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Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously

Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously

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by Osho

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Courage is not the absence of fear, says Osho. It is, rather, the total presence of fear, with the courage to face it. This book provides a bird's-eye view of the whole terrain--where fears originate, how to understand them, and how to find the courage to face them. In the process, Osho proposes that whenever we are faced with uncertainty and change in our lives,


Courage is not the absence of fear, says Osho. It is, rather, the total presence of fear, with the courage to face it. This book provides a bird's-eye view of the whole terrain--where fears originate, how to understand them, and how to find the courage to face them. In the process, Osho proposes that whenever we are faced with uncertainty and change in our lives, it is actually a cause for celebration. Instead of trying to hang on to the familiar and the known, we can learn to enjoy these situations as opportunities for adventure and for deepening our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

The book begins with an in-depth exploration of the meaning of courage and how it is expressed in the everyday life of the individual. Unlike books that focus on heroic acts of courage in exceptional circumstances, the focus here is on developing the inner courage that enables us to lead authentic and fulfilling lives on a day-to-day basis. This is the courage to change when change is needed, the courage to stand up for our own truth, even against the opinions of others, and the courage to embrace the unknown in spite of our fears-in our relationships, in our careers, or in the ongoing journey of understanding who we are and why we are here.

Courage also features a number of meditation techniques specifically designed by Osho to help people deal with their fears.

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St. Martin's Press
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Osho Insights for a New Way of Living
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The Joy of Living Dangerously

By Osho

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1999 Osho International Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-9199-5



In the beginning there is not much difference between the coward and the courageous person. The only difference is, the coward listens to his fears and follows them, and the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person goes into the unknown in spite of all the fears.

Courage means going into the unknown in spite of all the fears. Courage does not mean fearlessness. Fearlessness happens if you go on being courageous and more courageous. That is the ultimate experience of courage — fearlessness: That is the fragrance when the courage has become absolute. But in the beginning there is not much difference between the coward and the courageous person. The only difference is that the coward listens to his fears and follows them, and the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person goes into the unknown in spite of all the fears. He knows the fears, the fears are there.

When you go into the uncharted sea, like Columbus did, there is fear, immense fear, because one never knows what is going to happen. You are leaving the shore of safety. You were perfectly okay, in a way; only one thing was missing — adventure. Going into the unknown gives you a thrill. The heart starts pulsating again; again you are alive, fully alive. Every fiber of your being is alive because you have accepted the challenge of the unknown.

To accept the challenge of the unknown, in spite of all fears, is courage. The fears are there, but if you go on accepting the challenge again and again, slowly slowly those fears disappear. The experience of the joy that the unknown brings, the great ecstasy that starts happening with the unknown, makes you strong enough, gives you a certain integrity, makes your intelligence sharp. For the first time you start feeling that life is not just a boredom but an adventure. Then slowly slowly fears disappear; then you are always seeking and searching for some adventure.

But basically courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar, the comfortable for the uncomfortable, arduous pilgrimage to some unknown destination. One never knows whether one will be able to make it or not. It is gambling, but only the gamblers know what life is.


Life does not listen to your logic; it goes on its own way, undisturbed. You have to listen to life; life will not listen to your logic, it does not bother about your logic.

When you move into life, what do you see? A great storm comes, and big trees fall. They should survive, according to Charles Darwin, because they are the fittest, strongest, most powerful. Look at an ancient tree, three hundred feet high, three thousand years old. The very presence of the tree creates strength, gives a feeling of strength and power. Millions of roots have spread inside the earth, gone deep, and the tree is standing with power. Of course the tree fights — it doesn't want to yield, to surrender — but after the storm, it has fallen, it is dead, it is no longer alive, and all that strength has gone. The storm was too much — the storm is always too much, because the storm comes from the whole, and a tree is just an individual.

