The Rebel: The Very Essence of Religion – Osho

What is the difference between a rebel and a revolutionary?

Maneesha, there is not only a quantitative difference between a rebel and a revolutionary; there is also a qualitative difference. The revolutionary is part of the political world. His approach is through politics. His understanding is that changing the social structure is enough to change the man.

The rebel is a spiritual phenomenon. His approach is absolutely individual. His vision is that if we want to change the society, we have to change the individual. Society in itself does not exist; it is only a word, like ‘crowd’, but if you go to find it, you will not find it anywhere. Wherever you will encounter someone, you will encounter an individual. Society is only a collective name, just a name, not a reality – with no substance. The individual has a soul, has a possibility of evolution, of change, of transformation. Hence the difference is tremendous.

The rebel is the very essence of religion. He brings into the world a change of consciousness – and if the consciousness changes, then the structure of the society is bound to follow it. But vice versa is not right – and it has been proved by all the revolutions, because they have all failed.

No revolution has yet succeeded in changing man; but it seems man is not aware of the fact. He still goes on thinking in terms of revolution, of changing society, of changing the government, of changing the bureaucracy, of changing laws, political systems. Feudalism, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism – they are all in their own way revolutionary. They all have failed, and failed utterly, because man has remained the same.

A Gautam Buddha, a Zarathustra, a Jesus – these people are rebels. Their trust is in the individual. They have not succeeded either, but their failure is totally different than the failure of the revolutionary. Revolutionaries have tried their methodology in many countries, in many ways, and have failed. But a Gautam Buddha has not succeeded because he has not been tried. A Jesus has not succeeded because Jews crucified him and Christians buried him. He has not been tried – he has not been given a chance. The rebel is still an un-experimented dimension.

My sannyasins have to be rebels not revolutionaries. The revolutionary belongs to a very mundane sphere. The rebel and his rebelliousness are sacred. The revolutionary cannot stand alone, he needs a crowd, a political party, a government. He needs power, and power corrupts – and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

All the revolutionaries who have succeeded in capturing power have been corrupted by the power. They could not change the power and its institutions; the power changed them and their minds and corrupted them. Only names became different, but the society continued to remain the same.

Man’s consciousness has not grown for centuries. Only once in a while a man blossoms, but in millions of people the blossoming of one man is not a rule, it is the exception. And because he is alone, the crowd cannot tolerate him. He becomes a kind of humiliation; his very presence becomes insulting, because he opens your eyes, makes you aware of your potential and your future. And it hurts your ego that you have done nothing to grow, to be more conscious, to be more loving, to be more ecstatic, to be more creative, to be more silent – to make a beautiful world around you.

You have not contributed to the world, your existence has not been a blessing here but a curse. You introduce your anger, your violence, your jealousy, your competitiveness, your lust for power. You make the world a war field; you are bloodthirsty and you make others bloodthirsty. You deprive humanity of its humanness. You help man to fall below humanity, even sometimes below animals.

Hence a Gautam Buddha or a Kabir or a Chuang Tzu hurts you because he has blossomed, and you are just standing there. Springs come and go, nothing blossoms in you; no birds come and make their nest on you, and sing their songs around you. It is better to crucify a Jesus and poison a Socrates – just to remove them – so that you need not feel in any way spiritually inferior.

The world has known only very few rebels.

But now is the time: if humanity proves incapable of producing a large number of rebels – a rebellious spirit – then our days on the earth are numbered. Then this century may become our graveyard. We are coming very close to that point.

We have to change our consciousness, create more meditative energy in the world,  create more lovingness. We have to destroy the old man and his ugliness, his rotten ideologies, his stupid discriminations, idiotic superstitions, and create a new man, with fresh eyes, with new values; a discontinuity with the past – that’s the meaning of rebelliousness.

These three words will help you to understand…

Reform means a modification. The old remains, you give it a new form, a new shape – a kind of renovation of an old building. Its original structure remains; you whitewash it, you clean it, you make a few windows, a few new doors.

Revolution goes deeper than reform. The old remains, but more changes are introduced – even in its basic structure – not only changing its color and opening a few windows and doors, but perhaps making new stories, taking it higher into the sky. But the old is not destroyed, it remains hidden behind the new; in fact, it remains the very foundation of the new. Revolution is a continuity with the old.

Rebellion is a discontinuity. It is not reform, it is not revolution; it is simply disconnecting yourself from all that is old. The old religions, the old political ideologies, the old man – all that is old, you disconnect yourself from it. You start life afresh, from scratch. And unless we prepare humanity to begin life again – a resurrection, a death of the old and a birth of the new…

It is very significant to remember that the day Gautam Buddha was born, his mother died; as he was coming out of the womb, his mother was going out of existence. Perhaps this was historical, because he was brought up by his mother’s sister – he never saw his mother alive. And now it has become a traditional idea in Buddhism that whenever a buddha is born, his mother dies immediately, his mother cannot survive. I take it as a symbolic and very significant indication. It means the birth of a rebel is the death of the old.

