Be a Light unto Yourself
16th April is the day when a man of exceptional humor was born, on whose acting whole world laughed and enjoyed, the Charles Spencer Chaplin. He was one of a kind in the field of comedy entertainment and film industry also. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, The Tramp, and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977.
He gained immense respect in his field and honored with many awards of film industry like best actor, best writing, best screenplay and many more.
Chaplin wrote, directed, produced, edited, starred in, and composed the music for most of his films. The great dictator, Charlie Chaplin and modern time, The kid, City lights, The gold rush, A women of Paris, This is my song: are some of his great works for film industry.
Friends of Charlie Chaplin were celebrating one of his birthdays and they found a beautiful way to celebrate it. They advertised in the newspapers all over England that there will be a competition and whosoever can imitate Charlie Chaplin will be rewarded. There were three big awards. Many people participated. At least a hundred were chosen from different cities and they all gathered in London for the final selection of the three winners. Charlie Chaplin had an idea. He entered in the competition from a different town hoping that he was going to win the first prize — there was no question about it. But he was wrong; he got the second prize! People came to know only later on that he was also a participant. He was so surprised that somebody managed better than himself. Naturally, the other had practiced it for a long time. Charlie Chaplin was just there being himself; there was no need to practice. He is Charlie Chaplin, so why practice? What is there to practice? But the other was more polished, more practiced. He walked better than Charlie Chaplin, he talked better than Charlie Chaplin! He outdid him.
This is possible. Some Christian monk may defeat Jesus, some Buddhist monk may defeat Buddha. But still, Buddha is Buddha and you will be only an imitator. Still, Charlie Chaplin is Charlie Chaplin and the man who was acting even in a better way is just acting; deep down he is himself.
You can never be somebody else. Remember it as one of the most fundamental laws. AES DHAMMO SANANTANO — this is the eternal law: you can never be like somebody else. That does not mean you should not learn. Learn, but don’t follow. Absorb, but go on your own way. Learn from all the enlightened ones. Sit at their feet, absorb their presence, but go on your own way. Buddha himself said as his last statement on the earth: Be a light unto yourself.
A squirrel on the ground was watching two other squirrels in a tree. One of them fell to the ground, bounced a couple of times, looked back up in the tree and said, “That making love in the tree is for the birds.” That’s why I say don’t follow. Don’t try to make love in the tree — that is for the birds! — otherwise you will be in the hospital…
Just look to your own situation! Buddha has a different space, different context, a different world. You cannot follow him — literally you cannot follow him. Metaphorically you can understand him and you can be tremendously benefited by him.
You ask me, Sudhakar, “Why are you against following someone who knows the secrets of life?” How do you know that someone knows the secrets of life? That is just a belief. Unless YOU know the secrets of life, you will never know that someone else knows them. And following somebody just out of belief you may be getting into trouble. He may not know at all. He may be a convincing talker; he may be arguing better than you can argue. He can silence you in argument; that does not mean that he knows. He may be more articulate than you are, he may have studied the scriptures. Even the Devil can quote the scriptures! How do you know that he knows the secrets of life? You can know only if you also know.
You can understand Buddha really only when you are also a buddha. You can understand Christ only when you are also a christ — not by following them but by becoming awakened on your own accord. Hence I say there is the need to discover the truth by yourself.
The inner truth is different from the outer truth. The outer truth can be discovered by one person and then the whole world possesses it. For example, the theory of relativity was discovered by Albert Einstein. Now everybody else need not discover it again and again; that will be just wasting time. He took years to discover it; now if you are intelligent you can understand it within days. If you are really intelligent, then within hours. There is no need to waste years in discovering it again and again…This is the quality of the outer, objective truth: once discovered it becomes universal. The inner truth has a totally different quality: it always remains individual, it never becomes universal. Buddha discovers it but he cannot convey it; he cannot adequately express it, he cannot make it universal. It remains essentially individual. And whatsoever he does is just inadequate; it never fulfills the great need of the masses — that they need not discover it anymore. Buddha has discovered it, Jesus has discovered it; now you can simply follow it.
This is the beauty of the inner truth, that you have to discover it again and again afresh. And the very discovery is such a bliss that it is good that one person has not finished it forever; otherwise there would have been no spiritual quest left. Buddha is not the first; there had been other awakened people before him. One enlightened person would have done it and then in every primary school you could teach it to everybody. The whole joy of discovering it would have been lost. It is beautiful that the subjective truth remains individual.
Thousands of times it has been discovered, but it has not become universal yet and it will never become universal; it will remain individual. You will have to seek and search it on your own. And when you find it you will be surprised: it is the same truth that was found by Buddha, it is the same truth that was found by Mahavira, the same truth that was found by Mohammed or Moses; it is not a different truth. But this is the quality of the inner world — that you have to go there all alone. Nobody can accompany you and nobody can give you ready-made maps.
It is a very mysterious world inside; the outside world is not so mysterious, maps are possible. But the inner world remains a secret, a hidden secret. Even when you have known it and you would like to share it you cannot. All that you can share is your desire to share, that’s all — your deep compassion to share, your love for others. But the truth remains as unexpressed as before. Then
why do masters speak at all? They speak not to share the truth — they know perfectly well it cannot be shared. They speak to make your thirst for truth aflame. They speak to make you more thirsty, more hungry. They speak to create a tremendous longing in you to go inwards. Their presence, their vibe, their song, their dance, all indicate towards one thing: go in.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 8
Chapter title: Rivers don’t exist
1 January 1980 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken extensively on ‘art, music, painting poetry, dance,’ and creative geniuses like Picasso, Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Byron, Bhavabhuti, Coleridge, Dinkar, D.H. Lawrence, Ghalib, John Ruskin, Kalidas, Kahlil Gibran, Keats, Omar Khayyam, Milton, Mozart, Yeats, Shelley, Tagore, Wagner, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and many more in the course of His talks. More on this subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles: