No Therapist, No Patient
Osho on Therapy Groups and Therapist
IS TAKING THE ROLE OF A THERAPIST DANGEROUS TO MY OWN SPIRITUAL GROWTH? IS IT POSSIBLE TO HELP PEOPLE AND STILL LET MY OWN EGO DISSOLVE AT THE SAME TIME? I FEEL THAT A SUBTLE FIGHT GOES ON INSIDE ME BETWEEN ONE PART THAT IS CLEAR AND ANOTHER PART THAT WANTS NOTHING TO DO WITH CLARITY. UNDER YOUR GUIDANCE I HAVE LEARNED NOT TO DOMINATE OTHERS WHEN I USE MY CAPACITY TO SEE, BUT AM I STILL DOMINATING MYSELF?
the role of a therapist is a very delicate and complex affair. First, the therapist himself suffers from the same problems that he is trying to help others with. The therapist is only a technician. He can manage to pretend and to deceive himself that he is a master — that is the greatest danger in being a therapist. But just a little understanding, and things won’t be the same. First, don’t think in terms of helping others. That gives you the idea of being a savior, of being a master — and from the back door the ego enters again. You become important, you are the center of the group, everybody is looking up to you. Drop the idea of help. Instead of `help’ use the word `sharing’. You share your insight, whatsoever you have. The participant is not someone who is inferior to you. The therapist and the therapee are both in the same boat; the therapist is just a little more knowledgeable. Be conscious of the fact that your knowledge is borrowed. Never for a moment forget that whatever you know is still not your experience, and this will help the people who are participating in your group.
Man is a very subtle mechanism. It works on both sides: the therapist starts becoming the master, and rather than helping he is destroying something in the participant, because the participant will also learn only the technique. There will not be a loving, sharing friendliness, an atmosphere of trust, but “You know more, I know less… By participating in a few therapy groups I will also know as much as you know.” The participants slowly, slowly start becoming therapists themselves, because there is no degree required — at least in many countries. In a few countries they have started to outlaw all kinds of unaccepted therapies; only a man who has a university qualification in therapeutics, in psychoanalysis, in psychotherapy will be able to help people in therapy groups. This is going to happen in almost every country of the world, because therapy has become a business, and people who are unqualified are dominating it. They know the technique, because technique they can learn; by participating in a few groups they know all the techniques, then they can make a concoction of their own. But there is no way of controlling….
But remember: the moment you play the role of a helper, the helped is never going to forgive you. You have hurt his pride, you have hurt his ego. That was not your intention… your intention was just to inflate your own ego, but this can happen only if you hurt other people’s ego. You cannot inflate your ego without hurting others. Your bigger ego will need more space, and the others have to shrink their space and their personality to exist with you.
From the very beginning an authentic loving person… and
I make it an absolutely necessary point that there is nothing more therapeutic than love. Technique can help, but the real miracle happens through love. Love the people who participate in therapy and be one amongst them, with no pretensions of being higher or holier. Make it clear from the very beginning: “These are the techniques I have learned, and a little bit is my experience. I will give you the techniques, and I will share my experience. But you are not my disciples; you are just friends in need. I have some understanding, not much, but I can share it with you. Perhaps many of you have their own understanding coming from different areas, different directions. They can also share their experience and make the group richer.” In other words, what I am saying is a totally new concept of therapy. The therapist is only a coordinator. He just tries to make the group more silent, serene; he keeps an eye that nothing goes wrong… more of a guardian than a master.
And you have also to make it clear: “I am also learning while I am trying to share my experience. When I am listening to you, it is not only your problems; they are my problems too. And when I am saying something, I am not only saying it, I am listening also.” Emphatically make it clear that you are nobody special. This has to be done in the beginning of the group, and this has to be carried on as the group goes deeper, exploring. You just remain an elder, who has gone a few steps ahead; otherwise you will not be able to help people. They will learn the technique and they will become therapists on their own. And there are enough fools — five billion fools — on the earth; they will find their own followers. It is a human weakness that when people start looking up to you, you start thinking, “There must be something great in me if people are looking up to me.” They are in trouble, they are suffering from human frailties. But you are also human, and to err is absolutely human. Without any condemnation, with great love, help them to open themselves — and this is possible only if you open yourself.
