Master: Simply a Mirror

Osho on French Artist Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French artist in the 19th century creating paintings, caricatures, prints, illustrations, etc. He was born into the aristocracy in 1864 in France and went through a period of hard physical recovery when he fractured both his legs in separate incidents in his early teens. His physical growth was stunted after this period and he found solace in art and drawings, thus deciding to become an artist.

Lautrec studied under various painters and established his own studio in 1884, commissioning over 737 canvas paintings, 275 watercolors, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings, and some ceramic and stained-glass work, along with an unknown number of lost works in his career span of fewer than 20 years. His art is usually described as throbbing with life and colors – the use of silhouettes and intense colors as a Post-Impressionist artist gave him the canvas to establish his style. Some of his famous works include At the Moulin Rouge (1890), Portrait of Vincent van Gogh (1887), and In Bed (1893).

Osho mentions Lautrec, “The world can live in so much peace, serenity…. My effort, in short, is not to take you to paradise, but to bring the paradise to you on this earth. It can be done, because I have done it for myself. I don’t think paradise can give anything more to me. In fact, I don’t want to go to paradise — if there is any paradise — because I don’t want to associate with those dead, ugly saints, ascetics, of all the religions. They will be there.

If… it is only an “if,” there is no heaven, no hell, but if there is a hell I would like to go there, because there I will find all the juicy people of the world, not dead bones, dry. I will find there Maupassant, Tolstoy, Byron, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Rabindranath, Nijinsky — the list is infinite. All the poets, all the musicians, all the dancers, all the lovers, all those who are creative will be in hell because they were not religious people. They were not ascetics, they enjoyed life to the fullest.”

Osho Says…..




I AM JUST A MIRROR — nothing more, nothing less. If you come close to me you can see your face as it is. Many people will see ugly faces and they will become angry at me. They will think that this ugliness is part of me. Many people will see beautiful faces; they will become infatuated with me. They will think that this beauty is part of me. Both are wrong.

Just a few days ago THE SUNDAY STATESMAN published an article about me. The title of the article is “Rajneesh — Sage or Satyr?” The writer is a famous Bengali scholar, a follower of Sri Aurobindo. He has written many books, particularly on Aurobindo’s philosophy. He cannot come to a conclusion; he wavers. I enjoyed his article. One moment he thinks I am a saint, another moment he thinks I am a sinner. One moment he feels I am divine, another moment he thinks I am just the devil incarnate. The whole article is an exercise in utter confusion! That shows HIS face: he must be a man living in confusion. The confusion may have surfaced through reading my book because he must have been reading Sri Aurobindo his whole life.

I don’t see anything important in Sir Aurobindo’s philosophy because it is only a philosophy. He was a great scholar, a man of great intellectual talents, a genius, but not a Master, not a Buddha. He has written a great system of thought, very logical. His approach is as it should be: academic, scholarly, logical. And he tried to live according to the Indian ideal of the sage, and he managed to live it as far as it is possible to manage it from the outside. He cultivated a great character around himself, but it was only a character without any consciousness in it, it was a conscience without any consciousness in it. He was simply following the Hindu ideal of the sage. This writer also has a certain idea of the sage. I don’t fit into that category. I cannot fit into any category — Hindu, Christian, Mohammedan, Jaina, Buddhist.

I don’t belong to the past, I belong to the future. I am creating a new category of my own; in future there will be people who will fit MY category. It is a new phenomenon, hence it has no history behind it. It has a future but no past. Because he cannot make me fit according to the Hindu ideal of a sage — obviously, the logical mind thinks in terms of either/or — then I must be a devil! But he cannot fit me into that category either; about that too he seems to be shaky and wavering. That too is not possible because the sage and the devil are polar opposites to each other. They both belong to the past – I don’t belong to the past at all. So he goes on moving continuously from one point to the other and he ends in confusion, inconclusively. But if he can see the point… the point is that he has come face to face with a mirror in which he can see his own conflict, in which he can see his conflict between the past and the future, in which he can see his conflict between his own conscious and unconscious, between his conscience and consciousness, between his character and his reality. But he may not be aware of that at all. He thinks that he is thinking about me — he is simply looking at his own face.

Deben, you ask me: WHO ARE YOU?

But YOU can understand it — you who are here, who are with me. You can understand this fact: I am just a mirror. Sometimes you become angry. Remember it, that anger has something to do with you, it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes you become very happy and very blissful; that too belongs to you, it has nothing to do with me. I don’t take any credit. If you become enlightened that is up to you; I will not take the credit for it. You need not even feel any thankfulness to me. I don’t expect even a thank you from you; on the contrary, I will be thankful to you because now you will not need my mirror and my mirror can become available to others You will become a mirror yourself and you will start mirroring others’ faces, their realities.

