Anando invites us to look at fears in a relaxed and non-judgmental way.
Fear was one of the biggest issues in my life. Yet I was not even aware of how much it was affecting me until after I met Osho.
I had lived my whole life in fear –
fear of other people.
that almost everything I did
was done according to other people –
whether they would approve or not.
The day I started to become aware of it, I was working as an advocate in the legal department of the Ranch, in Oregon. The ‘Ranch’ was actually the huge community that was created around Osho when he was living there in the ’80’s. The US government did not take at all kindly to the fact that this foreigner in their midst was attracting up to 20,000 visitors each year from all over the world. It was the right-wing fundamentalist christian government of Ronald Reagan, and the attorney general was the fanatical Ed Meese. They threw everything they had at us, relentlessly, and we lawyers were working up to eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.
I was not afraid of the US government. It was still the days when you could naively believe (well at least I could) that the government would never harm innocent citizens. Those days were already numbered, but we didn’t know it then.
No, I was afraid of getting into trouble with a housewife. Actually, she was no ordinary housewife, she was one of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of Sheela, the woman overseeing (read ‘controlling’) the Ranch. This kitchen cabinet was notorious – if you said ‘no’ to them in any way, you were thrown out. When Osho later came to know of how they had been operating, he thoroughly denounced them, but that’s another story.
This particular housewife, who had no legal knowledge whatsoever, wanted to know everything we were doing, every day. I hated having to waste time explaining to her in detail what I was doing and why, and then to listen to her ideas and suggestions, most of which were totally impractical. These sessions sometimes lasted an hour or so, and then we had to stay up into the small hours of the night doing the real work.
I was good at my job and had the results to prove it. Enduring this daily torture was hell for my mind and for my ego (which was probably the point, but I had neither the time nor the experience to ponder on such things in those days).
On this particular day, she insisted on a strategy which was simply impossible. As in just not do-able. To get rid of her, I agreed. And then I faced the awful reality. To do what she wanted seemed to me legal suicide for our case, and potential disaster for the ongoing existence of the Ranch. In my exhausted state, and with my massive ego, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Which meant I could very easily be thrown out. Thrown out not just from my job, but from my home, my lover, my friends – from my whole life, because that is what the Ranch had come to mean to me. Worst of all, it meant being thrown away from Osho’s presence.
At that moment I tasted fear like I never had before. My whole body was overtaken by terror and dread. I sat with it for a whole night, unable to sleep. Numb. And I was shocked to realize that this fear was of just one person turning against me…
As luck had it, this person flew off to Portland on some assignment the next day, so my defiance was completely overlooked and legal life went on as normal. But inside I would never be the same again.
Over the following days I began to be more and more aware of fear – my fear. I noticed that I was afraid of so many people, of what they thought of me, of whether they liked me or not…. Finally I had to face the fact that I had lived my whole life in fear – fear of other people. I realized that almost everything I did was done according to other people – whether they would approve or not.
It was more than depressing. It was horrible. I just couldn’t get away from it. Everything I did, everywhere I went, it was in my face (and in my stomach and legs). I felt as if I was living in a pit of fear, a pit so deep that I would never get out of it.
And then… some time later, I really don’t remember how long, I realized that it was less. And less, and less and less. I can’t say that any great revelation happened, no bolt of lightening. But later I understood the truth of what Osho says about awareness. Just seeing, is enough. Seeing the hell you are living in, really feeling it, realizing that you are responsible for it and no-one else, and consciously living in it…. how long can you go on doing that? How long can you consciously go on choosing hell?
Being able to look
at your fears
from outside the mind,
in a relaxed and
should be enough for
the alchemy of awareness
to start doing its job.
One key Osho gives which I was not aware of at the time, is not to judge what you are seeing. I hated what I was seeing…. And I guess that’s why it took me a while to get to the point of acceptance. Meanwhile, I had no alternative but to go on seeing myself, day after day, slogging through a mire of fear, trapped by fear. That’s the problem with awareness, once you start seeing something that had previously been unconscious, you can’t go back to your blissful unawareness and pretend that everything is OK. I guess in the end I became so familiar with this fear, I just automatically accepted that yes, this is how I am living my life. And although I was unaware of it at the time, that was the turning point.
I find this experience tremendously helpful when working with people in my courses. Knowing personally that space where you feel there is nothing you can do to get out of the way you are, I encourage them to follow Osho’s suggestion – live your hell consciously, without judging it. And have the courage to own that you are creating it and you are choosing it.
If you can really do that totally, without allowing the mind to surreptitiously keep you caught in the game by rationalizing that you are trying to get out of it, then that totality is enough. The day will come, probably sooner for you than it did for me, because I didn’t understand the science of what Osho was saying… the day will come when it just drops by itself. And you won’t even notice until some time later when you realize it is not there any more!
Being able to look at your fears from outside the mind, in a relaxed and non-judgmental way, should be enough for the alchemy of awareness to start doing its job.
Illustration by Punya