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Living on Your Own Terms: What Is Real Rebellion?

Living on Your Own Terms: What Is Real Rebellion?

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by Osho

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"People can be happy only in one way, and that is if they are authentically themselves. Then the springs of happiness start flowing; they become more alive, they become a joy to see, a joy to be with; they are a song, they are a dance." – Osho

Decades after the rebellions of the 1960s a new generation is again challenging and rebelling against


"People can be happy only in one way, and that is if they are authentically themselves. Then the springs of happiness start flowing; they become more alive, they become a joy to see, a joy to be with; they are a song, they are a dance." – Osho

Decades after the rebellions of the 1960s a new generation is again challenging and rebelling against outdated structures and values, focusing on political and economic systems and their failings. But this generation has the opportunity and responsibility to move the development of human freedom to the next level. Living on Your Own Terms will support this new generation in expanding its understanding of freedom and pushing toward new systems for humanity.

The Osho Life Essentials series focuses on the most important questions in the life of the individual. Each volume contains timeless and always-contemporary investigations and discussions into questions vital to our personal search for meaning and purpose, focusing on questions specific to our inner life and quality of existence.

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St. Martin's Press
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Osho Life Essentials Series
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5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

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Living on Your Own Terms

What Is Real Rebellion?
By Osho

St. Martin's Griffin

Copyright © 2013 Osho
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312595500

