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Ecstasy Is Knowing That Nobody Is Holding Your Hand
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OSHO : From Ignorance to Innocence, Chapter 13

OSHO,
What is more important in your approach -- to be thyself or to know thyself?

Do you think they are different? How can you know yourself if you are not yourself? And vice versa -- how can you be yourself if you don't know who you are? To be thyself and to know thyself are not two separate things, hence the question of choice does not arise. They are two aspects of a single process.

You have to work on both together simultaneously; neither can be neglected. But it is easier to start from being thyself; easier, because you have been distracted from yourself by others. The masks that you are carrying are not your own imposition. Unwillingly, reluctantly, you have been forced to be someone other than you are; hence it is easier to throw it off.

Slavery of any kind is easier to get rid of, because intrinsically who wants to be a slave? That is not in the nature of any being, human or not human. Slavery is against existence; hence it is easier to throw it off. It always remains a burden, and deep down you continue to fight with it, even though on the surface you follow it; deep down nobody can make you accept it. At the innermost core of your being it remains rejected forever; hence it is easier to throw it off.

The process is simple. Whatever you are doing, whatever you are thinking, whatever you are deciding, remember one thing: is it coming from you or is somebody else speaking? And you will be surprised to find out the real voice; perhaps it is your mother -- you will hear her speak again. Perhaps it is your father; it is not at all difficult to detect. It remains there, recorded in you exactly as it was given to you for the first time -- the advice, the order, the discipline, the commandment.

You may find many people: the priest, the teachers, the friends, the neighbors, the relatives. There is no need to fight. Just knowing that it is not your voice but somebody else's -- whosoever that somebody else is -- you know that you are not going to follow it. Whatsoever the consequences, good or bad, now you are deciding to move on your own, you are deciding to be mature. You have remained a child long enough. You have remained dependent long enough. Enough you have listened to all these voices and followed them. And where have they brought you? In a mess.

So once you figure out whose voice it is, say goodbye to it...because the person who had given that voice to you was not your enemy.

His intention was not bad, but it is not a question of his intention. The question is that he imposed something on you which is not coming from your own inner source; and anything that comes from outside makes you a psychological slave.

Sheela, put this light out; this is driving me Oregonian!

It is only your own voice which will lead you into a blossoming, into freedom.

Yes, the path in the beginning will look dangerous, because you were always holding the hand of your father, your priest, your rabbi, your mother; and when a child is holding the hand of the father there is no fear, no danger. He can rely on the father. But now you are holding his hand only in imagination; there is no father, it is pure imagination. And it is better to know that you are alone and there is no hand supporting you, because then you will try to find your own way to protect yourself against dangers.

It is dangerous to go on believing that you are still protected when you are not really protected. That's what has happened to millions of people in the world. They feel they are protected -- protected by God, protected by all kinds of things.

There is no God.

There is nobody to protect you.

You are alone, and you have to accept your aloneness joyously.

In fact, it is a tremendous ecstasy that nobody is holding your hand.

My grandfather loved me very much, just because of my mischiefs. Even in his old age he was mischievous. He never liked my father or my uncles because they were all against this old man's mischievousness. They all said to him: "You are now seventy and you should behave. Now your sons are fifty, fifty-five, your daughters are fifty, their children are married, their children's children are there -- and you go on doing such things that we feel ashamed."

I was the only one with whom he was intimate, because I loved the old man for the simple reason that he had not lost his childhood even at the age of seventy. He was as mischievous as any child. And he would play his mischief even on his own sons and daughters and sons-in-law, and they would be just shocked.

I was his only confidant because we conspired together. Of course many things he could not do -- I had to do them. For example, his son-in-law was sleeping in the room and my grandfather could not go up onto the roof, but I could go. So we conspired together; he would help me, he would become a ladder for me to go onto the roof and remove a tile. And with just a bamboo and a brush attached to it, in the night, touching the face of the son-in-law.... He would scream, and the whole house would run there.... "What is the matter?" But by that time we had disappeared, and he would say: "There was some ghost or somebody just touching my face. I tried to catch him but I could not; it was dark."

