Osho speaks on Desiderata’s line: ‘Be yourself.’
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
These two words are enough to transform the whole of humanity; they can give birth to a new man. They are immensely pregnant with meaning. The past of humanity has been a constant effort not to be yourself, hitherto we have been told by the priests and the politicians and the pedagogues to be somebody else. “Be a Christ,” they say, and the people who are trying to be a Christ are the Christians. “Be a Buddha,” they say, and the people who are trying to be a Buddha are the Buddhists. No other Christ has yet happened, neither has a Buddha, and it is not going to happen ever. It is not in the nature of things.
History repeats, existence repeats never. History repeats itself because history is constituted of the unconscious humanity. Existence never repeats itself because existence is nothing but godliness, creativity. Creativity is non-repetitive, consciousness is non-repetitive. Unconsciousness is bound to repeat, it moves in a circle: it goes round and round in the same circle, it becomes more and more efficient in doing the same thing again and again. And the more efficient it becomes, the more difficult it is to go beyond the known.
The creative person is always leaving the known behind and moving into the unknown. To repeat somebody else is nothing but pretending, cheating, deceiving. It is beautiful to know Christ, it is beautiful to love Buddha, it is beautiful to understand Lao Tzu, but it is ugly, humiliating to repeat them, to be imitators.
But for centuries man has been conditioned to be somebody else. There are vested interests against you being yourself. The vested interests want you never to be yourself because they are afraid of anything new; everything new seems to be a danger to them. They are at ease with the old, hence they say, “All that is old is gold.” The older it is the better.
Hindus say, “Our scriptures are the oldest, hence the best.” They go on trying to prove that their scriptures, their Vedas are far older than the historians recognize. The scientific historian concludes that they are not more than five thousand years old, but the Hindu chauvinist believes they are at least ninety thousand years old. That is “at least”; it is possible they may be older than that.
Why this effort to prove that “Our religion is the oldest”? – because the old is more valuable, has been more valuable in the past. The new has been condemned because the new cannot be absorbed by the establishment.
Jesus is dangerous to the Jews because they lived a certain pattern of life, following Moses, repeating Moses, trying to be carbon copies of the prophets of the Old Testament. And here comes this man Jesus who starts saying things which go against the tradition, convention.
The Old Testament says that “tit for tat” is the most fundamental law. If somebody throws a brick at you, reply by throwing a rock at him. If somebody takes one of your eyes, take both the eyes of that man… murder for murder, violence for violence. And Jesus says, “If somebody hits you on one cheek, give him the other cheek too because God is love.” But the Old Testament God is not love. God himself declares, “I am a very jealous God.” Now jealousy can never be love; it is impossible for jealousy to be loving. The Old Testament God says, “Remember, I am not nice, I am not your uncle. Beware, I am a very jealous God! If you worship somebody else, some other God, then be ready to be punished – punished for eternity. ”
And Jesus says, “Love your enemies just as you love yourself.” Jesus brings a new horizon with him. Every awakened Master brings a new light, a new universe, a new perspective – and that is the trouble. Otherwise Jesus was not a troublemaker at all – a simple, innocent man.
Why did the Jews want him to be crucified? He was shaking their foundations, their very foundations. They had lived according to a certain ideology, and this man’s presence was proof enough that they were wrong. He was talking about higher values, higher truths. The whole establishment was shaken up.
The Jews were slaves, they were dominated by the Romans, and the Romans and the Jews both conspired to kill Jesus. It was not only the Jews, remember: fifty percent of the crime was committed by the Jews in the case of Jesus’ crucifixion and fifty percent was committed by the Romans – because the Romans were politically powerful, and the Jews, of course, had the religious tradition. The priests and the politicians both conspired. They were enemies in a way, because the Roman conquerors were not friendly with the conquered and the conquered were not friendly with the conquerors, but as far as Jesus was concerned both agreed that this man had to be destroyed – because he was cutting the very roots of both establishments, the religious and the political.
But now Jesus is imitated, and a strange irony has occurred: that he was killed by the Romans, who are now Italians – and now the Vatican has become their headquarters. Strange, but in a way significant, in a way not just accidental. Once Jesus himself was absorbed by the establishment, then there was no problem; he started functioning just like Moses. Before him it was said, “Be like Moses.” Now they started saying, “Be like Jesus.” Now Christianity was itself a part of the vested interests. The same people who had killed Jesus started worshipping him!
And it has been happening almost all over the world. It happened with Mahavira, it happened with Buddha, it happened with Lao Tzu, it happened with Nanak, it happened with Mohammed – the same people. They are not different people – the same unconscious humanity….
One thing can be concluded: the unconscious humanity always worships the established structure, because it is familiar with it. And a man like Jesus or Buddha or Krishna is a stranger. He does not belong to the common, he does not belong to the unconscious; he comes as if from another world. He speaks a different language, he brings new messages. And the masses are afraid to go into the unknown, into the unexperienced. They cling to the old, to the past, to the dead. They worship the dead and they destroy the living.
