Be Thyself

Birthday of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Marus Aurelius was born on 26 April 121 in Rome and he was the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome. His reign lasted almost twenty years (161-180 CE) and marked the end of an era of harmony and worthy rule. Aurelius was termed a philosopher-king and was believed to be influenced by Stoicism. He wrote ‘Meditations’ for his escape and fulfillment; although  the book was circulated and very well-known in future literature. This piece of writing embodies Aurelius’ reflections and thoughts during administration and campaigning and was originally written in Greece.

Marcus Aurelius’ rule was filled with earnest efforts to acquire more land, modify the Roman currency denarius, and persecute Christianity – albeit Aurelius’ involvement in the latter is debatable. Nevertheless, he was known to be a fine emperor and an equestrian statue was built in his honor on Capitoline Hill in Rome by the name Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. The statue was shown without any weapons or armor, displaying Aurelius as a messenger of peace rather than a military hero – the image as was in his mind.

Osho talks about one of  Aurelius’ lines, “Only one man comes to me, he was the Emperor Aurelius. He wrote the famous book, MEDITATIONS. Of course it is not what I call meditation, but meditations. My meditation is always singular; there can be no plural to it. His meditations are really contemplations; there can be no singular to it. Marcus Aurelius is the only name I can remember in the whole Roman history worth mentioning  —  but that not too much. Any poor Basho could defeat Marcus Aurelius. Any Kabir could hit the emperor and bring him beyond his senses…But this is all that has come from the Romans  — nothing much, but still something. One should not reject anybody totally. Just by way of courtesy I accept Marcus Aurelius, not as an enlightened one but as a good man. He could have been enlightened if, by chance, he had come across a man like Bodhidharma. Just a look from Bodhidharma into the eyes of Marcus Aurelius would have been enough. Then he would have known, for the first time, what meditation is.

Osho says…..


It is good that you don’t know who you are, because all that you know will be wrong. The depth of your being is indefinable. It has no name, no form. The innermost of your being is always unknown and unknowable. Socrates said, “Know thyself!” Not that you can know. He’s saying: “Try to know yourself, and one day you will know that it is impossible to know.” And when you come to a point where all knowledge disappears, and you stand in deep ignorance before yourself, that is the most beautiful experience, the greatest ecstasy.

Just think: if you can know yourself, by knowing you will become limited. You will become a commodity. By knowing about yourself you won’t be happy; you will become very ordinary. Once known, you are finished with yourself. Then what will you do with it? Inquiry finished, you will be bored with yourself. Your being is a mystery. The more you know, the less you know it. The deeper you go, the more you see the infiniteness. The depth is such that you cannot touch the bottom of it — never. People who think they know themselves are very superficial. People of depth always become aware of something unknown. And it is beautiful because the unknown is always alive, the unknown is always infinite. The unknown is eternal.

Socrates said, “Know thyself!” He means: try to know thyself. Not that you will be able to know. And after Socrates, a Roman, Marcus Aurelius, said. “Be thyself!” He is better than Socrates. To know thyself is impossible, but to be thyself is possible. There is no need to know. Just be. Knowledge is irrelevant; being is enough. Just BE yourself. So don’t try to find a definition of your being. It is impossible. Live it, you can. Know it, you cannot.

But why be bothered about knowing? Is not being enough?

There is an urge, a deep urge, a curiosity to open and know every mystery. But that urge is going to fail as you move within. If you move without, that urge can be fulfilled  — a little. Science can fulfill your urge because something can be known about matter. But that, too, I say ‘just a little’. If you go deeper, there also the unknown comes to be encountered. The deeper you go, the more knowledge becomes shaky. The deeper you go, the more everything is blurred.

One of the greatest scientist of the West, Eddington, has written in his autobiography that “When I started, the whole world looked like a mechanism. When I started working, searching, inquiring, the world looked like a great mechanism, and I had the idea that someday or other the mechanism would be known.”

