Every child's original face is the face of god
HOW DO WE, THE COMMUNE, ENSURE THAT OUR CHILDREN MAINTAIN THEIR ORIGINAL FACE?
The original face of every child is the face of God. Of course my God is not a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew. My God is not even a person but only a presence.
It is less like a flower and more like fragrance. You can feel it but you cannot catch hold of it. You can be overwhelmed by it but you cannot possess it.
My God is not something objective, there.
My God is your very subjectivity, here.
My God can never be indicated by the word "that."
He can only be indicated by the word "this."
The God of my vision and experience is not to be searched for in the synagogues, temples, mosques, churches, in the Himalayas, in the monasteries. He is not there because He is always here. And you go on looking for Him there.
When I say every child's original face is the face of God, I am saying that God is synonymous with life, existence. Whatsoever is, is divine, sacred. And there is nothing else than God.
God is not to be understood as quantity, but as quality. You cannot measure it. You cannot make a statue of it, you cannot draw a picture of it. In that sense it is absolutely impersonal. And if you look at the faces of children when they arrive, fresh from the very source of life, you will see a certain presence which cannot be named - unnameable, indefinable.
The child is alive. You cannot define its aliveness, but it is there, you can feel it. It is so much there that howsoever blind you are you cannot miss it. It is fresh. You can smell the freshness around a child. That fragrance slowly, slowly disappears. And if unfortunately the child becomes successful, a celebrity - a president, a prime minister, a pope - then the same child stinks.
He had come with a tremendous fragrance, immeasurable, indefinable, unnameable. You look into the eyes of a child - you cannot find anything deeper. The eyes of a child are abysmal, there is no bottom to them. Unfortunately, the way society will destroy him, soon his eyes will be only superficial; because of layers and layers of conditioning, that depth, that immense depth will have disappeared long before. And that was his original face.
The child has no thoughts. About what can he think? Thinking needs a past, thinking needs problems. He has no past, he has only future. He has no problems yet, he is without problems.
There is no possibility of thinking for him. What can he think?
The child is conscious but without thoughts.
This is the original face of the child.
Once this was your face too, and although you have forgotten it, it is still there within you, waiting someday to be rediscovered. I am saying REdiscovered because you have discovered it many times in your previous lives, and again and again you go on forgetting it.
Perhaps even in this life there have been moments when you have come very close to knowing it, to feeling it, to being it. But the world is too much with us. Its pull is great - and there are a thousand and one directions the world is pulling you. It is pulling you in so many directions that you are falling apart. It is a miracle how people go on managing to keep themselves together. Otherwise their one hand will be going to the north, another hand to the south, their head must be going towards heaven; all their parts will be flying all over the place.
It is certainly a miracle how you go on keeping yourself together. Perhaps the pressure from all sides is too much so that your hands and legs and heads cannot fly. You are pressed from everywhere.
Whenever I see ... and I don't know why people go on sending me beautiful paperweights - I don't have any papers. What am I going to do with paperweights? Perhaps they think there are hundreds of books in my name so there must be so much paperwork around me, all over my room papers and papers. There is not a single paper.
Yes, paperweights go on coming, and whenever a paperweight comes I am immediately reminded of you. You would have been flying like papers in the strong wind, but there are so many paperweights to keep you pressed and give you an idea that you are one individual. You are not - you are many, and in the crowd of this many-ness of your existence, your original face is lost.
Even if by chance you happen to meet your original face, you will not be able to recognize it, it will be such a stranger. Perhaps you come across it once in a while, just by accident, but you don't even say Hi! It is a stranger and perhaps deep down, a certain fear - that is always there with every stranger.
That's why people try to become acquainted, introduced to strangers, the sooner the better. They don't want to be left in that state of fear, that somebody is absolutely unknown to them. They don't know what he can do, what he intends to do, what kind of person he is. Maybe he is a murderer, a thief.
I played around this theme so many times because I was continuously traveling in India, and I was always traveling in an air-conditioned coupe. So at the most two persons - that too very rarely because in India very few people can afford to travel in the air-conditioned coupe, except people like me who have nothing to lose. Just poor people like me can travel like that because we cannot be more poor than we are.
But once in a while a minister, a governor, a rich industrialist, a scientist, a vice-chancellor - people like that were my fellow travelers. And I always tried to see what happened to them if I continued to remain a stranger. And I enjoyed - it does things to people.
I was not doing anything, I was just trying be a stranger, which really I am. They would ask me, "Where are you going?" - just anything to begin with.
I would say, "Anywhere will do."
They would say, "Anywhere will do?" - and I could see the fear arising: "Is the man mad? But no, he does not look mad." They would then say, "Are you joking?"
Once I said, "Why should I joke with you?"
In India, it is a convention that you joke only with certain relatives. Joking is very confined, to a certain relationship. You joke only with your wife's brother, otherwise you don't joke; only that's acceptable to the society. I said, "But you are not my wife's brother, why should I joke? Or are you my wife's brother? Perhaps you are. But I don't remember ever seeing you before."