The revolutionary tries to change the old; the rebel simply comes out of the old, just as the snake slips out of the old skin, and never looks back. Unless we create such rebellious people around the earth, man has no future. The old man has brought man to his ultimate death. It is the old mind, the old ideologies, the old religions – they have all combined together to bring about this situation of global suicide. Only a new man can save humanity and this planet, and the beautiful life of this planet.

I teach rebellion, not revolution. To me, rebelliousness is the essential quality of a religious man. It is spirituality in its absolute purity.

The days of revolution are over. The French revolution failed, the Russian revolution failed, the Chinese revolution failed. In this country we have seen the Gandhian revolution fail, and it failed in front of Gandhi’s own eyes. Gandhi was teaching nonviolence his whole life, and in front of his own eyes the country was divided; millions of people were killed, burned alive; millions of women were raped. And Gandhi himself was shot dead. That is a strange end of a nonviolent saint.

And he himself forgot all his teachings. Before his revolution was secured, Gandhi was asked by an American thinker, Louis Fischer, “What are you going to do with the arms, armies, and all the different weapons, when India becomes an independent country?”

Gandhi said, “I’m going to throw all the arms into the ocean, and send all the armies to work in the fields and in the gardens.”

And Louis Fischer asked, “But have you forgotten? Somebody can invade your country.”

Gandhi said, “We will welcome him. If somebody invades us, we will accept him as a guest and tell him, ‘You can also live here, just the way we are living. There is no need to fight.’”

But he completely forgot all his philosophy – that’s how revolutions fail. It is very beautiful to talk about these things, but when power comes into your hands… First, Mahatma Gandhi did not accept any post in the government. It was out of fear, because how was he going to answer the whole world? What about throwing the arms into the ocean? What about sending the armies to work in the fields? He escaped from the responsibility for which he had been fighting his whole life, seeing that it was going to create tremendous trouble for him; he would have to contradict his own philosophy.

But the government was made up of his own disciples, chosen by him. He did not ask them to dissolve the armies, on the contrary. When Pakistan attacked India, he did not say to the Indian government, “Now go to the borders and welcome the invaders as guests.” Instead, he blessed the first three airplanes that were going to bomb Pakistan. The three airplanes flew over the villa where he was staying in New Delhi, and he came out into the garden to bless them. And with his blessings they went ahead to destroy our own people, who just a few days before were our brothers and our sisters. Unashamedly, without ever seeing the contradiction…

The Russian revolution failed in front of the very eyes of Lenin. He was preaching according to Karl Marx, that “When the revolution comes, we will dissolve marriage, because marriage is part of private property; as private property goes out, marriage will also go out. People can be lovers, can live together; children will be taken care of by the society.”

But as the revolution succeeded, he saw the enormousness of the problem: to take care of so many children… who is going to take care of those children? And to dissolve marriage… for the first time he saw that your society depends on the family. The family is a basic unit – without the family, your society will be dissolved. And it will be dangerous – dangerous to creating a dictatorship of the proletariat, because people will become more independent if they don’t have the responsibilities of the family.

You can see the logic. If people have the responsibilities of a wife, of an old father, an old mother, of children, they are so burdened they cannot be rebellious. They cannot go against the government, they have too many responsibilities. But if people have no responsibilities, if the old people are taken care of by the government – as they had been promising before the revolution – if children are taken care of by the government, and people can live together for as long as they love each other, they don’t need permission for marriage, and they don’t need any divorce; it is their private personal affair and the government has no business to interfere….

But when it came about that the power was in the hands of the Communist Party, and Lenin was the leader, everything changed. Once power comes into their hands, people start thinking differently. Now the thinking was that to make people so independent of responsibilities is dangerous – they will become too individualistic. So let them be burdened with a family. They will remain enslaved just because of an old mother, an old father, a sick wife, or children and their education. Then they don’t have the time or the courage to go against the government in any matter.

The family is one of the greatest traps that society has used for millennia to keep man a slave. Lenin forgot all about dissolving families.

It is very strange how revolutions have failed. They have failed at the hands of the revolutionaries themselves, because once the power comes into their hands, they start thinking in different ways. Then they become too attached to the power. Then their whole effort is how to keep the power forever in their hands, and how to keep the people enslaved.

The future needs no other revolutions. The future needs a new experiment which has not been tried yet. Although for thousands of years there have been rebels, they remained alone – individuals.

Perhaps the time was not ripe for them. But now the time is not only ripe… if you don’t hurry, the time has come to an end.

By the end of this century, either man will disappear, or a new man with a new vision will appear on the earth. He will be a rebel.


From The Rebel, Discourse #1

The Rebel

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

What is Rebellion – Osho

What is rebellion? And what is the difference between reaction and the action of the rebellious man?

The first thing to be understood is the difference between rebellion and revolution.

Revolution is an organized effort to change the society forcibly, violently. But the trouble is, you cannot change the society through violence, because it is violence that is the very life current of the society. That’s why all the revolutions have failed. And there is no possibility of any revolution succeeding, ever.

Rebellion is individual, nonviolent, peaceful. It is out of love. Rebellion is not against something, but for something. Revolution is against something, but not for something. Revolution is so much engaged in being against, it forgets for what all this fuss is being made. It is anger. But anger cannot create a better society. Rebellion is not oriented against the society, but is oriented towards a new man, a new humanity.

