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In this tenth volume of the popular Insights for a New Way of Living series, Osho examines the nature of compassion from a radically different perspective. He points out that "passion" lies at the root of the word, and then proceeds to challenge assumptions about what compassion really is. Many so-called acts of compassion, he says, are tainted by a subtle sense of self-importance and desire for recognition. Others are based in the desire not really to help others but to force them to change. Using stories from the lives of Jesus and Buddha and the world of Zen, Osho shows how the path to authentic compassion arises from within, beginning with a deep acceptance and love of oneself. Only then, says Osho, does compassion flower into a healing force, rooted in the unconditional acceptance of the other as he or she is.
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St. Martin's Griffin
March 31, 2010
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Excerpt from Compassion by Osho
Compassion, Energy, and Desire
Buddha lived for forty years after he became enlightened. After all his desires were finished, the ego disappeared, he lived for forty years more. Many times it was asked, "Why are you still in the body?" When the business is finished you should disappear. It looks illogical: Why should Buddha exist in the body even for a moment longer? When there is no desire, how can the body continue?
There is something very deep to be understood. When desire disappears, the energy that was moving in desire remains; it cannot disappear. Desire is just a form of energy; that's why you can turn one desire into another. Anger can become sex, sex can become anger. Sex can become greed, so whenever you find a very greedy person he will be less sexual. If he is really perfectly greedy he will not be sexual at all, he will be a celibate--because the whole energy is moving into greed. And if you find a very sexual person you will always find that he is not greedy, because nothing is left over for greed. If you see a person who has suppressed his sexuality he will be angry; anger will be always ready to come to the surface. You can see in his eyes, in his face, that he is just angry; all the sex energy has become anger.
That's why your so-called monks and sadhus are always angry. The way they walk they show their anger; the way they look at you they show their anger. Their silence is just skin deep--touch them and they will become angry. Sex becomes anger. These are the forms; life is the energy.
What happens when all desires disappear? Energy cannot disappear, energy is indestructible. Ask the physicists; even they say that energy cannot be destroyed. A certain energy was existing in Gautam Buddha when he became enlightened. That energy had been moving in sex, anger, greed, in millions of ways. Then all those forms disappeared--so what became of that energy? Energy cannot go out of existence, and when desires are not there, it becomes formless but it still exists. Now what is the function of it? That energy becomes compassion.
You cannot be in compassion because you have no energy. All your energy is divided and spread into different forms--sometimes sex, sometimes anger, sometimes greed. Compassion is not a form. Only when all your desires disappear does your energy become compassion.
You cannot cultivate compassion. When you are desireless, compassion happens; your whole energy moves into compassion. And this movement is very different. Desire has a motivation in it, a goal; compassion is non-motivated; there is no goal to it. It is simply overflowing energy.
Compassion Is Love Come of Age
Gautam Buddha's emphasis on compassion was a new phenomenon as far as the mystics of old were concerned. Gautam Buddha creates an historical dividing line from the past. Before him, meditation was enough; nobody had emphasized compassion together with meditation. And the reason was that meditation brings enlightenment, your blossoming, your ultimate expression of being--what more do you need? As far as the individual is concerned, meditation is enough. Buddha's greatness consists in introducing compassion even before you start meditating. You should be more loving, more kind, more compassionate.
There is a hidden science behind it. Before you become enlightened, if you have a heart full of compassion there is a possibility that after meditation you will help others to achieve the same beauty, the same height, the same celebration as you have achieved. Gautam Buddha makes it possible for enlightenment to be infectious.
But if the person feels that he has come back home, why bother about anybody else? Buddha makes enlightenment for the first time unselfish; he makes it a social responsibility. It is a great change in perspective. But compassion should be learned before enlightenment happens. If it is not learned before, then after enlightenment there is nothing to learn. When one becomes so ecstatic in oneself, then even compassion seems to be preventing one's own joy, a kind of disturbance in one's ecstasy. That's why there have been hundreds of enlightened people, but very few masters.
To be enlightened does not mean necessarily that you will become a master. Becoming a master means you have tremendous compassion, and you feel ashamed to go alone into those beautiful spaces that enlightenment makes available. You want to help the people who are blind, in darkness, groping their way. It becomes a joy to help them, it is not a disturbance. In fact, it becomes a richer ecstasy when you see so many people flowering around you; you are not a solitary tree who has blossomed in a forest where no other tree is blossoming. When the whole forest blossoms with you, the joy grows a thousandfold; you have used your enlightenment to bring a revolution in the world.
Gautam Buddha is not only enlightened, but an enlightened revolutionary. His concern with the world, with people, is immense. He was teaching his disciples that when you meditate and you feel silence, serenity, a deep joy bubbling inside your being, don't hold onto it; give it to the whole world. And don't be worried, because the more you give it, the more you will become capable of getting it. The gesture of giving is of tremendous importance once you know that giving does not take anything from you; on the contrary, it multiplies your experiences. But one who has never been compassionate does not know the secret of giving, does not know the secret of sharing.