The man became really more shaky and I could see the trembling arising - and he had to travel with me for at least ten hours, twelve hours, or even twenty-four hours. But still he tried: "What is your name?"
I said, "The moment you asked me, it was just on the tip of my tongue. Now I am trying hard to remember. I have a name, I certainly remember ... I know it is there but you will have to give me a little time. If it comes, it comes; if it does not come what can I do? What can you do? But it doesn't matter anyway, you can call me any name. Anyway every child is born without a name and we give him one. All names are arbitrary, so it does not matter whether you call me Ram, Rahim, Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus, Christ; anything will do."
And I said, "You please sit down, there is no need to continue to stand. Sit down, be at ease, and I will go and close the door."
He said, "Why are you closing the door?"
I said, "The door has to be closed. Passengers are passing by, what will they think? You are trembling, perspiring, in an air-conditioned room? No, I don't want you to look so silly and embarrassed." I virtually forced the person to sit down. I was forcing him to sit down, and he wanted to stand up.
He said, "Can't I stand?"
I said, "You just first relax. Do you want to go to the bathroom or have you already done it? Anyway there is no need to worry - you just sit down."
That man looked at me and looked all around. It was just a small cabin for two persons and he was thinking, "this type of man, he can do anything." But he tried somehow to figure me out; anyway he wanted to be acquainted. And he said "By your face you look religious."
I said, "Yes, when I look in the mirror I also feel that this man looks religious. But I am not religious.
Never go by the appearance, appearances are not always real."
"No," he said, "you are still trying to befool me. You are a religious man." Now he was trying somehow to categorize me.
I said, "If you say, and if it consoles you, helps you in some way, okay, I am a religious man."
The man was a brahmin - I had seen his name on the door. In the air-conditioned compartment they have the passengers' names on the door, so I had seen that he was a Bengali, a high-caste brahmin, a chattopadhyaya. So he said, "What religion?"
I said, "Religion is just religion - there is no adjective to it."
He said, "That I cannot believe. You must be a religious Hindu sage."
I said, "If it helps you, I am."
And he fell at my feet, and he said, "I knew from the very beginning that you are not mad, that you are a sage. And sages and mad people look alike, behave alike. Everything that you said now makes sense."
But I said, "One thing I have just said to console you - really I am not a Hindu, I am a Mohammedan."
And now you cannot believe what a terrible mess he fell into. He had touched the feet of a Mohammedan! A Hindu brahmin, a high-caste brahmin, is afraid even of touching the shadow of a Mohammedan. If he touches even the shadow of a Mohammedan he will have to take a bath to cleanse himself. And he had touched actual feet!
Now the situation had become much worse. The chattopadhyaya said, "But why did you lie to me?"
I said, "I was just trying to console you. I never thought that you would fall at my feet. Before I could prevent you, you had already done it. But don't be worried, I am really a brahmin. I was just checking what happens: if some Mohammedan looks like a brahmin sage and you touch his feet, what will happen to you? I was just trying to see."
He said, "That's right." And a great smile ... and he relaxed in his seat and he said, "I knew from the very beginning - such a nice person could not be a Mohammedan. Those Mohammedans are all butchers."
I said, "You are right, because I was born a Mohammedan so I know perfectly well they are all butchers."
This way I have seen many well-educated people trying to figure out ... and I told them, "Why are you bothering to figure out about me? If you take that much trouble to figure out about yourself you will become enlightened! You need not worry about me. You do your work, whatever you want to do; you simply accept me as absent, I am not here. Behave as if I am not here and do whatsoever you want to do.
"If you want me to close my eyes, I can close my eyes. If you want me to go to sleep, I will go to sleep. But please be at ease; just forget about me. But don't try to become familiar with me - that I don't allow. We are going to remain strangers for ten hours."
In fact we are all strangers.
Even if we live our whole life together it makes no difference, we remain strangers; we just settle for consolations, and we start taking the other for granted. It is a make-believe that you know the other - your wife, your mother, your father, your brother, your friend - it is just a make-believe that you know them. You know nothing about the other because that is impossible - for the simple reason that you don't know anything about yourself yet. Without knowing oneself it is impossible to know anybody else.
The trouble is you can be introduced to somebody else, but how can you be introduced to yourself?
Who is going to do that?
You can be introduced to somebody else because that introduction is just arbitrary. The name, the caste, the country, the religion, the profession - these are all arbitrary and accidental.
It happened ... really a great coincidence, almost inconceivable, but it happened so whether it is conceivable or not makes no difference. When I was standing at the window after my matriculation, to obtain entry into a college, there were many people who were filling in forms and I was waiting to get my form. When I was filling in my form a boy just of my age came to me, and he said, "What subjects are you taking?"
So I showed him my form and said, "These are my subjects."
He said, "Oh, okay, I will fill in these subjects also."
I said, "But this is strange. You have come to the college - don't you have any idea what you want to study?"
