Jesus taught his followers to love thy neighbor as thyself. Could you give us your views on caring, compassion and service to the community?
Ann, Jesus’ statement is tremendously significant but has been totally missed by his followers. Let me repeat it: Jesus says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The fundamental question is whether you love yourself or not. You can love the neighbor only if you love yourself.
Christianity has been teaching you to love the neighbor, and the fundamental has been completely forgotten – not only forgotten, but just the opposite has been done. People are taught to condemn themselves: how can they love themselves? They are taught that they are sinners: how can you love yourself if you feel you are a sinner?
Christianity creates guilt in people, tremendous guilt. And if you are guilty you cannot love yourself; you will hate yourself, you would like to destroy yourself. That’s what the so-called Christian saints have been doing down the ages – destroying themselves. Out of guilt, only destruction can arise; out of guilt, only suicide. And they go on teaching, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” You have never loved yourself: it is impossible to love thy neighbor.
Hence I don’t say love thy neighbor as thyself. My teaching is simple: Love thyself. And my experience is this, that if you become capable of loving yourself, love for the neighbor will come of its own accord; it does not have to be brought, it does not have to be practiced. All practiced love creates hypocrisy.
So I completely drop the second part of the statement. Forget about the neighbor, simply love thyself. And you will be surprised: they day you bloom, you flower, the fragrance is bound to reach the neighbor. Where else will it go? When you are full of love for yourself, love starts overflowing. It reaches the neighbor, it reaches the farthest star.
And that happens of its own accord. You need not think about it, you need not create it, it is none of your concern. Just love yourself, be friendly to yourself, and you will be surprised: the man who loves himself cannot hate anybody.
It is reported of a great woman mystic, Rabiya al-Adabiya, that when she was reading the Koran she came across a statement that said, “Hate Satan.” She immediately crossed it out.
Another Sufi mystic, Hassan, was present, he saw it being done. He could not believe his eyes: is Rabiya correcting the Koran? Dropping a statement from the Koran? This is sacrilegious! He said, “What are you doing, Rabiya? Have you really gone mad? This cannot be done; the Koran cannot be corrected.”
Rabiya said, “But what can I do? Love has happened to me: now, even if Satan stands before me, I can do nothing but love. No hate is left in me; there is no darkness in any corner of my being. Even if I want to hate I cannot; I am utterly helpless. I have to cut this line, this statement. It is no longer relevant to me; it cannot exist, at least in my copy of the Koran.”
When you are in love with yourself you bloom. Love nourishes you, you respect yourself. You feel the grace of God, you feel grateful that you have been created, you feel uniquely benefited, you feel blessed. And then the overflowing: then the fragrance starts spreading to the winds.
I don’t teach you to love your neighbor, because for two thousand years Christians have been teaching that, and nothing has happened. On the contrary, Christians have killed their neighbors more than anybody else. And the basic thing that has been missed is love for thyself.
Jesus is perfectly right. He takes it for granted that you love yourself. He has not taken note of the priests who are going to follow him, who will interpret what he says; he had no idea of the Vatican and the pope. He has taken it for granted that you love yourself – and that is not so. It would have been so if there had not been any pollution, the pollution that the priest has created, down the ages. Man loves himself no more.
You can watch yourself. Do you have any respect for yourself? How can you respect yourself if you are a sinner? If you are condemned, how can you respect yourself? You feel unworthy.
The whole strategy of the so-called religions consists of making you feel unworthy. Once you are unworthy, shaken, you lose confidence, you lose power in yourself, you become weak. And when you are weak you surrender, you submit to the priest, the priesthood. And all kinds of exploiters are around you.
In fear you start clinging to the churches, to the mosques, to the temples; in fear you start praying. But a prayer that comes out of fear is false. Prayer is true only when it is a fragrance of love.
Ann, Jesus taught his followers to love thy neighbor as thyself.
But the first thing cannot be taken for granted. The first thing is missing: the seed is missing. So you can go on waiting for the flowers to come, but they will never come. No tree is going to be born.
First the seed is needed, and then what else? You put the seed in the soil, you water it, and it grows – you need not pull it up. One day the spring has come and the tree has blossomed: just like that it happens. But the seed has to be a love for yourself.
I teach you self-love. And because I teach you self-love, you have to be very alert: self-love does not mean selfishness. Self-love is possible only if you drop the idea of the self – that is the paradox– if you unself yourself.
The person who loves himself cannot carry the ugly burden of the ego. How can he carry such mountains, such ugly mountains? He drops the ego, he becomes pure space. He loves himself so much that he cannot carry this poison inside him. He becomes full of light, empty space. And in that empty space blooms the lotus of love.
Self-love is not selfishness, self-love is unselfishness. In self-love the self disappears, only love remains. And then you have created the context. Now many, many miracles are going to happen to you; now nothing is impossible for you, because love is the magic.
You ask: Could you give us your views on caring, compassion and service to the community?
I have no views about caring, compassion and service to the community. My whole effort is to transform the individual: I am utterly focused on the individual. And if the individual becomes luminous, then these things come naturally – compassion, caring, service.
If you are taught service, compassion and caring, you will learn it and you will do it, but it is going to remain superficial. And it will not only be superficial, it will be harmful to you and to others too. When a person forces himself to serve others he becomes egoistic. He thinks in terms of being holier-than-thou, he becomes a very pious egoist, and he feels that he is obliging you, and he is obliging the whole world.
You can see it written all over your so-called public servants. Public servants have proved the most mischievous people in the world. They are the sources of mischief, but they make mischief behind such beautiful curtains that you cannot catch them. They serve you, they oblige you, and then they become your masters. They have served you so much that if they start exploiting you; you have to accept it gratefully. They have served you so much; they have invested so much in you, that now their exploitation has to be tolerated.
I don’t teach service – enough of it! I only teach meditation. And out of meditation, when you have arrived, there will be service. But that will be just a natural outcome, a by-product. Service is not the goal, but a consequence; so is compassion.
Buddha has said that when a man has reached the climax of meditation, compassion showers from him. Just as when you light a candle light starts spreading all around and darkness disappears, when the light of meditation is inside you compassion radiates.
And then compassion has a beauty, because it is unselfconscious. You are not obliging anybody; in fact if somebody accepts your service you are obliged. He might have rejected: he has not rejected, he has obliged you. You serve him and you feel obliged. You serve him but you don’t start asking for anything in return. It is unconditional. In fact you are happy that somebody has accepted your service.
My focus is on the individual, not on the community. The real revolution has to happen in the individual, not in the society. All social revolutions have failed, utterly failed. They were bound to fail, they were destined to fail. Only the individual can be transformed, because only the individual has the soul, consciousness, awareness.
The community, the society, has no soul. It does not really exist anywhere – have you ever come across society? Whenever you come across it, you come across individuals. You will meet A, you will meet B, you may meet C, but you never come across society.
You come across human beings, but you never come across humanity. The word; humanity; is empty, so is the word ’society’, but these words have become so powerful because down the ages we have been hypnotized by words; ‘Society, community, country, motherland, fatherland, humanity’– all bogus words. The reality is only one: the individual.
Only if the individual becomes luminous will the world be benefited. It is time that we forgot about social revolution and social service; it is time enough. We should become a little more mature and think of reality as it is. The individual exists, hence individuals can be transformed.
I am not a social revolutionary, and I am not a social servant either. And my sannyasins are not to become social revolutionaries and social servants – no, not at all. The only thing that you have to do is: create great love for yourself, and enjoy, rejoice and celebrate. And out of that celebration, something miraculous starts happening: people are served, compassion radiates, caring is born.
From Unio Mystica, V.2, Chapter Ten
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