Saying Good-bye to the Past

The rebel simply says good-bye to the past. It is a constant process; hence, to be a rebel means to be continuously in rebellion—because each moment is going to become past; every day is going to become past. It is not that the past is already in the graveyard; you are moving through it every moment. Hence, the rebel has to learn a new art: the art of dying to each moment that has passed, so that he can live freely in the new moment that has come.
What is real rebellion? And what is the difference between reaction and the action of the rebellious human being?
The first thing to be understood is the difference between rebellion and revolution.
Revolution is an organized effort to change the society forcibly, violently. But the trouble is, you cannot change the society through violence, because it is violence that is the very life current of the society. That’s why all the revolutions have failed. And there is no possibility of any revolution succeeding, ever.
Rebellion is individual, nonviolent, peaceful. It is out of love. Rebellion is not against something, but for something. Revolution is against something, but not for something. Revolution is so much engaged in being against, it forgets for what all this fuss is being made. It is anger. But anger cannot create a better society. Rebellion is not oriented against the society, but is oriented toward a new man, a new humanity.
Revolution is fighting with the past.
Rebellion is meditating for the future.
I have said rebellion is out of love, silence, understanding, compassion—all the qualities that make a person divine. Revolution is based on all the qualities that make man again an animal. Because rebellion is individual, there is no need of any struggle, of any fight. The society will not even be bothered by one individual being different than others. But even single individuals meditating, loving, hoping for a new sunrise, can create the possibility of a new society. Their very presence will be enough to transform others. Their love cannot fail—love never fails. Their understanding, their intelligence, their compassion are bound to succeed.
But rebellion has not been tried. Revolution seems to be easier, because against such a big society you need a big organization. But the moment you become organized you become the same type of society. You become just a reflection of what you are opposing. You stand before a mirror: The reflection in the mirror is your reflection, although it is opposite to you. So just being opposed does not mean that you are really different; the methods are the same. The old society depends on violence, the revolutionaries depend on violence. The old society depends on enslaving people, the revolutionaries depend on the same. The old society depends on beliefs, revolutionaries also depend on beliefs. It makes no difference whether your belief is in the Holy Bible or in Das Kapital.
And one thing very significant to remember: If the revolutionaries are going to win, they have to be more violent than the old society, more cunning, more clever, more political, more cruel; otherwise they cannot win. So, in fact, in the name of revolution more violence is becoming victorious, more cruelty is becoming victorious; more slavery, more submissiveness is demanded by the revolutionary party. You can see it happen in all the revolutions.
Rebellion is a spiritual phenomenon.
It is not against the society as such; it is simply the intelligence that shows that this society is dead, that this society is incapable of giving birth to a new human being, that it is spent, that it is almost on the verge of global suicide. It needs compassion; it does not need anger.
The rebel can do only one thing.… He is not going to organize, because the moment you organize you have to follow the same patterns as the society you are going to oppose, and you have to follow the same language, the same patterns, structures, that the society has practiced for so long.
There is an ancient Chinese saying: “To have a bad friend is not as bad as to have a bad enemy.” Looks strange, but it has great meaning in it—because if you have an enemy, then sooner or later you will have to follow his tactics and strategies to fight with him; there is no other way. If you want to be victorious you have to be far ahead of him in his own methods. Hence, I always say: friends you can choose without much consideration, but enemies have to be chosen with great consideration because they are going to change your character.
The rebel has no enemy. He simply has a vision that the old is finished. It need not be fought against; it is dying itself. Fighting with it is to give it life. Just ignore it. It is already on its deathbed; it will die of its own accord. Don’t give it energy by fighting.
The rebel can do only one thing: He can transform himself into the new man, he can become his own vision. That is the only proof that his vision is not a dream. The rebel starts transforming his vision into a reality.
I want you all to be rebellious.
That’s why I don’t believe in organization. I don’t want you to be another religion, another ideology, because that will be simply a repetition of the old patterns. You can be together without any conditions, without any bondage, just out of sheer friendship. No ideology dominating you, but just pure love—because you are on the same path, discovering yourself, finding out whether the vision of a new human being can become a reality or not. You can help each other, you can support each other, you can encourage each other.
There are moments when encouragement is needed, because to change—and to change totally—is not an easy job. Many times the mind wants to fall back into its old patterns, old habits; therefore, the commune. The commune is not an alternative society. It is not another organization, it is something totally new. It is a loving togetherness of fellow travelers who are all working on themselves. But five thousand people all working on themselves create an atmosphere of great encouragement—you are not alone. And if five thousand people are trying, there is hope. You can see people ahead of you, you can see people behind you—on all the rungs of the ladder. That makes it clear that human beings just like you are carving the way, changing themselves. It becomes an individual challenge for you not to be a coward and fall back into old habits. You cannot fall back into old habits because five thousand people are watching you and they are very optimistic about you. They have great hopes for you; they see that the sunrise is not far away.
Yes, it is very dark right now, but to find the light you need not go back. To find light you have to go forward. The darker the night, the closer is the morning, and a few have reached the morning. You can see the sunlight in their eyes, you can see the flowers of their being blossoming. You can feel the fragrance that is released. So it is only a question of a little more patience, a little more courage.
But rebellion remains individual. Rebels can live together; they can create an atmosphere, a milieu, a buddhafield where awakening becomes easier. But they are not organized, they are not bound to any belief. They are free individuals; out of their free choice they have joined these seekers of the sunrise.
You ask me, “What is the difference between reaction and action as far as the rebellious person is concerned?” The rebellious person has no reaction; he has only action. The revolutionary has only reaction; he does not have any action. The difference is significant.
Just a few days ago I received a letter from an old woman who is the president of the Atheists’ Association of America. She must be the oldest atheist in the whole world, because I used to know one man in India, Gora, who was her follower, and he was old himself. She has opened, in many countries, associations for atheists. On some television show she must have listened to my words, saying that there is no God, and she was immensely happy. She wrote the letter to say, “You are certainly a man of great courage. Although I am very old, I would like to come and see you, meet you, talk to you.”
I told my secretary to write to her that she is welcome, but she must understand that I am not an atheist: “If she is coming here thinking that I am an atheist because I have declared there is no God, then she will be disillusioned. It is better to make it clear.”
To me, atheism is reaction, a reaction against theism. There are people who believe in God, millions of people; a few people react to it and they start disbelieving in God. This is a reaction. You can check it very easily by a simple method. If all the theists disappear, if there is no theism at all in the world, can atheists exist? They were secondary, they were simply a reaction. When there are no religions and nobody is saying there is God, what is the point of disbelieving in God? You will look a little silly. With the death of theism, atheism will die automatically. That means it was only a shadow, it was not a reality in itself. A reaction is a shadow.
