From Misery to Enlightenment 26

TwentySixth Discourse from the series of 29 discourses - From Misery to Enlightenment by Osho.
You can listen, download or read all of these discourses on

What is corruption? Does it come in a seed or is it learned?
Nature is absolutely innocent.
It knows nothing which can be called corruption.
Corruption is something manufactured by man.
The child is born absolutely innocent, there is no seed of corruption in him. The corruption is created by the society for its own purposes. It does not want innocent people around because there is nothing more dangerous, more rebellious, than innocence.
All the societies are afraid of innocent people because they will not support anything that goes against their innocence, that goes against nature. Hence, the first thing every society does is to corrupt the child. The sooner you do it, the better, because as the child matures it becomes more and more difficult to corrupt him.
The child has to be corrupted in the very early stages when he is helpless, vulnerable, when he has no doubt in his mind, when he simply believes in the parents, in the teachers, in the neighbors. He cannot conceive that these people are going to destroy him. And these people are also not aware that they are destroying their own children.
It is a society of blind people, sleepwalkers.
They go on walking without knowing why, where.
They go on stumbling, hurting themselves and others without even recognizing that this whole pilgrimage is absolutely absurd. Life is here and now, it is not a pilgrimage. It is not a goal somewhere far away that you have to reach. But this is part of the corruption, perhaps the most important part.
Every child is being taught that he is not what he should be.
This is the beginning of the tragedy.
Let me repeat: every child is being taught that he is not what he should be. You have started creating a split between “is” and “should”: “is” is condemned and “should” is praised. “Is” is the truth and “should,” your imagined idea.
You have made the child sick, schizophrenic. Now he will never be at ease, he will never know what it is to be relaxed. You have made him tense for his whole life, for the simple reason that he can never be anything other than he is. He cannot go against nature, nobody can. Nature is your life, your existence, there is nothing beyond nature. There is no way to cross the boundaries of nature, so you are going to remain what you are. But that is condemned.
You cannot become what is being told to you to become.
You are a being.
And all the cultures and all the societies are trying to make you into a becoming.
Between these two words is the whole world of corruption.
When I say you are a being, I mean you need not become anything.
You have simply to blossom, unfold.
Whatever is within you, let it become manifested.
In the child it is a potentiality; if he grows naturally it will become a reality. But no child is allowed to grow naturally. Every child is being forced to become something which he can never become, which is beyond him. It is not his fault. He tries hard; and the harder he tries, the greater is the failure.
You see all around the world people with long faces, sad. What is their misery? What has gone wrong with the whole world?
There is an ancient parable. A man was continually praying to God: “I must be the most miserable, the most condemned person in the whole world. Couldn’t you give me somebody else’s misery? I don’t ask you much. I am not asking you to make me blissful, blessed; I am not worthy of that. But my whole life’s prayer, worship…at least you can do one thing: change my misery with somebody else’s, with anybody’s because I know there is nobody who is in a worse situation than I.”
And that’s how almost everybody feels, because yourself you know from within. Your suffering, your pain, your hurts, your wounds you know from within. You know how many tears you are carrying within your eyes. You know that the face that you show to the world is not your original face. You know that the smile on your lips is as painted as lipstick. Perhaps lipstick is more real – at least it has some material substance in it. Your smile is not even that real. It is just an exercise of your lips, there is nothing behind it.
But you have been told to look happy, to look smart, to look intelligent; to look like somebody special, not just any ABC. You have been made a hypocrite, and you have understood perfectly well that it pays to be a hypocrite. And it is meaningless and pointless to open your wounds before others because nobody is going to help you.
On the contrary, you will become a laughingstock, you will look like an idiot. It is better to keep all that is ugly hidden deep in the basement of your unconsciousness, and show on the surface, at least, that which you are supposed to be but cannot be; so you have to be an actor.
All the societies are turning their people into actors. They have changed the world into a vast stage of a meaningless drama. Most of these people go on simply rehearsing. They don’t even get a chance in this bogus drama to become a president, a prime minister, but they go on carrying on the rehearsal.