My grandfather remained utterly innocent, and I saw the great freedom that he had. In my whole family he was the eldest. He should have been the most serious and most burdened with so many problems and so many anxieties, but nothing affected him. Everybody was serious and worried when there were problems; only he was not worried. But one thing I never liked -- that's why I remembered him this moment -- and that was sleeping with him. He had the habit of sleeping with his face covered and I would have to sleep with my face also covered, and that was suffocating.

I told him clearly: "About everything I agree, but this I cannot tolerate. You cannot sleep with your face uncovered; I cannot sleep with my face covered -- it suffocates me. You do it lovingly" -- he would keep me close to his heart and cover me completely -- "that's perfectly good, but in the morning my heart will not be beating. Your intention is good, but you will be alive in the morning and I will be gone. So our friendship is out of the bed."

He wanted me there because he loved me and he had said: "Why don't you come and sleep with me?"

I said: "You know perfectly well that I don't want to be suffocated by anybody, even if his intention is good. You love me and you would like to keep me close to your heart even in the night." Also, we used to go for a long walk in the mornings, and sometimes, when there was a moon, in the night. But I never allowed him to hold my hand. And he would say: "But why? You may fall, you may stumble upon a stone or anything."

I said: "That's better. Let me stumble, it is not going to kill me. It will teach me how not to stumble, how to be alert, how to remember where the rocks are. But you holding my hand -- how long can you hold my hand? How long are you going to be with me? If you can guarantee that you will always be with me, then of course I am willing."

He was a very sincere man; he said: "That I cannot guarantee; I cannot even say about tomorrow. And one thing is certain, you will live long and I will be dead, so I will not be here forever to hold your hand."

"Then," I said, "it is better for me to learn now, because one day you will leave me in the middle, helpless. And if you have trained me to hold your hand, then there are only two ways: either I start living in a fiction -- God the father...."

Why do you call God "the father?" Yes, there are two kinds of religions in the world. A few religions call God "the mother," and a few religions call God "the father." The majority of religions call God "the father" for the simple reason that the majority of societies are patriarchal, male chauvinist. And a very few -- small tribes around the world -- are still matriarchal, where the woman is higher than the man. Naturally God cannot be a man in those societies; in those societies God is the mother.

But no society calls God "uncle".

It is strange, very strange, because uncle is an older word than father. "Father" is not very old, it is a very late addition to language. The farther back you go, the more you will find there were societies all over the world -- just as it is in other animals, birds -- where the mother took care of everything. The father's function was finished once the woman was pregnant.

In fact, in olden days it was difficult to know who was the father. So all the males of the age of the probable father -- somebody was the father -- all the males of the probable age of the father were called "uncle". So uncle is an older word, far more prestigious. Father only came later on when men became very possessive of women.

It came with private property. The word "father" is joined with private property. When people started having private property -- their land, their house -- then they wanted to be certain about their son, because he was going to inherit it. Then matrimony became the basic system: you had to marry one woman, and the woman had to remain absolutely surrendered and committed to you so that there was no possibility of her conceiving somebody else's son, and his possessing your property.

This whole business of matrimony is a question of economics, not of psychology.

And man kept himself free. He created prostitutes and he created all kinds of ways to get out of matrimony without disturbing the woman. But the woman had to remain absolutely dedicated to the man -- not only in life, but even in death.

In India the woman had to die with the husband; she had to jump, alive, into the funeral pyre where her husband was being burned, because the husband was so jealous: "What is the guarantee after I am dead that my wife may not start having some relationship with somebody else?" And the basic problem was that his property that he had accumulated -- he had earned it, exploited for it, robbed for it -- should not go to somebody else; it should go to his own blood.

So if one day you find the father's hand is missing, you start creating a fiction: God the father -- who is invisible of course -- is holding your hand and he is leading you.