When I say there is no God, I am not saying that I disbelieve in God—even for disbelief, God has to be. Whether you believe or disbelieve, that is your chosen approach, but for both God is needed. For the theist he is needed, for the atheist he is needed. I am simply saying there is no God, has never been. All theists and all atheists are wrong. Those who believe are wrong, and those who disbelieve are wrong.
I don’t think that old woman will come. I would love her to come, because in her whole life she may not have met a man who is neither a theist nor an atheist. Because there is no God, there is no point in being either one. I think it is simply stupid: If there is no God, then a person is wasting her whole life establishing atheist associations all over the world. This is sheer wastage of one’s life! If there is no God, then why bother? But no, this has become her whole life. But just denying, just disbelief cannot make anybody blissful.
My statement that there is no God is an action, not a reaction. I am not speaking against anybody; I am simply giving expression to my own experience. I have searched for him within myself, and I have not found him. I have found, instead, godliness; I have found eternal consciousness. I have found immortality, I have found eternal light—but no God.
I don’t think this woman has ever thought of looking inward. She is simply fighting with the theists. Those theists are idiots; in fighting with them you are bound to become an idiot. Reaction cannot take you further than those you are reacting against.
The revolutionary is reactionary. He is against the society; he is against its economic structure, he is against its political ways. He is against so many things—his whole life is negative. It depends on being against this, against that, against thousands of things; there are so many no’s in the revolutionary’s life. But you cannot live a life of benediction, bliss, out of thousands of no’s.
A single yes is far more powerful than a thousand no’s. The no is empty. It shows your anger, it shows your violence, it shows your destructiveness, but it does not show that you have anything creative that you are going to contribute to life and existence.
Action means something not related to anything, but coming out of your own silence, out of your own spontaneity. The rebel knows no reaction; he knows action. Action means yes.
The rebel creates; he gives birth to himself. He becomes a new man, he heralds a new age. He opens himself to all possibilities, he allows himself unknown dimensions. Not against anybody—it is simply a growth, just like a rosebush is growing. Do you think it is growing against the rocks? Do you think it is growing against anybody? It is growing, not as a reaction; it is growing because growth is its nature. It is growing to blossom, to bring its potential to actuality. It is a process of actualization.
Action means the process of actualization. Reaction is simply hate, anger, jealousy, violence, destructiveness. Those are not the qualities to be valued. So, in my vision, the revolutionary has no value, only the rebel. And you can see … Socrates is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Gautam Buddha is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Heraclitus is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. And these are the greatest heights humanity has reached.
Revolutionaries are on the same ground as those whom they are opposing. They have to be on the same ground to fight with them. The rebel is not fighting against anybody. The rebel is making himself free so that he can grow, grow to his own destiny. The rebel has a beauty; the revolutionary is a political, social criminal. The rebel is the only holy man, he is sacred.
But the moment you start organizing rebellion, you change its character; it becomes revolution. It is no longer the same thing. That’s why I have to insist again and again … the tendency to organize is very deep-rooted, because it is millions of years old. And to be alone needs guts.
To be alone … but you can be together with people who are also trying to be alone. Your togetherness is just a friendship of two fellow travelers. There are no conditions. It does not make you a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist. You remain yourself, the other remains himself or herself. This is the only respect expected of sannyasins: Do not destroy the dignity of the other person. That person is as valuable in existence as you are. There is no need to impose your ideas on anybody. Who are you? What authority have you got to impose your ideas on others? You can share, you can tell, you can expose your heart. And if the other feels that something falls in tune with him, and chooses it, it is their decision, not your imposition.
Revolutionaries are trying to impose their ideas on others. They are doing the same thing as the old religions have been doing. That’s why I categorize communism as one of the religions; there is no difference. It does not matter that communism does not believe in God, because there are older religions that do not believe in God: Buddhism does not believe in God, Jainism does not believe in God. So that is not a problem. A religion is something that you try to impose on others. It is an effort to convert people; it is always missionary.
A rebel is never a missionary, he is always a friend. He can invite you to his innermost being and, if you see something that suits you, that is helpful to you, that is going to nourish you, make your search easier, you can choose it. But it is out of your freedom—nobody is converting you. That’s how it should be in the commune. Whatever I say to you, you need not believe it. You have just to be available to it, so that you can decide. The decision has to be yours. And if it suits you, suddenly if it rings a bell in your heart, then I am no longer responsible for it: The bell is ringing in your heart. But if it doesn’t suit you, my love for you remains the same because it is not based on converting you.
In fact, each individual has to be unique. That is the prerogative of human beings—to be unique. All the religions, all the political ideologies, they have all tried to destroy that privilege. I want to encourage your privilege. On no account should your individuality be interfered with. Your freedom is absolute, and the highest value.
Can you please say something more about violence as the expression of rebellion?
Violence can never be a part of the rebellious spirit for the simple reason that violence is the whole past of humanity—and the rebel wants to discontinue with the past. Violence has been the way of life for millennia. Directly or indirectly we have lived under violence. Our armies, our police, our jails, our judges, our wars, our so-called great religions, all have lived in violence. And violence, reduced to its essentials, is irreverent toward life.
To me, the religious person, the religious consciousness is nothing but a deep reverence for life itself—because there is no God beyond life, there is no paradise beyond consciousness. Violence is a violation of both life and consciousness; it is destructive.
The rebel is a creator; his whole philosophy is that of creativity. We have lived in destructiveness far too long, and what is the achievement? That’s why I have made a clear-cut distinction between the rebel and the reactionary. I have also made a distinction between the rebel and the revolutionary.
The reactionary is the lowest category. He can never disconnect himself from the past. The past is his orientation; he reacts against it. But whether you are for it or against it, it remains your reference, your context.
The revolutionary is a little higher than the reactionary. He does not only react, he also has dreams of the future, he has his utopias. But as far as violence is concerned, the revolutionary down the ages has thought that right ends can be attained through wrong means. I refute that contention. Right ends can be achieved only through right means. Through violence you cannot achieve a peaceful, silent, loving humanity. The violence will be in the roots; it will poison your whole superstructure.
The rebel has to be nonviolent out of sheer necessity. Unless he is nonviolent, he cannot be the vehicle of a peaceful, warless, classless humanity. If you sow the seeds of violence, you cannot expect and hope that the flowers will not be affected by violence. Those flowers will come out of the seeds you have sown. So each violent revolution has created another violent society, another violent culture. It is disgraceful to see that we still need armies, that we still need nuclear weapons. It is undignified to see that we need the policeman, the court, and the jail. A better humanity, a more conscious human being, will get rid of all this nonsense that surrounds us and pollutes our whole being.
The rebel cannot be half-hearted. He cannot be a chooser; he cannot choose a few things from the past, and not choose a few other things. The past as a whole has to be completely denied. Only then can we get rid of barbarousness in humanity—cruelty, violence, and a deep-rooted disrespect for life and existence.