He said, "It is all the same to me. My father wants me to study so I have come to the college. I don't have any interest in anything, I have just come to enjoy. My father is rich. He wants me to be in college so okay, I will be in college and have fun and enjoy. Any subjects will do."
But I said, "These subjects perhaps may be difficult for you: philosophy, logic ...."
He said, "I don't care even what they mean. I don't know, I have never heard this word 'logic' before."
"Then," I said, "It is perfectly okay."
And he asked me, "Will you please give me your fountain pen?"
I said, "This is too much - you don't have your own fountain pen?"
He said, "I am not a man who is interested in these things."
He showed me a packet of cigarettes. He said, "I am interested in cigarettes, not in fountain pens; and I am not going to attend any class or anything. My father is going to send me the money and I am going to enjoy, and I am going to ask him for more and more. He has enough, and I am the only son so I am not wasting anybody else's money. It is my own, I am going to inherit it anyway."
I gave him my fountain pen and he filled in the form. He even had to look at my form for the spelling of the words that he was filling in. But this way we became friends. I liked the boy, he was sincere, and not a hypocrite in any way. We became friends. He needed me and I needed him, because I needed so much money for books and he had so much money that I said, "This is good." And he was not interested in books at all.
But I was his first friend in the college. And he had everything: a car, a driver, a bungalow - I needed all these things so I said, "That's perfectly good - you came at the right time. And whatever your need is, I will manage, you don't be worried." So I had to do examinations for both of us. In three hours time, half was mine and half was his. In one and a half hours I finished my paper and then I would start his paper.
But he said, "This is a great bargain." He said, "If I can pass, my father is going to be mad with happiness. He cannot believe that I can pass, because in matric he had to give such a large bribe to push me through. And now he knows that in college it is going to be difficult."
I said, "You don't be worried, you will pass first class." And he passed first class with a B.A. After the B.A. I left Jabalpur because one of the professors in Sagar University, S.S. Roy, was persistently asking me, writing me, phoning me to say, "After your B.A. you join this university for your post- graduation."
From Jabalpur University to Sagar University there is not much distance - one hundred miles. But Sagar University was in many ways unique. It was a small university compared to Benares University or Aligarh University, which had ten thousand students, twelve thousand students. They are just like Oxford or Cambridge - big universities, big names. Sagar University had only one thousand students and almost three hundred professors, so for every three students, one professor. It was a rare place; perhaps nowhere in the world can you find another university where there is one professor for three students.
And the man who had founded the university was acquainted with all the best professors around the world. Sagar was his birthplace; Doctor Harisingh Gaud was his name. He was a world-famous authority on law, and earned so much money - and never gave a single pai to any beggar, to any institution, to any charity. He was known as the most miserly person in the whole of India.
And then he founded the university and gave his whole life's earning. That was millions of dollars.
He said to me, "That's why I was a miser; otherwise there was no way - I was a poor man, I was born a poor man. If I were doing charity and giving to this hospital and to this beggar and to that orphan, this university would not have existed." For this university ... he had carried his whole life only one idea, that his birthplace should have one of the best universities in the world. And certainly he created one of the best universities in the world.
While he was alive he managed to bring professors from all over the world. He gave them double salaries, triple salaries, whatsoever they wanted - and no work, because there were only one thousand students, which even a small college has in India; one thousand students is not a large number. And he opened all the departments which only a university like Oxford can afford. Oxford has nearabout three hundred and fifty departments.
He opened all the departments which exist anywhere in the world. There were hundreds of departments without students but with full staff: the head of the department, the assistant professor, the professor, the lecturer. He said, "Don't be worried. First create the university - and make it the best. Students will come, will have to come." Then all the professors and all the deans were all in search of the best students. And somehow this professor, S.S. Roy, who was the head of the department of philosophy, got his eye on me.
I used to go every year to the university for the inter-university debating competition. And for four years I was winning the trophy and for four years he was listening to me, as a judge - he was one of the judges. The fourth year he invited me to his home, and he said, "Listen, I wait for you for one year. I know that after one year, when the next inter-university debating competition is held, you are bound to be there.
"The way you present your arguments is strange. It is sometimes so weird that it seems ... how did you manage to look from this angle? I have been thinking about a few problems myself, but I never looked from that aspect. It strikes me that perhaps you go on dropping any aspect that can happen to the ordinary mind, and you only choose the aspect that is unlikely to happen to anybody.
"For four years you have been winning the shield for the simple reason that the argument is unique, and there is nobody who is ready to answer it. They have not even thought about it, so they are simply in shock.
"Your opponents - you reduce them so badly, one feels pity for them, but what can we do? And I have been giving you ninety-nine percent marks out of a hundred. I wanted to give you more than a hundred, but even ninety-nine .... It has become known to people that I am favorable to a certain student. This is too much, because nobody goes beyond fifty.
"I have called you to my home for dinner to invite you to leave Jabalpur University and come here.
