When you are Not, You are

Osho on Enlightened Mystic Diogenes

Diogenes also known as Diogenes the Cynic was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinope, an Ionian colony on the Black Sea coast of modern-day Turkey, in 412 or 404 BC and died at Corinth in 323 BC.

Diogenes was the rebellious spirit, person of his own kind who used to live naked and was popular for criticizing the cultural conventions.  He also became notorious for his philosophical stunts, such as carrying a lamp during the day, claiming to be looking for a true honest man. Osho has spoken on his device many times.

Osho says Diogenes is one of the most loved human beings, as far as I am concerned. As far as the world is concerned, he is one of those who are destined to be condemned for their behavior, for their ideas. And Diogenes particularly, because he is so unique. His ways would have been understood in the far East, in Japan; he would have become a great Zen master. In Greece he was simply condemned. He was not in the right place.

Osho further says Sigmund Freud calls a man exhibitionist if he tries to show his naked body to somebody. Diogenes calls all people who have been forced by your so-called civilization to wear clothes, exhibitionists. This is a beginning of deception, hypocrisy. And my feeling is that one day man will return back to being naked, because only then he will regain his health again — for the simple reason that then he will have to be healthy, otherwise he will feel embarrassed. Then he will have to exercise, then he will have to go to some gymnasium and maintain his body and his beauty, because now it is not only his face that is his identity; now his whole body is his identity. And he will not be ashamed of it; it is his body and nature has given it to him. He will be proud of it. Diogenes was as beautiful a man as Mahavira — both lived naked — so proportionate, so beautiful. In India Mahavira’s nakedness became spiritual; in Greece Diogenes became a madman.

Man is born only as a seed, not as a flower. Flowering has to be achieved; one should not take it for granted. Birth itself is only the opportunity for life, it is not life itself. You can still miss life — and millions miss it for the simple reason that they think that just being born is enough to be alive. It is not enough. It is necessary — without it there will be no life — but it is not synonymous with life. You have to be twice-born. Jesus says: Unless you are born again you shall not enter into my kingdom of God. A kind of rebirth is needed. The ordinary birth is the birth of the bodymind mechanism, but your spirit is only a potential — it has to be actualized. Abraham Maslow has called this process self-actualization. Gautam Buddha would call the same process “no-self actualization.” Abraham Maslow has no idea of the ultimate; he is thinking about it, speculating about it. He has stumbled upon a certain truth, but he does not know how to express it. He has not experienced it himself; it is only an intellectual understanding, hence he calls it “self-actualization.”

But in that ultimate flowering the first thing that disappears is the self. In fact, the self is the only barrier for that flowering. The self is the hindrance, not the help. The self surrounds you like a wall; it is not the bridge. When you are really born, born to life or to God — to me both are synonymous — you are no more, no more as you understand yourself to be. A pure emptiness prevails, an utter void prevails, a silence which is soundless. A music is there certainly, but without any sound. The Zen people call it the sound of one hand clapping. That no-self is your original face. When you are not, you are, and you are for the first time. If Abraham Maslow had experienced the ultimate state of flowering he would never have called it self-actualization; he would have called it “no-self actualization.” You are born as a self, as an ego. This is the seed and the seed has to disappear before the sprout can start growing. The seed has to die in the soil; then and only then the life that is hidden inside the seed will start manifesting itself.

It is a miracle! You are blind, that’s why you can’t see. So many miracles are happening all around you. When a seed becomes a sprout, a great miracle is happening. If you cut the seed you will not find any leaves, you will not find any flowers, you will not find any tree, you will not find anything at all — just emptiness. Through analyzing the seed you will not reach any conclusion. But if you let the seed fall down into the right soil, if you allow the seed to die and disappear, out of that nothingness something immensely beautiful arises, something impossible happens. Leaves come, branches come, a big tree grows. Such a small seed contains such a big tree! Now hundreds of people can sit under its shade, hundreds of birds can make their nests, can come to rest every night in its shelter, and thousands of flowers will bloom. A single seed is capable of making the whole earth green. It has so much potential — infinite potential, because out of a single seed millions of seeds will arise, and so on and so forth. If you have one single seed the whole earth can be a garden. Why just the whole earth? — the whole universe can be a garden! The potential is infinite; you have just to find the right opportunity for its expression, for its manifestation, for its realization.

Buddha says:


Every man is born as a slave. It hurts to know it; we would like to be told that we are born as masters. We believe that we are masters — nobody suspects it. The people who start suspecting their mastery are the only people who are capable of becoming, some day, masters. You doubt everything, but you never doubt your mastery over yourself, and that is the most doubtful thing, the most doubtable thing. What kind of mastery have you got? You are a slave, an utter slave of biological instincts, of sex, of anger, of greed, of ambition. You stink of all these things, you are full of all these things. And still you go on believing deep down somewhere that you are masters. And rather than making an effort to destroy this slavery you start proving your mastery over others. You try to become Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan or Tamerlane. That is an effort to deceive yourself. That is an effort to prove something which is not there at all. You are trying to gather proofs about your mastery. Of course, if you become powerful enough over many people you can believe more easily that you are a master. It is easier for Alexander to believe that he is a master, but it is only a belief with no foundation to it. He is as much a slave as anybody else; maybe he is a far bigger slave than anybody else.

