We begin with one of the most profound sutras of Gautama the Buddha:
Just the opposite has been taught to you by all the traditions of the world, all the civilizations, all the cultures, all the churches. They say: Love others, don’t love yourself. And there is a certain cunning strategy behind their teaching. Love is the nourishment for the soul. Just as food is to the body, so love is to the soul. Without food the body is weak, without love the soul is weak. And no state, no church, no vested interest, has ever wanted people to have strong souls, because a person with spiritual energy is bound to be rebellious. Love makes you rebellious, revolutionary. Love gives you wings to soar high. Love gives you insight into things, so that nobody can deceive you, exploit you, oppress you. And the priests and the politicians survive only on your blood — they survive only on exploitation. They are parasites, all the priests and all the politicians.
To make you spiritually weak they have found a sure method, one hundred percent guaranteed, and that is to teach you not to love yourself — because if a man cannot love himself he cannot love anybody else either. The teaching is very tricky. They say: Love others — because they know if you cannot love yourself you cannot love at all. But they go on saying:Love others, love humanity, love God, love nature, love your wife, your husband, your children, your parents, but don’t love yourself — because to love oneself is selfish according to them. And they condemn self-love as they condemn nothing else — and they have made their teaching look very logical. They say: If you love yourself you will become an egoist, if you love yourself you will become narcissistic. It is not true. A man who loves himself finds that there is no ego in him. It is by loving others without loving yourself, trying to love others, that the ego arises. The missionaries, the social reformers, the social servants, have the greatest egos in the world — naturally, because they think themselves to be superior human beings. They are not ordinary — ordinary people love themselves — they love others, they love great ideals, they love God. And all their love is false, because all their love is without any roots.
A man who loves himself takes the first step towards real love.
It is like throwing a pebble into a silent lake: the first circular ripples will arise around the pebble, very close to the pebble, naturally — where else can they arise? And then they will go on spreading; they will reach the farthest shore. If you stop those ripples arising close to the pebble, there will be no other ripples at all. Then you cannot hope to create ripples reaching to the farthest shores; it is impossible. And the priests and the politicians became aware of the phenomenon: stop people loving themselves and you have destroyed their capacity to love. Now whatsoever they think is love will be only pseudo. It may be duty, but not love — and duty is a four-letter dirty word. Parents are fulfilling their duties towards their children, and then in return children will fulfill their duties towards their parents. The wife is dutiful towards her husband and the husband is dutiful towards his wife. Where is love?
Love knows nothing of duty. Duty is a burden, a formality. Love is a joy, a sharing; love is informal. The lover never feels that he has done enough; the lover always feels that more was possible. The lover never feels, “I have obliged the other.” On the contrary, he feels, “Because my love has been received, I am obliged. The other has obliged me by receiving my gift, by not rejecting it.” The man of duty thinks, “I am higher, spiritual, extraordinary. Look how I serve people!” These servants of the people are the most pseudo people in the world, and the most mischievous too. If we can get rid of the public servants, humanity will be unburdened, will feel very light, will be able to dance again, sing again.
But for centuries your roots have been cut, poisoned. You have been made afraid of ever being in love with yourself, which is the first step of love and the first experience. A man who loves himself respects himself, and a man who loves himself and respects himself respects others too, because he knows, “Just as I am, so are others. Just as I enjoy love, respect, dignity, so do others.” He becomes aware that we are not different; as far as the fundamentals are concerned, we are one. We are under the same law: AES DHAMMO SANANTANO.
Buddha says: We live under the same eternal law. In the details we may be a little bit different from each other — which brings variety, which is beautiful — but in the foundations we are part of one nature. The man who loves himself enjoys the love so much, becomes so blissful, that the love starts overflowing, it starts reaching others. It HAS to reach! If you live love, you have to share it. You cannot go on loving yourself forever, because one thing will become absolutely clear to you: that if loving one person, yourself, is so tremendously ecstatic and beautiful, how much more ecstasy is waiting for you if you start sharing your love with many many people! Slowly the ripples start reaching farther and farther. You love other people, then you start loving animals, birds, trees, rocks. You can fill the whole universe with your love. A single person is enough to fill the whole universe with love, just as a single pebble can fill the whole lake with ripples — a small pebble.
