Be Yourself

Osho on Desiderata

The common myth is that the Desiderata poem was found in a Baltimore church in 1692 and is centuries old, of unknown origin. Desiderata is believed to have been written around 1920 (although some say as early as 1906), and was copyrighted in 1927, by lawyer Max Ehrmann (1872-1945) based in Terre Haute, Indiana. The Desiderata song myth began after Reverend Frederick Kates reproduced the Desiderata poem in a collection of inspirational works for his congregation in 1959 on church notepaper, headed: ‘The Old St Paul’s Church, Baltimore, AD 1692’ (the year the church was founded). Copies of the Desiderata page were circulated among friends, and the myth grew, accelerated particularly when a copy of the erroneously attributed Desiderata text was found at the bedside of deceased Democratic politician Aidlai Stevenson in 1965. Lots of people debate the meaning and analysis of Desiderata, but whatever the history and meaning of it, Ehrmann’s prose is inspirational and offers a simple positive credo for life.

Osho has dedicated an entire discourse series of Desiderata called “Guida Spirituale” and has spoken extensively on the same. Osho says, “It is strange because it has appeared many times and disappeared many times; hence nobody exactly knows who wrote it. Truth has the capacity to appear again and again; because of human stupidity it is lost again and again too. The Desiderata seems to be one of the most ancient documents available today, but it is copyrighted by a poet, Max Ehrmann. If the Desiderata was written by him then many more poems of the same quality would have flowed. It has not happened. In fact, the DESIDERATA seems to be so different from all his poems that it is impossible to believe that it has come from the same person…It is also a strange document because in such a small space it says so much. It is really made of sutras — just a few hints. Nothing is said very solidly: just a few hints, fingers pointing to the moon. It is so small that after Adlai Stevenson’s death in 1965 it was discovered that he had intended to send out the DESIDERATA as a Christmas card to his friends. It can be printed on a small card, a postcard, but it contains infinity — a dewdrop that contains all the oceans. It can be of immense help to you on the path; hence I call it GUIDA SPIRITUALE. “

THE 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…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…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…

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, the 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…

But have you ever heard your parents saying to you, “Just be yourself”? No parent will ever say that to any child, for the simple reason that he himself is afraid that if the child is allowed to be just himself he may not be obedient. He may start doing things that are against the ideas of the parents. He may start living a life that does not conform, is not conventional. He may turn out to be a rebel. And it is better to kill that rebellion in the very seed.

Hence so much misery in the world, no laughter at all and no love — because if you cannot love yourself, how can you love anybody else? The first person to be loved is your own being. Unless love happens inside you for yourself it cannot radiate and reach to others. A man who is a darkness inside cannot be a light to others. Only a man who is a light in himself may be capable of radiating a little light to others too. The whole of humanity is living in a deep deep sleep…

Man has been forced to remain unconscious, he has been forced to remain in a deep slumber. You are being driven in many subtle ways to remain drunk with power, with money, with prestige, with fame, name; all these are different kinds of opium. Power makes people so drunk, money makes people so drunk. Ambition is the greatest intoxicant invented ever.


THAT TOO is of tremendous importance. When you are trying to be somebody else, naturally you start acting. The Buddhist monk acts like a Buddha, the Hindu sannyasin acts like Shankaracharya, the Pope tries to imitate Christ…And when you start imitating you will imitate everything. You will imitate love, and that is the most dangerous thing. Jesus loved so you will start loving. But how can you love unless you attain the consciousness that Jesus attained? Love is a fragrance. When the one-thousand-petalled lotus of consciousness opens in you, the fragrance is released. If you start feigning it, that will be just artificial. You can bring perfume from the marketplace and YOU can start throwing the perfume all over yourself, and of course it will stink because it will not be your own flowering. It will be artificial and ugly. And

once a person starts feigning love, his whole life becomes false, because love is the center of life. Love is the very purpose of life, the destiny of life.

The DESIDERATA has a great message there:


If you feign affection you will feign intelligence, you will feign freedom — you will start pretending everything else A man who is capable of deceiving himself that he loves without loving is so stupid that he will imitate everything and will believe it. But his life will show that that’s not so.

I have heard about a Christian monk who was sermonizing on the message of Jesus that if somebody slaps you on one cheek, give him the other too.

A man became interested in the idea and he thought “Let us try it on him to see whether he proves himself by his response that what he says he lives too, practices too or not.”

So he slapped him really hard on one cheek, and he was surprised: the Christian monk gave him the other cheek. But that man was not going to be defeated so easily — he slapped him on the other cheek also.

The moment he slapped him on the other cheek, the Christian monk jumped upon him and started beating him.

He said, “What are you doing? Have you forgotten your sermon? Have you forgotten your Christ? What are you doing?”

He said, “Jesus said that if somebody slaps on one cheek give him the other. And I don’t have another cheek, no more, only two. Now the message is finished! Now I am free! Now I will show you what it means to hit somebody! “

Once Buddha said to one of his disciples who was asking, “Bhagwan, you always say forgive, but how many times?”…

In fact, to ask that question is enough proof that the disciple has not understood. It is not a question of how many times: forgiveness simply means you accept the person as he is, you still love him the way he is. Forgiveness means that you don’t judge him, that you are non-judgmental. But ordinarily we think forgiveness means you know that he has done wrong, still you forgive him. First you judge and then you forgive. Your forgiveness is false.

Real forgiveness has no judgment. It never says, “No, you have done wrong, but still I forgive you.” It simply accepts the person as he is. There is no grudge, no complaint, no grumbling. There is no question really of forgiving because there is no anger in the first place.

But the man asked, “How many times?”
Buddha said to him, “At least seven times.”
The man said, “Okay.”

The way he said okay, Buddha said, “Wait — seventy-seven times, or better still, seven hundred and seventy-seven times.” But even seven hundred and seventy-seven times will be exhausted — then what about seven hundred and seventy-eight? Then he will take revenge and with a vengeance, because all those seven hundred and seventy-seven times have to be taken care of; he has to take revenge for all those too. He was somehow tolerating — somehow It was not out of understanding.

If you feign, if you pretend, you become pseudo. A man who has a pseudo personality loses all intelligence, and that is the greatest loss in the world…Pseudo people are bound to hear something else. They are bound to see that which is not. They are bound to miss that which is, because in their very beings they have deceived themselves. Now their whole lives will be again and again missing the point.

The first thing one has to remember is to be whole, not to be divided, not to become two persons. And the teaching “Be like somebody else” always creates two persons in you. One is just a facade, superficial, and you have to live a double life.


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

Discourse Series: Guida Spirituale
Chapter #8
Chapter title: Be Yourself
3 September 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on many renowned books and scriptures such as ‘The Prophet, Desiderata, Tao te Ching, GITANJALI, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA, THE BOOK OF MIRDAD, BHAGAVADGITA, THE BOOK, RUBAIYAT, UPANISHADs and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Messiah
  2. Tao: The Three Treasures
  3. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  4. Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
  5. The Osho Upanishad
  6. Sat Chit Anand
  7. Come Follow To You, Vol 3
  8. Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
  9. Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen
  10. Philosophia Ultima
  11. The Ultimate Alchemy
  12. Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
  13. Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
Spread the love

Leave a comment