I told my grandfather: "I don't want to be left in the situation where I have to create a fiction to live in. I want to live a real life, not a fictitious life. I am not a character in a novel. So you leave me alone, let me fall. I will try to get up. You wait; you just watch, and that will be more compassionate towards me than holding my hand."

And he understood it; he said: "You are right -- one day I will not be there."

It is good to fall a few times, get hurt, stand up again -- to go astray a few times.

There is no harm. The moment you find you have gone astray, come back. Life has to be learned through trial and error.

So the moment you start listening to the voices -- and they are all recorded exactly as they were given to you -- you will be surprised when you try to hear who is speaking to you. You will simply laugh: "Oh, this is my mother. I have not seen her for twenty years, and she is still trying to manipulate me." She may be dead, but from her grave she is still keeping her hand on your neck. Her intention is not bad, but she is crippling you.

I used to tell my father: "Don't give me any advice, even if I ask you. You have to be very straightforward about it. You have simply to say: 'Find out your own way.' Don't give me advice!" -- Because when some cheap advice is available, who bothers to find one's own way?

I had been consistently telling my teachers: "Please remember one thing: I don't want your wisdom -- simply teach your subject. You are a teacher of geography and you are trying to teach me morality? What relationship has morality with geography?"

I remember the poor man who was my geography teacher. He was in trouble because I had taken something from the pocket of the student who was sitting by my side. I had taken his money from his pocket and this teacher was telling me: "Don't do that."

I said: "That's not your business. You are a geography teacher and this is a question of morality. If you want, I am ready to go to the principal; you come with me. Nowhere in the geography syllabus...I have read it and nowhere is it said that you cannot take somebody else's money. And money is simply money; whoever has it, it is his. Right now it is mine. A few moments before it may have been his, but he has lost it. He should be more alert. If you want to give advice, give advice to him."

"In the first place, what is the need to bring so much money to the geography class? There is nothing to buy, nothing to purchase; there is not going to be any shopping. Why did he bring his money here? Then if he has brought the money, he should be alert. It is not my fault, it is his fault, and I have simply taken advantage of it, which is my right. To take advantage of situations is everybody's right."

I remember that poor man. He was always in difficulty, and always in difficulty with me. He would see me out of class and he would say: "You can do whatsoever you want to do, just don't bring so much philosophy into poor geography. And I don't know anything about philosophy -- I simply know about geography. And you turn the question in such a way that even in the night I go on thinking whether it was geographical or religious or philosophical."

Just in front of my school there were two beautiful kadambara trees. The kadambara is a very fragrant flower, and I used to sit in those trees whenever I could escape from the classes. That was the best place, because teachers would be passing underneath and the principal would be passing and nobody would be thinking that I may be hiding in the tree; and the trees were thick. But whenever this teacher of geography would pass by there, I could not resist dropping at least one stone or two stones on his head. And he would look up, and he would say: "What are you doing there?"

One day I said: "This is not a geography class. You disturbed my meditation."

And he said: "What about those two stones that fell on my head?"

I said: "That is simply coincidence. I dropped the stones; it's strange how you appeared exactly at the right time. Now I will be wondering about it. You also wonder about it, how it happened exactly."

He used to come to tell my father: "Things are going too far." He was a bald-headed man; and in Hindi the word for bald-headed is munde. His name was Chotelal, but he was known as Chotelal Munde. Chotelal was rarely used, just Munde was enough because he was the only completely bald-headed person. When just in front of his house, I would knock on the door and his wife or somebody else would open the door, and they would say: "Why do you torture him? You torture him in the school, you torture him in the market, you torture him in the river when he goes to take his bath."

One day his wife opened the door and she said: "Will you stop torturing Munde or not?" and he was just there, behind her.

He grabbed his wife and he said: "You also call me Munde! This boy has spread around the whole city the idea that my name is Chotelal Munde -- and now my own wife is converted by him. I will kill you if you call me Munde. I can forgive everybody else but my own wife, in my own house...."