Then there are small plants and ordinary grass — when the storm comes the grass yields, and the storm cannot do any harm to it. At the most it can give it a good cleansing, that's all; all the dirt that has gathered on it is washed away. The storm gives it a good bath, and when the storm has gone, the small plants and the grasses are again dancing high. The grass has almost no roots, it can be pulled out by a small child, but the storm was defeated. What happened?

The grass followed the way of Tao, the way of Lao Tzu, and the big tree followed Charles Darwin. The big tree was very logical: it tried to resist, it tried to show its strength. If you try to show your strength, you will be defeated. All Hitlers, all Napoleons, all Alexanders are big trees, strong trees. They will all be defeated. Lao Tzus are just like small plants: nobody can defeat them because they are always ready to yield. How can you defeat a person who yields, who says, "I am already defeated," who says, "Sir, you enjoy your victory, there is no need to create any trouble. I'm defeated." Even an Alexander will feel futile before a Lao Tzu, he cannot do anything. It happened; it happened exactly like that ... .

A sannyasin, a mystic by the name of Dandamis, existed in the days of Alexander, in the days when Alexander was in India. Friends had told Alexander when he was leaving for India that when he came back he should bring a sannyasin, because that rare flower flowered only in India. They said, "We would like to see the phenomenon of sannyas, what it is, what exactly a sannyasin is."

He was so engaged in war and struggle and fight that he almost forgot about it, but when he was going back, just on the boundary of India, he suddenly remembered. He was leaving the last village, so he asked his soldiers to go into the village and inquire if there was a sannyasin around there somewhere. By accident Dandamis was there in the village, by the riverside, and the people said, "You have come at the right time. There are many sannyasins, but a real sannyasin is always rare, and he is here now. You can have darshan, you can go and visit him."

Alexander laughed. He said, "I'm not here to have darshan, my soldiers will go and fetch him. I will take him back to the capital of my country."

The villagers said, "It won't be so easy ... ."

Alexander could not believe it — what difficulty could there be? He had conquered emperors, great kings, so with a beggar, a sannyasin, what difficulty could there be? His soldiers went to see this Dandamis, who was standing naked on the bank of the river. They said, "Alexander the Great invites you to accompany him to his country. All comforts, whatsoever you need, will be provided. You will be a royal guest."

The naked fakir laughed and said, "You go and tell your master that a man who calls himself great cannot be great. And nobody can take me anywhere — a sannyasin moves like a cloud, in total freedom. I am not enslaved to anybody."

They said, "You must have heard about Alexander, he is a dangerous man. If you say no to him, he won't listen, he will simply cut your head off!"

Alexander had to go, because the soldiers said, "He is a rare man, luminous, there is something of the unknown around him. He is naked, but you don't feel in his presence that he is naked — later on you remember. He is so powerful that in his presence you simply forget the whole world. He is magnetic, and a great silence surrounds him and the whole area feels as if it is delighting in the man. He is worth seeing, but there seems to be trouble ahead for him, the poor man, because he says that nobody can take him anywhere, that he is nobody's slave."

Alexander went to see him with a naked sword in his hand. Dandamis laughed and said, "Put down your sword, it is useless here. Put it back in the sheath; it is useless here because you can cut only my body, and that I left long ago. Your sword cannot cut me, so put it back; don't be childish."

And it is said that this was the first time Alexander followed somebody else's order; just because of the very presence of the man, he couldn't remember who he was. He put his sword back in the sheath and said, "I have never come across such a beautiful man." And when he was back in his camp he said, "It is difficult to kill a man who is ready to die, it is meaningless to kill him. You can kill a person who fights, then there is some meaning in killing; but you can't kill a man who is ready and who is saying, "This is my head, you can cut it off.'"

And Dandamis actually said, "This is my head, you can cut it off. When the head falls, you will see it falling on the sand and I will also see it falling on the sand, because I am not my body. I am a witness."

