Question: Why it is so difficult for me to love myself?
Osho: Every child is born with tremendous love for himself. It is the society that destroys that love, it is the religion that destroys that love — because if a child goes on growing in loving himself, who is going to love Jesus Christ? Who is going to love the president, Ronald Reagan? Who is going to love the parents? The child’s love for himself has to be distracted. He has to be conditioned so that his love is always towards an object outside himself.
It makes man very poor, because when you love somebody outside of yourself, whether it is God, the pope, the father, the wife, the husband, the children — whoever is the object of your love — it makes you dependent on the object. You become secondary in your own eyes, you become a beggar. You were born an emperor, utterly contented within yourself. But the father wants you to love him, the mother wants you to love her. Everybody around you wants to become an object for your love.
Nobody bothers that a man who cannot love himself cannot love anybody else either. So a very mad society is created where everybody is trying to love somebody — and they have nothing to give. Nor has the other person anything to give. Why are lovers continuously fighting, nagging, harassing each other? The simple reason is they are not getting what they were thinking to get. Both are beggars, both are empty.
A rightly brought up child will be allowed to grow in love towards himself so that he becomes so full of love that sharing becomes a necessity. He is so burdened with love that he wants somebody to share it. And then love never makes you dependent on anybody. You are the giver; the giver is never a beggar. And the other is also a giver. And when two emperors, masters of their own hearts, meet, there is tremendous joy. Nobody is dependent on anybody else; everybody is independent and individual, well-centered in himself, well-grounded in himself.
He has roots which go deep down within his being, from where the juice called love comes towards the surface and blossoms in thousands of roses. This type of person has not been possible up to now because of your prophets, your messiahs, your incarnations of God, and all other kinds of idiots. They have destroyed you for their own glory, for their own ego. They have crushed you utterly. You can see the logic.
Either the messiah, the savior, becomes the object of your love, and you become just shadows blindly following him; or if you are fully contented, overflowing with love and blossoming in thousands of roses, then who cares to be saved? — you are already saved. Who cares about paradise? — you are in it. The priest will die if you learn how to love yourself, the politician will not have followers; all the vested interests in society will go bankrupt. They are all thriving on a very subtle psychological exploitation of you.
But learning to love oneself is not difficult, it is natural. If you have been able to do something which is unnatural, if you have learned how to love others without loving yourself, then the other thing is very simple. You have done the almost impossible. It is only a question of understanding, a simple understanding, that “I am to love myself; otherwise I will miss the meaning of life. I will never grow up, I will simply grow old. I will not have any individuality. I will not be truly human, dignified, integrated.”
And moreover, if you cannot love yourself, you cannot love anybody else in the world. So many psychological problems have arisen because you have been distracted from yourself. You are unworthy, you are not what you should be; your actions have to be corrected. You have to be molded into a certain personality. In Japan they have four-hundred-year-old trees, but their height is only six inches. They think that it is a form of art. It is murder, sheer murder! The tree looks ancient, but is only six inches high.
It would have been one hundred feet high, reaching towards the stars. What have they done? What strategy have they used? The same strategy has been used against humanity, human beings. They put the tree in a pot which has no bottom. So whenever the tree grows its roots, they go on cutting them, because there is no bottom to the pot. The roots they go on cutting, and unless roots grow deeper, the tree cannot rise higher. It grows old, but it never grows up. Exactly the same has been done with human beings.
Respect yourself. Feel the joy and the pride that existence needs you; otherwise you would not have been here. Rejoice that existence cannot be without you. In the first place that’s why you are here: existence has given you an opportunity, a life with tremendous treasures hidden within you — of beauty, of ecstasy, of freedom. But you are not existential! You are Christian, you are Buddhist, you are Hindu. And I want you only to believe in one thing: existence. There is no need to go to any synagogue or any church.
If you cannot experience the sky, the stars, the sunset, the sunrise, the flowers blossoming, the birds singing…. The whole of existence is a sermon! Not prepared by some stupid priest — it is all over the place. You just need to trust yourself; that is another name for loving yourself. And when you trust and love yourself, obviously you have taken all the responsibility of whatever you are, whoever you are, upon your own shoulders. That gives such a tremendous experience of being that nobody can enslave you again.
Can you see the beauty of an individual who is capable of standing on his own feet? And whatever happens — joy or sorrow, life or death — the man who has loved himself is so integrated that he will be able not only to enjoy life, he will be able to enjoy death too. Socrates was punished by his society. People like Socrates are bound to be punished, because they are individuals and they don’t allow anybody to dominate them. He was given poison. He was lying in the bed and the man who was going to give him poison was preparing it.