Only a Buddha can say: LOVE YOURSELF…. No priest, no politician, can agree with it, because this is destroying their whole edifice, their whole structure of exploitation. If a man is not allowed to love himself, his spirit, his soul, becomes weaker and weaker every day. His body may grow but he has no inner growth, because he has no inner nourishment. He remains a body almost without a soul or with only a potentiality, a possibility, of a soul. The soul remains a seed, and it will remain a seed if you cannot find the right soil of love for it. And you will not find it if you follow the stupid idea: “Don’t love yourself.” I also teach my sannyasins to love themselves first; it has nothing to do with ego. In fact, love is such a light that the darkness of the ego cannot exist in it at all. If you love others, if your love is focused on others, you will live in darkness. Turn your light towards yourself first, become a light unto yourself first. Let the light dispel your inner darkness, your inner weakness. Let love make you a tremendous power, a spiritual force. And once your soul is powerful you know you are not going to die, you are immortal, you are eternal.
Love gives you the first insight into eternity; love is the only experience that transcends time. That’s why lovers are not afraid of death: love knows no death. A single moment of love is more than a whole eternity. But love has to begin from the very beginning. Love has to start with this first step: LOVE YOURSELF…. Don’t condemn yourself. You have been condemned so much, and you have accepted all that condemnation. Now you go on doing harm to yourself. Nobody thinks himself worthy enough, nobody thinks himself a beautiful creation of God; nobody thinks that he is needed at all. These are poisonous ideas, but you have been poisoned. You have been poisoned with your mother’s milk — and this has been your whole past. Humanity has lived under a dark dark cloud of self-condemnation. If you condemn yourself, how can you grow? How can you ever become mature? And if you condemn yourself, how can you worship existence? If you cannot worship existence in you, you will become incapable of worshipping existence in others; it will be impossible. You can become part of the whole only if you have great respect for the God that resides within you. You are a host, God is your guest. By loving yourself you will know this: that God has chosen you to be a vehicle. In choosing you to be a vehicle he has already respected you, loved you. In creating you he has shown his love for you. He has not made you accidentally; he has made you with a certain destiny, with a certain potential, with a certain glory that you have to attain. Yes, God has created man in his own image. Man has to become a god. Unless man becomes a god there is going to be no fulfillment, no contentment. But how can you become a god? Your priests say that you are a sinner. Your priests say that you are doomed, that you are bound to go to hell. And they make you very much afraid of loving yourself. This is their trick: to cut the very root of love. And they are very cunning people, the most cunning profession in the world is that of the priest; then he says: Love others. Now it is going to be plastic, synthetic, a pretension, a performance. They say: Now love humanity, your mother country, your motherland, life, existence, God. Big words, but utterly meaningless. Have you ever come across humanity? You always come across human beings — and you have condemned the first human being that you came across, that is you. You have not respected yourself, not loved yourself. Now your whole life will be wasted in condemning others.
That’s why people are such great fault-finders. They find fault with themselves — how can they avoid finding the same faults in others? In fact, they will find them and they will magnify them, they will make them as big as possible. That seems to be the only saving device; somehow, to save face, you have to do it. That’s why there is so much criticism and such a lack of love.
I say this is one of the most profound sutras of Buddha, and only an awakened person can give you such an insight.
He says: LOVE YOURSELF…. This can become the foundation of a radical transformation. Don’t be afraid of loving yourself. Love totally, and you will be surprised: the day you can get rid of all self-condemnation, self-disrespect, the day you can get rid of the idea of original sin, the day you can think of yourself as worthy and loved by God, will be a day of great blessing. From that day onwards you will start seeing people in their true light, and you will have compassion. And it will not be a cultivated compassion; it will be a natural, spontaneous flow. And a person who loves himself can easily become meditative, because meditation means being with yourself. If you hate yourself — as you do, as you have been told to do, and you have been following it religiously — if you hate yourself, how can you be with yourself? And meditation is nothing but enjoying your beautiful aloneness, celebrating yourself; that’s what meditation is all about. Meditation is not a relationship; the other is not needed at all, one is enough unto oneself. One is bathed in one’s own glory, bathed in one’s own light. One is simply joyous because one is alive, because one is.