To perpetuate this stupid ideology everybody is told to be somebody else. That helps the establishment tremendously, for two reasons. First: by trying to be somebody else your life will be a mess because you can never be somebody else – that is impossible – you can only be yourself. So trying to be somebody else you are distracted from your authentic being; your energies will be wasted. You will be in a constant conflict with yourself; you will be in a civil war. Your mind will represent the past and your heart will go on saying, “Be yourself.” But the mind makes so much noise that you cannot hear the heart. You will be split, you will be schizophrenic: one part moving in one direction and the other part moving in the opposite direction. You will be always in a kind of tug-of-war. Your life will be of tension, anxiety, anguish.
And a man who lives in anguish can be easily enslaved, because his energies are always wasted. He has no more energy to be rebellious. To be rebellious one needs energy, one needs to be a reservoir of energy. In fact, overflowing energy is needed to be a rebel because you will be fighting against the millions; you will be fighting against a long, long tradition. You will be fighting many, many vested interests, and they are powerful people – the rich, the religious, the political, those who are dominating the society and exploiting it, they are bound to be powerful. And you will be powerless, so powerless that you cannot even raise your head. You cannot say no; you cannot assert yourself.
So on the one hand this is a very subtle psychological strategy to destroy your energy. It is just like this: watch a bull – he has energy. You cannot use the bull in a bullock-cart; it is dangerous. If you use two bulls in a bullock-cart it is very dangerous. First it will be almost impossible to keep them on the road, they will be so powerful. They can run into the fields – if they see some cow, a beautiful cow, they will forget all about you and your cart, and everything will go upside-down! First the bulls have to be castrated. Once a bull is castrated he is no more the same animal; the ox is a faraway echo of the bull. He is weak, his energies have been destroyed. Now he can be enslaved; it is so easy.
And to castrate human beings this strategy has been used: your parents say to you, your teachers say to you, everybody around you goes on saying to you: “Be a Buddha, be a Krishna, be a Jesus, be a Zarathustra,” but never, “Be yourself.” This is a psychological castration: they create guilt in you – if you are yourself you will feel guilty. And you can never be the person you are trying to be, but in the effort energy is wasted and their purpose is fulfilled. And your life will be a life of misery, because you can feel joy only if you are yourself.
The rose is beautiful dancing in the wind, in the sun, in the rain, because it has not wasted itself in trying to be a lotus. The lotus is beautiful for the same reason. The marigold is beautiful, all the flowers are beautiful, for the simple reason that they are just themselves. Think of a rose trying to be a lotus. Sooner or later it will end up in a psychoanalyst’s office! It will drive itself crazy. It will go nuts! And in trying to be a lotus its whole energy will be wasted, and it will not even be possible for it to be a rose, or if it becomes possible at all then it will be a very poor rose with no color, with no perfume, with no dance, with no song.
You can see it everywhere. People are looking so sad, so burdened, as if they are carrying mountains on their shoulders. And they are carrying a psychological weight; they have been burdened, they have been knowingly burdened.
And if a child is continuously told that he is not to be himself, that he is worthless… The parents say, “I will love you only if you behave in a certain way.” That is, according to them, according to their idea. The child has to survive; hence he has to listen to the parents. All children are beautiful like roses – small children, before the age of three, they are beautiful. You can see their joy overflowing; they are flooded with energy. You cannot compete with a child as far as energy is concerned.
In an American university they did an experiment. They told a great wrestler, a man of immense power, that he had to follow a small child and do whatsoever the child did. “If the child jumps, you jump; if the child runs, you run; if the child starts rolling on the ground, you roll on the ground. Do whatsoever the child does. If the child screams, you scream; if the child giggles, you giggle. You just imitate the child.”
Within three hours he was flat on the ground! He said, “I cannot continue. This child will drive me crazy!”
And the child enjoyed the whole thing, because seeing that a grown-up person was imitating him he did many things that he had never done before. He stood on his head; he did… so many things he invented just to see whether this man could do it or not. After three hours the child was as full of energy as before and he said, “Are you finished? What happened?”
You cannot follow a child; he has overflowing energy. But we start curbing, cutting chunk by chunk. We start creating a small prison around the child – a psychological prison, of course. Slowly, slowly the child shrinks, becomes more and more encaged. By the time he comes out of the university he is stupid, mediocre, with no energy, with all kinds of foolish ideologies – full of bullshit. And all that he was is lost. Now he is just an imitator, a carbon copy.
Desiderata has a great message: Be yourself. And this has been the message of all the enlightened ones. Buddha says: “Be a light unto yourself.” That was his last statement. Dying, on the deathbed, he opened his eyes and gave his last message to humanity: “Be a light unto yourself” – don’t imitate anybody.
