Osho on Self Love
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ONESELF WITHOUT FIRST LEARNING TO LOVE ONESELF?
It is absolutely impossible to be responsible for yourself unless you learn to love yourself. Every child is born with tremendous love for himself. It is the society that destroys that love, it is the religion that destroys that love — because if a child goes on growing in loving himself, who is going to love Jesus Christ? Who is going to love the president, Ronald Reagan? Who is going to love the parents? The child’s love for himself has to be distracted. He has to be conditioned so that his love is always towards an object outside himself. It makes man very poor, because when you love somebody outside of yourself, whether it is God, the pope, the father, the wife, the husband, the children — whoever is the object of your love — it makes you dependent on the object. You become secondary in your own eyes, you become a beggar.
You were born an emperor, utterly contented within yourself. But the father wants you to love him, the mother wants you to love her. Everybody around you wants to become an object for your love. Nobody bothers that a man who cannot love himself cannot love anybody else either.
So a very mad society is created where everybody is trying to love somebody — and they have nothing to give. Nor has the other person anything to give. Why are lovers continuously fighting, nagging, harassing each other? The simple reason is they are not getting what they were thinking to get. Both are beggars, both are empty.
A rightly brought up child will be allowed to grow in love towards himself so that he becomes so full of love that sharing becomes a necessity. He is so burdened with love that he wants somebody to share it. And then love never makes you dependent on anybody. You are the giver; the giver is never a beggar. And the other is also a giver. And when two emperors, masters of their own hearts, meet, there is tremendous joy. Nobody is dependent on anybody else; everybody is independent and individual, well-centered in himself, well-grounded in himself. He has roots which go deep down within his being, from where the juice called love comes towards the surface and blossoms in thousands of roses.
This type of person has not been possible up to now because of your prophets, your messiahs, your incarnations of God, and all other kinds of idiots. They have destroyed you for their own glory, for their own ego. They have crushed you utterly. You can see the logic. Either the messiah, the savior, becomes the object of your love, and you become just shadows blindly following him; or if you are fully contented, overflowing with love and blossoming in thousands of roses, then who cares to be saved? — you are already saved. Who cares about paradise? — you are in it. The priest will die if you learn how to love yourself, the politician will not have followers; all the vested interests in society will go bankrupt. They are all thriving on a very subtle psychological exploitation of you.
But learning to love oneself is not difficult, it is natural. If you have been able to do something which is unnatural, if you have learned how to love others without loving yourself, then the other thing is very simple. You have done the almost impossible. It is only a question of understanding, a simple understanding, that “I am to love myself; otherwise I will miss the meaning of life. I will never grow up, I will simply grow old. I will not have any individuality. I will not be truly human, dignified, integrated.” And moreover, if you cannot love yourself, you cannot love anybody else in the world. So many psychological problems have arisen because you have been distracted from yourself. You are unworthy, you are not what you should be; your actions have to be corrected. You have to be molded into a certain personality.
In Japan they have four-hundred-year-old trees, but their height is only six inches. They think that it is a form of art. It is murder, sheer murder! The tree looks ancient, but is only six inches high. It would have been one hundred feet high, reaching towards the stars. What have they done? What strategy have they used? The same strategy has been used against humanity, human beings. They put the tree in a pot which has no bottom. So whenever the tree grows its roots, they go on cutting them, because there is no bottom to the pot. The roots they go on cutting, and unless roots grow deeper, the tree cannot rise higher. It grows old, but it never grows up. Exactly the same has been done with human beings.
Your love for yourself is a basic necessity for your growth. Hence, I teach you to be selfish-
which is natural. All your religions have been teaching you to be altruistic. Sacrifice yourself for any idiotic idea: the flag — just a rotten piece of cloth. You sacrifice yourself to the nation — which is nothing but fantasy, because the earth is not divided anywhere into nations. It is the politicians’ cunningness, to divide the earth on the map. You are sacrificing for the lines drawn on the maps! Die for your religion: Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism. And they have managed it in such a way that the individual is caught. If you die for your nation you will be called a martyr — you are simply committing suicide, and that too for a foolish reason. If you die for your religion you will reach paradise, you will enjoy eternal blessings. They have manipulated you. But one thing is basic in that manipulation, that is, don’t love yourself; hate yourself, because you are not worth anything.