This man asked God, “You have to do something; now I cannot bear anymore.” That night he had a dream. He heard a divine voice, saying, “Everybody should collect all his sufferings, miseries, pains, wounds and whatever he wants to get rid of Put them in a bag and come to the temple.”
The man thought his prayer had been heard. He collected everything. He had to carry a huge bag. The size of the bag was bigger than himself; it was too difficult to carry. But this he had been carrying his whole life within himself. Now he could see how much it was. He had never had the guts to look within, at how much junk had collected in the basement. For the first time seeing all this, he could not believe that he had been carrying all this load. Now he could see why he was sad, why he was dragging, not dancing. How can life become a song with all this inside you? It can only be a hypocrisy.
He rushed, dragging his big bag. But what he saw…because the divine voice was not only for himself. All the people from all directions were bringing…. And then he became puzzled because he had always thought these people were happy. He saw a man he knew; he was always smiling, joking – but this man’s bag was bigger than his own! He could not believe his eyes when he saw all the people dragging bigger bags than his. Looking at other people’s bags he started feeling a little proud that his bag was not that big.
And then in the temple the divine voice said, “Hang all your bags around the temple and listen to me carefully” – so they hung up all their bags. But this man was afraid. He wanted – but had not the nerve – to say to God, “Please let me keep my own because at least I am acquainted, I know what is inside the bag. In the first place, everybody else’s bag is bigger than mine. In the second place, I don’t know what they are carrying. I was befooled because they were smiling and happy and singing and dancing, and I thought life was a celebration for them, that only I was suffering. But I know now: everybody is a hypocrite.
“This man is the president, and I thought at least he must be happy at the highest rung of the ladder. Now what more can one expect? I am miserable because I am not even on the first rung of the ladder. I cannot hope to become a president, not at least in a few lifetimes. But this man’s bag is as big as his ladder” – of course, it was a presidential bag. “I don’t want to be the president if this bag comes with it.”
He saw the richest man, he saw the great artist, world famous, he saw the Nobel prize-winner, and he said, “My God! I was unnecessarily suffering. If I had known these people’s insides I would have enjoyed myself. I wasted my life without any reason.”
Now, his only fear was that he might have to choose somebody else’s bag. Then the voice said, “You all close your eyes, and with closed eyes – the lights should be turned off – you can choose anybody’s bag you want.” And what he saw was that before the light was turned off everybody rushed toward his own bag. There was not a single exception; everybody rushed to his own bag. That was even more amazing: just as he rushed toward his own bag, everybody….
He asked his neighbors, “Why are you rushing?”
They said, “At least we know what is in our bag, and we have become accustomed to it. It is, after all, our suffering, our wounds. And man is immensely adjustable – we have become adjusted to all this. Now at this age to have somebody else’s sufferings and to make new adjustments in life will be too much.”
At that very moment his dream was broken. He was perspiring, trembling, holding his pillow tight to his chest. Perhaps that was his bag in the dream.
This parable is significant. If there were some way that you could see people through and through, if there were some windows that you could open and look into people’s heads, one thing you would be bound to conclude: everybody is in the same boat. All are suffering. And the reasons for their suffering – the basis of their suffering – are not different. Details may be different: you have suffered with one wife, somebody else has suffered with another wife – that does not matter: both have suffered in a certain relationship. That relationship is the same.
And why have they suffered? The basic fundamentals are the same. The first fundamental is that you are living a schizophrenic life. That’s from where corruption starts. You are one thing and you have to behave as something else. Naturally you have to lie continuously, you have to be cheating people continuously. The cheating will be condemned by the society, the Lying will be condemned by the society, but the society has created the whole thing. It is a very strange society.
The archbishop of Dublin, in Ireland, has condemned the government of Ireland because the Irish parliament is going to introduce a bill which has become famous as the “Pill Bill.” They want every eighteen-year-old child to be legally qualified to get the pill and other birth control methods, contraceptives, from medical stores, from the druggist.