He thought that existence could be divided in two categories: the known and the unknown. Known: that which we have known; and unknown: that which we will know someday or other, it is only a question of time. At the end of his life he said, “Now life appears to be divided into three categories: the known, the unknown, and the unknowable.” This unknowable…. The known and the unknown we can understand. It is only a question of time before the unknown can become known, because one day the known was unknown. But the unknowable? That which cannot be known, which is impossible to be known? With that category, religion enters in. Then Eddington said, “Now as I look at the world, it doesn’t look like a mechanism. Rather, it looks like a thought. Very mysterious.” Had he lived a little longer, he would have certainly said that “Now it does not even look like a thought, because a thought has a structure, a logic. It looks like a poem or a song.” And a song just like birds sing in the morning. Beautiful  — but you cannot make anything out of it. Beautiful AND meaningless. Tremendously beautiful, it can be enjoyed. But the meaning? There is none.

This is my understanding: unless you can enjoy the meaningless, you will never become religious. God, to me, is the meaningless beauty that surrounds you, the meaningless song that is heard all around: the meaningless murmur of a brook, the meaningless whisper of the winds, the meaningless silence of the stars. Tremendously beautiful, but meaningless. Why do I say meaningless? Because it is unknowable.

A thing remains meaningless unless it is known. Once you know, then it is meaningful.

And I tell you, stars are mysterious, but they are nothing compared to your inner being. Rivers are mysterious, but they are nothing compared to your inner stream of consciousness. The Himalayas are mysterious, but nothing as compared to your inner peaks of ecstasy. Be, rather than know. Marcus Aurelius looks to me to be of more and deeper understanding when he says, “Be thyself!” than Socrates when he says, “Know thyself!” Though I know well that you cannot be yourself unless you try the Socratic dictum: know thyself! Try to know. You will never be able to know, and by and by, you will drop the inquiry of knowing and you will start being. Knowing is philosophy, being is religion.

One of the greatest American Christian theologians of this century, Paul Tillich, was once asked — at the end of his life, somebody in Santa Barbara, a student, asked him — “Sir, do you pray? “

He said, “No, I meditate.”

But if you ask me, I will say, “No, I don’t even meditate. I just am.”

Prayer is duality: you and God. Without God you cannot pray: the other is needed. It is a dependence. Right is Tillich. He says, “No, I don’t pray.” The answer is not Christian, the answer is Buddhist. He says: “I meditate.”

Meditation is a freedom — freedom from God also, because-even He is not needed. You cannot pray without God, because to whom will you pray? To whom will you raise your head? To whom will you raise your eyes? To whom will you talk, with whom will the dialogue be? A God is needed. Maybe He is there or maybe He is not there — that is irrelevant — but prayer requires a God. ( It is a dependence. Without God, the man who is praying will immediately stop praying. If there is no God — or the news comes that He is dead, or has been assassinated or something like that, or just died of old age — the man who is praying will immediately stop, will throw his rosary and will say, “Finished! Now there is no point. To whom to pray? “

Prayer is a dependence. That is how Buddhism goes higher than Christianity. Even if God dies, it will not disturb the man who is meditating. He will say, “It is okay. It matters not whether He is alive or not. It was never a requirement to me. I am enough unto myself.” The man who meditates, meditates alone. But if you ask me, “Do you meditate, Sir? ” I will say, “No, I don’t even meditate. I just am” — because in meditation some activity is involved. The other is not there, you are not in a dialogue, but you are doing something. The doing is there. The doing becomes the other: the doer and the doing. You are meditating.

Meditation is an action, you are doing something. Sometimes you meditate and sometimes you don’t meditate. That is not worth much because something that sometimes is, and sometimes is not, cannot be your nature. Your nature is always there, it does not depend on any doing. I just am. And that is the greatest prayer, that is the greatest meditation. That is what Zen masters say. If you ask them what they do they say, “We chop wood, we carry water. When we feel hungry we eat, and when we feel tired we sleep.” This is what I mean when I say I am. Even the dependence on doing something is no longer there. Prayer needs the other, meditation needs action — being needs nothing. And when you are in tune with that which needs nothing, then for the first time you are in tune; then for the first time you are grounded.