Everybody is full of hate for himself. And do you think if you hate yourself you can find someone who is going to love you? Even you are not ready to love yourself; it is impossible for anybody else to love you. You have accepted the idea that unless you follow certain rules, religious dogmas, political ideologies, you are not of any worth. When you were born, you were not born as a Christian, as a Catholic; you were not born as a communist. Every child comes into the world as a tabula rasa, completely clean. Nothing is written on him — the BIBLE, KORAN, GITA, DAS KAPITAL — no, nothing is written on him. He brings no holy book with himself. He comes in utter innocence. But his innocence becomes his greatest trouble, because all around him are wolves — hiding in politicians, in priests, in parents, in teachers. They all jump upon your innocence. They start writing things on you which later on you will believe is your heritage. They have destroyed your heritage. Now it is possible for them to enslave you, to make you do anything they want…
Have you seen any society rewarding its lovers? No, lovers are to be condemned.
No society allows lovers any respect; love is an anathema to society. So the first thing all these vested interests have to do is distract you from love — and they have succeeded up to now…I want you to become absolutely selfish. Love yourself, be yourself. Don’t be distracted by any type of people — religious, political, social, educational. Your first responsibility is neither towards religion nor towards nation. Your first responsibility is towards yourself. And just see: if everybody is loving himself, caring about himself, his intelligence will come to its peak, his love will be overflowing. To me, the philosophy of selfishness will make him really altruistic because he will have so much to share, so much to give, that giving will become a joy to him, that sharing will be a celebration to him. Altruism can only be a by-product of self-love.
Because you don’t love yourself, you feel weak — because love is nourishment, it is your strength. Naturally, how can you feel responsible? You go on throwing your responsibility on somebody else’s shoulders. God is responsible, fate is responsible, Adam and Eve are responsible. The serpent who seduced Eve to disobey God — that serpent is responsible.
Can you see the idiocy of all this dumping your responsibility on somebody?…But we have to dump our responsibility on somebody else. Adam dumps it on Eve. Eve dumps it on the serpent. The serpent — if he could speak — would dump it on God. This way we go on throwing our responsibility, without understanding that unless you are responsible for yourself you are not truly an individual.
Shirking responsibility is destructive to your individuality. But you can accept responsibility only when you have tremendous love for yourself. I accept my responsibility, and I rejoice in it. I have never dumped my responsibility on anybody else, because that is losing freedom, that is becoming enslaved, at the mercy of others. Whatsoever I am, I am wholly and solely responsible for it. This gives me a great strength. It gives me roots, centering. But the source of this responsibility is, I love myself.
I have also been through the same type of mass exploitation. But from the very beginning I made it clear that if I am going to be pushed into heaven I will refuse it. Of my own will I am ready to go to hell. At least I will have my independence, my choice. My parents, my teachers, my professors struggled with me. But I said, “One thing is certain: I cannot accept any bribery to become a slave. I would rather suffer for the whole eternity in hellfire, but I will remain myself. At least that much joy I will have — that this is my choice, nobody has forced me.”
Taken as a prisoner into paradise, do you think you can enjoy it? Going into paradise following Jesus Christ, or Moses, or Buddha, or Krishna — what kind of paradise will that be, where you are expected to be blind believers; you cannot ask a question, you cannot inquire about anything. That paradise will be worse than hell. But people have been distracted from their very source. I want you to come back home. Respect yourself. Feel the joy and the pride that existence needs you; otherwise you would not have been here. Rejoice that existence cannot be without you. In the first place that’s why you are here: existence has given you an opportunity, a life with tremendous treasures hidden within you — of beauty, of ecstasy, of freedom. But you are not existential! You are Christian, you are Buddhist, you are Hindu. And I want you only to believe in one thing: existence. There is no need to go to any synagogue or any church. If you cannot experience the sky, the stars, the sunset, the sunrise, the flowers blossoming, the birds singing…. The whole of existence is a sermon! Not prepared by some stupid priest — it is all over the place.
You just need to trust yourself; that is another name for loving yourself. And when you trust and love yourself, obviously you have taken all the responsibility of whatever you are, whoever you are, upon your own shoulders. That gives such a tremendous experience of being that nobody can enslave you again. My sannyasins are not my followers — that would be very disrespectful towards you. And to be disrespectful towards the people who love him is the ugliest act anybody can do. I want to be just a fellow traveler with you. I am not your leader, I am not your savior. I don’t take any responsibility on myself, and I don’t want you to dump your responsibility on anybody. Can you see the beauty of an individual who is capable of standing on his own feet? And whatever happens — joy or sorrow, life or death — the man who has loved himself is so integrated that he will be able not only to enjoy life, he will be able to enjoy death too.