Now this is your fourth year, you are finished when you graduate. For post-graduation you come here. I cannot miss having you as my student; if you don't come here then I am going to join Jabalpur University."
And he was a well-known authority; if he wanted to come, Jabalpur University would have been immensely happy to accept him as head of the department.
I said, "No, don't go to that much trouble. I can come here, and I love the place." It is situated ...
perhaps it is the best-situated university in the world, in the hills near a tremendously vast lake. It is so silent - such huge trees, ancient trees - that just to be there is enough education.
And Doctor Harisingh Gaud must have been a tremendous lover of books. He donated all his library, and he managed to get as many books as possible from every corner of the world. A single man's effort ... it is rare; he created Oxford just single-handedly, alone. Oxford was created over one thousand years; thousands of people have worked. This man's work is really a piece of art.
Single-handedly, with his own money, he put himself at stake.
So I loved the place. I said, "You need not be worried, I will be coming - but you have seen me only in the debate competitions. You don't know much about me; I may prove a trouble for you, a nuisance. I would like you to know everything about me before you decide."
Professor S.S. Roy said, "I don't want to know anything about you. The little bit that I have come to know, just by seeing you, your eyes, your way of saying things, your way of approaching reality, is enough. And don't make me frightened about trouble and nuisance - you can do whatsoever you want."
I said, "Remember that financially I am always broke, so I will be continuously borrowing money from you and never returning it. Things have to be made clear beforehand; otherwise later on you can say, 'This you never said.' You will have to lend me money whenever I want. I am not going to return it, although it will be said I am borrowing - but on your part you have to understand that that money is gone, because from where can I return it? I don't have any source.
"Second, you have to make arrangements in the university for my free lodging and boarding. Thirdly, you have to ask the vice-chancellor, because I don't know him - or you can introduce me to him - for his special scholarship. He is entitled to give one special scholarship. Other scholarships are there, which are smaller scholarships given to talented people - first class, first gold medalist, this and that; I want the special scholarship which is three times more than any other scholarship.
"It is special because the vice-chancellor is entitled to give it to anyone talented, not talented, in the good list of the university, not in the good list of the university; it does not matter. It is his personal choice - because if they start thinking about my character certificates and this and that, I cannot produce a single character certificate.
"I have been in many colleges because I have been expelled again and again. So in four years time .... People study in one college, I have studied in many, but all that I can bring from them is expulsion orders. I cannot produce a single character certificate - so you have to recommend me. You are my only character certificate."
He said, "Don't be worried about that."
So I moved to Sagar. This is the coincidence that I was going to tell you about. When I was filling in the form, the same boy appeared again! He said, "What subjects?"
I said, "My God! Who told you that I had come to Sagar?"
He said, "You are asking that? For days I never see my car, my driver; in my house strangers come and live. They say they are your guests, and I have to make arrangements for them. And you think I have to know how you have come to Sagar? My driver has brought you here; he told me.
"So I said, 'If he is going to Sagar what am I going to do here, because who will write my papers?'
So I ran fast and I have caught you in time. Just exactly four years ago, in the same way we met."
I said, "That's true. So you are going to fill in these subjects again?"
He said, "It's perfectly okay, because I have nothing to do with the subjects. I don't know anything that happened in these four years because I was engaged in drinking and in gambling and all kinds of things. And you managed well; two first classes by one person - you did well. Now once more you will have to do it.
"And as far as things from my side are concerned, I am ready to double them. Everything that you want you take, but just don't try to leave me, because without you I am nobody. My father gave such a great party and all the relatives gathered, and it was such a celebration. And I was only thinking of you - that this whole celebration should be for you.
"Do you know what my father said when I came home and I told him that I have topped the university?
He said, 'That means in that university all kinds of stupid people must study; otherwise how could you have got the gold medal? That is a simple proof that all the fools go to that university. You change your university.' I said, 'I am going to change it but the same fools I will meet anywhere.'"
This was the only celebration for me. To my father it was impossible that I would get even third class, because I was never going to the college and was continuously being expelled from one college after another. Finally a college accepted me with the condition that I would not attend the classes because the same will happen again.
"You will fight with the professors, argue, and we will have to expel you. So the best way is - examinations are close - you simply do whatsoever you want to do anywhere else except the college campus. Don't come to the college campus. As far as your attendance is concerned, I will take care,"
the principal told me.
"But," I said, "you have to take care of two persons, because wherever I am expelled my friend has to move from that college too because he can not live without me. So as many times as I was expelled, he also had to move." I said, "You will have to take care of two persons."
The principal said, "I don't understand: why two persons? You alone are taking admission."
I said, "No, one of my friends is also. He is not expelled, but he never attends. He is not interested in studying but his father is forcing him. And what can the poor chap do? It is just to console his old man."
The principal said, "But why does he go with you? I see on the record that he follows you to every college."
