Tathata is one of Buddha’s most significant contributions to the world. Tathata means total acceptance: whatsoever the situation is, don’t fight with it. Accept it wholeheartedly, because it is through total acceptance that transcendence happens. If you fight with it you will be unnecessarily wasting your energy. Accepting it you preserve your energy. Accepting it you become capable of understanding it, because only one who accepts can understand; one who rejects cannot understand.
Anything that you reject, anything that you become inimical to, you become incapable of understanding — because we avoid that which is rejected. We are really afraid of it so we keep it at the back and we escape from it; we find ways and means to escape from it. And if you try to escape from something, how are you going to understand it?
And without understanding there is no liberation, no transformation.
Buddha says “tathata” — accept it totally. Whatsoever is the case, accept without denying, without condemning, and in that acceptance many things happen, many doors open. The first is: your energy is preserved, which is a great blessing. In fighting you dissipate energy, your energy leaks, you remain always energyless. And to go to the heights you will need great energy, you will need vitality. If you want to reach to the sun, the journey is long and arduous. You cannot go to the sun, you cannot fly that far away, without energy in you.
The man who is fighting his sex, anger, greed, jealousy, possessiveness — and there are a thousand and one things to fight — remains entangled in his fight; he cannot go anywhere. He is constantly disturbed and distracted by these things. He fights with one, represses one, something else raises its head — because he is one and the enemies are many. You fight anger, you will become greedy. The whole energy you repress from anger turns into greed. You fight greed, you will become very sexual. You fight sex, you will become very angry. You repress one thing, and the same thing with a new face, with a new mask, arrives from the back door. You will go insane.
That’s how the whole of humanity has gone insane. The insanity is so pervasive, that’s why we don’t think that people are insane. Everybody is insane! It is very rare that there is a sane person.
To be sane in this insane society is really a great work of understanding, courage, rebellion. If you drop all the conditionings that the society has imposed on you, only then will you be able to remain sane. Otherwise society turns everybody into an insane person.
The society turns everybody according to its own mode, mold, pattern, structure. It gives you ideas, ideologies, religions. It poisons you from the very beginning; when you are in your mother’s womb the poisoning starts. Now they are finding scientific ways of conditioning the child which is in the mother’s womb. Yes, certain things can be done to condition the child. For example, they have tried using a certain type of tight belt on the mother’s belly; that belt is made in such a way that it keeps the child in a tight situation. And they have discovered that these children are very obedient; when they are born they are more obedient than other children, because for nine months they have lived almost in a tight corner, in a prison.
In Soviet Russia they are trying the belt on many women. Now, the poor child who is not even born yet is already being conditioned, prepared for a certain society. He will be obedient. Certain music can reach to the womb. A soothing kind of music which lulls the child is helpful to create a slave. And so many drugs are available which can drug the child even before he is born — he is born drugged. He will live his whole life in a kind of unconsciousness; but that’s how the society wants him to live. Conscious people have proved dangerous; a Jesus, a Buddha, a Zarathustra, these people have proved dangerous. The story is that the first thing that Zarathustra did when he was born was, he laughed loudly. Can you think of a more rebellious child? Children are not supposed to laugh when they are born; they are supposed to cry, but not supposed to laugh. He must have shocked his parents and the neighborhood and the people who had heard his laughter. Why did he laugh? And such a person is not reliable, not reliable at all — this is a dangerous man! He has done his first act of rebellion. He has already said that “I am not going to be a part of the crowd — enough is enough. Many children have cried, I don’t follow them. I will start my life with laughter.”
Whether it really happened or not is not the question. In fact it is difficult to laugh immediately after you are born, but the story is significant because it says something about Zarathustra’s whole philosophy of life: it is that of great rebellion. Zarathustra is one of the greatest teachers of the world — he has accepted life in its totality. He is not a renunciate, he is against renunciation. That’s why the few Zarathustra followers that have survived had to escape their original motherland, Persia. They had to leave, because Mohammedans were coercing them, converting them; they converted Persia into a Mohammedan country. Persia is now known as Iran. A few people escaped who were not ready to accept this coercive violence. They came to India; they live in Bombay and around Bombay — the Parsis. They are the only followers of Zarathustra; they are very life-affirmative people. Hence many Parsis have become interested in me; to them I have a great appeal because I also affirm life. I am not in favor of escaping. It is because of Zarathustra’s total affirmation of life that Friedrich Nietzsche loved him tremendously and wrote his great book, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA. He wrote the book to appreciate life and the love for life. He could not find any other master so life-affirmative as Zarathustra; a man who begins his life with laughter, whose whole life is a laughter. There is no pessimism, not even a strain of pessimism in him.
That’s exactly the meaning of tathata — accept the whole of life as it is. In your acceptance you will be preserving your energy, and you have inexhaustible sources of energy if you accept.
Secondly: when you accept everything, your life becomes cheerful. Nobody can make you miserable, nothing can make you miserable.
A man with three hairs on his otherwise bald head came into a hair saloon and asked to get his hair shampooed and braided. The hairdresser got on with his job but just as he was about to finish combing it, one of the hairs fell out.
The hairdresser was very embarrassed but the man only said, “Well, what to do? I guess I will have to part my hair in the middle!”
The hairdresser very carefully put one hair to the right side and was about to put the other to the left side when that one fell out too. The hairdresser could not apologize enough but the man took it really cool.
“Well,” he said, “I guess now I will have to run around with my hair all ruffled up.”
This is tathata, this is total acceptance! You cannot disturb such a man. He is always contented, he always finds a way to be contented. It is a great art. And a man who is always contented and always finds a way to remain contented has the capacity to see things transparently. Discontent clouds your eyes and your vision; contentment makes your eyes unclouded and your vision clear. You can see through and through, you can understand things as they are.
Tathata is also translated as suchness; that too is one of its meanings. You see things as they are in their suchness; you don’t impose any idea of your own on them. And that is a miracle, a magic key. If you can see anger as it is, without any judgment, you will be surprised: seeing anger without judgment, without condemnation, without saying it is bad or good, should be or should not be, without bringing any “shoulds” in… if you can see your anger as it is, with no prejudice for or against, a miracle happens: anger disappears and its energy becomes absorbed in you. Just by pure insight you transform anger, greed, jealousy. And all that goes on dragging you hither and thither, keeps you running, never allows you rest and relaxation, is absorbed; more energy becomes available to you. And slowly slowly, when there is no anger — not that you have rejected it but you have absorbed it, digested it — no greed, no jealousy, no possessiveness, no sexuality… you have digested all these phenomena in you. You are becoming greater and greater and you have energies available to rise higher; you have fuel enough to keep your fire burning bright and without smoke.
tathata is a method of transforming your energies into your friends.
Ordinarily you are taught such stupid ways that your own energies become your enemies and you are constantly fighting with yourself. Now there can be no greater stupidity than this; this is the most stupid act in the world that people go on doing — fighting with themselves. You cannot win, you cannot defeat. You will remain quarreling with yourself, you will destroy yourself in quarreling your whole life. You will die, and you will never know what life was. You will never know the glories of life, the grandeur of life and the tremendous gift that life was, and could have been if you had lived with right mindfulness, with tathata, with acceptance.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 6
Chapter title: Happiness: the death of the ego
30 October 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘acceptance, intelligence, devotee, love, buddha’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses: