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A journey through what makes human beings afraid, into a new relationship with our fears
In Fear: Understanding and Accepting the Insecurities of Life, Osho takes the reader step by step over the range of what makes human beings afraid—from the reflexive “fight or flight” response to physical danger to the rational and irrational fears of the mind and its psychology. Only by bringing the light of understanding into fear’s dark corners, he says, airing out closets and ...
A journey through what makes human beings afraid, into a new relationship with our fears
In Fear: Understanding and Accepting the Insecurities of Life, Osho takes the reader step by step over the range of what makes human beings afraid—from the reflexive “fight or flight” response to physical danger to the rational and irrational fears of the mind and its psychology. Only by bringing the light of understanding into fear’s dark corners, he says, airing out closets and opening windows, and looking under the bed to see if a monster is really living there, can we begin to venture outside the boundaries of our comfort zone and learn to live with, and even enjoy, the fundamental insecurity of being alive.
Fear ends with a series of meditation experiments designed to help readers experience a new relationship with fear and to begin to see fears not as stumbling blocks, but as stepping stones to greater self-awareness and trust.
UNDERSTANDING FEAR ITSELF
Fear is as nonsubstantial as your shadow, but it is. The shadow also exists—nonsubstantial, negative, but not nonexistential—and sometimes the shadow can have a great impact on you. In a jungle when the night is approaching you can be frightened of your own shadow. In a lonely place, on a lonely path, you can start running because of your own shadow. Your running will be real, your escaping will be real, but the cause will be nonsubstantial.
You can run away from a rope thinking that it is a snake; if you come back and you look closely and you observe, you will laugh at the whole stupidity of it. But people are afraid to come to places where fear exists. People are more afraid of fear than of anything else, because the very existence of fear shakes your foundations.
The shaking of the foundations is very real, remember. The fear is like a dream, a nightmare, but after a nightmare when you are awake the aftereffects still persist, the hangover persists. Your breathing has changed, you are perspiring, your body is still trembling, you are hot. Now you know that it was just a nightmare, a dream, nonsubstantial, but even this knowing will take time to penetrate to the very core of your being. Meanwhile the effect of the nonsubstantial dream will continue. Fear is a nightmare.
What is fear made of? Fear is made of ignorance of one’s own self. There is only one fear; it manifests in many ways, a thousand and one can be the manifestations, but basically fear is one, and that is that “Deep inside, I may not be.” And in a way it is true that you are not. Godliness is, you are not. The host is not, the guest is. And because you are suspicious—and your suspicion is valid—you don’t look in. You go on pretending that you are; you know that if you look in, you are not! This is a deep, tacit understanding. It is not intellectual, it is existential; it is in your very guts, the feeling that “I may not be. It is better not to look in. Go on looking out.” At least it keeps you fooled, it keeps the illusion intact that “I am.” But because this feeling of “I amness” is false, it creates fear. You know that anything can destroy it, any deep encounter can shatter it. It can be shattered by love, it can be shattered by a serious disease, it can be shattered by seeing someone die. It can be shattered in many ways, it is very fragile. You are managing it somehow by not looking in.
Mulla Nasruddin was traveling on a train. The ticket collector came; he asked for the ticket. He looked in all his pockets, in all his suitcases, and the ticket was not found. He was perspiring, and he was becoming more and more frightened. And then the ticket collector said, “Sir, but you have not looked in one of your pockets. Why don’t you look in it?”
Mulla Nasruddin said, “Please don’t talk about that pocket. I am not going to look in it. That is my only hope! If I look in that pocket and it is not found, then it is lost, then it is absolutely not anywhere to be found. I cannot look in that pocket. Mind you, I will look everywhere else; that pocket is my safety, I can still hope that it may be in that pocket. I have left it deliberately and I am not going to touch it. Whether I find the ticket or not, I am not going to look in that particular pocket.”
This is the situation with the ego too. You don’t look in, that is your only hope: “Who knows? Maybe it is there.” But if you look, your intuitive feeling says it is not there.
This false ego, which you have created by not looking in, by continuously looking out, is the root cause of fear. You will be afraid of all those spaces in which you have to look. You will be afraid of beauty because beauty simply throws you within. A beautiful sunset, and all those luminous colors in the clouds, and you will be afraid to look at it because such great beauty is bound to throw you inside yourself. Such great beauty stops your thinking: For a moment the mind is in such awe, it forgets how to think, how to go on spinning and weaving. The inner talk comes to a stop, a halt, and you are suddenly in.
People are afraid of great music, people are afraid of great poetry, people are afraid of deep intimacy. People’s love affairs are just hit-and-run affairs. They don’t go deep into each other’s being because going deep into each other’s being, the fear is there—the other’s pool of being will reflect you. In that pool, in that mirror of the other’s being, if you are not found, if the mirror remains empty, if it reflects nothing, then what?
People are afraid of love. They only pretend, they only go on playing games in the name of love. They are afraid of meditation; even in the name of meditation at the most they go on practicing new ways of thinking. That’s what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Transcendental Meditation is—it is neither meditation nor transcendental, it is simply chanting a mantra. And chanting a mantra is nothing but a process of thought, concentrated thought. It is again a new device, a device not to meditate. People are repeating Christian prayers, Mohammedan prayers, Hindu prayers—all ways to avoid meditation. These are not meditations, remember. Mind is so cunning that in the name of meditation it has created many false phenomena.
Meditation is when you are not doing anything at all, when the mind is not functioning at all. That nonfunctioning of the mind is meditation—no chanting, no mantra, no image, no concentration. One just simply is. In that isness, the ego disappears, and with the ego the shadow of the ego disappears.
That shadow is fear.
Fear is one of the most important problems. Each human being has to go through it and has to come to a certain understanding about it. The ego gives you the fear that one day you may have to die. You go on deceiving yourself that death happens only to others, and in a way you are right: Some neighbor dies, some acquaintance dies, some friend dies, your wife dies, your mother dies—it always happens to somebody else, never to you. You can hide behind this fact. Maybe you are an exception, you are not going to die. The ego is trying to protect you.
But each time somebody dies, something in you becomes shaky. Each death is a small death to you. Never send somebody to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Each death is your death. Even when a dry leaf falls from the tree, it is your death. Hence we go on protecting ourselves.
Somebody is dying and we talk about the immortality of the soul, and the leaf is falling from the tree and we say, “Nothing to be worried about. Soon the spring will come and the tree will again have foliage. This is only a change, only the garments are being changed.”
People believe in the immortality of the soul not because they know but because they are afraid. The more cowardly a person is the more is the possibility that he will believe in the immortality of the soul—not that he is religious, he is simply cowardly. The belief in the immortality of the soul has nothing to do with religion. The religious person knows that “I am not,” and then whatever is left is immortal—but it has nothing to do with “me.” This “me” is not immortal, this “I” is not immortal. This “I” is just temporary; it is manufactured by us.
Fear is the shadow of “I.” And because the “I” is always alert somewhere deep down it will have to disappear in death.… The basic fear is of death; all other fears only reflect the basic one. And the beauty is that death is as nonexistential as ego. So between these two nonexistentials, the ego and death, the bridge is fear.
Fear itself is impotent, it has no power. It is just that you want to believe in it—that’s its only power. You are not ready to take a plunge into your inner depth and to face your inner emptiness—that is its power. Otherwise it is impotent, utterly impotent. Nothing is ever born out of fear. Love gives birth, love is creative; fear is impotent. It has never created anything. It cannot create anything because it has no substance. But it can destroy your whole life, it can surround you like a dark cloud, it can exploit all your energies. It will not allow you to move into any deep experience of beauty, poetry, love, joy, celebration, meditation. No, it will keep you just on the surface because it can exist only on the surface. It is a ripple on the surface.
Go in, look in … and if it is empty, so what? Then that’s our nature, then that’s what we are. Why should one be worried about emptiness? Emptiness is as beautiful as the sky. Your inner being is nothing but the inner sky. The sky is empty, but it is the empty sky that holds all, the whole existence, the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the planets. It is the empty sky that gives space to all that is. It is the empty sky that is the background of all that exists. Things come and go and the sky remains the same.
In exactly the same way, you have an inner sky; it is also empty. Clouds come and go, planets are born and disappear, stars arise and die, and the inner sky remains the same, untouched, untarnished, unscarred. We call that inner sky the witness, the watcher—and that is the whole goal of meditation.
Go in, enjoy the inner sky. Remember, whatsoever you can see, you are not it. You can see thoughts, then you are not thoughts; you can see your feelings, then you are not your feelings; you can see your dreams, desires, memories, imaginations, projections, then you are not those things. Go on eliminating all that you can see. Then one day the tremendous moment arrives, the most significant moment of one’s life, when there is nothing left to be rejected. All the seen has disappeared and only the seer is there. That seer is the empty sky.
To know it is to be fearless, and to know it is to be full of love. To know it is to be god, is to be immortal.
Where Does Fear Come From? Where Does It Go?
Fear affects me in different ways, from a vague uneasiness or knotted stomach to a dizzying panic, as if the world is ending. Where does fear come from? Where does it go?
All your fears are by-products of identification.
You love a person and with the love, in the same parcel, comes fear—the person may leave you. They have already left somebody else and come with you, so there is a precedent; perhaps they will do the same to you. There is fear, you feel knots in the stomach. You are so attached, you cannot grasp a simple fact: You have come alone into the world. You have been here yesterday too, without this person, and you were doing perfectly well, without any knots in the stomach. Tomorrow, if this person goes … what is the need of the knots? You already know how to be without the person, and you will be able to be alone again.
The fear that things may change tomorrow … somebody may die, you may go bankrupt, your job may be taken away, there are a thousand and one things that might change. You are burdened with fears and fears, and none of them are valid—because yesterday also you were full of all these fears, unnecessarily. Things may have changed, but you are still alive. And people have an immense capacity to adjust themselves to any situation.
They say that only human beings and cockroaches have this immense capacity for adjustment. That’s why wherever you find humans you will find cockroaches, and wherever you find cockroaches you will find human beings. They go together, they have a similarity. Even in faraway places like the North Pole or the South Pole—when people first traveled to those places they suddenly found they had brought cockroaches with them, and those roaches were perfectly healthy and living and reproducing.
