Comparison is one of the greatest diseases


Osho comments on the quote from the Desiderata: ‘Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter…’

Dancing Buddha by Deva Padma

Desiderata says: Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

A very simple statement, but of tremendous importance. It is very pregnant. Avoid loud and aggressive persons… Who is a loud person? And why is a certain person loud in the first place? The person who feels deep down inferior is always loud. He is afraid that if he is not loud you will see his weakness, if he is not loud, you may be able to see his inferiority; if he is not loud he may be exposed. By being loud he creates smoke around himself: he hides behind his loudness.

Adler’s insight is right when he says that all politicians basically suffer from inferiority complexes. Unless somebody suffers from an inferiority complex he will not go into politics. Politics is loud, very loud, very noisy and very aggressive. The inferior person tries to prove that he is not inferior. He wants to hide his inferiority by becoming a prime minister, by becoming a president, by having much money, by conquering the world.

Alexander the Great must have suffered from a greater inferiority complex than anybody else; otherwise who bothers to conquer the world? When he was coming to India – that was the last part of the world which was still not conquered by him – he met a tremendously beautiful man, Diogenes. And Diogenes asked him, “Why are you bothering to conquer the world? Why not conquer yourself?”

Alexander laughed – a shallow laugh. He said, “What you are saying is true, but right now I cannot stop. I have to finish what I have decided to do. First I have to conquer the world and then I will do what you are saying to me.”

Diogenes said, “There will be no time left then – the world is vast. By the time you have conquered it, your life will have slipped out of your hands.”

But he did not listen.

And that’s what actually happened: he could not reach back to his home. He died on the way back from India. No time to reach back home, what to say about reaching back to one’s own center, the real home? His whole life was lost in proving that “I am a great conqueror.” But why should one try to prove it? People always try to prove something which they feel they are missing. Hence: Avoid loud and aggressive persons… they are empty, they have nothing. You cannot learn anything from them. On the contrary …they are vexations to the spirit.

They will distract your mind. They will give their stupid ideas to you. They will advise you and guide you. They have reached nowhere, they know nothing, but they will pretend that they are wise, they will pretend that they have arrived; they will pretend all kinds of things.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons… Seek the company of the humble, of the simple, of the silent ones, of the nonpolitical, of the nonaggressive, and you may learn much. But it is always learned in the company of the innocent. Yes, you can learn much more by playing with children than by being with a politician. You can learn much more even by being with animals or trees than by being with the so-called rich.

And they can easily distract you because you are not yet centered. Ambitions are infectious. Avoid ambitious people, otherwise something of their fever is bound to infect you, is bound to affect you. You may start moving in a direction which is not yours, you may start doing things which you had never thought to do in the first place, but just because you fell in company with somebody…

Just look at your life – it is almost all accidental. It is not essential, it is accidental. Your father wanted you to be a doctor so you are a doctor. Now it was his ambition that his son should be a famous doctor; he fulfilled his ambition. He used you as a means to fulfill his ambition. This is not love – this is exploitation.

My father wanted me to be an engineer or a scientist or a doctor. I told him, “If you insist, if it makes you happy, I will do any stupid thing you tell me. But remember, this is not love. If you love me, then let me be what I want to be. I don’t want to be a doctor and I don’t want to be an engineer. I have no desire at all to be a scientist – that is not my way – I don’t feel any joy in the scientific way of thinking. My love is totally different: I am in deep love with poetry, aesthetics, beauty, truth.”

He said, “Then you will remain a beggar!”

I said, “That’s perfectly okay, that I can accept. I will be a beggar, that is okay, but let me be what I want to be. Even in my poverty I will be rich, and following you and becoming a doctor I may become very rich but I will remain poor, and I will always hanker for that which was my real longing.”

He was a man of tremendous understanding. He meditated over it and he said, “Then it is okay. You do whatsoever you feel like doing, and you have my blessings.”

He could have forced me easily because he had the money. He could have forced me to go in any direction because I was helpless. He showed love, he showed understanding. He allowed me to be whatsoever I wanted to be.

If you are with loud people they are bound to distract you. He was not a loud person at all – very humble – he was not aggressive at all. I never saw him fight with anybody. He never even shouted at me for any wrong that I had done that he did not like. I never saw him in an angry mood. It was beautiful to be with such a man, but rare is the opportunity.

At least do one thing: avoid loud people, aggressive people. If you cannot find loving, silent persons – if you try you will find them – if you cannot find them, be with trees. At least they are not loud, at least they are not aggressive. Learn to be with animals, be with children. Or you can be alone; no need to bother with being with others. Make the minimum contact and remain alone, or remain with those who are silent.

