Hugging is the way of the heart

Discourses Osho on Health

Osho, Why is hugging such an incredibly effective therapeutic tool? P.S. I used to think that clarity, wit and analysis was the way, but they are all garbage alongside hugging.

Prem Amida,

Man needs to be needed. It is one of the most fundamental needs of human beings. Unless one is cared for one starts dying. Unless one feels that he is significant to somebody, at least to somebody, his whole life becomes insignificant.

Hence love is the greatest therapy there is. The world needs therapy because the world is missing love. In a really loving world no therapy will be needed at all; love will be enough, more than enough. Hugging is only a gesture of love, of warmth, of caring. The very feel of the warmth flowing from the other person melts many illnesses in you, melts the ice-like, cold ego. It makes you again a child.


The psychologists are well aware of the fact now that unless a child is hugged, kissed, he misses some nourishment. Just as the body needs food, the soul needs love. You can give to the child all the physical needs, all the physical comforts, but if hugging is missing the child will not grow in a wholesome being. He will remain somewhere deep down sad, uncared for, neglected, ignored. He was nursed, but he was not mothered.

It has been observed that if a child is not hugged he starts shrinking – he can even die – although everything else was provided for. As far as the body is concerned every care was taken, but no love surrounded the child. He became isolated, he became disconnected with existence.

Love is our connection, love is our very root. Just as you breathe – for the body it is absolutely essential: stop breathing and you are no more – in the same way, love is the inner breath. The soul lives by loving.

Analysis won’t do it. Wit and clarity, knowledge and scholarship won’t do it. You can know all there is to know about therapy, you can become an expert, but if you don’t know the art of love you remain only on the surface of the miracle of therapy.

The moment you start feeling for the patient, for the one who is suffering… out of hundred cases, ninety people are suffering basically because they have not been loved. If you start feeling the need for love of the patient, and if you can fulfill the need, there will be almost a magical change in the condition of the patient.

Love is certainly the most therapeutic phenomenon. Sigmund Freud was very much afraid of it, so much so… hugging was beyond the question – he was not even ready to face the patient, because listening to his misery, listening to his inner nightmares, he may start feeling sympathetic. His eyes may become wet, tears may start flowing, or maybe in an unguarded moment he may hold the hand of the patient.

He was so much afraid of any loving relationship between the therapist and the patient that he created a certain device: the patient has to lie down on the couch and behind the couch the psychoanalyst has to sit, so they are not facing each other.

And remember one thing: it is by facing each other that love grows. Animals cannot grow love because they make love to each other without facing each other, so there is no friendship, no relatedness. Once they are finished with lovemaking they go their ways – separately, not even saying a thank you, or goodbye, or see you soon! Animals have not been able to create friendship, family, society, for the simple reason because when they are making love they are not looking into each other’s eyes, they are not looking into each other’s face; as if their lovemaking is almost mechanical; there is no human element in it.

Man created the whole dimension of all kinds of relationships for the simple reason because he is the only animal who makes love facing each other. Then eyes start communicating, then facial expressions become a subtle language. Then the changes of mood and emotions – the joy, the ecstasy, the orgasmic glow – and intimacy grows. Intimacy needs it; it is a basic requirement.

Hence it is good to make love in light, not in darkness – at least a dim light, a candle light. Making love in darkness is just something animal in us, avoiding to face each other… a strategy to avoid.

Sigmund Freud was very much afraid of love; he was afraid of his own repressed love. He was afraid that he may get into some entanglement, involvement. He wanted to be just outside, not to be involved with the person, not to become part of his interiority, not to enter into deep waters but just to remain a scientific observer, aloof, detached, cool, far away. He wanted to create psychoanalysis as if it is a science. It is not a science, and it is never going to be a science! It is an art, and it is far more closer to love than to logic.

And the real psychoanalyst will not avoid getting deep into the interiority of the patient – he will take the risk. It is risky, it is going into troubled waters. You may be drowned yourself – after all, you are also human! You may get into some trouble, complexity; you may create some problems for yourself, but that risk has to be taken.

That’s why I love Wilhelm Reich very much. He is the man who transformed the face of whole psychoanalysis – by getting involved with the patient. He discarded the couch, he discarded this detached aloofness. He is a far greater revolutionary than Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud remained traditional; he was really afraid of his own repressions.

If you are not afraid of your own repressions you can help tremendously. If you are not afraid of your own unconscious, if you have solved your problems a little bit, you can help greatly by getting involved into the world of the patient, by becoming a participant rather than remaining just an observer.

In fact, because psychoanalysts are having their own problems, sometimes even more than the patient himself, one can understand Sigmund Freud’s fear. As far as I am concerned, I would like to make a categorical statement about it: unless a person is really awakened, enlightened, he cannot be a real, authentic therapist. Only a Buddha can be a real therapist because he has no problems left. He can merge and melt into the patient; in fact, for him the patient is not the patient at all.

That’s the difference between the relationship that exists between a patient and his therapist and the relationship that exists between a disciple and a Master. The disciple is not a patient, the disciple is a beloved, a loved one. The Master is not just an observer, he has become a participant. They have lost their separate entities, they have become one, and that oneness helps.

Hugging is only a gesture of oneness – even the gesture helps.

Prem Amida, you are right. You ask: Why is hugging such an incredibly effective therapeutic tool?

It is, and it is only a gesture. If it is true – not only a gesture but your heart is also in it — it can be a magical tool, it can be a miracle. It can transform the whole situation instantly.