The greatest miracle in the world is that you are, that I am. To BE is the greatest miracle, and meditation opens the doors of this great miracle. But only a man who loves himself can meditate; otherwise you are always escaping from yourself, avoiding yourself. Who wants to look at an ugly face and who wants to penetrate into an ugly being? Who wants to go deep into one’s own mud, into one’s own darkness? Who wants to enter into the hell that you think you are? You want to keep this whole thing covered up with beautiful flowers and you want always to escape from yourself. Hence people are seeking company continuously. They can’t be with themselves; they want to be with others. People are seeking any type of company; if they can avoid the company of themselves anything will do. They will sit in a movie house for three hours seeing something utterly stupid. They will read a detective novel for hours, wasting their time. They will read the same newspaper again and again just to keep themselves engaged. They will play cards and chess just to kill time — as if they have too much time! We don’t have too much time; we don’t have time enough to grow, to be, to rejoice. But this is one of the basic problems created by a wrong upbringing: you avoid yourself.
People are sitting before their TV’s glued to their chairs, for four, five, even six hours. The average American is watching TV five hours per day, and this disease is going to spread all over the world. And what are you seeing and what are you getting? Burning your eyes… because TV is the first thing in the world in which you have to look at the very source of the light. Ordinarily you never look at the light itself — you look at lighted objects. You don’t look at the sun; you look at the rose — the sun is shining on the rose. You look at the green trees, you look at people’s faces. You don’t look at the electric bulb itself; you look at the painting on the wall. You will not be able to see the painting if the light is not there, but you don’t look directly at the source of light because that burns the very delicate mechanism of your eye. Now in TV you are looking directly at the source of the light. A movie is far better than TV, because at least you are not looking directly at the source of light. TV is creating so many diseases, now they are suspecting that even cancer may be one of those diseases caused by TV. And a few more new diseases are bound to be discovered soon, because the generation that is looking at TV for five, six hours per day is growing up. But this has always been so; even if the TV were not there, there are other things. The problem is the same: how to avoid oneself, because one feels so ugly. And who has made you so ugly? — your so-called religious people, your popes, your SHANKARACHARYAS. They are responsible for distorting your faces and they have succeeded. They have made everybody ugly. Each child is born beautiful, and then we start distorting his beauty, crippling him in many ways, paralyzing him in many ways, distorting his proportion, making him unbalanced. Sooner or later he becomes so disgusted with himself that he is ready to be with anybody. He may go to a prostitute just to avoid himself.
LOVE YOURSELF…, says Buddha. And this can transform the whole world. It can destroy the whole ugly past. It can herald a new age, it can be the beginning of a new humanity. Hence my insistence on love — but love begins with you yourself, then it can go on spreading. It goes on spreading of its own accord; you need not do anything to spread it. LOVE YOURSELF…, says Buddha. And then immediately he adds: AND WATCH…. That is meditation, that is Buddha’s name for meditation. But the first requirement is to love yourself, and then watch. If you don’t love yourself and start watching, you may feel like committing suicide.
Many Buddhists feel like committing suicide because they don’t pay attention to the first part of the sutra, they immediately jump to the second: watch yourself. In fact, I have never come across a single commentary on THE DHAMMAPADA, on these sutras of the Buddha, which has paid any attention to the first part: LOVE YOURSELF. Socrates says: Know thyself, Buddha says: Love thyself. And Buddha is far more true, because unless you love yourself you will never know yourself — knowing comes only later on, love prepares the ground. Love is the possibility of knowing oneself, love is the right way to know oneself.
I was staying once with a Buddhist monk, Jagdish Kashyap; he is now dead. He was a good man. We were talking about THE DHAMMAPADA and we came across this sutra, and he started talking about watching, as if he had not read the first part at all. No traditional Buddhist ever pays any attention to the first part; he simply bypasses it. I said to Bhikshu Jagdish Kashyap, “Wait! You are overlooking something very essential. Watching is the second step and you are making it the first step, and it cannot be the first step.” Then he read the sutra again and he said with mystified eyes, “I have been reading THE DHAMMAPADA my whole life and I must have read this sutra millions of times — it is my everyday morning prayer to go through THE DHAMMAPADA, I can repeat it simply from memory, but I have never thought that ‘Love yourself’ is the first part of meditation and watching is the second part.” And this is the case with millions of Buddhists all over the world, and this is the case with neo-Buddhists also — because in the West Buddhism is now spreading. The time for Buddha has come in the West. Now the West is ready to understand Buddha, and the same mistake is being made there too. Nobody thinks that “Love yourself” has to be the foundation of knowing yourself, of watching yourself… because unless you love yourself you cannot face yourself, you will avoid. Your watching may itself be a way of avoiding yourself.
First: LOVE YOURSELF AND WATCH — TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS.