But I was insistent with my teachers: "Please keep on your track and don't give me any advice that does not belong to your subject, so that I can explore my life in my own way. Yes, I will commit many mistakes, many errors. I am willing to commit mistakes, errors, because that is the only way to learn." There is no other way to learn.

If you make learning completely foolproof, so that no mistake is possible no error is possible, then you will become a parrot.

You may start repeating words, sentences, but you will not know exactly the meaning of what you are saying.

So first find out the voices within you -- and it is simple. Whenever you are deciding to do something, just sit silently and listen to the voice that is telling you to do this or not to do this. And try to find out whose voice it is. Once you have found it is your father, your mother, your uncle, your teacher, your aunt, your brother, it is very easy; then thank your brother and tell him: "It is so good of you; although you are dead still you are taking care of me. But please, now leave me alone."

Once you have told a certain voice clearly: "Leave me alone," your connection with it, your identity with it, is broken. It was capable of controlling you because you were thinking it was your voice. The whole strategy was the identity. You were thinking: "This is my voice, this is my thought," hence you were doing what it said. Now you know it is not your thought, not your voice; it is something foreign to your nature. Recognizing it is enough. Just be grateful to your father: "You are still taking care of me but I don't need any more care. You have made me mature enough that now I can start taking care of myself."

Get rid of the voices that are within you, and soon you will be surprised to hear a still small voice, which you have never heard before; you cannot decide whose voice this is. No, it is not your mother's, it is not your father's, it is not your priest's, not your teacher's...then a sudden recognition that it is your voice. That's why you are not able to find its identity, to whom it belongs.

It has been there always, but it is a very still small voice, because it was suppressed when you were a very small child and the voice was very small -- just a sprout, and it was covered with all kinds of crap. And now you go on carrying that crap and you have forgotten the plant that is your life, which is still alive, waiting for you to discover it.

Discover your voice. Then follow it with no fear.

Wherever it leads, there is the goal of your life, there is your destiny. It is only there that you will find fulfillment, contentment.

It is only there that you will blossom -- and in that blossoming, knowing happens.

How can you know yourself? -- You have not even grown. Perhaps you are still in the seed, perhaps even the sprout was not allowed. Every religion takes care: take the child to baptism immediately...take the child to circumcision...take the child to some Hindu ceremony.... And the child knows nothing of what you are doing to him.

Just wait -- even for having the voting right he will have to wait twenty-one years; just for third-rate politics he will need twenty-one years of adulthood. But for religion no maturity is needed? Perhaps forty-two may be the right time for a person to decide about religion. But it is not when the child is born and you start deciding, others are deciding.

Yes, you can take him to the voting booth. You can give him the vote and you can hold his hand to drop the vote in the box, and you can make him choose the president, the prime minister -- but the child is completely unaware of what is happening: what is this box about, and what is this card all about...?

But you don't do that. You understand that for politics, at least twenty-one years -- at least -- are needed for a person to understand. But for religion you don't give any time at all. There is a reason why you don't give any time at all. You are afraid, because if you give him time and you don't mess his mind around before he starts thinking on his own, starts hearing his own voice, then there is no chance for you. You will never be able to make him a Jew or a Christian or a Hindu or a Mohammedan.

He may become someday religious, but that will be his own search. Someday he may find paths leading to silence, ways of moving to the innermost core of existence, but that will be his own exploration.

And remember one thing: whatsoever you find on your own gives ecstasy.

Even if God is given to you ready-made, you will not find any ecstasy in it.

And just running on the seashore finding seashells of no value, you can see a child ecstatic....

I used to come from the river when I was very small. All my pockets...I used to have many pockets, I insisted on having many pockets. My father said: "It looks crazy. People ask me.... You are continually a trouble and for no reason at all. Why should you have four pockets in front and two pockets by the side?"

I said: "I need them. My needs and your needs are different. I never say to you that you should have so many pockets or that you should not have them; that is your business." I needed pockets because when I went to the river I found such treasures -- so many beautiful stones, so colorful, that I was for hours walking on the sands to collect them. And I would come home full -- almost double my weight.

