When to say yes and where to draw the boundaries

Say “Yes” To Life

When a child is born he is a yes-sayer. Slowly, slowly, as he starts feeling himself as an individual, the no arises. Life and you remain one when you say yes. When you say no you demark a line, you assert.
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It is difficult to say yes to life, because you have been taught to say no. And the conditioning is very ancient. And not only is the conditioning there which does not allow you to say yes, there is some inner mechanism also that does not allow you to say yes.

When a child is born he is a yes-sayer. Slowly, slowly, as he starts feeling himself as an individual, the no arises. When the child starts saying no you can be certain this is the time when the ego is born. The ego cannot exist without saying no, so each child has to say no. It is an inner necessity for becoming an individual. If the child goes on saying yes to everything he will never become an individual, he will not have any definition to his being. How will he be able to define? ‘Yes’ gives you no definition, ‘no’ gives you definition. When you say no, you know it is ‘I’ saying no. When you say yes, there is no ‘I’ in it.

Life and you remain one when you say yes. When you say no you demark a line, you assert.

Each child lives in the Garden of Eden for a few months, a few years, and then slowly, slowly he has to deny, he has to rebel, he has to disobey. The father says, “Don’t do this!” and he has to do it just to say, “I am myself. You cannot go on ordering me like that. I’m not a slave. I have my own preferences, I have my own likes and dislikes.” Sometimes the child even does something which he does not much like to do, but he has to do it because the father is saying don’t do it.

Children start smoking cigarettes; no child likes smoking a cigarette for the first time — nobody can like it. Tears come to the eyes, the child starts coughing, the throat feels in a misery, the heart does not like it, but he has to do it because the father is saying “Don’t smoke!” He has to go against the father; that is the only way to have a separate existence. He has to go against the mother, he has to go against the teacher. There is a time for each child to say no, and that is good. I am not against it, otherwise there would be no more individuals. But then you become accustomed to saying no.

 

There is a time, a season to say no, and there is a time to learn to drop unnecessary noes. Otherwise you will never attain to the unity with the divine. Just see the point: no helps you to become separate from your father, your mother, your family, your society. It is good, as far as it goes, it is good, but then one day you have to learn to say yes to existence. Otherwise you will remain always separate, and the separation creates misery, the separation creates a kind of struggle in life, a fight. Life becomes a war. And life should not be a war, it should be a relaxed joy.

So one has to say yes one day.

You are afraid of losing your ego. You stand in the way; your ego stands in the way. And it was good that it helped you to get rid of your past heritage, history, your parents, your family, your church. It is good. Its work is finished; you are no more a child! Now don’t go on fighting. Just don’t go on carrying the old habit of saying no, otherwise you will remain childish.

See the paradox: if a child never says no he will never grow, and if a grown-up man goes on saying no he will remain childish. One day you need to say no with your total heart, and one day you need to drop the no too.

No has its own utility though. One should not be addicted to it, that’s all. No is not bad in itself. There are moments when you have to say no, there are moments when you have to say yes. One should be free to say yes or no; that’s what I have been telling you. One should not be addicted to either. A free person is one who looks at each situation and says yes or no — whatsoever the response is, whatsoever he feels like in that moment. That yes and no should not come from the past, should not come from the memory. It should not be a reaction; it should be a response.

Abridged from The Wisdom of Sands by Osho

Osho is known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, with an approach to meditation that acknowledges the accelerated pace of contemporary life.

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