Osho on Courage



Prem Leela,

THERE IS ONLY ONE COURAGE and that is the courage to go on dying to the past, not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it.

We all cling to the past, and because we cling to the past we become unavailable to the present. And the mind has reasons, valid reasons, for clinging to the past. First: mind itself is the past. Just look at your mind — what it is. It is nothing but the past: all that you have read, listened to, experienced, observed, all that has been. Mind never is; it consists of the past tense. So naturally mind feeds on the past, it clings to the past, because that gives it strength, power, energy, life. But the more the past accumulates around you, the more you become like a mirror covered with layers of dust. And, of course, the past is comfortable, it feels cozy, because you are well-acquainted with it. You know it perfectly well, so you know how to deal with it. You are skillful with it, you are artful with it; your whole intelligence depends on it. To drop it will mean you will have to learn again and again, and that is inconvenient, uncomfortable.

To drop the past will mean you will have to become a child every day, and your ego wants to be an adult not a child. Your ego wants to pile up the past and sit upon it so that it looks higher than others. Without the past you will always remain a child with no knowledge, but full of wonder, of awe. That is the only courage: to drop the known and to move into the unknown. And it has not to be done only once, it has to be done every moment. It is not a question that once done it is done forever, you have to do it every moment, every day, till the very last moment of your life when you are dying on your bed. Then too you have to continue the process of dying to the past so that you can live each moment with pristine clarity, with no dust on your mirror. When you can reflect the present as it is, you know what God is, what godliness is. God is another name for what is, for that which is.

But you are collecting information about God, and that is one of the greatest barriers. Hence I have heard of sinners reaching God, but I have never heard of scholars ever reaching God. Pundits are the most impossible people. The more they know the farther away they are from God. So many scriptures are preventing them. They cannot reach God and God cannot reach them. They are absolutely closed in their knowledge.

Courage means courage to drop knowledge, courage to be innocent again, courage to function from a state of not-knowing.

I don’t know of any other courage.

When I use the word “courage” I don’t mean the courage of a soldier. That is just stupidity, that is not courage. That is just stubbornness, that is not courage. That is just forced, you have to train the soldier so that he becomes dull. It is unintelligence, not intelligence, hence soldiers become unintelligent people. The more medals they have, you can be certain, the more unintelligent they are. Just count the medals on their chest and you know how foolish they are.

The whole process of the army is to destroy intelligence because an intelligent person will not be able to kill. And an intelligent person will ask a thousand and one questions before killing somebody for no reason at all. An Indian killing a Pakistani whom he had never met before, whom he had never seen before, with whom there is no enmity, and a Pakistani killing an Indian for no reason at all, who has not done any harm to him….

If they were a little bit intelligent would they be able to do it? Would the Indian or the Pakistani be able to do it without thinking of this man’s wife who is waiting at home just as his wife is waiting at home for him, and his small children are waiting just as his small children are waiting for him, and his old mother and his old father who depend on him just as his mother and his father depend on him? Would he be able to do this stupidity of killing or being killed?

If soldiers are allowed to be intelligent, wars will disappear from the earth. Wars can exist only if soldiers are made in such a way, conditioned in such a way that they lose all intelligence. That’s why unintelligent training has to be forced on them for years. Now the soldier goes on doing things which make no sense for years.

Early in the morning he gets up, he has to line up and the parade begins. And “left turn,” and “right turn,” and “about turn,” and “go forward,” and “go backward.” For what? And for hours together.

In the Second World War a philosopher was recruited. When the commanding officer said, “Right turn!” everybody turned right except the philosopher. The commanding officer asked, “Why? Why are you not turning right?”

He said, “Why should I turn? I have no business there; I don’t see the need. And I think all these people are fools. You just say ‘Right turn’ and they have turned. You will have to prove to me what the purpose of it is. Why should I turn right?”

