all day since the morning — without eating, without drinking, and he had fainted on the table.

Now if this man knew more than anybody else of his generation, however old he was… he could not respect old age. Old age has lost respect because a new territory, a new space of learning and knowledge has opened up. You are going to see a still bigger gap — one of which humanity is still not aware — and I am talking about it for the first time. One gap has been created by education. If meditation becomes a worldwide movement, another gap will be created which will be
immense. Then the old man and the young man will be as far apart as the two poles of the earth. Even communication between them has already become difficult; it will become impossible.

The people who are here with me can understand what I am saying. If you start moving into the world of no-mind, then the people who are old, who have gathered much knowledge in the mind, will look to you retarded, undeveloped, very ordinary. There is no reason why you should respect them; they have to respect you — you have transcended mind.

And the world is becoming more and more interested in meditation. It will not be long before the day when meditation will become your education for the ultimate. Your ordinary education is about the outside. Meditation will be the education about your interiority, about your inner being.

Of course it will take a little time, because there will be many frauds; there will be many pretenders, false prophets, technicians. You have to understand the difference between a meditator and a man who knows the technique of meditation; he is not himself a meditator — he is a technician.

For example, I have not seen Dulari here; she is one of my old fellow-travelers. So I enquired today what has happened to Dulari, and I have heard that she has been in one man’s meditation camp. That man is utterly, utterly stupid. But he knows the technique, about that there is no doubt. He has been in Burma… and in Burma… he was only a businessman, but he learned the Burmese technique of Vipassana.

Vipassana has many forms: the Burmese, the Ceylonese, the Tibetan, the Chinese, the Korean, the Japanese. The Japanese is the best. But all those techniques have come from Gautam Buddha; perhaps he never thought that it would be possible to learn the technique and not to do the meditation. The technique is simply how to do it.

This man, Goenka… I have never thought it worthwhile to say anything about him. Many of you must have been in his Vipassana camps…. Just a few days before I left America I received a newsletter in which he had made a statement about me. That amazed me — that was the beginning. I started looking into this man’s capacity, potentiality, realization. He made a statement that he had seen me and talked with me for hours in Madras. Now, I have been to Madras in India only once. That was twenty-five years ago, and I am absolutely certain that I have met nobody and talked with nobody for hours about Vipassana. Even the word Vipassana was not mentioned while I was in Madras for three

Seeing this statement gave me the idea that this man cannot be a meditator. If he can lie so easily…. Now Dulari has been in his camp, and after the camp she has been meditating, using the technique given by him, for ten hours a day. I want Dulari to be alert. And particularly her husband should report to the police, because meditation — particularly Vipassana meditation — should not be done more than two hours. And those two hours have to be early in the morning; the best time is before sunrise. If somebody goes on meditating for ten hours, the ultimate consequence is going to be insanity. And there will be by-products also; for example, a man meditating for ten hours will lose his sleep completely.

I had a case sent to me from Ceylon, which is a Buddhist country, with so many Buddhist priests preaching Vipassana meditation…. The technique is so simple, but they have never done it themselves. To teach anything to anybody which you have not done — and experienced all its possibilities, consequences, difficulties, problems that it can lead you
into — then you are a criminal.

This man who was sent to me was a Buddhist monk. He had lost his sleep for three years, and every treatment was done but no treatment was successful; no medicine would work. He had been told by his teacher — I cannot call him a master — to do Vipassana in the night. Even if you do Vipassana in the day, its effects will carry into the night; that’s why
I am suggesting the most distant point, before sunrise. Just two hours are enough; more than that… even nectar can become poison in a certain quantity.

Vipassana for ten hours a day can drive anybody mad. That’s why I want to make it clear, because if Dulari goes mad I will be condemned because she has been associated with me for twenty years. She should stop doing that technique. At the most, for two hours before sunrise she can do it; that will be healthy and that will bring her deep insight and understanding. But ten hours is too much. Her consciousness will not be able to contain that much. Instead of having a breakthrough, the greater possibility is of having a breakdown. It can become a strain — it will become a strain.

