Monday, July 21, 2008

Osho: "Courage" Part 1 - Foreword

(Cover) Courage: The Joy of Living DangerouslyI finished reading Osho's bookCourage: The Joy of Living Dangerously a couple of weeks ago and have started collecting a few notes. For the most part I really loved this short (200 pp) book and hope that I can capture the essential points and a few quotes without simply echoing the entire text.

The Joy of Living Dangerously

"Courage" is subtitled "The Joy of Living Dangerously", and that pretty much captures Osho's primary theme: courage is not "bravery" but a willingness to embrace danger.

His Foreword to this beautiful, and sometimes infuriating, book begins,

I am not here to give you dogma -- a dogma makes one certain.
I am not here to give you any promise for the future. Any promise for the future makes one secure.
I am here simply to make you alert and aware -- that is, to be here now, with all the insecurity that life is, with all the uncertainty that life is, with all the danger that life is.

Nothing is Secure, Nothing Is Certain

I would like to make you more insecure, more uncertain ... When there is more insecurity and more danger, the only way to respond to it is by awareness. ... In fact, only idiots feel secure. A really alive man will always feel insecure. What security can there be? ... Life is an unpredictable mystery.

A Christian, especially a Protestant, should disagree: "Our security is in Christ and in the promises of God" one might say. But Osho squarely attacks this view.

If God knows what is going to happen the next moment, then life is just a dead, mechanical process. Then there is no freedom ... Then there is no possibility to grow or not to grow ... Then there is no glory, no grandeur. Then you are just robots.

Of course anyone who has thought seriously about pre-destination from a believer's perspective will reject that simplistic view. And one weakness of Osho's book is his use of convenient strawman representations of the various world religions. As I once thought of it, pre-destination is, in effect, a separate dimension to reality, a dimension outside of time where God, the artist, God the painter of the picture, God the creator surely knows the end from the beginning because He/She/It sees the entire landscape, the entire timeline, the whole map revealed. Thus our glory and grandeur is intact, despite a Being who knows the end.

Yet Osho is not attacking God's foreknowledge without reason. Central to his argument is the all-important conclusion: "Nothing is secure... nothing is certain." I appreciate the fact that he does not mince words: a Christian can be completely secure in his or her faith, yet Osho will argue that this security actually saps one's courage to explore life's "unpredictable mystery". And what about scientific certainty? Of that we shall see ...

"A man is not yet a man if he is afraid of freedom."

But why is this so important to a discussion of courage? Why does Osho claim that, "A secure life will be worse than death"? Because he wants us to taste the rawness of life's uncertainties and surprises: "That is its beauty! .. When you say you are certain ... you have committed suicide" because you have abandoned the essential freedom of human life."

But "freedom creates fear" and mankind has always sought instead a warm, fearless certainty. Science has helped, but chiefly man has embraced or invented philosophy and religion to create certainty where none exists. Osho warns that "Knowledge will make you certain" and religious knowledge makes us certain about things that we really cannot know. And this certainty kills our freedom.

Arguing that the very nature of life is uncertain, Osho demands that an intelligent man, therefore, must always remain uncertain, alert to the ever-changing flow of life, ready to respond with his whole heart, participating in life as a continuous surprise.

Don't call it uncertainty -- call it wonder. Don't call it insecurity -- call it freedom.

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