I have come to know a strange fact: strangers tell each other things that they can never say to people they know. In a railway train you meet somebody; you don’t know his name, you don’t know where he is going, from where he is coming, and people start sharing. I have been traveling for twenty years non-stop in the whole country, watching a strange phenomenon: that people give their secrets to strangers, because the stranger is not going to exploit it. Just the next station comes, and the stranger is gone; perhaps you may never see him again. And he is not concerned to destroy your reputation or anything. On the contrary, sharing your secrets, your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities makes others more confident and more loving and more trusting in you. Your trust provokes their trust in you, and when they see you are so innocent and so open and available, they start opening up: it is a chain reaction.
But if you become a master… a few idiot therapists from this commune have become masters. They know nothing about their own being, they know nothing about any mystery of existence; all that they know is a certain mind game. That mind game can be of help, if ultimately you are under the guidance of a man who has arrived.
A little clarity, a little less confusion a therapy group certainly can create. But a therapy group is not the end. It is only the beginning. It is a preparation for meditation, just as meditation is a preparation for enlightenment.
If you understand things in their simple arithmetic, you will not find it difficult — and you will enjoy the group more, because the group will be able to go deeper with you. You will not be only a teacher in the group; you will be also a learner.
Kahlil Gibran’s prophet Al-Mustafa has a beautiful statement. When somebody asks, “Tell us something about learning…” he says, “Because you have asked I will speak. But remember — I am speaking and I am also listening with you.” I am here on the podium and I am also sitting amongst you. I am not in any way special. That brings people close. Any bragging of speciality creates distance, any ego fulfillment destroys the atmosphere of love. And I repeat again:
There is no therapy which is greater than love. Love the people who have become participants in your group. Love them as they are, not as they should be.
They have suffered their whole life from all kinds of religious, political, social, theological, philosophical leaders who would love them if they follow, who would love them if they become just images according to their idea. They will love you only when they have killed you completely, demolished you and put you together according to their idea. All the religions have done that to humanity. Nobody is left undamaged.
And these people have been thinking that they are helping, consciously. They were giving you ideals, ideologies, principles, commandments with the certain fixed attitude that they want to help you; otherwise you will go astray. They cannot trust your freedom and they cannot respect your dignity; they have reduced you so badly — and nobody even objects. When Jesus told people, “You are the sheep and I am the shepherd…” certainly those people must have been sheep, because not a single one stood up and said to Jesus, “This is too much! You are putting yourself on such a high pedestal, and you are calling us sheep; you are degrading us even from human beings.”
And Jesus said, “I am the savior, I will save the whole humanity. The only condition is that they should believe in me.” But that condition destroys all that is beautiful in you, all that is your right to grow into a beautiful unique being.
I have had suspicions always that Jesus was not saying any revolutionary things, neither was he in revolt against Judaism. But the problem has haunted me: Then why was he crucified? His whole emphasis without exception was, “I am a Jewish prophet, son of a Jewish God” — a prophet, a messiah for which the Jews have been waiting. Their scriptures were telling them: Soon the messiah will come, the last messiah who will save you all. And on your part only a very small thing has to be done: just believe in him. My suspicions why Jesus was crucified are not just suspicions; they have enough evidence and proof and argument behind them. Socrates was certainly poisoned for his revolutionary thoughts, for his lifestyle which the Greeks could not allow him. Certainly his influence over the Greek youth was immense, and the older generation was absolutely afraid: soon they will be gone and the whole country will be under the influence of a man who is against tradition, who is against God, who is against heaven and hell and all other nonsense, who insists only on one thing: truth. And that truth is within you, not in the scriptures, not in any savior, not in any messenger.
