Warning: Osho's Being in Love contains wildly radical ideas about love, marriage and sex. If you prefer reading books that make you feel comfortable and safe, then don’t bother yourself with Being in Love because it will shock your socks off! The ideas expressed by Osho were revolutionary when he first said them more than 20 years ago. And even now, the reader continues to be refreshed by Osho because his ideas still haven’t reached mainstream thought. It’s exciting to read something new.
Osho was born in India in 1931 as Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain. In the 1960s he was known as Acharya Rajneesh. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he became known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and finally in 1989 he took the name Osho. Osho established Rajneeshpuram, an “intentional community” located in Oregon, where he attracted considerable media attention for his Rolls Royce collection. The community collapsed in 1985 due to a variety of pressures and problems, and Osho returned to India where he died in 1990. This book is compiled by The Osho International Foundation from various lectures given by Osho to a live audience.
As I was reading Being In Love it occurred to me that in the 1980s I attended a program featuring Osho (then known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) in Boston, MA. It was a bit of a turn-off because Osho was almost three hours late for his own show. And when he finally showed up, instead of getting down to business, he chit-chatted and told jokes. I recall leaving before any of his real sharing of knowledge got started. Too bad for me that I didn’t stick around a little longer, because I would have definitely enjoyed hearing someone so very outside the box.
Message of Love
Osho says that “Love is the only religion, the only god, the only mystery that has to be lived, understood…It is not anything difficult.” His basic direction is that there’s nothing to learn. All that’s needed is to unlearn the ways of “un-love.”
The bottom line is that we are each responsible for the presence or absence of love in our own lives: “How can anybody help you? Nobody else can destroy your ego. If you cling to it, nobody can destroy it; if you have invested in it; nobody can destroy it. I can only share my understanding with you. The buddhas can only show the way; then you have to go, then you have to follow the way. Nobody can lead you, holding your hand.”
Can you imagine what love would be like without our false, fixed and rigid beliefs that love has to be experienced in a specific way with a specific person at a specific time in life? Osho invites us to take a peek. This is his great service to humanity. Consider these quotes:
“…never say to anybody that love is a duty. It is not. Duty is a false substitute for love.”
“You have been given the idea of a permanent love which is going to destroy your whole life. …Love becomes secondary, permanence becomes primary.”
“…it is also possible that you may have to change your lovers many times in life. There is no harm in it.”
“A marriage is almost finished by the time the honeymoon is over; then you go on pretending. But behind those pretensions a deep boredom accumulates.”
“Marriage is a way to avoid intimacy…Marriage is a sort of prostitution…”
“In the new world, there should be no marriage, only lovers…and the moment they feel that they have been together too long, a little change will be good.”
Practicality or Relevance
According to Osho, we’re all stuck in a very angry place with the people we choose to spend our lives with, particularly spouses and significant others. Most of this anger is due to conditioning that’s been handed down for generations. Even more startling, Osho believes we are conditioned through millions of past life experiences, which are remembered on another level. The purpose of conditioning is to repress both pain and pleasure. To avoid pain, you avoid pleasure. To avoid death, you avoid life.
Lying is an important aspect of our conditioning. Our societies program us to pretend rather than to be authentic. This constant false presentation of self turns us into spineless, docile slaves who willingly agree to live the expected “program.” The result is angriness. Another aspect of conditioning is the fight for domination, with each partner trying to boss the other around. More reasons to be angry. And then there is the fact that couples use love as a negotiation, with each one sticking around to get something from the other. Still more angriness. A vast reservoir of unhappiness accumulates just under the surface of our lives, and this destructive energy comes out in hundreds of little ways. Osho reminds us that marriage is an institution, and most people aren’t too thrilled about being institutionalized. Love is impossible in this kind of environment. What’s needed is the basic goal of friendliness and the reminder that love is not a business transaction.
Being In Love is one of those books that you have to read all the way through before you can really appreciate it. The slow start is because Osho’s message is oriented to Indian culture, and most of his ongoing references revolve around examples of Indian married life. Who knew that Indian couples played the same games and had the same issues as American couples? Also, the organization of material does not always flow in a tight, logical way. This is most likely because the book was derived from lectures. However, the persistent reader will be rewarded with huge golden nuggets of wisdom, and the mind will be opened along the way. This, of course, is priceless.
SPIRITUAL REVIEWER’S SCORE: 4.0 [out of a possible score of 5]