It happened that one of Buddha's disciples, a layman--he was not a sannyasin but he was very devoted to Gautam Buddha--said, "I will do it . . . but I want just to make one exception. I will give all my joy and all my meditation and all my inner treasures to the whole world--except my neighbor, because that fellow is really nasty."
Neighbors are always enemies. Gautam Buddha said to him, "Then forget about the world, you simply give to your neighbor."
The man was at a loss: "What are you saying?"
Buddha said, "If you can give to your neighbor, only then will you be freed from this antagonistic attitude towards the human being."
Compassion basically means accepting people's frailties, their weaknesses, not expecting them to behave like gods. That expectation is cruelty, because they will not be able to behave like gods and then they will fall in your estimation and will also fall in their own self-respect. You have dangerously crippled them, you have damaged their dignity.
One of the fundamentals of compassion is to dignify everybody, to make everybody aware that what has happened to you can happen to them; that nobody is a hopeless case, nobody is unworthy, that enlightenment is not something to be deserved, it is your very self-nature.
But these words should come from the enlightened person, only then can they create trust. If they come from unenlightened scholars, the words cannot create trust. The word, spoken by the enlightened man, starts breathing, starts having a heartbeat of its own. It becomes alive, it goes directly into your heart--it is not intellectual gymnastics. But with the scholar it is a different thing. He himself is not certain of what he is talking about, what he is writing about. He is in the same uncertainty as you are.
Gautam Buddha is one of the landmarks in the evolution of consciousness; his contribution is great, immeasurable. And in his contribution the idea of compassion is the most essential. But you have to remember that in being compassionate you don't become higher; otherwise you spoil the whole thing. It becomes an ego trip. Remember not to humiliate the other person by being compassionate; otherwise you are not being compassionate--behind the words you are enjoying their humiliation.
Compassion has to be understood, because it is love come of age. Ordinary love is very childish, it is a good game for teenagers. The faster you grow out of it the better, because your love is a blind biological force. It has nothing to do with your spiritual growth; that's why all love affairs turn in a strange way, become very bitter. That which was so alluring, so exciting, so challenging, that for which you could have died . . . now you could still die, but not for it, you could die to get rid of it!
Love is a blind force. The only successful lovers have been those who never succeeded in getting their beloveds. All the great stories of lovers . . . Laila and Majnu, Shiri and Farhad, Soni and Mahival, these are the three Eastern stories of great love, comparable to Romeo and Juliet. But all these great lovers could not get together. The society, the parents, everything became a barrier. And I think perhaps it was good. Once lovers get married, then there is no love story left.
Majnu was fortunate that he never got hold of Laila. What happens when two blind forces come together? Because both are blind and unconscious, the outcome cannot be a great harmony. The outcome can only be a battlefield of domination, of humiliation, all kinds of conflicts.
But when passion becomes alert and aware, the whole energy of love comes to a refinement; it becomes compassion. Love is always addressed to one person, and its deepest desire is to possess that person. The same is the case from the other side--and it creates hell for both people.
Compassion is not addressed to anybody. It is not a relationship, it is simply your very being. You enjoy being compassionate to the trees, to the birds, to the animals, to human beings, to everybody--unconditionally, not asking for anything in return. Compassion is freedom from blind biology.
Before you become enlightened, you should keep alert that your love energy is not repressed. That's what old religions have been doing: they teach you to condemn the biological expressions of your love. So you repress your love energy . . . and that is the energy that can be transformed into compassion!
With condemnation, there is no possibility of transformation. So your saints are absolutely without any compassion; in their eyes you will not see any compassion. They are absolutely dry bones, with no juice at all. To live with a saint for twenty-four hours is enough to experience what hell is like. Perhaps people are aware of this fact, so they touch the feet of the saint and run away immediately.
One of the great philosophers of our age, Bertrand Russell, has emphatically declared, "If there is hell and heaven, I want to go to hell." Why? Just to avoid the saints, because heaven will be full of all these dead, dull, dusty saints. And Bertrand Russell thinks, "I could not tolerate this company even for a minute. And to imagine spending eternity, forever, surrounded by these corpses who don't know any love, who don't know any friendship, who never go on holidays . . . !?"
A saint remains seven days a week a saint. It is not allowed to him that at least on one day, Sunday, he should enjoy being a human being. No, he remains stiff, and this stiffness goes on growing as time passes.
Bertrand Russell's choice to be in hell I appreciate very much, because I can understand what he means by it. He is saying that in hell you will find all the juicy people of the world--the poets, the painters, the rebellious spirits, the scientists, the creative people, the dancers, the actors, the singers, the musicians. Hell must be really a heaven, because heaven is nothing but a hell!
Things have gone so wrong, and the basic reason for their going wrong is that love energy has been repressed. Gautam Buddha's contribution is, "Don't repress your love energy. Refine it, and use meditation to refine it." So, side by side, as meditation grows it goes on refining your love energy and makes it compassion. Then, before your meditation reaches its highest climax and explodes into a beautiful experience of enlightenment, compassion will be very close. It will become possible for the enlightened person to let his energies flow--and now he has all the energies of the world--through the roots of compassion, to anyone who is ready to receive. Only this type of person becomes a master.
