The dying rabbi

1001 Tales Discourses

“People … think the ego comes through prestige and power – renounce power, renounce prestige – but then the ego comes through your humbleness,” says Osho.

old rabbi
The old Rabbi, (in all probability) painted by Rembrandt van Rijn

People … try to become humble; that is an escape. They feel the grip of the shadow, the grip of the ego. They try to become humble, they try to become simple, they renounce everything. Because they think ego comes from riches, they renounce the riches – but then the ego comes through renunciation of the riches. They think the ego comes through prestige and power – renounce power, renounce prestige – but then the ego comes through your humbleness.

Let me tell you one anecdote. I love it tremendously.

The beloved rabbi was on his deathbed and life was slowly ebbing away. Around the bed was a group of sorrowing disciples who felt the coming loss keenly and who talked in whispers among themselves of the manifold virtues of the old man now leaving them.

One said, ’So pious, so pious! Which of the many commandments of the Law did he fail to keep? Where at any point did he deviate in the slightest from the commandments of god?’

And another mourned, ’And so learned. The vast commentaries of the rabbis of the past were, so to speak, imprinted on his brain. At any moment he could call to mind some saying which would illuminate any possible theological question.’

Still a third said, ’And so charitable, so generous. Where was the poor man whom he did not help? Who in town is ignorant of his kindness? Why, he kept for himself only enough to hold body and soul together.’

But as this litany of praise continued, a faint tremor appeared on the rabbi’s face. It became obvious that he was trying to say something.

All the disciples leaned forward, with bated breath, to hear those last words.

Faintly from the rabbinical lips, there came the words,

’Piety, learning, charity! And of my great modesty you say nothing?’

Osho, Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, Ch 6, Q 5 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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