Osho on Intimacy

QuestionBeloved Osho, of my many fears, the one of which i am most aware is that of intimacy. I am like a hit and run driver in my relationships with people. Could you speak to me of my fear of intimacy?

Osho – Ramaprem, everybody is afraid of intimacy. It is another thing whether you are aware of it or not. Intimacy means exposing yourself before a stranger. We are all strangers — nobody knows anybody. We are even strangers to ourselves, because we don’t know who we are. Intimacy brings you close to a stranger. You have to drop all your defenses; only then, intimacy is possible. And the fear is that if you drop all your defenses, all your masks, who knows what the stranger is going to do with you?

We are all hiding a thousand and one things — not only from others but from ourselves — because we have been brought up by a sick humanity with all kinds of repressions, inhibitions, taboos. And the fear is that with somebody who is a stranger — and it does not matter, you may have lived with the person for thirty years, forty years; the strangeness never disappears — it feels safer to keep a little defense, a little distance, because somebody can take advantage of your weaknesses, of your frailties, of your vulnerability. Everybody is afraid of intimacy.

The problem becomes more complicated because everybody wants intimacy. Everybody wants intimacy because otherwise you are alone in this universe — without a friend, without a lover, without anybody you can trust, without anybody to whom you can open all your wounds. And the wounds cannot heal unless they are open. The more you hide them, the more dangerous they become. They can become cancerous.

Intimacy is an essential need on the one hand, so everybody longs for it. But he wants the other person to be intimate, so that the other person drops his defenses, becomes vulnerable, opens all his wounds, drops all his masks and false personality, stands naked as he is. And on the other hand, everybody is afraid of intimacy — with the other person you want to be intimate with, you are not dropping your defenses.

This is one of the conflicts between friends, between lovers: nobody wants to drop his defenses and nobody wants to come in utter nudity and sincerity, open — and both need intimacy. Unless you drop all your repressions, inhibitions — which are the gifts of your religions, your cultures, your societies, your parents, your education — you will never be able to be intimate with someone. And you will have to take the initiative.

But if you don’t have any repressions, any inhibitions, you don’t have any wounds either. If you have lived a simple, natural life, there will be no fear of intimacy, but tremendous joy — of two flames coming so close that they become almost one flame. And the meeting is tremendously gratifying, satisfying, fulfilling. But before you can attempt intimacy, you have to clean your house completely.

Only a man of meditation can allow intimacy to happen. He has nothing to hide. All that was making him afraid that somebody may know, he himself has dropped. He has only a silence and a loving heart. You have to accept yourself in your totality — if you cannot accept yourself in your totality, how can you expect somebody else to accept you? And you have been condemned by everybody, and you have learned only one thing: self-condemnation.

You go on hiding it. It is not something beautiful to show to others, you know ugly things are hidden in you; you know evil things are hidden in you; you know animality is hidden in you. Unless you transform your attitude and accept yourself as one of the animals in existence… The word “animal” is not bad. It simply means alive; it comes from anima. Whoever is alive, is an animal.

But man has been taught, “You are not animals, animals are far below you. You are human beings.” You have been given a false superiority. The truth is, existence does not believe in the superior and the inferior. To existence, everything is equal — the trees, the birds, the animals, the human beings. In existence, everything is absolutely accepted as it is; there is no condemnation.

If you accept your sexuality without any conditions, if you accept that man and every being in the world is fragile… life is a very thin thread which can break down any moment. Once this is accepted, and you drop false egos — of being Alexander the Great, Mohammed Ali the thrice great — if you simply understand that everybody is beautiful in his ordinariness and everyone has weaknesses… They are part of human nature because you are not made of steel.

You are made of a very fragile body. The span of your life is between ninety-eight degrees temperature and one hundred and ten degrees temperature: just twelve degrees of temperature is your whole span of life. Fall below it, and you are dead; go beyond it and you are dead. And the same applies to a thousand and one things in you.

One of your most basic needs is to be needed. But nobody wants to accept it, that “It is my basic need to be needed, to be loved, to be accepted.” We are living in such pretensions, such hypocrisies — that is the reason why intimacy creates fear. You are not what you appear to be. Your appearance is false. You may appear to be a saint but deep down, you are still a weak human being with all the desires and all the longings.

