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An extract from the book The Secret of Secrets by Osho:
Once there was a very rich magician, a Sith, who had a great many sheep. But at the same time this magician was very mean. He did not want to hire shepherds, nor did he want to erect a fence about the pasture where his sheep were grazing. The sheep consequently often wandered into the forest, fell into ravines, and so on, and above all they ran away, for they knew that the magician wanted their flesh and skins and this they did not like.
At last the magician found a remedy. He hypnotized his sheep and suggested to them first of all that they were immortal and that no harm was being done to them when they were skinned, that, on the contrary, it would be very good for them and even pleasant; secondly, he suggested that the magician was a good master who loved his flock so much that he was ready to do anything in the world for them; and in the third place, he suggested to them that if anything at all were going to happen to them it was not going to happen just then, at any rate not that day, and therefore they had no need to think about it. Further, the magician suggested to his sheep that they were not sheep at all; to some of them he suggested that they were lions, to others that they were eagles, to others that they were men, and to others that they were magicians.
And after this all his cares and worries about the sheep came to an end. They never ran away again but quietly awaited the time when the magician would require their flesh and their skins.
George Gurdjieff loved this parable very much. His whole philosophy is contained in this small parable. And this parable represents man in the ordinary state of unconsciousness. It is one of the most beautiful illustrations of man as he is.
Man is a machine. Man is not born to be a machine, but man lives like a machine and dies like a machine. Man has the seed of a great flowering of consciousness, man has the possibility to become God, but that doesn't happen. It does not happen because man has been hypnotized -- by the society, by the state, by the organized church, by the vested interests. The society needs slaves and man can remain a slave only if he is not allowed to grow to his uttermost flowering. The society needs your flesh and your skins and naturally, nobody likes it. Hence, the whole process of socialization, of civilization, is nothing but a deep hypnosis.
Man is being hypnotized from the very moment he is born. He is being hypnotized to believe that the society exists in his favour, for his good. That is utterly wrong. He is being hypnotized to believe that he is immortal. He is not. He can be, but he is not. And if the hypnosis persists he will never be immortal.
You live only as a mortal being, because you live in the body. The body is going to die. That which is born is bound to die. Birth is the beginning of the body and death the end. Do you know anything in you which is more than the body? Have you experienced anything higher than the body, deeper than the body? Have you seen anything in you which was even before you were born? If you have seen that, then you are immortal. If you know your face, your original face, the face that you had before you were born, then you know you will be there after death too; otherwise not.
Man can be an immortal, but man lives surrounded by death because man lives identified with the body. The society does not allow you to know more than the body. The society is interested only in your body -- your body can be put to use -- your soul is dangerous.
A man of soul is always dangerous because a man of soul is a free man. He cannot be reduced to slavery. A man who has an immortal soul in him has a deeper commitment to existence itself, to God himself. He does not care a bit about the man-made structures of society, civilization and culture; these are prison cells for him. He does not exist as a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan. He cannot be part of a crowd. He exists as an individual.
The body is part of a crowd, your soul is not. Your soul is deeply individual. Its flavour is that of freedom.
But your soul cannot be put to any use in the market-place. The society needs only your body. And it is very dangerous for the society if you start striving for the soul, because then your interest changes. You turn from being all extrovert into an introvert; you start moving inwards. The society is outside, the society wants you to remain an extrovert, interested in money, power, prestige, and all that, so that your energy goes on moving outwards. If you start moving inwards, that means you have become a drop-out, you are no more part of the game that is being played on the outside. You don't belong to it. You start diving deep within your own being. And there is the source of immortality.
he society prevents you from going inwards. And the best way is to give you a false idea that you are going inwards.
The magician told the sheep that they were lions, suggested to them that they were immortals, hypnotized them into believing that they were not only men but great magicians.
When you go to a church you are not going inwards. When you go to the temple you are not going inwards. But the society has hypnotized you to believe that 'If you w ant to go inwards, go to the church.' But the church is as much outside as anything else. The society has hypnotized you to believe that 'If you want to go inwards, go to the priest.' And the priest is an agent of the state and the society. The priest has always been against the mystics, because if you go to a mystic you will start moving inwards.
A mystic lives in a totally different way. His energy moves in a different gestalt: his river moves inwards. So one who comes to a mystic, falls in tune with the mystic, will start moving inwards naturally, simply, spontaneously.
But the first thing to understand is: remember that you have been hypnotized, and you have to go through a dehypnotizing process. Remember that you have been conditioned and you have to be unconditioned. Remember that death is coming. Don't think that it is not going to happen today; it can happen any moment.
In fact, all that happens always happens now. The seed dies now, the bud becomes the flower now, the bird starts calling now. All that ever happens happens only in the space made available by NOW, this moment. Nothing ever happens in the past, and nothing ever happens in the future. All that happens always happens in the present -- that is the only way for things to happen because the present is the only time there is.
Past is just your memory and future is just your imagination. But you have been hypnotized to live in the past, and you have been hypnotized to live in the future. Choose either past or future, but no society allows you to live in the present.
Christians and Hindus and Mohammedans -- they condition you to live in the past. Their golden age was in the past. Communists, socialists, fascists -- they condition you to live in the future, their golden age is in the future, the utopia is coming: 'When the revolution comes, then you will be able to really live, then there will be a golden age.'
Either you are taken to the past, which is false, or to the future, which is again false. No society tells you to live in the present, in the herenow. To be a sannyasin, to be a real seeker means to live herenow. And there is no other life. But for that you will have to de-automatize yourself, you will have to become a man and not a machine. You will have to become a little more conscious. You are not conscious.