Aids: An Existential Disease?
Would you please say something about AIDS?
"I do not know anything about even the first aids, and you are asking me about the last AIDS! But it seems I will have to say something about it. And in a world where people who know nothing about themselves can talk about God, people who know nothing about the geography of the earth can talk about heaven and hell, it is not inconceivable for me to say something about AIDS, although I am not a physician. But neither is the disease now called AIDS just a disease. It is something more, something beyond the limitation of the medical profession.
"As I see it, it is not a disease in the same category as other diseases; hence the danger of it. Perhaps it will kill at least two-thirds of humanity. It is, basically, the incapability to resist diseases. One slowly, slowly finds oneself vulnerable to all kinds of infections, and one has no inner resistance to fight those infections.
"To me it means humanity is losing the will to live.
"Whenever a person loses the will to live his resistance falls immediately, because the body follows the mind. The body is a very conservative servant of the mind; it serves the mind in a religious way. If the mind loses the will to live it will be reflected in the body by the dropping of resistance against sickness, against death. Of course the physician will never bother about the will to live - that's why I thought it better that I say something.
"It is going to become such an enormous problem all over the world that any insight from any dimension can be of immense help. Just in America, this year, four hundred thousand people are affected by AIDS, and each year the number will double. Next year it will be eight hundred thousand people, and then one million six hundred thousand people; that way it will go on - doubling. Just this year America will need five hundred million dollars to help these people, and still there is not much hope of their surviving.
"Just in the beginning it was thought to be a homosexual disease. From all around the world researchers supported the idea that it was something homosexual - it was found that it happens more in men than in women.
"But just yesterday a report from Africa changes the whole standpoint. Africa is greatly involved in researching about the disease because Africa is the most affected area. It seems blacks are almost twice as vulnerable to the disease as white people. Africa is suffering from a great epidemic of AIDS; hence, they have been researching. It is a question of life and death.
"Their report is very strange. It says that AIDS is not a homosexual disease at all, that it is a heterosexual disease, and it happens if people go on changing partners - mixing with many women, with many men, continually changing partners. This continuous changing is the cause of the disease. Homosexuality has nothing to do with it, according to their research. Now all the researchers in Europe and America are on one side, and the South African report is on the opposite side.
"To me it is very significant. It has nothing to do with either heterosexuality or with homosexuality. It has certainly something to do with sex. And why has it something to do with sex? - because the will to live is rooted in sex. If the will to live disappears, then sex will be the most vulnerable area of life to invite death.
"Remember perfectly well that I am not a medical man, and whatever I am saying is from a totally different point of view. But there is much more possibility of what I am saying being true than what these so-called researchers are saying, because their research is superficial. They think only of cases; they collect data, facts. That is not my way - I am not a fact-collector.
"My work is not of research but of insight. I try to see into every problem as deeply as possible. I simply ignore the superficial, which is the area of the researchers.
"I try to penetrate deeply, and I see clearly that sex is the phenomenon most related to the will to live. If the will to live declines, sex will be vulnerable; then it is not a question of heterosexuality or homosexuality.
"In Europe and in America they started looking into it because it was just a coincidence that the first cases happened in homosexuals; perhaps homosexuals had lost the will to live more than heterosexuals. The whole research was confined to California, and most of the victims were Jews; obviously the researchers found that it is linked to homosexuality. If any heterosexual was also found to have the symptoms then it was naturally assumed that he had got it from some homosexual person.
"California is such a stupid part of the world - and as far as sex is concerned, the most perverted part of the world. You can also say avant-garde, progressive, revolutionary, but these beautiful words won't hide the truth: California has become too perverted. Why does it happen, this perversion? And why has it happened in California particularly? - because California is one of the most cultured, civilized, affluent societies. Naturally, they have everything that you can hope for, everything that you can desire - and that's where the problem of the will to live arises.
"When you are hungry you think of getting work, food; you don't have time to think about life and death. You don't have time to think about what the meaning of existence is. It is impossible: a hungry man cannot think of beauty, of art, music. Take the hungry man, starving, into a museum filled with beautiful pieces of art - do you think he will be able to see any beauty there? His hunger will prevent him. These are luxuries. Only when all his basic needs are fulfilled does man come to face the real problems of life. Poor countries don't know the real problems.
"Hence, when I say that the richest man is the poorest, you can understand what I mean by saying it. The richest man comes to know the unsolvable problems of life, and he is stuck; there is nowhere to go. The poor man has so much to do, so much to achieve, so much to become. Who cares about philosophy, theology, art? They are too big for him; he is interested in very mundane things, very small things. And it is impossible for him to turn his consciousness upon himself and start thinking and brooding about existence, being - just impossible.
"California is, unfortunately, one of the most fortunate parts of the world, in every way: it has the most beautiful people, beautiful land, and it has come to the highest peak of luxury. And there, the question arises. You have done everything; now what else is there to do? That's the point where perversion begins.
"You have known many women and you have come to understand that it is all the same. Once you put the light off, every woman is just the same. When the light is off, if the woman goes into the other room and your wife comes in - and you are not aware - you may even make love to your wife, giving her beautiful dialogues, not knowing that she is your wife. What are you doing? If anyone comes to know about it, that you speak these beautiful dialogues - learned from Hollywood movies - to your own wife, they certainly will think that you have gone crazy. These are meant for other people's wives, not for your wife. But in the darkness there is no difference.
"Once a man knows many women, a woman knows many men, one thing becomes certain - that it is the same, a repetition. The differences are superficial, and as far as the sexual contact is concerned, they make no difference. A little longer nose, or a little blonder hair, a whiter face or a little suntanned - what difference does it make when you come to make love to a woman? Yes, before making love to a woman all these things make a difference. And it continues to make a difference in countries where monogamy is still the rule.
"For example, in a country like India, the disease AIDS is not going to happen while India remains monogamous, it is impossible - for the simple reason that people know only their wife, only their husband, their whole life. And they always remain curious about what the neighbor's wife would feel like. It always remains a tremendous curiosity, but there is no possibility for perversion.
"Perversion requires the basic condition that you are fed up with changing women, you want something new. Then men start trying men - that seems to be different; women start trying women - that feels a little different. But for how long? Soon that too is the same. Again, the question arises.
"This is the point where you try all kinds of things, and slowly, slowly one thing becomes settled: that it is all useless. Curiosity disappears. Then, what is the point of living for tomorrow? It was curiosity: tomorrow something new may happen. Now you know that the new never happens. Everything is old under the sky. The new is just a hope, it never happens. You try all kinds of designs in furniture, houses, architecture, clothes - and everything fails finally. When everything fails and there is no hope for tomorrow, then the will to live cannot go on with the same fervor, force, persistence. It starts dragging. Life seems to lose juice. You are alive because what else to do? You start thinking of committing suicide.
"Sigmund Freud is reported to have said, "I have never come across a single man who has not thought, at least once in his life, of committing suicide." But Sigmund Freud is now too old, out of date. He was talking about psychologically sick people; those were the people with whom he was coming in contact.
"My own experience is that the poor man never thinks of committing suicide. I have come across thousands of poor people; they never think of committing suicide. They want to live, because they have not lived yet; how can they think of suicide?
"Life has so many things to give, and they see that everybody is enjoying all kinds of things and they have not lived yet. There is a great urge, force, to live. Much has to be done, much has to be achieved. There is the whole sky of ambition open, and they have not even begun to scratch the ground. No beggar ever thinks of committing suicide. Logically it should be just the other way: every beggar should think of committing suicide, but no beggar ever thinks of it - even a beggar who has no eyes, is blind, is paralyzed, crippled....
"In poor countries nobody thinks of suicide, in poor countries the question of meaning has not been raised. It is a Western question. What is the meaning of life? In the East nobody asks that. The West has come to a saturation point where everything you could live for you have already lived. Now what? If you are courageous enough, you commit suicide - or murder....
