Who Is the Rebel? – Rebellion in the Age of Rage

Man showing great courage, one of the individual qualities of a Rebel

Does the rebel belong to any category?

“The rebel, by his very nature, cannot belong to any existent categories; he is a new category. He introduces a new man into the world. He is a herald of a new dawn, a new beginning.

“No category of the past can contain him; all the categories that have existed up to now have proved either failures, or insufficient to change the whole of humanity.

The rebel is the seed for the transformation of all.

“There have been great people in the world, but even the greatest of them are very small in comparison to the authentic rebel I am talking about because they all, in some way or other, compromise with the establishment. That’s where the rebel differs from them all.

“They were wise, they were creative artists, they were musicians, dancers, all kinds of people – the past has produced many luminous figures; but something is missing in them. The basic thing missing is they all lived in a compromise with the vested interests. None of them was total in his rebelliousness.

“Yes, partial rebels have existed, but a partial rebel is not enough. Man needs total rebels to change the destiny of mankind from turning into a graveyard – to turn its direction toward the Garden of Eden.

“The rebel will have to create a category for himself by his own living, by his own responses. He will become absolutely discontinuous with the past through his own creativity, his love and his own non-compromising approach. The rebel will not have any past, any history. He will have only the present and a vast future which is open – not dominated by the dead past because there is no past for the rebel.

The rebel means absolute freedom, absolute love, absolute creativity. He is a totally new kind of man who has been dreamed of by a few people in the past – by a few poets, by a few philosophers, by a few mystics.

“But it has remained a dream – so much so that people started calling these poets and mystics “utopians.”

“The word utopia means, in its roots, ‘that which never comes.’ You can dream about it, but your dream is an exercise in utter futility; it is utopian, it is not going to come, ever. It is a hopeless hope. It is opium to keep people dreaming and hallucinating, so that they can tolerate the suffering and misery of the present.

The rebel is not a dream; the rebel is a reality. He is not a utopia, he is an actual realization of man’s potential; he is a promise fulfilled, a dream realized.

“Naturally, he cannot belong to any existent category. He will have to create his own category. It will be created by the very fact that many, many intelligent people – youthful, alive – are ready to take the challenge of an unknown future. Slowly, slowly a category will form by itself.

“There are barriers for the rebel-to-come. The most important barrier is that he has to go against the crowd, and the crowd has all the power. The rebel is very vulnerable, as vulnerable as a roseflower. You can destroy the roseflower very easily; you can crucify a rebel without any difficulty.

“But I am now feeling a tremendous certainty that the rebel is going to be born – perhaps he is already born. It will just take people a little time to recognize him; he is so new, he does not fit in any category. Hence, some time gap is needed to create a category and to recognize him.

Why am I so certain? I am so certain because man has come to a crisis that he has never encountered before.

“He has to choose either for a new man or for committing global suicide – and I don’t think that people are going to choose global suicide. That is my guarantee, that is my hope that the new man is bound to arise.

“The days of the old man are over. He has lived too long, almost posthumously. He should have been dead long ago, but he has been dragging his corpse. Now his time is finished. He himself has created the situation in which only the new man, the rebellious man – rebelling against all religions, governments, establishments and vested interests – can survive. He will rebel against all that has been keeping man blind, holding him a prisoner, forcing him to live in dark tunnels, never allowing him to know the beauties of life.

“The old man has created such a situation, which was bound to happen; it was coming by and by. Each war was becoming more and more dangerous.

“Albert Einstein was asked, “Do you have something to say about the Third World War?”

“He said, ‘I am sorry. I cannot say anything about the Third World War, but if you want to know about the fourth, I can say something.’

“The man who had asked the question simply could not believe it. If he could not say anything about the third, what could he say about the fourth?

“He asked him, unbelievingly, ‘Okay, what can you say about the fourth?’

“And Albert Einstein said, ‘The fourth will never happen – that much can be said about the fourth! About the third, nothing can be said.’

“All your great warriors, all your historical figures, all your so-called great men have brought death so close that now man has to choose.

There is no other alternative than a new man.

“The old man has erased himself out of existence.

“The rebel will have a new morality – not according to any commandments, but according to his consciousness. He will have a new religiousness; he will not belong to any religion because that is absolutely stupid. Religiousness is a private and personal phenomenon. It is just like love: it cannot be organized. The moment you organize truth or love, you kill them. Organization functions almost like poison.

“The new man will not be a Christian or a Hindu, a Mohammedan or a Buddhist. He will simply be religious. Religiousness will be taken not as a belief, but as a way of life. A graceful, beautiful, responsible way – a way full of consciousness and full of love, full of sharing and friendliness; and a way of creating one world without any boundaries.

No armies are needed, no weapons are needed, no nations are needed, and no religions are needed. All that is needed is a little meditativeness, a little silence, a little love, a little more humanity. Just a little more, and existence will become fragrant with something so totally unique and new that you will have to find a new category for it.

“Man is getting tired of everything old – the old politics, the old religion, the old spirituality, the old saintliness, the old values. Man is getting utterly bored. This century has given birth to only one philosophical school, and that is existentialism. In existentialism, boredom is the central theme – not God, not whether existence consists of matter or consciousness, not heaven and hell, not theories about reincarnation, about rebirth. The main theme is boredom.

“It is not a small matter that the best thinkers of this age are finding that man’s most essential need today is how to get out of this boredom. It is becoming heavier and heavier, like a black cloud, and destroying all joy; making life meaningless, creating a situation in which it seems that to be born is a curse, not a blessing. The philosophers are saying that life is a curse, a meaningless boredom, an unending anguish which serves no purpose at all. You suffer so much, you sacrifice so much, and the end result is simply nothing.

“The politicians have brought the nations into a state of continuous war – sometimes cold, sometimes hot but the war continues; and scientists have provided the means to destroy this earth at least seven hundred times. That calculation of seven hundred times is almost ten years old. Within these ten years, they must have become able to destroy the earth at least seven thousand times – so many nuclear weapons!

“It is a strange combination: philosophers giving the idea of suicide as the only way out of this mess, and politicians creating communism, democracy, socialism, fascism, all kinds of ideologies – not for man, but man is there to be sacrificed for these ideologies. And the scientists have created the right weapons in the right time, so that at any moment all of life on this planet can disappear.

“I don’t think it is going to happen, although preparations are complete – more than complete. It is not going to happen because life has an intrinsic longing to live forever, to love forever; it is not desirous of death.

Hence the guarantee of a new man, a rebellious man who will destroy all that which has been bringing man close to ultimate death.

“The obstacles are great, but those obstacles also have a positive side. Because they are bringing death to humanity, humanity is bound to search for a way to survive.

A great rebelliousness is being born against nations, religions and stupid philosophies like existentialism – against a destructive science and technology, against politicians and religious leaders who are dividing humanity and discriminating between people for no reason at all.

“The new man has every chance to be the savior. Jesus is not going to come to save humanity, neither will Gautam Buddha, nor Krishna. But a rebellious youth around the world is going to be the savior. I trust in the young people; I trust in their longing for love, I trust in their longing for life, I trust in their longing for singing and dancing and playing music. I don’t see that they are ready to die.

“If the old people decide to die, they can commit suicide – nobody is preventing them. If the politicians are so interested in dying, they can jump into the ocean.

But they have no right to destroy those who have not even tasted the joys of life, who have not even breathed the fragrance of existence, who have not even seen the beauty of flowers and stars, the sun and the moon.

“There are so many who have not yet known themselves, who have not yet been travelers of their own interiority, who are absolutely unacquainted with their own subjectivity, with their own treasures.

“No! The young people of the world, whatever their age – and anybody who loves life is young, even on his deathbed if he loves life he is young – all those who are lovers of life are going to create the right atmosphere to welcome the rebellious spirit of man because there is no other alternative.

My certainty about the rebel as the savior of man and this planet is absolute – categorically absolute. The rebel just has to be unafraid of public opinion, unafraid of the crowd, unafraid of masks, attitudes.

“Just don’t be worried about local newspapers, public opinion, what people say about you. These are the ways that the masses have been dominating individuals for centuries. Those who want to be themselves must not be bothered about what the retarded masses say about them. The retarded masses have always been against any revolution, any rebellion, any change – even the smallest changes, and the masses have condemned them.

“When railway trains began operating for the first time, the priests, the archbishops, and the pope all condemned them. They said that God never created railway trains when he created the world, so these railway trains must be the invention of the Devil. And they looked like the Devil; particularly the older versions of railway trains and their engines certainly looked ferocious, ugly, very evil. The churches prohibited their congregations, saying, “Nobody should enter these railway trains because the Devil is going to destroy you.”

“The railway train was not going very far, only ten miles. For the first experiment, the railway company was offering a free ticket, breakfast and lunch. It was to be a joyous journey for ten miles, a historical experience because nobody had ever been in a railway train. These were the first passengers.

“But then too, people who had never been regular churchgoers had gathered to listen to the bishops, to the cardinals, to the archbishop; every church was full. Those people were saying, ‘Don’t be persuaded by the Devil. Listen, they are promising you – without tickets – breakfast, lunch, a joyous journey.” And they said, “You don’t know – these trains will certainly start, but they will never stop.’

“It was said by the archbishop of England, ‘These trains are managed by the Devil in such a way that once you enter they will start, but they will not stop. Then what will you do? Just one breakfast, one lunch, and your life is finished!’

“People were very afraid – on the one hand very excited, on the other hand very much afraid. Only criminals, a few daredevils, said, ‘Okay, if they don’t stop, nothing to worry – we will see.’

“When the first few people entered, a few others who were a little less daring said, ‘If those other people are entering, let us take a risk.’

“But still the compartments were almost empty; in a compartment for sixty people there were only five or ten people. In the whole train there were not more than one hundred people – trembling, eating breakfast, but knowing well, ‘This is the last breakfast; just wait for lunch and then it’s finished.’ The train was going very fast and they had never seen anything like it. Unless the Devil was driving it, such speed seemed impossible.

“The pope, the archbishops and the great Christian leaders proved to be foolish: the train came back – it stopped. But everything new, even an innocent thing like a railway train, and the masses are against it.

The masses are in the grip of the religious leaders, of the political leaders, and these people don’t want any change to happen because every change means a danger to the status quo, a danger to the establishment.

“Any change is going to bring other changes, and they will have to adjust to those changes. Who knows – are those adjustments going to be favorable to them, or unfavorable? Life for those leaders of the establishment is so comfortable and so luxurious it is better that everything remains the same.

“But now the situation is totally different. The establishment itself has brought the situation of an ultimate change: either life or death. And the choice is such that I don’t think anybody is going to choose death.

“If people choose life, they will have to choose life values. Then the old renunciation that came with all religions will become out-of-date; saintliness will have to find new dimensions. Then poets and painters, singers and dancers will be the saints. Then meditators, the enlightened people, the more conscious and awakened people will be the sages.

We are coming close to a tremendous transformation, and we are going to see it in our own lives – something so rare and unique which has never happened before, and will never happen again. You should feel fortunate, blessed, to see the great transformation of all the old values, of all the old ideals – to see the birth of new values, new ideals, new categories of honor and respectability.


Abridged from Osho, The Rebel, Talk #6 – Herald a New Dawn

You can read this complete talk and see all the available formats here.

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