Review: When the Shoe Fits by Osho

This week I’m reading When the Shoe Fits – an Osho classic which includes commentaries on the stories of the Taoist mystic Chuang Tzu. Osho gives you the original story and then takes them apart, offering his perspective and unique comments.

The stories cover everything from the spiritual search for liberation, to the desire for love, acceptance, peace and happiness. Using his irreverent humour, Osho uses the stories to destroy your illusions and misperceptions of reality. He pushes you out of your comfort zone and stops you from taking yourself too seriously.

Here’s one of the stories and an extract from Osho’s commentary:

The Tower of the Spirit

The spirit has an impregnable tower which no danger can disturb as long as the tower is guarded by the invisible Protector who acts unconsciously, and whose actions go astray when they become deliberate, reflexive and intentional.
The unconsciousness and entire sincerity of Tao are disturbed by any effort at self-conscious demonstration.
All such demonstrations are lies.
When one displays himself in this ambiguous way, the world storms in and imprisons him.

He is no longer protected by the sincerity of Tao.
Each new act is a new failure. If his acts are done in public, in broad daylight, he will be punished by men. If they are done in private and in secret, he will be punished by spirits.
Let each one understand the meaning of sincerity and guard against display.
He will be at peace with men and spirits and will act rightly, unseen, in his own solitude, in the tower of his spirit.”

“Your spirit is protected by nature itself, you need not be afraid for it. You need not be afraid and insecure because your being is protected by the whole of existence; the whole cosmos helps you. But the help is unconscious, it is not deliberate. And you cannot manipulate it – you have to be in a let-go so that the cosmic force can work through you. …

Chuang Tzu says, inside you is the eternal, the immortal. No death can destroy it. There is no need to fear for it. You are afraid because you are not there in the tower – the invisible tower of the spirit. You have moved into the laws and regulations of the society and those laws and regulations cannot protect you, they only give you a feeling of protection. But nothing protects. … Death ultimately comes and shatters all your securities. You will stay trembling, fear-filled, unless you come back to the source – the inner tower of the spirit. …

Says Chuang Tzu: Be in Tao, authentically in it, sincerely in it. There is only one sincerity needed of you, and that sincerity is towards Tao – your inner nature, your authentic being. No other sincerity is needed – let the whole world say you are insincere.

That is what Buddha’s father said to him, because Buddha deserted his parents. That is what Buddha’s wife said to him, because he deserted her. That is what his whole kingdom said to him, because he deserted the whole kingdom. But he was happy, and he remained sincere to his Tao, his nature. And he said: ‘No other way is possible. If you suffer, you suffer because of your expectations – not because of me.’

You are here to fulfil yourself; others are here to fulfil themselves. If they expect something from you this is their problem, they will suffer, but you need not become false because of it. Be sincere to your inner nature and help others to be sincere to their inner nature. … Don’t expect anything from anybody, and don’t fulfil others’ expectations of you. … Only then will you be able to be really sincere to your inner self.

Hindus have called this Rit. Jesus calls it the kingdom of God. Chuang Tzu calls it Tao. Whatsoever the word used, it means to stay close to one’s unconsciousness, and to flow with it without any conditions. It means to flow unconditionally with the unconscious wherever it leads, and to trust it.”

It’s interesting that he uses the term ‘unconsciousness’ – I would go with awareness because the Buddha was one who was awake, and to remember who you are is to awaken. Osho’s emphasis on unconsciousness seems strange, but he’s just prodding you to let go of consciously trying to do anything. As soon as you think you know what you’re doing, you’re stumped.

Chuang Tzu’s teachings are different because they rely on effortlessness. I don’t think it’s really about being unconscious and drifting mindlessly through life. It’s just about letting go of the need to control and manipulate – in other words, to let go of the ego.

“In the world of matter nothing succeeds like the ego; in the world of consciousness nothing fails like the ego.”

These stories and Osho’s commentaries show you how to become effortless.

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