Bridging the Gap

Osho on Parenting


First, the teenagers should be honest and true, whatever the consequence. They should say to their parents whatever their feeling is — not arrogantly, but humbly. They should not hide anything from their parents. That is what is making the gap: parents are hiding many things from the children, children are hiding many things from the parents, and the gap becomes bigger and bigger.

One day I went to my father and I told him, “I want to start smoking cigarettes.”

He said, “What?”

I said, “You have to give me money for it because I don’t want to steal. If you don’t give me I will steal, but the responsibility will be yours. If you don’t allow me to smoke, I will smoke but I will smoke in hiding. And you will be making me a thief; you will be making me hide things and not be honest and open. I see so many people smoking cigarettes that I want to taste. I want the best cigarettes available, and I will smoke the first cigarette before you.”

He said, “This is strange, but your argument is right. If I prevent it, you will steal. If I prevent it you will still smoke, so my preventing you will create more criminal things in you. It hurts me. I don’t want you to start smoking.”

I said, “That is not the question. The desire has arisen in me seeing people smoking. I want to check whether it is worth it. If it is worth it, then you will have to constantly supply me with cigarettes. If it is not worth it, then I am finished with it. But I don’t want to do anything until you refuse; then the whole responsibility is yours, because I don’t want to feel guilty.”

He had to purchase the best cigarettes possible in the town — reluctantly. My uncles, my grandfather, were saying, “What are you doing? This is not done.” They insisted…

But he said, “I know this is not done, but you don’t know him as much as I know him. He will do exactly what he is saying, and I respect his truthfulness, his honesty. He has made his plan completely clear to me: `Don’t force me and don’t prevent me, because that will make me feel guilty.'”

I smoked the cigarette, coughed, tears came to my eyes; I could not even finish one cigarette, and I dropped it. I told my father, “This is finished. You need not worry now. But I want you to understand that about anything I feel I will tell you so that there is no need to hide anything from you. And if I hide even from my father then who am I going to relate with? No, I don’t want to create any gap between me and you.”

And seeing that I dropped the cigarettes, tears came to his eyes. He said, “Everybody was against it, but your sincerity forced me to bring the cigarettes.” Otherwise, in India perhaps no father has ever offered cigarettes to the son; it is unheard of. Fathers don’t even smoke in front of their sons so that the very idea of smoking does not arise.

The teenagers are in a very difficult situation. They are changing; they are leaving childhood behind and they are becoming youngsters. Every day new dimensions of life are opening for them. They are in a transformation. They need immense help from the parents. But right now the situation is that they don’t meet the parents at all. They live in the same house but they don’t talk with each other because they cannot understand each other’s language, they cannot understand each other’s viewpoints. They meet only when the boy or the girl needs money; otherwise there is no meeting. The gap goes on becoming bigger; they become as much strangers as one can imagine. This is really a calamity. Teenagers should be encouraged to say everything to their parents without any fear. This is not only going to help the children, it is going to help the parents too.

Truth has a beauty of its own; honesty has a beauty of its own. When teenagers approach their parents with honesty, truth, sincerity, and just open their hearts, it triggers something in the parents to open their hearts also, because they are also burdened with many things which they want to say but cannot. The society prohibits, the religion prohibits, the tradition prohibits. But if they see the teenagers being completely open and clean it will help them also to be open and clean. And the so-called, much-discussed generation gap can simply be dropped; it can evaporate on its own accord.

The most troublesome problem is about sex. The children should be able to say exactly what is going on in their minds; there is no need to hide anything, because whatsoever is going on in their minds is natural. They should ask the advice of the parents — What can be done? — they are in a troubled state, and they need help. And to whom can they go except their parents? The gap is simply arbitrary, it is not natural. I never felt any gap between myself and my father, or even with my grandfather. I would simply say whatsoever I felt, and I told them, “You can say whatsoever you feel, but I don’t want to hide anything and I don’t want you to hide anything.”

I was from my very childhood tremendously interested in books of all kinds on all subjects — nothing to do with the textbooks of the school and the college and the university. My family was not rich. It was a poor family, but I made it clear to them, “For books, even if you have to sell your ornaments please sell them. I need those books — and I hate to read secondhand books. I don’t want to read any book from the library. I want to purchase it.”

My father said, “This is a strange idea. Why can you not read from the public library?”

I said, “Every book is marked, underlined. That does not allow me freedom; that hinders me. For example, if I am reading a book and two lines are underlined with red ink, those two lines stand out dominantly, emphatically. Somebody else’s idea becomes important on that page. He does not allow me to find my own idea on that page; he is forcing me. I don’t want to read any book that is underlined. And there are notes also. A few idiots go on writing notes, their comments, on the pages of public library books. I don’t want their comments, I want fresh books. And if you cannot manage it, you simply say to me, `This much I can manage; more than that is difficult for us to manage.’ I will do any service, I will work, anything. I will produce money and I will purchase the book.”

But they said, “That looks bad to us, that while we are alive… and you are so young, and you should not be working just to get books. No, we will arrange it. Ornaments certainly are not so important.”

I said, “You have to think twice about it. You should not feel that you have obliged me. And remember perfectly well that after I am educated at the university perhaps I may not be of any use to you financially. I may not be able to give you a single cent. I may not work at all.”