I want all my sannyasins to become mirrors so they can help millions of people in the world. If you can remember this, great things will start happening to you; otherwise you will go on blaming me because each time I assert something it is going to hurt you. If you have carried a certain idea for a long time and it has become deep-rooted in you and I start hitting… And I can do only that. Anything wrong, and the mirror is bound to show it to you. The mirror is not at fault. If your face is looking sad the mirror will show it. Don’t destroy the mirror…

Psychologists say that if every person in the world decides to be absolutely authentic and true for twenty-four hours — just for twenty-four hours the whole world decides: “We will not be polite and we will not tell lies and we will not be formal; we will simply say the truth as it is, as it appears to us” — then there will no longer be any friendship in the world, no more husbands, no more wives, no more lovers. All will be finished! That’s why to my sannyasins I always suggest that if you want to continue your relationship with somebody it is best not to live together, because if you start living together, how long you can be polite? How long you can be formal? Sooner or later the truth starts surfacing.

Just a few days ago Vasumati wanted to live with Krishna Prem. Their relationship has lasted for almost one and a half years. It is such a long long time in this commune — almost impossible! — for the simple reason that they are not living together so they meet only once in a while. They cannot even meet every day because Vasumati is sharing with other people, Krishna Prem is sharing with somebody else. So only once in a while, when they can manage some privacy, they can meet — only for a few hours per week, twice or thrice per week. So it remains a love affair; it has not yet become a marriage. Otherwise it would have been finished long ago! But when she wanted, I told Vivek… Vivek came to me and said, “Vasumati wants to live with Krishna Prem.” I said, “That’s what every woman wants and that’s how every woman destroys. And the man cannot say no because if he says no that means it is immediately finished! But,” I said, “if she wants to, then we will manage it in some way.” There was one opportunity — I inquired of Krishna Prem. He proved to be really wise. He wrote a letter, he said to me, “Osho, you decide, because I don’t know what is right. My desires say, ‘Be together,’ but I am an unconscious person — I don’t know what will happen out of it. I can’t see very far into the future, but you can see so you decide.” So I decided that they live separately…

And I can perfectly understand the psychologists’ idea that if we decide to be true, absolutely true, only for twenty-four hours, everything on earth will fall apart. Every relationship will fall apart because truth is truth and there are very few people who can absorb truth; they have become so accustomed to lies. That’s why so much gossiping goes on all around, because you have to say the truth somewhere, otherwise it becomes a burden on you. You have to unburden yourself. So when you have told somebody you feel unburdened, you feel better. And the other person can unburden himself to vou. and this goes on and on. Everybody is helping as a psychoanalyst to everybody else.

In the West psychoanalysis is needed, not in the East, for the simple reason that in the East people have enough time to listen to each other. In the West nobody has time to listen to anyone — you have to pay for it. The psychoanalyst does nothing; his whole art consists of pretending to be attentive to you…

Now it is one of the best professions in the West, one of the most profitable businesses — and with no investment. You just need a couch… And Freud was very inventive about the couch, because if you are facing, the patient your face may start showing boredom, you may start yawning. Who is concerned with all that nonsense and rubbish about their lives that people go on talking? And the psychoanalyst has been listening to so many people and the story is almost the same. It is always the same because it is the story of the unconscious mind; it can’t be much different. Only conscious people have uniqueness. One Buddha absolutely differs from another Buddha. If you have to listen to the story of Jesus it is going to be tremendously different from the story of Gautam the Buddha or the story of Lao Tzu. They are unique people. But unconscious people, what is their story? The same sexuality, the same repression, the same greed, the same anger, the same hatred, destructiveness, suicidalness, possessiveness, jealousy. It is almost the same story. Only persons differ, but the role they play is the same. The same triangles — two women and one man or two men and one woman — the same triangles. One is bound to get tired…

A Master is not a psychoanalyst, he is a mirror. He simply reflects you with all your burdens, tensions, anxieties, anguish, with all your problems, with all your miseries. And naturally you can become offended.

One sannyasin has just written to me: “Osho, whenever you talk about differences between man and woman I become very resistant.” But why should you become resistant? What can I do if there are differences? The rose is different from the marigold. If somebody becomes resistant that means something is wrong in his inner world; something is repressed and that repression starts uncoiling itself. Maybe you have been carrying the idea that man and woman are not different; maybe that has become your fixation. There are many people who think men and women are not different and they find a thousand and one rationalizations to explain why they are not different: that it is only psychological conditioning that makes them different otherwise they are not different. They ARE different. Psychological conditioning can reduce their differences or can enhance their differences, but differences are there, basic differences are there, and those basic differences should not be overlooked.

A kind of unisex is being born in the world. This sannyasin must be a believer in unisex. Men and women are wearing almost the same clothes, trying to look alike. And of course if psychologically you become conditioned, your biology also, your physiology also follows suit.