The commanding officer knew that he was a famous philosopher. He said, “This man is not right for the military. This type of person is not needed.” Even the other soldiers started thinking, “That’s right! Why? We are certainly fools. This man just says, ‘Right turn!’ and he has no answer for it and we turned right!”

The commanding officer thought, “This man will create trouble. Not only will he be a trouble to me, even the others will start getting ideas from him.” He took him out and he said, “This is not for you. You come into the kitchen. I will give you some other job, some simple job which will be good.” So he gave him a pile of potatoes and told him, “You just sort them out — bigger ones on one side, smaller ones on the other side.”

When he came after one hour the philosopher was sitting silently, just in zazen — sitting silently, doing nothing. He had not even touched a single potato. The commanding officer said, “Can’t you even do that?”

He said, “I can do it but there is a great problem. Yes, there are a few potatoes which are big and a few which are small, but a few are in between. First it has to be settled where those in between ones go. (ativan) Unless everything is clear I never take any step. What about the middle-class potatoes?”

He had to be freed. This man was not for the army. In fact no intelligent man is for the army. Parading six hours per day, turning right, turning left, being ordered to do stupid things and following those orders… then one day the commanding officer says, “Shoot!” and they just function like machines. Just as they were turning left and right they shoot, without a single thought of what they are doing — destroying life. A Sannyasin needs a totally different kind of courage. This is not courage, this is simply dullness, stupidity — thickness of the head and nothing else. Their intelligence has been completely destroyed, they have been conditioned to be robots. That’s why all army races prove to be very unintelligent. In India the Punjabis, particularly the Sikhs, the Sardars, they are the most warlike people, and the most unintelligent people too. Very courageous, because where an intelligent person will think twice, they will rush in; they will not bother. You just order and they will go into the fire. This type of courage has been taught to humanity for centuries. This is a wrong type of courage. When I use the word “courage” I am using it with a totally different connotation, a different meaning.


courage to me means courage to be intelligent against this unintelligent crowd that surrounds you. Courage means fearlessness. The society will try in every way to force you according to its ideas. It is better to suffer than to compromise, because through suffering your soul will be born. Through compromise you may save your skin but your soul will be lost.

Courage means to be an individual; not to be a sheep but to be a lion. Courage means the capacity to assert: “I am myself, and my life is my life, and I am going to live it in my way. I am not here to live according to others, and I won’t allow anybody to dictate to me how I should live, what I should do. I will live according to my light whatsoever the cost, even if I go astray.” It is better to go to hell by your own decision rather than to go to heaven by somebody else’s order, because then heaven will be just slavery.

Courage means the courage to be free. Courage means freedom. And if you reduce it to the essential core it is in fact dying to the past. If you die to the past you die to the tradition you are born in, you die to the religion you are born in, you die to the society you are born in, you die to the whole past, you die to history and time, and you are born anew — a new human being who belongs to no race, to no country, to no religion, but who belongs to God; a religious person but not a Christian, not a Hindu, not a Mohammedan.


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

Discourse Series: Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen

Chapter #10

Chapter title: The Garden Of Tathagata

4 May 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Courage, innocence, fearlessness, intelligence, individual, freedom, wonderin many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Beyond Psychology
  2. Beyond Enlightenment
  3. The Guest
  4. The Messiah, Vol 1, 2
  5. The Perfect Master, Vol 1, 2
  6. Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 1, 2
  7. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  8. The Zen Manifesto: Freedom From Oneself
  9. Zen: Zest, Zip, Zap and Zing
  10. From Bondage to Freedom
  11. I Say Unto You, Vol 2
  12. Tao: The Golden Gate, Vol 1, 2
  13. Sermons in Stones
  14. The New Dawn
  15. Guida Spirituale
  16. The Last Testament
  17. The Wisdom of the Sands, Vol 1, 2
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1 Comment

  • Someshwar H
    Someshwar H
    Posted June 30, 2022 5:58 pm 0Likes

    Yes Master!
    Yes Master!
    Yes Master!

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