Osho says, “Everybody is playing a certain role that has been taught to him, for which he has been brought up.” From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
I have heard about a man…
One hundred years had passed since Abraham Lincoln was shot dead, so for one year a great celebration was arranged in his honour all over America.
One man looked like Abraham Lincoln; just a few touches here and there and he was almost a photographic copy of Abraham Lincoln.
He was trained to speak the way Abraham Lincoln used to speak, with his gestures, his emphasis, his accent, everything, small details – even the way he walked – for twenty-four hours a day… and he was to perform this drama of the life of Abraham Lincoln all over the country, moving from one place to another place the whole year.
He was shot dead so many times, every night in every show, sometimes even twice a day. That year was a long year – he died so many times – and his part in the drama became almost his second nature. So when the celebrations were finished, people were surprised: he walked out of the hall the same way Abraham Lincoln used to walk – he used to limp a little. He was limping.
His wife said, “Come to your senses!” – because he spoke in the same way, in an accent one hundred years old. His wife said, “Don’t stretch the joke too much. Just become your real self and come home.”
He said, “I am my real self, I am Abraham Lincoln.”
For one year continuously he had lived as Abraham Lincoln, he died thousands of deaths as Abraham Lincoln; he had completely forgotten that he was ever anybody else. He was brought to a doctor. The doctor talked to him, but he was still in his dramatic role. The doctor said, “Just forget that drama.”
The man said, “What drama?”
The doctor turned to his wife and said to her, “This man won’t listen unless he is shot dead!”
The family was getting mad. He lost his job; nobody was ready to treat him because he was not sick. He was simply glued with a mask.
One year is a long time, and every day, twenty-four hours a day, he was Abraham Lincoln. And to be Abraham Lincoln for one year and then suddenly become an ordinary human being – who would like it? He had seen the glorious days, the golden days, and he was clinging tightly to them.
That man lived for a few years as Abraham Lincoln; he used to sign “Abraham Lincoln” exactly the same as Abraham Lincoln used to sign.
Would you say this man has attained something or lost something? He has lost himself, and what he has gained is just a dramatic act. He has become absolutely phony.
And this is the situation of almost everybody in the world – not so dramatic, not so outstanding – but everybody is playing a certain role that has been taught to him, for which he has been brought up.
A child is born – he is not Christian, he is not a Jew, he is not Mohammedan – and then we start putting a mask on him. His innocent face disappears. And he will die believing that he is a Christian.
So don’t laugh at that poor man who died believing that he was Abraham Lincoln, because everybody else is doing the same…
[…] People are being trained as actors; in this whole big world you will find everybody acting. Everybody is brought up to act… beautiful names – ‘etiquette’, ‘manners’ – but hidden behind is a subtle psychology to make you forget your originality and imbibe some actor which the vested interests want you to be.
Never be inspired by anybody.
Osho, Beyond Psychology – Talks in Uruguay, Ch 5, Q 2 (excerpt)