Osho on Life and Contradictions

Osho – One of the basic sutras of Lao Tzu is that life is based on the rule of opposites. Life does not oppose its contradictions. Rather, it works in collaboration with its counter-forces. Ordinarily it appears that if your enemy dies you will be a happier man, but you do not know that with the death of your enemy something within you, which existed entirely on account of the enemy, also dies.

Therefore it happens many times that you lose much more by the death of an enemy than by the death of a friend. The opposition of the enemy awakens the challenge within you, and the mutual hostility gives rise to and nourishes those qualities within you which would have otherwise remained dormant.

That is why Lao Tzu has said: ”Any friend will do, but choose your enemies wisely.” Friends do not influence our lives as much as enemies do because a friend can be disregarded but we cannot afford to neglect an enemy. We can forget a friend but an enemy is never forgotten. It never dawns on us, however, that an enemy can so influence our life. Mahatma Gandhi would never have become a mahatma had it not been for the British. It was the opposition of the British Rule that brought him into being.

Great men are born when a country is in great trouble. It is the calamity that causes great men to be born, not vice versa. The hour of calamity. the hour of tension, produces great men. Hitler has written, ”No leader is born without a great conflict.” Therefore the greater the leader, the greater should be the battle. You cannot name a single leader who was born in times of peace. So he who desires to be a great leader has to make arrangements for a great conflict.

Life works on the law of the opposites – where the contradiction is visible and the collaboration on which it actually works is not. Let us examine this from different aspects in order to understand it better. If we were to remove Ravana from the epic of RAMAYANA, nothing would remain of the epic except Rama; and with him alone, it would not be possible to construct the narrative. Rama could have existed on this earth without Ravana, but then the Rama of the epic would have been lost completely. It is the very challenge of opposition to Ravana that brings out the resilience and temperance of Rama’s character and reveals the brilliance of his personality.

Ravana made a great contribution towards the exaltation of Rama. It would not have been possible for either Rama or Ravana to be born without each other. They grOw with each other’s support. This is the truth, but those who view things superficially see them to be enemies, opposed to each other. The profound reality of life is, however, that they are partners. It is not necessary that they themselves should be aware of this, but on a very subtle plane these seeming opposites are partners, co-sharers, collaborators and friends. Not only is life not formed without the opposites but it does not develop without the opposite. The opposite is inevitable.

Freud has discovered a priceless truth. He says: ”We also hate those whom we love.” This was a startling discovery even for Freud himself. It was a terrible blow for all mankind especially for lovers. Lovers cannot believe they are capable of hatred towards those whom they love. The fact is, however, that all lovers know this within themselves, though they may not admit it. Therefore, Freud was resisted for a long time. Ultimately he could not be proven wrong. Gradually, the truth was accepted.

Those whom we love we also despise, for love cannot stand without hatred. If you love somebody and you analyse it honestly, you will find yourself loving and hating alternately. You hate in the morning, love in the afternoon, hate in the evening and again love at night. Your love is periodical. The one you quarrelled with in the morning and decided it was impossible to live with, you again reconcile with and swear you would be lost without.

The ancient prophets of love have declared that love is complete and perfect only when there is no strife between the lover and the beloved. Freud however says that the greater the love, the greater the strife between the lovers. If there is no strife between two lovers, according to Freud – they are not in love; they are just fooling themselves. If you do not fight with your wife (or husband), it means your relationship has vanished long ago, so much so that there is no need for strife any more. Freud is not talking about the spiritual love. He is talking about that which passes for love in our society, what we generally know as love.

In this so-called love that we know, strife is an inevitable part. But lovers (and married couples) want there to be no strife, no conflict, in their relationship. Then, love would be bliss. But they are not aware of the facts of life. The day strife ends, love will end also. In fact, conflict cannot be ended by the sort of love we indulge in. Conflict exists because of expectations – great expectations. The greater the love, the more the expectation. The greater the expectation, the greater the frustration. And when there is frustration, there is conflict. If there are no expectations if there is no demand on the lover, if there are no hopes pinned on the other, all conflicts will stop immediately. Then we accept life as it is.

But Freud says, ”Great lovers cannot live in peace.” Another unique personality of the West, De Sade, has said, ”Love is an illness”. He calls love an illness because we invite love, and hatred is there instead. Love and hatred are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, hatred will go on side by side with love.

Hatred cannot stand on its own. If you think you have hatred towards someone, you are mistaken because of the simple fact that hatred cannot exist alone. You can hate only that person for whom you still have some measure of love. If you try and analyse your feelings about someone you really hate, you will find some strings of love that unknowingly tie you to him. If all ties of love are broken, all means of hatred have also vanished.

Hence, we are tied to both our friends and our foes. For the friend there is love outside and hate within; for the foe there is hate without and love within. Our ties with both are however the same. This may be difficult to understand, because we have great expectations for love. Let us try to understand this from different angles.