Socrates was punished by his society. People like Socrates are bound to be punished, because they are individuals and they don’t allow anybody to dominate them. He was given poison. He was lying in the bed and the man who was going to give him poison was preparing it. The sun was setting — that was the right time. The court had given the exact time, but the man was delaying in preparing the poison.
Socrates asked the man, “Time is passing, the sun is setting — what is the delay?”
The man could not believe that somebody who is going to die is so particular about the right time for his own death. In fact, he should be thankful for the delay. The man loved Socrates. He had heard him in the court and seen the beauty of the person: he alone had more intelligence than the whole of Athens. He wanted to delay a little more so Socrates could live a little more. But Socrates would not allow him. He said, “Don’t be lazy. Just bring the poison.”
The man giving poison to Socrates asked him, “Why are you so excited? I see such radiance on your face, I see such enquiry in your eyes. Don’t you understand? — you are going to DIE.”
Socrates said, “That’s what I want to know. Life, I have known. It was beautiful; with all its anxieties, anguishes, still it was a joy. Just to breathe is joy enough. I have lived, I have loved; I have done whatever I wanted to do, I have said whatever I wanted to say. Now I want to taste death — and the sooner the better. There are only two possibilities: either my soul will go on living in other forms as the Eastern mystics say — that is a great excitement, to go on that journey of the soul free from the burden of the body. The body is a cage, it has limitations. Or perhaps the materialists are right, that when your body dies everything dies. Nobody remains afterwards. That too, is a great excitement — not to be! I know what it means to be, and the moment has come to know what it means not to be. And when I am no more, what is the problem? Why should I be worried about it? I will not be there to worry, so why waste time now?”
This is the man who loves himself. Even the responsibility of death he has chosen — because the court had nothing against him; it was just public prejudice, the prejudice of the mediocre people who could not understand the great flights of intelligence of Socrates. But they were in the majority, and they all decided on death for Socrates…But the judges were a little better than the common people. They said to Socrates, “We give you a few alternatives. If you leave Athens and promise never to come back again, you can save yourself from death. Or, if you want to remain in Athens, then stop speaking, go into silence. Then too we can persuade the people to let you live. Otherwise, the third alternative is: tomorrow as the sun sets you will have to drink poison.”
What did Socrates do? He said, “I am ready to take the poison tomorrow or today, whenever the poison is ready, but I cannot stop saying the truth. If I am alive I will go on saying it till my last breath. And I cannot leave Athens just to save myself, because then I will feel always a weakling who became afraid of death, who escaped death, who could not take the responsibility of death also. I have lived according to my own thinking, feeling, being; I want to die that way also. And don’t feel guilty. Nobody is responsible for my death, I am responsible. I knew that it was going to happen, because to talk about truth in a society which lives on lies, deceptions, illusions, is to ask for death. Don’t blame these poor people who have decided for my death. If anybody is responsible, I am. And I want you all to know that I lived on my responsibility, and I am dying on my responsibility. Living, I was an individual. Dying, I am an individual. Nobody decides for me; I am decisive about myself.”
This is dignity. This is integrity. This is what a human being should be. And if the whole earth is full of people like this man, we can make this earth so beautiful, so ecstatic, so abundant in everything….But the individual is missing, so you have to take responsibility for yourself. But you will be able to take it only if you start loving whatever you are: this is the way existence wanted you to be. If existence wanted another Jesus Christ, it would have created one. To be Christian is ugly, to be Mohammedan is ugly, to be Hindu is ugly. Be yourself, just yourself, simply yourself. And remember, you are taking a great risk when you declare that you are simply yourself. You don’t belong to any crowd, any herd. These are all herds: Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, communists. You are declaring yourself an individual, knowing perfectly well that it is risky. The crowd may not forgive you at all. But it is so beautiful to take the risk, to move on the razor’s edge where every step is dangerous.
The more dangerously you live, the more you live. And it is possible to live, in a single moment, the whole eternity, if you are ready to live with totality, risking all and everything.
I don’t want you to be a businessman, I want you to be a gambler. And when you are gambling, put everything at stake. Don’t save anything for the next moment. Then whatever happens will bring great blessing to you. Even if you become a beggar, your being will be far more dignified than that of an emperor.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: From Death to Deathlessness
Chapter title: No society rewards lovers
9 August 1985 am in Rajneeshmandir
Osho has spoken on ‘Love, self, responsibility, intelligence, child’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
- The Divine Melody
- From Bondage to Freedom
- The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
- The Razor’s Edge
- The Tantra Vision, Vol 2
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 1
- Sat Chit Anand
- Beyond Psychology
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1, 2
- The Transmission of the Lamp
- The Last Testament, Vol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- Beyond Enlightenment