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Osho - Hindu mythological gods are certain visions of a certain state of mind

Question - Beloved Osho, Do hindu mythological gods, like Shiva, Uma and Indra have a real existence on some plane, or are they just symbols as you implied in your talks the last two mornings? And if they are really only symbolic, Why do people see visions of them in meditation and what do such visions of gods mean?

Osho - Mythology deals with symbols. It is not history; it is not concerned with objective reality. But that does not mean that it is not concerned with reality itself. It is concerned with subjective reality. These gods, these mythological symbols, do not exist outside you but they have a psychological existence and that psychological existence can be helpful, can be used. So the first thing to be understood is that they are not real persons in the world but they are real symbols in the psyche of man.

Osho - Hindu mythological gods

For example, Carl Gustav Jung came very near to discovering the secret of these symbols. He was working on mental patients, disturbed persons. He would tell his patients to go on painting things, whatsoever came to their minds. A person who is schizophrenic, divided, split, will paint certain things and the painting will show a particular pattern. All schizophrenic patients will paint certain things and the pattern will be the same. And when they get over their illness, their disease, they will start painting different things and that will happen to every patient. Just by seeing their paintings you can say whether the patient is ill or not.

Then Jung became aware that whenever a person who has been suffering with a divided personality again becomes one, undivided, he starts painting something like a mandala -- a circle. That circle, that mandala, shows somehow a deep relationship with his own inner circle that has been regained. Now, inside, he has become a circle, joined together. He has become one. Then in his paintings suddenly circles will erupt. So Jung came to conclude that your inner mind can express certain things in a certain state. If the state of mind changes, then your visions will change, your expressions will change.

Hindu mythological gods are certain visions of a certain state of mind. When you come into that state of mind, visions start happening to you. They will have a similarity. All the world over they will have a similarity. There will be minor differences because of culture, education, training, but deep down there will be a similarity.

For example, the mandala is one of the mythological symbols. It has been recurring all over the world. In old Christian paintings it is there. In old Tibetan paintings it is there. In Chinese, Japanese and Indian art the circle has a fascination. Somehow, when your sight becomes circular, when it becomes a current, joined together, undivided, you begin to see a circle in your vision, in your dreams. That circle represents your reality. In the same way, all symbols represent inner subjective realities. And if a society gives a particular shape to a deity, it becomes very helpful. It becomes very helpful for the seeker because now he can decode many inner visions.

Freud inaugurated a new era in the West by interpreting dreams. Before Freud, in the West, no one was really interested in dreams. No one thought that dreams could have some meaning or that dreams could have some reality of their own or that they could have some secret keys which could open the personality of men. But in India it has always been known. We have always been interpreting dreams. And not only dreams, because dreams are ordinary: we have also been interpreting visions. Visions are the dreams of those persons who are meditating and changing their consciousness. They are also dreams. In ordinary consciousness dreams happen and now Freudian psychology has come to conclude that a particular pattern of dreams shows a particular meaning.

For example, a person goes on seeing in his dream that he is flying in the sky, that he has become a bird. He goes on flying: over hills, mountains, rivers, oceans, cities, he goes on flying. Freud says this type of dream, a dream of flying, happens to the mind which is very ambitious. Ambition becomes flying in dreams. You want to be above everyone -- above hills, above everyone. If you can fly, you will be above everyone. Ambition is an effort to fly above everyone. In dream, ambition becomes a pictorial image of flying.

Sexual dreams have a similar pattern all over the world. When boys become sexually mature they will start dreaming of holes, tunnels. Those holes, tunnels, are symbols of the feminine sex center, of the vagina. Girls will start seeing phallic symbols -- pillars or minarets -- in their dreams. And this happens all over the world: all over the world there is no distinction; this happening is similar. Phallic symbols will come to girls and hole-like symbols will come to boys.

If in a particular sexual state particular dreams happen, they have a reality. That reality is subjective. It is just the same when you enter meditation: you are entering a different state of consciousness. Then particular visions will start happening. They are also dreams but we call them visions because they are not normal. Unless you achieve a certain state in meditation they will not happen. They show that something is happening within. They project your inner realities on the screen of the mind in a pictorial way.

