Osho - The attitude towards the body

Osho: Give the body abundant love, on getting which it becomes vibrant, alive. Its slumbering potentialities are awakened. But remember that neither the so-called debauchee nor the so-called abstainer loves the body in the real sense. The contempt of the libertine for his own body is manifest in the lack of his own self-restraint. It is out of this contempt that he is inclined to waste away his body. The abstainer too, recoiling from the other extreme, is no less backward in his hostility to the body.

Of course, the directions they turn to are different. The abstainer tortures and torments the body in the name of self-restraint, in the name of renunciation, and the other in the name of licentiousness; but both of them are wanting in thankfulness to and ardent love for the body. The characteristic feature of a person of healthy mental poise is a favourable attitude towards the body with a loving vision. Torturing the body in any manner whatsoever reveals an unhealthy and sick mentality. It amounts to the fact that we can be tormented by two kinds of mental infirmities, one of unrestrained enjoyment and the other of unthinking renunciation. Hence the libertine makes a volte face and comes to the point of renunciation.

How much does one wish that he is able to stop in the middle! But, unfortunately, it is very easy to proceed from one sickness to another, such sick-minded persons have taught us a lot. This is what they teach: the body is our enemy, we have to fight with it. As a result of these baneful teachings religion and piety have become body-obsessed. Opposition to the body must perforce be body-centred.

Hence I say that if you wish to go beyond the body, if you wish to rise above it, do not fight with it, harbour no hostility towards it. Love it and seek its friendship. The body is not our enemy. It is an instrument, a wonderful instrument, ready to be used. It is incumbent upon you to stretch your hand of friendship towards that which you wish to use. Prior to everything else, it is necessary to extend a friendly hand towards your own body which is a fine specimen of God’s adroitness as a skilled craftsman. It is a ladder full of secrets that leads you up to the Supreme Soul. He is certainly mad who comes into conflict with the ladder instead of climbing up through its rungs. Unfortunately, we are surrounded by the fraternity of such incorrigible bedlamites. Beware of them. It is difficult to estimate the extent of havoc wrought by such madmen among us. You do not fully realize the thousands of secrets lying hidden in this body naturally bestowed on you. Even if one learns all the secrets of one’s own body, one can easily secure the key to the endless mysteries of the Supreme Soul. How small is this body but how many wonderful mysteries lie embedded in it! The mind is hidden in the body. The soul is hidden in the mind. The Supreme Soul is hidden in the soul.

A sage was about to die. He took leave of his disciples and devotees present there. He thanked them all and stood up with his folded hands, and said, ‘Oh, my beloved body! It is you who led me to God. I thank you for it. I could not do anything for you. On the other hand, I had subjected you to untold sufferings and pain. I had extracted work out of you without paying you anything in return. I am indebted to you very much, for endless has been the help you rendered me. At this hour of farewell I seek your pardon. For all my acts of omission and commission, I request you to excuse me. But for you, it would have been impossible for me to reach God!”

You have to see the body in this way. This attitude of thankfulness, this loving fervour is essential. The sage had said, “Oh, my beloved body!” These words stir up a wonderful bliss in me. Cannot a similar sympathetic understanding brighten up your life too? May I ask you whether you have at any time looked upon the body with an overflow of such loving sympathy? Have you ever felt yourselves blessed with its acts of service? Have you ever expressed your gratefulness to it? If not, how great had been the ingratitude! What an unbecoming discourtesy! What a misdemeanour!

The attitude towards the body should be one of understanding and deep sympathy. One should have knowledge enough to protect it and view it with friendliness. It is our fellow-traveller in a long uphill journey, sharing with us our joys and sorrows. It is an instrument; it is a means and a ladder. Hence, in my view, no man with an iota of sense in him can come into conflict with it or be wicked towards it. But, as ill luck would have it, there have been in the world, and there still are, many men of warped, distorted vision whose high-handedness, violence, unrelenting suppression and cruel tactics towards their own physical body provoke in our mind feelings of remorse and sorrow and eventually a fervent prayer, “Oh God! save mankind from such stupid spirituality!” Activities of this magnitude and seriousness go only to prove a total loss of intelligence in them. But alas! the evil influences of such people still linger and haunt us even today. Let us keep ourselves away from such sickening sermons. Such preachers do not deserve our reverence; they deserve to be cured instead. Certainly I hope we will be able to cure them.

This hostility to the physical body, as I said, is but a reaction to the weakness, failure and dissatisfaction resulting from unregulated sensual enjoyment. Thus the innocent physical body has been blamed for the sinfulness of the Self itself. I appeal to you to be alert in regard to agonizing self-denials based on hostility to the physical body. In view of the fact that you have been playing havoc with your body, you may feel tempted towards all forms of self-discipline. If on seeing the enormous wealth possessed by some one, one becomes greedy or on seeing someone’s beauty, one is charmed, one does not normally puncture one’s eyes; if one were to do so, I would definitely call him a madcap, for the eyes never ask you to be greedy, nor do they want you to be passionate; they don’t command you to do anything of the sort. They are ever ready to carry out your bidding in the manner you deem fit to make use of them. As for the physical body, it is your slave, a whole time follower. Wherever you wish to take it, it is ever ready to follow you. Should you say, “Go to hell”, it is ready to go to hell; should you say, “Go to heaven” you will find it ready to go to heaven. The question, then, is not of the physical body, but of your volition. Let it not be forgotten that the physical body reels along behind the will.

We will be committing a great blunder if, instead of modifying the will, we were to torture the body, victimize it or even destroy it. Subjecting the body to harassment and suffering is another form of violence, and I never approve of violence to the self or to the physical body. I advocate self-love, and it appears to me that there cannot be anything more foolish than self-violence. But what I call self-love has nothing to do with ego-centred individuality. An ego-centred individual never loves himself, for should he love himself he would have been free from egotism, for there is nothing more diabolical and dispiriting than egotism. It is the ego-centred-individual who indulges in activities of self-violence in the garb of a holy man, for the ego does not attain as much satisfaction and nourishment in any other manner as in this. That is why a kind of haughtiness is visible in the so-called abstainers, ascetics and semifledged sages. They are egotistical because they are saints; and they are saints because they are egotistical.

Source: Osho Book “Wings of Love and Random Thought”

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