To Live Means to Risk

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Q: I have a belief that in order to grow I have to take risks, and in order to take risks I have to make decisions. Then when I try to make decisions I am filled with anxiety that I will make a wrong choice, as if my life depended on it. What is this craziness?

This seems still to be a belief, not an understanding. Belief is not going to help. Belief means borrowed; belief means you have not understood it yet. You may have become fascinated with it, you may have seen people who have risked and grown through it, but you have still not realized that risk is the only way to live; there is no other way. Not to risk is the only wrong there is; to risk is never wrong.

You cannot risk wrongly because if you are always afraid not to risk, something may go wrong, then you are not risking at all. If everything is guaranteed and then you risk, and everything is settled that everything is right, then you risk – then where is the risk? No, in the risk, the possibility to go wrong that’s why it is risk. And it is beautiful to move in that openness where something can be right, something can be wrong.

Osho discourse

One grows through it because even if you commit a wrong, you will never be the same again. Through committing it you will understand much. Even if you go astray you can come back the moment you realize it. And when you come back you have learned something – and learned the hard way. Not just memorized, it has become part of your blood, bones, and marrow. So never be afraid of going astray. People who are afraid of going astray, they become paralyzed. They never move.

And life is risk because life is alive; it is not dead. Only in a grave is there no risk. When you are dead there is no risk.

One disciple asked Lao Tzu, “Is it not possible to be at ease, comfortable in life?”

Lao Tzu said. “Wait. Soon you will die, and in the grave you can be at ease and comfortable forever and forever – for eternity.

Don’t waste life for that, because that is coming. These few moments live. And there is no other way to live: to live means to risk. It is always there. It has to be so because you are a flow. You can go astray.

I have heard about a man who was always afraid of deciding, but one has to decide. So he had to decide, and whatsoever he would decide would always go wrong, and it had become almost a part of his life. And he knew it, that whatsoever he decided will go wrong. The business will bring no profit; the train that he decides to go on, he will miss; the woman that he decides to marry will fall in love with somebody else. He was always missing.

One day it happened, he had to go to another town for some business work and there was only one airline and only one plane – there was no question of decision. So he was very happy because there is no question of decision; there is no alternative. He had to take that plane. But just in the middle, the engines failed.

He was very much worried; he said, “My God! This time I have not decided. There was no alternative. Now this is too much. If something is wrong with me and my decision it’s okay, but this time I have not decided at all. You have decided.” He was a follower of St. Francis, so he called, “St. Francis, save me! At least this time. I have never asked your help because I was always deciding so I knew it was because something is wrong with me that everything goes wrong. This time I am not at fault.”

A hand from the sky came and took him out of the plane. He was very happy. Then a voice was heard in the sky, “Which Francis? Francis Xavier, or Francis of Assisi? Tell me whom you have called!”

Now again…. You cannot escape. Life is always risk. One has to choose. Through choice you grow; through choice you become mature. Through choice you fall and you get up again.

Don’t be afraid of falling: otherwise your legs will lose the capacity to move. Nothing is wrong in falling. Falling is part of walking: falling is part of life. Fall, get up again, and every fall will make you stronger: and every time you go astray you will come back better, more experienced, more aware. Next time the same path will not be able to distract you. Commit as many errors as you can – only don’t commit the same error again and again.

Nothing is wrong in committing errors. Commit as many as you can – the more you can the better, because the more experience, the more awareness will come to you. Don’t remain sitting, don’t remain hanging in an indecisive state of mind. Decide! Not to decide is the, only wrong decision because then you are missing everything.

It is said about Thomas Edison that he was working on some project and he failed one thousand times. For almost three years he worked continuously, and he would fail. He tried everything, nothing seemed to work. His disciples became desperate, hopeless. One day one disciple said. “You have done one thousand experiments. Every experiment has failed. We seem not to be moving anywhere.” Edison looked surprised; he said, “What are you saying? What do you mean? Not moving anywhere? One thousand wrong doors are closed: now the right door cannot be very far away. We have committed one thousand errors – that much we have learned. What do you mean by saying that we are wasting our time? These one thousand errors cannot attract us anymore. We are coming, we are zeroing upon the truth. How long can it escape?”

Never be afraid of errors, mistakes, of going wrong.

This question is from Prem Nisha. She is always afraid. She is so much afraid she sits somewhere hiding; I can never see her. Maybe just my look and there may be risk. She goes on hiding herself. I know she is there, every day she is there, but she sits in such a way, somewhere behind the pillar, that I cannot see her. Or even sometimes she is in front of me: she sits with her head so bent down that I cannot recognize where she is.

Life is moving. You can remain sitting: then your life will be like a death. Get up and be moving. Take the risk.

Her situation is like a little boy:

Wise Winfred returned from summer camp with awards for woodcraft, hiking, and sailing; and also with a small star. Asked what the star was for, he replied, “For having my trunk packed neatly when we came home.” His mother was very pleased until Winfred added, “I had not unpacked it.”

Nisha, unpack! Don’t be afraid that you may not be able to pack it again so neatly. A little mess is good; nothing is wrong about it. But remaining with the unopened life, closed, is the only wrong you can do to life. That is refusal. That is refusing God. The whole has created you to live here, to live as profoundly as possible – to live as dangerously as possible. The whole wanted you to be so alive, alive at the peak – wildly alive that’s why you are sent. And you are afraid something may go wrong.

[…] To be near me is to be tremendously in love because that is the only way to be near me. I am not here just trying to propagate some teachings. I am not a teacher. I am giving you a different vision of life. It is risky: I am trying to convince you that the way you have lived up to now is basically wrong, there is another way – but of course that other way is unknown, is in the future. You have never tasted it. You will have to trust me; you will have to move with me in the dark. The fear will be there: the danger will be there. It is going to be painful – all growth is – but through pain one reaches to the ecstasy. Only through pain is ecstasy reached.

Osho, Yoga: the Alpha and the Omega, Vol 7, Ch 10, Q 3

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