Question : Why am I such a
Beggar for Attention? What can I do about it?
Osho : It is one of the human
weaknesses, one of the deep-rooted frailties, to seek attention.
The reason one seeks attention is because one does not know
oneself. It is only in other people's eyes one can see his face,
in their opinions he can find his personality. What they say
matters immensely. If they neglect him, ignore him, he feels
lost. If you pass by and nobody takes any attention, you will
start losing what you have put together -- your
personality. It is something that you have put together. You
have not discovered it, it is not natural.
It is very artificial and very arbitrary. It is not only you who
is a beggar for attention; almost everybody is. And the
situation cannot change until you discover your authentic self
-- which does not depend on anybody's opinion, attention,
criticism, indifference, which does not have anything to do with
anybody else. Because very few people have been able to discover
their reality, the whole world is full of beggars. Deep down you
are all trying to find attention; it is nourishment for your
Even if people condemn you, criticize you, are against you, that
is acceptable, at least they are paying attention to you; if
they are friendly, respectful, of course that is far better, but
you cannot survive as a personality without some kind of
attention. It can be negative, it can be positive, it doesn't
matter. People must say something about you; respectful or
disrespectful, both fulfill the same purpose. I would like you
to think about the word `respect'. It does not mean honor, as it
is said in all the dictionaries without exception.
Respect simply means looking again, re-spect. When you are
passing by on the road, somebody looks back again, you have
caught his eye -- you are somebody. Because respect gives you
the idea of being somebody special, you can do anything stupid
just to get attention. In all the ages people have tried in a
thousand and one ways to get attention. Those ways are not
necessarily rational -- for example, the punks in the West. What
are they really wanting by cutting their hair in strange and
weird ways, and then painting it with different psychedelic
What are they wanting? They are beggars. You should not be angry
with them because that is what they want. You should not condemn
them because that is what they want. Their parents should not
criticize them because that is what they want. They cannot
survive without people paying attention to them. People have
done all kinds of things you may not believe in the past. People
have remained naked.... What was the need for Mahavira or
Diogenes to be naked? It is no longer natural for man to be
naked in all the seasons; he lost that capacity long ago.
All animals are naked, but they have a natural immunity. When it
is winter their hair grows, when it is hot summer
their hair falls. Nature has given them a protection. The same
protection was available to man too, but man is intelligent and
can improve on nature. He found ways to cover his body according
to the seasons. Naturally his body lost the natural growth of
hairs. Now, to be naked... suddenly your body cannot create the
mechanism to protect you.
I know Mahavira or Diogenes are unique individuals, but I think
they were a little uncertain of their uniqueness. They fulfilled
that suspicion, that missing gap, by being naked, because you
cannot avoid giving attention to a naked person in a world where
everybody is wearing clothes. The naked person stands aloof. You
cannot avoid... it is almost irresistible to look at him, to
ask, "What is the matter?"
But their nakedness became something spiritual; people started
being respectful just because they were naked. Now, nakedness is
not a quality or any qualification or any creativity; all the
animals, all the birds, all the trees are naked. There are still
Jaina monks in India, not more than twenty. They used to be in
thousands, but now to find that many stupid people is a little
difficult. One Jaina monk dies and is not replaced, so their
number goes on falling.
Only twenty people all over India are still naked --and I have
seen many of them; they don't show any sign of intelligence,
they don't show any quality of silence, they don't show any joy.
Their faces are sad, dull, sleepy. They are suffering, they are
torturing themselves, just for the simple reason that it brings
the attention of the people.
Anything, howsoever stupid, is possible for man if it can bring
attention to him.
In Russia before the revolution there was a Christian sect which
used to cut their genitals publicly on a particular day each
year -- and they had thousands of followers. Their only
qualification for being spiritual was that they had cut their
genitals. When the day arrived, they would gather in a church
courtyard and they would cut their genitals and pile them up.
And thousands of people would come to see this stupidity.
The women were not left behind... of course they were in a
difficulty because they don't have hanging genitals to cut;
their genitals are inwards. They started cutting their breasts
-- they were not ready to be left behind. It was such a messy
and bloody affair, but people were touching their feet,
worshiping them, and all that they have done is just an ugly act
against nature and against themselves.
What is significant if a man goes on a fast? Mahatma Gandhi used
the strategy his whole life: It was nothing but catching the
attention of the whole nation. And if he was going to fast unto
death, the whole world's attention was immediately caught.
Otherwise there is no spirituality in fasting: millions die
starving. Millions are going to die in the coming ten, twelve
years from starvation. Nobody will give any honor or respect to
them. Why? Because
their starvation is inevitable.
They are not starving wilfully but because they don't have food;
they are simply poor and starving people. But Mahatma Gandhi had
everything available to him, although he lived like a poor man.
One of his intimate followers, a very intelligent woman,
Sarojini Naidu -- has a statement on record that to keep Mahatma
Gandhi poor they had to spend treasures on him. It was not a
simple poverty, it was a managed show. He would not drink the
milk from a buffalo because it is rich, rich with vitamin A and
He would not drink the milk of a cow because that too is rich,
and poor people cannot afford it. He would drink only the milk
of a goat, because that is the cheapest animal and poor people
can afford it. But you will be surprised: his goat was being
washed twice a day with Lux toilet soap! His goat's food
consisted of the richest nourishment that any rich man may feel
jealous of. It is such an insane world! The goat was given the
milk of a cow to drink. Cashew nuts, apples and other nourishing
fruits were her only food; she was not living on grass.
Her daily food in those old days cost ten rupees per day; that
ten rupees per day in those days was enough for a man to live
for a whole month. And Gandhi was traveling third class.
Naturally, he was attracting attention -- a great man is
traveling third class! But nobody saw that the third class
compartment, which could have carried sixty people at least, was
carrying only a single man; it is far more costly than the
air-conditioned compartment. But it attracted attention.
Attention gives you tremendous nourishment for the ego.
Politicians can pretend to be religious if religion is
attractive. Because they need attention their whole personality
is false. It depends on how many people are following them; it
depends on the number of people who are attentive to them. It is
a politics of numbers. The Catholic pope is against birth
control, against abortion, not because he is compassionate,
saying, "This is absolute cruelty and violence," not because he
is life-affirmative -- the whole Catholic attitude is
life-negative, it is against life.
Then why this insistence that there should be no birth control
and no abortion? Because this is the only way to increase the
number of Catholics, and this is the only way to make other
people so poor that they have to come under the fold of the
Catholic empire. Now that there are so many orphans in India,
Catholics have a good opportunity. And one wonders... a woman
like Mother Teresa is awarded a Nobel prize, is awarded many
doctorates in India by Indian universities, is awarded prizes by
the Indian government, all because she is taking care of
But nobody thinks that that care simply means converting those
orphans into Catholics. Naturally Mother Teresa cannot be in
favor of birth control -- from where will she get the orphans?
Christianity cannot be in favor of a world which is rich. The
scientists are declaring continually that we have come to such a
point of technological progress that now there is no need for
anybody to be hungry, to be starving or dying because of
shortage of food.
It has never before been possible, but now scientists are saying
that we can feed five billion people very easily, we can feed
even more -- but those voices are silenced. No politician pays
any attention, because politicians are also interested in having
a big following. Your so-called religious leaders, your
so-called political leaders, all need attention, all need their
names and their photos continually in the newspapers, because if
anybody's name for a few months, people forget that man also.
Now what do you know about Richard Nixon?
Where is that poor fellow? One day he was the greatest, most
powerful man on the earth, and now you will only hear about him
the day he dies, and that too will be on the third, fourth page
of the newspapers in a small column. What happens to these
powerful people? When they lose people's attention, their
personality starts disappearing.
I have known many political leaders in this country. Perhaps
this country has more ex-ministers, chief ministers, governors
than any other country. Once they become "ex" they are finished.
Then nobody pays any attention to them, nobody asks them to
inaugurate bridges, railway lines, hospitals, schools. No paper
even bothers where they are, whether they are alive or dead. And
there was a time when they were in the newspapers every day, on
the radios, on television. It is not only your problem, that you
are a beggar for attention; it is a human reality. And the
reason is that you depend on your personality -- which is false,
which has been created by the society, and which can be taken
away by society. Don't depend on it. It is not in your
A group of Jewish
mothers were drinking coffee together, and
bragging about their children. One had a four-year-old who could
read already. Another had a five-year-old who had already
appeared on television. Then Becky Goldberg spoke up and said,
You should see my little Hymie. He is only five years old, but
the other day he went to the psychiatrist all by himself!"
A middle-aged woman confessed to her priest that she was
"Why do you think so?" asked the priest.
"Because," replied the woman, "every time I look in the mirror I
am inspired by my beauty."
"Don't worry," said the priest, "that's not a sin, that's only a
It was a big meeting of the medical society in honor of an ear
specialist who was retiring after more than fifty years of
service. As a gift, they presented him with a golden ear. He
stood up to make a speech, and after the applause had died down,
he looked at his gift and
said, "Thank god I was not a gynecologist!"
Don't depend on others! Be independent in
your being. Just listen to your inner voice. You can
listen the moment you start stilling and silencing your mind --
and it is not difficult. And when I say it is not difficult, I
say it with absolute authority: It is not difficult! If it has
happened to me, it can happen to you -- there is no difference.
All human beings are potentially capable to know themselves. And
the moment you know yourself, then nobody
can take away your individuality. Even if they kill you, they
can only kill your body, not you.
An individual is the only person who can get rid of this state
of begging; otherwise you are going to remain a beggar your
whole life. But if you want to get rid of this begging, you will
have to get rid of your ego and your personality. You will have
to learn that there is nothing in respect, there is nothing in
reputation, there is nothing in respectability. They are all
bogus words, meaningless, contentless. The reality belongs to
you, but unless you discover it, you will have to depend on
You are emperors, but you have to discover yourself. And this
discovery is not difficult: Your kingdom is within you. You just
have to learn to close your eyes and look inwards. A little
discipline, a little learning not to remain focused on the
outside continuously, but to turn inwards at least once or twice
a day, whenever you can find time... slowly, slowly you start
becoming aware of your eternal being. Then the idea of attention
And the miracle is: the day you don't need anybody's attention,
people start feeling your charisma, because charisma is the
radiation of your individuality. They start feeling that you are
somebody special, unique -- although they cannot pinpoint where
your uniqueness is, what it is that attracts like a magnet.
People who have discovered themselves have found thousands of
people attracted towards them, but they are not asking for it.
Related Osho Discourses:
Why do I always Compromise
I don't like
Myself, Specially my Body
Can you say some thing about Guilt and
Osho - why do you ask people to
Osho on Trusting
oneself and stop doing Imitation
Osho - I am addicted to telling lies. Why do I do it?
Inferiority Complex and Superiority Complex
Osho on need for
Approval and Acceptance from others
Osho - Imitation will make you very stupid,
Osho on need for Approval and Acceptance from others
I am so terribly
Ugly and I have suffered much because of that.
Why is it so difficult and
scary to show your Feelings and Just to be Yourself?
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