Question – Why am i always afraid of other’s opinion?
Osho – Because you are not, because you are not yet. You are nothing but a piled-up phenomenon of others’ opinion. Who are you? Somebody says you are beautiful, so you are beautiful. And somebody says you are ugly, so you are ugly. And somebody says you are wonderful, so you are wonderful. And somebody says ’I have never seen such a nasty person’, so you are a nasty person. And people go on saying, and you go on collecting all these things. And that is your image. That’s why your image is very contradictory, ambiguous.
One person says you are beautiful, another says you are ugly. You want to forget this person’s idea that you are ugly, but you cannot forget it; it will be there. If you keep the opinion that you are beautiful you will have to keep the opinion that you are ugly too.
Your image is very ambiguous. You don’t know exactly who you are. You are a hodge-podge, what we in India call a KEDGEREE, a mixture of so many things. You don’t have a soul yet. You don’t have any individuality, you don’t have any integrated centre; you are just a junkyard of others’ opinions. That’s why you are afraid, because if others’ opinions change, you change. You are in the grip of THEIR hands. And this is the trick society has used.
Society has a technique: it makes you very ambitious for social respect – through it, it manipulates you. If you follow the rules of society, it respects you. If you don’t follow the rules of society, it insults you tremendously, it hurts you very badly. And to follow the rules of society is to become a slave. Yes, it pays you great respect for being a slave, but if you want to be a free man, the society becomes angry: it does not want to have anything to do with you.
To really be a free man and to exist in any society is very difficult. And I say it to you from my own experience. It is almost impossible to co-exist, because the society does not want any free man. The free man is a danger to the society’s existence. The society likes zombies, machines, robots – always ready just to fall anywhere into a queue. Just call loudly to them ’Attention!’ and they start falling in line just mechanically. They don’t ask why; they are imitators.
Now the society pays them well. It gives them respect, it gives them prizes, awards, honours – it has to, this is the trick. It never gives any award to those who are free, it never honours them. How can it honour them? – they are enemies. A free man is an enemy in an unfree society. A moral man is an enemy in an immoral society. A religious man is an enemy in an irreligious society. In a world of materialism, a spiritual man is always in difficulty: he does not fit in anywhere.
To fit in with others, the society gives you as much as you want – it gives you a good image, it buttresses you. But if you don’t listen, then it starts changing its opinion. It can demolish you within seconds, because your image is in social hands. So this is the first thing to be understood.
You ask: WHY AM I ALWAYS AFRAID OF OTHERS’ OPINION? Because you are not yet. You are nothing but others’ opinion, hence the fear: they can take back their opinion. The priest has said that you are a very good man. Now, if you behave, you will remain a good man. If you don’t behave according to him – and he may be himself a neurotic, but you have to behave according to him – if you don’t behave, if you do something on your own, the priest will look at you and say ’Now you are going against morality. You are going against religion, you are going against tradition. You are falling into sin!’ He will change his opinion of you. And you were ’good’ because of his opinion.
Be yourself. Nobody can make you good and nobody can make you bad except yourself. Nobody can make you good and nobody can make you bad. These false images are just living in dreams.
A man was told by his doctor ’You are going to make medical history, man. You are the only male ever recorded who has become pregnant!’
The man replied ’This is terrible. Whatever will the neighbours say? I am not even married!’ Now, he is not interested in history and in setting a medical record. He is worried about what the neighbours will say because he is not even married.
We are continuously afraid. This fear will continue if you don’t drop collecting opinions. Drop them – all opinions. Somebody believes that you are a saint? Drop it, because he is dangerous; he will manipulate you through his idea. Once you listen to him and you believe him, he becomes the master and you become the slave.
Sometimes people come to me and they say ’You are a great saint.’ I say ’Sorry, excuse me. Never utter such a word to me, because I am not going to be manipulated by anybody. I am just myself; saint or sinner, that doesn’t matter.’ The man is thinking that he is trying to praise me. Maybe he is not even aware of what he is doing.
Whenever you praise a person, you become powerful. Whenever you praise a person and he accepts your praise, he has fallen a victim. Now you will control him. Now whenever he wants to do something – any innocent thing…
Just think. You call a certain man a saint, a MAHATMA, a great sage. Now one day he wants to smoke – what to do? He cannot smoke, because what will happen to his sainthood? Now it seems too much to pay – with sainthood – just for a smoke. He cannot smoke because so many people call him a saint. Or, he will become a hypocrite. He may start smoking behind the door and he will not say that he smokes. He will condemn smoking like anything when he is in public. Then he will have two faces: the public and the private. Then he will be split.
Never accept others’ opinions – good or bad. Just tell them ’Sorry. Please keep your opinion to yourself. I am myself.’ If you can remain that alert, nobody will ever be able to manipulate you; you will remain free. And freedom is joy. Freedom is difficult, remember, because society consists of slaves. Freedom is difficult, but freedom is the only joy there is. Freedom is the only dance there is; and freedom is the only door towards God. A slave never reaches to God; he cannot.
Source – Osho Book “The Tantra Vision, Vol 2”