My approach is that of reverence for life.
The rebel will be ready to die but he will not be ready to kill. It is the pride of man to die for a cause; it is animalistic to kill someone, however great the cause may be. By killing, you have spoiled it completely. And looking practically, the rebel is an individual against the whole world; if he chooses to be violent, he will be crushed. The enemy—the past—has much more violent powers in its hands.
The rebel has to trust in love, has to trust in meditativeness, has to be aware of his immortality—knowing that even if his body is crucified he remains untouched. Here I am not talking only about political rebellion. I am talking about the individual rebel—a spiritual phenomenon, not a political entity. And no spirituality can accept violence as a means to attain the end.
Violence is simply out of the question as far as my rebellion, my vision of the rebel, is concerned. He cannot destroy—we have destroyed enough. He cannot kill—we have killed enough. It is time to stop this whole idiotic way of life. We have to come out of this darkness into the light. Even if it costs you your life it is perfectly good … because my rebel will be basically a meditator.
I am not conceiving of my rebel without meditation—that is his essential experience. And once you understand that you are immortal, who is worried about being killed? And if millions of meditators are ready to open their chests before the guns of the old and the rotten past, there is a possibility: Perhaps it may also bring a change of heart in those people who have these destructive weapons in their hands.
Rebellion has not been tried on a vast scale. Just with the effort of millions of people meditating, loving silence and peace, and destroying all kinds of discriminations that create violence, we will be making the space, the gap, the discontinuity that can save man and life on this planet.
I have heard you say that it is enough for us to just be, that we don’t need to do anything to be in God. I have this gut feeling that I need to “do” to be worthy, to contribute, to give something. And you say that God is within me—I realize I am looking inside for some concept I got from the outside. It is like looking down into a well in the night. I see reflections and I think it is the bottom, but it is only the surface. Even when I know I need only let go and wait rather than look for anything, I am still waiting for my own concepts of what should happen. Please comment.
The first thing—the most fundamental—to be understood is that you are already in God. It is not a question of being in God; you are already there. Just as the fish is in the ocean, you are in God. God simply means the existence, that which exists.
In the ancient Hebrew, the word God stands for “that which is.” “G” stands for “that,” “O” for “which,” and “D” for “is”—that which is. The word God is tremendously significant. It does not indicate a person; it simply indicates a presence. And the presence is everywhere! Life is synonymous with God, the universe is synonymous with God. To be is to be in God—there is no other way. To breathe is to breathe in God—there is no other way. To sleep is to sleep in God and to wake up is to wake up in God—there is no other way. You can choose to sleep, but still you are in God. You can choose to forget God, but still you are in God. You can choose to deny God, but still you are in God. Not to be in God is the only impossible thing—the only impossible thing I say.
So it is not a question of becoming worthy. But I am not saying don’t become worthy. I am not saying be lazy, lousy. I am not saying become an escapist. I am not saying don’t contribute to existence. But your contribution to existence should not be a means to reach God—that’s what I am saying. Your contribution to existence should be in gratefulness that you are already in God. It should not be a means to reach, because you are already there. It should be an overflowing of joy because you are already there. Be very clear about the distinction.
Share your joy, your love, your ecstasy. Make life as beautiful as possible. Just out of thankfulness that existence has chosen you to be, that you are allowed to be, that you are given life. What else can you do? If you can sing a song, sing it with your totality! If you can paint, paint, and put your whole heart in it. If you can dance, dance to abandon so you disappear completely in the dance and there is no more any dancer but only the dance remains.
But these are not means, let me remind you, to reach God—these are just our poor thanks, our heartfelt gratitude. Prayer is true when it comes out of gratitude. Prayer is false when it is just a means to persuade God, to seduce God, to ask for something—even if you are asking for godliness itself, then too your prayer is full of desire. And when prayer is full of desire, it is too heavy; it can’t have wings. It can only grope in the darkness of the earth; it cannot soar high in the sunlit sky.
When prayer is without desire it has wings, it can reach the ultimate. And when prayer is without weight, when it is out of thankfulness, not desiring anything but just to show your gratitude for all that has already been done for you …
You say: “Is it enough for us to just be? But my gut feeling is that I need to do something to be worthy, to contribute, to give…”
It is not a gut feeling, it is just what has been conditioned in you by the society. The society has been telling you continuously, persistently, day in, day out, from your very childhood—in the school, in the college, in the university, in the church, the priest, the politician, the parent, the professor—they are all joined together in one single conspiracy to give you the idea that as you are, you are unworthy. You have to do something, you have to prove yourself, then only will you be worthy.
This is the strategy of the society to exploit you; this is the society’s ugly way to make slaves of you—not creators but slaves. But in beautiful, sophisticated ways you have been conditioned. Beautiful words cover very ugly realities. The ugly reality is that the society wants to use you as a slave, the society wants to manipulate you, the society wants to control you. It manages it in two ways.
On the outside is the state, the policeman, the magistrate; they enforce laws, but laws can never be absolute, and man can always find ways to defy laws. Then the society creates another safeguard: It creates a conscience in you; it goes on hypnotizing you, saying again and again that you have to be worthy. And the helpless child has no other way than to oblige, than to surrender. His whole life is at stake; he cannot survive on his own. He has to depend on the parents. He has to watch continuously what they want, what they appreciate, what is rewarded by them. If it is rewarded by them, then he is worthy, he feels good; if he is punished by them he feels unworthy, he feels bad about himself.
Slowly, slowly the idea settles, sinks deep in your heart, becomes almost your second nature, that just to be is not enough. Trees are enough, animals are enough, birds are enough—only man has this stupid idea that just to be is not enough. It is a very cunning tactic to destroy the freedom of the individual, to destroy the self-respect of the individual, to create in the individual a deep guilt feeling. It has gone deep, certainly—so deep that you misunderstand it as a “gut feeling.” It is not a gut feeling at all.
But I am not against being creative, remember. I am all for it. I want my people to be creative—but for a totally different reason, with a totally different intention, with a totally new motive. I want you all to be creative; I don’t want you to escape to the monasteries—I want you to live in the world and live fully, and live the whole spectrum of life. Bring your total potential to expression! Bloom in as many ways as possible! Because only then will you feel fulfilled. But this has not to be as a means to attain something. This has to be just an expression of your joy, of your celebration. Then the quality changes.
When you use something as a means, you are not really interested in it. For example, if you are painting just to be appreciated, your focus is on appreciation, not on the painting; your heart is not there. You are already imagining, dreaming about how you will be appreciated. And because your constant worry is how to be appreciated, you will paint something that will not come out of you spontaneously—you will paint something others are bound to like. You will paint it according to them. You will become a very poor painter. You will not allow your genius to come out, because the genius is not easily appreciated—remember it. The more talented you are, the more genuine your intelligence is, the less is the possibility of being easily appreciated. The greater possibility is that you will be condemned. Why? Because a genius brings something new into the world, so new that old criteria don’t fit with it. And the old criteria are deep-rooted in the human mind; they cannot easily go away.