"Once this disease, AIDS, spreads - and it is spreading, it is already epidemic, in America too. The politicians are keeping quiet, the priests are keeping quiet, because the problem is too big, and nobody seems to have any suggestion as to how to solve it, so it is better to keep silent. But how long can you keep silent?
"The problem is spreading, and once it spreads and becomes wider, you will be surprised: the profession that will be the topmost in this business of AIDS will be the priests, the nuns, the monks. They will be on the topmost, the most affected by it, because they have been practicing perverted sex longer than anybody else. California is just new. Those monks and nuns have been living in "California" for centuries.
"As it appears to me, the disease is spiritual.
"Man has come to a point where he finds the way ends. Going back is meaningless because all that he has seen, lived, shows him there was nothing in it; it has all proved meaningless. Going back has no meaning; going ahead there is no road: facing him is the abyss. In this situation if he loses the desire, the will to live, it is not unexpected.
"It has been experimentally proved that if a child is not brought up by loving people - the mother, the father, the other small children in the family - if the child is not brought up by loving people, you can give him every nourishment but somehow his body goes on shrinking. You are giving everything necessary - medical needs are fulfilled, much care is being taken - but the child goes on shrinking. Is it a disease? Yes, to the medical mind everything is a disease; something must be wrong. They will go on researching the facts, why it is happening. But it is not a disease.
"The child's will to live has not even arisen. It needs loving warmth, joyful faces, dancing children, the warmth of the mother's body - a certain milieu which makes him feel that life has tremendous treasures to be explored, that there is so much joy, dance, play; that life is not just a desert, that there are immense possibilities. He should be able to see those possibilities in the eyes around him, in the bodies around him. Only then will the will to live spring up - it is almost like a spring. Otherwise, he will shrink and die - not with any physical disease, he will simply shrink and die.
"I have been to orphanages.... One of my friends, Rekhchand Parekh, in Chanda Maharashtra, used to run an orphanage - nearabout one hundred to one hundred and ten orphans were there. And orphans would come, two days old, three days old; people would just leave them in front of the orphanage. He wanted me to come to see the orphanage. I said, "Sometime later on I will see it, because I know whatever is there will make me unnecessarily sad." But he insisted, so one time I went, and what I saw.... They were taking every care, he was pouring his money on those children, but they were all ready to die just any moment. Doctors were there, nurses were there, medical facilities were there, food was there, everything was there. He had given his own beautiful bungalow - he had moved to a smaller bungalow - a beautiful garden and everything was there; but the will to live was not there.
"I told him, "These children will go on dying slowly."
"He said, "You are telling me? I have been running this orphanage for twelve years; hundreds have died. We have tried every possible way to keep them alive, but nothing seems to work. They go on shrinking and one day simply they are no longer there." If there was a disease the doctor could help, but there was no disease; simply, the child had no desire to live. When I said this to him it became clear to him. He immediately, that very day, gave the orphanage to the government, and he said, "I have been trying to help these children for twelve years; now I know it is not possible. What they need I cannot give, so it is better that the government takes it over." He said to me, "I had come to this point many times, but I am not an articulate man so I could not figure out what it was. But in a vague way I was feeling that something was missing and that goes on killing them."
"AIDS is the same phenomenon at the other end. The orphan child shrinks and dies because his will to live never sprouts, never springs up, never becomes a flowing current. AIDS is at the other end: You suddenly feel you are an existential orphan. This existential feeling of being an orphan causes your will to live to disappear.
"And when the will to live disappears, sex will be the first thing to be affected because your life starts with sex; it is a by-product of sex.
"So while you are living, throbbing, hoping, ambitious, and the tomorrow remains the utopia - so that you can forget all the yesterdays which were meaningless, you can forget today which is also meaningless...but tomorrow when the sun rises and everything will be different.... All the religions have been giving you that hope.