Up to now it has been illegal in Ireland, it has been a crime. Only a couple married by the church is legally authorized to purchase contraceptives – that too on the prescription of a doctor. And this too is not something that has been going on for many years. It became allowed only in 1979, just five years ago. Five years ago even this was a crime; a married couple also could not use contraceptives. For just five years it has no longer been a crime. Now they want young people, girls, boys, to be freed from this unnecessary criminality and illegality.
Just look at the whole thing to understand what corruption is, who creates it. If five years ago you were using contraceptives, even though you were married, you were a criminal. Was it a crime? If it was a crime then how, just by the parliament changing a law, is it now no longer a crime? Now it is legal. But for an unmarried man or woman it is still a crime. No doctor can prescribe for unmarried couples; he would be committing a crime. Without a prescription, no druggist, no chemist can supply you the contraceptives; he would be committing a crime. And without being married, if you are using them, you are committing a crime.
Now how many people are committing crimes just because a few stupid politicians happen to decide that it is illegal? How many people are being turned toward doing things which look evil? Who decides?
Now if this bill fails – there is every possibility, because the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church has tremendous power in Ireland; if he is against it, all Catholics will be against it. And those politicians are beggars, they depend on people’s votes. Every five years they are standing at your door. If they don’t listen to you, they are losing their next election right now.
They will not be able to pass the bill. The religion is enforcing the law that young people, unmarried, should go on committing crime. Or they have to repress their sex, they have to repress their nature, and that repression begins to create perversions – because nature knows nothing of your strange ideas about morality. Nature is absolutely amoral. Nature will go on forcing young people to be attracted to each other. It is beyond them it is in their chemistry, in their physiology, in their hormones; what can they do?
Now they are in a fix: if they follow nature then there is trouble. The girl may get pregnant; they may be caught, condemned by everybody – by the church, by the society, by the state. They will lose all respect. Or they have to find ways, which are going to be illegal, to acquire contraceptives.
I used to live for a time by the side of a cinema hall. Having nothing to do I used to sit on my balcony and watch the crowd, all kinds of people, going into the cinema hall, coming out. One day I saw a small child, not more than eight or nine years old, with a mustache. I wondered what happened? I came down from my balcony and followed the child. He, seeing me following him, started almost running. I said, “Don’t be afraid. I am not going to harm you or do anything.”
He said, “Just don’t tell anybody.”
I said, “But I don’t know you.”
He said, “You know me, but because of my mustache you cannot recognize me.” Then I looked: he was the son of a doctor I knew perfectly well. I said, “Yes, I know you.”
He said, “Please don’t tell my father.”
“But,” I said, “what has this to do with your mustache?”
He said, “The mustache is because only adults can go to see this picture.”
So I said, “You think that you will be able to deceive people?”
He said, “Think? – I have already been three times. This is the fourth time.”
Now you are forcing this small child into corruption. If the film is such that a child should not see it, then nobody should see it, then this film should not exist. But if adults can see it, then the child has every right, because he is going to become an adult sooner or later. It is better to be acquainted with reality from the very beginning; he should not be prohibited. And anyway he is finding a way to see it; he has already seen it four times.
If it were not prohibited, perhaps he might have seen it one time, or might not even have bothered to see it – because he didn’t see every film that came there. I asked him, “You see every film four times?”
He said, “No, I don’t see every film, but because it was prohibited I had to see it.”
I said, “How did you manage the money? – because I know your father: he won’t give you a single pai to see any film, to say nothing about this one.”
The boy said, “Wherever there is a will there is a way. And the truth is, my father has seen it four times; every time I’ve come he has also been in the hall, but he could not recognize me because of my mustache. He looked, suspected – but I was smoking as well, so he dropped the idea. His son could not smoke, and this mustache…. I have seen him, he has seen me. I have recognized him, he has not recognized me. And I had to steal the money….”