That’s why I am saying, if she continues then her husband should inform the police. And if she goes mad then he should sue this utterly, utterly stupid Goenka for driving his wife mad. There are many idiots all around. And because humanity has come to a crisis point where it needs a new dimension for consciousness, naturally many people will come with false ideas. Or maybe the ideas are right but the person who is bringing them is not right; then too the idea is going to harm humanity.

Meditation is not something mechanical; hence there can be no technicians of meditation. Goenka is a technician: he knows exactly what is being done in the Burmese style of Vipassana, but he is not a man of meditation — he is not a man of enlightenment. And now he has made teaching Vipassana his profession; now it is a business. He is still a businessman. He was a businessman in Burma; just the commodity has changed. He must have been selling something else; here he is selling the technique of Vipassana. And people are gullible. When they see that so many people are going, they start thinking perhaps they should also go.

The generation gap that education has created is nothing compared to the generation gap that meditation can create. This gap is quantitative, that gap will be qualitative. A man with meditation has no age: he is neither a child nor is he young nor is he old. He is eternity itself. How can you expect from him that he should be respectful to old idiots, donkeys and all kinds of animals all around?

But this is also a time to be very alert and very aware: don’t be too much impressed by what a person says. Look deeper into the person and his individuality. See whether he has ecstasy in his eyes, watch whether his gestures have the grace of a Gautam Buddha, look very carefully to see whether his inner being radiates light and fragrance. Is he a man of love, compassion and truth? Look at the man, not at his knowledge, because knowledge is available in the books so easily; anybody can collect it. But your being is not available in the holy scriptures.

Your being you have to find. You have to sharpen your intelligence and you have to bring the ultimate within you as a guest. And when the ultimate is a guest within you, you are a flame, you are a fire. Of course your fire does not burn anybody, but heals. Your fire is cool, not warm. Your fire is just a lotus flower.

The seeker should look at the master first — not at what he says, but what he is. Is he something transcendental? Is his life a laughter, a song, a dance, a joy, a blissfulness? Or is he just a pretender, a businessman fulfilling your expectations — of course, showing humbleness, humility… just business tactics.

A man of real truth has no need to be humble. He is neither egoist nor humble, because those are the same things in different quantities. Only the egoist can become humble. I cannot say I am a humble man. I cannot say that I am a simple man, because simplicity is only a lesser form of complexity, and humbleness is on a lower strata, the same as ego. They are not different; the degrees are different.

I am neither humble nor egoist.
I am simply just the way I am.

These people will pretend everything. They will behave in every way that you expect them to behave. That is their whole strategy of catching people. But the intention is to exploit.

Vipassana is one of the greatest meditations, but only in the hands of a master. In the hands of a technician it is the greatest danger. Either the man can become enlightened or the man can become mad; both possibilities are there, it all depends under whose guidance it is being done.

When the Ceylonese monk was sent to me I said, “I am not a Buddhist, and you have been under the guidance of Buddhist monks. What was the need for you to come to me?” He said, “They have all failed. They have taught me, but they cannot cure me. And I am going crazy. I cannot sleep a single wink.”

When he told me this… Buddhist monks are not supposed to laugh, but I told him a joke. For a moment he was shocked, because he had come very seriously. I told him that a man in England, no ordinary man but a very rich lord, was asking another lord — with the English attitude, mannerism: “Is it right that you slept with my wife last night?” And the other lord said, “My friend, not a wink.”

Even the Buddhist monk laughed. He said, “You are a strange person. I have come from Ceylon and you tell me a joke! And I am a religious man.”
I said, “That’s why I am telling you a religious joke. If you stay with me I will tell you irreligious jokes too.”
I said, “Your problem is not curable by any medicine. Your problem is created by your Vipassana.”
He said, “Vipassana? But Vipassana was the meditation of Gautam Buddha; through it he became enlightened.”
I said, “You are not a Gautam Buddha, and you don’t understand that Vipassana done after sunset is very dangerous. If you do Vipassana for just two hours in the night, then you cannot sleep. It creates such awareness in you that that awareness continues the whole night.”