To become enlightened is simple, but to become a master is a very complex phenomenon, because it needs meditation plus compassion. Just meditation is easy, just compassion is easy; but both together, simultaneously growing, becomes a complex affair.
But the people who become enlightened and never share their experience because they don't feel any compassion don't help the evolution of consciousness on the earth. They don't raise the level of humanity. Only the masters have been able to raise consciousness. Whatever small consciousness you have, the whole credit goes to the few masters who managed to remain compassionate, even after their enlightenment.
It will be difficult for you to understand . . . but enlightenment is so absorbing that one tends to forget the whole world. One is so utterly satisfied that he does not have any space to think of all those millions who are also groping for the same experience, knowingly or unknowingly, rightly or wrongly. When compassion remains present, then it is impossible to forget those people. In fact, this is the moment when you have something to give, something to share. And sharing is such a joy. You have known through compassion, slowly, that the more you share the more you have. If you can share your enlightenment too, your enlightenment will have much more richness, much more aliveness, much more celebration, many more dimensions.
Enlightenment can be one-dimensional--that's what has happened to many people. It satisfies them, and they disappear into the universal source. But enlightenment can be multidimensional, it can bring so many flowers to the world. And you owe something to the world because you are sons and daughters of this earth.
I am reminded of Zarathustra's saying: "Never betray the earth. Even in your highest glory, don't forget the earth; it is your mother. And don't forget the people. They may have been hindrances, they may have been enemies to you. They may have tried in every way to destroy you; they may have already crucified you, stoned you to death, or poisoned you--but don't forget them. Whatever they have done, they have done in an unconscious state. If you cannot forgive them, who is going to forgive them? And your forgiving them is going to enrich you immeasurably."
Just watch that you don't give any support to anything that goes against compassion. Jealousy, competition, an effort to dominate--all that goes against compassion. And you will know immediately because your compassion will start wavering. The moment you feel your compassion is shaky, you must be doing something that is going against it. You can poison your compassion by stupid things which don't give you anything except anxiety, anguish, struggle, and a sheer wastage of a tremendously precious life.
A beautiful story for you:
Paddy came home an hour earlier than usual and found his wife stark naked on the bed. When he asked why, she explained, "I am protesting because I don't have any nice clothes to wear."
Paddy pulled open the closet door. "That's ridiculous," he said, "look in here. There is a yellow dress, a red dress, a print dress, a pantsuit . . . Hi, Bill!" And he goes on, "A green dress . . ."
This is compassion! It is compassion to his wife, it is compassion to Bill. No jealousy, no fight, just simply, "Hi, Bill! How are you?" and he goes on. He never even inquires, "What are you doing in my closet?"
Compassion is very understanding. It is the finest understanding that is possible to man.
A man of compassion should not be disturbed by small things in life, which are happening every moment. Only then, in an indirect way, are you helping your compassionate energies to accumulate, to crystallize, to become stronger, and to go on rising with your meditation. So the day the blissful moment comes, when you are full of light, there will be at least one companion--compassion. And immediately a new style of life . . . because now you have so much that you can bless the whole world.
Although Gautam Buddha insisted constantly, finally he had to make a division, a categorization amongst his disciples. One category he calls arhatas; they are enlightened people, but without compassion. They have put their whole energy into meditation, but they have not listened to what Buddha has said about compassion. And the other he calls bodhisattvas; they have listened to his message of compassion. They are enlightened with compassion, so they are not in a hurry to go to the other shore; they want to linger on this shore, with all kinds of difficulties, to help people. Their boat has arrived, and perhaps the captain is saying, "Don't waste time, the call has come from the other shore which you have been seeking all your life." But they persuade the captain to wait a little, so that they can share their joy, their wisdom, their light, their love with all those people who are also searching the same. This will become a feeling of trust in them: "Yes, there is another shore, and when one is ripe, a boat comes to take you to the other shore. There is a shore of immortals, there is a shore where no misery exists, where life is simply a moment-to-moment song and a dance. But let me at least give these people a little taste before I leave the world."
And masters have tried in every possible way to cling to something so that they are not swept away to the other shore. According to Buddha, compassion is the best, because compassion is also a desire, in the final analysis. The idea to help somebody is also a desire, and as long as you keep the desire you cannot be taken to the other shore. It is a very thin thread that keeps you attached to the world. Everything is broken, all chains are broken--except a thin thread of love. But Buddha's emphasis is, keep hold of that thin thread as long as possible; as many people that can be helped, help them.
Your enlightenment should not have a selfish motive, it should not be just yours; you should make it shared as widely, to as many people, as possible. That's the only way to raise the consciousness on the earth--which has given you life, which has given you the chance to become enlightened.
This is the moment to pay back something, although you cannot pay back everything that life has given to you. But something--just two flowers--in gratitude.