Revolution is fighting with the past.

Rebellion is meditating for the future.

I said rebellion is out of love, silence, understanding, compassion – all the qualities that make man divine. Revolution is based on all the qualities that make man again an animal. Because rebellion is individual, there is no need of any struggle, of any fight. The society will not even be bothered by one individual being different than others. But even single individuals meditating, loving, hoping for a new sunrise, can create the possibility of a new society. Their very presence will be enough to transform others. Their love cannot fail – love never fails. Their understanding, their intelligence, their compassion are bound to succeed.

But rebellion has not been tried. Revolution seems to be easier, because against such a big society you need a big organization. But the moment you become organized you become the same type of society. You become just a reflection of what you are opposing. You stand before a mirror: the reflection in the mirror is your reflection, although it is opposed to you.

So just being opposed does not mean that you are really different; the methods are the same. The old society depends on violence; the revolutionaries depend on violence. The old society depends on enslaving people; the revolutionaries depend on the same. The old society depends on beliefs; revolutionaries also depend on belief. It makes no difference whether your belief is in the “Holy Bible” or in “Das Kapital.”

And one thing very significant to remember: if the revolutionaries are going to win they have to be more violent than the old society, more cunning, more clever, more political, more cruel; otherwise they cannot win. So, in fact, in the name of revolution more violence is becoming victorious, more cruelty is becoming victorious; more slavery, more submissiveness is demanded by the revolutionary party. You can see it happen in all the revolutions.

The Russian revolution has been the greatest revolution. The czars who ruled Russia were cruel, were violent – the very idea of ruling over somebody is violent. The communists dethroned the czar, but they could manage to do it only because they proved more violent. Nineteen members of the czar’s family were simply butchered, and one of the members, the youngest, was only a six-month old child. He had not done any crime against anybody – for what was he being punished? Just because he belonged to the royal family? Was that his responsibility? They wanted to destroy the whole family so there would be no possibility of any royal blood of the czars in the future. But the people who did it certainly showed a heartlessness.

Joseph Stalin became the leader of the revolutionaries. Stalin was not his real name, “Stalin” was given to him by the people. It means “man of steel.” And certainly he proved to be a man of steel, with no heart. He killed almost one million people after the revolution. Just suspicion was enough; there was no need for any trial, for any investigation. The communist party suspects that somebody is against the revolution – there is no proof, but the man has to be immediately destroyed.

The Russian revolution has proved one thing absolutely: that czars were never so violent; they had never killed one million people. And the society was not so deeply enslaved – that’s why the communist revolution was possible.

Now in Russia no revolution is possible, people are completely enslaved. Even to think against the status quo today is betraying the religion of communism. People are even afraid if they dream anything against the government. They don’t tell the dream to their wives, to their children, because nobody knows…. The system that came into force after the revolution is such that husbands are spying on their wives, wives are spying on their husbands, children are spying on their parents.

Almost everybody is spying on everybody else. And these people are rewarded. If a child comes to the communist party office and informs that his parents have been saying something against the government, he is rewarded. He is sent to a better school, given a better scholarship. Of course, his parents disappear.

Now there is no possibility to revolt against the communist regime in Soviet Russia. No freedom of expression, no freedom of getting together, no freedom of thinking – is this revolution? It is going backwards.

Rebellion is a spiritual phenomenon.

It is not against the society as such; it is simply the intelligence that shows that this society is dead, that this society is incapable of giving birth to a new human being, that it is spent, that it is almost on the verge of global suicide. It needs compassion; it does not need anger.

The rebel can do only one thing…. He is not going to organize, because the moment you organize you have to follow the same patterns as the society you are going to oppose; and you have to follow the same language, the same patterns, structures, that the society has practiced for so long.

There is an ancient Chinese saying: “To have a bad friend is not as bad as to have a bad enemy.”

Looks strange, but it has great meaning in it – because if you have an enemy, then sooner or later you will have to follow his tactics and strategies to fight with him; there is no other way. If you want to be victorious you have to be far ahead of him in his own methods. Hence, I always say, friends you can choose without much consideration, but enemies have to be chosen with great consideration, because they are going to change your character.

The rebel has no enemy. He simply has a vision that the old is finished. It need not be fought against, it is dying itself. Fighting with it is to give it life. Just ignore it. It is already on the deathbed; it will die of its own accord. Don’t give it energy by fighting.

The rebel can do only one thing: he can transform himself into the new man, he can become his own vision. That is the only proof that his vision is not a dream. The rebel starts transforming his vision into a reality.

I want you all to be rebellious.

That’s why I don’t believe in organization. I don’t want you to be another religion, another ideology, because that will be simply a repetition of the old patterns. You can be together without any conditions, without any bondage, just out of sheer friendship; no ideology dominating you, but just pure love – because you are on the same path, discovering yourself, finding out whether the vision of a new man can become a reality or not. You can help each  other, you can support each other, you can encourage each other.

There are moments when encouragement is needed, because to change – and to change totally – is not an easy job. Many times the mind wants to fall back into its old patterns, old habits; therefore, the commune.

The commune is not an alternative society. It is not another organization: it is something totally new.

It is a loving togetherness of fellow travelers who are all working on themselves. But five thousand people all working on themselves creates an atmosphere of great encouragement – you are not alone. And if five thousand people are trying, there is hope. You can see people ahead of you, you can see people behind you – on all the rungs of the ladder. That makes it clear that human beings just like you are carving the way, changing themselves. It becomes an individual challenge for you not to be a coward and fall back into old habits. You cannot fall back into old habits, because five thousand people are watching you and they are very optimistic about you. They have great hopes for you; they see that the sunrise is not far away.

Yes, it is very dark right now, but to find the light you need not go back. To find light you have to go forward. The darker the night, the closer is the morning; and a few have reached the morning. You can see the sunlight in their eyes; you can see the flowers of their being blossoming. You can feel the fragrance that is released. So it is only a question of a little more patience, a little more courage.

But rebellion remains individual. Rebels can live together; they can create an atmosphere, a milieu, a buddhafield where awakening becomes easier. But they are not organized; they are not bound to any belief. They are free individuals; out of their free choice they have joined these seekers of the sunrise.

You ask me, “What is the difference between reaction and action as far as the rebellious person is concerned?”

The rebellious person has no reaction; he has only action. The revolutionary has only reaction; he does not have any action. The difference is significant.

Just a few days ago I received a letter from an old woman who is the president of the Atheists’ Association of America. She must be the oldest atheist in the whole world, because I used to know in India one man, Gora, who was her follower, and he was old himself. She has opened, in many countries, associations for atheists.

On some television she must have listened to my words – that there is no God – and she was immensely happy. She wrote the letter to say, “You are certainly a man of great courage. Although I am very old, I would like to come and see you, meet you, talk to you.”

I told Hasya to write to her that she is welcome, but she must understand that I am not an atheist: “If she is coming here thinking that I am an atheist because I have declared there is no God, then she will be disillusioned. It is better to make it clear.”

To me, atheism is reaction, reaction against theism. There are people who believe in God, millions of people; a few people react to it, and they start disbelieving in God. This is a reaction.

You can check it very easily by a simple method. If all the theists disappear, if there is no theism at all in the world, can atheists exist? They were secondary, they were simply a reaction. When there are no religions and nobody is saying there is God, what is the point of disbelieving in God? You will look a little silly. With the death of theism, atheism will die automatically. That means it was only a shadow, it was not a reality in itself. A reaction is a shadow.

When I say there is no God, I am not saying that I disbelieve in God; even for disbelief, God has to be. Whether you believe or disbelieve, that is your approach, but for both God is needed. For the theist he is needed, for the atheist he is needed. I am simply saying there is no God, has never been. All theists and all atheists are wrong. Those who believe are wrong, and those who disbelieve are wrong.

I don’t think that old woman will come. I would love her to come, because in her whole life she may not have met a man who is neither theist nor atheist. Because there is no God, there is no point in being either one.

I think it is simply stupid: if there is no God, then a person wasting his whole life establishing atheist associations all over the world – this is sheer wastage of one’s life. If there is no God, then why bother? But no, this has become her whole life. But just denying, just disbelief cannot make anybody blissful.

And my statement that there is no God is an action, not a reaction. I am not speaking against anybody; I am simply giving expression to my own experience. I have searched for him within myself, and I have not found him.

I have found, instead, godliness.

I have found eternal consciousness.

I have found immortality.

I have found eternal light – but no God.

I don’t think this woman has ever thought of looking inwards. She is simply fighting with the theists.

Those theists are idiots; in fighting with them you are bound to become an idiot. Reaction cannot take you farther than those you are reacting against. The revolutionary is reactionary. He is against the society; he is against its economic structure, he is against its political way. He is against so many things – his whole life is negative. It depends on being against this, against that, against thousands of things – there are so many no’s in his life. But you cannot live a life of benediction, bliss, out of thousands of no’s.

A single yes is far more powerful than a thousand no’s. The no is empty. It shows your anger, it shows your violence, it shows your destructiveness, but it does not show that you have anything creative that you are going to contribute to life and existence.

Action means, something not related to anything but coming out of your own silence, out of your own spontaneity.

The rebel knows no reaction, he knows action. Action means yes.

The rebel creates; he gives birth to himself. He becomes a new man, he heralds a new age. He opens himself to all possibilities, he allows himself unknown dimensions. Not against anybody – it is simply a growth, just like a rosebush is growing. Do you think it is growing against the rocks? Do you think it is growing against anybody? It is growing, not as a reaction; it is growing because growth is its nature. It is growing to blossom, to bring its potential to actuality. It is a process of actualization.

Action means the process of actualization. Reaction is simply hate, anger, jealousy, violence, destructiveness. Those are not the qualities to be valued. So, in my vision, the revolutionary has no value, only the rebel. And you can see….

Socrates is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Gautam Buddha is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. Heraclitus is not a revolutionary, he is a rebel. And these are the greatest heights humanity has reached.