The first step is to accept yourself in your totality, in spite of all your traditions, which have driven the whole of humanity insane. Once you have accepted yourself as you are, the fear of intimacy will disappear. You cannot lose respect, you cannot lose your greatness, you cannot lose your ego. You cannot lose your piousness, you cannot lose your saintliness — you have dropped all that yourself. You are just like a small child, utterly innocent. You can open yourself because inside, you are not filled with ugly repressions which have become perversions.

You can say everything that you feel authentically and sincerely. And if you are ready to be intimate, you will encourage the other person also to be intimate. Your openness will help the other person also to be open to you. Your unpretentious simplicity will allow the other also to enjoy simplicity, innocence, trust, love, openness. You are encaged with stupid concepts, and the fear is, if you become very intimate with somebody, he will become aware of it.

But we are fragile beings — the most fragile in the whole existence. The human child is the most fragile child of all the animals. The children of other animals can survive without the mother, without the father, without a family. But the human child will die immediately. So this frailty is not something to be condemned — it is the highest expression of consciousness. A roseflower is going to be fragile; it is not a stone. And there is no need to feel bad about it, that you are a roseflower and not a stone.

Only when two persons become intimate are they no longer strangers. And it is a beautiful experience to find that not only you are full of weaknesses but the other, too… perhaps everybody is full of weaknesses. The higher expression of anything becomes weaker. The roots are very strong, but the flower cannot be so strong. Its beauty is because of its not being strong. In the morning it opens its petals to welcome the sun, dances the whole day in the wind, in the rain, in the sun, and by the evening its petals have started falling. It is gone. Everything that is beautiful, precious, is going to be very momentary.

But you want everything to be permanent. You love someone and you promise that “I will love you my whole life.” And you know perfectly well that you cannot be even certain of tomorrow — you are giving a false promise. All that you can say is, “I am in love with you this moment and I will give my totality to you. About the next moment, I know nothing. How can I promise? You have to forgive me.”

But lovers are promising all kinds of things which they cannot fulfill. Then frustration comes in, then the distance grows bigger, then fight, conflict, struggle, and a life that was meant to become happier becomes just a long, drawn out misery. Ramaprem, it is good that you are aware of your greatest fear, that it is of intimacy. It can become a great revelation to you, and a revolution, if you look inwards and start dropping everything of which you feel ashamed. And accept your nature as it is, not as it should be. I do not teach any “should.” All shoulds make human mind sick.

People should be taught the beauty of isness, the tremendous splendor of nature. These trees don’t know any ten commandments, the birds don’t know any holy scriptures. It is only man who has created a problem for himself. Condemning your own nature, you become split, you become schizophrenic — and not just ordinary people, but people of the status of Sigmund Freud, who contributed greatly to humanity, about mind. His method was psychoanalysis, that you should be made aware of all that is unconscious in you. And this is a secret, that once something unconscious is brought to the conscious mind, it evaporates. You become cleaner, lighter. As more and more unconscious is unburdened, your consciousness goes on becoming bigger. And as the area of the unconscious shrinks, the territory of the consciousness expands. That is an immense truth.

The East has known it for thousands of years, but to the West, Sigmund Freud introduced it — not knowing anything of the East and its psychology; it was his individual contribution. But you will be surprised: he was never ready to be psychoanalyzed himself. The founder of psychoanalysis was never psychoanalyzed.

His colleagues insisted again and again: “The method that you have given to us — and we all have been psychoanalyzed — why are you insisting that you should not be psychoanalyzed?”

He said, “Forget about it.” He was afraid to expose himself. He had become a great genius and exposing himself would bring him down to ordinary humanity. He had the same fears, the same desires, the same repressions.

He never talked about his dreams; he only listened to other people’s dreams. And his colleagues were very much surprised — “It will be a great contribution to know about your dreams” — but he never agreed to lie down on the psychoanalyst’s couch and talk about his dreams. Because his dreams were as ordinary as anybody else’s — that was the fear.