Remember that your unconscious mind does not know any language. Your unconscious mind knows only the most primitive language and that is of pictures. Your conscious mind has learned language symbols but the unconscious mind still remains pictorial just like a small child. It converts everything into pictures.

So, for example, Shiva's shivalinga has many meanings. One I told you about this morning, that it is the very source of life energy -- a sex symbol. But that is only one meaning. The shivalinga is egg-shaped -- white and egg-shaped. It happens in a particular state of meditation that this appears before you: a white egg-shaped thing filled with light. Light is coming out of it, rays are coming out of it.

Deep down, whenever you become cool, silent, and the whole being loses heat, this symbol appears. That is why the mythological story is that Shiva lives on the Himalayas, the coolest place in the world, where everything is cool. Just look at a shivalinga -- a marble shivalinga. Just by looking at it you will feel a certain coolness entering in you. That is why above a shivalinga a pot is to be held continuously, and from that pot drops of water go on dropping on the shivalinga. It is just to make it cool. These are symbols just to give you a feeling of coolness.

In Kashmir there is one shivalinga, a natural shivalinga, which arises automatically when snow falls. It is a snow shivalinga. Just by dropping of snow in a cave a shivalinga is formed. That shivalinga is the best one for meditation because it is so cool all around that it gives a glimpse of the inner happening -- when the shivalinga appears within your consciousness, when it becomes a picture, a symbol, a vision.

These symbols have been found through centuries and centuries of work and effort. They indicate a certain state of mind. To me all mythological gods are meaningful subjectively. Objectively they are nowhere to be found. And if you start trying to find them somewhere objectively, then you will become a victim of your own imagination -- because you can find them; you can project them so strongly that you can find them.

Human imagination is such a forcible thing, it has such a tremendous force within it, that if you imagine something continuously you will start feeling it around you. Then you can see it, then you can realize it. It will become an objective thing. It is not objective but you will feel it as existing outside you. So it is dangerous to play with imagination because then you can be hypnotized by your own imagination and you can come to see and feel things which are not. This is creating a private fantasy, a dreamworld; this is a sort of madness. You can see Krishna, you can see Christ, you can see Buddha, but this whole effort is wasted because you are moving in dreams and not in reality.

Hence, my insistence to always remember that these mythological figures are symbolic. They are meaningful, they are poetic, they are a certain language. They say something, they imply something but they are not objective personalities. If you can remember this, then you can use them beautifully. They can be of much help. But if you think of them as objective, they will be harmful and by and by you will move into a dreamworld and you will lose contact with the reality. And to lose contact with the reality is to go mad. Be constantly in contact with reality. Still, do not allow the objective reality to kill the inner and the subjective. Be alive and alert in the inner world but do not mix them.

This is happening: either we allow the objective reality to kill the inner and the subjective, or we allow the subjective to project a dreamworld on the objective, and then the objective disappears. These are two extreme viewpoints. Science goes on thinking in terms of the objective and goes on denying the subjective. Religion goes on talking about the subjective and denying the objective.

I am totally different from both. My emphasis is that objective is objective and let it remain objective. Subjective is subjective and let it remain subjective. Keep their purities and you will be saner for it. If you mix them, if you confuse them, you will become insane, you will lose balance.

Source - Osho Book "The Supreme Doctrine"

Related Osho Links:
Osho - Why are you so much against Rituals and Rules?
Osho on Asceticism - Why are you so much against Asceticism?
Osho - Why can't I tolerate people who belong to other Religions?

Osho on Kundalini and Psychic Realm, Is Kundalini a Psychic phenomenon?
Osho - Religious Visions, Mudras and other manifestations of deep Meditation
Osho on LSD and Samadhi - Is there any harm in using LSD as an aid to meditation?
Osho - How can one differentiate between a Projected Experience and an Authentic Feeling?

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