A man toils all day long. Now, according to our reasoning, a man who has toiled throughout the day should find it impossible to relax all night. He who is used to working all day should pass his nights also in work. The fact is however that he who toils throughout the day sleeps profoundly at night. The man who does not exert himself throughout the day should find no difficulty in relaxing at night because his experience of relaxing throughout the day should be good practice for sleeping at night.

But a person who relaxes in the day finds it difficult to sleep at night. Actually, he who toils all day long accumulates the opposite aspect (relaxation). He who relaxes, accumulates the opposite of relaxation. So he who relaxes in the day toils at night by changing sides time and again. He cannot sleep.

We cannot escape the opposite. The opposite is always standing by. If you wish to sleep at night, you shall have to exert yourself in the day. The greater the exertion, the deeper the sleep. So a very interesting thing happens: Those who work very hard, and have no time for relaxation, attain the height of relaxation. And those who have all the means to relax – to them, relaxation is a vexing problem Do what they may, they cannot relax. Unfortunately, we live by our superficial standards.

We say: we must relax in the day in order to know how to relax at night. This is straight and simple logic. But it has nothing to do with life. This is just the same as saying we should not have any conflict with those whom we love. But life exists in opposites – just like electricity exists because of its negative and positive poles. If we take away one, the other gets lost simultaneously and there cannot be any electricity. But it is very difficult to accept the opposite. He who accepts the opposite is a Sannyasin according to me. Lao Tzu calls such a person, wise.

To accept the opposite means that if, today, you have come and paid respect to me, I should accept the fact that at some level within you, disrespect is also gathering towards me. This fact cannot be escaped. If I accept your respect, I should also be prepared to receive disrespect from your hands at a later date. If I accept your obeisance with full knowledge of this fact, your reverence will give me no pleasure. Similarly, your disrespect will not make me unhappy either. Deep within your reverence, I shall spy the seed of irreverence; and deep within your irreverence, I shall see the spark of reverence.

If a man hurls a shoe at me, why should he take so much trouble if he is not concerned with me? Surely there is some connection between him and me somewhere. The shoe he throws at me is much more expressive than the garland that another person puts round my neck. This man’s leaning towards me is great. his restlessness is acute. He is bound to do something or other for me. If I become aware of the trouble he is taking for me, the sting of his disrespect will not hurt me. And if I become aware of the other side of the coin when I am honoured and respected, the illusion of reverence will vanish Then respect and disrespect appear to be two sides of the same coin. He to whom this becomes clear, transcends both sides.

Life is bound by opposites from all directions. When we see one side of life, we forget the other. It is this error that is the greatest misfortune of mankind. When we are looking at one aspect of life, we become completely oblivious of the other.

When we look at a flower, we never glance at the thorn; when we look at the thorn, we forget the flower. And the flower and the thorn grow on the same tree, the same branch. They are fed by the same channel, they are alive because of the same roots. The same gardener waters them and the same sun sends its rays towards them They come from the same existence. Deep within, they are one. But when we look at the flower, we forget the very existence of the thorn; and the more forget the thorn, the sharper it pricks. Then, when the thorn pricks, the flower vanishes from our vision and we are only aware of the pain of the thorn. We even forget that it was because of the flower that we had to suffer the prick of the thorn. We enjoyed the aroma of the flower and the prick was the result.

Our vision is always partial. Partial vision is ignorance. Partial vision is not wrong, but it is not complete. It sees only one half of reality. The other half seems so contradictory that we cannot relate the one to the other.

On the face of it, it is difficult to relate the opposites. You can never imagine that a person who clings to your neck, today and vows that you are aU that means anything to him in the world and life would be meaningless without you, would thrust a knife into you. Logic needs consistency. But here, there is no consistency. How can this very person kill you? But the reality of life is that he can. This is the very depth of life. He who has no relationship with you does not bother to kill you. He is not interested in you. Can you make someone an enemy without first making him your friend? Also, one who becomes your sworn enemy could not have just been a slight acquaintance. The proportion is equal: the greater the friendship, the greater the enmity.

Machiavelli, in his book THE PRINCE, has written, ”The greater the intimacy, the more cautious you should be of your friend.” This is cunning advice, but it has some truth in it. The thicker the friendship, the more vigilant we should be because the danger is greater. Machiavelli says, ”If you do not want your enemies to know the facts, take care that your friends do not know them.” He has also said, ”Do not treat your enemy in a way that you may regret some day when he becomes your friend, because an enemy can become a friend any day.”

Life changes every moment. Nothing is stable. Life swings from one extreme to the other. The opposites are united in the profound depths of existence; but on its surface they are far apart. He who sees only the surface of life cannot understand Lao Tzu because he talks of the ultimate polarity of existence.

Source – Osho Book “The Way of Tao, Volume 2”

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