In the East the differences have been always accepted, not only accepted but strengthened. There is great wisdom in it because the farther away they are, the more attraction there is between them; if they become alike the attraction will be lost. And in the West it is happening: for the first time in the history of humanity sex is losing its appeal. And once sex loses its appeal you are at a loss — what to do? Where to go?

Sex is a natural phenomenon which gives you glimpses of meditation. From sex you can go to meditation, but if sex loses its appeal the doors for meditation are closed because you won’t have any glimpses of meditation. It is only in sexual orgasm that you melt, merge, disappear. And those few moments of disappearance, dissolution, give you the first taste of what it will be to dissolve forever. Those drops of nectar can give you some idea of the ocean that a Buddha carries in his being.

But if sex loses its appeal, then even those drops become impossible. And a person who has not even tasted a drop of nectar cannot conceive that there is a possibility of any oceanic experience. For him Buddha will become a fiction. Try to understand my approach. I want you to transcend sex — but through sex, not by becoming indifferent to it, not by dropping it in an immature way. The East has always emphasized the difference between man and woman for the simple reason that the East knows the immense value of orgasmic experience. It gives you a glimpse of meditation and then from there you can move on; that can become a jumping board. But in the West sex is losing its appeal, and one of the causes of its losing Its appeal is that the differences are being reduced to zero. And it is affecting the physiology also…

But this sannyasin who has written to me: “There is great resistance whenever you talk about differences…” The resistance must be coming out of the idea that men and women are equal. I am not saying that they are not equal, I am simply saying they are not similar. Never confuse equality with similarity. They are perfectly equal but they are absolutely dissimilar — and that is their beauty. If you have this wrong notion that similarity means equality then you will be feeling a resistance.

I am just a mirror — don’t be angry with me. And there will be ninety percent of cases when you will feel anger against me because I will have to bring out much pus in you; I will have to open your wounds. You may have forgotten about them, completely forgotten; you may have started believing that they no longer exist. And I will have to reopen them to show you where you are, because unless you know where you are you cannot move a single inch, you cannot grow. You can move only from where you are. And there will be ten percent of cases when you will feel ecstatic. Then don’t think that I am giving this ecstasy to you — nobody can give truth to you. I can inspire you, I can challenge you. I can invite you, I can seduce you into the journey, but I cannot give the truth to you. You have to find it yourself; I can only show your face. I am simply a mirror,


Fanfani is on an official visit to France and he is taken to the Louvre. The museum director shows him around and they stop in front of a painting.

“Cezanne?” Fanfani asks.

“No,” replies the director, “Renoir.”

They come to another painting and again Fanfani asks “Pizarro?”

“No, Your Excellence, Degas.”

After walking around a little more he stops in front of another one and asks, “Is this a self-portrait of Toulouse-Lautrec?”

No, Your Excellence this is a mirror!”

My sannyasins have to remember always that you are here to discover your real faces, your original faces.

And the Master not only reflects your so called face, he reflects your original face too. But he begins by reflecting your mask, and it hurts to know that you are wearing a mask. And you are not wearing only one mask, you are wearing many masks — masks upon masks. You have to be peeled like an onion and it hurts. But unless your original face is discovered the work that I want to do will remain incomplete. God will recognize you by your original face, not by any artificial mask, howsoever beautiful it is.

Three Cambridge dons were walking by the river one beautiful hot summer day. Coming to a secluded spot, they could not resist the temptation to have a dip. Not having costumes with them they went in the buff. Unfortunately just as they came out, a punt full of pretty female undergrads came round the bend, whereupon in some consternation, two of the dons grabbed some clothes around their middles while the third threw something over his head. After the girls had gone the two who had covered their middles turned on the other and said, “Why on earth did you do that?” Whereupon he answered, “Where I come from, we recognize people by their faces!”

God will recognize you by your original face; nothing else will be recognized there. No degrees, no fame, no money, no power, no prestige, nothing else will be recognized there but your original face; and you will have to stand utterly naked before him. The Master simply represents God on the earth. You have to be utterly naked before the Master, only then will you be capable one day of facing your God. If you are capable of facing your Master you will certainly be able to face your God.


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

Discourse Series: Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 1

Chapter #7

Chapter title: Into the Open Sky

17 June 1980 am


Osho has spoken extensively on ‘art, poetry, music, dance, painting’ and painters & poets like Picasso, Michael Angelo, Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Byron, Bhavabhuti, Coleridge, Dinkar, D.H. Lawrence, Kalidas, Kahlil Gibran, Keats, Omar Khayyam, Milton, Yeats, Shelley, Tagore and many more in the course of His talks. More on this subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:

  1. Ah This
  2. Be Still and Know
  3. Beyond Psychology
  4. Come Follow to You Vol.1-4
  5. The Guest
  6. Going All the Way
  7. This Is It
  8. The Book of Wisdom
  9. The Path of the Mystic
  10. A Sudden Clash of Thunder
  11. Beyond Enlightenment
  12. From the False to the Truth
  13. From Ignorance to Innocence
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