They said, “That we understand from the very beginning.”

And they gave me money, as much as I wanted, although it was difficult for them. But that brought a deep intimacy. My grandfather was old but he was working, not retired. He said, “You need money. I can work, you need not work.”

When I left the university, I had a library of one hundred and fifty thousand rare volumes from all over the world concerning all the philosophies, all the religions, all kinds of ideologies. I was obliged to my parents, but they never allowed me even to show my gratitude. They said, “That’s nothing; it was our love for you. And you are part of us; we wanted you to be as happy as possible. We have seen you happy with books and that was enough.”

If any problem was there, I simply told it to them. And that’s my suggestion:

the teenagers should not hide anything from the parents, from the teachers… they should be absolutely sincere, and the gap will evaporate. And we need the gap to evaporate, because what kind of society is this? There is a gap between parents and children, there is a gap between husband and wife, there is a gap between teachers and the taught. There are only gaps and gaps all around. Everybody is surrounded with all kinds of gaps as if all communication has broken down. This is not a society, this is not a commune — because there is no communication. Nobody can say the right thing, everybody is repressed. Everybody is suppressing his desires, and everybody is angry, and everybody is feeling lonely, frustrated. We have created an angry generation; we have created philosophies of meaninglessness. And the whole reason for all this is that children have lost contact with the parents.

Children can do a tremendous job, and they have the courage to do it. Perhaps parents may not be able to do it; they are much too conditioned. The teenagers are young and fresh; just teach them to be sincere with their parents.

I made a contract with my father. I told him, “I want to make a contract.”

He said, “About what?”

I said, “The contract is that if I say the truth you have to reward me, not to punish me. Because if you punish me, then next time I will not say the truth.”

And that’s how it is happening all over world: truth is being punished, so then the person stops saying it. Then he starts lying because lying is rewarded. So I said to him, “You can decide. If you want me to lie, I can lie… if that is what you are going to reward. But if you are ready to reward the truth, then I will say the truth — but you cannot punish me for it.”

He said, “I accept the contract.”

And the next day there was trouble because just next door there used to live a very old-fashioned brahmin scholar. He was a very fanatical worshiper of Rama, one of the incarnations of the Hindu God. He was such a fanatic that if you named Krishna, another incarnation of the Hindu God, to him — both are incarnations of the same God, but he was devoted to Rama — he became furious. He was not ready even to listen to the name of Krishna, what to say of Christ or of Mohammed. It was impossible… Krishna is an incarnation of the same God. So it became a joy for the children whenever he was there, wherever he was, just to shout, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” — and he would forget all his work, what he was doing, and he would run after you. He would go almost insane.

The next day I said to him, “Hare Krishna” — and he came after me. Of course he was old so he could not run so fast, and we went around the town two or three times. He was huffing and puffing and perspiring, but he followed. He was left far behind and I reached home early. I told my father what had happened: “I have told that man `Hare Krishna.’ I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. He will be coming.”

My father said, “This is difficult. That man is such a boring person; now for hours he will harass me. You just go and hide somewhere in the house.”

So I was on the terrace. The man said, “Your boy has almost killed me today. Perhaps he knows all the small streets of the town and I have been running after people my whole life, but I have never come across such small streets that he took me in. Round and round… and I am an old man.”

My father said, “What is the problem? What has he done?”

The man was so much against Krishna he could not pronounce the words “Hare Krishna,” or say that I have said “Hare Krishna.” He said, “He has said something that upsets me.”

My father said, “Unless I know what he has said, how can I enquire?”

He said, “That is impossible, I cannot repeat those words. Where is he? Just call him.”

I was called, and the old man said, “Remember one thing: you are not supposed to repeat the same mistake that you have made.”

But I said, “Hare Krishna is not a mistake. It is the name of the same God. You can worship Rama, nobody prevents you; but what makes you so angry about Krishna?”

He said, “I have not come here for a philosophical discussion.” He told my father in front of me, “You have to punish this boy.”

My father said, “That is difficult because he made a contract with me just yesterday that if he says the truth then I cannot punish him. If he says a lie, then I can punish him.”

And he never punished me after that. I told him the truth every time I was doing anything that was going to come to his notice sooner or later.

It is a simple method. If you cannot expose yourself to your own father and mother… in this whole world everybody is more of a stranger than them. Your father and mother are also strangers, but they are the closest strangers, the most intimate strangers. Expose yourself to them so no gap exists. This will help them also to be sincere with you. This is something to be remembered: that sincerity, honesty, truth, trigger in the other person also the same qualities.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries

Chapter #23

Chapter title: A new world a new man

2 March 1986


Osho has spoken on ‘Children, parents, parenting, love, freedom’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. From Death to Deathlessness
  2.  From Bondage to Freedom
  3.  From Personality to Individuality
  4.  The Last Testament, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5
  5.  Philosophia Ultima
  6.  Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
  7. The Sword and the Lotus
  8. The Transmission of the Lamp
  9. Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
  10. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
  11. The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
  12. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 5, 6
  13. The Golden Future
  14. The Razor’s Edge
  15. Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
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