Revolutionaries are on the same ground as those whom they are opposing. They have to be on the same ground to fight with them. The rebel is not fighting against anybody. The rebel is making himself free so that he can grow, grow to his own destiny. The rebel has a beauty; the revolutionary is a political, social criminal. The rebel is the only holy man, he is sacred.

But the moment you start organizing rebellion you change its character, it becomes revolution. It is no longer the same thing. That’s why I had to insist again and again…. The tendency to organize is very deep rooted, because it is millions of years old. And to be alone needs guts.

To be alone… but you can be together with people who are also trying to be alone. Your togetherness is just a friendship of two fellow travelers. There are no conditions. It does not make you a Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist. You remain yourself, the other remains himself.

And this is the only respect expected of sannyasins: do not destroy the dignity of the other person.

He is as valuable in existence as you are. There is no need to impose your ideas on anybody. Who are you? What authority have you got to impose your ideas on others? You can share, you can tell, you can expose your heart. And if the other feels that something falls in tune with him, and chooses it, it is his decision, not your imposition.

Revolutionaries are trying to impose their ideas on others. They are doing the same thing as the old religions have been doing. That’s why I categorize communism as one of the religions; there is no difference. It does not matter that communism does not believe in God, because there are older religions which do not believe in God: Buddhism does not believe in God, Jainism does not believe in God. So that is not a problem. A religion is something that you try to impose on others. It is an effort to convert people, it is always missionary.

A rebel is never a missionary, he is always a friend. He can invite you to his innermost being and, if you see something that suits you, that is helpful to you, that is going to nourish you, make your search easier, you can choose it. But it is out of your freedom – nobody is converting you.

That’s how it should be in the commune. Whatever I say to you, you need not believe it. You have just to be available to it, so that you can decide. The decision has to be yours. And if it suits you, suddenly if it rings a bell in your heart, then I am no longer responsible for it: the bell is ringing in your heart. But if it doesn’t suit you, my love for you remains the same, because it is not based on converting you.

And, in fact, each individual has to be unique. That is the prerogative of human beings – to be unique. And all the religions, all the political ideologies, they have all tried to destroy that privilege.

I want to encourage your privilege. On no account should your individuality be interfered with.

Your freedom is absolute, and the highest value.


From From Bondage to Freedom, Discourse #37

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

Last Breath of the Old – Osho

There seems to be a resurgence of conservatism, not only in politics but in people’s search for inner strength, for truth, peace. Groups such as the Moral Majority appear to be gaining ground, strengthening their influence. What is the driving force behind this resurgence?

How does it conflict or differ from your teachings?

It always happens, whenever society comes to a point of revolution, the conservative forces have resurgence; for the simple reason — to prevent the revolution that is oncoming. It is a defense measure. But in fact, it is an acceptance of defeat.

Conservative forces either in politics or in religion remain silent when they are certain that nothing is going to overthrow them. But when they see the danger, they collect all their energies to prevent any rebellion, any change, any transformation; so it is a good sign. It is just like at the time of death it happens always that the person simply becomes perfectly healthy. All diseases disappear. It is the last effort of his life energy. He risks everything because death is so close. Now he cannot be moderate. Before a candle dies, the flame of the candle burns the brightest. It is a natural phenomenon.

You are asking me, “Why it is happening?” It is happening because man is at the very door where either he has to die or to transform. You will see this resurgence all over the world. But this is a resurgence that certifies the victory of the revolution. The old society is at the point of death. Before dying it will make its last effort to survive. But a last effort is a last effort. It cannot survive.

And you are asking me how I see it in reference to my ideology. I rejoice, because I can see the death, and I can see the conservative forces resurging with great energy. To me, it is a rejoicing, a moment of celebration. The new is going to happen very soon; the old is having its last breath.


Excerpt from The Last Testament, V. 5, Discourse #21

An interview with Kathy Gannon, Foto Press, January 14, 1986, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

Religion is a Revolution – Osho

You said that imitation of any kind, even imitation of a Buddha, is alien to pure consciousness. But we see that all our cultural life is nothing but imitation. In that case, is culture itself alien to religion?

Yes, culture, society, civilization, all are alien to religion. Religion is a revolution, a revolution in your cultural conditioning, a revolution in your social conditioning, a revolution in all the spheres that you have lived and you are living. Every society is against religion. I’m not talking about your temples and mosques and churches that society has created. Those are tricks. Those are things to befool you. Those are substitutes for religion, they are not religion. They are to misguide you. You need religion: they say, ‘Yes, come to the temple, to the church, to the gurudwara. Here it is religion. You come and pray and the preacher is there who will teach you religion.’ This is a trick. Society has created false religions: those religions are Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism. But a Buddha, or a Mahavira, or a Jesus, or a Mohammed, always exist beyond society. And society always fights with them. When they are dead, then the society starts worshipping them, then the society creates temples. And then there is nothing; the reality is gone, the flame has disappeared. Buddha is no longer there in the statue of a Buddha. In the temples you will find the society, the culture, but not religion. But what is religion?

