Can one believe in Tao, not interfering with other people’s lives, accepting what is now, and by profession be a psychotherapist? What, or how, is a Tao way of doing therapy?
“This is of tremendous significance.
The first thing: ‘Can one believe in Tao…?’ Tao does not depend on belief. You cannot believe in it. Tao knows no belief system.
“It does not say: ‘Believe.’ That’s what other religions do. Tao drops all belief systems. A totally new kind of trust then arises – trust in life. Belief means believing in concepts. Concepts are about life. Trust is not concerned with concepts. Trust is immediate, direct, in life; it is not about life. Belief is far away from life. The stronger the belief, the greater the barrier. Tao is neither a belief nor a disbelief but the dropping of all beliefs and disbeliefs. When you drop all beliefs and disbeliefs and you are immediate, in contact with life, a trust arises, a great ‘yes’ arises in your being. That ‘yes’ transforms, transforms totally.
“So the first thing you ask: ‘Can one believe in Tao…?’ No, it is not a belief.
Don’t approach through the door of belief otherwise you will be in a philosophy, in a religion, in a church, in a dogma, but you will never be in life.
Life simply is. It is not a doctrine preached by somebody. Life is simply there all around you, within and without. Once you don’t look through words, concepts, verbalizations, it reveals truth to you; everything becomes so crystal clear, so transparent. In that transparency you are not separate from it; how can you believe in it or disbelieve in it? You are it. That is the way of Tao: to become Tao.
The second thing: ‘Can one believe in Tao, not interfering with other people’s lives…?’ Once you have stopped interfering with your own life, you have stopped interfering with others’ lives.
“If you continue to interfere with your own life, you are bound to interfere with others’ lives. That is just a reflection, which is just a shadow. Stop interfering with your own life; then suddenly all interference disappears because it is absurd. Life is already going where it needs to go, why interfere?
“The river is already flowing toward the ocean, why interfere? Why direct it? If you start directing the river, you kill it – it becomes a channel. Then it is no longer a river, then its life has disappeared, then it is a prisoner. Then you can force it anywhere you want to take it, but there will be no song and no dance; it will be carrying a corpse. The river was alive, the channel is dead. The channel is just a river for the name’s sake. It is not a river because to be a river means to be free, to flow, to seek, to follow one’s own intrinsic nature. Not being directed, not being pulled and pushed, not being manipulated, is the very quality of being a river. Once you have understood that you grow when you don’t interfere in your own life, when you understand that you grow when nobody interferes in your life, how can you interfere in anybody else’s life?
But if you interfere with your own life, if you have some ideal of how it should be, the ideal brings interference. The ‘should’ is the interference.
“If you have some ideal: that you have to be like Jesus, or like Buddha, or like Lao Tzu, that you have to be a perfect man or a perfect woman, that you have to be this and that, then you will interfere. You have a map, you have a direction, you have a fixed future. Your future is already dead, you have converted your future into a past. It is no longer a new phenomenon: you have converted it into a dead thing. You will carry the corpse, you will interfere in everything because whenever you feel you are going astray – and by astray I mean astray from your ideal…. Nobody has ever gone astray, nobody can go astray. It is not possible to commit error. Let me repeat it: It is impossible to go astray because wherever you go is godliness and whatsoever you do culminates in divinity. All acts are naturally transformed into the ultimate – good and bad, all.
Sinner and saint, all end in godliness.
“Godliness is not something that you can avoid, but if you have some ideal you can postpone it. You cannot avoid this: sooner or later, godliness is going to take possession of you, but you can postpone it. You can postpone it infinitely – that is your freedom. Having an ideal means you are against godliness.
“Gurdjieff used to say that all religions are against God, and he had something – he had a great insight.
All religions are against God because all religions have given ideologies, ideals. No ideal is needed, no ideology is needed. One should live a simple, ordinary life; one should allow God to do whatsoever he wants.
“If he wants you to be this way, good. If he wants you to be that way, good. Let his kingdom come, let his will be done – that is the Taoist attitude. Then there is no interference. When there is no ideal there is no interference. Once you enjoy the freedom that comes when you don’t have any ideals, how can you interfere in anybody’s life?
“You interfere in the lives of your children. You interfere in the life of your wife, your husband, your brother, your friend, your beloved. You can interfere only because you think that by interference you are helping them.
“You are crippling them. Your interference is like what Zen people say – they have the right expression – they say: ‘Putting shoes on a snake.’ You are helping; you may be making a great effort, doing great things – putting shoes on a snake thinking, ‘How will the snake walk without shoes? There may be difficulty and the roads are rough, and there are also thorns. Life is full of thorns, so help the snake – put shoes on the snake.’ You will kill the snake.
“All effort to improve upon people is just like that, but it is a natural corollary: if you are trying to improve yourself, you will try to improve others. Your own disease goes on overflowing onto others. Once you stop improving upon yourself, once you accept yourself as you are unconditionally, with no grudge, with no complaint; once you start loving yourself as you are, all interference disappears.
The third thing: accepting what is now, can one be a psychotherapist? He will be a therapist, but in a totally different sense – not in the Freudian sense – he will be a therapist in the real sense.
“What is the real sense of ‘therapist’? He will allow freedom; he will simply be a presence, a light, a joy. He is not going to change the patient, though the patient will be changed. He will not make any effort to make him well. He will not make any effort to make him normal. He will not make any effort to help him to be adjusted to this neurotic society. He will not try to do anything. He will simply be a presence, a catalytic agent. He will love. He will share his energy with the patient; he will shower his energy on the patient. And remember, love is real therapy; everything else is secondary.
In fact, there are so many psychiatric patients in the world because they have not been loved, nobody has loved them – that’s why they have gone berserk. They have lost contact with their center because it is only in love that one becomes centered. Their illness is not the real problem; the real problem is that deep down they have never been loved, that they have never known the milieu of love. So a Taoist therapist will simply give his love, his understanding, his vision. He will share his energy and he will not in any way interfere.
The healing is going to happen. Healing will happen, not by any effort of the therapist but by his no-effort, by his inactivity, by his tremendous passivity.
“Have you seen it happen? Sometimes you are ill and you call the doctor. The doctor comes, and suddenly just by his entering the room, you are no longer as ill as you were before. He has not given you any medicine, just his presence, his care, his love. He just puts his hand on your head, takes your pulse, and suddenly you feel a change is happening. He has not done anything, no medicine has been given; he has not even diagnosed. Even before diagnosis, if the doctor is a loving person, fifty per cent of the illness has disappeared. For the remaining fifty per cent, he has to do something because he too does not know that man cannot heal anybody.
“It is always existence which who heals. Man can only become a passage for the healing energy – that’s how healing works. Three or four people – loving people – just sit around the patient holding his hands, singing a song, chanting, and suddenly the patient feels a tremendous upsurge, a transformation happening. What is happening? These four people, in love, have become vehicles of existence, for Tao.
“Somebody can be a therapist.
Tao is not against therapy, but the therapy will have a different quality. It will be wu wei; it will be action in inaction, it will be feminine. It will not be aggressive, it will not force the patient to be healed; it will simply persuade. It will simply seduce the patient to be healthy, that’s all.
“There is going to be a great seduction. The therapist is centered, grounded, is flowing; his presence, his light, his love, will help the patient’s energy to come up, to surface in his being. It is always there – he has just lost contact.
“In Zen temples they treat mad people. They don’t do anything. They take care. When they pray, the mad person comes and sits, and they are not praying for the mad person at all, that is not their concern. They are praying as usual, they are chanting as usual, and the mad person sits there. One hundred Buddhist monks chanting, and the beautiful chant, and the vibe, and the atmosphere, and the silence of a Zen community; the trees, and the rock garden, and the whole atmosphere of it…. The patient simply sits. In fact they don’t even call him a patient because to call a patient, a patient, is to fix the idea in his mind that he is ill. It is a suggestion; a very dangerous suggestion. They don’t call him a patient – a person who needs prayer, a person who needs meditation, a person who needs relaxation, yes, but not a patient; not that he is ill, not that something has gone wrong, that he is a nut, no.
“The very idea that somebody is a nut fixes the concept in him that he is a ‘nut.’ He goes on repeating it, and he tries hard not to be a nut. There is a certain law discovered by hypnotists; they call it the law of reverse effect. If you try too much not to be a nut, you will become a nut. You can try it and see. Try for seven days not to be a nut – continuously remain conscious: ‘Don’t be a nut.’ Watch every act that you do, and within seven days, you will go nuts. The continuous repetition will create the reverse effect. In a Zen monastery, they think that the person needs relaxation, that he was too much in the world and has become too tense, that he is too tired – that’s all. No devaluation of the person in it, just compassion. He is not hospitalized, he is sent to a temple.
“Temples used to function in the old times as the places of therapy. The temple is still the right place for therapy because the very idea is different. You are not a patient, you are not to be hospitalized, you are not to lie down on the psychiatrist’s couch. You go to the temple. You go to the temple to renew your contact with existence. Renew your contact with existence because that is the source of healing and health and wholeness.
“Yes, a person can be a psychotherapist.
In fact, only a Taoist can be an authentic psychotherapist. But he will not be the doer. He will be just a vehicle, a medium.”
Osho, Tao: The Pathless Path, Series 1, Talk #8 – Putting Shoes on a Snake