Now, he has to steal the money – you are making him a thief unnecessarily. He has to act as somebody else, with mustache and cigarette; he has to pretend to be an adult. And then he finds that his father is also there, that it is not only he that is curious about the film; his father is also as curious. Four days they saw it because it was only in the town for four days. Every day they were there.
He said to me, “Please don’t tell.”
I said, “Don’t be worried. I really appreciate…. You did perfectly well, there is nothing wrong in it. This whole society is forcing you to do it; it leaves no way except some form of corruption.”
It is unbelievable that in America, in the twentieth century, a man has been sentenced by the court because it is suspected that he is a rapist, to fifty years in jail – or castration. The great American society, the great democracy! And just see the alternative they are giving him. Fifty years of jail; he must be at least thirty, I assume fifty years of jail means he will die in jail. It is a life-long sentence. And even if he survives and comes out after fifty years imprisonment, what hope can he have? He will be eighty years old, thrown into a world which has become absolutely unknown to him in fifty years.
The people he had known would have disappeared. The people that will be there will not be able to understand him, nor will he be able to understand them; there will be such a gap. He will die on some street as a beggar. There is no point….
The alternative is castration, that his sexual organs should be cut off.
Even if it were certain that he did commit a rape – and it is not. Rape is one of the problems which is not so easy to decide and judge; there are so many complexities. But first, just for argument’s sake, let us accept that it is certain that he committed the rape. The question arises: why did he have to go to such lengths to fulfill such a simple desire? Sex is such a simple phenomenon. There is no lack of men or women, there is no necessity for anybody to rape.
But the way the society has been against sex, they have made it a serious problem. It should be simple playfulness – and that’s exactly what it is. Two people are playing tennis, there is no problem. Nobody ever hears that somebody raped…there is no question of raping in tennis. You can play; there is no need to rape. When two people are playing tennis they are using their bodies, their minds. What are they doing when they are making love? – it is just there is not a net in between. And all the contraceptives are nothing but the net! The contraceptives make it really a game, with the net.
The net was missing. God did not supply it to Adam and Eve. Perhaps out of anger he simply kept the net to himself; otherwise, in throwing those two poor people out of the garden of Eden he should at least have given them all the provisions for life.
The society goes on making you very serious about sex. It goes on making you repress your energies. There is a limit to repression; after that limit, the energy takes over Whenever a man commits rape, he is not in his senses, for the simple reason that the rape cannot help him to solve his problem. The rape cannot give him the joy that his whole physiology is asking for. Rape cannot give him the warmth, the love, the receptivity that he needs. It is simply not the answer to his need.
But you have left no other ways. You have forced the man into such a condition that he simply explodes like a volcano. Seeing a woman in a lonely spot he forgets the consequences. He forgets hell, God, The Bible, church, court, constitution; he forgets everything. He is not in his real self, he is not himself; he becomes almost like an animal.
And this is not a way of making love: the woman is screaming, she is shouting and trying to escape. You can call it a fight, you cannot call it love. And he forces himself upon the woman by sheer physical violence. He interferes with the independence of another human being and he gets nothing out of it – he gets castration, or fifty years of imprisonment. This is the orgasm that he gets. And the society is responsible for the whole thing: the court and the judge and the law – they all represent the society.
This is a very cunning way of destroying individuals. On one hand you force them to be criminals, on the other hand you are ready to punish them. But your punishment does not seem to be compassionate; your punishment seems to be a kind of revenge.
If the man has raped, and that is a crime, then the judge who orders his castration – in what category are you going to put that judge? He is not in any way different from a rapist. The society is taking revenge. The society is not being fair, it has not looked into the whole phenomenon.
If you look at the whole phenomenon things are so complicated: perhaps the woman wanted to be raped, then what? Just as the society has created the rapist, the same society has created the repressed woman, so repressed that if anybody approaches her in a friendly way she withdraws in spite of herself. She was hoping somebody would approach and be loving to her, but when somebody does approach her, she withdraws, because her whole conditioning is that this is something ugly, something from the devil.
