Joy of Being Oneself
WHY DOES EVERYBODY WANT TO PROVE AND TO ASSERT? WHAT IS THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND PROVING AND ASSERTING ONESELF? PLEASE EXPLAIN.
The psychology behind assertiveness, behind proving oneself, is very simple. Every child, from his very beginning, is told that he is not what he should be. Disciplines are given, commandments are given; he has to fulfill them. If he cannot, he starts feeling inferior. It seems that others are fulfilling them, only he is not capable.
And the inferiority complex is the basic mind disease out of which many diseases arise. No child is born with an inferiority complex. It is the parents, the teachers, the priests, the society, the culture, which are responsible for creating the inferiority complex in the child.
And the only way for the child to get rid of it seems to be to prove himself worthy according to the expectations of others. It creates a very miserable situation. He is not growing towards his own potential, he is following guidelines given by others. He will become somebody else that he was not by his nature supposed to be. He will never be happy; misery is going to be his lot. He may be able to assert himself; he may not be able to prove he is worthy, or he may be able to prove he is — whatever the case, misery is going to be the end result.
If he proves worthy in the eyes of others and becomes respectable, he will smile — but in his being there will be no flowers blossoming. He will show that he is dignified, but deep down he knows he has betrayed himself. He has committed the greatest crime possible: he has betrayed his own nature. He has gone against existence and listened to all kinds of idiots. If he succeeds, then he is miserable. If he does not succeed, of course he is going to be miserable; he has failed. Others were right, that he is basically inferior, that he does not belong to the higher class, that he belongs to the lowest. It hurts — because no individual is higher and no individual is lower.
I do not mean by that that everybody is equal…
I stand for man’s uniqueness. Yes, every person should be given equal opportunity to be his or her self. In other words, every person should be given equal opportunity to be unequal, to be unique. The opportunities can be given, but the mathematician should become a mathematician, and the musician should become a musician. But no society up to now has allowed the individual his freedom. You think that you are free. You are simply living in an illusion. Humanity will only be free the day there is no inferiority complex produced in children; otherwise, freedom is just hypocrisy. Others are trying to make you a puppet.
My whole life I had the problem….The intentions of the parents are not bad, the intentions of the teachers are not bad. I never suspect their intentions — but I suspect their intelligence. I suspect their understanding of human nature, its growth, its possibilities.
When I was going to the university, my whole family was in a turmoil. Somebody wanted me to be a doctor, somebody wanted me to be a scientist, somebody wanted me to be an engineer. I listened to everybody, and then I said, “Nobody wants me to be myself. And you think you are all well-wishers! Not a single person in the whole family” — and in India, the family is a joint phenomenon; my family consisted of fifty, sixty people — “none of you has said, ‘We want you to be just yourself.’ Why do you want to impose your ideas on me? What right have you got? If you are so interested in medicine, go and become a doctor! But why should I fulfill your desire? You are making me a puppet, an instrument. And I simply say no to everyone in the family. I will do what I want to do. I am going to study philosophy.”
They all laughed. They said, “Study philosophy? Then you will remain a pauper all your life.”
I said, “At least I will have the satisfaction that this is my own choice, that I am independent in whatever I have done, nobody has manipulated me. Becoming a doctor and rich, a scientist and rich, will not be a contentment to my heart. I will always remember that this is somebody else’s trip — I have been forced to do it! Even your Nobel Prize will not give me the contentment, the joy which comes out of freedom.”
I knew what they would do, so I said, “I know what is in your mind. You will say, ‘Then you go on your way, but we are not going to support you financially.'” I said, “That is clear. I don’t resent it. I don’t follow your advice — I have no right to take your financial support. Even if you give it to me, I will not take it.”
For two years I was earning — working in the night, studying in the day. My father was very sad and very sorry. Many times he came and said, “Forget all that. You are destroying your health; you don’t have time to rest, you don’t have a disciplined life.”
Finally he came and wept and said, “Unless you accept money from me every month, I am going to sit here and fast and I am not going to move.”
I said, “That makes sense. You have finally accepted and respected my desire. These two years have not gone in vain.” It was troublesome, it was not comfortable: running twenty-four hours a day — only once in a while, whenever I could get time, sleeping, eating.
He said, “We are sorry. We had not thought that you would go so far.”
