Be Indifferent to Evil

Osho on French Psychologist Emile Coue

Emile Coue was a French psychotherapist and pharmacist in the 19th-20th century. He developed a noted method of psychotherapy and self-improvement through repetition, auto-suggestion, and the placebo effect. His method, or Coueism as it is called, essentially consists of repeating a mantra – “Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”. This method of self-suggestion and healing proved to be effective for many of his patients in group therapies.

Coue laid the foundation of his therapy when he observed the placebo effect on the patients of his pharmacy, and moved forward by studying the work of Ambroise-Auguste Liébeault and Hippolyte Bernheim on hypnosis. He believed that a behavior change required a shift in our unconsciousness and thus began his work. He wrote a book titled Self-Mastery through Conscious Autosuggestion (1920) and founded The Lorraine Society of Applied Psychology in 1913.

Osho mentions Coue, “Emile Coue discovered, just in this century, the law of reverse effect. Patanjali must have known it, almost five thousand years before. He says prayatna shaithilya, relaxation of the effort. You should have assumed just the reverse: that very much effort should be made to attain to the posture. And Patanjali says, “If you make too much effort it will not be possible. No-effort allows it to happen.”

Effort should be relaxed completely, because effort is part of the will and will is against surrender. If you try to do something, you are not allowing God to do it. When you give up, when you say, “Okay, let thy will be done. If you are sending sleep, perfectly good. If you are not sending sleep, that too is perfectly good. I have no complaints to make; I am not grumbling about it. You know better. If it is needful to send sleep for me, send. If it is not needful, perfectly good — don’t send it. Please, don’t listen to me! Your will should be done”: this is how one relaxes effort.”

Osho says…..


When you feel somebody is a virtuous man, joy, the ordinary attitude is that he must be deceiving. How anybody can be more virtuous than you? Hence so much criticism goes on.

Whenever there is somebody who is virtuous, you immediately start criticizing, you start finding faults with him. Somehow or other you have to bring him down. He cannot be virtuous. You cannot believe this. Patanjali says joy, because if you criticize a virtuous man, deep down you are criticizing virtue. If you criticize a virtuous man, you are coming to a point to believe that virtue is impossible in this world. Then you will feel at ease. Then you can move on your evil ways easily because, “Nobody is virtuous; everybody is just like me  —  even worse than me.” That’s why so much condemnation goes on  —  criticism, condemnation.

If somebody says, “That person is a very beautiful person,” you immediately find something to criticize. You cannot tolerate  —  because if somebody is virtuous and you are not, your ego is shattered, and then you start feeling that “I have to change myself,” which is an arduous effort. The simple is to condemn; the simple is to criticize; the simple is to say, “No! Prove! What are you saying? First, prove how he is virtuous!” And it is difficult to prove virtue; it is very easy to unprove anything. It is very difficult to prove!

One of the greatest Russian storytellers is Turgenev. He has written a story. The story is that in a small village a man was thought to be stupid, and he was. And the whole town laughed at him. He was just like a fool, and everybody in the town enjoyed his foolishness. But he was tired of his foolishness, so he asked a wise man, “What to do?”

The wise man said, “Nothing! Simply, whenever somebody is praising somebody, you condemn. Somebody is saying that ‘That man is a saint,’ immediately say, ‘No! I know well he is a sinner!’ Somebody says, ‘This book is very great,’ immediately say, ‘I have read it and studied it.’ Don’t bother whether you have read it or not; simply say, ‘This is rubbish.’ If somebody is saying, ‘This painting is one of the greatest works of art,’ simply say, ‘But what it is?  —  just a canvas and colors. A child can do it!’ Criticize, say no, ask for proofs, and after seven days come to me.”

Within seven days the town started feeling that this man is a genius: “We never knew about his talents, and he is a genius about everything. You show him a painting and he shows the faults. You show him a great book, and he shows the faults. He is such a great critical mind! An analyst! A genius!”

Seventh day he came to the wise man and he said, “Now there is no need to take any advice from you. You are a fool!” The whole town used to believe in that sage, and they all said that “Our genius has said that he is a fool, he must be.”

People always believe in the negative easily because to disprove a no is very difficult  —  how can you prove? How can you prove that Jesus is son of God? How you will prove? Two thousand years, and Christian theology has been proving without proving it. But within seconds it was proved that he was a sinner, a vagabond, and they killed  —  within seconds! Somebody said that “I have seen this man coming out of a prostitute’s house”  —  finished! Nobody bothers whether this man who is saying that “I have seen,” is believable or not  —  nobody bothers! The negative is always believed easily because it is also helping your ego. The positive is not believed.

You can say no whenever there is virtue. But you are not harming the virtuous man: you are harming you. You are self-destructive. You are, in fact, committing suicide slowly  —  poisoning yourself. When you say that “This man is not virtuous, that man is not virtuous,” what are you, in fact, creating? You are creating a milieu in which you will come to believe that virtue is impossible; and when virtue is impossible, there is no need to attempt. Then you fall down. Then you settle wherever you are. Growth becomes impossible. And you would like to settle, but then you settle in misery because you are miserable. You all have settled completely. This settlement has to be broken; you have to be unsettled. Wherever you are you have to be uprooted and replanted in a higher plane, and that is possible only if you are joyful towards the virtuous.


Don’t even condemn evil. The temptation is there; you would like to condemn even virtue. And Patanjali says don’t condemn evil. Why? He knows the inner dynamics of the mind: because if you too much condemn evil, you pay too much attention to evil, and by and by, you become attuned to it. If you say that “This is wrong, that is wrong,” you are paying too much attention to the wrong. You will become addicted with the wrong. If you pay too much attention to anything, you become hypnotized. And whatsoever you are condemning you will commit, because it will become an attraction, a deep-down attraction. Otherwise, why bother? They are sinners, but who are you to bother about them? Jesus says, “Judge ye not…” That’s what Patanjali means  —  indifference; don’t judge this way or that  —  be indifferent. Don’t say yes or no; don’t condemn, don’t appreciate. Simply leave it to the divine; it is none of your business. A man is a thief: it is his business. It is his and God’s. Let them settle themselves; you don’t come in. Who is asking you to come in? Jesus says, “Judge ye not…” Patanjali says, “Be indifferent.”

One of the greatest hypnotists of the world, Emile Coue, discovered a law  —  law of hypnosis. He called it the Law of Reverse Effect. If you are too much against something, you will become a victim. See a new person learning bicycle on the road. The road is sixty feet wide, and there is a milestone by the side of the road. Even if you are a perfect cyclist and you make the target of the stone that “I will go and crash with the stone,” sometimes you may miss. But never the new learner  —  never! He never misses the cornerstone.

In a subtle way, his cycle moves towards the stone, and sixty feet wide is the road! Even with blindfolded eyes you can move on it  —  even if there is nobody on the road, it is completely silent, nobody is moving…

What happens to this new learner? A law is working. Emile Coue calls it the Law of the Reverse Effect. Immediately, because he is a learner, he is afraid, so he looks around, where is the fear point  —  where he can go wrong? The whole road is okay, but this stone, this red stone by the corner, that is the danger: “I may crash with it.” Now there is an affinity created. Now his attention is towards the stone; the whole road is forgotten.

And he is a learner! His hands tremble, and he is looking at the stone, and by and by he feels that the cycle is moving. Once he feels the cycle…The cycle has to follow your attention: cycle has no will of its own. It follows you wherever you are going, and you follow your eyes, and eyes follow a subtle hypnosis, an attentiveness. You are looking at the stone, the hands move that way. You become more and more afraid. The more you are afraid, the more caught, because now the stone seems to be an evil force, as if the stone is attracting you. The whole road is forgotten, the cycle is forgotten, the learner is forgotten. Only the stone is there; you are hypnotized. You will go and crash with the stone. Now you have fulfilled your mind; next time you will be more afraid. Now where to break out of it?…

Never be against anything. To be against evil is to fall a victim. Then you are falling in the hands of the evil. Indifference: if you follow indifference, it means it is none of your concern. Somebody is stealing: that is his karma. He will know and he will have to suffer. That is not your business at all: you don’t think about it, don’t pay any attention to it. There is a prostitute: she is selling her body  —  that is her business. You don’t have condemnation in you, otherwise you will be attracted towards her.

It happened  —  a very old story  —  that a saint and a prostitute lived together. They were neighbors, and then they died. The saint was very famous. Death came and started trying to take the saint to the hell. And they died on the Fame day, the prostitute also.

The saint was surprised because the prostitute was taken on the road towards heaven. So he said, “What is this? There seems some misunderstanding. I am the one who should be led towards heaven. And this is a prostitute!”

Death said, ‘We know, but now if you want, we can explain you: there is no misunderstanding. There are the orders  —  that the prostitute has to be brought to heaven and the saint has to be thrown into hell.” The saint said, “But why?” Even the prostitute could not believe. She said, “Something must be wrong. I must be thrown in heaven? And he is a saint  —  a great saint. We worshipped him. Take him to heaven.”

Death said, “No, that’s not possible, because he was a saint just on the surface, and he was thinking continuously of you. And when you will sing in the night, he will come and listen to you. He will stand just near the fence and listen to you. And millions of times he would like to go to see you, love you; millions of times he dreamed of you. He was continuously thinking about you. On the lips was the name of God; in the heart was the image of you.”

And the same from the opposite direction was true with the prostitute. She was selling her body, but always thinking that she would like to have a life like this saint who lives in a temple. “How pure he is!” She dreamt about the saint, the purity, the saintliness, the virtue that she is missing. And when customers would have gone, she will pray to God that “Next time don’t make me a prostitute again. Make me a worshipper; make me a meditator. I would like to serve in the temple.”

And many times she thought to go into the temple, but thinking that she is so much in sin, it was not good to enter the temple: “The place is so holy and I am such a sinner.” And many times she wanted to touch the feet of the saint, but thinking that that will not be good: “I am not worthy enough to touch his feet.” So when the saint will pass, she will just collect the dust on the road from where the saint has passed, and she will worship that dust.

What you are outwardly is not the question. What is your inner hypnosis will decide your future course of life.

Be indifferent to evil. Indifference does not mean apathy  —  remember. These are subtle distinctions. Indifference doesn’t mean apathy. It does not mean that close your eyes, because even if you close you have taken a standpoint, attitude. It does not mean don’t bother, because there also is a subtle condemnation. Indifference simply means as if it doesn’t exist, as if it is not there. No attitude indifference means. You pass as if it is not happening. Upeksha, the word Patanjali uses, is very beautiful. It is neither apathy nor antagonism nor escape. It is simple indifference without any attitude  —  remember, without any attitude, because you can be indifferent with an attitude. You can think it is not worth  —  it is not worthy of me to think about it. No, then you have an attitude, and a subtle condemnation is hidden in it. Indifference means simply, ‘Who are you to decide, to judge?” You think about you, ‘Who are you? How can you say what is evil and what is good? Who knows?”

Because life is such a complexity the evil becomes good, the good becomes evil  —  they change. Sinners have been known to reach the ultimate; saints have been known to be thrown into hell. So who knows? And who are you? Who is asking you? You take care of yourself. Even if you can do that, enough you have done. You be more mindful and aware; then an indifference comes to you without any attitude.

It happened: Vivekananda, before he went to America and became a world-famous figure, stayed in Jaipur Maharaja’s palace. The Maharaja was a lover of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna. As maharajas go, when Vivekananda came to stay in his palace he made a great festival out of it, and he called prostitutes to dance and sing in reception… as maharajas go: they have their own minds. He completely forgot that to receive a Sannyasin with the singing of prostitutes and dancing of prostitutes doesn’t suit. But he couldn’t know anything else. He always knew that when you have to receive somebody, drinking, dancing has to be done.

And Vivekananda was still immature; he was not a perfect Sannyasin yet. Had he been a perfect Sannyasin, then there was indifference  —  no problem  —  but he was not indifferent yet. He has not gone that deep into Patanjali even. He was a young man, and a very suppressive one who was suppressing his sex and everything. When he saw the prostitutes, he simply locked his room and would not come out of it.

The Maharaja came and he asked his forgiveness. He said, ‘We don’t know. We have never received any Sannyasin. We always receive kings, so we know the ways. So we are sorry, but now it will be too much insulting, because this is the greatest prostitute in the country  —  and very costly. And we have paid, and to say her to move and go will be insulting to her, and if you don’t come she will feel very much hurt. So come out.”

But Vivekananda was afraid to come out; that’s why I say he was still immature, still not a seasoned Sannyasin. Still indifference is not there  —  a condemnation: “A prostitute?”  —  he was very angry, and he said, “No” Then the prostitute started singing without him, and she sang a song of a saint. The song is very beautiful. The song says that “I know that I am not worthy of you, but you could have been a little more compassionate. I am dirt on the road; that I know. But you need not be so antagonistic to me. I am nobody  —  ignorant, a sinner. But you are a saint  —  why are you afraid of me?”

It is said Vivekananda heard from his room. The prostitute was weeping and singing, and he felt  —  he felt the whole situation of what he is doing. It is immature, childish. Why he is afraid? Fear exists only if you are attracted. You will be afraid of women if you are attracted of women. If you are not attracted, the fear disappears. What is the fear? An indifference comes without any antagonism.

He opened the door: he couldn’t contain himself, he was defeated by the prostitute. The prostitute became victorious; he had to come out. He came and he sat, and he wrote in his diary that “A new revelation has been given to me by the divine. I was afraid… must be some lust within me. That’s why I was afraid. But the woman defeated me completely, and I have never seen such a pure soul. The tears were so innocent and the singing and the dancing were so holy that I would have missed. And sitting near her, for the first time I became aware that it is not a question who is there outside; it is a question what is.”

That night he wrote in his diary that ‘Now I can even sleep with that woman in the bed and there will be no fear.” He transcended. That prostitute helped him to transcend. This is a miracle. Ramakrishna couldn’t help and a prostitute helped him. So nobody knows from where the help will come. Nobody knows what is evil and what is good. Who can decide? Mind is impotent and helpless. So don’t take any attitude: that is the meaning of being indifferent.


This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune. 

Discourse Series: Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 2

Chapter #9

Chapter title: Cultivating Right Attitudes

9 January 1975 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assagioli, Wilhelm Reich, Aristotle, Berkeley, Confucius, Descartes, Feuerbach, Hegel, Heidegger, Heraclitus, Huxley, Jaspers, Kant, Kierkegaard, Laing, Marx, Moore, Nietzsche, Plato, Pythagoras, Russell, Sartre, Socrates, Wittgenstein and many others in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Hidden Splendour
  2. The Wild Geese and the Water
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  5. Beyond Enlightenment
  6. Beyond Psychology
  7. Dang Dang Doko Dang
  8. The Discipline of Transcendence
  9. The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
  10. From Bondage to Freedom
  11. From Darkness to Light
  12. From Ignorance to Innocence
  13. The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1
  14. From Personality to Individuality
  15. I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
  16. Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 4
  17. Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
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