"Those religions have failed. Although you go on keeping the label - Christian, Jew, Hindu - it is only a label. Inside, you have lost hope, the hope has disappeared. Religions could not help; they were pseudo. Politicians could not help. They were never intending to help; it was just a strategy to exploit you. But how long can this false utopia - political or religious - help you? Sooner or later, one day man will become mature; and that's what is happening. Man is becoming mature, aware that he has been cheated by the priests, by the parents, by the politicians, by the pedagogues. He has been simply cheated by everybody, and they have been feeding him on false hopes. The day he matures and realizes this, the desire to live falls apart. And the first thing wounded by it will be your sexuality. To me that is AIDS.
"When your sexuality starts shrinking you are really hoping that something will happen and you will go into eternal silence, into eternal disappearance. Your resistance is not there. AIDS has no other symptoms except that your resistance goes on dropping. At the most you can live two years if you are fortunate and don't get accidentally infected. Each infection will be incurable, and each infection will be weakening you more and more. Two years is the longest the AIDS patient can live; and he may disappear sometime before that. And no treatment is going to help, because no treatment can bring back your will to live.
"What I am doing here is multidimensional. You are not fully aware of what I am trying to do; perhaps you may become aware only when I am gone. I am trying to give you not a hope in the future - because that has failed - I am trying to give you a hope herenow. Why bother about tomorrow? - because tomorrow has not helped. For centuries the tomorrow has been keeping you somehow dragging, and it has failed you so many times that now you cannot go on clinging to it. That would be sheer stupidity. Those who are clinging to it still are only proving that they are retarded in their minds.
"I am trying to make this very moment a fulfillment, a contentment so deep that there is no need for the will to live. The will to live is needed because you are not alive. The will keeps picking you up: you go on slipping down, the will keeps picking you up. I am not trying to give you a new will to live, I am simply trying to teach you to live without any will, to live joyously. It is the tomorrow that goes on poisoning you. Forget yesterdays, forget tomorrows. This is our day - let us celebrate it and live it. And just by living it you will be strong enough so that without the will to live you will be able to resist all kinds of diseases, all suicidal attitudes.
"Just being fully alive is such a power that not only can you live, you can make others aflame, afire.
"This has been a well-known fact. When there are great epidemics have you not wondered why the doctors and nurses and others don't get infected? They are human beings just like you, and they are overworked, more vulnerable to infection because they are continually tired. When there is an epidemic you cannot insist on a five-hour day or six-hour day, and a five-day week. An epidemic is an epidemic; it does not bother about your holidays and your overtime. You have to work - people work sixteen hours, eighteen hours, every day, for months. Still, the doctors, the nurses, the Red Cross people, they don't get infected.
"What is the problem? Why are others getting infected? These are similar kinds of people. If just having a Red Cross on your shirt...then put the Red Cross on everybody's shirt; on every house the Red Cross. If the Red Cross is preventing infection it would be so easy - but that is not the thing.
"No, these people are so much involved in helping others, they don't have any tomorrow. This moment is so involving, they don't have any yesterday. They don't have any time to think or even worry, "I may get infected." Their involvement.... When millions of people are dying, can you think of yourself, and your life, and your death? Your whole energy is moving to help people, to do whatever you can do. You have forgotten yourself, and because you have forgotten yourself you cannot be infected. The person who could have been infected is absent: he is so involved in doing something, he is so lost in some work.
"It does not matter whether you are painting or sculpting, or you are serving a dying human being - it does not matter what you are doing, what matters is: Are you totally involved in the herenow? If you are involved in the herenow you are completely out of the area where infection is possible. When you are so much involved, your life becomes such a torrential force. And you will see: even a lazy doctor, in a time of epidemic, when hundreds of people are dying, suddenly forgets his laziness. And old doctor suddenly forgets his age....
"Only meditation can release your energy herenow. And then there is no need for any hope, for any utopia, for any paradise anywhere. Each moment is a paradise unto itself. But as far as my qualifications are concerned, I am not qualified to say anything about AIDS. I have never even taken the course on first-aid. So please forgive my entering into something which is not my business. But I go on doing that, and I am going to continue to do that."
Osho, From Misery to Enlightenment, Talk #28