I said, "I am his only friend, that's what he thinks. He is not interested in college, he is interested in me. He comes with me - it is one package. If you accept me, you accept him. I promise you that your college will get the gold medal. Attendance you will have to give for two persons."
And all the principals and professors knew that I was continuously winning in their eloquence competitions. Only once I got a second prize in one eloquence competition, and that became almost a great scandal against the professor who was one of the judges.
He was in love with a girl, one of his students. The girl was a competitor, and he wanted the girl to win the competition any way. All other judges had given me more marks but he had given to the girl a hundred marks completely. She was not even worth ten - because others ... somebody had given her five, somebody seven, somebody nine; nobody had gone beyond ten. But if one person gives her a hundred .... She came first, but I immediately went to every newspaper and informed them of the whole story.
The next day the professor had to resign and escape, because I said, "He is in love, and it is just a way of seducing the girl. I challenge - not the girl, I challenge the professor to compete with me anywhere before any kind of judges. If he can win in the debate I will think it is perfectly okay, the girl has won. The girl is nobody."
The scandal became so hot that the principal told the professor, "You please leave, because it is so clear: no judges have given her more than ten, and you have given her a hundred, and she is your student." I was present when the principal said to him, "I never thought that she was going to be even third, and she came first. And you unnecessarily took the risk of making this boy angry: he will not leave you alone."
And the next day .... To all the papers I had given their pictures. That was done with my friend: he was always carrying his camera and his transistor - he was that type. So I just told him, "You get me two pictures: one of this professor and one of that girl."
He said, "No problem, Together or separate?"
I said, "Do you have them already?"
He said, "I have got them together already."
I said, "That will do."
So the professor putting his hand on the girl's shoulder - the picture was published. The professor resigned, the girl escaped, and the competition had to be arranged again. I said, "Just his resignation does not mean anything; nor does the girl escaping from the city mean anything. I don't believe in being second. Either I am nobody or I am first; I don't accept any mediocre position anywhere."
Again the competition was arranged.
This boy was handy in many ways. This was a great coincidence that he managed to reach Sagar, and he filled in the form just according to mine. For two years he continuously helped me. My help was small: it came only in the end - at the examination time I had to write for him too.
In life I have tried, with all kinds of people to insist that everybody knows deep down that he is a stranger, a stranger to everybody, even to his closest friend. I told this boy - his name was Umakant Joshi .... He is now a professor.
That's what makes me wonder ... this world is a strange place; this planet certainly must be the weirdest planet in the whole universe. Now, Umakant Joshi is a professor who does not know even the spelling of the word "philosophy," but he is doing perfectly well. When I last saw him in 1965, I had just gone to inaugurate a social gathering. I had no idea that he was a professor in that college, and when he greeted me there, I said, "What are you doing here?"
He said, "What am I doing here? - the same."
I said, "What, the same? Now nobody can help you."
He said, "Money can do everything. I never bother to teach, I pay people to teach for me. I never examine people's papers, I pay teachers to examine their papers. Money can do everything."
Perhaps by now he may be a principal, one day may rise to become a vice-chancellor. If money can do everything, there is no problem. And I have seen people ....
I told this boy when we were departing after six years of being together, "Umakant, have you ever realized that we are as much strangers as when we met on the first day, just by accident, in that college office where you asked what subjects you should fill in on the form?"
He was in a way very innocent and nice. Tears came to his eyes, and he said, "That's true. We have lived so closely that I had completely forgotten that we are still strangers. I don't know you, you don't know me, and whatever we do know is irrelevant."
If you enquire among your friends you will be surprised: everybody is a stranger in a strange world.
But we have managed deceptions, we have camouflaged ourselves. We have labeled everybody in so many ways that the person starts thinking that he is that.
In my village there is one man, Sunderlal. I have been surprised ...sunder means beauty, sunderlal means beautiful diamond; and he is anything other than a beauty. He is not even homely. I have been surprised again and again that names are given to people which are just the opposite of their qualities.
I have seen immensely rich people named Garibdas. Garib means poor, das means a slave. I have been a guest to one Seth Garibdas in Hyderabad. Seth means very rich, super-rich, and garibdas means a poor slave. I asked him, "Have you ever thought about your name? Your father was rich; richness is almost your family tradition - it is nothing new. You are not a newly rich person, that you were poor and became rich. Then it would have been understandable: you were poor and people called you Garibdas. But you were born rich; you were born with golden spoons in your mouth.
Then why Garibdas?"
He said, "You ask strange questions. In my whole life nobody has asked me this. But my father is alive; we both should go and ask him."
We both went to his room and asked him. He said, "It is a protection. The astrologers suggested giving him a name which suggests poverty so that fate always remains compassionate to him." They were deceiving fate by giving him the name Garibdas - so fate thinks he is poor, don't harass him - and he remained rich.
This Sunderlal was really ugly. To talk to him meant that you had to look this way and that way; to look at him made one feel a little sick - something went berserk in the stomach. His front two teeth were out, and he had such crossed eyes that to look at him for a little while meant a certain headache - and he was Sunderlal! He was the son of a rich man, and he was a little nuts too.
I used to call him Doctor Sunderlal although he was never able to pass matriculation. He failed so many times that the school authorities asked his father to remove him because he brought their average low every year - and he was not going to pass.
How they managed to get him up to matriculation, that is a miracle. But it is understandable, because up to matriculation all examinations are local, so you can bribe the teachers. This was difficult to do in the matriculation examination because it is not local, it is state-wide. So it is very difficult to find out who is setting the papers, who is examining the papers. It is almost impossible; unless you happen to be the education minister or some relative of the education minister, it is very difficult to find out.
But I started calling him Doctor Sunderlal. He said, "Doctor? But I am not a doctor."
I said, "Not an ordinary doctor like these physicians: you are an honorary doctor."
But he said, "Nobody has given me an honorary doctorate either."
I said, "I am giving you an honorary doctorate. It does not matter who gives it - you get the doctorate, that's the point."
He said, "That is true, " and by and by I convinced him that he was an honorary doctor. He started introducing himself to people as Doctor Sunderlal. When I heard this, that he introduces himself as Doctor Sunderlal .... He was a relative of our sannyasin, Narendra.
One day I saw a letterhead with "Doctor Sunderlal, D.Litt., Honorary," printed on it in golden letters, embossed. I said, "This is great!" And as time passed by people completely forgot: he is now known as Doctor Sunderlal, D.Litt. Nobody suspects, nobody even enquires who gave him a doctorate, from what university? But the whole town knows him. And because he is an honorary doctorate he inaugurates social gatherings in the school, in the college - now the town has a college - and he is the most literary figure.
Just now my mother was saying that Doctor Sunderlal has become a member of parliament. The new government ... after Indira's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi chose him. He is rich and certainly respected in the town because he is the only doctor - an honorary doctor! People get ... and perhaps he believes it. Now you cannot tell him that he is not. He will drag you to the court.
Now, for almost thirty years he has been a doctor; that is enough. Nobody has objected, nobody has raised a question. In his election campaign his name was Doctor Sunderlal, D.Litt. - "Vote for Doctor Sunderlal, D.Litt." Perhaps - and he is a little nuts - he believes that he is. I know that even I cannot persuade him that "this doctorate I gave to you." He will laugh and say, "What are you saying?
I have been a doctor for thirty years. You were just a little kid when I became a doctor!"
He will not agree so easily to drop his doctorate. But even if you get a doctorate from a university, what does it mean? There is not much difference.
I know one very famous Indian politician, Doctor Govindadas. Maitreya knows him because they both were in parliament together. Doctor Govindadas was in the parliament perhaps the longest time in the whole history of humanity: from 1914 till he died, I think in 1978, he remained continuously, without a single gap, a member of parliament. He was the richest man in the whole state of Madhya Pradesh.
His father was given the title of raja, king; although he was not a king, he had so much land, and so many properties - one third of the houses of the whole city of Jabalpur, which is ten times bigger than Portland, belonged to him. He had so much land that the British government thought it perfectly right to give him the title. And he was helping the British government, so he was called Raja Gokuldas, and his house was not called a house, it was called Gokuldas Palace.
Govindadas was Gokuldas' eldest son - a very mediocre mind. It hurts me to say so but what can I do? If he was mediocre it is not my fault. He was very kind and friendly to me and very respectful too. He was very old but he used to come every day whenever he was in Jabalpur. Whenever the parliament was not in session he was in Jabalpur; otherwise he was in New Delhi. Whenever he was in Jabalpur, in the morning from eight to eleven, his limousine was standing in front of my door, every day religiously.
Anybody wanting to meet him between eight and eleven need not go anywhere; he had just to stand outside my gate. What was happening in those three hours? He used to come there with his secretary, his steno. He would ask me a question, I would answer, and the steno would write it in shorthand. Then he published in his own name everything that I said.
Govindadas has published books, two books; not a single word is his. Yes, there are a few words from the secretary. I was puzzled when I saw those books - and he presented them to me. I looked inside ... I knew that this was going to happen, it was happening every day - in newspapers he was publishing my answers all over India.
He was president of the Hindi language's most prestigious institution, HINDI SAHITYA SAMMELAN; he was the president of that. Once Mahatma Gandhi was president of that, so you can understand the prestige of the institution.
Govindadas was president for almost twenty years, and he was the main proponent in the parliament that Hindi should become the national language. And he made Hindi the national language, at least in the constitution. It is not functioning - English still functions as the national language - but he put it in the constitution.
He was known all over the country. Every newspaper, every news magazine, was publishing his articles - and they were my answers! But I was puzzled, because once in a while there would be a quotation from Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabirdas. I could not believe that he had even the intelligence to put the quotation in the right place, in the right context.
So I asked his steno one day when I was staying in Delhi in Govindadas's house. I asked his steno, "Shrivastava, everything else is perfectly right; I just wonder about these - Surdas, Tulsidas, Kabirdas - how Seth Govindadas manages to put them ..."