If you just look around the earth you can see—man lives in thousands of different climates, geographical situations, political situations, sociological situations, religious situations, but he manages to live. And he has lived for centuries … things go on changing, he goes on adjusting himself.
There is nothing to fear. Even if the world ends, so what? You will be ending with it! Do you think you will be standing on an island and the whole world will end, leaving you alone? Don’t be worried. At least you will have a few cockroaches with you!
What is the problem if the world ends? I have been asked about it many times, but what is the problem? If it ends, it ends. It does not create any problem because we will not be here; we will be ending with it, and there will be no one to worry about. It will be really the ultimate freedom from fear. The world ending means every problem ending, every disturbance ending, every knot in your stomach ending. I don’t see the problem.
But I know that everybody is full of fear. Everybody has a kind of armor, and there are reasons for it. First, the child is born so utterly helpless, into a world he knows nothing of. Naturally he is afraid of the unknown that faces him. He has not yet forgotten those nine months of absolute security, safety, when there was no problem, no responsibility, no worry for tomorrow.
To us, those are nine months, but to the child it is eternity. He knows nothing of the calendar, he knows nothing of minutes, hours, days, months. He has lived an eternity in absolute safety and security, without any responsibility, and then suddenly he is thrown into a world unknown, where he is dependent for everything on others. It is natural that he will feel afraid. Everybody is bigger and more powerful, and he cannot live without the help of others. He knows he is dependent; he has lost his independence, his freedom.
A child is weak, vulnerable, insecure. Automatically he starts creating an armor, a protection for himself in different ways. For example, he has to sleep alone. It is dark and he is afraid, but he has his teddy bear and he convinces himself that he is not alone—his friend is with him. You will see children dragging their teddy bears at airports, at railway stations. Do you think it is just a toy? To you it is, but to the child it is a friend—and a friend when nobody else is there to help him—in the darkness of the night, alone in the bed, still the teddy bear is with him.
He will create psychological teddy bears. And remember that although a grown-up man may think that he has no teddy bears, he is wrong. What is his God? Just a teddy bear. Out of his childhood fear, man has created a father figure who knows all, who is all-powerful, who is everywhere present; if you have enough faith in him he will protect you. But the very idea of protection, the very idea that a protector is needed, is childish. Then you learn prayer—these are just parts of your psychological armor—prayer is to remind God that you are here, alone in the night.
Our prayers, chanting, mantras, our scriptures, our gods, our priests, are all part of our psychological armor. It is very subtle. A Christian believes that he will be saved and nobody else. Now, that is his defensive arrangement; everybody is going to fall into hell except him, because he is a Christian. But every religion believes, in the same way, that only they will be saved. It is not a question of the religion, it is a question of fear and being saved from fear. So it is natural in a way—but at a certain point in your maturity, intelligence demands that it should be dropped. It was good when you were a child, but one day you have to leave your teddy bear. Finally, the day you drop all your armor, it means you have dropped living out of fear. What kind of living can arise out of fear? Once the armor is dropped you can live out of love, you can live in a mature way. The fully matured person has no fear, no defense; he is psychologically open and vulnerable.
At one point, the armor may be a necessity—perhaps it is. But as you grow—if you are not only growing old but also growing up, growing in maturity—then you will start seeing what you are carrying with you. Look closely and you will find fear behind so many things.
A mature person should disconnect himself from anything that is connected with fear. That’s how maturity comes.
Just watch all your acts, all your beliefs, and find out whether they are based in reality, in experience, or based in fear. Anything based in fear has to be dropped immediately, without a second thought. It is your armor.
I cannot melt it for you, I can simply show you how you can drop it. Your psychological armor cannot be taken away from you. You will fight for it. Only you can do something to drop it, and that is to look at each and every part of it. If it is based in fear, then drop it. If it is based in reason, in experience, in understanding, then it is not something to be dropped, it is something to be made part of your being. But you will not find a single thing in your armor that is based on experience. It is all fear, from A to Z.
We go on living out of fear—that’s why we go on poisoning every other experience. We love somebody, but when our love comes out of fear it is spoiled, poisoned. We seek truth, but if the search is out of fear then you are not going to find it.
Whatever you do, remember one thing: Out of fear you are not going to grow. You will only shrink and die. Fear is in the service of death.
A fearless person has everything that life wants to give to you as a gift. Now there is no barrier. You will be showered with gifts, and whatever you do you will have a strength, a power, a certainty, a tremendous feeling of authority.
A person living out of fear is always trembling inside. He is continuously on the point of going insane, because life is big, and if you are continuously in fear … and fears of all kinds are available. You can make a big list, and you will be surprised how many fears are there—still you are alive! There are infections all around, diseases, dangers, kidnapping, terrorists … and such a small life! And finally there is death, which you cannot avoid. Your whole life will become dark.
Drop the fear—the fear was taken up by you in your childhood unconsciously; now consciously drop it and be mature. Then life can be a light that goes on deepening as you go on growing.
I feel like I’m buried alive under my fear. And I see now that I’ve always been trying to be someone “special” to hide this fear, running further and further away from myself until I don’t know anymore what it means to be real. Why do I feel such a need to hide behind masks? Why am I so afraid?
