Osho on Self Acceptance

Question – Beloved Master, Why am I scared to accept myself the way i am?

Osho – Kalyan Mitto, everybody is in the same situation. Everybody is scared to accept himself the way he is. This is how all the past centuries of mankind have cultivated, conditioned every child, every human being. The strategy is simple but very dangerous.

The strategy is to condemn you and to give you ideals so that you are always trying to become someone else. The Christian is trying to become a Jesus, the Buddhist is trying to become a Buddha, and it seems so clever a device to distract you from yourself that perhaps the people who have been doing it are themselves unaware.

What Jesus said on the cross, his last words to humanity, are immensely significant in many ways – in this context particularly. He prayed to God, ”Father, forgive these people because they know not what they are doing.”

This is applicable to every father and to every mother, to every teacher and every priest and every moralist – the people who manage culture, society, civilization, who try to mould every individual into a certain way. Perhaps they also don’t know what they are doing. Perhaps they think they are doing everything for your good. I don’t suspect their intentions, but I certainly want you to be aware that they are ignorant, they are unconscious people.

A small child is born in the hands of an unconscious society. And the unconscious society starts moulding the child according to its own ideals, forgetting one thing which is the most fundamental: the child has a potential of his own; he has to grow not into a Jesus or into a Krishna or into a Buddha, he has to grow to be himself.

If he does not grow to be himself he will remain utterly miserable his whole life. His life will become just a hell and a curse, and he will not know what has gone wrong. He has been put in the wrong direction from the very beginning. The people who have put him in the wrong direction are the people he thinks love him, he thinks are his benefactors. They are in actuality his greatest enemies. The parents, the teachers, the priests and the leaders of the society are the greatest enemies of every individual that has been born on the earth up to now. Without being aware, they are distracting you from yourself.

And to distract you, you have to be made absolutely conditioned about one thing: that you are unworthy, undeserving, of no use at all as you are. Of course, you can become worthy of respect, dignity, if you follow the rules and regulations given to you by others. If you are able to manage to be a hypocrite you will be a prestigious citizen of the society. But if you insist on being sincere, honest, authentic, yourself, you will be condemned by everybody, and it needs tremendous courage to be condemned by everybody.

It needs a man with a steel spine to stand on his own and declare himself: ”I am not going to be anybody else but myself, good or bad, acceptable or not acceptable, prestigious or not prestigious. One thing is certain, that I can be only myself and nobody else.”

This needs a tremendous revolutionary approach towards life. This is the basic revolt which each individual needs if he wants ever to be out of the vicious circle of misery. You are asking me, ”Why am I scared to accept myself the way I am?” Because you have not been accepted by anyone the way you are. They have created the fear and the apprehension that if you accept yourself you will be rejected by everybody.

This is an absolute condition of every society and every culture that has existed up to now, that either you accept yourself and be rejected by all, or you reject yourself and gain the respect and honor of your whole society and culture. The choice is really very difficult.

Obviously the majority is going to choose respectability, but with respectability come all kinds of anxieties, anguishes, a meaninglessness, a desertlike life where nothing grows, where nothing is green, where no flower ever blossoms, where you will walk and walk and walk and you will never find even an oasis.

I am reminded of Leo Tolstoy. Just a few days ago in Moscow there was an international exhibition of books, and one of my sannyasins, Lani, was there. She was surprised – and my Russian sannyasins were there, and they were also surprised: world-famous publishing houses were exhibiting their books, but our stall was the most crowded.

At any time there were not less than one hundred people the whole day the exhibition was open. One old man, looking at my picture, asked Lani, ”Is this man something like Leo Tolstoy?” – just because of my beard. Tolstoy had a beautiful beard.

Tolstoy used to have a dream which psychoanalysts of different schools have been interpreting for almost the whole century. The dream was very strange – but not to me. To me it needs no psychoanalysis, but simple common sense. The dream was every night repeated continuously for years. It was strangely nightmarish, and Tolstoy awoke in the middle of the night every night, perspiring, although there was no danger in the dream.

But if you can understand the meaninglessness of the dream… that was the problem that became the nightmare. That dream represents almost everybody’s life. No psychoanalytic school has been able to figure out what kind of dream this is – because there is no parallel, it is unprecedented. The dream used to be the same every night: a vast desert, as far as you can see just desert and desert… and two boots, which Tolstoy recognized as his, go on walking.