My father would see me entering the house and he would say: "This is the use of the pockets? Are you mad or something? Why do you go on bringing all these stones? And we have to throw them out every day."

I said: "You don't understand. You can throw them away, but if you have any understanding of a simple thing -- I feel so ecstatic, so joyous when I see these stones. I am not interested in your money and I am not interested in anything else -- I simply collect the stones." But the joy was in exploring for them, searching far away, by the side of the river just to find one beautiful stone.

One day my father got so fed up that he brought four laborers and told them: "Go to the river and bring as many stones as possible, because he is wasting hours every day." So they brought buckets full of stones. They knew exactly from where to get them -- I had no idea that there was a mine -- and they poured them out in my small room where I had my own world, and where nobody was allowed to enter. My father said: "You keep all these. Now there is no need to go there because you cannot find anything more. All colors and all kinds of stones we have collected for you...you waste so much time."

I said: "You have destroyed my joy. It was not the stones, it was my finding them. Now I see this -- thousands of stones are here and I don't feel any joy. Take them away. You have destroyed something."

"But," he said, "I thought you loved stones."

I said: "No, there is no question of loving stones, it was the finding. Stones were just an excuse. Sometimes it is stones you are finding, sometimes it is butterflies you are finding, sometimes it is flowers you are finding, and sometimes it is truth you are finding -- but remember, always the beauty is in the finding, not what you find. That is just an excuse."

He said: "Whatever is done, it seems difficult to make you happy."

I said: "That's true. Never try to make anybody happy. Nobody can do that. You can make me unhappy -- that is possible -- but happy? That is simply my absolute right, to be or not to be. You cannot force me to be happy -- this is an enforcement. Pouring all these stones in front of me, are you trying to make me happy?" But it was happening continually about everything. Slowly, slowly they started to understand that this boy seems to be eccentric so leave him alone.

When I was very small I had long hair like a girl.

In India boys don't have that long hair -- at least at that time it was not allowed. I used to have very long hair, and whenever I used to enter, and the entrance was from the shop.... The house was behind the shop, so to enter I had to pass through the shop. My father was there, his customers were there, and they would say: "Whose girl is this?"

My father would look at me and say: "What to do? He does not listen." And he felt offended.

I said: "You need not feel offended. I don't see any problem. If somebody calls me a girl or a boy, that is his business; what difference does it make to me?"

But he was offended that his boy was being called a girl. Just the idea of a boy and girl.... In India when a boy is born, there are gongs and bands and songs, and sweets are distributed in the whole neighborhood. And when a girl is born, nothing happens -- nothing. You immediately know that a girl is born because no gongs, no bells, no band, no singing -- nothing is happening, no distribution of sweets -- that means a girl is born. Nobody will come to ask because it will be offending you: you will have to answer that a girl is born. The father is sitting with his face down...a girl is born.

So he said: "This is strange. I have a boy, and I am suffering from having a girl." So one day he really became angry because the man who had asked was a very important man; he was the collector of the district. He was sitting in the shop, and he asked: "Whose girl is this? It is strange, the clothes seem to be a boy's -- and with so many pockets and all full of stones?"

My father said: "What to do? He is a boy, he is not a girl. But today I am going to cut his hair -- this is enough!" So he came with his scissors and cut my hair. I didn't say anything to him. I went to the barber's shop which was just in front of my house and I told him.... He was an opium addict, a very beautiful man, but sometimes he would cut half your mustache and would forget the other half. You would be sitting in his chair, with his cloth around your neck and he was gone, so you would search -- where had he gone? It was difficult; nobody knew where he had gone. And with a half mustache, where would you go to search for him? But he was the only one I liked, because it took hours.