The genius has to create not only his poetry, his painting, his dance, his music, he also has to create new criteria by which to judge them. Vincent van Gogh was not appreciated in his time—one of the greatest painters the world has ever known. He lived in utter poverty; his brother supported him. But his brother was not much in favor of his painting either, because it was not paying—so what is the point of doing something that does not pay? On the contrary, because of van Gogh’s paintings people used to think he was mad. He was painting in such a new way—as it had never been done before. He had his own vision. He was a genius! In his paintings, trees are so high that they reach to the stars; stars are very close and trees grow very far away. Now who is going to appreciate this painting?
Any schoolchild can say, “This is nonsense! Stars are not so close, and trees … who has seen such big trees, reaching above the stars?” But Vincent van Gogh used to say, “Whenever I see a tree, this is my feeling: that the earth is trying to reach the stars, to go beyond the stars, through the trees. These are the hands of the earth reaching for the unknown, for the transcendental. And I love my earth, hence my stars are small and my trees are big. I am part of this earth; I am also a hand of my earth. To me, stars are small.”
This is not a question of astronomy, physics, mathematics: It is a totally different vision. Trees are seen as ambitions of the earth, love affairs of the earth with the sky. But who is going to appreciate him?
In one of his paintings the sun is painted black. Now who has ever seen a black sun? But he used to say that the sun that shines outside is black compared to the sun that is inside. It is a comparison. Kabir will agree; Kabir says, “When I saw the inner sun, then I knew that the outer sun is just a black hole. When I saw my inner life, then I knew that the outer life is nothing but another name for death.”
The moment the inner is known, suddenly the outer starts fading away. Now, van Gogh is talking in a mystic way—he is a mystic—but who will understand? It will take years for people to understand. Van Gogh lived and died unappreciated, unknown. He remained absolutely unknown in his lifetime.
You will be surprised to know that now each of his paintings is so valuable that no other painting can compete. Even Picasso’s paintings are not so valuable—millions and millions of dollars for a single painting. In his own day, in his whole life, van Gogh could not sell a single painting. He had to distribute his paintings to friends, or to the man who used to give him a cup of tea in the morning free of charge. Those same paintings now cost millions and millions of dollars. People had discarded them; people accepted them out of politeness, because as far as they were concerned it was all junk—so why collect it?
Vincent van Gogh committed suicide when he was only thirty-three. It was impossible to live; he could not earn a single cent. His brother used to give him money, but just enough to exist, to survive. He needed money to paint—for the canvas and the colors and the brushes. So this was his arrangement: He used to get money every Sunday for one week, so every week for three days he would eat and for four days he would fast, so that money could be saved to purchase canvases, colors, and other things that he needed.
To me, van Gogh’s fasting is far more significant than all the fasts that have been done by your so-called saints. This fasting has something beautiful in it, something spiritual in it. When your so-called saints go on a fast, it is a means; they are fasting so that they can reach heaven and enjoy all the heavenly joys. But van Gogh’s fasting has a totally different quality to it: It is his love to create.
And why did he commit suicide? That too has a tremendous significance, it is no ordinary suicide. In fact, a man like van Gogh cannot do anything in an ordinary way. He committed suicide because he said, “Whatsoever I wanted to paint, I have painted. Now, just to exist is pointless. I have given that which I came to give; now I can go back to the original source. There is no need to live in the body anymore. I have contributed.”
Years and years passed, then slowly he was appreciated. Now he is thought to be one of the greatest painters in the world.
This has been so with all the geniuses: In their own time they are condemned—condemned by the masses, condemned by the crowd, condemned by the priests, condemned by the politicians. They are appreciated by only very few people—sensitive, receptive, intelligent—only by very few people who have the capacity to see something that is new, unknown, that has never happened before; only by very few people who can put their minds aside and look.
I would like you to be creative, but don’t be bothered about appreciation, don’t be bothered that you will be gaining fame, a name through it. Whenever the motive is to gain something out of creativity, you are no longer interested in it. You become a technician; you are no longer an artist. You may do the painting and you may do it perfectly, technically perfectly, but it will not have the soul, it will not be alive, because you will not be there. You will be looking all around for the appreciators to come. And you will always paint accordingly, so that they can appreciate.
There are people who say only that which people want to hear. These people will be very famous, known, appreciated, respected, but they are mediocre people. The genius speaks that which arises in his heart; he does not care a bit whether anybody is going to like it or not. He says it straight, he says it direct—he never thinks of the results and the consequences.
Be creative in that sense and your creativity will become an offering to God. God has given you so many gifts; something has to be done, just in deep thankfulness. But remember: with no motive, not as a means but as an end unto itself. Art for art’s sake, and creation for creation’s sake, and love for love’s sake, and prayer for prayer’s sake. And that’s how one, slowly, becomes religious. The religious person lives in the moment; he has no worry about the future, not even about the next moment. When it comes, it will come. He does not prepare for it. He lives this moment, and out of this moment the next will be born. And if this moment has been beautiful, if this moment has been a benediction, the next is going to be, of course, a deeper benediction, a greater blessing.
You say, “I have this feeling that I need to do to be worthy…” The need to do can be a gut feeling, because we have too much energy and the energy wants to dance, the energy wants to paint, the energy wants to sing, the energy wants to do something. But this can’t be a gut feeling: “I need to do to be worthy.” That is a feeling that has been put inside you—like scientists put electrodes in the brain and then a person can be manipulated. Just like that, the society has been going on down the ages—it creates a conscience in you: “Do this, this is right, approved, respected. Don’t do that; that is unworthy of you. You will be condemned if you do it.” And a kind of division is created within you between right and wrong, between the “should” and the “should not.”
The problem is that no “should” can ever be a fixed phenomenon; it changes with life. No right is always right, and no wrong is always wrong, so to decide beforehand is dangerous. I don’t teach you conscience; conscience means right and wrong are like things, decided: This is a rose and that is a lotus, and this is a stone and that is a diamond—decided. Decided forever! Right and wrong are not things. They change. Life is a riverlike phenomenon. What is right today may not be right tomorrow.
One Zen master asked his disciple, “What is God?”
The disciple bowed down, remained silent. The master blessed him and said, “This is good. I am happy.”
Next day, again, the master asked the disciple, “What is God?”
Of course now the disciple had learned, so he bowed down, an even deeper bow, remained quiet, even closed his eyes, and the master hit him hard on the head and said, “You stupid!” The disciple was puzzled. He said, “But what has happened? Yesterday you were so happy, and the answer is the same—even better than yesterday!”
The master said, “That is where you went wrong: Yesterday was yesterday, today is today. Now you are simply repeating a ready-made formula. Now you are not being true, not being spontaneous, not being responsible. Now you have learned a trick. How can the same answer be right today? Twenty-four hours have passed, so much water has gone down the Ganges!”
Existence is dynamic, it is not static—it is not a stagnant pool. It is a constant continuum, flow. No answer can ever be fixed—and that’s where the society deceives you. It gives you fixed answers. With fixed answers one thing is good—that’s why we cling to them—they give you a sort of certainty, security, safety. You can remain certain that you are right. But life goes on changing, and your “right” remains fixed. And then your whole life becomes a misery, because your answers never fit the questions. Then your whole life is an effort to put square plugs into round holes—your whole life you go on trying, and it is very frustrating. The reason is that you never see that life is changing.
The really conscious person changes with life. The really conscious person cannot afford to be consistent. Consistency is part of a mediocre mind. I am not saying be deliberately inconsistent; I am simply stating a fact, that to be consistent means to be stupid, to be consistent means to remain with the past, blind to the present. If you look at the present you have to change with life.
Hence you will find a thousand and one contradictions in Jesus’s statements, and so is the case with Buddha. And that has always been the case with the enlightened people, because they don’t have any ready-made answer. You hanker for the ready-made answer so you can jump upon it, you can hold it tight in your hand and you can be certain.
You suffer from uncertainty—and uncertainty is the nature of life. Certainty is part of death. Be certain and you will be dead. Remain flowing, remain uncertain, remain available to the changing circumstances, and you will remain more and more alive.
To be totally alive means to live in the moment with no past interfering at all—then you respond to the moment and the response comes from your consciousness, not from your conscience. Conscience is a deception; conscience is a social trick. The society has created the conscience. And the function of the master is to destroy your conscience so that your consciousness can be freed.
Your gut feeling is not a gut feeling. You have been deceived. There is no need to do anything to be worthy—you are already worthy. If you were not worthy, you would not be here at all. God has given you birth, has created you—must have seen some worth in you. If you are unworthy, then God is not a very original creator; then he is not much of a creator, either! How can he create an unworthy person?
Society makes you unworthy, because that is the only way to exploit you—to make you feel unworthy. Then you will try hard to become worthy because that is the only way to gain self-respect. And to become worthy you will follow the dictates of the society.
Society creates fear in you—fear of being unworthy, fear of being condemned, fear of being left alone, fear of being nobody, fear of being anonymous. And then you are ready to yield, to bow down to any kind of nonsense.
Simon’s parents were in despair when he flunked out of school. They tried sending him to every school in the city—private, public, progressive, military academy—but he took no interest. Finally they tried a Catholic school. When Simon came home with his first report card, his parents were surprised to see a straight A report.
“What happened?” they asked him.
“Well,” he replied, “when I saw that poor guy nailed to the cross everywhere I looked, I knew they meant business!”
Create fear … create as much fear as you can. That has been the policy of the society. Hells have been created just to catch hold of you; heavens have been created just to reward those who will follow the dictates. All are imaginary: There is no hell, no heaven. But these rewards and punishments are subtle strategies—they have worked up to now, and they have destroyed all human dignity.
This is not a gut feeling in you. Your gut feeling and the conscience created by the society have got mixed up. The gut feeling is to do something—yes, that is a gut feeling. When energy is there, one wants to do something; that is natural. Energy wants to be expressed. But with the motive to be worthy … that is a conscience part, which is getting mixed with your gut feeling. Be clear about it.
You have been messed around by the society in every possible way. You have been confused so much that you have to depend on somebody. Either you go to the priest—in the old days you used to go to the priest. In India they still go to the priest. In the West, the new priest has arisen: the psychotherapist, the psychiatrist, the psychologist—go to him. And the miracle is that the priest is just like you, maybe even more in a mess than you are, but still you go to him to find good advice. Yes, he repeats good advice like a parrot. Your psychotherapist, your psychiatrist, your psychoanalyst may be in deeper anxiety, in more tensions than you are.
Just the other night one of my sannyasins was asking me, “Osho, you had told me last time when I came here, ‘Look for the lighter side of life, count the roses, ignore the thorns. They are there, take note of them, but don’t pay too much attention to them.’ But my psychoanalyst has said, ‘This is dangerous, this is going to repress your emotions.’ So I am puzzled—what to do?”
I told him, “You just wait a few days, your psychoanalyst will be here…!” But I was not aware that this sannyasin himself is a psychoanalyst. Just later on my caretaker told me that this man himself is a psychoanalyst. Now, one psychoanalyst going to another psychoanalyst—for what? And that one may be going to somebody else.
The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, was one of the most pathological persons you can imagine—very superstitious. You will laugh, if you go into his biography, about how such a man could become the founder of psychoanalysis. How such a man could be trusted, that people believed what he was saying was true.
One of his friends gave him the idea that just as each woman has a twenty-eight-day period when her menstruation comes, exactly like that each man has a twenty-three-day period. There is some truth in it—not twenty-three days, exactly twenty-eight days. Now much more research has been done on it. Those four or five days when a woman goes through the period are sad, depressive, dull, negative—exactly like that, the man also goes into a negative state each month for four or five days. Of course, his period is not very visible, but it is there; it is a psychological fact. It should be there, because men and women are not very different.
So the friend’s idea was on the right track. Sigmund Freud suddenly got one idea—lying down in his bed, he was thinking about twenty-eight and twenty-three—suddenly an idea flashed in his mind: Twenty-eight plus twenty-three means fifty-one, and he could not sleep the whole night. He became certain by the morning that he was going to live fifty-one years—a very great “gut feeling.” And he started talking about it: twenty-eight plus twenty-three equals fifty-one years, and he will die.
The fifty-first year came and passed … and he did not die. Then something else had to be found. The day he was expecting to die, his phone number was changed and the end of the phone number was sixty-two. So he said, “Look, another indication: So now I am going to die at sixty-two.” That day also came and passed. But the people like Sigmund Freud are not easy … they will find something or other. He was staying in a hotel and the number of the room was eighty-two, so he said, “Look, another indication from above—at eighty-two I am going to die—that is absolutely certain.” And that day also passed. He died when he was eighty-three.
Such superstitious people.… He was so afraid of death, that’s why he was so concerned about it. He was so afraid of death that five times in his life he fainted publicly because somebody started talking about death. He used to faint flat on the ground. Just the idea of death! And such a pathological, neurotic person became the founder of psychoanalysis.
He used to project himself: Whatever was true for him he thought was true for every human being. That is the very limit of nonsense. All that he has said about man is not about man, it is about Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud is a single individual; he does not represent all human beings. Nobody represents all human beings, nobody ever can.
So maybe a few people are helped by psychoanalysis—very few people, rarely have I seen a person who has been helped by psychoanalysis—but those are the people who are of the same type as Sigmund Freud.
Now much research has happened and it has been found that even those people who are helped are not helped by psychoanalysis but by something else. In one experiment, twenty-five persons were given psychoanalysis for six months, and twenty-five persons were just kept waiting and were told, “Soon your psychoanalysis will start.” They were all suffering from the same kind of illness, and the result was very surprising. The twenty-five who were given psychoanalysis were helped a little bit, but the twenty-five who were kept waiting were helped far more. Just waiting helped them far more. In fact, this secret has been known in the East, it has been practiced for centuries. If you take a mental case into a Zen monastery, they put him in isolation for three weeks; nobody talks to him—just the opposite of psychoanalysis—nobody talks to him, nobody listens to him. They just keep him isolated; somebody goes, absolutely silently, and puts the food there, comes back. He has to live with himself for three weeks … and miracles have been happening down the ages.
Just putting him there for three weeks in isolation, slowly he cools down—no psychoanalysis, no therapy, just isolation. In fact, he was suffering too much from people, from the stress of being in a crowd continually. Psychoanalysis may not be the real cause of help, but the length of time—two years, three years, four years the psychoanalysis continues. It continues as long as you can afford it; it depends on you. If you have enough money, it can continue your whole life. In fact, psychoanalysis never comes to a termination. It cannot, because the mind is very inventive. It goes on inventing more and more rubbish. It starts enjoying, slowly, because the more rubbish it brings up the happier the psychotherapist feels. Seeing him happy, the mind obliges with more. Whatever the expectations of the psychotherapist are, the patient fulfills them.
Patients are really patient people, very obliging, courteous. Good people they are! That’s why they are suffering; they are not hard people—not hardware but software. Because they are soft they are suffering. The hard guys are not suffering; the hard guys make others suffer. The soft guys become victims. Three, four years lying down on the couch, talking nonsense, waiting, waiting, waiting—it helps one to unwind, one becomes a little more relaxed. And somebody is listening to you very attentively, or at least pretending that he is listening very attentively.
My own observation is that the attention of the psychotherapist is of immense value. This is a world where nobody gives you any attention. If the husband wants to talk to the wife she says, “There is so much work to be done in the kitchen—and the dishes have to be washed and I have no time.” If the wife wants to talk to the husband, he is tired from the whole day at the office and the work and the traffic, and he wants to watch the TV. A survey says that the average husband/wife communication in America is only thirty-three minutes per day—and that is the average. And in that thirty-three minutes you can count fighting, nagging, pillow-throwing, and every kind of thing. Only thirty-three minutes between husband and wife—out of twenty-four hours?
A great need has arisen that somebody should listen to you. Hence the psychotherapist helps—he is a professional listener. That is the only quality he has, the only qualification really. You can start the business—no other qualification is needed—if you know only one thing: how to be attentively sitting there by the side and listening. Just listening attentively will help. The person starts feeling, “I have some worth. Somebody…” And the more he has paid, the more it helps because the person who is listening is no ordinary psychotherapist, not run-of-the-mill. “Somebody special, very famous, world-known—and listening so attentively to me?” The very idea gives worth: “Then I must be saying something immensely beautiful.”
Gibberish you may be bringing up. That’s what in psychobabble is called “free association”—anything that comes to your mind, bring it up. If such gibberish is being listened to so attentively, a great need is fulfilled—the person feels worthy, feels important, feels as if he is somebody.
Remember, this society has messed you up so much that man as such is almost on the verge of going insane. All love has disappeared, all communication has disappeared, all friendship has disappeared, all aesthetic sensitivity has disappeared. People have become like zombies. They talk to each other yet they don’t talk, they don’t meet. This society is an ill society, and when I say “this society” I mean all the societies that exist in the world. More or less, in this way or that, they are ill—because in the past, for centuries, we have been creating a model of the human being that is wrong. We are giving people ideals and saying, “Unless you fulfill these ideals you will never be worthy.” And those ideals are impossible. We are giving people ideas of being perfect. And once the idea of being perfect enters in one’s being, it turns one into a neurotic.
Accept your limitations, accept your imperfections. That’s what it means to be a human being! And accept yourself as you are—with joy, not in helplessness. Because existence accepts you—this is my basic teaching—existence accepts you, so accept yourself; love yourself. Let there be a great upsurge of self-love. Out of that love you will start becoming creative; a person who loves himself is bound to become creative. I am not saying you will become famous; I am not saying that you will be a Picasso or an Ezra Pound or a Pablo Neruda, no—you may be, you may not be. But that is irrelevant! The real thing is to enjoy creativity. Whatsoever you do, do it with joy. Bring your total intelligence to it, be meditative in it.
You say: “And you say that God is within me. I realize I am looking inside for some concept I got from the outside.” That kind of God you will never find within you. You will have to drop all the concepts that have been given to you from the outside, because God is not a person. No picture of God exists, no statue is possible. God is an experience! If you have the idea of a God that your parents and your society have given to you, you will go inside with that idea and that idea will be the hindrance—it will not allow you to see that which is. And God is that which is. It needs no concepts to see; concepts blind you. Drop all concepts.
If you really want to go in, go as an agnostic. This word is beautiful. You must have heard the word gnostic; gnostic means one who knows—gnosis means knowledge. Agnostic means one who knows not; agnostic means one who knows only one thing: that he knows not. Be an agnostic—that is the beginning of real religion. Don’t believe, don’t disbelieve. Don’t be a Hindu, and don’t be a Jaina and don’t be a Christian; otherwise you will go on groping in darkness forever and forever. Unless you drop all ideologies, all philosophies, all religions, all systems of thought, and go inside empty, with nothing in your hand, with no idea … how can you have an idea of God? You have not known him. Just go … with a great desire to know, but with no idea of knowledge; with intensity to know, with a passionate love to know what is there, but don’t carry any ideas given to you by others. Drop them outside. That is the greatest barrier for the seeker on the path of truth.
God is there but you cannot see because your eyes are blinded by the concepts given to you. God is not a Jew, so if you have a Jewish idea of God you will not find him. I have heard a beautiful story about a Sufi mystic, Farid:
One night he dreams that by the grace of Allah, he has reached paradise. And the whole of paradise is decorated, millions of lights, and flowers everywhere—some celebration is going on—and great music. He inquires, “What is going on?”
They say, “This is God’s birthday—we are celebrating it. You have come at the right time.”
So he stands underneath a tree to see what is happening, because a great procession starts moving on the road. A man is sitting on a horse; he inquires, “Who is this man?” and they say, “Don’t you know him? He is Hajrat Mohammed.” And then millions and millions of people appear behind him, and he asks, “Who are these people?” and he is replied to. “They are Mohammedans, followers of Mohammed.” And then comes Jesus, and millions are following him. And then comes Krishna on his golden chariot, and millions again are following him. And so on and so forth … the procession continues, continues, continues.
Then finally, in the end, on an old donkey an old man is coming. Nobody is behind him; he is just alone. Farid starts laughing, looking at this man—it is hilarious: nobody following him. And why should he be going on his donkey? He asks, “Who are you, sir? I have seen Mohammed, Christ, Krishna, Mahavira, Buddha—who are you? You look like a kind of joke! And nobody following you.”
And the old man is very sad and he says, “Yes, I am God. This is my birthday. But some people have become Mohammedans, some have become Christians, some have become Jews, some have become Hindus—nobody is left to be with me.”
Just out of shock, Farid woke up. He told his disciples the next day, “Now I am no longer a Mohammedan. The dream has been a great revelation. Now I am no longer part of any organized religion—I am simply myself. I would like to be with God, at least one person following him.”
If you have a certain idea of God, you will not be able to see him. Your very idea will become a barrier. Drop all ideas that you have gathered from without; only then can you go within.
You say: “It is like looking down into a well in the night. I see reflections and I think it is the bottom, but it is only the surface. Even when I know I need only let go and wait rather than look for anything…” That is true—stick with that insight. If you are looking for something, you will not be able to see, because the very idea of looking for something means that you have an idea of what you are looking for. To look for something is a kind of blindness.