In the first place, religion is a personal thing. It is not a social phenomenon. You alone go into it; you cannot go into it with a group. How can you go into samadhi with somebody else? Not even your nearest, not even your closest will be with you. When you go inwards, everything will be left out: the society, the culture, the civilization, enemies, friends, lovers, beloveds, children, wife, husband — everything will be left, by and by. And a moment comes when you also will be left out. Then only, the flowering; then the transformation. Because you are also a part of the society, a member of society: a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Christian, an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese. First, others will be left; then, by and by, nearer ones will be left, closer ones will be left. Finally you will come to yourself, which is also a part of the society, trained by the society, conditioned by the society: your brain, your mind, your ego — given by the society. That too has to be left outside the temple. Then you enter in your absolute aloneness. Nobody is there, not even you.

Religion is personal. And religion is revolutionary. Religion is the only revolution in the world. All other revolutions are false, pseudo, games, not revolutions. In fact, because of those revolutions, the real revolution is always postponed. They are anti-revolutions.

A communist comes and he says, ‘How can you change yourself unless the whole society is changed?’ And you feel, ‘Right. How can I change myself? How can I live a free life in an unfree society?’ The logic seems relevant. How can you be happy in an unhappy society? How can you find bliss when everybody is miserable? The communist hits, he appeals. ‘Yes,’ you say, ‘unless the whole society is happy, how can I be?’ Then the communist says, ‘Come, let us first have a revolution in the society.’ And then you start on a march, morcha, gherao, all types of nonsense. You have been caught in the trap. Now you are going to change the whole world.

But have you forgotten how long you are going to live? And when the whole world is changed, by that time you will not be here. You will have lost your life. Many stupid people are losing their whole lives marching against this and that, for this and that; trying to transform the whole world and postponing the only transformation which is possible, and that is self-transformation.

And I tell you, you can be free in an unfree society, you can be blissful in a miserable world. There is no hindrance from others; you can be transformed. Nobody is hindering you except you yourself. Nobody is creating any obstacle. Don’t bother about the society and the world because the world will continue. And it has continued the same forever and ever. Many revolutions come and go and the world remains the same.

If all the revolutionaries could be revived from their graves — Lenin and Marx — they would not be able to believe that the world has remained the same and the revolution has happened. In Russia or in America, nothing is different, just a formal difference. Forms differ; the basic reality remains the same, the basic misery of man remains the same. Society will never come to any utopia. This word ‘utopia’ is very beautiful. The very word means: that which never comes. The word ‘utopia’ means: that which never comes. It is always coming but it never comes; always the promise but the goods are never delivered. And this will be so. It has been so. There is only one possibility: you can change.

Politics is social, religion is personal. And whenever religion becomes social, it is part of politics. It is no longer religion. Islam and Hinduism and Jainism, they are politics. They are now no longer religion; they have become social.

It is a personal understanding.

You, in your ‘deepest core of being, realize that a change is needed, that as you are, you are wrong; as you are, you are creating a hell around you; as you are, you are the very seed of misery. You realize this in the deepest core of your being, and the very realization becomes a change. You drop the seed; you move in a different dimension. It is personal, it is not cultural.

And that’s why it is so difficult for you to become religious. You would like the society to teach you. If religion could be taught, you all would have become religious. But religion cannot be taught. It is not a teaching; it is a jump into the unknown. It needs courage, not learning. And who can teach you courage? And how can courage be taught? Either you have it or you don’t have it, so try to find out if you have courage. And if you try to find it, everybody will find somewhere hidden in him a vast possibility for courage. Because without courage, life is not possible.

Life is a risk every single moment. How can you live without courage? How can you breathe without courage? The courage is there, but you are unaware. Find the courage; give the responsibility of a personal commitment. Forget about the world and the utopias, and change yourself. And this is the beauty: if you change yourself you have already started changing the world. Because with your change a part of the world has changed. You are an organic part of the world. Even if one part changes, it will affect the whole because the whole is one; everything is related.

If I change, I change the whole world in a way. The world will never be the same because one part — one millionth, but still one part — has changed, has become totally different, is no more of this world. Another world has penetrated through me. The eternity has penetrated into time. God has come to dwell in a human body; nothing can be the same, everything will change through me.

Remember this, and remember also that religion is not an imitation. You cannot imitate a religious person. If you imitate, it will be a pseudo-religion — false, insincere. How can you imitate me? And if you imitate, how can you be true to yourself? You will become untrue to yourself. You are not here to be like me.

You are here to be just like yourself. You are not here to be like me; you are here to be just like yourself, like you.

I have heard about a Jewish mystic, Josiah. He was dying and somebody asked, ‘Josiah, pray to Moses, and ask him to help you.’ Josiah said, ‘Forget about Moses. Because when I am dead, God will not ask me why I am not like Moses. He will ask why I am not like Josiah. He will not ask me, “Why are you not like Moses?” That is not my responsibility, to be like Moses. If God wanted me like Moses, He would have made me a Moses. He will ask me, “Josiah, why are you not like Josiah?” And that is my trouble: my whole life I have been trying to be like somebody else. But at least now, at the last moment, leave me alone! Let me be myself, because that is the face I should show to God. And that is the only face that He will be waiting for.’

Be authentically yourself. You cannot imitate. Religion makes everybody unique. No Master who is really a Master will insist that you imitate him. He will help you to be yourself, he will not help you to be like him.

And all culture is imitation. The whole society is imitative. That’s why the whole society is more like a drama than like a reality. Hindus call it maya — a game, a play, but not real. Parents are teaching their children to be like themselves. Everybody is pushing and pulling everybody else to be like himself — a whole chaos all around.

I was staying with a family, and I was sitting on the lawn. The small child of the house came, and I asked, ‘What are you thinking to become in your life?’ He said, ‘Difficult to say, be, cause my father wants me to be a doctor. My mother wants me to be an engineer; my uncle, he wants me to become an advocate, because he is an advocate. And I am confused. I don’t know what I am going to become.’ I asked him, ‘What do you want to become?’ He said, ‘But nobody has asked me that!’ I told him, ‘You think about it. Tomorrow you tell me.’ The next day he came and he said, ‘I would like to become a dancer, but my mother won’t allow, my father won’t allow.’ He told me, ‘Help me. They will listen to you.’

Every child is being pushed and pulled to become something else. That’s why there is so much ugliness all around. Nobody is himself. If you become the greatest engineer in the world, even that will not be a fulfillment if it was not your own urge. And I tell you, you may become the worst dancer in the world; that doesn’t make any difference. If it was your own urge, you will be happy and fulfilled.

I have heard about a great scientist who won a Nobel Prize. He was one of the greatest surgeons the world has ever known. And on the day when he received the Nobel Prize, somebody said, ‘You must be happy’ — because he was not looking happy at all. His face was sad. Somebody asked, ‘You must be happy. Why are you looking so sad? This is the greatest prize, the greatest reward the world can give to you, the greatest honor. Why are you not happy? And you are one of the greatest surgeons in the world.’ He said, ‘That is not the point. When the Nobel Prize was given to me, I was thinking of my childhood. I had never wanted to become a surgeon. It has been forced on me. My whole life has been a wastage. What will I do with this Nobel Prize? I would have liked to become a dancer. Even the lousiest, that would have done; I would have been fulfilled. That was my urge.’

Remember this: why do you feel so discontented? Why do you feel so discontented; why do you feel always so dissatisfied for no particular reason at all? Even if everything is going well, something is missing. What is missing? — you have never listened to your own being. Somebody else has manoeuvred, manipulated you, somebody else has dominated you, somebody else has forced you into a life-pattern which was never yours, which you never wanted. I tell you, even if it happens that you become a beggar, don’t be worried if that is your urge. Find the urge and follow k, because God will not ask, ‘Why are you not a Mahavir? Why are you not a Mohammed, or why are you not a Zarathustra?’ He will ask Josiah, ‘Why are you not a Josiah?’

You have to be yourself, and the whole society is a great imitation, a false show. That’s why there is so much discontent on every face. I look into your eyes and I see discontent, unfulfillment. Not even a small breeze comes to you which gives you happiness, ecstasy — it is not possible. And ecstasy is possible. It is a simple phenomenon: be natural and loose and follow your own inclination.

I’m here to help you to be yourself. When you become a disciple, when I initiate you, I am not initiating you to be imitators. I am just trying to help you to find your own being, your own authentic being — because you are so confused, you have so many faces that you have forgotten which is the original one. You don’t know what your real urge is. The society has confused you completely, misguided you. Now you are not certain of who you are. When I initiate you, the only thing that I want to do is to help you come to your own home. Once you are centered in your own being, my work is finished. Then you can start. In fact, a Master has to undo what the society has done. A Master has to undo what the culture has done. He has to make you a clean sheet again.

That’s the meaning of a Master giving you a rebirth: again you become a child, your past cleaned, your slate washed. How can you come to the first point where you had entered into this world, forty, fifty years ago? And the society got hold of you, trapped you, led you astray. For fifty years you have wandered and now suddenly you have come to me. I have to do only one thing: to wash clean whatsoever has been done to you, to bring you back to your childhood, to the initial stage from where you started the journey, and to help you to start the journey again.


From The Alchemy of Yoga (previously titled Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol. 4), Discourse #4

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and


Spread the Word: An Existential Revolution – Osho

Fifteen years ago I was a political militant, and I was trying to change the society by spreading ideas. Failure and frustration brought me to you. Now that your people cannot reach to you, can spreading your ideas and publishing your books and tapes be enough to give birth to the New Man? Or is there something else that we can do?

The question is from Avesh. What you were doing before you came to me is not the same thing that I am asking you to do now. You were working under the same fallacy – that the society can be changed and the individual will change automatically.

You failed, not because you were spreading ideas but because your ideas were based on a fallacy that there exists a society with a soul which can be changed. “Society” is only a collective name.

You cannot do anything to it. Whatever has to be done is to be done to the individual. He is the living, understanding part of existence.

So the first thing: when I say, “Let the word be spread,” I am talking about individuals, not about society.

