“My teaching can be condensed into two words: be yourself” — Osho

Always conditioned to copy someone else, we find being ourselves a difficult proposition

Happy ManBe yourself. 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 became Christians. “Be a Buddha,” they say, and the people who are trying to be a Buddha became 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.

The old trick

History repeats, existence never repeats. History repeats itself because history is constituted of the unconscious humanity. Existence never repeats itself because existence is nothing but godliness, and 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, and 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 are far older than what the historian’s believe. Why this effort to prove that “Our religion is the oldest”? — because old is more valuable and has been more valuable in the past. The new has been condemned because the new cannot be absorbed by the establishment.

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 un-experienced. They cling to the old, to the past, and to the dead. They worship the dead and they destroy the living.

Psychological castration

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 become 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 full of tension, anxiety and anguish.

And a man who lives in anguish can easily be enslaved, because his energies are always wasted. He has no more energy to be rebellious. To be rebellious one needs energy, and one needs to be a reservoir of energy.

And to castrate human beings this strategy has been used, your parents, your teachers and everybody around you 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.

Unconditional self-love

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. 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. If it becomes possible at all, then it will be a very poor rose with no colour, no perfume, no dance, and no song.

You can see it everywhere. People look sad, burdened, as if they are carrying a mountain on their shoulders. And they are all carrying a psychological weight; they have been burdened, and they have been knowingly burdened.

Be yourself, has been the message of all 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 one hand imitation makes you weak; on the other hand it makes you miserable. Weak and miserable that’s what 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 hypnotises. Buddha is beauty—pure beauty and grace.

Hence the child cannot say to the parents or to the teachers, “You are wrong.” It feels reasonable and sensible. But it causes 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 enemy which is not that difficult at all. The real difficulty is to love yourself, to respect yourself, to accept yourself as you are, unconditionally. That is the beginning of revolution, and the beginning of transformation.

My whole teaching can be condensed into these two words: be yourself.

Excerpted from Guida Spirituale | Courtesy: Osho International Foundation | http://osho.com

This article was first published in the April 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.


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