I feel very joyous after your morning talk and Sufi dancing, but I cannot reconcile it with the misery of the people I see when I step out of the ashram. What to do?
It is there, the misery is there. But there is no need to reconcile. My whole teaching is to be total wherever you are. Listening to me, if you are feeling joyous feel totally joyous. Dancing in the ashram, participating in Sufi dance or meditating, if you are ecstatic be totally ecstatic. When you go outside and the misery is there and ugliness is there and beggars are there and poverty is there and illness is there, be totally miserable there.
The only thing to be remembered is totality. Seeing a beggar, cry. If you can do something, do. If you cannot do anything you can hold his hand, you can sit by his side. You can feel, you can watch. And you can keep remembering that you should not do anything to make people poor.
There is no need to reconcile. Reconciliation will mean you have found a way to console yourself. For example, you can fall upon the theory of karma. You can say this man is suffering because of his karma. Now you are reconciled, now you need not worry about it, you need not go into it. This is none of your business, he is suffering from his karma. That’s what Indians have been doing down the ages. A poor man is suffering from his karma, he has to suffer, he has done something wrong in his past lives. This is a punishment; he should not do such a thing again. Then you are no more disturbed by it, then you think you are not a part to his misery.
No, I will not say that. We are all part; we are all together here. No man is an island, we make one vast continent. We are involved with each other. If you are happy the world that surrounds you is involved in your happiness. If you are miserable the world that surrounds you is involved in your misery. We are not separate.
So when outside seeing misery, feel miserable. Why think of reconciliation? Nothing is wrong in being miserable, if you can remember only one thing: then be totally miserable. Then inside the ashram or outside the ashram you will have one thing common, that is totality. And that is what is needed. When you cry, cry totally. When tears come to your eyes then don’t be a miser, then don’t hold them back. Then overflow in them, then let them take your whole being, let them possess you. While dancing dance totally possessed, mad. When laughing let there be laughter. But be total.
One thing more: India and the Indian people suffer because of their stupid notions. Feel sorry for them. Down the ages, the so-called religious people have been preaching poverty. That is the root cause. They have been praising poverty like anything, as if poverty is a value in itself. Poverty is not a value in itself. Discomfort is not a value in itself, inconvenience is not a value in itself. Illness, disease, is not a value. But down the ages, the so-called Indian mahatmas have been preaching to people that poverty has a spiritual value. If you are poor, you are spiritual, if you are rich, you are materialist.
That’s why Indians go on saying that Americans are materialists. Because they are rich. To be rich and to be materialist is synonymous to the Indian mind. And Indians are spiritual because they are poor. To be poor and to be spiritual is synonymous. This is absurd. A man can be poor and materialist, and a man can be rich and religious and spiritual.
According to me, the rich man has more possibilities to be religious than the poor man. He can afford religion. The poor man cannot even think about it. The poor man is bound to be materialist. The rich man has the possibility to get out of materialism –because he has it all, he has experienced it all, and he has come to recognize that it doesn’t give the thing that you are searching for. That it doesn’t fulfill. That the aching heart remains aching. That the emptiness in the spirit remains the same – no riches can fill it, no riches can give you the feeling of fulfillment and flowering. Only the rich man can know the absurdity of richness. The poor man cannot know – he still hopes, he still has much to arrange.
Only in a really rich world, religion will become a universal phenomenon. In a poor world the only religion that can have any appeal is communism. No other religion can have any other appeal.
If you look down deeply into the Indian mind you will find it absolutely materialistic. I have been watching, observing, it is one of the most materialistic minds in the world. The reason is its poverty. But the problem is that the whole heritage supports poverty, the whole heritage has been praising poverty. That’s why I am an outsider here, a stranger. There is a rift between me and the Indian mind because I don’t support his heritage. I cannot support it. I am not violent– how can I support his heritage? It is his heritage that has made him poor. I am against his past; I want him to drop his whole past. And unless the Indian consciousness is freed from its past, the poverty is going to remain there, the suffering is going to remain there.
So the only thing that you really can do is to help people to understand that they have to get rid of their past. Their whole stubborn attitude has become their imprisonment. If you are against riches, you will not produce riches, obviously. If you are against riches, you will not create the technology which can produce riches. If you are against wealth, you may desire deep down to be wealthy, but your very attitude will prevent you. You will go on doing things which will keep you poor. And the problem is, if you support the heritage of the Indian mind then you support his poverty. And the Indian mind will follow you.
Now look – Morarji Desai goes on saying that the only way to prevent the population explosion is to teach people celibacy. Not birth-control– celibacy. Now, through celibacy the population explosion cannot be prevented. But this appeals to the Indian mind. The Indian mind will say “This is right.” Because the support is there in all the scriptures for celibacy, brahmacharya.
They are bound to be against me. I support birth control, I support abortion, they are bound to be against me. Abortion? A spiritual man cannot support abortion. People come to me, and they say, I support abortion? I support murder? Abortion is murder. I say to them: You know the soul is immortal. So how can the murder happen? Have you forgotten Krishna and his Bhagavad Gita? He says to Arjuna “You can kill all these people; nobody is ever killed. Because the soul is immortal.”
Now, if I support abortion, if I support birth-control, I am not spiritual. Obviously, I am not, in their definition. It is not accidental that the Indian mind feels an antagonism towards me. It is very simple for me not to antagonize them, but then I will be their enemy. You see the paradox? The problem is, if I love them, I have to antagonize them. But then they will not come to me. If I don’t love them then I can go on supporting their ideas. Then they will come in thousands – millions will come. But then I will be their enemy. Then I will be keeping their poverty, their suffering, their ugliness.
So I know, when you go out you have to face an ugly world. Whatsoever you can do, do. If you cannot do anything you can cry and weep, you can help people. That’s my message to my sannyasins: Always go to the roots. I am not saying to you to give some money to the beggar, because that is not going to help. Money has been given down the ages, that has not helped. In fact, that has made beggary rooted in the soil. I am not saying give money to the beggar, I am not saying don’t give money to the beggar that is irrelevant. Whether you give or not, it is not going to help. Giving the money may help you. Mm? You will find a reconciliation; you have done something. You will feel good. You can go to the Blue Diamond and fall asleep, feeling good, saintly, holy, that you have done something. But that is not going to help.
And I am not saying don’t give money. But remember, that is not going to help. If you feel good, it is perfectly good to feel good.
But the real thing that is going to help is enlightened people. Help them to see why they are miserable. They have made a religion out of poverty. It is not because of their past karmas that they are suffering, it is because of their past philosophies that they are suffering. It is not that in their past life they committed murder and suicide and robbery, so they are suffering. It is simply that their whole past they have been taught poverty. Poverty has been praised so much.
Mm? Those questions come to me. Just the other day there was a question: Why do I move in an Impala car? I also think about it – why do I move in an Impala car? Because I don’t have a Rolls Royce, that’s why. I understand, you feel for me . . .
But my whole approach is different than the so-called spiritual mind. It is not spiritual to me. Life has to be lived as beautifully as possible. And poverty is not a value, and discomfort is not spirituality.
But this is the problem. People who are poor would like to see me also in the same discomfort. Then they will feel happy. And if I am in the same discomfort, naturally I have to praise the discomfort. That is the only way to remain in discomfort, you have to praise it. You have to make much of it, that you are doing something great.
If you look healthy, if you look beautiful, if you look graceful, if you live a natural life, then people are not happy. Then what are you doing? Then you are an ordinary man. Let me repeat: To be utterly ordinary is to be spiritual. To be utterly ordinary is the meaning of spirituality to me. To try to be extraordinary is an ego trip. How you manage it, that is a different thing, but to try to be extraordinary is to be on an ego trip.
Relax. Here, feel as joyous as you can. I am trying to create an alternative world, a small world. But beyond the gate the old world exists. You will be going there, and you will have to encounter it. And in fact, when you really start feeling joyous then you see the misery more, because the contrast exists. Ordinarily you may not be so aware of the misery. Indians are not so much aware of the misery. They have lived in it; they are accustomed to it. When Westerners come, they feel it more.
I overheard two American travelers at Bombay’s Santa Cruz airport. And one said to the other “Look! They have bread too.” They must have been thinking that India is so poor that no bread, no butter, nothing. He was surprised to see bread. “Look! They have bread too.”
When you come from the West, from affluent societies, it is natural for you to become more aware of the poverty, of the degradation that this society exists in. And then you come to me, and here the whole effort is to create a climate of celebration. Then you start feeling very joyous, flowing. With that joy, and with your Western consciousness, moving outside is difficult, I understand. Everything hurts, everything is an eyesore.
But reconciliation is not possible. We have to accept it. The only thing that is possible is, feel. Feel the misery. And help people to get rid of their dangerous poisonous past. Only then, someday there is a possibility that people will not be so miserable.
From This Very Body the Buddha, Discourse #10, Q3
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