In spite of dreadful political catastrophes, political action seems to be the only means to fight against injustice in the world. Does the search you are inspiring exclude political action?
Jean-Francois Held, I am in love with life in its totality. My love excludes nothing; it includes all. Yes, political action too is included in it. That’s the worst thing to include, but I can’t help it! But everything that is included in my vision of life is included with a difference.
In the past, man has lived without awareness in all the aspects of life. He has loved without awareness and failed in it, and love has brought only misery and nothing else. He has done all kinds of things in the past, but everything has proved a hell. So has been the case with political action.
Each revolution turns into anti-revolution. It is time we should understand how this happens, why this happens at all — that each revolution, each struggle against injustice, finally turns into injustice itself, becomes anti-revolutionary.
In this century it has happened again and again — I am not talking about a faraway past. It happened in Russia, it happened in China. It is going to happen if we continue to function in the same old way. Unawareness cannot bring more than that.
When you are powerless, it is easy to fight against injustice; the moment you become powerful, you forget all about injustice. Then repressed desires to dominate assert themselves. Then your unconscious takes over, and you start doing the same things that were done before by the enemies against whom you had been struggling. You had staked your very life for it!
Lord Acton says that power corrupts. It is true only in a sense, and in another sense it is absolutely untrue. It is true if you look at the surface of things: power certainly corrupts, whosoever becomes powerful becomes corrupted. Factually it is true, but if you dive deep into the phenomenon then it is not true.
Power does not corrupt: it is the corrupted people who become attracted towards power. It is the people who would like to do things which they cannot do while they are not in power. The moment they are in power, their whole repressed mind asserts itself. Now there is nothing to bar them, nothing to prevent them; they have the power. Power does not corrupt them; it only brings their corruption to the surface. Corruption was there as a seed; now it has sprouted. The power has proved only the right season for it to sprout. Power is only the spring for the poisonous flowers of corruption and injustice in their being.
Power is not the cause of corruption, but only the opportunity for its expression. Hence I say: basically, fundamentally, Lord Acton is wrong.
Who becomes interested in politics? Yes, with beautiful slogans people go into it, but what happens to those people? Joseph Stalin was fighting against the injustice of the czar. What happened? He himself became the greatest czar the world has ever known, worse than Ivan the Terrible! Hitler used to talk about socialism. He had named his party the Nationalist Socialist Party. What happened to socialism when he came into power? All that disappeared.
The same thing had happened in India. Mahatma Gandhi and his followers were talking about nonviolence, love, peace — all the great values cherished down the ages. And when power came he escaped. Mahatma Gandhi himself escaped because he became aware that if he took power in his hands he would no longer be the mahatma, the sage. And the followers who came into power were all proved as corrupted as anywhere else —f the people. They had sacrificed much. They were not bad people in any way; in every possible way they were good people. But even good people turn into bad people — that is something fundamental to be understood.
I would like my sannyasins to live life in its totality, but with an absolute condition, categorical condition: and that condition is awareness, meditation. Go first deep into meditation, so you can cleanse your unconscious of all poisonous seeds, so there is nothing to be corrupted and there is nothing inside you which power can bring forth. And then do whatsoever you feel like doing.
If you want to become a painter, become a painter. Your painting will have a difference; it won’t be like Picasso. Picasso’s paintings are insane — he is insane! In fact, if he had been prevented from painting he would have been in a madhouse. Through his paintings he is catharting, throwing out his insanity onto the canvas, getting rid of it. Yes, he feels better — it is a kind of vomiting! After vomiting you feel better, but what about others who look at your vomit! But the world is so stupid that if Picasso vomits, people say, “What a great painting — something never seen before, something unique!”
Vincent van Gogh really went insane, had to be hospitalized for one year, and then he committed suicide. And he was not more than thirty-seven. Now, what kind of paintings had this man been doing? Certainly he had the art, the skill, but the art and the skill were in the hands of a madman, suicidal. Watching his paintings you will feel restless, uneasy. Keep a Picasso painting in your bedroom and you will have nightmares!
A meditator can become a painter, but then something totally different will come out of him — something of the beyond, because he will be capable to receive God. He can become a dancer; his dance will have a new quality to it: it will allow the divine to be expressed. He can become a musician… or he can go into political action, but his political action will be rooted in meditation. Hence there will be no fear of a Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler or Mao Zedong coming out of it; that is impossible.
I don’t tell anybody to go in a certain direction; I leave my disciples totally free. I simply teach them meditation. I teach them being more alert, more aware, and then it is up to them. Whatsoever their natural potential is they will find it, but it is going to be with awareness. Then there is no danger.
Jean-Francois Held, I am not against political action — I am not against anything. I am not life-negative; I affirm life, I am in absolute love with life!
And of course, when millions of people are on the earth, there is going to be some kind of politics or other. Politics cannot just disappear. It will be like dissolving the police, the post office, the railway — it will create a chaos.
And I am not an anarchist and I am not in favor of chaos. I want the world to be more beautiful, more harmonious, more of a cosmos than of a chaos. Sometimes I praise chaos, only in order to destroy that which is rotten. I praise destructiveness also, only in order to create. Yes, sometimes I am very negative — I am against conventions, conformities, traditions — only to make you free so that you can create new visions, new worlds, so that you need not remain imprisoned with the past, so that you can have a future and a present. But I am not destructive. My whole effort is to help you to be creative.