Socrates was certainly poisoned by the society because he was a tremendous revolutionary — a man in revolt. Of course, whatever he was saying was for the benefit of the whole of humanity, but it went against the past. Anything that is going to enhance your future, make it richer, more beautiful, more humane, is bound to be against the past. The past is barbarous, ugly, condemnable. But Jesus was not doing any such thing. Why was he crucified? He was fully in agreement with the old past, he accepted all that Judaism proposed as fundamentals. My understanding is: Jesus was crucified because people finally became fed up hearing that they are just sheep and he is the shepherd. He hurt so many people’s egos, he destroyed so many people’s self-respect, a certain dignity of being human beings. That was the reason of Jesus’ crucifixion; otherwise he was utterly innocent. He had not committed any visible crime. But this crime is far more murderous, although it is invisible, it does not appear on the surface, you cannot catch hold of it. But you can understand: you cannot forgive anybody who pretends to be higher than you, holier than you. He is the only begotten son of God and you are all orphans? — bastards? What are you? If God is the father of all, then who is this man who pretends to be the only begotten son? The emphasis is on only; he takes away the whole humanity’s right to nourish his own ego.
Otherwise whatever he was saying and doing would have been ignored. There was nothing special in it. He was simply repeating the old prophets of the Jews; he was quoting old prophets of the Jews — and not even correctly, because he was not educated and he could not read. He had never been under a rabbi — and the Jews had a long tradition of thousands of years of learning. They had a great university in Jerusalem, where people devoted their whole lives to studying. They were very rich as far as knowledgeability is concerned. Jesus was not a man of knowledge, and certainly he was not a man of experience either, because a man of experience will not talk such nonsense as, “I am the only begotten son of God.” God is simply a hypothesis, and I have never heard that hypotheses produce children. Only Indians do that, not hypotheses; hypotheses are absolutely barren.
The idea that somebody else has to save you, hurts you; he does not allow you even the freedom to save yourself.
Jesus has to be understood very clearly: he is one of the men who is against all freedom for man. He talks sweetly, just like any salesman, but the intention is to take away your basic fundamental birthright of growing as an individual, unique — not a carbon copy of somebody else, but just yourself. He did not accept people as they are and insisted that they should be according to his teachings. He did not allow them even to doubt or argue; you cannot argue with the son of God — what he says is truth. But it accumulated just in three years…. He was not a teacher in the world for more than three years. People could not tolerate him; it was becoming too insulting, too humiliating. The reason for Jesus’ crucifixion is not — as Christians go on telling to the world — that he was a great revolutionary. The reason is that he was one of the anti-humanitarians, and people crucified him as a revenge. It was becoming too heavy on their heads. Just an uneducated carpenter’s son who has been cutting wood and dragging logs to his father’s shop, suddenly becomes the savior… and savior of each and everyone with his simple cheap condition — that you believe in him.
He does not give you even the freedom to think, the freedom to meditate, the freedom to search, the freedom to seek… no freedom at all. He has created the greatest slavery in the world — Christianity. Now half of the world is Christian, and the responsibility for all these slaves — Catholics or Protestants, it does not matter… he is responsible. But his slavery is very subtle and very psychological. Now the reality is that he could not save himself, and he pretended to save the whole humanity. And when asked before his death, “How long will it take for you to come back and save humanity?” he said, “Don’t be worried, I am coming soon.” Two thousand years have passed. I don’t think… I can also stretch `soon’, but not that much! Two thousand years is just such an exaggeration. And still there is no sign…. We don’t see where there is a Virgin Mary; at least before he comes, a Virgin Mary should appear. The carpenter Joseph should appear; he should get married to Virgin Mary, and before he can consummate his marriage, the Holy Ghost should appear: it is a simple case of the rape of a virgin girl. Then with all these difficulties will come Jesus Christ — and how can he save you?
I am reminded of one statement of a great doctor who is my friend. I don’t know whether he is still alive or not, I have not heard anything about him for these last six years. He was the most prominent doctor in the city where I lived before I moved to Bombay and then to Poona.
He said to me, “My whole life’s experience is that the function of the physician is not the cure of the patient. The patient cures himself; the physician simply gives a loving atmosphere, promising. The physician simply gives the confidence and revives the longing to live longer. All his medicines are of secondary help.” But if the person has lost the desire to live, his whole life’s experience was that no medicine, nothing, helps.
The same is the situation for the therapist.
The therapist is not the person who is going to cure people’s psychological troubles. He can only create a loving atmosphere, in which they can open up their repressed, unconscious imaginations, repressions, hallucinations, desires, without any fear that they will be laughed at, with absolute certainty that all will feel compassion and love for them. The whole group should function as a therapeutic situation. The therapist is only a coordinator. He brings psychologically sick or disturbed people together, and just watches that nothing goes wrong. And if he can support them with some idea, some insight, some observation, he should always make it clear that “This is only my knowledge, not my experience” — unless you have the experience.
If you are sincere and truthful and honest and authentic, you will never fall into the trap of becoming a master, a savior — which is very simple to fall in. The moment you become a master and a savior… and you are not — you are not even helping those people, you are simply exploiting those people, their weaknesses, their troubles. The whole psychoanalysis movement around the world is the most exploitative experiment that is going on. Nobody is helped; everybody is exploited tremendously. And nobody is helped because the psychoanalyst, psychotherapist…. Psychology has bifurcated in many branches, but they all do the same work: they reduce you into a patient and they are the physicians. And the trouble is that they themselves are suffering from the same diseases. Each psychoanalyst goes to another psychoanalyst almost twice a year to be helped. It is a great conspiracy. Listening to all kinds of insanities, unless you are beyond mind and its problems, you are going to be insane yourself. You are going to start suffering from the same problems your patients are suffering from. Rather than making them cured, they are making you sick. But the responsibility is yours.
Bring love, openness, sincerity…. Before they start opening the doors of their heart — they are keeping them tightly closed so that nobody knows their problems — the first function of the psychotherapist is to open his heart and let them know that he is also as human as they are. He suffers from the same weaknesses, the same lust, the same desire for power, the same desire for money. He suffers from anguish and anxiety, suffers from the fear of death. Open your heart totally. That will help others to trust you — that you are not a pretender. The days of saviors and prophets and messengers and tirthankaras and avataras are completely gone. None of them will be acceptable today. And this time, if any of them reappears, people are not even going to stone him to death. People are just going to make fun of him. People are simply going to tell him, “You are stupid. The very idea that you can save the whole humanity is mad. First save yourself, and we will see your light and we will see your grandeur and we will see your splendor.”
And trust comes on its own accord. It is not to be asked. It comes just like a fresh breeze from the mountains, a tidal wave from the oceans. You have to do nothing for it. You have just to be available at the right time, in the right place. Nobody can save you except yourself. I say unto you: be a savior unto yourself. But help is possible, with a condition: that it comes with love, that it comes with the gratitude that “you trusted me and opened your heart.”
The function of a therapist, Sagarpriya is certainly very complex — and idiots are doing it! The situation is almost as if butchers are doing surgery; they know how to cut, but that does not mean they can become brain surgeons. They can kill buffaloes and cows and all kinds of animals, but their function is in the service of death.
The therapist is in the service of life. He has to create life-affirmative values by living them himself, by going to the silences of his heart. The deeper you are within yourself, the deeper you can reach into the heart of the other. It is exactly the same… because your heart or the other’s heart are not very different things. If you understand your being, you understand everybody’s being. And then you understand you have also been foolish, you have also been ignorant, you have also fallen many times, you have also committed crimes against yourself and against others, and if other people are still doing it there is no need of condemnation. They have to be made aware and left to themselves; you are not to mold them in a certain framework.
Then it is a joy to be a therapist, because you come to know the interiority of human beings — which is one of the most secret hiding places of life. And by knowing others you know yourself more. It is a vicious circle; there is no other word — otherwise I will not use the word `vicious’. Allow me to coin a word: it is a virtuous circle. You open to your patients, participants, and they open themselves to you. That helps you to open more, and that helps them to open more. Soon there is no therapist and there is no patient, but simply a loving group helping each other. Unless the therapist is lost in the group, he is not a successful therapist. That’s my criterion.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here
Chapter title: A very delicate and complex affair
13 September 1987 am in Gautam the Buddha Auditorium
Osho has spoken on ‘Therapist, therapy groups, love, compassion, meditation, experience’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Beyond Psychology
- The Book of Wisdom
- Come Follow To You, Vol 4
- The Last Testament, Vol 2
- Philosophia Perennis, Vol 2
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2
- Sermons in Stones
- Sufis: The People of the Path
- Zen: The Path of Paradox
- Take It Easy
- From Bondage to Freedom
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Light on the Path