Osho The Legal System – Revenge or Compassion?

osho law

What are your suggestions to improve existing law and legal systems?

“You are asking me what improvements, what changes, are needed in the legal system. As I see it, it is basically wrong. It needs nothing less than a revolution; because down the centuries you have been increasing your courts, judges, legal experts, and laws have become everyday more and more complicated. And the criminals are growing tremendously. By all this legal system on one hand increasing, on the other hand the crime goes on increasing, ten times more than your legal system. You have not been able to cope with it. There is something very fundamentally wrong.

“As I see it, first the whole legal system is based on social revenge, not on social compassion.

…”Your whole legal system is a revenge system. The society punishes a person because he was disobedient, because he did not follow the crowd, because he was not part of the mob. He tried to be an individual on his own. He was playing his game according to his own rules. Revenge is not going to help, because you are doing the same crime that the criminal has committed. Of course, you have the support of the whole society; so nobody calls your punishment a crime. But any unprejudiced mind can see what you are doing.

“A man commits rape. A man commits robbery. A man commits murder. Certainly something has to be done. But not punishment. Because the man who commits rape simply means he is sexually unsatisfied. And your society has not given him a chance to be sexually satisfied. Mohammedans are allowed to marry four wives. In the world there is an equal proportion of men and women. Now if men are going to marry four wives, then what about those three men who will remain without wives? And if they start committing rape, is it a crime? Nizam of Hyderabad just forty years before had five hundred wives. And you want to prevent rape? Maharaja Patyallah, he was a beautiful man; in Patyallah any beautiful woman was in danger. She was going to be taken sooner or later, once the Maharaja looks at her, the next day she will disappear. He must have been a really courageous man. He could not manage to take away the daughter of the Viceroy of India. So he raped.

“Now, this man seems to be psychologically sick. He had hundreds of wives, concubines, and still he rapes. He does not need punishment. He needs treatment. He should be sent to a psychiatric hospital where his mind can be put right. Something is wrong with his mind. The punishment cannot change him, because the punishment has nothing to do with psychology. In fact, once a person goes to jail, jail becomes his home. He goes again and again. Jail is a kind of university, because there are master criminals. When you send somebody for the first time in jail, he is an amateur. In the jail he finds great masters of crime, experts. He learns the art, he learns that it is not the crime that has brought him to the jail. It is being caught that has brought him to the jail. You can go on committing as many crimes as you want. Just don’t be caught.

“Because crime is not punished, being caught is punished.

“This is a strange situation. Those who are caught are in jail. Those who are not caught may be very respectable citizens, powerful people in the society.

“I am against all kinds of punishment. The whole idea of punishment is inhuman. Anybody committing a crime simply shows that he needs psychiatric help. Instead of jails, we need psychiatric hospitals, where the person can be taken care of respectfully, with dignity; because once a person’s dignity is destroyed you have reduced him into a permanent criminal.

“In a psychiatric hospital, he should be respected; he should be treated just like any patient. You will be surprised to know that in the past many patients were punished for the simple reason because they were not thought to be patients. For example, somebody was mad. He was punished, he was sent to a jail. Now we can see the stupidity of it all. A madman, you are sending him to jail? It is very difficult to decide whether you are mad or he is mad. What the jail can do to a madman? He needs a dignified respectful treatment. And that’s what we are doing now.

“About other crimes, the same is the situation. Crime does not happen out of nowhere; it is something in your mind. Something is wrong, which can be put right. And we have enough development of psychological sciences that the mind can be changed completely. One thing is certain, that the criminal has a very powerful personality. His personality, his power, if diverted towards creativity, may bring great blessings to the society. Right now they become a burden on the society. Thousands of people in jail are living on your labor, on your taxes, on your work. And when they will come out of the jail, they will come more with great expertise, and you will not be able to catch hold of them so easily.

“The whole idea of punishment is barbarous. The legal system should change its foundations. Every crime should be treated as a mental disease.

“And then things will be totally different; then society is showing compassion, not revenge. And you are helping people to become more human, more integrated. And while they are being treated, you can teach them, you can allow them to learn some skill, some craft, so when they come out of the psychiatric hospital they are not dependent on the society. They can create their living by their own effort, and you have given them so much respect, so much dignity, that it will be impossible for them to commit again a crime….

“…The whole legal system needs to drop revengefulness. It has to become compassionate; it has to treat human beings with respect.

“Actions don’t count.
What counts is the whole personality, which is a vast thing.

“An action is a small thing. Don’t make it too big. And we are making it too big. Somebody does something wrong – and remember it is human to err; everybody commits mistakes. But the mistakes should not be taken as equivalent to his life. It is only a small fragment in a long series. Don’t give it too much importance. Don’t make it the focus of light. Don’t throw that man into a jail, undignified, dishonored, all his humanity taken away. Don’t behave with that man as if he is an animal.

“Society needs to be more compassionate. Law needs to be more compassionate.

“Remember, man is not for law; law is for man.
And if law is not helping man, then it has to be changed.

“It has not helped. There is no doubt about it. And I am not saying that “Withdraw all laws, and dissolve all courts.” I am saying that your courts and your laws and your legal experts should make the whole phenomenon based on compassion, not on revenge.

“And compassion is the essence of all religions. And if we cannot create our legal system based on the essential, fundamental religious experience of the ages, then future will condemn us; then future will think about us as barbarous, then future is not going to accept as civilized people, cultured. I am reminded of Bernard Shaw.
One man said to him, “What do you think about civilization?”
And Bernard Shaw said, “It is a good idea, but it has yet to happen.”

“Civilization has not happened? And a man of the caliber and intelligence like Bernard Shaw thinks so. It has not happened yet. We are still living in a barbarous age. Perhaps we have better clothes, better houses, polite nice manners; beautiful masks to hide our faces; but deep down, there is the animal who hankers for revenge.

“It is strange to see that still there are countries where death sentence is legal. If a man has murdered someone, and you think it is a crime; certainly it is a crime. Nobody has the right to destroy somebody else’ life. But what you are doing? You destroy that man’s life. And I don’t see the logic, because if this man’s murder, crucifixion, was going to revive the other man, then too there was some logic in it. Instead of one-man dead, now there will be two men dead. And you think law is satisfied, the society is satisfied; but this satisfaction is ugly.

“So I will not go into the details of law, because that is not my function. My function is to change the foundation. Then details will change automatically. Up to now revenge has been the foundation, let compassion be the foundation in the future.”


Osho: The Last Testament, Vol.5, Talk #22
Image from www.futuristspeaker.com
Meditation Centre and Osho Books Library at
Osho Zorba The Buddha Club, 5 -Shiv Colony, Champa Vihar, New Bhopalpura 100 Feet Road, Near Hotel Royal Inn, Udaipur, (Rajasthan), India. 91-9352516130

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