Osho on Fear of being Left Alone

Question : Beloved Osho, My biggest fear and limitation, as far as i can discover, is the fear of being left alone. I feel that this always had, and still has, a strong influence on my life and my relationships. Besides feeling this fear and letting it be there — which i obviously haven’t done enough — is there any other way out of it? Beloved master, would you like to talk about this fear of being left, and alone?

Osho : Sadhan, the fear of being left alone is something natural, because everybody is born in a family, so from the very beginning one is always within a certain group, a certain crowd, a certain religion. Always there are people surrounding you. So being amongst people becomes almost natural to us, although it is only a habit.

It is not natural; as far as nature is concerned, everybody is born alone. It does not matter that one is born in a family. For nine months in the mother’s womb you are alone. After you are born, whenever you close your eyes you will find your aloneness. Even in the marketplace, just close your eyes and you will find yourself alone.

Aloneness is your very nature, and the crowd is just a habit. But the habit has become so strong and you have become so unaware of your nature that there is always a fear that if everybody leaves you, what are you going to do? In fact, you don’t know who you are if everybody leaves you. It is their opinions which create an identity for you.

Somebody says to you, “Sadhan, you are so beautiful.” He is giving you a certain identity. Somebody says, “You are so intelligent,” somebody says, “You are so joyful,” somebody says, “You are so loving.” These are all opinions. They may have been expressed only as a form of etiquette, they may not mean anything, but you collect these opinions. And this is what your personality is.

Your personality depends on what people say about you. That’s why everybody is so much concerned about his reputation, his name, his prestige. And society exploits this situation very cleverly. It keeps everybody trembling, afraid, because society has the power to take away your respectability, your honor. You are a slave, unknowingly, because you depend on society for your identity. Without that identity you don’t know who you are. That is the ultimate fear of being left alone, that you will not know who you are.

I have told you a Sufi story …. A Sufi mystic comes to Mecca. It is a festival time, when Mohammedans from all over the world come to Mecca. It is part of their religion that every Mohammedan at least once in his life must go to Mecca. I have seen poor Mohammedans … And Mohammedans are poor because of certain of their religious ideas. They are so fanatic that they cannot change those ideas, and unless they change those ideas they are not going to be rich. Their ideas simply go against the whole economics.

Mohammedans are against lending money with interest or borrowing money with interest. Now, the whole world of economics depends on interest. The whole of banking, the whole of business, even the nations, even the greatest industrialists, the super-rich — all are dependent on loans. Nobody is going to give you money without interest, and Mohammedanism is against interest, saying that it is the greatest sin, to take interest or to give interest. Naturally, Mohammedans have remained the poorest people of the world.

I have seen poor Mohammedans selling their houses, their land or whatsoever they had, just to go at least once to Mecca; otherwise they are not perfect Mohammedans. How are they going to face their God? The first question he will ask is, “Have you been to Mecca or not?”

This Sufi mystic, a poor Mohammedan, went to Mecca. All the hotels were full, all the caravanserais were full. And he was not a rich man. He knocked on many doors, but everywhere he was refused — millions of people had gathered there. And in the desert in the cold night, hungry and thirsty, how was he going to survive? Finally he told the manager of a hotel, “I will lie down anywhere — on the steps, in the basement. But at least for the night … I am tired, I have been walking miles and miles to reach here.”

The manager said, “I can see you are tired and you look a very simple and humble man. I cannot refuse you. But the trouble is, we don’t have any room, any place. Just one thing is possible. One room I have given to a man — he is rich. It is a double bedroom; he is alone, but he has paid for the room. I can ask him, perhaps he may feel some compassion for you. So come with me.”

The manager thought, “There is no problem, because one bed is empty. Why send this poor man …? He can go to sleep.” So the manager left, and the mystic, with his turban, with his shoes, with his coat, went to bed — even with his shoes on. He wore everything, and of course sleep was difficult. He was tossing and turning, and because of his tossing and turning the man to whom the room belonged could not sleep.

Finally the man said, “Listen, I have allowed you to sleep here but you don’t sleep, you are simply tossing and turning. And I can see that in such a situation nobody can sleep: you have not even taken your shoes off, your turban is on, you are sleeping in a tight coat; it is impossible. And you are not allowing me either to sleep.”

The mystic said, “It is a great problem.”
The man said, “What is the great problem?”