He said, "Seth Govindadas? I put them in."
I said, "Who told you to put them in?"
He said, "He says that at least something should be put from our side too."
I said, "I am not going to tell anybody, but just to deceive me, these two lines of Kabirdas in the whole question? You have been putting them in and you think I will be deceived?"
He said, "I had to work hard, looking into Kabirdas' collection to find some lines which could fit somewhere in your question."
I said, "You are a fool; you should have asked me. When your master can steal the whole article, you, being his steno, should at least learn this much politics. You could have said to me, 'Just give me two or three quotations so that I can fit them in.' In future don't bother yourself."
He was a poor man, and where would he find Kabirdas, and something very relevant to me? So I used to give quotations to Shrivastava and say, "These are the lines you fit in so Govindadas remains happy."
Why did I want him to remain happy? He was helpful to me in the same way that the boy was helpful to me. I was continually out of town without any leave from the university. Govindadas' limousine standing in front of my door was enough. The vice-chancellor was afraid of me because Govindadas was a powerful man; the vice-chancellor could be immediately transferred, removed - just a hint from me was enough. The professors were afraid. They were really puzzled why every day Govindadas was hypnotized; he spent three hours with me every day.
And he started bringing other politicians. He introduced me to every chief minister, every cabinet minister in the central government, because they all were his guests in Jabalpur. Jawaharlal used to be his guest in Jabalpur. He introduced me to almost all the politicians; I think Maitreya must have come to me through Seth Govindadas. He even arranged for a small group of important members to meet me in parliament house itself. Maitreya certainly must have been there.
Govindadas was helpful, so I said, "There is no problem. And it does not matter whose name goes on the articles. The question reaches to thousands of people. The answer reaches to thousands of people. That is important; my name or Govindadas's name, it does not matter. What matters is the matter."
This man remained continuously in contact with me for almost ten years, and when I told him, "We are strangers," he said, "What are you saying? We have known each other for ten years."
I said, "We don't know each other. I know your name, Govindadas; it has been given by your father.
The doctorate you have received from the university. I know how much value that doctorate has, and why you have been given that doctorate - because it was you who proposed the vice-chancellor.
Now the vice-chancellor has to pay you back with the doctorate. The vice-chancellor is your man, and if he manages to give you a doctorate there is no wonder in it. Your D.Litt is absolutely bogus."
First I used to hear .... He had written almost one hundred dramas. He was in competition with George Bernard Shaw because George Bernard Shaw was the great drama writer and he had written one hundred dramas. So Seth Govindadas was also a great drama writer of Hindi language - a hundred dramas. And he was not capable of writing a single drama!
He was not capable of even writing a single speech - his speeches were written by that poor Shrivastava. Govindadas has published one hundred dramas. By and by I came to know those people who had written them - for money - poor people, poor teachers, professors. So I told Govindadas, "I know what your D.Litt is: one hundred dramas, and none is written by you. Now I can say it authoritatively, because you go on publishing articles, and now you have published two books without even telling me, 'I am going to put your answers in these books.' And they are nothing but my answers - there is nothing else."
So I said to him, "Doctor Govindadas, I also have such a doctor in my village - Doctor Sunderlal.
I have given him the doctorate. He has not written one hundred dramas, neither have you. Just the way you believe you are a doctor, he believes he is a doctor. And I don't think there is much difference of quality in your minds, because seth is a title ..."
Before he became a doctor he was known all over the country as Seth Govindadas. Seth is a title, it comes from an ancient Sanskrit word, shreshth. Shreshth means the superior one; from shreshth it became shreshthi and from shreshthi it became seth. In Rajasthani sethi, sethia - it went on changing. But it is a title.
So when Govindadas became a doctor he started writing "Doctor Seth Govindadas." It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who told him, "Govindadas, two titles are never written in front of a name. Either you write "Seth," then you can write "D.Litt" behind, but if you write "Doctor" in front then you cannot write "Seth."
So he asked me what to do. I said, "There is no problem. You write "Doctor (Seth) Govindadas."
So he said, "Great!" And that's how later on he did it for the rest of his life: "Doctor (Seth) Govindadas." He could not leave out that seth either. And when Jawaharlal saw those brackets, he said, "Who has suggested these brackets to you? Can't you leave out that seth, or put it at the end?"
He said, "I cannot leave it out. It is one of my great friends who has suggested it to me, and he cannot be wrong. The brackets are perfectly right."
Jawaharlal said, "To me there is no problem. You write whatsoever you want, but two titles in front simply make you a laughingstock."
Govindadas again asked me what to do. I said, "You don't be bothered by Jawaharlal; the brackets are meaningless. The brackets simply mean "underground": doctor aboveground and seth underground - and you are both. Tell Jawaharlal clearly, 'I am both. If people don't write two titles in front, the simple reason is they don't have them. There is no other reason; they don't have them. I have got two titles so I have to write them.'"