A few people out of my sannyasins are bound to go into political action, but I will allow them only when they have fulfilled the basic condition: when they are more alert, aware, when their inner being is full of light. Then do whatsoever you want to do — you can’t bring harm to the world. You will bring something good, something beautiful; you will be a blessing to the world. Without it, without that awareness, even if you do something good, it is going to turn into something harmful.
Just a few days ago, Mother Teresa of Calcutta had received the Nobel Prize. Now this is something utterly stupid! The Nobel Prize Award Committee has never done anything so foolish before — but on the surface it looks beautiful. It is being praised all over the world, that they have done something great.
J. Krishnamurti has not received a Nobel Prize — and he is one of those rare human beings, those few of the Buddhas, who are really laying the foundation for world peace. And Mother Teresa has received the Nobel Prize for world peace. Now, I don’t understand what she has done for world peace! George Gurdjieff didn’t receive a Nobel Prize, and he was working hard to transform the inner core of human beings; Raman Maharshi didn’t receive the Nobel Prize — because their work is invisible: their work is that of bringing more consciousness to people. When you bring bread to people it is visible, when you bring clothes to people it is visible, when you bring medicines to people it is visible. When you bring God to people, it is absolutely invisible.
Mother Teresa is doing something good on the surface only: serving the poor of Calcutta, the ill, the diseased, the old, the orphans, the widows, the lepers, the crippled, the blind. It is so obvious that she is doing something good! But basically what she is doing is consoling these people. And giving consolation to the poor, to the blind, to the lepers, to the orphans, is an anti-revolutionary act. To console them means to help them remain adjusted with the society that exists, to remain attuned with the status quo. What she is doing is anti-revolutionary. But the governments are happy, the rich people are happy, the powerful people are happy, because she is really NOT serving the blind and the poor. She is serving the vested interests, she is serving the priests and the politicians and the powers; she is helping them to remain in their power. She is making, creating, an atmosphere in which the old can continue.
In India no revolution has ever happened against the powerful, the rich, the wealthy, for the simple reason that it is a so-called religious country; there are so many consolers. Fifty lakhs of Hindu monks consoling people, giving them explanations why they are poor, why they are blind, why they are crippled: because of their past karmas! They have done something bad in their past lives, hence they are suffering. “Suffer silently, don’t react,” they go and teach these people, “because if you react, if you do something again, again you will suffer in your next life. Don’t miss this opportunity, let the accounts be closed. This time behave in a good way!” And of course, to be a revolutionary is not something good! Be obedient — that is good — don’t be disobedient. Disobedience is evil, it is sin. The Christians call it the original sin.
What was the sin of Adam and Eve? — Just because they had disobeyed God. There seems to be not much of a sin in it. Eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge is not a sin. Why should it be called the original sin? It is called the original sin because they disobeyed. To disobey is the greatest sin in the eyes of the priests.
For ten thousand years in India these priests and the monks have been teaching people, “Be obedient to the system that is in power. Don’t disobey; otherwise you will suffer in your future.” Hence no revolution has happened, and these monks and priests are praised very much.
Now Christian missionaries are doing the same all over the world: serving the poor, the crippled. They are telling these poor people, “Suffer silently —fire, only then will you become pure gold.” Christian missionaries are anti-revolutionary.
And why are they serving these poor people? — Because of greed! They want to get to paradise, and the only way to get to paradise is through service. Now sometimes I wonder what will happen if there is nobody who is crippled, blind, poor; what will happen to the Christian missionaries? How will they reach paradise? The very ladder will disappear! They will miss the boat; there will be no possibility to go to the other shore. These Christian missionaries would like the poverty to continue, they would like these poor people to remain on the earth. The more poor there are, the more opportunities to serve, and of course, more people can get to heaven.
Giving the Nobel Prize to Mother Teresa is giving the Nobel Prize to anti-revolutionary acts.
But that’s how it has always been happening: you praise those people who somehow confirm the old, the dead, who help the society to remain as it is.
My work is invisible. In fact, I am teaching you, in an indirect way, the greatest revolution possible. I am teaching you rebellion, and this rebellion is multidimensional: wherever you will go, this rebellion will have its impact. If you go into poetry you will write rebellious poetry. If you go into music you will create a new kind of music. If you dance, your dance will have a different flavor. And if you go into politics, you will change the whole face of political action itself.
Jean-Francois Held, I am not against political action, but the way it has been up to now is utterly meaningless. Hence on the surface, nobody can see that I am involved in any political activity, nobody can see that I am involved in any kind of worldly activity.
I am teaching people to sit silently, watch their thoughts, get out of their minds. The stupid revolutionary will think that I am against political action, that I am a reactionary. Just the reverse is the case. Out of his stupidity — although he may talk about revolution — what he is going to do is going to be reactionary. He will drag the society backwards.
I am not doing anything that can be called political, social: I am not for social reform or political action. At least on the surface I look like an escapist and I am helping people to escape. Yes, I am helping people to escape to themselves.
Escape from all kinds of unintelligent activities. First sharpen your intelligence. Let a great joy arise in you. Become more watchful, so much so that not even a corner in your being is dark anymore. Let your unconscious be transformed into consciousness.
Then do whatsoever you want to do. Then if you want to go to hell, go with my blessings, because you will be able to transform hell itself.
It is not that meditators go to heaven, no: wherever they go they are in heaven and whatsoever they do is divine. But this is such a new approach that it will take time to be understood. I am using such a different language that it is natural that I will be misunderstood. […]
I am talking one language, and people are accustomed to a totally different language.
Unless you meditate you will not be able to understand what is happening here, what I am saying and what I am doing. […]
Excerpt from The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, V. 6, Discourse #4
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