Suddenly this man is no longer a human being, he is possessed by the devil, and naturally she shrinks out of fear. But how long can she go on shrinking in this way? By and by people stop approaching her; by and by she starts becoming old. By and by she starts becoming fat, because when a woman is not loved she starts eating too much. Eating too much is a substitute for love.
You may have observed it: if you are in a very loving and flowing relationship you will not eat too much, you will never need to diet. Love fills you so much that there is no need to go on stuffing yourself with all kinds of junk. If there is no love you feel so empty. That emptiness hurts, you want to fill it with something. And why do you choose food? – because love and food are associated psychologically.
The child got from the mother’s breast food and love both, simultaneously. Whenever the mother was loving she was willing to give her breast to him, and whenever she was not loving, angry, she used to pull the breast away from him. And the mother’s breast was the first contact with another’s body.
It is not strange that all the painters, sculptors, poets, are so obsessed with the female breast. It seems absolutely unbelievable that for millions of years painters have been painting the female breast, sculptors have been wasting their whole life cutting stones, marble…. If you have been to Indian temples like Khajuraho, you cannot believe it.
Thirty temples are still there. There must have been hundreds more because ruins are there. But even these thirty temples…just one temple is unbelievable; to think of thirty will make you giddy. In just one temple, if you start counting how many naked women are sculptured, you will be at a loss. You will have to start again and again because thousands are on each pillar, on each wall, everywhere; not a single inch is left unsculpted.
And such huge breasts, which are just imagination – such huge breasts don’t exist, cannot exist. The woman has to stand up with that much weight! And the breast’s function is to give milk to the child; if the breast is so rounded no child is going to survive. Because – you try – on an absolutely round breast, a poor, small child, if he tries to drink, his nose will be closed. The child needs a longer breast, not a round breast. A round breast is a sure killer, because he cannot breathe. He will have to choose either to breathe or to take the nourishment from the mother; he cannot do both together.
And Khajuraho is not the only place. In India there are thousands of temples all around: Puri, Konarak, Ellora – beautiful sculpture, but from a sick mind.
Why do all these painters, great painters of the world, go on painting the breast? Somewhere they have been deprived, somewhere the mother was not loving. And more or less every child has been taken off the breast before his time. Only in aboriginal societies is the child given the mother’s breast as long as he wants; and those are the only societies where nobody is obsessed with breasts. They don’t have any paintings of breasts, they don’t have any sculptures of breasts, they don’t have any poetry, no songs, nothing. The breast does not enter their imagination at all.
Because of the breast, love and food become associated deep down in the mind. So whenever you are not being loved you start eating, stuffing yourself. When you are loved that stuffing disappears by itself, there is no need. Love is such a nourishment, such a subtle, invisible nourishment, that who bothers about chewing gum?
I cannot believe that human beings are chewing gum. Has the whole earth gone mad? Chewing gum cannot give you any nourishment, but it must be doing something, something psychological. Perhaps it is a breast substitute, that you go on using your mouth. The whole world is smoking cigarettes, cigars. That too is a substitute, because when the hot, warm smoke of the cigar goes in, it feels almost like milk going in. And the cigar in the mouth….
Just look at Churchill. He looks like such a retarded man – still with his mother’s nipple in his mouth! That cigar is nothing but the nipple of the mother’s breast. And you can see, his body and his face are a clear example that he is love-starved. He is stuffing himself; he is the most stuffed man of this century.
A woman – how long is she capable of repressing her natural desire to be loved, to be fondled, to be appreciated? As she starts becoming older, as she starts becoming fatter, she starts becoming afraid: life is slipping out of her hands. Now she can be unconsciously hoping that somebody at least rapes her. Not that she consciously will think about it; consciously, she reads The Bible, she goes to the church. Consciously these are the things she does: she goes to the church, listens to the sermon, confesses to the priest.
I have heard about a woman who was coming every Sunday to confess to the Catholic priest. One time it was okay. The second time the priest was a little puzzled because it was the same story, that she has been raped. The priest told her, “But that is not your fault. You need not confess; the rapist has to come and confess.”