Alexander had to report to his friends, "There were sannyasins that I could have brought, but they were not sannyasins. Then I came across a man who was really something rare — and you have heard rightly, this flower is rare, but nobody can force him because he is not afraid of death. When a person is not afraid of death, how can you force him to do anything?" It is your fear that makes you a slave — it is your fear. When you are fearless you are no longer a slave; in fact, it is your fear that forces you to make others slaves before they can try to make a slave out of you.

A man who is fearless is neither afraid of anybody nor makes anybody afraid of him. Fear totally disappears.


The word courage is very interesting. It comes from a Latin root cor, which means "heart." So to be courageous means to live with the heart. And weaklings, only weaklings, live with the head; afraid, they create a security of logic around themselves. Fearful, they close every window and door — with theology, concepts, words, theories — and inside those closed doors and windows, they hide.

The way of the heart is the way of courage. It is to live in insecurity; it is to live in love, and trust; it is to move in the unknown. It is leaving the past and allowing the future to be. Courage is to move on dangerous paths. Life is dangerous, and only cowards can avoid the danger — but then, they are already dead. A person who is alive, really alive, vitally alive, will always move into the unknown. There is danger there, but he will take the risk. The heart is always ready to the the risk, the heart is a gambler. The head is a businessman. The head always calculates — it is cunning. The heart is noncalculating.

This English word courage is beautiful, very interesting. To live through the heart is to discover meaning. A poet lives through the heart and, by and by, in the heart he starts listening to the sounds of the unknown. The head cannot listen; it is very far away from the unknown. The head is filled with the known.

What is your mind? It is all that you have known. It is the past, the dead, that which has gone. Mind is nothing but the accumulated past, the memory. Heart is the future; heart is always the hope, heart is always somewhere in the future. Head thinks about the past; heart dreams about the future.

The future is yet to come. The future is yet to be. The future has yet a possibility — it will come, it is already coming. Every moment the future is becoming the present, and the present is becoming the past. The past has no possibility, it has been used. You have already moved away from it — it is exhausted, it is a dead thing, it is like a grave. The future is like a seed; it is coming, ever coming, always reaching and meeting with the present. You are always moving. The present is nothing but a movement into the future. It is the step that you have already taken; it is going into the future.

EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD WANTS TO BE TRUE because just to be true brings so much joy and such an abundance of blissfulness — why should one be false? You have to have the courage for a little deeper insight: Why are you afraid? What can the world do to you? People can laugh at you, it will do them good — laughter is always a medicine, healthful. People can think you are mad ... just because they think you are mad, you don't become mad.

And if you are authentic about your joy, your tears, your dance, sooner or later there will be people who will start understanding you, who may start joining your caravan. I myself had started alone on the path, and then people went on coming and it became a worldwide caravan! And I have not invited anybody; I have simply done whatever I felt was coming from my heart.

My responsibility is toward my heart, not toward anybody else in the world. So is your responsibility only toward your own being. Don't go against it, because going against it is committing suicide, is destroying yourself. And what is the gain? Even if people give you respect, and people think that you are a very sober, respectable, honorable man, these things are not going to nourish your being. They are not going to give you any more insight into life and its tremendous beauty.

How many millions of people have lived before you on this earth? You don't even know their names; whether they ever lived or not does not make any difference. There have been saints and there have been sinners, and there have been very respectable people, and there have been all kinds of eccentrics, crazy, but they have all disappeared — not even a trace has remained on the earth.

Your sole concern should be to take care of and protect those qualities that you can take with you when death destroys your body, your mind, because these qualities will be your sole companions. They are the only real values, and the people who attain them — only they live; others only pretend to live.

The KGB knocks on Yussel Finkelstein's door one dark night. Yussel opens the door. The KGB man barks out, "Does Yussel Finkelstein live here?"

"No," replies Yussel, standing there in his frayed pajamas.

"No? So what is your name then?"

"Yussel Finkelstein."

The KGB man knocks him to the ground and says,

"Did you just say that you did not live here?"

Yussel replies, "You call this living?"