He said, “You are sleeping naked; I also have the habit of sleeping naked.”
So the man said, “Then what is the problem? Just get naked and go to sleep!”

The mystic said, “It is not so easy. The problem is, if I go to sleep naked, in the morning how am I going to find out who is me — you or me? Because my only identity is my clothes: my turban, my shoes. Naked, I don’t have any identity. So in the morning who will say who I am ?”

The man laughed at the stupidity. He said, “I will suggest to you something. Just look in the corner — some toy … perhaps the previous people who stayed in the room, their children must have left it.” So he said, “Do one thing: take that toy, tie it to your foot and go to sleep. In the morning you can see that the toy is there, so it is certainly you.”

The mystic said, “That sounds absolutely right.” He dropped his clothes, got naked; the other man helped in tying the toy to his foot and he fell asleep and immediately started snoring. He was really tired. The other man had an idea. He untied the toy, tied it to his foot, and went to sleep. In the morning the mystic woke up, looked at his foot, looked at the other man’s foot and said, “My God, I know you are me, but who am I? It is absolutely certain you are me, because the toy is there on your foot. But now the problem arises, who am I?”

Mystics have used this story for centuries to tell you that your whole identity consists of very nonessential things: and those are the opinions given by others to you. They can withdraw their opinions; hence people are always afraid to do anything that goes against tradition, religion, political ideology, nationalistic attitudes. Even if it seems absolutely wrong, people go on supporting it for the simple reason that they are afraid that if they raise their voice against anything traditional, society can withdraw the identity that it has given to them. And then you will not know who you are.

This is the fear, Sadhan, that if you are left alone, how will you know who you are? Those people who had made you something, somebody, are all gone. And the fear remains until you come to know yourself directly, not via the other.

These are the two things to be remembered. When you know yourself via others, it is your personality, just a thin layer of opinions. When you know yourself directly, you know your individuality. And once you have known your individuality, the fear of being left alone disappears. There is no other way.

You are asking, “My biggest fear and limitation, as far as I can discover, is the fear of being left alone.” This is not only your fear, this is the fear every human being suffers from. It is good that you have become aware of it, because that is the first step towards getting rid of it.

“I feel that this always had, and still has, a strong influence on my life and my relationships.” If the fear is there it is bound to have an influence on your life, because you will always move in such a way that you are not left alone, whatever the price you have to pay, even if you have to remain a slave your whole life. If you have to sell your soul you will sell it, but you will remain surrounded by the crowd. It feels cozy, secure, safe. You know who you are.

It will destroy your whole spiritual beauty, your spiritual glory. It will destroy all your possibilities of inner growth. And it is going to influence your relationships. Millions of people go on living in relationships which are simply hell; but just out of the fear that they will be left alone they go on clinging. It is miserable, it is a great suffering, it is a torture, but at least somebody is with you.

In comparison to being left alone, it is better to be miserable but to be with someone. That is one of the reasons why millions of people go on suffering, and still go on clinging to the same relationships which are not giving them any nourishment, but are simply destructive, suicidal.

Only a man or a woman who is capable of being alone is also capable of being in a relationship without being destroyed by it — because being alone is no longer a fear. If some relationship is creating misery, you can simply get out of it. Nobody can prevent you. It is a very pathetic situation, that millions of people are clinging to each other just out of the fear that they might be left alone. And to be alone is our nature. There is nothing to fear, only you have to experience it. Once you have experienced, in the deep silences of your heart, the beauty of your aloneness and the ecstasy of your aloneness, all fear will be gone. And you will laugh at your past: how stupid you have been! What have you been doing with yourself?

“Besides feeling this fear and letting it be there — which I obviously have not done enough — is there any other way out of it?” There is only one way out of it, and that is: learn to enter into your aloneness as often as possible. Whenever you have a chance, don’t unnecessarily get busy to avoid your aloneness.

Whenever you have a chance, close your eyes, sit silently, relaxed, and look inside. Slowly, slowly the turmoil settles, the mind becomes quiet, and a deep silence prevails. And suddenly you start feeling your innermost being, your very center of life, which is alone. There is nobody and there can never be anybody. Nobody can approach there except you. It is your territory. It is the only place which belongs to you.

Nobody can take it away, not even death. That will happen to the outside, to the body, to the mind, but not to this inner space, which for centuries we have called the soul, the spirit or the god within you — whatever name you want. But this aloneness, once known, simply removes all fear. In fact it brings a new dimension of blissfulness. Rather than being afraid of aloneness, you become more and more intrigued with its mystery. You want to be more and more alone.