Seeing happens only when you are not looking for anything in particular; you are just there, open, available. So whatsoever is, is revealed. Don’t look for God if you want to see him. Just wait—let go and wait. God is a happening! If you are silent, open, loving toward your own being, conscious, it is going to happen. Any moment, when you are in the right tuning with existence, it will happen.
God is there, you are there, just right tuning is needed. And that’s what I am teaching to you, right tuning. Dropping all ideologies helps you to be rightly tuned. And once you are in tune with existence, that is bliss. You have come home.
One of the most beautiful and relaxing spaces I know is the one of “yes,” and an acceptance of myself and others. Would you like to talk about “yes” as part of the rebellion?
The ordinary connotation of rebellion will be easier with “no” than with “yes”; will be easier with disobedience than with obedience, will be easier with doubt than with trust. But that is the ordinary connotation of the word. The rebellion I am talking about is certainly a “no” to the past—to all that is superstitious, to all that has harmed humanity, to all that has hindered the growth of human consciousness, to all that has made the world a hell. But this is not the basic part of rebellion.
The fundamental part of the rebellion is “yes.” Yes to a new man; yes to a new woman; yes to a new kind of love relationship; yes to a new world without families, without nations, without religions; yes to a whole humanity as one family. Yes to a world of peace, love, joy—which to me are the basic components of religiousness. Yes to a world full of songs and music and dance and creativity.
The no part is very small. The no part is just like demolishing an old building that is dangerous to live in, which can fall at any moment, which is not going to remain for long and it is better to demolish it, otherwise it will kill people. The no part is just the way the sculptor works on the stone, cutting pieces away from the rock—that is the no part.
But the yes part is the creation of a beautiful Gautam Buddha, or a Jesus Christ. Every creation needs, as a preparation, some destruction—some destruction of the wild weeds to create a garden of roses. That much no is absolutely essential. But it is in the service of yes.
You say, “One of the most beautiful and relaxing spaces I know is the one of ‘yes.’” But you should not forget that a yes cannot exist without a no preparing the way for it. This is the dialectics of life: To create something, something else has to be destroyed. You cannot create something without destroying something else.
I have heard about an old church: It was so ancient that people had stopped going in, because even a strong wind and the church would start swaying. It was so fragile, any moment it could fall. Even the priest had started giving his sermons outside the church, far away in the open ground.
Finally, the board of trustees had a meeting; something had to be done. But the trouble was that the church was very ancient—it was the glory of the town. Their town was famous far and wide because of the old church; perhaps it was the oldest church in the world. It was not possible to demolish it and make a new one. But it was also dangerous to let it remain as it was—it was going to kill a few people. Nobody had been going in for years—even the priest was not courageous enough to go in, because who knew at what moment the church would simply collapse? So something had to be done.
The board was in a very great dilemma: Something had to be done, and yet nothing should be done because that church was so ancient. And with things that are ancient, man has been in such deep attachment. So they passed a resolution with four clauses in it. First was that “We will make a new church, but it will be exactly the same as the old. It will be made of the same material the old is made of—nothing new will be used in it, so it remains ancient. It will be made in the same place where the old church stands, because that place has become holy by its ancientness.”
And the last thing in their resolution was, “We will not demolish the old church until the new is ready.”
They were all happy that they had come to a conclusion. But who was going to ask those idiots, “How are you going to do it?” The old should not be demolished till the new was ready, and the new had to be made of everything the old was made of, in the same place where the old was standing, with exactly the same architecture the old had. Nothing new could be added to it: the same doors, the same windows, the same glass, the same bricks—everything that would be used had to be from the old church. And finally, the old should not be touched till the new was ready: “When the new is ready, then we can demolish the old.”
Such is the human mind: It clings to the old, but it also wants the new, and then it tries to find some compromise—that at least the new should be like the old. But a few things are impossible; nature just won’t allow them.
First you have to say no. And you have to learn to say no with a loving heart, because you are saying it in the service of yes; it is not negative at all. Just because it is no does not mean it has to be negative. In language it is negative. But in reality, if it is in the service of yes, it is a servant of yes, how can it be negative? That which serves the positive—prepares the ground for the positive, prepares the way for the positive to come in—cannot be negative.
My rebel has a heart full of yes, but his yes is not impotent. His yes is capable of saying a thousand no’s in the service of yes. He will destroy everything that prevents the new from being born. He will destroy all old ties, all old chains, all old jails—psychological, spiritual—in the service of freedom, in the service of love, in the service of truth. Then the no goes through a transformation, it becomes part of a bigger yes. And a yes that has no part in it which is capable of destroying … that yes remains impotent because it cannot create. There is no creation possible without destruction.
So remember one thing: Destruction should not, in itself, be the goal. Then it is ugly, then it is simply no, then it is only negative. Then it is against life and against existence. Every destruction should be in the service of some creativity. Then it is not negative. Then it is not in the service of death, it is in the service of life. It is life-affirmative. And to transform no into yes is the whole art of the meditative rebel.
The ordinary rebel starts enjoying destruction and he forgets completely what he is destroying for; destruction becomes a goal unto itself. Disobedience becomes his ego, his stubbornness, his adamant attitude toward life. I don’t want political rebels; I want spiritual rebels whose concern is not with destruction at all. They will not destroy even a small thing unless it is absolutely needed for the new creation, for the new world.
Paddy put five dollars into the collection plate at his church. “What,” Paddy asked the priest, “happens to all this money?”
“It goes to the Lord,” answered the priest.
“Oh, well,” said Paddy, removing his five dollars from the plate, “I am seventy-five years old. I am bound to see the Lord before a young man like you, and I can give it to him personally.”
That seems to be an absolutely positive attitude! What is the point of giving five dollars to a young priest when you are going to meet the Lord before him? Withdraw your five dollars—it is better to give it personally rather than through a mediator who is going to take his commission. And who knows whether it ever reaches to the Lord or not? There is no guarantee.
You have to remember not to be serious about anything but to remain playful, nonserious; because the more playful and nonserious you are, the more clear is your understanding.
A serious man stops understanding, he has already taken a certain attitude, fixed, unchanging; he has become prejudiced. Your yes should not be a prejudice, otherwise it will not be yes in the sense I am talking about. My yes implies no in it. My creativity implies destruction in it because without the no, the yes becomes impotent. No has certain qualities which yes does not have. Just don’t let no become your master and your boss.
Yes remains your highest value, and no becomes a servant—then there is not a problem with no. No has a beauty of its own. When it is just a shadow of yes, it is immensely beautiful. And a person who cannot say no—his yes has no meaning at all.
So I teach you yes as the ultimate value, the end, and no has to be its means. Then you are using the whole dialectical process of life. Then you are using the opposites for a single purpose. You are transforming their diametric oppositeness into a complementary, organic unity.

Copyright © 2013 by OSHO International Foundation


Excerpted from Living on Your Own Terms by Osho Copyright © 2013 by Osho. Excerpted by permission.
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OSHO is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. He is known for his revolutionary contributions to the science of inner transformation, and the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

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