One of the greatest sayings of Lao Tzu is: The most beautiful company is when you can be with someone as if you are alone. See the insight of Lao Tzu: when you can be with someone as if you are alone, when he allows you so much silence and so much freedom that you are absolutely alone, as if actually alone. His presence is not a hindrance; his presence, in fact, enhances your aloneness, enriches your aloneness.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter…

And never compare. Comparison is a disease, one of the greatest diseases. And we are taught from the very beginning to compare. Your mother starts comparing you with other children, your father starts comparing you with other children. The teacher compares you: “Look at Johnny, how well he is doing, and you are no good at all! Look at others!” From the very beginning you are being told to compare yourself with others. This is the greatest disease; it is like a cancer that goes on destroying your very soul – because each individual is unique, and comparison is not possible. I am just myself and you are just yourself. There is nobody else in the world you can be compared with.

Do you compare a marigold with a roseflower? You don’t compare. Do you compare a mango with an apple? You don’t compare. You know they are different! Comparison is not possible.

And man is not a species because each man is unique. There has never been any individual like you before and there will never be again. You are utterly unique. This is your privilege, your prerogative, God’s blessing, that He has made you unique. Don’t compare. Comparison will bring trouble.

Desiderata says:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

If you fall victim to this disease of comparison, naturally you will either become very egoistic or you will become very bitter; it depends on whom you compare yourself with. If you compare yourself with those who seem to be bigger than you, higher than you, greater than you, you will become bitter. You will become a complaint against God, angry: “Why am I not greater than I am? Why am I not like that person? Why am I not physically so beautiful, so strong? Why am I not intelligent? Why am I not this, not that?” And there are millions of things in the world.

If you compare yourself with the people who are greater in some way than you, you will become bitter, very bitter. Your life will become poisoned by the comparison. You will remain always in a state of depression, as if God has deceived you, betrayed you, as if you have been let down.

Or if you compare yourself with people who are smaller than you, in some way lesser than you, then you will become very egoistic. This is one of the reasons why politicians are always surrounded by people smaller than themselves. They collect them; that is their joy. They collect smaller people around themselves so that they can look bigger than they are by comparison. It is stupid, but one cannot expect anything more from a politician.

Rich people are always surrounded by those who are smaller. They feel good, very good, great in comparison to those people.

But ordinarily people always look at others’ houses, their successes, their achievements, and feel very bitter against God. In the world, religion cannot prosper because people cannot pray to a god who has betrayed them from the very beginning, who has made them so small, so ugly. How can they be thankful towards him? Impossible. And without thankfulness there is no prayer, and without prayer there is no religion.

But a man who understands the uniqueness of everybody can be religious, can only be religious, because he feels immense gratitude for whatsoever God has given to him. If you don’t compare, then you are neither bigger nor smaller, neither ugly nor beautiful, neither intelligent nor stupid. If you don’t compare, you are simply yourself. And in that state of simply being yourself, spring comes, flowers come, because a deep acceptance of life and a deep gratitude towards God helps to bring the spring.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Don’t be bothered with others. Enjoy whatsoever your achievement is. Enjoy whatsoever your vision to achieve is.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Don’t be bothered that others are earning more money, that others are becoming more successful, more famous. Remain interested in the thing that you are really interested in; whether it keeps you poor, humble, does not matter. If you enjoy doing it, if you love doing it, if it is your creativity, then you are rich, very rich, immensely rich, and God will be very much pleased with you. If you are pleased yourself, God is pleased with you.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Desiderata is very pragmatic. It says: Exercise caution in your business affairs… As far as worldly things are concerned, be cautious. Don’t blame others that they are cunning. If you allow them to exploit you, they will exploit you. They are not cunning –  you are not cautious, that’s the only thing to be remembered. Don’t blame them; that is their business, to be cunning or not to be cunning. Don’t think that they are sinners and will suffer in hell; that is not your concern at all. Your concern should be that “I am not cautious enough.” Be more cautious, more alert, more aware.

Lorenzo staggered home filled with vino, and his wife would not let him in the house.

“Hey, Rosa,” he shouted from below their window, “if you don’na let me in, I am-a gonna tell-a everybody I slept-a with you before we gotta married!”

“Go ahead!” yelled back his spouse. “And I am-a gonna tell-a them you were not-a the first-a one!”

Don’t blame others. Whatsoever they are, they are. In fact, all the cunningness of the world and the trickery of the world helps you to be aware. If this world cannot help you to be aware, then what world will ever be able to make you aware, to be cautious? It is a good world – it gives you a tremendous challenge to be cautious. But, reminds Desiderata, let this not blind you to what virtue there is.

It is not only trickery, it is not only cunningness. There are many beautiful things in the world. There is always a silver lining to the cloud; don’t miss that. So don’t be blinded by the trickery, otherwise you will never find anything beautiful. And the world is full of beauty: …many persons strive for high ideals and everywhere life is full of heroism.

If you watch you will be surprised: this may be the most perfect world. With all the darkness, with all the thorns, there are roses, there is great light too. And you have to learn from both.

Enough for today.

Osho, Guida Spirituale, Ch 5 – Part 3 of 3

Featured image: Dancing Buddha by Deva Padma –

Related articles
  • Desiderata – Max Ehrmann’s most acclaimed work which Osho declared “…seems to be one of the most ancient documents available today.”
  • Osho speaks on the ‘Desiderata’ – from Guida Spirituale

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