But he is not there… just the boots go on making noise in the sand. And it continues, because the desert is endless. They never reach anywhere. Backwards he can see the prints of the boots for miles, and ahead he can see the boots going on walking. Ordinarily you will not think it is a nightmare. But if you think a little more closely – every day, every night the same dream of utter futility, reaching nowhere. There seems to be no destiny… and nobody is in the boots, they are empty.

He told all the well known psychoanalysts of his day in Russia. Nobody could figure out what it meant, because there is no book which describes any dream which can even be called a little bit similar to this. It is absolutely unique. But to me there is no question of any psychoanalysis. It is a simple dream, representing every human being’s life. You are walking in a desert because you are not walking towards the goal that is intrinsic in your being.

You are not going to reach anywhere. The more you go away, the more you will be going away from yourself. And the more you look for any meaning… you will find utter emptiness and nothing else. That is the meaning. The man is missing; only the boots are walking. You are not in what you are doing. You are not in what you are being.

You are not in what you are pretending. It is utter hollowness, pure hypocrisy. But the way it has been created is a simple method: Tell everybody that as you are you are absolutely undeserving even to exist. As you are, you are just ugly, an accident. As you are you should be ashamed of yourself because you don’t have anything worthy to be honored and respected.

Naturally, every child starts doing things which are supposed to be honorable. He goes on becoming more and more false, more and more phony, more and more away from his authentic reality, his very being – and then the fear arises. Whenever a longing is felt to know yourself, it is followed immediately by great fear. The fear is that if you find yourself you are going to lose respect for yourself – even in your own eyes.

The society is too heavy on every individual. It makes every effort to condition you so heavily that you start thinking that you are the conditioning, and you become part of the society, against your own being. You become a Christian, you become a Hindu, you become a Mohammedan, and you forget completely that you were born just as a human being, with no religion, with no politics, with no nation, with no race.

You were born just a pure possibility of growth. According to me, sannyas is to bring you back to yourself, whatsoever the consequences, whatsoever the risk. You have to come back to yourself. You may not find a Jesus there; there is no need. One Jesus is enough. You may not find a Gautam Buddha; it is perfectly okay, because too many Gautam Buddhas in existence will be simply boring.

Existence does not want to repeat people. It is so creative that it always brings something new in each individual, a new potential, a new possibility, a new height, a new dimension, a new peak. Sannyas is a revolt against all societies and all cultures and all civilizations, for the simple reason that they are against the individual.

I am absolutely for the individual. I can sacrifice every society and every religion and every civilization, the whole history of mankind, just for a single individual. The individual is the most valuable phenomenon, because the individual is part of existence. You will have to drop your fear. It has been imposed on you, it is not natural. Watch every small child: he accepts himself perfectly; there is no condemnation, there is no desire to be anybody else.

But everybody, as he grows, is distracted. You will have to gather courage to come back to yourself. The whole society will prevent you; you will be condemned. But it is far better to be condemned by the whole world than to remain miserable and phony and false and live a life of somebody else. You can have a blissful life. And there are not two ways, only one single way: that is, you have just to be yourself, whatever you are.

From there, from that deep acceptance and respect for yourself, you will start growing. You will bring flowers of your own – not Christian, not Buddhist, not Hindu, just absolutely your own, a new contribution to existence. But it needs immense courage to go alone on a path leaving the whole crowd on the highway. To be in the crowd one feels cozy, warm; to go alone, naturally one feels afraid. The mind goes on arguing within that the whole of humanity cannot be wrong, and I am going alone. It is better just to be part of the crowd because then you are not responsible if things go wrong.

Everybody is responsible. But the moment you depart from the crowd you are taking your responsibility in your own hands. If something goes wrong, you are responsible. But remember one very fundamental thing: responsibility is one side of the coin and the other side is freedom. You can have both together or you can drop both together. If you don’t want to have responsibility, you cannot have freedom, and without freedom there is no growth.

So you have to accept responsibility for yourself and you have to live in absolute freedom so that you can grow, whatever you are. You may turn out to be a rosebush, you may turn out to be just a marigold flower, you may turn out just to be a wild flower which has no name. But one thing is certain: whatever you turn out to be, you will be immensely happy. You will be utterly blissful.

You may not have respectability; on the contrary, you may be condemned by everybody. But deep inside you you will feel such ecstatic joy that only a free individual can feel. And only a free individual can grow in higher layers of consciousness, can reach to the heights of Himalayan peaks.

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