Osho and a Professional Beggar


Trust is never conditional. I trust you, not because you are trustworthy; I trust you because I cannot distrust.

Once in India I was traveling from Indore to Kanva. Kanva was a big junction, and I had to wait there for one hour. I was alone in my air-conditioned compartment. A beggar knocked on the window, and I indicated to him to come in.

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He came in. He said, “My mother has died, and I don’t have even enough money to bury her.” I gave him one rupee. In those days that was even enough to get wood and burn your mother. The man looked surprised.

He was a professional beggar. I knew it, because I passed through Kanva many times, and it was always his mother who was dying. I could have asked, “What a great mother you have got. Is your mother a Jesus Christ?” But I never said anything to him.

That day, thinking me mad or something, he came again. He said, “My father has died.”

I said, “Great! Take one rupee more.”

The man could not believe that so soon… just five minutes before his mother had died, now his father has died. And that gave him courage enough to come again after five minutes.

I said, “Has your wife died?”

He said, “How do you know? Yes.”

I said, “Here is one rupee more. How many relatives do you have? Because it is unnecessarily disturbing me – these people will go on dying and you will have to come again and again. You just tell me the whole number, as if the whole family has died. How many relatives do you have?”

The poor man could not imagine more than ten. I said, “Okay, you take ten rupees. And now, get lost.”

He said, “Before I accept your ten rupees – three I have already taken – I want to know, do you believe me? So quickly my mother dies, my father dies, my wife dies, and now you are giving me an advance for my whole family.” He felt guilty that he was cheating. He said, “No, although I am a beggar, I cannot cheat you. You still trust me?”

I said, “You have done nothing wrong. I have money, you are poor; any excuse will do. And don’t you think that I am also immensely interested in your family? – because your mother has died many times before. I have been passing through this railway station so many times, and it was always your mother. How many mothers did you have?”

He said, “I want one thing to be clear; otherwise I will carry this wound in my heart forever. How could you trust me?”

I said, “I thought perhaps you went on forgetting that it is the same man you are asking for money: ‘My mother has died, my father has died, my wife has died.’ Perhaps you were thinking you were asking different people” – because he came with different clothes. One time he came with a cap, another time with a basket, the third time with a coat on – just so that he was not recognized as the same man.

I said, “I was wondering if perhaps you could not recognize me as the same man. And as far as trust is concerned, I trust you still. It has nothing to do with your trustworthiness; I trust you because I cannot distrust. It is my incapacity, it has nothing to do with your worthiness or unworthiness.”

He returned the thirteen rupees. I tried hard to refuse but he said, “No. I will not take these rupees knowing perfectly well that you are aware that I am cheating and still you trust me. You have given me the dignity of being a human being for the first time in my whole life. And I am not going to beg again – without saying a word, you have changed me.”

Osho, From Death to Deathlessness, Ch 6, Q 2 (excerpt)


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