She said, “But there is a reason why I have come to confess: I enjoyed it! And that makes me feel guilty, that I enjoyed it.”
She came again, a third time. The priest said, “Again!”
She said, “No, it is the same old one.”
The priest said, “Then why you…? You have confessed it already.”
But she said, “The trouble is I enjoyed the confession; now that makes me feel guilty. It was such a joy to describe!”
This is your society. And you ask me, Is corruption something natural that comes as a seed or is it something that is learned? It does not come as a seed and it is not something that is learned: it is something that is taught. And please remember the difference and my emphasis.
It is not something that is learned, because nobody is willingly learning it. It is being forced, it is being taught, and if you don’t learn it you are punished in every possible way. And then there are hangovers, unfinished experiences, which go on following you like a shadow.
In a park three old men were sitting just gossiping There was nothing else to do; everything else was finished, there was only gossiping left. And that was their routine, every day to come there, sit there, and gossip till sunset.
One man said, “One thing I always wanted to tell you…. Because you are such great friends of mine it feels insincere not to tell you. Once it happened that I was looking through the keyhole of the bathroom while a lady guest was taking her bath. And my grandmother caught me red-handed and slapped me.”
One old fellow said, “That’s nothing – this happens to everybody in childhood. It has happened to me, it must have happened to my other friend.”
The other friend also said, “This is…you are an idiot. What nonsense! This happens to everybody. Can you find a child who has not looked through the keyhole in the bathroom sometime or another?”
He said, “You don’t understand. This happened this morning! And I wanted to tell you but….”
Now, an eighty-year-old man looking through a keyhole in the bathroom…. No, it is not a laughing matter; it is something one should cry and weep over. What kind of society have we created? And this man is only a victim, as everybody else is a victim. And society goes on forcing its idiotic ideas on people.
Man will remain corrupted till we stop interfering with his nature. Corruption is a by-product. If somebody somewhere is corrupted, that means his nature has been interfered with. And you will never be able to find the real culprit; you will catch hold of this poor man who is a victim.
In your courts, the people who are being judged and sentenced, imprisoned, or even sentenced to death are not the real culprits, they are victims – victims of a society which has forced them to move in a certain way, to become a certain way which they never wanted. They were always resisting. Every child resists as much as he can, but he has limitations; he cannot resist too long. And he is dependent on you.
In my childhood it was an everyday problem. I had to repeat almost every day to my parents, to my uncles, “You should not take advantage of the fact that I am dependent on you. This is ugly. And you should remember that one day you will be dependent on me. Then what do you want me to do with you? Now I am a child, you can force on me whatsoever you want. I will do my best not to do it if it is against my nature, against my will, but still I am in your hands; you can force me to do something.”
For example, they would take me into the temple and I would simply stand there, and they would all fall down, just as in India it has to be done. All your limbs should touch the earth at the feet of God. I would simply stand there, and they would say, “This is not right, and you make us feel embarrassed because everybody says, ‘This boy seems to be very strange: when everybody is paying respect he simply stands straight as if he has been told to remain at attention.”‘
I told my uncle, “You can hit me hard, knock me down. If you alone cannot do it, then you can call two or three persons. You can force me to the ground, hit my head on the feet of your god, and be satisfied; but remember, this is not my respect. You can force my body but you cannot force me. And this too you will not always be able to do. Soon things will change.”
In India we have a proverb: Sometimes it is the boat which is on the river, sometimes it is the river which is on the boat. I said, “Don’t forget that. Sometimes it is the river which is on the boat. Right now of course the boat is on the river. Soon you will be old I will have all the strength and all the power and all the money and everything and you will be old and dependent on me. Then how do you want me to behave with you? You just think of that, and remembering that, do whatsoever you want to do.
“If I want to respect, leave it to me. Respect is not something which can be forced.”
But it has been forced, and in such a subtle way that you were not even aware that it was being forced. You have done it almost as if you were doing it willingly. You have imitated your father, your mother; if they were worshipping Jesus, you started worshipping Jesus. This is just one of the more supportive arguments for Charles Darwin.