So on the one hand imitation makes you weak, on the other hand it makes you miserable. Weak and miserable: that’s what the vested interests want you to be. And they have found such a beautiful trick that unless you are very intelligent you are bound to be trapped, because who would not like to be a Jesus? The idea fascinates. Who would not like to be a Buddha? It hypnotizes. Buddha is beauty – pure beauty, pure grace. Who would not like to be a Buddha?
Hence the child cannot say to the parents or to the teachers, “You are wrong.” It appeals even to his reason; it feels reasonable, sensible. And it does one tremendous harm: it makes you hate yourself. You cannot love yourself. And the more you fail in being the other, the more you hate yourself.
I have observed thousands of people, I have been working on thousands of people continuously, and my own observation is that rarely do I come across a person who loves himself.
Jesus says: “Love your enemies as you love yourself,” and you would think that it is a very difficult thing to love your enemies. No, it is not. The real difficulty is to love yourself. You can love your enemies, that is not that difficult at all. The real difficulty is to love yourself, to respect yourself, to accept yourself as you are, unconditionally. And that is the beginning of the revolution, the beginning of the transformation.
My whole teaching can be condensed into these two words: Be yourself.
Just the other day I quoted Morarji Desai as saying that he had only one ambition to be fulfilled: to know God and attain the heights of truth. What harm has God done to Morarji Desai? Why should he be after God? Is it not enough to know oneself? Does one have to know God? Why? For what? And what are you going to do even if you know God? – you will be as foolish as you are. Even if you come across God, what are you going to do? You will say, “Hello, how are you? The weather is fine!” What else? What are you really going to do?
And by knowing God you will not be knowing yourself. And an ignorant person who does not know himself, how can he know God?
The authentic seeker has nothing to do with God; he wants to know himself. That is the most fundamental thing: to know oneself. Because out of that, all knowing, all light arises. If one knows oneself one will know God too. In fact, only by knowing oneself does one become capable of knowing the ultimate, because at the very core of your being the ultimate is present. But religions say: “Know God, try to realize God.” That is again a strategy, the same strategy to distract you from yourself.
And these people like Morarji Desai think they are religious; they are not religious at all. The religious person has only one longing… and remember, it is not an ambition, it is a longing. And there is a difference, a tremendous difference, between ambition and longing. Ambition is of the mind, longing is of the heart. They belong to different centers.
When you fall in love with somebody it is not an ambition. You feel the pain in the heart, not in the head. You don’t have a headache! I have never heard of anybody falling in love who feels a headache, but the heartache certainly everybody has felt who has fallen in love. Heartache – and that is a totally different phenomenon. Whenever you talk about love you don’t put your hand on the head, you put your hand on the heart. Your body knows better than you where exactly the center is. The heart longs, thirsts, yearns, but there is no ambition.
Morarji Desai is a poor politician; he knows only the language of ambition. Now he has fulfilled his one ambition of being the Prime Minister of India; there is no higher post in India than that of Prime Minister. Now that he has been a Prime Minister the only ambition the political mind can have is to know God.
It is very strange. In the first place, how do you know that God exists? If you have not known God yet, how can you start being ambitious for God? One thing is absolutely certain, indubitably certain, that “I exist.” You cannot deny yourself, because even your denial will prove that you are.
There are a few things which cannot be denied. For example, you are in your house and somebody asks, “Are you in?” You cannot say, “I am not.” If you say, “I am not,” that is enough proof that you are in. If you are lying down with closed eyes and somebody asks, “Are you awake?” and you say, “I am not, I am fast asleep,” that’s enough proof that you are awake, you are not asleep. There are a few things which cannot be denied because even the denial proves its opposite.
One of the great Western philosophers, Descartes, worked for years to find something which is indubitable, which cannot be doubted. Only a thing which cannot be doubted can be the foundation of a valid philosophy, and ultimately he decided, “I am the only thing that cannot be denied, that cannot be doubted, because even to doubt it is to prove it.”
And that has been the teaching of Socrates, Buddha, Desiderata. Socrates says: “Know thyself.” It is the same – be thyself or know thyself – because knowing who you are will help you to be yourself, or trying to be yourself will help you to know who you are.
Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest Masters who have lived in this age, used to say to his disciples, “I teach you only one mantra: ‘Who am I?’ Go deep into it: ‘Who am I?’ – not only repeating it but being in the feel of it. Let it become an existential question, not just words, Let your whole being become the question mark. ‘Who am I?’ Let it penetrate you like an arrow.”
Once you have known yourself, all is known. And to know all is to know God. God is not a person that you have to come across: God is a quality. But to experience that quality, the first, basic thing needed is self-knowledge.
Osho, Guida Spirituale, Ch 9 – Part 1 of 3
Featured image: ‘Fulfillment’ – Painting by Siddhena Murray-Clark – www.siddart.com