My hope is in the birth of the rebel


“The priority should be your attainment of spiritual freedom, because political tyrannies come and go,” declares Osho

The Rebel book cover

Beloved Master,

I was born in South Korea. I left that country in 1984, and took sannyas in 1985. When I was staying in Rajneeshpuram in 1985, the South Korean government arrested a lot of my friends and denounced them and me as communist revolutionaries. One of them was killed before the court date, and two of them were sentenced to death; the rest of them are all in jail now, and I have been suffering from this horrible calamity.

Your lovers in South Korea try to make their country free from U.S. imperialism, and to search for the path of truth simultaneously.

Is it possible to do this? – to search for the path of truth and free one’s own country from tyranny?

Please comment for me and your lovers in Korea.

Prem Seung, there is no conflict between your search for truth, for your spiritual freedom, and your struggle against political tyranny – although matters become a little more complicated.

The priority should be your attainment of spiritual freedom, because political tyrannies come and go. And you cannot be absolutely sure that when you have overthrown one political tyranny, it will not be replaced by another. You can fight with the United States and its ugly attempt to keep South Korea under its power – to destroy people and their freedom.

Now they are killing your people, calling them communist. Tomorrow… it is going to happen out of necessity, because history moves like the pendulum of a clock. From one extreme to another extreme; that’s the way of history and time. Because they are condemning you as communists – killing you, forcing you into jails, sentencing you to death – it will create the opposite movement, a movement towards communism.

No tyranny has ever been able to remain forever; its days are limited. Nobody can destroy people’s wills. They can harm, they can kill people, but one day they find that their very effort to keep their empire, and keep people enslaved, has turned the people against them.

But what about the communist tyrant? You will move from one tyranny into the hands of another. Certainly, the same people will not be killed, and the same people will not be sentenced to death. Now the victims will be the people who had become agents of the United States – they will be killed, they will be sentenced to death. But it does not matter who is killed and who is sentenced to death; they are all South Koreans, they are all your brothers and your sisters. And the strangest phenomenon to be remembered is that even the communists, who have been fighting against American imperialism, many of them will be shot by the communist regime which will replace it.

It is a strange fate, but it has a subtle logic in it. The people who have been revolutionaries become accustomed to being revolutionaries; and any regime is anti-revolutionary. It may be the regime created by the revolutionaries themselves, but the moment people come into power, they become anti-revolutionary, because now revolution goes against their power. They were in favor of revolution, because revolution was bringing power into their hands – it is simple logic. And the revolutionaries cannot believe that this is the freedom they have been fighting for. Only the people have changed, but everything remains the same: the same bureaucracy, the same ugly politicians, but now they will be South Koreans, not Americans.

And these people will forget all the promises that they had given to the people to support the revolution; they will start exploiting the same people. Naturally, many revolutionaries of the past start drifting away from the people who have come into power. Once they were all fighting with the enemy, shoulder to shoulder. Now they start drifting away, because the revolution has been betrayed. And now the revolutionaries who have come into power – and power simply destroys all their revolutionary ideologies – start killing the remaining revolutionaries, because they are the most dangerous people. They have thrown out the previous regime; they can throw out this regime, too. They cannot be tolerated.

It is a very complex game. You should not give it priority; the priority should remain your own growth. Whether the tyranny is of America, or the tyranny is of China, or the tyranny is of the Soviet Union, it does not matter. Tyranny is simply tyranny; it is murderous, it is criminal.

So rather than waiting for a beautiful future, when America is gone out of South Korea and South Koreans themselves are in power… don’t trust it too much. History teaches something else; the people will remain in the same ugly situation, under the same horrors. Only the butchers have changed, but the murder remains the same.

I am not against fighting for freedom for your nation, but don’t give it a priority. The priority should be for your spiritual freedom, which cannot be taken away either by America, by Russia, by China, or by anybody else. If you can manage, without any disturbance, to fight against tyranny also, then I am absolutely in support of it. But I don’t think it is easy – it is very difficult. The moment you start fighting with governments, you get so much involved in that fight, you forget yourself completely.

It is ugly to remain under any slavery. But the greatest slavery is of your soul. Make it free from the past, make it free from the nation, make it free from the religion you have been brought up in. Your search for truth should remain your basic and ultimate concern. On the margin, if you have some energy left, you can go on fighting with political tyrannies. But you are going to be disappointed.

Everybody down the ages who had the idea that “We will be free,” has been disappointed. In this country, I was a small child when the freedom struggle was going on, but my whole family was involved in it. My uncles were in jails, my family was almost continuously under house arrest. My uncles could not complete their education, because the time they were going to spend in the universities was spent in the jails. And every kind of torture… but there was great hope that this night, however long, would end.

It has ended, but the day has not come. This is the miracle.

The British imperialists have gone, and those who have come into power were fighting against British imperialism and its inhumanity to the people of this land. Now they are doing the same. Certainly this is not the freedom people were hoping for.

I remember my childhood days… what great hope there was in the air – as if we had come very close to the Golden Age. And except sheer disappointment, nothing has happened. Forty years have passed; now the rulers are Indians, not Britishers, but their strategies are the same. Their clinging to power is the same, their exploitation of people is the same. The bureaucracy has become stronger, and the country has gone through a shock: “What happened to the freedom for which we fought? For which our youth was crucified? For which thousands of people were jailed, killed? Is this the freedom for which all these sacrifices were made?”

Certainly, that is not freedom. Perhaps in the political world that kind of freedom can never come unless the rebel is born, not the revolutionary. The revolutionary has failed, utterly failed; and not one time, but hundreds of times. Now it can be accepted as a rule: the revolutionary talks of great things, promises paradises, and when he comes into power, he proves a greater tyrant than the previous ones.

My hope is no longer in the promises of the revolutionaries; my hope is in the birth of the rebel. And a rebel’s basic necessity – the essential transformation – is freedom of your individuality from your own past, from your own religion, from your own nation. Meditation will help to make you an individual; and only a commune of individuals who are all spiritually free, who have broken all the bridges that go towards the past, will have eyes that are fixed on faraway stars.

They are all, in a way, poets, dreamers, mystics and meditators. And unless we fill the world with these people, this world is going to change from one tyranny to another. It will be an exercise of utter futility.

Prem Seung, you are the priority. Get to your roots, find your self, become a rebel, and create as many rebels as possible. That’s the only way you can help the future mankind in creating a Golden Future.

Osho, The Rebel, Ch 19, Q 3

Thanks to VIHA Connection who pointed out the image of Osho on the book cover of The Rebel, first edition, published in 1990.

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