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Chapter 1: The Great Illusion

Osho,
The mystics have always said, “There is no refuge but existence” - there is nowhere to go but in. You say the same. We are familiar with the words, but our understanding does not go beyond the verbal level. Could you please explain the deeper meaning?

Understanding at the verbal level is not worth calling understanding. In the world of religion there is no greater deception than words. Words can be understood, there is no difficulty in that, but that which is hidden behind the words remains uncomprehended, and that is the real difficulty.

When the word is understood but not that which lies behind the word, life becomes a great turmoil. We create the illusion of knowing when we do not know, and nothing is more dangerous than assuming that one knows when one does not.

Life begins at the point where knowing happens. Life is transformed through knowing. But if we live under the illusion that we know religion because we know the words, then our mind travels in one direction while our life travels in another, and often these directions are completely opposite. This is why hypocrisy comes to be a daily routine in the life of the so-called religious man.

The so-called religious man seems to be nothing but a hypocrite. He says one thing and lives another, and there is no harmony between what he says and what he lives. The origin of this lack of harmony is in the fact that he has substituted words for understanding.

Let us consider a few more points about this before dealing with the question. The moment we hear the words God, soul, enlightenment, we immediately think that we understand them because we know their meaning that is written in the dictionaries. We know the meaning of enlightenment, we know the meaning of godliness, we know the meaning of soul but the verbal meaning is not the existential meaning. Just to say the word God, just to hear the word God, is not to know godliness. The word God is not in itself godliness. Even if the speaker of the word has known, he cannot pass on his knowing to you. Only the words will reach you, not his experience. The words will become part of your memory. Your memory will become full and dense, a load, and will become a scripture. You will fall into the illusion that you know what godliness is because you have heard the word God, because you have read it, and its meaning is given in the dictionary.

But without reaching out to it how can anyone know godliness? If it was so simple - that godliness could be known just by referring to a dictionary - there would be no ignorant person left on this earth; everyone would have become a knower. If the etymology and grammar of the word liberation were the key to liberation, everybody would be free, no one would be in bondage. How simple it is to know a word!

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