Today I drew Control from the Osho Zen Tarot deck. This card is the King of Clouds (or equivalent to King of Swords in a traditional deck – the element of Air and associated with the mind). It’s a card that makes me feel claustrophobic to say the least – claustrophobic, inhibited and rigid. Of course control does begin with the mind doesn’t it. Here’s what the LWB says:
There is a time and place for control but if we put it in charge of our lives we end up totally rigid. The figure in the card is encased in the angles of pyramid shapes that surround him. Light glitters and glints off his shiny surfaces but does not penetrate. It’s as if he is almost mummified inside this structure he’s built up around himself. His fists are clenched, and his stare is blank, almost blind. The lower part of his body beneath the table is a knife point, a cutting edge that divides and separates. His world is ordered and perfect but it is not alive – he cannot allow any spontaneity or vulnerability to enter it. The image of the King of Clouds reminds us to take a deep breath, loosen our neck ties and take it easy. If mistakes happen, it’s okay. If things get a little out of hand, it’s probably just what the doctor ordered. There is much, much more to life than ‘being on top of things’.
In his book Tarot in the Spirit of Zen, Osho begins the chapter on King of Clouds: Control with this:
In controlling yourself you miss the whole point of being alive because you miss celebration. How can you celebrate if you are too controlled?
These are wise words indeed – if we are too controlled, too rigid, too inhibited we cannot celebrate the dance that is life. Osho also goes on to say that repression is the greatest form of control, we go about being patient, loving, non-violent and peaceful on the outside, yet on the inside we are seething with pain, anger and carry all of our rubbish. This is hypocrisy is it not? So Osho exhorts us to never repress.
Now let me explain this a bit because on the surface it reads like a licence to just do what we want. If we are angry with someone and want to poke his eyes out, well we can can’t we? Osho is not talking about licence to do what we want, when we want….no not at all! We have the freedom but freedom has its own discipline, it is not enforced by authority but comes from our own awareness and authenticity. Freedom is not a license to harm!
Here’s an example – you have had a really bad argument with a friend, and I mean a real humdinger! You both said some really horrible things to each other and you feel like you really want to physically hurt your friend, kill him even. That’s how angry you are! But automatically you repress that intense anger, you deny it because he or she is your friend, or it’s wrong to have such feelings, or you are a really awful person…the list could go on. So now you are repressing, you are controlling. some might say that this is a good thing because it stops us from acting out our anger. However, where do the feelings go? They go deep inside don’t they and they fester. Soon they will turn into a huge stinking mess inside you and be added to all the other dross you carry around in you. You control your thoughts because you’re too afraid to acknowledge them in case they turn into license, licence to hurt…you’ve heard the old saying ‘I killed him out of anger!’
But if you are AWARE control and license are not needed at all, and they (being two side of the same coin) can be chucked down the drain with the other rubbish. Awareness is saying…I’m F**king angry with my friend and I feel like I want to hurt him (or her). It’s ok to feel that anger…it really is! Nature gets angry doesn’t she? Nature is not always placid and peaceful, no not at all, sometimes She boils with rage and anger and manifests as storms and hurricanes and so forth. Feeling negative emotions is really ok. In fact I wonder if they really are so ‘negative’ after all. Of course society says they’re negative because we attach to them and because bad things can come from them. But through awareness we can see that they are just feelings, just like joy or happiness or sadness. They only become ‘bad’ if we attach to them and attach licence or control to them.
Once we have awareness the need to act on the emotion dissipates, the control and licence fades. And then we have freedom and are free to celebrate the dance of life in authenticity.