Few things have to be understood about it. One is: the idea that the child dies and the man becomes adolescent, then the adolescent dies and the man becomes young, then the young man dies and he becomes middle-aged, and so on, so forth, is wrong. The child never dies – nothing ever dies. The child is there, always is there, wrapped by other experiences – wrapped by adolescence, then by youth, then by middle age, then by old age – but the child is always there.

You are just like an onion, layers upon layers, but if you peel the onion soon you will find fresher layers inside. Go on deeper and you find more and more, fresher layers. The same is true about man: if you go deep into him you will always find the innocent child – and to contact that innocent child is therapeutic.

Hugging gives you an immediate contact with the child. If you hug somebody with warmth, love, if it is not just an impotent gesture; if it is meaningful, significant, true, if your heart is flowing through it, immediately you come in contact with the child, with the innocent child. And the innocent child even for a single moment surfacing makes a tremendous difference because the innocence of the child is always healthy and whole; it is uncorrupted. You have reached to the innermost core of the person where no corruption has ever entered, you have reached to the virgin core, and just making the virgin core throb again with life is enough. You have started, triggered a process of healing.

Hence all the religions have used this phenomenon in different ways. Whenever Jesus prays to God he always calls him Abba. Christians have translated it as “God the Father”; that translation is not right, is very inaccurate – in a way literally true, but the metaphor has changed. Abba can only be translated as “daddy”, not as “father”; “father” seems to be cold. Just repeat the word father and it looks so far away. “God the Father”… Looks like an institution! Father is really an institution, it is not a natural phenomenon. The mother is natural, the father is only a creation of a certain society. There have been societies before where fathers never existed.

The word uncle is far more older than the word father. In a matriarchal society people knew about the mother, but because the marriage has not come into existence yet no child knew about the father. So all the people who have been the lovers of the mother – somebody out of them must be the father but that is not known – so all the people who could have been the lovers were known as uncles.

In Talmud, the Jewish God says: “Remember, I am not nice, I am not your uncle!” The uncle is always nice, the father almost never. It is very difficult to be friendly with the father, it is very easy to be friendly with the uncle. I would rather say it is better to call “God the Uncle” than to call him “God the Father”. It is closer, nicer, more friendly. But to call him Abba is the best. Jesus is giving him a name which creates intimacy.

When you call God Abba – Daddy – you are saying, “I am just a child. Take care of me, don’t ignore me. I cannot live without you – you are my life. Your love is my very nourishment.”

All the religions have used the idea that unless a man becomes a child again he cannot be truly religious. But to be a child means to be innocent, means to be full of wonder, means to be full of awe. For the child everything is a mystery – everything. He has no answers, he has only questions. He is immensely interested in knowing, he is open. The moment you have an answer you become closed, to that extent. If you have all the answers for all the questions you are absolutely closed, then you are not open. Your enquiry is finished, and with the enquiry finished you are dead.

A real being is always enquiring, he is always on the pilgrimage. He remains always an agnostic. All children are agnostics, neither theists nor atheists, nor Hindus nor Mohammedans, nor Catholics nor Protestants. They are simply innocent! They don’t believe in anything but they are ready to enquire, to investigate. And the enquiring heart is a healthy heart. When you are loaded with beliefs you are ill.

The Christian is ill, the Hindu is ill, the Jaina is ill – ill because they are prejudiced, ill because without seeing they have believed, ill because they are behaving stupidly. How can you believe in something that you have not known! And when you know something there is no need to believe at all, so belief in any case is ridiculous. Either you know or you don’t know. If you know there is no need to believe; if you don’t know, how can you believe? So belief is only for the mediocre, the stupids, the idiots. And no child is an idiot. Every child is so fresh, so alive, so full of zest that his very aliveness makes him healthy.

If you can touch the child in the patient in any way… and hugging is simply one of the most important things.

Because I have allowed my sannyasins to hug and kiss I am condemned all over the country – that I am telling my people to be indulgent. If this is indulgence, then let it be indulgence. This is not indulgence at all; there is something more in it. I am telling to you to be loving, and just sitting with somebody and telling him again and again, “I love you,” is not enough. At least hold the hand! Make it a reality – hug the person.

A very shy Englishman…

…and he must be very shy, otherwise just to be an Englishman is enough; there is no need to use the adjective “shy”. They are all shy! They are the most perfect gentlemen in the world – and, of course, in the same proportion they are dead too! Who has ever heard about a gentleman who is alive? If you are alive you are a man, why gentle? For what? Corpses are always gentle: they cannot do any harm, and they look so polite, so humble!

This shy gentleman was seeing a young woman for months. One full moon night they were sitting together on the porch, looking in the garden, and beyond the garden the moon was rising. And the shy Englishman gathered courage; it must have been a real great mighty effort!

My own feeling is it must be because of the moon; the moon drives people crazy, hence the word “lunatic”. Lunatic means “struck by the moon”. Lunatic comes from “lunar”, the moon – the moonstruck. He must have gone lunatic.

He asked the lady, “Can I… can I kiss you?”

And the lady was really getting tired, so she said, “And what do you think? Am I waiting here for a bus?”

When you love a person just verbal expressions are not enough, words are not enough; something more substantial is needed; words are only abstract. You have to do something! Hold the hand, hug the person, kiss the person, embrace the person. It is going to help you both: if you can melt in the hug you both will become again younger, fresher, livelier. And that’s the whole process of healing.

Prem Amida, analysis is the way of the mind, hugging is the way of the heart. The mind is the cause of all diseases and the heart is the source of all healing.

Osho, The Wild Geese and the Water, Ch 4, Q 1


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