The Courage to Trust

Finding the courage to trust. What does that mean? When we say we trust someone, or we ask to be trusted, what exactly are we saying? Osho spoke often about trust, and of course he managed to say diametrically opposed things, or at least that is what I heard.

Once I heard him say that to trust someone meant that whatever that person did was right, even if they went against what you perceive your interests to be. He said that trust that depends on another is a pretty poor trust, more a business arrangement. Like "I trusted you, how could you do that?". Or "I trusted you not to mess up, and what did you do? You messed up!" That kind of trust is more of an emotional manipulation than trust.

Osho trusted his disciples to be exactly who they were, with all their quirks, all their own issues around being untrustworthy, not good enough etc, etc. He said that to trust someone that we know to be absolutely trustworthy, doesn't require much trust at all. It is when, from our side, we trust, when we don't know if the other is worthy of it or not, that actually tests our trust.    

One day in response to a question from someone saying how their trust in existence was growing daily, feeling more and more in tune with existence, he shocked everyone by saying it was absolute idiocy to trust this existence, this world where billions are starving, being killed, where nuclear weapons can go off any second, the whole planet going to collapse any day, where any moment someone may kill you. How can you trust in any god who allows all this suffering, who really doesn't care? Trust yourself, he said, what is true to your heart.

Forget about anything (or anyone) outside of you. This blew everyone out, as we'd all been thinking, like most of what we see as New Age people, that we "should" trust existence, that we will be taken care of if we let go. But of course we thought that letting go meant dropping responsibility, letting someone else make decisions for us, "trusting" another. The penny dropped, big time. As the Sufis say, "Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel first."

Then of course is the trust between men and women. It would appear that there is heaps of trust, but look a little deeper and mostly it's a nightmare. We learn to mistrust very early, seeing the games our parents play, with each other and with us. We are even taught to mistrust ourselves, our bodies. When we are young we have to trust our parents, and often they aren't superhuman, and "abuse" our trust. Promises broken, trust violated.

This is reflected in our relationships. Maybe this person will want more than I want to give, maybe I don't have enough, maybe I'll be trapped, maybe if they really see me they won't like me anymore. Maybe if I do this I'll miss out on something else. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

We get such strong messages about how you can't trust the opposite sex. Men and women do have different agendas, chemistry, and you never know really how the other will react in any given situation. I know for me I have had huge mistrust around the feminine, and the masculine also. Will I be embarrassed if I allow my 'woman' out? Can I trust her to be civil? What does the outer woman really want? Who is she, really? And am I going to be drowned, will I still be able to have fun, what if she finds out who I am, and maybe I'm just too much, I want too much? What if she sees how insecure I am, how much I need? And what will she say to all her friends about me? When we have a fight?

And I have seen equally huge mistrust in women.

What if I open up, let this guy inside me, really let him in, what is he going to do? Will he just want more and more? Will he think he owns me? Will he just fuck me and leave me? Will he trash me when I am feeling open and vulnerable? What if he's a Jeckle and Hyde character? Better not to open up, better to be alone, better not to risk disappointment, better to get my life together, be "independent".

All these games, mind fucks, are all about trust. And the truth is that all of us have stuffed up, and really aren't "deserving" of anybody's trust, our own included. Again and again we give it a try, though mostly half-arsed, keeping safe, keeping our longings and dreams hidden, even from ourselves. What this time in history is about is learning how to trust ourselves, to do what we want, to say what we need to say, to go for what we need, to trust that we will be able to deal with whatever situations arise.

If we aren't going to trust here and now, when? If we aren't able to trust the man/woman we are making love with, then who? Someone we haven't yet met, and may never meet? Life is so uncertain, so if there is a desire to trust, well, we may as well try now.

We all know the feeling when someone says "trust me". Eeeeek! No fucking way! Particularly if they want something. And we have all said yes, wholely or partly, and sometimes it works, and others it's a complete fuck up. Why is he asking for my trust? If she/he has to ask, it usually means I can't trust him/her. Am I in fact trustworthy? Is it important to me to be trusted?

The stuff we see in the media reinforces this also. How many times have we seen in a movie where a woman is lying naked, vulnerable, in a bath or in bed, and some violence happens? Or people enjoying making love, and Jack the Ripper appears? The message; Don't let go, don't trust, don't relax, because if you do, if you let your guard down for an instant, someone's gonna fuck you. Maybe they will, in my observations, if you expect them to. But maybe they won't, and we spend our entire lives tense and worried, so missing the pleasure of the moment. It seems to me that we are here in large part to learn to trust, to let go, to make our own choices.

So trust seems to not be about the other, more a question of a unilateral trustingness. Because if we want, we can find all kinds of reasons, history, not to trust. Many of our rationalisations are simply our unwillingness to look at our own mistrust, that perhaps in the past we feel our "trust" has been abused, so we use it as an excuse to be miserly about our love. Our mistrust is reflected in never really being total, never really giving ourselves to a situation, always keeping something back.

Once I read Osho on Dynamic meditation, saying that especially in the first stage it's really all about trust, that even though you may feel like you are going to die, you have to keep breathing, keep pushing, go into the unknown, into whatever is there. It is a great gift of sannyas, of Osho, saying YES to the unknown. Oh sure we get into trouble sometimes, and we get confused about trust and dropping responsibility, but also there are many goodies too. It seems that trust is needed to expose and grow.

We are all expert at not trusting. I wonder what would happen if we turned that expertise to trusting, to saying yes to that off the wall feeling, that wild idea that suddenly jumped into our heads, the impulse that has always gotten us into trouble before, so why won't it again? In a way life is simply about mistakes, and learning from them, better perhaps than just doing the same thing over and over like an automatim, staying on the same track out for fear of falling off the new one.

Life does teach us, it does show us who we are, and will show us anyway, so why not give it a chance, and let ourselves get really big as we were born to be?

Published in the Here & Now magazine, September 1999

Related to - Featured | Spiritual Teachings | Musings about ... | Inner questioning

By Mark O'Brien

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