When he was coming to India, Alexander met a rare man, Diogenes. Had Diogenes been born in India he would have been considered a Buddha; he was one of the awakened ones. Even Alexander was immensely impressed by him. He lived utterly naked by the side of a river. It was early morning when Alexander went to see him; he was lying naked on the bank of the river taking a sunbath. Seeing the man, feeling his presence, Alexander for the first time felt a kind of inferiority arising in him. He had come across many kings, he had defeated many kings, but here was a real king — a master. When you come across a master it is impossible not to feel the presence — unless you are absolutely blind, absolutely deaf, utterly dead. Alexander must have been a little sensitive, a little alert, otherwise he would not have come to see this naked fakir. Just the fact that he came to see him, out of the way, shows that he had some deep feeling that all his possessions were not enough to make him contented: “There must be some other way to be contented. Life cannot be only possessions and power; life must have some more secrets to it.”

He had heard many things about Diogenes: “He carries a lighted lamp in the day, in the full light of the day. Naked he is, but he carries only one thing in his hands — a lamp, a lighted lamp. And people ask him, ‘Why do you carry this lamp?’ And he says, ‘I am seeking and searching for a real man; I have not come across one yet. I carry this lamp so that I don’t miss him.'”

A real man? Is he so rare? Alexander must have brooded over it. He must have thought, “I am a real man. Let me go and see this Diogenes.” He had heard many stories about him: “He seems to be the most blissful person in the world. Nobody has ever seen him in anxiety, in anguish, in fear; he is utterly fearless.”

Alexander had heard that once he was caught by a few people — eight people were needed to catch this simple man — but he told them, “Don’t make so much effort, you need not. What do you want? Simply tell me.”

They said, “We want to sell you in the slave market.”

He said, “Then there is no need to strain yourselves so much — I hate to give trouble to anybody. I am coming with you.”

And he went with them, ahead of them. They followed him as if they were his followers. And when they reached the market where men were sold and purchased, everybody was attracted towards this beautiful man. He stood there on a platform and shouted, “Listen, all you slaves who have gathered here: a master is being sold! Is there any slave interested in purchasing a master?”

So many stories were in the air about Diogenes… Alexander slowly slowly became so interested that he went to see him. The very interest shows that there was some deep feeling in him about the futility of his own endeavors to conquer the world. And seeing Diogenes he immediately felt himself a nonentity, while Diogenes was an authentic being. Still he tried to laugh it away.

Diogenes said, “Stop laughing! Don’t try to befool yourself! You can see the fact that you are missing life.”

And Alexander said, “Yes, sir, I can feel it. For the first time I have seen a really alive person. What can I do for you? I have enough money, I can do anything. Just you say and it will be done.”

Diogenes said, “I don’t need anything. You may have all the money in the world, but I don’t have any desire, so all your money is absolutely irrelevant. But one thing you can do is stand aside, because you are blocking the sun. That’s all that I can ask from you and you will be kind enough if you can stand aside.”

He didn’t ask for anything. Alexander said to him, “If I have to come into the world another time, I will ask God to make me Diogenes instead of Alexander the Great.”

Diogenes said, “Why wait for the next life? You can be Diogenes right now! Can’t you see the point?” he said. “Nothing is needed to be a Diogenes. You are making so much effort to conquer the world and even if you succeed, what are you going to gain out of it? You will be as miserable as ever, in fact far more miserable, because right now your mind is occupied with the idea, with the ambition of conquering the world. Once you have conquered it you will be at a loss what to do. Better stop now!”

Alexander said, “I can understand — you are right — but I cannot stop in the middle of my journey. I have decided to conquer the world.”

Diogenes said, “Then go, don’t stop — but death will stop you in the middle. It always stops everybody in the middle, and then you cannot do anything. Then you will remember me. And your victories won’t help you at all. When death knocks on the door, a slave, a poor man, a great king, a world conqueror, all are the same — they are all equal in the eyes of death. Death cannot knock at my door,” Diogenes said. “Listen, and look into my eyes. I have conquered death. That is a real victory because I have come to know my real being which is deathless. I have come to experience my consciousness which was before I was born and which will be there after I am gone. I am eternal.”

And the day Alexander died he remembered Diogenes — with bitter tears, of course, because Diogenes was right: his whole life had been a sheer wastage. He had struggled and struggled for nothing. You have heard the proverb: Nothing succeeds like success — that is absolutely wrong. I suggest to you another proverb: Nothing fails like success. But because very few people succeed very few people come to know about it. Those who succeed, they always come to know the utter impotence of success.


The first thing to be understood is that you are a slave of unconscious forces. This is the beginning, the first step towards mastery; to recognize your slavery. To see that you are unconscious is the beginning of consciousness. But you go on throwing the responsibility on others, you never look inwards; for ANY causes you never look inwards.

The judge looked sternly down at the defendant. “Young man, it is alcohol and alcohol alone that is responsible for your present sorry state.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that, Your Honor,” the man replied with a sigh of relief. “Everybody else says it’s my fault.”

Nobody wants to recognize that he is responsible for the sorry state he is in. You always try to find some excuse. Any excuse will do; if you cannot find one, you can always invent. But you never feel responsible. The beginning of a religious life is: total responsibility for yourself. Whatsoever you are, you are responsible and nobody else. And your life is a mess.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse Series: The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 12 Chapter #1

Chapter title: No-self actualization

21 April 1980 am in Buddha Hall


Osho has spoken on Western Mystics like Gurdjieff, Rumi, Socrates, Zarathustra, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Diogenes and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. Sermons in Stones
  2. Philosophia Perennis, Vol 1, 2
  3. Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
  4. Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
  5. Beyond Psychology
  6. Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
  7. Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1, 2
  8. The Hidden Splendour
  9. Beyond Enlightenment
  10. The New Dawn
  11. The Sword and The Lotus
  12. The Path of the Mystic
  13. Nansen: The Point of Departure
  14. Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
  15. Light on the Path
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