Document belonging to the Greek Mythology Link, a web site created by Carlos Parada, author of Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology
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Copyright © 1997 Carlos Parada and Maicar Förlag.

Man, Life and Myth

by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
(from Discourses on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, September 1975)

What is a human being? A gossip-creating animal. Aristotle has defined man as a rational being. Man is not rational; and it is good that he is not. Man is ninety-nine per cent irrational; and it is good that he is because through irrationality all that is beautiful and lovely exists. Through reason, mathematics; through irreason, poetry. Through reason, science; through irreason, religion. Through reason the market, the money, the rupees, the dollars; through irreason love, singing, dancing. No, it is good that man is not a rational being. Man is irrational. Many definitions have been tried. I would like to say man is a gossip-creating animal. He creates myths—all myths are gossips, puranas. He creates religions, myths, stories about existence. Since the very beginning of humanity man has been creating beautiful mythology. He creates God. He creates that God created the world; and he creates beautiful myths. He weaves, goes on weaving newer and newer myths around and around. Man is a myth-creating animal; and life will be absolutely boring if there is no myth around it. That is the trouble for the modern age: all the old myths have been dropped. Foolish rationalists argued too much against them. They have been dropped because if you argue against a myth, the myth is indefensible. It cannot defend itself. It is very vulnerable; it is very delicate. If you start fighting with it you will destroy it, but by destroying it you will destroy something beautiful in the human heart. It is not the myth, myth is just symbolic—deep are the roots in the heart. If you kill the myth you kill the heart.

Now, all over the world, those same rationalists who killed all the myths feel that now there is no meaning in life, no poetry, no reason to be happy, no cause to celebrate. All festivity has disappeared. Without a myth the world will be just a marketplace; all temples will disappear. Without myth all relationships will be bargains; there will be no love in them. Without myth you will be alone in vast emptiness. Unless you are enlightened you cannot live that way; otherwise you will feel meaningless, and deep anxiety will arise and anguish will enter into your being. You will start committing suicide. You will start finding some way or other—drugs, alcohol, sex, anything—to drown yourself so you can forget yourself because life seems to be meaningless. Myth gives meaning. Myth is nothing but a beautiful gossip, but it helps you to live. Unless you become so capable of living without any gossiping, it helps you to travel, to journey in the world. It gives a human atmosphere around you; otherwise the world is very stony.

Just think: Indians go to the rivers, to the Ganges—they worship. That is a myth; otherwise the Ganges is just a river. But through a myth the Ganges becomes the mother, and when a Hindu goes to the Ganges it is a tremendous delight to him.

The stone in Mecca, the stone of Kaaba, is nothing but a stone. It is a cube stone, that's why it is called ka'bah: ka'bah means cube. But you cannot know how a Muslim feels when he goes to Kaaba. Tremendous energy arises. Not that Kaaba is doing something—nothing, just a myth. When he kisses the stone, he is not walking on the earth; he has moved in another world, of poetry. When he walks around the Kaaba, he is walking around God himself. All over the world Muslims pray; their direction is towards the Kaaba. The direction differs: somebody praying in England will be looking at Kaaba; somebody praying in India will be looking at Kaaba; somebody praying in Egypt will be looking at Kaaba. Five times a day the Mohammedans pray all over the world, encircle the whole world, and they look at the Kaaba—the Kaaba becomes the very center of the world. A myth, a beautiful myth. In that moment the whole world is surrounded by a poetry.

Man gives meaning to existence; that's what a myth is all about. Man is a gossip- creating animal. Small gossips, just about the neighborhood, about the neighbor's wife; and big gossips, cosmic, about God. But man enjoys it. I love one story; I must have told it many times. It is a Jewish story:

In a certain town, many years ago, many centuries ago, one rabbi existed. Whenever there was some difficulty in the town, he would go to the forest, do some sacrifice, pray, follow a ritual, and tell God, "Avert that calamity. Save us." And the town was always saved. The rabbi died; another man became the rabbi. The town was in difficulty; the people gathered. The rabbi went to the forest, but he could not find the place. He did not know it. So he said to God, "I don't know the exact place where the old rabbi used to pray to you, but that doesn't matter. You know the place, so I will pray from here." The trouble never came to the town. People were happy. Then this rabbi died; another rabbi followed. Again the town was in some trouble, some calamity. People gathered. He went to the forest, but he said to God, "I don't know exactly where the place is, I don't know the ritual. I only know the prayer. So please, you are all-knowing, so don't stick to the details. Listen to me..." And he said whatsoever he wanted to say. The calamity was avoided. Then he also died; another rabbi followed. The town gathered, there was some trouble, some disease was spreading, and they said, "Go to the forest; it has always been done. Ancient rabbis have always been going there." He was sitting in his armchair. He said, "What is the need to go there? He can hear from here. And I don't know." So he looked at the skies and said, "Listen. I don't know the place, I don't know the ritual—I don't even know the prayer. I know the whole story: how the first rabbi used to go, how the second rabbi used to go, how the third, how the fourth... I will tell you the story—and I know you love stories. Please, listen to the story and avoid the trouble." And he told the whole story about the ancient rabbis. And it is said God loved the story so much that the town was saved. He must love stories so much; he is a creator of myths himself. He must love stories. He is the first, who created the whole gossip.

Yes, life is a gossip, a momentary gossip in the eternal silence of existence, and man is a gossip-creating animal. Unless you become a god you will have to love gossiping: you will love stories of Rama and Seeta, of the Mahabharata; you will love Greek, Roman, Chinese stories. Millions of them exist—all beautiful. If you don't bring logic to them, they can reveal inner doors; they can open inner mysteries. If you bring logic to them, doors are closed; then that temple is not for you. Love stories. When you love them they open their mysteries. And much is hidden in them: all that humanity has found has been hidden in the parables. That's why Jesus goes on talking in parables, Buddha goes on talking in stories. They all loved gossiping.

Related sections Getting acquainted with the myths, Brief history of the Greek myths, "Is it True?", The Munificence of the Myths, The Children of the Myths

See bibliography.