A Gautam Buddha would not have feared to go into meditation. That was his contribution — a special kind of meditation. And he would not have been afraid of any psychoanalysis, because for the man who meditates, by and by all his dreams disappear. In the day he remains silent in his mind, not the ordinary traffic of thoughts. And in the night he sleeps deeply, because dreams are nothing but unlived thoughts, unlived desires, unlived longings in the day. They are trying to complete themselves, at least in dreams.

It will be very difficult for you to find a man who dreams about his wife, or a woman who dreams about her husband. But it will be absolutely common that they dream about their neighbors’ wives and their neighbors’ husbands. The wife is available, he is not suppressing anything as far as his wife is concerned. But the neighbor’s wife is always more beautiful; the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. And that which is unapproachable creates a deep desire to acquire it, to possess it. In the day you cannot do it, but in dreams at least, you are free. Freedom of dreaming has not yet been taken away by the governments.

It won’t be long — soon they will take it away, because methods are available, already available, so that they can watch when you are dreaming and when you are not dreaming. And there is a possibility some day to find a scientific device so that your dream can be projected on a screen. Just some electrodes will have to be inserted in your head. You will be fast asleep, dreaming joyously, making love to your neighbor’s wife and a whole movie hall will be watching it — and they used to think that this man is a saint!

This much you can even see; whenever a person is asleep, watch: if his eyelids are not showing any movement of his eyes inside, then he is not dreaming. If he is dreaming then you can see that his eyes are moving.
It is possible to project your dream on a screen. It is also possible to enforce certain dreaming in you. But at least up to now, no constitution even talks about it, that “People are free to dream, it is their birthright.”

A Gautam Buddha does not dream. Meditation is a way to go beyond mind. He lives in utter silence twenty-four hours — no ripples on the lake of his consciousness, no thoughts, no dreams. But Sigmund Freud is afraid because he knows what he is dreaming.

I have heard about one actual incident. Three great Russian novelists — Chekhov, Gorky and Tolstoy — were just sitting on a bench in a park and gossiping… and they were great friends. All were geniuses; all created such great novels that even today, if you want to count ten great novels of the world, at least five will be from the Russian novelists — before the revolution. After the revolution, they have not created a single novel which has the quality of genius. Now, it is under government instruction. The government is the only publisher; the government scrutinizes, and the people who scrutinize know nothing of art. They are bureaucrats.

The police commissioner of Poona was just asking that before my lectures are published, he should scrutinize them — and what does a police commissioner have to do with meditation? — but that is happening in Russia, and because of that, in seventy years’ time after the revolution, they have not been able to produce a single great novel. But before the revolution, Russia was at the top in creativity. These three people are still to be counted as great novelists.

Chekhov was telling about the women in his life. Gorky joined; he also said a few things. But Tolstoy remained silent. Tolstoy was a very orthodox religious Christian… you will be surprised to know that Mahatma Gandhi in India has accepted three persons as his masters, and one was Tolstoy.

And he must have been repressing so much… he was one of the richest men in Russia — he belonged to the royal family — but he lived like a poor beggar, because “blessed are the poor and they shall inherit the kingdom of God,” and he was not willing to give up the kingdom of God. It is not simplicity, and it is not desirelessness — it is too much desire. It is too much greed, it is too much instinct for power. He is sacrificing this life and its joys because it is a small life… and then for eternity he will enjoy paradise and the kingdom of God. It is a good bargain, almost like a lottery, and certain.

He was living a very celibate life, eating only vegetarian food… he was almost a saint. Naturally, his dreams must have been very ugly, his thoughts must have been very ugly, and when Chekhov and Gorky asked him, “Tolstoy, why are you silent? Say something!” he said, “I cannot say anything about women. I will say something only when one foot is in the grave. I will say it, and jump into the grave.”

You can understand why he was so much afraid of saying anything — it was boiling within him. Now, you cannot be very intimate with a man like Tolstoy. Intimacy simply means that the doors of the heart are open for you, you are welcome to come in and be a guest. But that is possible only if you have a heart which is not stinking with repressed sexuality, which is not boiling with all kinds of perversions, which is natural — as natural as trees, as innocent as children. Then there is no fear of intimacy.

