Why Does Terrorism Happen?
Terrorism Is in Your Unconscious
It is 40 years since World War II and this “peace” seems to now be threatened by terrorism. Would you please talk about why terrorism is happening now?
“Everything is deeply related with everything else that happens.
“The event of terrorism is certainly related with what is happening in the society. The society is falling apart. Its old order, discipline, morality, religion, everything has been found to be wrongly based. It has lost its power over people's conscience.
“Terrorism simply symbolizes that to destroy human beings does not matter, that there is nothing in human beings which is indestructible, that it is all matter – and you cannot kill matter, you can only change its form. Once man is taken to be only a combination of matter, and no place is given for a spiritual being inside him, then to kill becomes just play.
“The nations are irrelevant because of nuclear weapons. If the whole world can be destroyed together within minutes the alternative can only be that the whole world should be together. Now it cannot remain divided; its division is dangerous, because division can become war any moment. The division cannot be tolerated. Only one war is enough to destroy everything, and there is not much time left for man to understand that we should create a world where the very possibility of war does not exist.
“Terrorism has many undercurrents. One is that because of nuclear weapons, the nations are pouring their energy into that field, thinking that the old weapons are out of date. They are out of date, but individuals can start using them. And you cannot use nuclear weapons against individuals – that would be simply stupid. One individual terrorist throws a bomb – it does not justify that a nuclear missile should be sent.
“What I want to emphasize is that the nuclear weapon has given individual people a certain freedom to use old weapons, a freedom which was not possible in the old days because the governments were also using the same weapons.
“Now the governments are concentrated on destroying the old weapons, throwing them in the ocean, selling them to countries which are poor and cannot afford nuclear weapons. And all those terrorists are coming from these poor countries, with the same weapons that have been sold to their countries. And they have a strange protection: you cannot use nuclear weapons against them, you cannot throw atom bombs at them.
“They can throw bombs at you and you are suddenly impotent. You have a vast amount of atomic bombs, nuclear bombs in your hands – but sometimes where a needle is useful, a sword may not be of any use. You may have the sword; that does not mean that you are necessarily in a superior position to the man who has a needle, because there are purposes in which only the needle will work -- the sword will not be of any use.
“Those small weapons from the old times were piling up, and the big powers had to dispose of them – either drown them in the ocean.... That meant so much money, so much manpower, so much energy had gone to waste; economically it was disastrous. But just to go on piling them up was also economically impossible. How many weapons can you gather? There is a limit. And when you get a new way of killing people more efficiently, then the old simply has to be got rid of.
“It was thought that it would be better to sell them to poor countries. Poor countries cannot create nuclear weapons – it costs too much. And these weapons were coming cheap – as help; they accepted it, but these weapons cannot be used in a war. In a war these weapons are already useless. But nobody has seen the possibility that these weapons can be used individually, and a new phenomenon – terrorism – can come out of it.
“Now, a terrorist has a strange power, even over the greatest powers. He can throw bombs at the White House without any fear, because what you have is too big and you cannot throw it at him. And these are the weapons sold by you! But the phenomenon was not conceived of, because human psychology is not understood.
“My understanding is that the way he has lived, man needs every ten to twelve years – a war. He accumulates so much anger, so much rage, so much violence, that nothing short of a war will give him release. So, war after war…. There is a gap of only ten to fifteen years. That gap is a kind of relaxation. But again you start accumulating, because the same psychology is working – the same jealousy, the same violence.
“And man is basically a hunter; he is not by nature vegetarian. First he became a hunter, and for thousands of years he was just a meat-eater, and cannibalism was prevalent everywhere. To eat human beings caught from the opposing tribe you were fighting with was perfectly ethical. All that is carried in the unconscious of humanity.
“Religions have imposed things on man very superficially; his unconscious is not in agreement. Every man is living in a disagreement with himself. So whenever he can find a chance – for a beautiful cause; freedom, democracy, socialism – any beautiful word can become an umbrella to hide his ugly unconscious, which simply wants to destroy and enjoys destruction.
“Now the world war has become almost impossible; otherwise there would have been no terrorism. Enough time has passed since the second world war; the third world war should have happened nearabout 1960. It has not happened. This has been the routine for the whole of history, and man is programmed for it.
“It has been observed by psychologists that in wartime people are more happy than in peacetime. In wartime their life has a thrill; in peacetime they look bored. In wartime, early in the morning they are searching for the newspaper, listening to the radio. Things may be happening far away, but they are excited. Something in them feels an affinity.
“A war that should have happened somewhere between 1955 and 1960 has not happened, and man is burdened with the desire to kill, with the desire to destroy. It is just that he wants good names for it.
“Terrorism is going to become bigger and bigger, because the third world war is almost impossible. And the stupid politicians have no other alternative. Terrorism simply means that what was being done on a social scale now has to be done individually. It will grow. It can only be prevented if we change the very base of human understanding – which is a Himalayan task; more so because these same people whom you want to change will fight you; they won't allow you to change them easily.
“In fact they love bloodshed; they don't have the courage to say so. In one of the existentialist's novels, there is a beautiful incident which can almost be said to be true. A man is presented before the court because he has killed a stranger who was sitting on the beach. He had never seen the stranger. He did not kill him for money. He does not yet know how that man looked, because he killed him from the back, just with a big knife.
They had never met – there was no question of enmity. They were not even familiar; they had not even seen each other's faces.
“The magistrate could not figure it out, and he asked the murderer, ‘Why did you do it?’
He said, ‘When I stabbed that man with a knife, and a fountain of blood came out of his back, that was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever known. I know that the price will be my death, but I am ready to pay for it; it was worth it. My whole life I have lived in boredom – no excitement, no adventure. Finally I had to decide to do something. And this act has made me world famous; my picture is in every newspaper. And I am perfectly happy that I did it.’
“There was no need for any evidence. The man was not denying – on the contrary, he was glorifying it. But the court has its own routine way – witnesses still have to be produced; just his word cannot be accepted. He may have be lying, he may not have killed the man. Nobody saw him – there was not a single eyewitness – so circumstantial evidences had to be presented by the police.
“One of them was that possibly this man has killed according to his past life and his background. When he was young, his mother died. And when he heard that his mother had died, he said, ‘Shit! That woman will not leave me even while dying! It is Sunday, and I have booked tickets for the theater with my girlfriend. But I knew she would do something to destroy my whole day – and she has destroyed it.’
“His mother has died and he is saying that she has destroyed his Sunday! He was going to the theater with his girlfriend, and now he has to go to the funeral. And the people who heard his reaction were shocked. They said, ‘This is not right, what are you saying?’
“He said, ‘What? What is right and what is wrong? Couldn't she die on any other day? There are seven days in the week – from Monday to Saturday, she could have died any day. But you don't know my mother – I know her. She is a bitch! She did it on purpose.’
“The second evidence was that he attended the funeral, and in the evening he was found dancing with his girlfriend in a disco. And somebody asked, ‘What! What are you doing? Your mother has just died.’
“He said, ‘So what? Do you mean now I can never dance again? My mother is never going to be alive, she will remain dead; so what does it matter whether I dance after six hours, eight hours, eight months, eight years? What does it matter? – she is dead. And I have to dance and I have to live and I have to love, in spite of her death. If everybody stopped living with the death of their mother, with the death of their father, then there would be no dance in the world, no song in the world.’
“His logic is very right. He is saying, ‘Where do you draw the demarcation line? After how many hours can I dance? – twelve hours, fourteen hours, six weeks? Where will you draw the line? on what grounds? What is the criterion? So it doesn't matter. One thing is certain: whenever I dance I will be dancing after the death of my mother, so I decided to dance today. Why wait for tomorrow?
“Such circumstantial evidences are presented to the court – that this man is strange, he can do such an act. But if you look closely at this poor man, you will not feel angry at him; you will feel very compassionate. Now, it is not his fault that his mother has died; and anyway, he has to dance some day, so it makes no difference. You cannot blame this man for saying ugly things: ‘She deliberately died on Sunday to spoil my joy,’ because his whole experience of life must have been that she was again and again spoiling any possibility of joy. This was the last conclusion: ‘Even in death she will not leave me.’
“And you cannot condemn the man for killing a stranger... because he is not a thief; he did not take anything from him. He is not an enemy; he did not even see who was the man he was killing. He was simply bored with life and he wanted to do something that made him feel significant, important. He is happy that all the newspapers have his photo. If they had published his photo before, he would not have killed; but they waited – until he kills they will not publish his photo. And he wanted to be a celebrity... just ordinary human desires. And he was ready to pay with his life to become, at least for one day, known to the whole world, recognized by everybody.
“Until we change the basic grounds of humanity, terrorism is going to become more and more a normal, everyday affair. It will happen in the airplanes, it will happen in the buses. It will start happening in the cars. It will start happening to strangers. Somebody will suddenly come and shoot you – not that you have done anything to him, but just, the hunter is back.
“The hunter was satisfied in the war. Now the war has stopped and perhaps there is no possibility for it.
“The hunter is back; now we cannot fight collectively. Each individual has to do something to release his own steam.
“Things are interconnected. The first thing that has to be changed is that man should be made more rejoicing – which all the religions have killed. The real criminals are not caught. These are the victims, the terrorists and other criminals.
“It is all the religions who are the real criminals, because they have destroyed all possibilities of rejoicing. They have destroyed the possibility of enjoying small things of life; they have condemned everything that nature provides you to make you happy, to make you feel excited, feel pleasant.
“They have taken everything away; and if they have not been able to take a few things away because they are so ingrained in your biology – like sex – they have at least been able to poison them.
“Friedrich Nietzsche, according to me, is one of the greatest seers of the Western world; his eyes really go penetrating to the very root of a problem. But because others could not see it – their eyes were not so penetrating, nor was their intelligence so sharp – the man lived alone, abandoned, isolated, unloved, unrespected.
“He says in one of his statements that man has been taught by religions to condemn sex, to renounce sex. Religion has not been able to manage it; and man has tried hard but has failed, because it is so deeply rooted in his biology – it constitutes his whole body. He is born out of sex – how can he get rid of it except by committing suicide?
“So man has tried, and religions have helped him to get rid of it – thousands of disciplines and strategies have been used. The total result is that sex is there, but poisoned. That word poisoned is a tremendous insight. Religions have not been able to take it away, but they have been certainly successful in poisoning it.
“And the same is the situation about other things: religions are condemning your living in comfort. Now, a man who is living in comfort and luxury cannot become a terrorist. Religions have condemned riches, praised poverty; now, a man who is rich cannot be a terrorist. Only the "blessed ones" who are poor can be terrorists – because they have nothing to lose, and they are boiling up against the whole of society because others have things they don't have.
“Religions have been trying to console them. But then came communism – a materialist religion – which provoked people and said to them, ‘Your old religions are all opium to the people, and it is not because of your evil actions in this life or in past lives that you are suffering poverty. It is because of the evil exploitation of the bourgeois, the super-rich that you are suffering.
“The last sentence in Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto is: ‘Proletariats of the whole world unite; you have nothing to lose and you have the whole world to gain.
“‘You are already poor, hungry, naked – so what can you lose? Your death will not make you more miserable than your life is making you. So why not take a chance and destroy those people who have taken everything away from you. And take those things back, distribute them.’
“What religions have somehow been consoling people with – although it was wrong and it was cunning and it was a lie, but it kept people in a state of being half asleep – communism suddenly made them aware of. That means this world is now never going to be peaceful if we don't withdraw all the rotten ideas that have been implanted in man.
“The first are the religions – their values should be removed so that man can smile again, can laugh again, can rejoice again, can be natural again.
‘Second, what communism is saying has to be put clearly before the people – that it is psychologically wrong. You are falling from one trap into another. No two men are equal; hence the idea of equality is nonsense. And if you decide to be equal then you have to accept a dictatorship of the proletariat. That means you have to lose your freedom.
“First the church took away your freedom, the God took away your freedom. Now communism replaces your church, and it will take away your freedom.
“And without freedom you cannot rejoice.
“You live in fear, not in joy. If we can clean the basement of the human mind's unconscious... and that's what my work is. It can be cleaned away.
“The terrorism is not in the bombs, in your hands; the terrorism is in your unconscious.
“Otherwise, this state of affairs is going to grow more bitter. And it seems all kinds of blind people have bombs in their hands and are throwing them at random.
“The third world war would have released people for ten or, fifteen years. But the third world war cannot happen because if it happens it won't relieve people, it will only destroy people.
“So individual violence will increase – it is increasing. And all your governments and all your religions will go on perpetuating the old strategies without understanding the new situation.
“The new situation is that every human being needs to go through therapies, needs to understand his unconscious intentions, needs to go through meditations so that he can calm down, become cool – and look towards the world with a new perspective, of silence.”
Osho, Beyond Psychology, Talk #18
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