Monkeys are imitative, and looking at man, one can be absolutely certain that ninety-nine percent of people are imitative. They just imitate others. They don’t have the courage to stand alone: it is fearful. Even people like J. Krishnamurti, who have immense intelligence…but if you look into deeper details, into things which are not thought about, you will be surprised.
In India he uses Indian clothes. Why? Outside India he uses Western clothes. You want to be part of the society in which you are. In India, if people see him in Western clothes, with a tie on, no Indian is going to touch his feet, no Indian is going to think even that he is a religious man. A mahatma with a tie? Have you ever heard of it? So the tie disappears as he lands in Bombay, and as he takes off back to England the tie again appears. In fact, in his school in Blackwood in England, he uses blue jeans. He is ninety years old but he wants the hippies to know, “I am with you, I am eternally young.”
Just think of J. Krishnamurti in tight blue jeans in India. In India they have never crucified anybody but they would crucify J. Krishnamurti immediately – not for any religious reasons, just for a tie and blue jeans. And this man moving around the world is representing India’s sages. Now India would not forgive this. In India he comes in a traditional Indian dress: kurta, dhoti, a shawl around him – the way sages used to live, exactly the same way.
What is the psychology behind it? You don’t have the courage to stand alone, you don’t have the courage just to be yourself. I am not against blue jeans; if you love them, it is perfectly good. But then don’t be such a coward. You are supposed to be a very courageous thinker; then just be yourself. Whether you are condemned or appreciated, respected or disrespected, that does not matter. But that’s what creates the trouble. It matters to a small child very much. If it matters to a ninety-year-old J. Krishnamurti, what about a small child?
In India clothing is divided: Mohammedans have certain dresses, Hindus have certain dresses, Punjabis have certain dresses, Bengalis have certain dresses, South Indians have certain dresses – and it is very difficult…. For example, in South India you can have a wraparound lungi; just a dhoti that you wrap around. And not only that, they pull it up and tuck it over so it is just up to the knees. Even in the universities, professors go to teach in that dress.
I loved the lungi because it is very simple, the simplest: no need of a seamstress, no need of any tailoring, nothing; just any piece of cloth can be turned into a lungi very easily. But I was not in South India, I was in central India where the lungi is used only by vagabonds, loafers, unsocial elements. It is a symbol that the person is uncaring about the society, that he does not bother what you think about him.
When I started going to the university in a lungi – when I entered the university – everything stopped for a moment: students came out of their classes, professors came out of their classes. As I passed along the corridor everybody was standing, and I waved to everybody – a good reception!
The vice-chancellor came out: “What is the matter? The whole university is out. The classes have stopped in the middle, professors are out. and there is a silence.” He saw me and I waved to him, and he had not even the guts to reply to my wave.
I said, “At least you should wave to me. All these people have come to see my lungi.” I think they loved it because every day professors came with beautiful clothes, the costliest clothes. The vice-chancellor was very particular about his clothes, and very famous.
He had three hundred and sixty-five outfits, one for each day; for the whole year you would never see him in the same dress. He was so mad about clothes so obsessed, that he never got married. I asked him once, “Has that something to do with your clothes?”
He said, “How did you find out?”
I said, “This is my whole work, this is my research work; I go on searching to see how things are related. My feeling is that it is because of the clothes that you didn’t enter into a marriage.”
He said, “It is true, because I thought again and again – it was simple – that either I could have a wife or I could have my whole house full of my own clothes; both together could not exist. She would come and would start dictating. And in fact I would not have enough salary left: she would have her clothes, and she would say, ‘You have enough for your whole life.’ Finally I decided it is better to be with my clothes. I love them.” It was almost an obsession. He said, “I can sacrifice anything but not my clothes.”
If you had gone into his house you would have been surprised: there was nothing but clothes all around the whole house – he and his servant and the clothes.
I said, “Even when you come, nobody comes out. You just see…a poor lungi – the poorest wear it – has brought them out. And I am going to come every day in this lungi.”
He said, “A joke is okay, one day is okay, but don’t carry it too far.”
I said, “When I do something I do it to the very end.”
He said, “What do you mean? You mean you are going to come every day in the lungi?”
I said, “Right now that’s what I intend to do. If I am interfered with I can come even without a lungi. You can take my word for it. If I am interfered with in any way, if you try to bring up that this is not proper for a professor and this and that, I don’t bother…. If you can keep quiet I will remain in the lungi; if you start doing anything against me – my transfer or anything, anything, then the lungi goes. I will come…and then you will see the real scene.”
And it was such a hilarious scene because all the students started clapping when they heard this, and he felt so embarrassed, he simply went back into his room. He never said a single word about the lungi. I inquired many times, “What about my lungi? Is any action being taken against it or not?”
He said, “You just leave me alone – do whatsoever you want to do. And I don’t want to say anything because anything said to you is dangerous, one never knows how you will take it. I was not saying, ‘Drop the lungi,’ I was saying ‘come back to your old clothes.’”
I said, “Those are gone, and what is gone is gone – I never look back. Now I am going to be in a lungi.”
So first I was going in a lungi, with a long robe. Then one day I dropped the robe and just started using a shawl. Again there was a great drama, but he kept his cool. Everybody came out but he didn’t come out perhaps because he was afraid that I had dropped the lungi. He didn’t come out of his room. I knocked on his door. He said, “Have you done it?”
I said, “Not yet. You can come out.”
He opened the door and just looked out to see whether I was clothed or whether I had dropped everything. He said, “So you have changed now – the robe also?”
I said, “I have changed that too. Have you something to say?”
He said, “I don’t want to say a single word. About you I don’t even talk to others. Journalists are phoning and asking, ‘How is it being allowed in the university? – because that will become a precedent and students may start coming, and other professors may start coming.’
“I tell them, ‘Whatsoever happens…even if everybody starts coming in lungis, it is okay with me. I am not going to disturb him, because he threatens me that if I disturb him in any way he can come nude. And he says that nudity is an acceptable spiritual way of life in India. Mahavira was nude, the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas were nude, thousands of monks are still nude, and if a tirthankara can be nude then why not a professor? Nudity in India cannot be in any way disrespected.’ “
So he said, “I am telling people, ‘If he wants to really create chaos…and he has followers also in the university; there are many students ready to do anything he tells them to. So it is better to leave him alone.”‘
I have found throughout my life that if you are just a little ready to sacrifice respectability, you can have your way very easily. The society has played a game with you. It has put respectability on too high a pedestal in your mind, and opposite it, all those things that it wants you not to do. So if you do them, you lose respectability. Once you are ready to say, “I don’t care about respectability,” then the society is absolutely impotent to do anything against your will.
The children are in a way bound to continue, in the future too, to be corrupted. But that corruption can be dropped in a single moment because it is not your nature, and you have not brought it with you. It is imposed on you, it is a heavy burden on you. You can drop it, you can put it aside. You will just have to be ready for a few things, ready to be disrespectful. But what is respect? If you don’t have your self, what is respect?
There is only one respect – that is self-respect.
And you don’t have your self.
You can’t have any respect; you don’t have respect even in your own eyes.
The whole world may pretend to respect you because there is a certain bargain: you do what the society wants and the society will respect you. It is a simple business – and you are the loser because the respect is just hot air. And what you are giving in return is your solid being.
You are committing suicide for respectability.
And it has to be a single moment’s decision. It is not something that you have to think about for years, whether to drop the respect and just be your own self…It is not a question of years. If you are going to think for years, you are going to think for lives, and then too it will be the same problem.
It is a single moment of understanding, of seeing how you have been deceived. And as you see it, put aside all respectability. Say to the whole world: “I am ready to be disrespected by the whole world but I am not ready to be disrespected by myself. I am going to start a new life of self-respect.”
And to me this is the beginning of a religious man.

Spread the love