That’s what I am trying to do: to help you unburden your unconscious, unburden your mind, to become ordinary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be just simple and ordinary. Then you can have as many intimate friends, as many intimate relationships as possible, because you are not afraid of anything. You become an open book — anybody can read. There is nothing to hide. Every year, a hunting club went up into the Montana hills. The members drew straws to decide who would handle the cooking and also agreed that anyone complaining about the food would automatically replace the unlucky cook.

Realizing after a few days that no one was likely to risk speaking up, Sanderson decided on a desperate plan. He found some moose droppings and added two handfuls to the stew that night. There were grimaces around the campfire after the first few mouthfuls, but nobody said anything. Then one member suddenly broke the silence. “Hey,” he exclaimed, “This stuff tastes like moose shit — but good!” He is not complaining. In fact, he is appreciating! You have so many faces. Inside, you think one thing; outside, you express something else. You are not one, organic whole.

Relax and destroy the split that society has created in you. Say only that which you mean. Act according to your own spontaneity, never bothering about consequences. It is a small life and it should not be spoiled in thinking about consequences here and hereafter. One should live totally, intensely, joyously and just like an open book, available for anybody to read it. Of course you will not make a name in the history books. But what is the point in making a name in the history books?

Live, rather than think of being remembered. You will be dead. Millions of people have lived on the earth and we don’t know even their names. Accept that simple fact: that you are here for only a few days and then you will be gone. These few days are not to be wasted in hypocrisy, in fear. These days have to be rejoiced.

Nobody knows anything about the future. Your heaven and your hell and your God are most probably all hypotheses, unproved. The only thing that is in your hands is your life — make it as rich as possible. By intimacy, by love, by opening yourself to many people, you become richer. And if you can live in deep love, in deep friendship, in deep intimacy, with many people, you have lived rightly, and wherever you happen to be… you have learned the art; you will be living there, too, happily.

I am reminded of one English philosopher, Edmund Burke. He was very friendly with the archbishop of England. Whenever Edmund Burke used to deliver a talk in the university, the archbishop used to come and listen to him. It was worth listening — each of his statements was coming with his wholeness, with great authority. But he never went to listen to the archbishop on Sunday in the church. The archbishop said, “At least you should come one time. I always come to listen to you.”

Edmund Burke said, “You come to listen to me because whatever you know is not your knowledge — it is all borrowed, and you are not certain of it. Whatever I say is my experience, and I give every evidence and proof and argument for it. I can stake my life for my statements. You are just a parrot. But because you have asked, I will come next Sunday.”

So the archbishop prepared a really beautiful sermon, thinking that Edmund Burke will be present, so the sermon has to be as great as he can make it. But he was surprised. Edmund Burke was sitting in the first row but there was no emotion on his face. He could not judge whether he liked it, disliked it, agreed with it, or disagreed with it. He was very much puzzled. As the sermon ended, Edmund Burke stood up and he said, “I have a question to ask, a very simple question. Your whole sermon was, in a condensed form, that the people who live a virtuous life according to your Christian ideology, and believe in Jesus Christ, will go to heaven after this life. Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ and live the life of a sinner, will fall into eternal hell after this life.

“My question is,” said Edmund Burke, “that if a person is virtuous but does not believe in Jesus Christ, what will happen? He is good. His life is a life to be praised but he does not believe in Jesus Christ — where is he going to be? Or, a man who believes in Jesus Christ but is a great sinner — where is he going to be? You missed mentioning two very important points; your sermon was half. And I was waiting to see whether you were aware of these two possibilities or not.”

The archbishop thought for a moment — the question was really dangerous. If he says the good people are going to heaven whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not, then Jesus Christ and the belief in him become superfluous, non-essential. And if he says those who believe in Jesus Christ — even if they are sinners — will go to heaven, then sin is being approved by the church itself.

He was in a very muddled situation. He said, “Your question needs some time for me to think it over. Just give me seven days. Next Sunday, I will answer it.”

For seven days, he tried all the scriptures, tried this way and that way, but… the question was simple… and he was caught in a dilemma. He could not sleep those seven days, because how is he going to face Edmund Burke and his congregation? And whatever he says seems to be wrong: either it goes against Jesus Christ or it goes against a virtuous life. He repented that he ever invited that fellow to come to the church!

