Osho’s Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships



A paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment

I finally finished Osho’s Love, Freedom, Aloneness: The Koan of Relationships. While there is a substantial amount that I mentally tossed aside (the heteronormativity, homophobia, the narrow focus on the negative impacts of religious institutions), there was also a substantial amount that resonated with me.

I had a ton of favorite passages. It took me a long time to type them all up. I decided I would take a few at a time and write some about why they resonated with me, and why they meshed with my open relationship experience. I might choose to do a few every week, to keep my meditation and reflection on the book going longer-term.

Let’s do this:

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“A relationship is a koan. And unless you have solved a more fundamental thing about yourself, you cannot solve it. The problem of love can be solved only when the problem of meditation has been solved, not before it. Because it is really two nonmeditative persons who are creating the problem. Two persons who are in confusion, who don’t know who they are–naturally they multiply each other’s confusion, they magnify it” (p70)

So many of his ideas feel obvious to me. Of course if one person does not truly know herself and then gets together with another who does not know him/herself either that those individual challenges multiply and manifest in even larger ways. When I consider how pretty much all of our challenges in our open relationship are related to our individual insecurities and not our actual relationship security or health, I am extremely motivated to continue my self-growth and exploration. J and I have recently been discussing the idea of a relationship as a vehicle for self-growth, and how neither of us had ever really thought of our relationship in this way. But it is actually a very useful framework for me, especially since I have a lot of self-growth that I am working on. This kind of framework helps bolster my appreciation for our open relationship structure and keeps me feeling positive about the work I do, even when it feels difficult.

“Love is denied so much–and love is the rarest thing in the world; it should not be denied. If a man can love five persons, he should love five. If a man can love fifty, he should love fifty. If a man can love five hundred, he should love five hundred. Love is so rare that the more you can spread it the better. But… you are forced into a narrow, very narrow, corner…the conditions are too much. It is as if there was a law that you can breathe only when you are with your wife, you can breathe only when you are with your husband. Then breathing will become impossible!” (p116)
“Love is breathing. Breathing is the life of the body and love is the life of the soul. It is far more important than breathing. Now when your husband goes out, you make it a point that he should not laugh with anybody else, at least not with any other women. He should not be loving to anybody else. So for twenty-three hours he is unloving, then for one hour when he is in bed with you, he pretends to love? You have killed his love, it is flowing no more. If for twenty-three hours he has to remain a yogi, holding his love, afraid, do you think he can relax suddenly for one hour? It is impossible” (p143)

These last two passages are a little bit painful for me, simply because I know this kind of dynamic described is very similar to what happens between J and I. When I “freak out” about J’s closeness with another partner, he then feels like he cannot enjoy a closeness with another person, and then he also does not feel close to me. The metaphor of breathing pretty accurately describes the outcome for us when I have a hard time accepting his intimacy with another partner. I don’t act on those feelings (ie, ask him not to have intimacy with another), but my feelings can have a similar effect on his behavior as though I had actually asked him to maintain more distance. These passages are painful, because they hit close to my experience of struggling to give up control, feeling badly for negatively impacting J’s relationships and experiences, and feeling sad that the end result is that he and I are not as close. Thankfully, this is a process that we are changing. I do not act on my feelings, although it is still necessary for me to talk about them calmly with J and ask for lots of reassurance.

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