Just living is not always living. Look at your life. Can you call it a blessing? Can you call it a gift, a present of existence? Would you like this life to be given to you again and again?

DON'T LISTEN TO THE SCRIPTURES — listen to your own heart. That is the only scripture I prescribe: listen very attentively, very consciously, and you will never be wrong. And listening to your own heart, you will never be divided. Listening to your own heart, you will start moving in the right direction, without ever thinking of what is right and what is wrong.

The whole art for the new humanity will consist in the secret of listening to the heart consciously, alertly, attentively. And follow it, go wherever it takes you. Yes, sometimes it will take you into dangers — but remember, those dangers are needed to make you ripe. Sometimes it will take you astray — but remember again, those goings astray are part of growth. Many times you will fall — rise up again, because this is how one gathers strength, by falling and rising again. This is how one becomes integrated.

But don't follow rules imposed from the outside. No imposed rule can ever be right — because rules are invented by people who want to rule you! Yes, sometimes there have been great enlightened people in the world, too — a Buddha, a Jesus, a Krishna, a Mohammed. They have not given rules to the world — they have given their love. But sooner or later the disciples gather together and start making codes of conduct. Once the Master is gone, once the light is gone and they are in deep darkness, they start groping for certain rules to follow, because now the light in which they could have seen is no longer there. Now they will have to depend on rules.

What Jesus did was his own heart's whispering, and what Christians go on doing is not their own hearts' whispering. They are imitators — and the moment you imitate you insult your humanity, you insult your God.

Never be an imitator, be always original. Don't become a carbon copy. But that's what is happening all over the world — carbon copies and carbon copies.

Life is really a dance if you are an original — and you are meant to be an original. Just look how different Krishna is from Buddha. If Krishna had followed Buddha, we would have missed one of the most beautiful men of this earth. Or if Buddha had followed Krishna, he would have been just a poor specimen. Just think of Buddha playing on the flute! — he would have disturbed many people's sleep, he was not a flute player. Just think of Buddha dancing; it looks so ridiculous, just absurd.

And the same is the case with Krishna. Sitting underneath a tree with no flute, with no crown of peacock feathers, with no beautiful clothes — just sitting like a beggar under a tree with closed eyes, nobody dancing around him, nothing of the dance, nothing of the song — and Krishna would look so poor, so impoverished. A Buddha is a Buddha, a Krishna is a Krishna, and you are you. And you are not in any way less than anybody else. Respect yourself, respect your own inner voice and follow it.


Excerpted from Courage by Osho. Copyright © 1999 Osho International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Tom Robbins
Were enough Americans to heed the brilliantly provocative words in this book, we might actually become "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Imagine that!

Meet the Author

Osho is one of the best-known and most provocative spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Beginning in the 1970s he captured the attention of young people from the West who wanted to experience meditation and transformation. More than 20 years after his death, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world.

Osho is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of the twentieth century. Known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, the influence of his teachings continues to grow, reaching seekers of all ages in virtually every country of the world. He is the author of many books, including Love, Freedom, Aloneness; The Book of Secrets; and Innocence, Knowledge, and Wonder.

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Courage: The Joy of Living Dangerously 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once again, Osho helps us see the crazy way we have been taught to live. And, he shows us the way out! I really love this master.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of his best. OSHO has a way of wording things that are user friendly. Rather than just sound redundant, he has an ability to restate his concepts several times in a way whicch serves to emphasis them and aid in reinforcement. Most people are immobilized by fear and often make decisions by default, i.e., letting time go by and by not doing anything, that became the decision. OSHO provides readers with insight into what happens when exposed to fear and more importantly helps them learn how to build courage and find serenity during non-crises when things are calm. Many of OSHO'S books overlap in some respects. That in no way diminishes them. I find there' s always plenty of new material to learn and re-reading about mindfulness or meditation, never grows old. You won't be disappointed. : )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is interesting to read and re-read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago