In India it is a customary thing to touch the feet of religious and elderly relatives whenever we see them. This begins very early in our childhood, when our parents force us to bow down whenever any elder person or swami enters the house. Most of the time children do not understand it or they hate it when they are forced to do such a thing. This ritual is the part of our social programming which has become a hypocritical exercise.
Respect towards the elderly or swamis, bowing down to them or touching their feet, is a matter of sensitivity, which gets corrupted when it is enforced, when it becomes a commandment. It should always be something natural, which means feeling and understanding. Some people do bow down to all religious people; they are also conditioned to do that–out of fear or greed. Traveling around Indian taxis or buses, I am always surprised to see the drivers bowing down their head to all kinds of small temples on the roadside. It does not matter whether the place of worship belongs to Hindus or Muslims, some guru’s samadhi (final resting place), a Sufi dargah (shrine), or just a shape less stone representing Hanumanji or a Shiva linga – these drivers bow down with equal respect and carry on their driving.
Bowing down is something precious if it happens naturally, not part of social conditioning or fear or greed. Then it does not matter really where we bow down, what matters is that we bow down. Bowing down to the rising sun or the setting sun, or the trees, the sky and the stars connects us in some mysterious way to the universal energy that surrounds us all the time. We are made of this energy, and this energy is divine. Communing with this energy, we also feel divine. For a few moments, we become free from our ego, a limited self, that keeps us imprisoned in our mind. Life is unlimited, and boundless life energy surrounds us all the time, penetrates us, sustains us. A man of sensitivity will feel this all the time. Living in big cities, in the concrete jungles, most of us have lost this sensitivity, and we don’t feel any divinity in life. Then there’s no reverence towards any manifestation of life. To the spiritually evolved person, life in all forms is divine, God is breathing in forms of life. One has to open up to feel it.
Osho explains that the energy of the cosmos is surrounding you. All that is needed is a certain emptiness in you. So the emptiness is good; don’t fill it by beliefs, don’t fill it again by another kind of god, another philosophy, some existentialism. Don’t fill it. Leave it clean and fresh, and go deeper. Soon you will find from both sides, from outside and inside, a tremendous rush of energy, a tremendous rush of consciousness. Then you disappear, you are almost flooded with the cosmos. You are so small and the cosmos is so vast. You suddenly disappear into it, and that disappearance is the ultimate experience of enlightenment. Then you know you were neither an outsider, nor an insider; you are one with existence. Other than oneness with existence, nothing is going to help you. But that oneness is so easy, so obvious. Just a little relaxation, just a little turning in. In gratitude, we become attuned with the cosmic energy.
In one of his Darshan diaries, The Tongue Tip Taste of Tao, Osho tells a seeker: “I teach love for the world. Love this earth – it is really beautiful. It is utter splendor. Love from the smallest, the dewdrop to the greatest star. Let this whole existence be your love object, let it be your beloved. Love has to be all-inclusive. And then only will you know the second thing, then only is the second possible – gratitude. Because when one is in love with existence one feels such blessing, such bliss, that it is natural to bow down in deep gratitude, and when gratitude arises, prayer has arrived.”
So remember these two things: be loving and wait for gratitude to arrive. And when it comes, don’t resist, because the ego may create some resistance. Gratitude goes against the ego. Gratitude means surrender, gratitude means bowing down. Gratitude means saying to the unknown energy, the unknown force, God, “I was not worthy and you have given so much to me. I was not worthy and you have filled me with such love. I was not worthy and you have given me such a beautiful existence.” This goes against the ego. So remember: love also goes against the ego, because in love also you have to put the ego aside. But in love you put the ego aside; in gratitude you simply drop it forever.
So love is training for gratitude. First you put the ego aside, and then it comes back again and again. Then slowly you start feeling that it is a separate thing from you. If it can be put aside, it can be dropped too. It is not you.
Whenever you put the ego aside you feel such joy in you that you naturally start learning the lesson: whenever the ego is there sitting on top of you, it creates misery; whenever it is aside, bliss arises. The arithmetic then is simple – if you want to be eternally blissful drop this ego forever; and that is the second step, anugraha (grace/kindness/gratitude). Once these two steps have been taken the journey is complete. In two steps the journey is complete.
Swami Chaitanya Keerti, editor of Osho World monthly magazine and founding editor of Osho Times International, is the author of three books on Osho –Allah to Zen; The Osho Way: In Romance with Life; and Osho Fragrance. The director and spokesperson of Osho World Foundation, Swami Chaitanya Keerti regularly contributes articles on meditation to several newspapers and magazines and travels extensively to conduct meditation sessions.