The fear you are suffering from is rooted in every being. It is bound to be so, because every day we know someone dies and we know that we are standing in the same queue. And whenever someone dies we are moving in the queue, closer to death. Soon we will be at the window to take a ticket to get out of existence.
The poet is right when he says, “Don’t send anybody to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” When someone dies, there is an old tradition: In the churches the bells start tolling to inform the whole village, “Someone is dead—come back from your farms, your gardens, your orchards.” It is a call to people that somebody has died and he has to be given the last send-off. But the poet is perfectly right, “Don’t send anyone to ask for whom the bell tolls, it always tolls for thee.” Whenever someone dies you are reminded again that you are a mortal being, that death can take possession of you at any moment.
This is the root fear; all other fears are reflections of it. If you go deep down into any fear, you will find the fear of death.
You are asking, “I feel like I am buried alive under my fear.” Everybody is in the same situation. You are fortunate that you have become aware of it, because if you are aware, you can come out. And if you are unaware then there is no possibility of coming out.
You say, “I have always been trying to be someone special to hide this fear, running further and further away from myself until I don’t know anymore what it means to be real.”
Do you think the people who are special are doing something else? The presidents and the prime ministers and the kings and the queens—do you think they are in a different boat? Just look around and you will find them all in the same boat. They are all trying to be special in the hope that perhaps if they are special, life will treat them differently than it treats ordinary people. Obviously it cannot treat a president of a country the same way it treats a shoemaker.
But they are absolutely wrong. Life makes no discriminations—presidents or shoemakers, toilet cleaners or prime ministers, it does not matter at all as far as life is concerned. Death knocks them off with equality. Death is the only communist in the world; it does not care whether you have money or you are a beggar, you are educated or uneducated. You cannot say, “Just wait, I am highly qualified. You cannot behave the way you behave with uneducated people. Just wait a little … I am a special person, you cannot behave this way. First, give me a little advance notice and I will consider it. You have to follow a certain procedure that will be decided by me.” Whether you are a respected member of the community or just a stray dog, it makes no difference—death comes and makes everybody equal.
But the hope is that if you are special, existence will treat you with some kindness, some compassion. It will think twice, “The man is a Nobel Prize winner, you should just give him a little more life. The poor fellow is a great painter, you should not blow out his candle just the way you do with everybody else.”
This is the hidden desire, unconscious hope, the reason why everybody goes on trying to be special. But it is absolutely foolish and absurd. Just look back at what has happened to the millions of kings and millions of queens who were so powerful.…
Before death everybody is absolutely powerless.
In Jaina scriptures there is a very beautiful story. In India there is a myth that if a man becomes a world conqueror he has a special name—he is no ordinary king, not even an emperor. He is called a chakravartin. It means that the wheel of his chariot can move around the earth anywhere, nobody can hinder it. He is all-powerful, and the myth says that in heaven the chakravartins are treated in a special way.
There is a golden mountain in heaven … the Himalayas is nothing but a very small toy in comparison to the gold mountain in heaven called Sumeru. Only chakravartins have the special privilege of signing their name on Sumeru. And when this chakravartin died, he was so excited … to sign one’s name on the gold mountain in heaven is the greatest privilege that any human being can ever attain.
But what is the use if you are alone there to see it? So this man decreed that his whole court—his queen, his friends, his generals—should all commit suicide immediately, the moment he dies, so that they all reach heaven simultaneously. He wanted to sign on the gold mountain as nobody else had ever done it before. Signing alone, without even a witness—what is the joy in it? He must have been a perfect exhibitionist.
Because of his orders, all his friends, his queens, the members of his court, his generals, all committed suicide as he died and they all entered the gates of heaven together. The gatekeeper stopped them and he said, “Let the chakravartin go alone first to sign on the mountain.”
But they said, “We have committed suicide only for a simple purpose: We want our chakravartin to sign before all of us. His queens are here, his generals are here, his wise counselors are here, his ministers are here … and we have even sacrificed our lives just to see him sign. You cannot prevent us.”
But the gatekeeper said to the chakravartin, “Forgive me, I have been on this post for centuries and before that my father, and before that my grandfather; this post has been occupied by my forefathers since the very beginning of time. And I have been told by my elders, ‘Never allow any chakravartin to go to the mountain in front of others because he will repent it very badly later on.’ But the chakravartins all insist.… You are not the first who has brought a whole army with him; almost every chakravartin has done the same.
“So I simply want you to remember that you will repent if I allow these people to go with you. I have no problem, you can have some time to think it over. You are new, you don’t know what the experience is going to be. I have seen many chakravartins coming and going and they have all thanked me afterward and said, ‘You are very kind that you prevented everybody else and sent me alone.’”
The chakravartin thought, “What to do? Because I do not know what is actually going to happen, and this man seems to be authentic and sincere and he has no reason to prevent me unnecessarily.… Perhaps it is better to listen to his advice.” So he stopped everybody at the gate, he took the instruments from the gatekeeper to go and sign on the gold, and he went inside the gate to the mountain. He could not believe … such beauty! As far as he could see there was all gold and gold—mountain peaks reaching so high that the Himalayas certainly looked like a toy.
As he came closer to find a place to sign, he was shocked because there was no space! The whole mountain was signed … because we have been here for eternity. Millions and millions of chakravartins have died. This man had been thinking, “I am very special”—and there was not even a little space left on this big mountain!