And if somebody is doing Vipassana for ten hours, almost the whole day, the sanity will give way. And then Goenka will not come to help, because he will not even be able to understand that this has happened because of Vipassana. And you cannot sue him in the court, because even the law does not understand that Vipassana can create madness in

My whole effort here is to keep you as non-serious as possible, for the simple reason that meditation, all kinds of meditation, can make you too serious and that seriousness will create a spiritual disease and nothing else. Unless a meditation brings you more laughter, more joy, more playfulness, avoid it. It is not for you.

Jayesh, the generation gap is unfortunate. I am not in favor of it. I have my own strategy for how it can be avoided. The whole system of education has to be changed from the very roots. In short… we prepare people in education for livelihood rather than life. For twenty-five years we prepare — that is one third of the life — for livelihood. We never prepare people for death, and life is only seventy years; death is the door to eternity. It needs tremendous training.

According to me — and I feel with great authority that this is going to happen in the future if man survives — that education should be cut into pieces: fifteen years for livelihood, and again after forty-two years, ten years in preparing for death. Education should be divided in two parts. Everybody goes to the university — of course to different universities, or to the same university but to different departments. One is to prepare children for life and one is to prepare people who have lived life and now want to know something more, beyond life.

Then the generation gap will disappear. Then the people who are of an older age will be more quiet, more silent, more peaceful, more wise; their advice will be worth listening to. Just sitting at their feet will be a great blessing; the respect for the old will return. Except this, there is no other way.

Education divided in two parts means young people study for life, and middle-aged people study for death. Of course, the middle-aged people will be studying meditation, singing, dancing, laughing; they will be learning celebration. They have to make their death a festival — that should be the goal of the second part of education.

They will paint, they will play music, they will sculpt, they will compose poetry; they will do all kinds of creative things. Livelihood they have managed; now their children are doing that. Geography, history and all kinds of idiotic subjects, their children are learning. Let them know where Timbuktu is.

I have always wondered why — with my geography teacher I was continually in conflict — “Why should I know where Timbuktu is? What business is it of mine?”
He said, “You are strange, nobody has ever asked this.”
I said, “I am going to ask on every point… Constantinople, which in Hindi becomes even worse: Kustuntunia. I have no business with these things. Teach me something valuable.” And my geography teacher used to hit his head… he would say, “The whole of geography is this!”

The history teacher was teaching about the ugliest people that have existed in the world. From the history teacher I never got any idea about Bodhidharma or Zarathustra or Baal Shemtov or Lin Chi or Chuang Tzu; I never got any idea, and these are the people who have made humanity evolve.

But I have heard about Tamerlane. Do you know what lang means? He was one-legged. It is Tamurlang. Giving him respect, nobody called him “one-legged Tamer” but he created so much nuisance that very few people can be compared with him. And for almost three generations… his son was worse than him, and his grandson defeated both. About these people, who were just murderers and criminals, the whole history is full. And they are called emperors, conquerors, “Alexander the Great.” Even if they were really bad, still history repeats their names, their great acts: “Ivan the Terrible!”

This kind of history is bound to create wrong kinds of people in the world. All these histories should be burned simultaneously all over the world, so all these names disappear completely. And they should be replaced by those beautiful people who have all the credit for your being human. They are the people who have made humanity worthy of respect, who have given it a dignity and a pride, and who have opened doors of mysteries, of the beyond.

The second part of education should consist of meditativeness, of awareness, of witnessing, of love, of compassion, of creativity — and certainly we will again be without any generation gap. The younger person will respect the older person, and not for any formal reasons but actually because the old person is respectable. He knows something beyond the mind and the young person knows only something within the mind.

The young person is still struggling in the trivia of the world, and the older person has gone beyond the clouds; he has almost reached to the stars. It is not a question of etiquette to respect him. You are bound to respect him, it is absolutely a compulsion of your own heart — not a formality taught by others.

In my childhood… in India it is an absolute formality: anybody who comes as a guest, you have to touch their feet. Before my father became completely aware of my behavior he used to push down my head: “Touch the feet, the guest is God. And he is an old relative, you should follow the custom.”