In the second place: there is nothing more powerful than the word. It is so powerful that the biblical tradition begins with it. “In the beginning was the word. The word was with God. The word WAS God.”

I do not agree with the statement, “In the beginning was the word,” but I certainly agree that whoever wrote the biblical passage was immensely aware of the power of the word. He puts it even before God – because after all “God” is a word, and an empty word, with no content. He at least has the insight that the word is so powerful that it should be the beginning of existence.

I cannot agree with the statement because a word needs somebody to understand it, somebody to give it meaning; otherwise it is only a sound. What are words? – Sounds to which we have given certain meanings. Meanings are arbitrary, so the same word can mean one thing in one language, another thing in another language, and something still different in another language. A word has no meaning of its own, a word presupposes meaning. So the statement, “In the beginning was the word,” although it is a significant statement recognizing the power of the word, is not factually true.

The Hindu scriptures – not one but one hundred and eight Upahishads – begin with the sound, not with the word. They begin with OM – which is not a word because it means nothing, it has no meaning. It is a deeper insight. “In the beginning” can only be sound, not a word. Sound can become a word when there is somebody to give it a meaning.

But there are Buddhist scriptures which go to the very root of the thing. They say, “In the beginning was silence.” Silence, sound, word, are all connected. Silence is vast like the ocean. It is potential sound; it has not yet manifested itself. It is like music sleeping in the strings of a guitar – some fingers will be needed to wake the music up. Silence is sound, asleep. But in the beginning there can only be silence.

The insight deepens from word to sound to silence, but I do not agree with any of the statements, because there has never been any beginning. The very idea of beginning is false.

If I was to write, I would write, “In the end there is the word, then sound, then silence – if there is an end.” Of course there is no beginning… there cannot be any end. But to individual thinkers, individual enlightened beings, there is a beginning and there is an end as far as others are concerned. To the enlightened person himself, there is only beginning and no end. And in the beginning is silence.

Perhaps the Upanishads are too much influenced by the enlightened experience. There is a beginning when your mind disappears, leaving space for eternal silence, but there is no end for your self. Of course you will die as far as others are concerned – you will live as far as you are concerned.

Death is others’ opinion about you. For them, in the end will be the word – because the message of the master has to be contained in a word or in words.

So don’t think that words are not powerful. Ordinary, mundane words have no power; they have only utility. But when the enlightened man speaks, the word has no utility; it has simply a tremendous power to transform your heart.

So when I say, “Spread the word,” I mean whatever I have been telling you, go on spreading in as many ways as possible. Use all the news media use everything that technology has provided, so that the word reaches to every nook and corner of the earth. And remember, it is far more powerful than any nuclear weapons because nuclear weapons can only bring death – that is not power. But the word which has come from an enlightened consciousness can bring new life to you; it can give you rebirth, resurrection – that is power.

Destroying something, any idiot can do. Creating needs intelligence.

I will be leaving words of immense potentiality for you. If you can simply go on whispering them, you will be surprised that they can change the whole human heart.

If the word has come from the awakened consciousness, as it reaches within you it becomes sound – because meaning is of the mind: deeper than mind is no-meaning, just sound. But there is still a depth where sound disappears into silence. The true word, the authentic word, always creates silence in you. That is the criterion of its power – that it is not empty; it contains sound, the sound contains silence, and silence is the nature of existence.

You are asking the question, “Will it be enough just to spread the word?”

What do you want – to make bombs? Become terrorists? Kill people? What else do you want? No, there is nothing else. The awakened people down the ages have not seen anything more powerful than the word. It is just a question of spreading it, and spreading it not like a parrot, not like a gramophone record, but spreading it as a representative of it. Whatever you say, you should be; only then can your saying have power.

So don’t be worried. How many emperors have existed in twenty-five centuries around the world?

But nobody’s name comes even close to Gautam the Buddha. Just that one name stands like Everest – everything looks like a pygmy beside it. And what was the power of the man? He did nothing except use a single method: transform his silence into sound, into word.

That’s what happens inside the awakened man. He is in silence: he makes silence bring its potential to actuality; it becomes sound. He gives it meaning – because only meaning can be the bridge.

You listen to the word. In you also, again the same process has to happen. You understand the meaning through the mind, but you let the sound slip deeper. Meaning remains in the mind. Sound reaches to the heart. And if you allow the sound also to disappear then you reach your being, which is silence. What happens in the master’s case has to be reversed. It is a code language – you have to un-encode it.

And it is not only a question of simply repeating what I am saying; it is a question of living it. Your life should be a proof of it; then nothing else is needed.

The whole human evolution has happened through the word. Each master leaves the world with pregnant words which in the right hands can go on being a tremendous energy of transformation.

We are not here to kill anybody or destroy anything. We are here to create something, and the most essential, the most central, is the consciousness of man. Yes, when consciousness is created, many things will disappear on their own accord; you won’t have to destroy them.

This is the beauty of the whole work: nothing is destroyed but thousands of things disappear, and finally there remains only one – the experience of the eternal. Even you disappear into it. But even to call it “experience” is not right, it simply is. What I am teaching is an existential revolution.


From The Path of the Mystic, Discourse #38

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from and

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