He moved around—no space anywhere. Then he came across the caretaker of the mountain, who said, “Don’t waste your time. Even if you search for a millennium, you will not find any empty space; all the space is filled. For centuries I have been serving here. My father has served here—from the very beginning my family has been at this job. And I have heard from my forefathers the same story, that whenever any chakravartin has come, there was no space. So the only way is to erase one of the other names and sign your name in its place, and forget all about being special. It is such a vast existence. That’s why the gatekeeper prevented the people you brought; before all those people you would have lost all pride. You can just erase another name; I will help, I am here.”
The whole joy was gone, the whole excitement was gone, and the chakravartin said to the man, “It just means somebody else will come tomorrow and he will erase my name.” The mountain caretaker said, “That, of course, is the case—because there is no space otherwise. We cannot create more mountain; all the gold in heaven has been used to create this one. You simply sign, and back at the gate you can go with your head high and you can brag about it. Nobody is going to know because I am not going to tell anybody. Just go and brag that the whole mountain was empty.”
But the chakravartin was a man of some integrity and truth. He said, “That I cannot do; neither can I erase any name to make room for mine. I am not going to sign—it is absolutely stupid.” He went back and he told the gatekeeper, “I am thankful to you and I am going to tell my people why I am thankful. I am going to spread the news in the world, because many of these people have committed suicide. They will have to be born again, they cannot remain in heaven.
“I will make every effort to send the message to the world: ‘Don’t unnecessarily waste your life in conquering the world to sign on the gold mountain in heaven. There is no space. First you have to erase somebody else’s name, which is ugly, and then you have to sign in that place and tomorrow somebody else will erase your name. The whole exercise is one of utter stupidity.’ I am shocked, but a great realization has arisen in me: One should not ask to be special, because existence does not accept anybody as special, superior or inferior.”
Your fear is driving you toward trying to be special but that will not change the situation. The only way the fear can be dropped is, rather than putting your energy into being special, put your whole energy into being yourself. Just find yourself, because in trying to be special you are running further and further away from yourself. That you are clearly aware of it is good: the further away you go from yourself, the further away you are from knowing the truth that you are an immortal, that there is no death.
Once you recognize your immortality, death disappears. And with death, all fears evaporate into the air. But not by becoming someone special.
You will go on running further and further away from yourself in search of something that can take away your fear, your paranoia, your death. But the further away you are the more will be the fear, the more will be the paranoia, the more overwhelming will be the death. It is better to go inward and find your real being.
This is a simple logic, a simple arithmetic: Before searching anywhere else, please search within yourself. The world is vast, you will be lost in the search … so first look within yourself; maybe what you are looking for is already there. And all the great enlightened people of the world are absolutely in agreement that it is there, without any exception.
This is the only scientific truth that has no exception—which has remained unchanged as far back as you can go. You will find it has always been declared by those who have known themselves, “We are immortal; we are deathless. Life knows no end.”
So first, go in. Just a glimpse of your own immortality, and it is as if one has awakened from a nightmare. All the fear disappears, and instead of fear there is nothing but pure bliss, pure joy—just flowers showering with the fragrance of eternity.
So Much to Do, So Little Time
I have become aware that I have a lot of anxiety about time. I’ve heard you say that time consciousness creates frustration, but I wonder—is there something within us that could be called a fear of time?
That is the only fear there is: the fear of time. The fear of death is also fear of time because death stops all time. Nobody is afraid of death—how can you be afraid of something that you have not known? How can you be afraid of the absolutely unknown, unfamiliar, strange? Fear can only exist with something which is known. No, when you say, “I am afraid of death” you are not afraid of death—you don’t know! Who knows?—death may be better than life.
The fear is not of death, the fear is of time.
In India we have the same term for both. Time we call kala and death also we call kala. We have one term for both death and time. It is meaningful, the word kala is meaningful, very significant, because time is death, and death is nothing but time.
Time passing means life passing. Fear arises. In the West the fear is more acute; it has almost become chronic. In the East the fear is not so much, and the reason is that the East believes that life continues forever and ever; death is not the end; this life is not the only life; there have been thousands and thousands of lives in the past and there will be thousands and thousands in the future. There is no hurry. That’s why the East is lazy: There is no hurry! That’s why in the East there is no time-consciousness—somebody says, “I will come at five o’clock sharp, and he never turns up.” He does not feel any responsibility toward time, and you are waiting and waiting, and he comes four, five hours late and he says, “What is wrong in it? So what?”
In the Western perspective time is very short, because Christianity and Judaism both believe in only one life. That has created the anxiety. There is only one life, seventy years at the most; one-third lost in sleep—if you live sixty years, twenty years are lost in sleep, twenty of the remaining years are lost in education, this and that; the remaining twenty years—the job, the occupation, the family, marriage and divorce, and if you really calculate you will find there is no time to live! “When will I live?” Fear grips the heart, and life is passing, time is flowing out of your hands and death is reaching every moment with such a constant pace—any moment it can knock at the door. And time is irrecoverable, you cannot get it back, gone—gone forever.
Fear, anxiety, a time neurosis—it is becoming chronic, it is almost as if it has become second nature to the Western mind, continuously alert that time is slipping away, and afraid.