What is the difference? But so much attachment to names, titles, professions, religions - and this is all your identity. And behind all this brown bag is lost your original face.
You are asking me how, in our commune, we can save the original face of our children.
You don't have to do anything directly.
Anything done directly will be a disturbance.
You have to learn the art of non-doing.
That is a very difficult art.
It is not something that you have to do to protect, to save, the original face of the child. Whatever you do will distort the original face. You have to learn non-doing; you have to learn to keep away, out of the way of the child. You have to be very courageous because it is risky to leave the child to himself.
For thousands of years we have been told, if the child is left to himself he will be a savage.
That is sheer nonsense. I am siting before you - do you think I am a savage? And I have lived without being interfered with by my parents. Yes, there was much trouble for them and there will be much trouble for you too, but it is worth it.
The original face of the child is so valuable that any trouble is worth it. It is so priceless that whatsoever you have to pay for it, it is still cheap; you are getting it without paying anything. And the joy on the day you find your child with his original face intact, with the same beauty that he had brought into the world, the same innocence, the same clarity, the same joyfulness, cheerfulness, the same aliveness .... What more can you expect?
You cannot give anything to the child, you can only take. If you really want to give a gift to the child, this is the only gift possible: don't interfere. Take the risk and let the child go into the unknown, into the uncharted. It is difficult. Great fear grips the parents - who knows what will happen to the child?
Out of this fear they start molding a certain pattern of life for the child. Out of fear they start directing him into a particular way, towards a particular goal, but they don't know that because of their fear they are killing the child. He will never be blissful. And he will never be grateful to you; he will always carry a grudge against you.
Sigmund Freud has a great insight in this matter: he says, "Every culture respects the father. No culture on earth exists, or has ever existed, which has not propounded, propagated the idea that the father has to be respected." Sigmund Freud says, "This respect for the father arises because sometime back in prehistoric times the father must have been killed by the children just to save themselves from being crippled."
It is a strange idea, but very significant. He is saying that the respect is being paid to the father out of guilt, and that guilt has been carried for thousands of years. Somewhere ... it is not a historical fact, but a meaningful myth, that young people must have killed their father and then repented - naturally, because he was their father; but he was driving them into ways where they were not happy.
They killed him, but then they repented. Then they started worshipping the spirits of the ancestors, fathers, forefathers, out of fear, because the ghosts of those can take revenge. And then slowly, slowly, it became a convention to be respectful towards the elders. But why?
I would like you to be respectful to the children.
The children deserve all the respect you can manage, because they are so fresh, so innocent, so close to godliness. It is time to pay respect to them, not to force them to pay respect to all kinds of corrupted people - cunning, crooked, full of shit - just because they are old.
In my commune I would like to reverse the whole thing: respect towards the children because they are closer to the source, you are far away. They are still original, you are already a carbon copy. And do you understand what it can do if you are respectful to children? Then through love and respect you can save them from going in any wrong direction - not out of fear but out of your respect and love.
My grandfather .... I could speak a lie to anybody - even if I met God I could speak a lie without any trouble - but I could not speak a lie to my grandfather because he respected me so much. When the whole family was against me I could at least depend on the old man. He would not bother about all the proofs that were against me. He would say, "I don't care what he has done. If he has done it, it must be right. I know him, he cannot do wrong."
And when he was with me of course the whole family had to shrink back. I would tell him the whole thing, and he would say, "There is no need to be worried. Do whatsoever you feel is right, because who else can decide? In your situation, in your place, only you can decide. Do whatsoever you feel is right, and always remember that I am here to support you, because I not only love you, I respect you too."
His respect towards me was the greatest treasure I could have received. When he was dying I was eighty miles away. He informed me that I should come immediately because there was not much time. I came quickly; within two hours I was there.
It was as if he was just waiting for me. He opened his eyes and he said, "I was just trying to continue to breathe so that you could reach me. Just one thing I want to say: I will not be here now to support you, and you will need support. But remember, wherever I am, my love and my respect will remain with you. Don't be afraid of anybody, don't be afraid of the world."
Those were his last words:
"Don't be afraid of the world."
Respect the children, make them fearless.
But if you are yourself full of fear, how can you make them fearless?
Don't force respect on them towards you because you are their father, you are their daddy, their mom, this and that.
Change this attitude and see what transformation respect can bring to your children.
They will listen to you more carefully if you respect them. They will try to understand you and your mind more carefully if you respect them. They have to. And in no way are you imposing anything; so if by understanding they feel you are right and they go on that way, they will not lose their original face.
The original face is not lost by going on a certain way. It is lost by children being forced, forced against their will.
Love and respect can sweetly help them to be more understanding about the world, can help them to be more alert, aware, careful - because life is precious, and it is a gift from existence. We should not waste it.
At the moment of death we should be able to say that we are leaving the world better, more beautiful, more graceful.
But this is possible only if we leave this world with our original face, the same face with which we have come into it.