You ask me: “Osho, I don’t know who I am.” There is no need. There is no need to know who you are. The only need is: don’t be anything else, just be that which you don’t know you are. Just be that. Don’t move outside it. There is no need to know it because you ARE it already. Whether you know it or don’t know it, makes no difference. Knowledge will not add anything to it. Not knowing will not take anything out of it, knowing will not add anything to it, so what is the point? You ARE! Call the rose by another name, it remains a rose. Whether you know the name of the rose or not, it remains a rose. And whether you call it ‘rose’ or don’t call it ‘rose’, the rose is not bothered. It is. Emerson says somewhere in his diary that “Outside my window the rosebush is blooming. The rosebush is not bothered with who it is. The roses are not comparing themselves with other roses of the past and they are not thinking of the future roses. Just in this moment they are with God. This day, they are with God.”

In your being, you ARE God. I will not even say with God. In your being, just this very moment, you are God, you are divine. No knowledge is needed. Don’t be worried about it. Nobody has ever known who he is. He is! And all those who have said that they know are just repeating cliches. They must have read it in the scriptures. But those are only words. You can say: “I am BRAHMA,” or “I am ATMAN,” or “I am the supreme self,” but these words are cliches. They are ugly. They don’t say anything, they don’t mean anything.

“I feel like I need grounding.” Yes, that’s good. You need it. But grounding has nothing to do with knowledge; grounding has something to do with being. That’s why I say Marcus Aurelius is better than Socrates when he says, “Be thyself!” “Is there no place for grounding?”

Place is part of space. Time and place are not there in being — space and time both disappear there. You will be grounded only when you come to a certain state within: where you cannot say who you are, where you cannot say where you are, where you cannot say when you are. Everything has stopped; time does not move. The clock may be moving: tick-tock, tick-tock; it may be moving. You can listen, but time does not move — only the futile gesture of the clock. Something deep within you has stopped. That is the point I call ‘the point of no-when’. And there is no space. You cannot say where you are, the where is irrelevant. You cannot show on the map where you are. You are no more on the map, you don’t belong to the map. You are no more part of the measured, you are no more part of the charted.

You are transcendence. You can look at space, but you are not in space; you can look at time, but you are not in time. Then you are grounded. This is what I call ‘being’; this is what Jesus calls ‘the kingdom of God’: this is what Buddha calls ‘nirvana’.

Yes, you need grounding. But it would be better to say, “You are already grounded. You just need awareness.” How can you be if you are not grounded? You are already in God. How can you be otherwise? There is no other way to be, that is the only way there is. But you are not aware. Become more and more alert, watchful. No need to be worried about knowledge: who you are. Just become aware, Whosoever you are: X,Y,Z — that unknown acts.

Whosoever you are, just become alert and aware. Let that unknown within you, or unknowable within you, not fall into a stupor and sleep. Awake it. Don’t allow it to move into dreams anymore. Shake it out of sleep and suddenly you will see that you are already grounded. In fact, whatsoever is needed is already there. Just a turning about is needed.

That is what Jesus means when he says, “Return! The kingdom of God is at hand.” He’s talking about your hands. The kingdom of God is always at hand. Just stretch your hand a little and you will be able to touch it. That stretching of the hand is what I mean by awareness.


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

Discourse Series: Come Follow To You, Vol 2

Chapter #6

Chapter title: Politics And Love

5 November 1975 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on notable Psychologists and philosophers like Adler, Jung, Sigmund Freud, Assaguoli, 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 New Dawn
  3. This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen
  4. Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  5. Beyond Enlightenment
  6. Beyond Psychology
  7. Light on The Path
  8. The Discipline of Transcendence
  9. The Dhammapada
  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 Her

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