One day a male goat with a beard entered just in my house. I touched his feet. My father said, “What are you doing?”

I said, “A guest is a God — and moreover with a beard! An old goat needs respect. You come here and touch his feet.”
He said, “Your mind functions in a very different way than anybody else’s.”
I said, “You have to understand it: from now onwards if I meet an old dog on the road I’m going to touch his feet, an old donkey and I’m going to touch his feet. What is the difference between an old dog, an old donkey, and your old guest? To me they look all the same. In fact the old donkey looks so philosophical; the old dog looks so ferocious, like a warrior — they have some qualities. That old fellow that you were forcing my head down for…. Next time you force my head down you will repent!”

He said, “What are you going to do?”
I said, “I will show you, because I believe in doing things, not in saying things.”
Next time one of my faraway relatives came and my father forgot. He pushed my head down. And I had a big needle ready in my hand, so I pushed the needle into the old man’s foot. He shrieked. He almost jumped. My father said, “What has happened?”

I said, “I have warned you, but you never listened. I don’t have any respect for this person. I don’t know him, I have never seen him before; why should I touch his feet? I am ready to touch the feet of someone whom I feel is respectable.” He understood that it is better not to force me because this was dangerous. Blood was coming out of that old man’s foot.

I never stood in my university classes when the professors entered. In India you have to stand up. The professors looked immediately at me — forgot everybody else; they focused on me. And if it was just the beginning of the year they would ask, “Why are you not standing?”
I said, “There is no reason.”

And the professor would say, “You don’t understand. Have you never stood before in any class?”
I said, “Never, because I don’t find any reason. I’m perfectly at ease.”
He said, “You…. How to make you understand that when a professor enters into the class, out of respect you have to stand up?”

I said, “That’s right. But I have not seen yet anything respectable in you. If I see something, I will stand up. And remember: there should not be double standards.”
“You mean…” he said, “what do you mean?”

I said, “I mean if I enter the class, you have to stand up — of course, only if you see something respectable in me. Otherwise there is no question, you can remain sitting down, or if you want you can even sleep. I don’t care a bit.”

My professors used to try to persuade me. Once in a while the vice-chancellor would come on a round, and they would try to persuade me that “Just for once… we don’t want you to stand for us, but when the vice-chancellor comes into the class, don’t create a fuss. Because then nothing else happens except the discussion about it.”
I said, “I am helpless. I cannot do anything against my will. Let the man come. If I feel that he is respectable I will stand up. You don’t have to tell me.”

And the first vice-chancellor under whom I was studying, the first time he came into the class he was drunk. And I am so allergic that I immediately felt that he was drunk. I remained sitting. The teacher looked at me, stared at me, gave indications that “You stand up.” I remained sitting. When everybody was told to sit down, then I stood up.

I said, “Now is the time for me to stand up. This man is drunk. It does not matter who he is, I am going to report him to the police.”

And the vice-chancellor was so much afraid and so nervous…. He had put his hat on the table. In a hurry he took my professor’s hat and went out of the class. And my professor was running behind him to say, “You are taking my hat.”
I said, “You see what happens when you are drunk? That man has not even the guts to remain here and you wanted me to stand for him?”

The generation gap exists simply because the reason for respect has disappeared. Unless you create the reason again, the respect will not return. On the contrary, every kind of disrespect will take place. But it is possible to change the whole system. I would love that the older people be not just old but also wise, not just in age but also in understanding, not only horizontally old but also vertically old… not only growing old but growing up also.

A society where old people are still behaving like young fools is not a society worth calling cultured or civilized. Old people should behave like enlightened people — not only behave, they should be enlightened. They should become a light to those who are still young and under biological infatuations, natural bondages. They have gone beyond; they can become guiding stars.

When education for death and education for livelihood are separated, when everybody goes twice to the university — first to learn how to go around this world of trivia and the second time to learn about eternity — the gap will disappear. And it will disappear in a beautiful way.

Source – Osho Book “The Great Pilgrimage From Here to Here”

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