My Osho Epiphany

“The moment you accept yourself, you become beautiful.”

Posted Sep 22, 2019

Yesterday I tweeted a quote from Osho for one of my social media clients: “The moment you accept yourself, you become beautiful.”  I didn’t think much about it until I decided not to leave well enough alone and parsed it, quickly and in not much depth.  It was, however, enough to be an epiphany.

It haunted me all day and into this morning.  Self-acceptance, I decided, has to be a neutral state, whereas what I have to accept falls into categories I have called good or bad all of my conscious life.  Are they good?  Are they bad?   I don’t know.

The first thing I put in my bad category is “I’m fat.”  That fact is like a prism: it diffuses light in all sorts of ways.  First, it is not a static condition.  I gain weight, I lose weight.  Second, people I trust have told me they don’t see me that way.  They see a package – other things about me that they like or are sorry for.  They see new glasses, a pretty shirt, expect a good conversation, what I’m trying to do.  Third, I know what works best for my fatness, which is valuable information in itself.  Fourth, I am an active addict.  Addicts can wreak havoc but often we feel sorry for them.  We pray for them and encourage them to seek help.

Red, blue, yellow, green.  “I am fat” isn’t as simple a statement as it seems, but I do have to go back to my bad list and add that I’m not seeking the help I know is there.  I also had to go to my good list and admit that some people accept, like, love, and appreciate me, in four different statements, making my tallies even for the time being.

The light bounces off the walls.

Being fat combines elements from both columns, but is it bad?

No.  It can’t be, not if I want to accept it.  If I accept as a thing rather than a definition, it becomes malleable, a hope.  It loses its shame.  As a definition, it holds me back.  As an accepted fact, it’s not that important, not cemented in place.

As part of what I must accept about myself, it means I can’t feel shame about it.  I don’t have to hide it or escape from it. 

The shame of my obesity has kept me from leaving my home, pushing me closer to agoraphobia

You would think that it’s easy to accept the entries from the good column, but it’s actually far harder without neutrality.  The first entry in the good column is “I’m funny.”  That’s been my armor for at least fifty years to overcome what people think when they see me, to give them a “despite.”  I have also used it against people and institutions that I compare myself to.  It’s terrific to be a funny person, don’t get me wrong.  In conversation, in writing, hanging out with my dog, reading Trollope, it’s a quality I am grateful for having.  But it’s not always a pretty one and its roots are dubious.

I’m not going to go on with my lists here.  They’re private and I’m unsure how to accept all the entries.

What I really want to say is that I think total self-acceptance does make one beautiful because it doesn’t weight one aspect over another. 

Christopher Campbell/Unsplash
Source: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash

The stuff one once considered bad has equal footing with the so-called good, and by ripping away shame one exposes oneself to the sun and all its refracted colors.  If I’m not trying to hide my fatness as something disgusting, I’m also allowing my attempts to be less judgmental to get some practice and attract people who shrink from criticism, even criticism aimed at someone else in the form of gossip.

Total, neutral self-acceptance balances all one’s personal qualities.  It also gives them lives of their own.  When will being well-read be called on?  When will an obese person need the wisdom or consolation of experience? 

And when this inventory is not only neutral but independent, it becomes a work in progress.  We can ask for help.  We can offer help.  We can be, just be, safe in the knowledge we know ourselves better than anyone else and that we are free to do with that what we decide.