The sun was setting — that was the right time. The court had given the exact time, but the man was delaying in preparing the poison. Socrates asked the man, “Time is passing, the sun is setting — what is the delay?” The man could not believe that somebody who is going to die is so particular about the right time for his own death. In fact, he should be thankful for the delay. The man loved Socrates. He had heard him in the court and seen the beauty of the person: he alone had more intelligence than the whole of Athens.
He wanted to delay a little more so Socrates could live a little more. But Socrates would not allow him. He said, “Don’t be lazy. Just bring the poison.” The man giving poison to Socrates asked him, “Why are you so excited? I see such radiance on your face, I see such enquiry in your eyes. Don’t you understand? — you are going to Die.”
Socrates said, “That’s what I want to know. Life, I have known. It was beautiful; with all its anxieties, anguishes, still it was a joy. Just to breathe is joy enough. I have lived, I have loved; I have done whatever I wanted to do, I have said whatever I wanted to say. Now I want to taste death — and the sooner the better.
“There are only two possibilities: either my soul will go on living in other forms as the Eastern mystics say — that is a great excitement, to go on that journey of the soul free from the burden of the body. The body is a cage, it has limitations. Or perhaps the materialists are right, that when your body dies everything dies. Nobody remains afterwards. That too, is a great excitement — not to be!
“I know what it means to be, and the moment has come to know what it means not to be. And when I am no more, what is the problem? Why should I be worried about it? I will not be there to worry, so why waste time now?”
This is the man who loves himself. Even the responsibility of death he has chosen — because the court had nothing against him; it was just public prejudice, the prejudice of the mediocre people who could not understand the great flights of intelligence of Socrates. But they were in the majority, and they all decided on death for Socrates.
They could not answer a single argument proposed by him. I think they could not even understand what he was saying — answering was out of the question. And he destroyed all their arguments; still, it was a city democracy — the people decided that this man is dangerous, he should be given poison. What was his fault? His fault was that “He makes our youth rebellious, he makes our youth skeptical, he makes our youth strange. He creates a gap between the older generation and the younger generation.
They don’t listen to us anymore, they argue about everything — and it is because of this man.” But the judges were a little better than the common people. They said to Socrates, “We give you a few alternatives. If you leave Athens and promise never to come back again, you can save yourself from death. Or, if you want to remain in Athens, then stop speaking, go into silence. Then too we can persuade the people to let you live. Otherwise, the third alternative is: tomorrow as the sun sets you will have to drink poison.”
What did Socrates do? He said, “I am ready to take the poison tomorrow or today, whenever the poison is ready, but I cannot stop saying the truth. If I am alive I will go on saying it till my last breath. And I cannot leave Athens just to save myself, because then I will feel always a weakling who became afraid of death, who escaped death, who could not take the responsibility of death also. I have lived according to my own thinking, feeling, being; I want to die that way also.
“And don’t feel guilty. Nobody is responsible for my death, I am responsible. I knew that it was going to happen, because to talk about truth in a society which lives on lies, deceptions, illusions, is to ask for death. Don’t blame these poor people who have decided for my death. If anybody is responsible, I am. And I want you all to know that I lived on my responsibility, and I am dying on my responsibility. “Living, I was an individual. Dying, I am an individual. Nobody decides for me; I am decisive about myself.”
This is dignity. This is integrity. This is what a human being should be. And if the whole earth is full of people like this man, we can make this earth so beautiful, so ecstatic, so abundant in everything…. But the individual is missing, so you have to take responsibility for yourself. But you will be able to take it only if you start loving whatever you are: this is the way existence wanted you to be. If existence wanted another Jesus Christ, it would have created one. To be Christian is ugly, to be Mohammedan is ugly, to be Hindu is ugly.
Be yourself, just yourself, simply yourself. And remember, you are taking a great risk when you declare that you are simply yourself. You don’t belong to any crowd, any herd. These are all herds: Hindus, Mohammedans, Christians, communists. You are declaring yourself an individual, knowing perfectly well that it is risky. The crowd may not forgive you at all. But it is so beautiful to take the risk, to move on the razor’s edge where every step is dangerous. The more dangerously you live, the more you live.
The only crime of people like Socrates was that they were immensely happy people, and their happiness created immense envy in the great masses which are living in misery. The masses could not tolerate such happy people; they have to be destroyed because they provoke inside you a possibility of revolt, and you are afraid of that revolt. Once a man falls in love with rebellion, he is on the right path.