The fear is basically that you have not yet been able to live, and time is passing, and it cannot be recovered, you cannot undo it; gone—gone forever. And every day life is shrinking, becoming smaller and smaller and smaller.
The fear is not of death, the fear is of time, and if you look deeply into it then you find that the fear is of unlived life—you have not been able to live. If you live, then there is no fear. If life comes to a fulfillment, there is no fear. If you have enjoyed, attained to the peaks that life can give, if your life has been an orgasmic experience, a deep poetry vibrating within you, a song, a festival, a ceremony, and you lived each moment of it to its totality, then there is no fear of time, then the fear disappears.
You are ready even if death comes today, you are ready. You have known life—in fact you will welcome death because now a new opportunity opens, a new door, a new mystery is revealed: I have lived life, now death is knocking at the door; I will jump to open the door—“Come in!” Because life I have known, I would like to know you also.
That’s what happened to Socrates when he was dying. His disciples started crying and weeping—and it was natural. Socrates opened his eyes and said, “Stop! What are you doing? Why are you crying and weeping? I have lived my life, and I have lived it totally. Now death is coming and I’m enthusiastic about it! I am waiting with such great love and longing, with hope. A new door opens, life reveals a new mystery.”
Somebody asked, “Are you not afraid?”
Socrates said, “I don’t see the point in being afraid of death, because in the first place I don’t know what is going to be. And secondly, there are only two possibilities: Either I will survive—then there is no question of fear. Or I will not survive—then too there is no problem of fear. If I don’t survive there is no problem—when I am not, there cannot be any problem, and if I survive as I am here, if my consciousness survives, there is no problem because I am still there.
“Problems were there in life also—I solved them, so if I am there and there are problems I will solve them—and it is always a joy to solve a problem, it gives a challenge. You take the challenge and you move into it, and when you solve it a great release of happiness happens.”
The fear of death is fear of time, and the fear of time is, deeply, the fear of unlived moments, an unlived life.
So what to do? Live more, and live more intensely. Live dangerously! It is your life, don’t sacrifice it for any sort of foolishness that has been taught to you. It is your life, live it. Don’t sacrifice it for words, theories, countries, politics. Don’t sacrifice it for anybody.
There are many who are ready like butchers; they can get hold of you. And they have implanted conditionings within you: “Your nation is in danger—die for it!” Absolute foolishness. “Your religion is in danger—die for it!” Nonsense—it is your life, live it! Don’t die for anything else, die only for life, that’s the message. And then there will be no fear. But there are people who are ready to exploit you. They go on saying, “Die for this, die for that.” They are ready for only one thing, that you should become a martyr. Then there will be fears.
Live life, and don’t think that it is a courageous thing to die. The only courage is to live life totally, there is no other courage. Dying is very simple and easy. You can go and jump off a cliff, you can hang yourself—it is such an easy thing. You can become a martyr to a country, to a god, to a religion, to a church—all butchers, all murderers. Don’t sacrifice yourself. You are here for yourself, for nobody else.
And then live. And live in total freedom so intensely that every moment is transformed into eternity. If you live a moment intensely it is transformed into eternity. If you live a moment intensely you move into the vertical, you drop out of the horizontal.
There are two ways of being related with time: One is just to swim on the surface of the ocean, another is to dive deep, to go to the depths.
If you are just swimming on the ocean of time you will be always afraid because the surface is not the reality. The surface is not really the ocean, it is just the boundary, it is just the periphery. Go to the depth, move toward the depth. When you live a moment deeply you are no more part of time.
If you have been in love, and deeply in love, time disappears. When you are with your beloved or your lover or your friend suddenly there is no time. You are moving in depth. If you have loved music, if you have a musical heart, you know time stops. If you have the sense of beauty, aesthetic sensibility and sensitiveness—look at a rose and time disappears, look at the moon and where is time? The clock immediately stops. The hands go on moving but time stops.
If you have loved anything deeply you know that you transcend time. The secret has been revealed to you many times. Life itself reveals it to you.
Life would like you to enjoy. Life would like you to celebrate. Life would like you to participate so deeply that there is no repentance for the past, that you don’t remember the past, because every moment you go more and more deep—every moment life becomes more and more beautiful, more orgasmic, a peak experience, and by and by, when you become attuned to the peak, that becomes your abode.
That’s how an enlightened man lives, he lives totally and moment to moment.
Somebody asked a Zen Master: Since enlightenment what have you been doing? He said: I carry water from the well, I cut wood in the forest, when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel sleepy I sleep, that’s all.
But remember well, when a man who has come to a deep understanding of his own being cuts wood, he simply cuts wood. There is nobody else there. In fact the cutter is not there, only the cutting of the wood, the chopping. The chopper is not there because the chopper is the past. When he eats he simply eats.
One great Zen Master has said: When sitting sit, when walking walk, above all, don’t wobble.
Time is a problem because you have not been living rightly—it is symbolic, it is symptomatic. If you live rightly the problem of time disappears, the fear of time disappears.
So, what to do? Each moment, whatsoever you are doing, do it totally. Simple things—taking a bath; take it totally, forget the whole world; sitting, sit; walking, walk, above all don’t wobble; sit under the shower and let the whole existence fall on you. Be merged with those beautiful drops of water falling on you. Small things: cleaning the house, preparing food, washing clothes, going for a morning walk—do them totally, then there is no need for any meditation.
Meditation is nothing but a way to learn how to do a thing totally—once you have learned, make your whole life a meditation; forget all about meditations, let the life be the only law, let the life be the only meditation. And then time disappears.
And remember, when time disappears, death disappears. Then you are not afraid of death. In fact you wait.
Just think of the phenomenon. When you wait for death how can death exist?
This waiting is not suicidal. This waiting is not pathological. You lived your life. If you have lived your life, death becomes the very peak of it all. Death is the climax of life, the pinnacle, the crescendo.
You lived all small waves of eating, drinking, sleeping, walking, making love, small waves, great waves, you lived—then comes the greatest wave. You die! You have to live that too in its totality. And then one is ready to die. That very readiness is the death of death itself.
That’s how people have come to know that nothing dies. Death is impotent if you are ready to live it, death is very powerful if you are afraid. Unlived life gives power to death. A totally lived life takes all power from death. Death is not.
Understanding Is the Key
How can fear be mastered, or eliminated altogether?
Fear cannot be eliminated altogether, it cannot be mastered, it can only be understood. Understanding is the key word here. And only understanding brings mutation, nothing else. If you try to master your fear it will remain repressed, it will go deep into you. It will not help, it will complicate things. It is surfacing, you can repress it—that’s what mastery is. You can repress it; you can repress it so deeply that it disappears from your consciousness completely. Then you will never be aware of it, but it will be there in the basement, and it will have a pull. It will manage, it will manipulate you, but it will manipulate you in such an indirect way that you will not become aware of it. But then the danger has gone deeper. Now you cannot even understand it.
So fear has not to be mastered—it has not to be eliminated. It cannot be eliminated either, because fear contains a kind of energy and no energy can be destroyed. Have you seen that in fear you can have immense energy? Just as you can have in anger; they are both two aspects of the same energy phenomenon. Anger is aggressive and fear is nonaggressive. Fear is anger in a negative state; anger is fear in a positive state. When you are angry have you not watched how powerful you become, how great an energy you have? You can throw a big rock when you are angry; ordinarily you cannot even shake it. You become thrice, four times bigger when you are angry. You can do certain things you cannot do without anger.
Or, in fear, you can run so fast that even an Olympic runner will feel jealous. Fear creates energy; fear is energy, and energy cannot be destroyed. Not a single iota of energy can be eliminated from existence. This has to be remembered constantly, otherwise you will do something wrong. You cannot destroy anything, you can only change its form. You cannot destroy a small pebble; a small grain of sand cannot be destroyed, it will only change its form. You cannot destroy a drop of water. You can turn it into ice, you can evaporate it, but it will remain. It will remain somewhere, it cannot go out of existence.
You cannot destroy fear either. And that has been tried down the ages—people have been trying to destroy fear, trying to destroy anger, trying to destroy sexuality, trying to destroy greed, this and that. The whole world has been continuously working to destroy your energies, and what is the result? Man has become a mess. Nothing is destroyed, all is still there; only things have become confused. There is no need to try to destroy anything because nothing can be destroyed in the first place.
Then what has to be done? You have to understand fear. What is fear? How does it arise? From where does it come? What is its message? Look into it—and without any judgment; only then will you understand. If you already have an idea that fear is wrong, that it should not exist—“I should not be afraid”—then you cannot look. How can you confront fear? How can you look into the eyes of fear when you have already decided that it is your enemy? Nobody looks into the eyes of the enemy. If you think it is something wrong, then you will try to bypass it, avoid it, neglect it. You will try not to come across it, but it will remain. This is not going to help.
First drop all condemnation, judgment, evaluation. Fear is a reality. It has to be faced, it has to be understood. And only through understanding can it be transformed. In fact, it is transformed through understanding. There is no need to do anything else; understanding transforms it.
What is fear? First, fear is always around some desire. You want to become a famous man, the most famous man in the world—then there is fear. What if you cannot make it? Fear comes. Now fear comes as a by-product of desire. You want to become the richest man in the world. What if you don’t succeed? You start trembling; fear comes. You want to possess a woman and you are afraid that tomorrow you may not be able to hold on to her, she may go to somebody else. She is still alive, she can go. Only a dead woman won’t be able to go, and this woman is still alive. You can possess a corpse—then there is no fear, the corpse will be there. You can possess furniture, then there is no fear. But when you try to possess a human being fear comes. Who knows, yesterday she was not yours, today she is yours … who knows? Tomorrow she might be somebody else’s. Fear arises. Fear is arising out of the desire to possess, it is a by-product; you want to possess, hence the fear. If you don’t want to possess, then there is no fear. If you don’t have a desire that you would like to be this and that in the future, then there is no fear. If you don’t want to go to heaven then there is no fear, then the priest cannot make you afraid. If you don’t want to go anywhere then nobody can make you afraid.
If you start living in the moment, fear disappears. Fear comes through desire. So basically, desire creates fear.
Look into it. Whenever there is fear, see from where it is coming, what desire is creating it, and then see the futility of it. How can you possess a woman or a man? It is such a silly, stupid idea! Only things can be possessed, not persons.
A person is a freedom. A person is beautiful because of freedom. The bird is beautiful on the wing in the sky—you encage it and it is no longer the same bird, remember. It looks like it, but it is no longer the same bird. Where is the sky? Where is the sun, where are those winds, where are those clouds? Where is that freedom on the wing? All have disappeared. This is not the same bird.
You love a woman because she is a freedom. Then you encage her: Then you go to the court and you get married, and you make a beautiful cage around her, maybe golden, studded with diamonds, but she is no longer the same woman. And now fear comes. You are afraid, afraid because the woman may not like this cage. She may hanker for freedom again. And freedom is an ultimate value, one cannot drop it.
Man consists of freedom, consciousness consists of freedom. So sooner or later the woman will start feeling bored, fed up. She will start looking for somebody else. You are afraid. Your fear is coming because you want to possess—but why in the first place do you want to possess? Be nonpossessive, and then there is no fear. And when there is no fear, much of the energy that gets involved and caught up, locked up in fear, is available—and that energy can become your creativity. It can become a dance, a celebration.
You are afraid to die? You cannot die, because in the first place, you are not. How can you die? Look into your being, go deep into it. Who is there to die? When you look deeply, you will not find any ego, any “self” there. Then there is no possibility of death. Only the idea of ego creates the fear of death. When there is no ego there is no death. You are utter silence, deathlessness, eternity—not as you, but as an open sky, uncontaminated by any idea of “I,” of self—unbounded, undefined. Then there is no fear.
Fear comes because there are other things. You will have to look into those things, and looking into them will start changing things.
So please don’t ask how it can be mastered or destroyed. It is not to be mastered, it is not to be eliminated. It cannot be mastered and it cannot be destroyed, it can only be understood. Let understanding be your only law.
I know that any idea of external security is foolish and unrealistic, but isn’t there an internal security that we can strive for?
There is no security, internal or external. Security exists not, that’s why existence is so beautiful. Just think of a rose flower in the morning that starts thinking about being secure; then what will happen? If the rose flower really becomes secure it will become a plastic flower; otherwise insecurity is there. A strong wind may come and the petals will be gone. A child will come running and will pick the flower. A goat will come rushing and eat it. Or nothing may happen—no child comes and no goat and no wind, but by the evening it will be gone. Even if nothing out of the ordinary happens, then too it will be gone.
But that is the beauty of the rose flower, that’s why it is so beautiful—because it lives surrounded by death, it challenges death, it challenges the winds. Such a small, tiny flower, and such a great challenge, and it rises above all difficulties and dangers. Even if it is only for a few minutes or a few hours—that doesn’t matter, time is immaterial—it has its own day. It has lived, it has talked with the winds and talked with the sun and the moon and looked at the clouds. And there was joy, there was great passion! Then it dies; it doesn’t cling. A clinging rose flower will be ugly; only human beings become that ugly. When the time comes the flower simply dies and disappears into the earth from where it came. There is no external security, no internal security. Insecurity is the very stuff that life is made of.
That is the difference between my work and other people’s work—they give you security, I take away all security from you. I make you aware of the beauties of life—its risks, dangers, its insecurities. I make you more sensitive. And in that greater sensitivity there is great challenge and adventure. Then one does not bother whether tomorrow is going to happen or not; today is more than enough. If we can love, if we can live, this day is more than enough.
A single moment of deep love is eternity. Who bothers about security? The very idea arises out of greed, the very idea arises out of ego. Call it internal security, call it external security, it won’t make any difference. One has to look through and through and one has to see that there is no security and that it is not possible in the very situation of existence. In that very moment a great revolution has moved into your being; you are metamorphosed.
Jesus calls that moment metanoia. You are converted … not that you become a Christian or you become a Catholic or a Protestant. In that moment you are no longer worldly.
To search for security is to be worldly. To live in insecurity like a rose flower is to be otherworldly.
Security is of the world; insecurity is of the divine.
Copyright © 2012 by OSHO International Foundation, New York
1 Understanding Fear Itself 3
Where Does Fear Come From? Where Does It Go? 9
Buried Alive 13
So Much to Do, So Little Time 20
Understanding Is the Key 26
Divine Insecurity 31
2 Scared to Death-Exploring the Roots of Fear 33
Realities East and West 49
Psychological vs. Physical 62
Known vs. Unknown 73
Afraid of Life 82
3 Uncertain and Unknown-The Mystery of Trust 87
From Knowledge to Innocence 90
Trusting the Inner Voice 92
Move the Way Love Makes You Move 98
Drowning in Nothingness 106
The Prison of "I" 112
4 Make Love, Not Fear-Trusting Oneself and Others 121
The Fear of Intimacy 125
Afraid of Yourself 130
The Other Side of Love 134
5 Finding a Way to Fearlessness-Insights and Meditations 143
No escape 147
Self-conscious or self-aware? 148
Afraid to be silent 149
Whatever frightens you, go into it 151
Beware of the two extremes 153
Don't be in a hurry 154
Don't make fearlessness a goal 155
Afraid to exhale 158
If fear is there, accept it 161
Nothing to lose 164
Joy is the antidote 166
Osho International Meditation Resort 169
About Osho 173
For More Information 175