In the middle of the night you will awake and sit in your bed and just move into your aloneness. And it is only a question of going again and again. By your moving in and out the way becomes easier, the path becomes easier. It becomes so easy that just any moment you close your eyes you immediately reach, without losing a split second, to the center. Then in the very marketplace you can be alone, in the crowd. And you will feel such a joy arising in you, such a song out of your silence, such fragrance that you have never known before.

Sadhan, it is not a big problem. It is a very simple thing. Just, because people have forgotten the very idea of going within themselves, it looks like something difficult. But I say unto you, it is the simplest thing in the world.

This fear of being alone, or left alone, is not a simple phenomenon; it is very complex. Because of it, many other things happen to you: jealousy is part of it, anger is part of it, sadness is part of it, attachment is part of it, possessiveness is part of it. You can see why — why you want to dominate as a husband, as a wife, as a parent. Why do you want to dominate? Just to make sure that the other is absolutely under your control. Hence everybody is trying to keep everybody else under control. But deep down it is only the fear of being alone. And it is not only today; perhaps from the very beginning — if there has ever been a beginning — the fear has been there.

And, Sadhan, because you are a woman it is even more complex, because man has taken away all possibilities of your independence. Mostly he has not allowed you to be educated, he has not allowed you to learn any craftsmanship, any skill; he has not allowed you to be financially free and independent. That was his strategy to keep you in bondage. He is also afraid of being left alone. Out of his fear he has destroyed women’s liberty. And a woman is more afraid of being left alone because now she is absolutely dependent.

She will not be able to earn, she will not be able to stand on her own. So even if her husband is just a torturer, a sadist, she has to remain with him. At least he takes care of her food, of her clothes, of a shelter.

Coming home very late one night, Adam found Eve waiting angrily. “Late again,” she shouted, “you must be seeing some other woman.”
“I consider that accusation wildly absurd,” said the outraged Adam. “You know perfectly well that you and I are quite alone in this world.” Adam stamped off to bed.
He was awakened by a tickling sensation on his chest. Opening his eyes, he saw Eve hovering over him, carefully counting his ribs.

Because God had created Eve by taking one rib out, she is counting the ribs. Perhaps he has taken out another rib and somewhere in the surroundings there is another woman in the bushes. This fear, although natural, can be dropped, because you have the possibility of rising above nature. Your awareness can go higher, and from those heights what was very important in the dark valleys of life becomes absolutely unimportant and ridiculous. The day you can laugh about all your fears will be a great day in your life — and I am preparing you for that day.

A naive priest is moved to a parish in a bad neighborhood of New York and is bewildered by the many women who are constantly approaching him to whisper, “Five bucks for a blowjob, buddy.”
Not wanting to remain ignorant any longer, he approaches a local nun. “Excuse my ignorance, sister,” says the young priest, “but could you please tell me what a blowjob is?”
The nun snaps back, “Five bucks, just like anywhere else.”

I am preparing you so that one day you can laugh about everything that has been a fear, a misery, a possessiveness, a domination, and you can joke about everything that people are taking too seriously.

Two Irish girls were commiserating with each other about their unmarried state. “At least I was two-thirds married once,” said Maureen.
“What do you mean, two-thirds married?” asked Eileen.
“Well,” replied Maureen, “I was there, the priest was there, but that bloody Paddy never showed up.”

Life is so hilarious. Why should you unnecessarily get worried about fear, about misery, and about Latifa and Om? I think most of your problems seem important because they are the problems of millions of people. So you think that certainly your problems are serious, and great, and difficult. But that is not the right conclusion.

Hymie and Betty Goldberg were having a day in the country. Betty saw a lovely place under a tree next to a small pond and pointed it out to Hymie.
“That’s a beautiful spot for a picnic,” she said.
“It must be, dear,” shrugged Hymie. “Fifty million mosquitoes can’t be wrong.”

That is the trouble. But I say to you, fifty million mosquitoes may not be wrong, but fifty million human beings may be wrong, because they are simply imitating each other. It is the same story. They are all playing the same game, the same role, and just because the whole crowd is suffering from the same problem, a small problem becomes an epidemic. If you look at the problem and forget the fifty million mosquitoes, it is a very small problem, and a very small method can bring you out of it.

Source – Osho Book “The New Dawn”

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