Exerpt from, The Invitation, By Osho
Question – Beloved Osho, What does it mean to Love Myself?
Osho – Prem Kabir, one has to begin not by loving oneself, because you don’t know who you are. Who are you going to love? If you start by loving yourself, you will love only your ego, which is not your self, which is your false personality. Almost everybody loves his personality; everybody loves his ego. Even the ugliest woman, if you say to her, “How beautiful you are,” will not refuse to accept it.
I have heard… Two old men meet on a street corner. “Where have you been for the past eight weeks?”
“In jail,” says the second man.
“In jail? How come?” says the first man.
The second old man replies, “Well, about eight weeks ago I was standing on a street corner and this beautiful young girl rushes up with a policeman and says, `He is the man, officer. He is the one who attacked me.’ And you know, I felt so flattered, I admitted it.”
How many things you have admitted that you know perfectly well are not true. People say you are so loving, so sincere, so truthful, so beautiful, so honest — and you never deny. This is not the love I have been talking about.
Yes, I would like you to love yourself, because unless you love yourself you cannot love anybody else. You don’t know what love is if you have not loved yourself. But before you can love yourself you have to know yourself; hence love is secondary, meditation is primary.
And the miracle is, if you meditate and slowly, slowly get out of the ego and out of your personality and realize your real self, love will come on its own. You don’t have to do anything, it is a spontaneous flowering. But it blossoms only in a certain climate, and that climate I call meditation. In the climate of silence — no-mind, no disturbance inside, absolute clarity, peace and silence — suddenly, you will see thousands of flowers have opened within you, and their fragrance is love.
Naturally, first you will love yourself, because that will be your first encounter. First you will become aware of the fragrance that is arising in you and the light that has been born in you, and the blissfulness that is showering on you. Then loving will become your nature. Then you will love many; then you will love all.
In fact, what we know in our ignorance is a relationship, and what we know in our awareness is no longer a relationship. It is not that I love you; it is that I am love.
And you have to understand the difference. When you say, “I love you,” what about others? What about the whole existence? The more narrow your love is, the more imprisoned. Its wings are cut; it cannot fly in the sky across the sun. It does not have freedom; it is almost in a golden cage. The cage is beautiful, but inside the cage the bird is not the same bird that you see in the sky opening its wings.
Love has to become not a relationship, not a narrowing, but a broadening. Love has to become your very quality, your very character, your very being, your radiance. Just as the sun radiates light not for anyone in particular, unaddressed, meditation radiates love unaddressed.
Of course, first it is felt within oneself, for oneself, and then it starts radiating all around. Then you love not only human beings, you love trees, you love birds; you simply love, you are love.
You are asking, Prem Kabir, “What does it mean to love myself?” It means meditation. It means to be yourself. And nature will bring love as a reward. Just don’t listen to the priests. They are the enemies of love. They have been teaching the world to hate yourself and to hate the world, because they have been teaching either it is a sin that you were born or it is because of the evil acts of your past life that you are suffering in this life. But no religion accepts this life with joy and rejoicing, as a gift, as a reward of which you are not worthy, of which you don’t claim any right. You have not earned it.
So the first thing is, avoid the priests. They have taught you life-negative values. And my effort here is to bring back life-affirmation. That’s what I call loving yourself, accepting yourself not as a sinner. How can you accept yourself if you think you are a sinner? How can you love yourself if you think you are nothing but full of guilt, nothing but an accumulated past of evil acts of millions of lives?
You will hate yourself. And that’s what your priests have been saying: renounce life, hate life, hate pleasure, hate everything, and sacrifice everything if you want to enter into paradise. Nobody has ever returned from paradise, so there is no evidence of any paradise anywhere, no proof, it is just a futile exercise which has never been able to come to a conclusion.
The old priest was warning his congregation about sin.
“Sin,” he said, “is like a big dog. There is the big dog of pride, and the big dog of envy, and the big dog of greed, and finally, there is the big dog of sex. And you have to kill those big dogs before they kill you and prevent you from getting to heaven. It can be done. I know, because over the years I have done it. I killed the big dog of envy, the big dog of pride, the big dog of greed — and yes, my children, I killed the big dog of sex.”
“Father,” came a voice from the back of the church, “are you sure that last dog did not die a natural death?”
You cannot change nature. If you can simply live naturally, transformations come. If they come, then sex disappears — but not by your efforts. By your efforts it goes on hanging around you. The more you repress it, the more you have it. The more you live it, the more is the possibility to go beyond it.
An old couple were sitting at home one evening listening to the faith healer on the radio.
“Okay folks,” he began, “God wants to heal you all. All you have to do is put one hand on the radio and the other hand on the part that is sick.”
The old lady got up, shuffled over to the radio and put her hand on her arthritic hip. Then the old man put one hand on the radio and the other hand on his fly. His wife looked at him with contempt and said, “You old idiot. The man said he would heal the sick, not raise the dead!”
Live naturally. Live peacefully. Live inwardly. Just give a little time to yourself, being alone, being silent, just watching the inner scene of your mind. Slowly, slowly thoughts disappear. Slowly, slowly one day the mind is so still, so silent as if it is not there. Just this silence… in this moment you are not here, as if the whole Buddha Hall is empty.
In this silence within you, you will find a new dimension of life. In this dimension greed does not exist, sex does not exist, anger does not exist, violence does not exist. It is not a credit to you; it is the new dimension beyond mind where love exists, pure, unpolluted by any biological urge; where compassion exists for no other reason — not to get any reward in heaven — because compassion is a reward unto itself.
A deep longing exists to share all that treasure that you have discovered within yourself, and to shout from the housetops to the people, “You are not poor! Paradise is within you.
You need not be beggars, you are born emperors.” You just have to discover your empire, and your empire is not of the outside world; your empire is of your own interiority. It is within you and it has always been there, just waiting for you to come home. Love will come, and will come in abundance — so much that you cannot contain it. You will find it is overflowing you, it is reaching all directions.
Just discover your hidden splendor. Life can be simply a song, a song of joy. Life can be simply a dance, a celebration, a continuous celebration. All that you have to learn is a life-affirmative lifestyle. I call only that man religious who is life-affirmative. All those who are life-negative may think they are religious; they are not. Their sadness shows they are not. Their seriousness shows they are not.
A man of authentic religion will have a sense of humor. It is our universe, it is our home. We are not orphans. This earth is our mother. This sky is our father. This whole vast universe is for us, and we are for it. In fact, there is no division between us and the whole. We are organically joined with it, we are part of one orchestra.
To feel this music of existence is the only religion that I can accept as authentic, as valid. It does not have any scriptures, it need not have. It does not have any statues of God, because it does not believe in any hypotheses. It has nothing to worship, it has only to be silent, and out of that silence comes gratitude, prayer, and the whole existence turns into a godliness.
There is no God as a person. God is spread all over: in the trees, in the birds, in the animals, in humanity, in the wise, in the otherwise. All that is alive is nothing but godliness ready to open its wings, ready to fly into the freedom, ultimate freedom of consciousness. Yes, you will love yourself and you will love the whole existence too.