Create loving energy around yourself. Love your body, love your mind. Love your whole mechanism, your whole organism. By “love” is meant: accept it as it is, don’t try to repress. We repress only when we hate something, we repress only when we are against something. Don’t repress, because if you repress, how are you going to watch? And we cannot look eye-to-eye at the enemy; we can look only in the eyes of our beloved. If you are not a lover of yourself you will not be able to look into your own eyes, into your own face, into your own reality. Watching is meditation, Buddha’s name for meditation. ‘Watch’ is Buddha’s watchword. He says: Be aware, be alert, don’t be unconscious. Don’t behave in a sleepy way. Don’t go on functioning like a machine, like a robot. That’s how people are functioning.
Mike had just moved into his apartment and decided he should get acquainted with his across-the-hall neighbor. When the door was opened he was delightfully surprised to see a beautiful young blonde bulging out of a skimpy see-through negligee. Mike looked her squarely in the eye and ad-libbed: “Hi! I am your new sugar across the hall — can I borrow a cup of neighbor?”
People ARE living unconsciously: they are not aware of what they are saying, what they are doing — they are not watchful. People go on guessing, not seeing; they don’t have any insight, they can’t have. Insight arises only through great watchfulness: then you can see even with closed eyes. Right now you can’t see even with open eyes. You guess, you infer, you impose, you project.
Grace lay on the psychiatrist’s couch. “Close your eyes and relax,” said the shrink, “and I will try an experiment.” He took a leather key case from his pocket, flipped it open and shook the keys. “What did that sound remind you of?” he asked. “Sex,” she whispered. Then he closed his key case and touched it to the girl’s upturned palm. Her body stiffened. “And that?” asked the psychiatrist. “Sex,” Grace murmured nervously. “Now open your eyes,” instructed the doctor, “and tell me why what I did was sexually evocative to you.” Hesitantly, her eyelids flickered open. Grace saw the key case in the psychiatrist’s hand and blushed scarlet. “Well — er — to begin with,” she stammered, “I thought that first sound was your zipper opening….”
Your mind is constantly projecting — projecting itself. Your mind is constantly interfering with reality, giving it a color, shape and form which is not its own. Your mind never allows you to see that which is; it allows you to see only that which it WANTS to see. Just twenty years ago, scientists used to think that our eyes, ears, nose and our other senses, AND the mind, were nothing but openings to reality, bridges to reality. But within twenty years — the last twenty years — the whole understanding has changed. Now they say our senses and the mind are not really openings to reality but guards against it. Only two percent of reality ever gets through these guards into you; ninety-eight percent of reality is kept outside. And the two percent that reaches you and your being is no longer the same; it has to pass through so many barriers, it has to conform to so many mind things, that by the time it reaches you it is no longer itself.
Meditation means putting the mind aside so that it no longer interferes with reality and you can see things as they are. Why does the mind interfere at all? — because the mind is created by society. It is society’s agent within you; it is not in your service, remember! It is your mind but it is not in your service; it is in a conspiracy against you. It has been conditioned by society; society has implanted many things in it. It is YOUR mind, but it no longer functions as a servant to you; it functions as a servant to society. If you are a Christian then it functions as an agent of the Christian church, if you are a Hindu then your mind is Hindu, if you are a Buddhist your mind is Buddhist. And reality is neither Christian nor Hindu nor Buddhist; reality is simply as it is. And you have to put these minds aside: the communist mind, the fascist mind, the Catholic mind, the Protestant mind…. There are three thousand religions on the earth — big religions and small religions and very small sects and sects within sects — three thousand in all. So there exist three thousand minds, types of mind — and reality is one, and God is one, and truth is one!
Meditation means: put the mind aside and watch. The first step — LOVE YOURSELF — will help you tremendously. By loving yourself you will have destroyed much that society has implanted within you. You will have become freer from the society and its conditioning.
And the second step is: watch — just watch. Buddha does not say what has to be watched — everything! Walking, watch your walking. Eating, watch your eating. Taking a shower, watch the water, the cold water falling on you, the touch of the water, the coldness, the shiver that goes through your spine — watch everything, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS. A moment finally comes when you can watch even your sleep. That is the ultimate in watching. The body goes to sleep and there is still a watcher awake, silently watching the body fast asleep. That is the ultimate in watching. Right now just the opposite is the case: your BODY is awake but you are asleep. Then YOU will be awake and your body will be asleep. The body needs rest but your consciousness needs no sleep. Your consciousness IS consciousness; it is alertness, that is its very nature.
OSHO: The Dhammapada vol.5 chap.5