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Chapter 16: Life Is on the Razor’s Edge

Osho,
I find myself being deeply touched by your vision of the rebel. I always prided myself in being a nonconformist. Last night in a dream I saw myself being persecuted for living rebelliously and I became afraid. Waking up, I realized that what I used to think of as rebellion was actually a safe game for me, well within acceptable limits.
Now I see that the rebellious spirit you are talking about is something very scary, and yet something I tremendously long for.
Beloved Osho, is feeling this insecurity part of becoming a rebel?

It is an old association, and a misunderstanding, that to be a nonconformist is to be a rebel. The nonconformist is a reactionary; he acts out of anger, rage, violence and ego. His action is not based in consciousness. Although he goes against the society, just to be against the society is not necessarily to be right. In fact most of the time to move from one extreme to another is always to move from one wrong to another wrong.

The rebel is a tremendous balance, and that is not possible without awareness, alertness, and immense compassion. It is not a reaction, it is an action - not against the old, but for the new.

The nonconformist is only against the old, against the established; but he has no creative conception of why he is against it, no vision of the future. What will he do if he succeeds? He will be at a loss, and utterly embarrassed. He has never thought about it. He has not felt the embarrassment because he has never succeeded. His failure has been a great shelter for him.

When I say reaction, I mean your orientation is basically dependent: you are not acting out of freedom and independence. It has very deep implications. It means your action is just a by-product; it also means that your action can be controlled very easily.

There is a small story about Mulla Nasruddin. He was a nonconformist, a fundamental reactionary, an absolutely negative mind. If his father would say, “You have to go to the right,” you can be certain he would go to the left. Soon the father became aware, and then there was no problem. When he wanted him to go to the right he would say, “Please go to the left,” and he would go to the right. He was disobeying, he was nonconformist, but he was completely unaware that he was being dictated to, ordered, controlled and doing actually what his father wanted him to do.

Slowly slowly, he also became aware - “What is the matter? Before, my father used to be very angry that he had told me to go right and I went left. I am continuing to be as disobedient as ever, but now he never complains.”

Soon he figured out the strategy. One day the old father and Nasruddin were both crossing the river with their donkey, and on the donkey was a big bag of sugar. The bag was leaning more towards the right, and there was a danger that it might slip and fall down into the river.

The father was behind and he knew, “If I say, ‘Move the bag towards the left,’ I have got such a strange son that he will move it immediately towards the right, and the bag will fall into the river and all the sugar will be lost.”

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