Saturday, August 02, 2008

Osho: "Courage" Part 7 - Truth vs. Science

(Cover) Courage: The Joy of Living DangerouslyContinuing my series on Osho's bookCourage: The Joy of Living Dangerously. This post continues to address "The Way of Intelligence" in the first chapter.

Truth is an Experience

In the preceding section Osho discussed the imperative "to be, not to think" -- to know in a religious way rather than through science. Only through religiousness can one "penetrate to the heart of reality." Thus he continues

Truth is an experience, not a belief. Truth never comes by studying about it; truth has to be encountered.

In this statement Osho continues to dismiss the value of reason and science as tools to understand reality. This is because he believes the important features of reality are beyond the "known". To begin to know in this previously unknown domain requires the experience of it.

The person who studies about love is like the person who studies about the Himalayas by looking at the map of the mountains. The map is not the mountain! ... The mountain is in front of you, but your eyes are full of maps.

This of course is true. But maps are valuable tools for rendering a large amount of knowledge, and are at their most useful in giving guidance when journeying into the unknown. Unless of course they are speculative and inaccurate. Every religion offers us "maps" to eternity.

Even the progress of science is most often hampered by the scientist's inability to see past his or her pre-conceptions, the pre-judged conclusions that may be wrong and must be overturned:

The prejudiced eye is blind, the heart full of conclusions is dead.

As discussed previously, Osho wants us to function with active, alert intelligence rather than living according to a set of pre-drawn "conclusions" that constrain our discovery of the world.

Too many a priori assumptions and your intelligence .. becomes dull. Dull intelligence is what is called intellect... Intellect is a corpse... To be alive is a totally different matter.

Science Is Factual, Mystery is Existential

Science means being definite about facts, and thus prevents one from "feeling the mysterious." This is because

The more definite you are, the more the mystery evaporates... Science is the murder of mystery.

Osho goes on to describe science as the "dimension of the mind" and I believe he feels he is proving thus that the mind is inadequate to know the mysterious. But if "the mysterious" is defined as "that which cannot be known by the mind," then he is simply stating a tautology.

As a tautology it is no less true, just less profound, and possibly unprovable.

So we are left with this assertion: there are mysteries of existence which cannot be touched by science and reason. He has previously called this truth. But if something is intrinsically unknowable, what of it? Why should we then take any notice of it, since it is inescapably unnoticeable?

Meditation: the Dimension of the Mysterious

Osho now introduces, I believe for the first time in this book, the idea of meditation, as yet unexplained. Meditation is offered as a tool, a pathway by which one can explore the otherwise unknowable "dimension of the miraculous, the mysterious."

Meditation makes everything undefined... takes you into the unknown, the uncharted... takes you slowly, slowly into a kind of dissolution where the observer and the observed become one.

Osho contrasts this dissolution/participation with the strict observation required by science. Yet science is not our only tool for knowing the world with our minds. We use science to form conclusions and those conclusions are tested. This is a kind of objective truth that is proven. But once we use science to design and construct, say, an airplane or a boat, then we can openly enjoy its use with no more thought to the science behind it. We can feel and experience it, reveling in it, and how can one argue that this is not using our minds?

In other words, one uses the map to plan and navigate. But one does not drive or hike by looking at the map, nor would anyone want to, it would be silly and dangerous.

Osho's argument is that use of the mind = science, science requires detachment, detachment leads to cold indifference and "indifference kills mystery." Therefore use of the mind kills mystery and one must therefore "open a new door in your being" through meditation.

I think his deprecation of science and the mind seems ill-placed and annoying. His effort would be better spent perhaps in supporting his concept of the unknowable mysteriousness, and why it embodies truth.

On the other hand, I find his teaching is much more compelling when he is less negative and more rational:

Looking at the flower, become the flower, dance around the flower, sing a song. The wind is cool and crisp, the sun is warm, and the flower is in its prime. The flower is dancing in the wind... Participate with it! Drop indifference, objectivity, detachment... Become a little more fluid, more melting, more merging. Let the flower speak to your heart... enter your being. Invite him -- he is a guest! And then you will have some taste of mystery.

Now I can get my mind behind that!

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