He went early in the morning to the church, before the congregation came. He still did not have any answer. He thought, “In the early morning, when there is nobody in the church, I will pray to Christ himself to just show me the light, give me the answer. Because not only my prestige is at stake, his prestige is also at stake.”

Seven days, continuously worrying, not sleeping… he was bowing down before the statue of Jesus Christ. He fell asleep, and he saw a dream. Naturally, because for seven days only one thing had been in his mind, the dream was also connected with it.

He saw himself sitting in a train, and he asked, “Where are we going?” Somebody said, “This train is going to heaven.” He had a great relaxation, and he said, “That’s perfectly good. Perhaps this is Jesus Christ’s doing, so that you can see for yourself who goes to paradise and who does not go.”

As he reached the station of paradise, he could not believe — it looked so rotten. He entered inside paradise. The people he met were almost corpses, walking. He recognized a few saints and he asked them, “I want to ask one question: where is Gautam Buddha? because he never believed in Jesus Christ or in God, but he was one of the most moral men you can conceive of.”
The saint said, “He is not here.”
“Socrates? He was also not a believer in any god, but was a man of great virtue.”
“He is also not here.”

And he said, “Why does this whole paradise look like a ruin? And saints look like the dead; there seems to be no joy. I used to think that angels go on singing with their harps. I don’t see any angels, any harps, any song, any dance — just a few dull and dead saints are sitting under the trees.”
And whoever he asked, said: “Don’t bother us. We are tired.”

Just an idea came into his mind at that moment that perhaps there is a train going to hell, also. So he rushed back to the station, and the train was standing at the platform, ready to leave for hell. He entered the train, and as the hell started coming closer, he was even more puzzled. The wind was fragrant with flowers. There was so much greenery, lush green. The station was so beautiful — he had never thought that a station could be so beautiful. And people looked so happy, so joyous. He said, “My god, is there something wrong or what?”
He enquired, “Is this really hell?”

They said, “It used to be. Before Gautam Buddha, Socrates, Epicurus, Mahavira, Lao Tzu, people like these came here, it used to be hell. But now they have transformed the whole place.”

He entered hell and he could not believe — it was sheer joy! The very air was full of blissfulness. And there was dancing and there was singing, and he asked somebody, “Where is Gautam Buddha?”
They said, “Do you see in the garden, he is watering the roses.”
“And where is Socrates?”
And they said, “Socrates is working in the field.”
“Where is Epicurus?”
They said, “He just passed by you. The man who was dancing and playing on the guitar was Epicurus.”
At that very moment, the shock was too much — he woke up. He said, “My god! What a dream!”

And people had started arriving — particularly, Edmund Burke who was sitting in the front seat already, waiting for the answer.
The poor archbishop said, “I have not been able to find the answer. But I have seen a dream which I will describe to you, and you can conclude the answer from the dream.”

He described the dream. Edmund Burke said, “Now you conclude also! The conclusion is clear: that wherever good people are, there is paradise. It is not that good people go to paradise — wherever good people are, it becomes paradise. And wherever stupid people and idiots are — they may be great believers in God and Jesus Christ and the HOLY BIBLE, it does not matter — even paradise becomes a ruin. It becomes a hell.”

I have loved this incident very much because this is my approach, too. If you are simple, loving, open, intimate, you create a paradise around you. If you are closed, constantly on the defensive, always worried that somebody may come to know your thoughts, your dreams, your perversions — you are living in hell.
Hell is within you and so is paradise. They are not geographical places.

They are your spiritual spaces. Ramaprem, cleanse yourself. And meditation is nothing but a cleaning of all the rubbish that has gathered in your mind. When the mind is silent and the heart is singing… just listen to these birds.

You will be ready, without any fear but with great joy, to be intimate. And without intimacy, you are alone here amongst strangers. With intimacy you are surrounded by friends, by people who love you. Intimacy is a great experience. One should not miss it.

But before you can become unafraid of intimacy, you have to be totally clean of all the garbage that religions have been pouring into you, all the crap that for centuries has been handed over to you. Be finished with it all, and live a life of peace, silence, joy, song and dance. And you will transform… wherever you are, the place will become paradise.

Source – Osho Book “The Hidden Splendor”

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