I said, “Remember it. Whenever I do something I do it the whole way.”
When I came back from the university, everybody except my father asked, “Now what are you going to do?”
I said, “You need not be worried. I have already an appointment as a teacher of philosophy in a university.” Because for six years I proved my love for philosophy, my insight into philosophy, my ingenuity in seeing into its complexities, every teacher of my university and the vice-chancellor wanted me, immediately after I passed my master’s degree, to become a teacher in the university.
I said, “It does not matter…. If you want to do something totally, you can change deserts into oases. You can change the life of a beggar into the life of an emperor. The whole question is, inside you there should be no inferiority complex. And you have not been able to create that in me.”…
A healthy human being will not have an inferiority complex. And the other side of the story is: if you don’t have an inferiority complex, you will never try to be superior. There is no need to be superior to somebody, dominating somebody, having the upper hand over somebody, controlling somebody — you will never become a politician. Only people who are basically suffering from an inferiority complex are attracted to politics. The very attraction towards politics guarantees it, what their problem is. Anybody who is attracted towards politics should be immediately treated psychologically. All politicians are sick, without any exception. Unless they are sick, they will not be in politics. A person who has no desire to have power over others, to prove himself… because there is no need! He is alive, he is breathing, he is doing his thing; that is enough proof. He has made his signature. Certainly it is his signature, not somebody else’s. And remember, if even your thumbprint is unique in the whole world, what about your being? If nature does not create two thumbs alike…. How much care! Not even by mistake do two thumbs have the same lines — and there are five billion people on the earth! Being is so significant that it is irreplaceable. You are just yourself. Do something that comes out of you — not to assert, but to express! Sing your song, dance your dance, rejoice in being whatever nature has chosen you to be.
If we can destroy the inferiority complex… which is very simple: the teachers and the parents just have to be aware not to impose themselves on the helpless children. And just within two decades the new generation will be free of the inferiority complex. And with it will go all politics, all presidents and all prime ministers. And their going will be such a great relief!
People will express their creativity. There will be musicians, there will be dancers, there will be painters, carpenters. There will be all sorts of creativity around the world. But nobody is competing with anybody else; he is simply doing his best. It is his joy. The joy is not in competing, the joy is not in coming first; the joy is in doing it. It is not outside the act, it is intrinsic to the act. That’s my image of the new man. He works, but his work is his life, his very soul. Whatever he does, it does not matter.
I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln. When he became the president of America, his father was a shoemaker. And, naturally, egoistic people were very much offended that a shoemaker’s son should become the president. They were aristocrats, super-rich, who thought that it was their birthright to be in the highest post. A shoemaker’s son? On the first day, as Abraham Lincoln entered to give his presidential inaugural address, just in the middle one man stood up. He was a very rich aristocrat. He said, “Mr. Lincoln, you should not forget that your father used to make shoes for my family.” And the whole senate laughed; they thought that they had made a fool of Abraham Lincoln.
But Lincoln — and that type of person — is made of a totally different mettle. Lincoln looked at the man and said, “Sir, I know that my father used to make shoes in your house for your family, and there will be many others here… because the way he made shoes, nobody else can. He was a creator. His shoes were not just shoes, he poured his whole soul in it. I want to ask you, have you any complaint? — because I know how to make shoes myself; if you have any complaint I can make another pair of shoes. But I know that nobody has ever complained about my father’s shoes. He was a genius, a great creator, and I am proud of my father!”
The whole senate was struck dumb. They could not understand what kind of man Abraham Lincoln was. He had made shoemaking an art, a creativity. And he was proud because his father did the job so well that not even a single complaint had ever been heard. And even though he was the president of America, he was ready to make another pair if there was any complaint. The man looked silly. Lincoln insisted, “You have to speak! Why have you become dumb? You wanted to make me a fool, and now, look all around: you have made a fool of yourself.”
It does not matter what you do. What matters is how you do it — of your own accord, with your own vision, with your own love. Then whatever you touch becomes gold.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
From Bondage to Freedom
Chapter title: Democracy means mediocracy
15 October 1985 am in Rajneeshmandir
Osho has spoken on many politicians and rulers like Abraham Lincoln, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kennedy, Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, Alexander, Napoleon, and more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses: