28 Apr You have to take responsibility for yourself… (OSHO)
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….
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.