He would tell you a thousand and one things, unrelated to anything in the world. I enjoyed it. It is from that man, Nathur -- Nathur, that was his name -- that I learned how the human mind is. My first acquaintance with the human mind came from him, because he was not a hypocrite. He would say anything that came to his mind; in fact, between his mind and his mouth there was no difference! -- He simply spoke whatsoever was in his mind. If he was fighting with somebody in his mind, he would start fighting loudly -- and nobody was there. I was the only one who would not ask: "With whom are you fighting?" So he was very happy with me, so happy that he would never charge me for cutting my nails or anything.

That day I went there and I told him -- we used to call him "Kaka", kaka means uncle -- "Kaka, if you are in your senses, just shave my whole head."

He said: "Great." He was not in his senses. If he had been, he would have refused because in India you shave your head only when your father dies; otherwise it is not shaved. So he had taken a good dose of opium and he shaved my head completely.

I said: "That's good."

I went back. My father looked at me and said: "What happened?"

I said: "What is the point? You cut my hair with the scissors; it will grow again. I am finished with that. And Kaka is willing, I have asked him. He said he is willing: 'Whenever there is no customer you can come and I will shave your head completely, and no question of money.' So you need not be worried. I am his free customer because nobody listens to him; I am the only person who listens."

My father said: "But you know perfectly well that now this will create more trouble."

And immediately one man came and asked: "What happened? Has this boy's father died?" Without that, nobody....

Then my father said: "Look! It was better that you were a girl. Now I am dead! You grow your hair as fast as you can. Go to your Kaka, that opium addict, and ask him if he can help somehow; otherwise this is going to create more trouble for me. The whole town will go on coming. You will be moving around the whole city and everybody will think that your father is dead. They will start coming."

And they did start coming. That was the last time he did anything to me. After that he said: "I am not going to do anything because it leads into more trouble."

I said: "I had not asked -- I simply go on doing my thing. You interfered unnecessarily."

But I never allowed him to give me advice.

And soon everybody understood in my family that I was very averse to advice, because whatsoever they would say I would do just the opposite, to prevent them giving me any advice. I told them: "If you give me advice I will do just the reverse, so just don't give me any advice. I don't want to carry these voices all my life within myself -- please leave my mind clean. I want to listen to my own voice, if there is any. If there is none, I am perfectly happy with that. I am happy with my authenticity."

Then slowly, slowly they understood that I should not be interfered with, and there was no point, it created more trouble: I would find out a way which was more troublesome for them. Then a time came when I would be sitting in the room, and my mother would look around and say: "Nobody is here. I wanted somebody to go to the market to fetch some vegetables."

I said: "I don't see anybody either. There is nobody; only I am sitting here, there is nobody."

I was not counted as anybody at all -- just nobody. She would see me in front of her and say: "I don't see anybody." And she would agree with me: "Neither do I see anybody, the room is empty" -- and she would go back to find somebody else somewhere, to send to the market.

The moment they recognized me as nobody...I can see in myself that since that moment I don't hear any voices. And it must have been at the age of nine or ten that they recognized -- they had to recognize me as nobody; not to count on me in any way, not to depend on me for any work. Small things....

My mother would say: "Go and bring a dozen bananas," so I would go. The market was not far away, just two furlongs; it was a small place. But in these two furlongs I would meet so many people and there would be so many discussions that by the time I reached the market, I would forget what I had come for. And moreover the time was also finished. I had to pick up something quickly because the sun was setting or had gone down long before.

I would come home to ask: "What was it that you wanted?"

And my mother would say: "You are good for nothing. I asked for a simple thing, one dozen bananas, and it took you five hours to come back empty-handed to inquire!"

I said: "What to do? There were so many people on the way, so many problems, questions, arguments. By the time I reached the market I had forgotten, so I have come to ask." They dropped the idea that I could be of any use; but it helped me tremendously. Slowly, slowly in my own house I became an absence. People would be passing but they would pass as if nobody was there. There was no need to say hello to me. There was no need to inquire anything of me.

I remember that since then I don't find any voices. But up to ten they had been trying their hardest, and when I started working on myself I had to pass through all those voices and consciously drop them. And it is not a difficult process, you have simply to recognize that this is not your voice, this is your father's voice, your mother's voice, your rabbi's voice, and you have to give a grateful thank-you: "Great of you to follow me up to now, but no more, not any further. Here we part."

And once you are empty of all the voices then only...because in this crowd, in this marketplace that you have become inside you, it is almost impossible to hear your own voice. That is the beginning of being yourself Then much more happens, but that is very natural; you are not to do anything about it.

All you have to do is to negate the voices that have been covering your voice.

Once that has happened you start growing your own insight. Slowly, slowly you start becoming aware of problems which you were never aware of before because you were carrying answers. For the first time you start hearing questions of tremendous importance, which you were not even aware that you had.

And your question, just because it is yours, is significant, because in that very question is hidden the answer. But it has to be your question, only then it carries its own answer.

But these so-called do-gooders go on giving you their questions, their answers. Nobody bothers whether it is your question or your answer. In fact, they are afraid that some day you may find your question. The day you find your question all their answers will become invalid, all their scriptures will be rubbish. And they are afraid that by finding your own being you will become an individual.

The society does not want you to be individuals, it wants you to be a Christian, a good Christian, a good Jew, a good Hindu -- respectable. But they don't want you to be individuals, because individuals move, act, live in freedom. Individuals would be happy to die, but they cannot be forced to become psychologically slaves.

And once you are an individual it is so simple to know thyself, because now you are thyself. Now it is only a question of closing your eyes and seeing who you are.

So don't divide the question into two. Don't ask me what is more important, being yourself or knowing yourself I can see why the question has arisen, because the famous maxim of Socrates is: "Know thyself," and one of the greatest findings of modern psychology is: "Be thyself". Hence the question: which is more important?

Socrates is not somebody that you can put in the past. There have been a few people who will always remain contemporaries. Socrates is one of those people who will always remain contemporary. When he says: "Know thyself," he is implying that without being yourself, how can you know yourself? So if you want to know yourself you will have to be yourself They are two aspects of the same coin.

But to start with: be yourself. because so much has been disturbed in you, so much has been diverted from you, so much has been taken away from you. Your being has been covered in so many layers of personality that you will have to do exactly what you do with an onion: you start peeling it. The moment you peel the onion and one cover is removed, a fresher cover is there. You remove it and there is another, even fresher and more alive.... And that's how you are -- covered with layers of personality.

The word personality is worth remembering. It comes from the root persona. In Greek drama the actors used to have masks, and they would speak through the mask. sona means sound. Persona means sound coming from a mask. You don't know who the person is, you only hear the sound and it is coming from a mask. From this word persona comes the English word, personality. It is literally true: your personality is nothing but many, many masks. And whatsoever you say and do is just coming through the mask; it is never truly your own, it has not your signature on it.

So first drop all personalities.

And you don't have just one, remember.

People ordinarily think they have one personality -- absolutely wrong. You have many personalities. You have a storage of personalities, so whenever you need a different personality you immediately change your mask. You become a different person immediately; not even a moment is lost. It has become almost automatic, the change from one personality to another. And there are so many, you will not even be able to count how many personalities you have.

The more personalities you have, the more sophisticated, respected a citizen you will be in the society. Obviously your personalities give you more facilities. They make you capable of functioning in many ways in which others cannot function.

Gurdjieff used to play a game with his disciples. He would be sitting in the middle, one disciple on this side, another disciple on that side. And he had worked tremendously on personalities. He had worked so consciously that he had become capable, as many actors become capable, of showing.... From this side of the mouth one disciple would see that he was in a very happy mood, and from that side, another disciple would see that he was very angry and it was not the time to say anything; he may hit you or something. He was capable of smiling with half the mouth, and the other side would remain very somber and serious. It is difficult to learn, but one can be trained. It is not much of a problem -- actors, great actors, are continually doing it.

You see the whole movie; you don't see that one moment the actor has to laugh, another moment he has to cry. While the movie is being filmed, he goes on changing personalities. You see only the story that is presented to you, but what happens to the actor? He falls in love with a woman -- whom he hates! -- and shows everything that even a lover may not be able to show: in his eyes, his face, his words, his hug, everything. For that moment he becomes the lover. He takes on the whole personality of the lover of the woman in front of him.

In the second scene maybe he has to cry -- and actors become capable of crying, of bringing tears to their eyes. In the beginning they have to use chemicals to bring the tears, but that is only for amateur actors. Once an actor really becomes capable then there is no need; he simply changes his personality. He brings the face of sadness, sorrow, and tears start flowing. He is not only deceiving you, he can deceive his own chemistry.

All these personalities are continuously moving with you.

You are a crowd, many people together, all divergent: many enemies to each other in continuous conflict, fighting, wrestling. That's why you see people in such anguish. Otherwise, there is no reason to be in anguish if you are not having many voices inside you, conflicting, fighting, trying to control all the others -- one voice trying to become the monopolist.

Gurdjieff calls them "selves"; it is the same. You can call personalities selves or egos, and you can start looking for them -- it is a tremendously charming game to look at them. In the evening, you decide that tomorrow morning you are going to get up at five. This you have been deciding for many years, and you know it -- that every evening you decide.... But this night is different! -- That too, you know. Every night you have been saying: "This night is different; tomorrow I am going to get up. There is a limit to everything!"

But all these things you have been saying every night. You are not saying a single new thing, but you are not aware of it. And at five o'clock when the alarm goes, you just press the button; and you are angry at the clock. You may throw the clock, turn over and say: "Such a cold morning, and this stupid alarm clock" -- and you go back to sleep. You are just going for a few minutes...and this has been happening for years.

Every morning "just for a few minutes" you go back to sleep. When you wake up it is nine o'clock, and you are again repenting, sad, thinking: "How does it happen? I had decided to get up." And you will do it again but you will never see that the personality that decided in the evening must have been a certain personality, and the personality that threw the clock away is a different personality. These are not one personality, they cannot be one personality.

The personality that was saying: "Tomorrow I am going to get up," is no more on top, is no more on duty. Somebody else is on top and says: "Forget all about this nonsense," and throws the clock and says: "Go to sleep. It is so cold out -- are you stupid or something?" And it feels so warm and good to turn over, and after the disturbance of the clock it feels an even better sleep. And at nine o'clock when you wake up again you are sad. This is a different personality. It has not thrown the clock; it was not the personality who said to you: "Just for a few minutes...." And this personality decides: "Now, whatever happens, tomorrow morning I am going to get up."

This you will do your whole life, and you will never be able to see a simple fact: you have many personalities, and each time a different personality is speaking, speaks differently, has different ideas.

Just watch it; just watching it is such a great joy, such a great drama that one need not go to any movie. You can simply close your eyes and see the movie that continues there, with so many actors and so many actresses and everything is there that is needed -- raw footage, unedited....

But before you can come to know yourself you have to be yourself

You have to drop all these personalities like clothes and you have to come to your utter nudity.

And from there is the beginning.

And then the second thing is very simple. The whole problem is with the first thing; the second thing is very simple. When personalities are gone, the crowd has left you, you are alone. Close your eyes, you will see who you are -- because there is nobody else. There is only awareness of immense silence, of no object.

You will not meet any God there, or any soul there, or any angel there -- all that is fiction. If you meet somebody, remember that you are again hallucinating. If you meet Jesus, throw him out! If you meet Krishna, tell him: "Get out. This is no place for you people. lust leave me alone." Only Buddha had the courage to say: "If you meet me on the way, cut my head off immediately."

You have to cut off the head of the Buddha; otherwise you will not be alone -- and without being alone how can you know yourself?

In aloneness, suddenly out of nowhere, comes the fragrance called enlightenment. You become illuminated; for the first time full of light, all darkness dispersed.

The night is over, the sunrise has happened -- and a sunrise that is never going to become a sunset.

OSHO: From Ignorance to Innocence, Chapter 13
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