I am a man who hopes against hope
I HAVE HEARD YOU SAY THAT RELIGION AND POLITICS ARE OPPOSITE DIMENSIONS: A RELIGIOUS MAN CANNOT BE INTERESTED IN POLITICS, AND A POLITICIAN CAN NEVER BECOME RELIGIOUS WHILE REMAINING A POLITICIAN. IF THIS IS TRUE, IS THERE NO CHANCE FOR A BETTER WORLD?
I have said that, and I repeat it: the really religious person cannot be interested in politics. And the politician, remaining a politician, cannot have any religious experience, any taste of that flight to the unknown.
But I have never said that there is no hope for a better world.
This is true, that the politician cannot become religious - for the simple reason that politics, all politics, politics as such, is power politics. It is will-to-power. One wants to dominate, one wants to possess, one wants to be the decisive factor in people's lives. These are the qualities of the ego.
Obviously this type of person cannot be religious because religion is basically the experience of egolessness.
In religion there is no place for will-to-power. In fact, in religion there is no place even for will. Will-to- power is far away; even will-to-be is not there. One is in the hands of existence, in a deep let-go. This let-go is what I call religiousness. That's why I said that religion and politics are opposite dimensions.
But don't be worried; it does not mean that there is no hope for humanity, no hope for the future.
I am a man who hopes even against hope. It is impossible for me to be hopeless. And when there is hope you can always find a way. The proverb is: "Wherever there is a will there is a way." I don't think it is right. Everywhere there is will, and there is no way. Some idiot must have made this proverb.
But wherever there is hope there is always a way.
I would like to change the proverb. I don't have any right to change anything, but I am simply crazy, you can't help it. I go on changing the meanings of words because my feeling is that no word has any ultimate meaning. All meanings are given meanings. If somebody else can give a meaning to it, why can't I give a meaning to it too? Words in themselves are just sounds. A word means what you want it to mean - it depends on you. So I would like to change this old proverb.
For my people, will is poison because will ultimately leads to politics. Will means, "I want to be something, somewhere, somebody." I teach you will-lessness; that's my meaning of let-go. The will clings, the will tries to force its own way; it wants existence to follow it.
When I say will-lessness, I am saying to you, don't force your way. Just let nature take its own course. You just be a cloud. Wherever the wind blows the cloud moves, with no resistance, with no grumpiness: "I wanted to go south and what is happening? - I am going north, I hate it! I was destined towards the south, dreaming of the south, and everything is shattered by this wind."
No, the cloud simply moves with the wind.
There is no conflict, there is no resistance.
The wind and the cloud are not two.
If the wind suddenly changes its movement - from going north it starts moving towards east or west - the cloud does not even raise a question: "This is inconsistent. We were going north; I had agreed, irrespective of the fact that I was destined to go to the south. I had sacrificed my goal just to be with you. Now this is too much! Somehow I managed to make myself agreeable to the idea of going to the north. And you seem to be just mad! You have started moving towards east or west, this is inconsistent. This is not friendly, this is not the way of lovers.
"This is a divorce. I cannot always be a follower, so that wherever you go I have to go. I am not just a hen-pecked husband. If you want to go to hell, go! I am not going."
No, there is no question even that the wind is inconsistent. The cloud has no will; hence no conflict, no question, no doubt. The way of the wind is accepted as the way of existence, that's what existence wants. The cloud is in a tremendous let-go, it has no will of its own. The cloud is not and cannot be a politician.
The religious man cannot be interested in politics for the simple reason that he has nowhere to reach - he has reached there already. He is there where the politician is trying to reach and never reaches - cannot reach because of the very nature of things. The religious person is already there.
He has not reached there, he has discovered that he has always been there, always and always, from the very beginning; he has never been anywhere else. Even if he wants to move, it is impossible. He can only be where he is, nowhere else can he move.
How can you move from yourself, from your being? And nothing is higher than that, nothing is more blissful.
There is no need either.
Hence the religious man cannot be interested in politics, because the politician's way is against the flow, against the current. The politician is trying to move above everybody's head; whatsoever the cost, whatever evil means he has to use does not matter. All that matters is that he is determined to become somebody significant; he has to leave his name in the pages of history, although nobody reads those names.
And as history grows bigger - and it goes on becoming bigger every day - bigger names go on becoming smaller. Naturally, those who were very prominent go on slipping into the footnotes, or are just referred to. Once they ruled over the whole world.
Genghis Khan was one of the greatest emperors ever. He ruled from one corner of Asia to the opposite corner of Europe; both the continents were under his thumb. He was called "The Great Khan." But now, if you look in the history of the world, you will find his name referred to in some footnote. History will become bigger sooner or later. First you slip into the footnotes, then you start disappearing from the footnotes. Leaving your name in the history books is like writing your name on the sand.
One of my teachers, a history teacher, used to say again and again, and this has been said to almost everybody: "Leave your name in the pages of history. Write your name in golden letters. You should leave your mark that you have been here."
The first day I entered his class ... of course the first day the teacher is at his best. He tries hard to impress, because the first impression is a lasting impression. So he was at his peak - not speaking but thundering. I could not tolerate it when he said, "You have to leave your name in history, it has to be written in golden letters. You have to make a mark that you have been here."
I stood up and I said, "You are shouting too loudly - and only forty students are here. Are you leaving your mark on the walls of this classroom, or on the tables and chairs? You are thundering as if you are addressing a meeting of at least ten thousand people. And can I ask a few things?
"One thing, I have never seen any history book written in golden letters. So of all those who have lived up to now, nobody has been able to write his name in golden letters. Are you proposing that, for me especially, a book will be written in golden letters? And even if it is written in golden letters, I will not be here to see it; so what is the point, whether my name is written in it or not?
"In fact, when I came into this world I had no name. The name is given to me; the name is just arbitrary, it is not mine. So whether it is written in the history book or not does not matter.
"Secondly, you are saying, 'Leave your mark here, to prove that you have been here.' You are talking just like a dog."
He said, "What!"
I said, "Yes - because dogs leave their mark wherever they are. They raise one of their legs up and leave their mark there. And when I am saying that, I am simply stating a biological fact. You can ask the scientists why the dog does that. He leaves his mark: 'I have been here and this is my territory.'
Pissing is golden. He is making history."
But all the politicians are doing that, pissing and thinking that they are leaving golden marks. Yes, pissing is a little yellow but I cannot say it is golden, that would be exaggerating. And all that the dog is leaving as his mark, and making as a declaration to existence, is that "This is my territory" - it stinks!
I said to him, "The whole of history stinks, and all your politicians simply stink. You please just stop thundering and stop telling us nonsense. You just start the story of all the idiots of the past. And please forgive us for not being added to that list."
The politician suffers from a tremendous inferiority complex. Deep down he knows he is nothing, and he wants to prove to the world that he is huge, powerful. He wants to stand first in the line of the whole humanity. But the trouble is, humanity follows a general universal law; it is one of the fundamental laws of the universe that things move in circles. The earth goes around the sun, the moon goes around the earth, the sun itself is going around some bigger sun which we have not yet been able to discover.
But everything moves in circles, and that is true about humanity too. We are standing in a circle and moving in a circle, so there is always somebody ahead of you. This is the trouble, you cannot get out of it; somebody is always ahead of you. Yes, somebody is behind you - that gives a little satisfaction, but the person who is ahead of you kills it immediately. You are trying to pull the person back by his leg and be ahead of him. He will try his hardest not to be pulled that way, he will kick you as hard as he can.
But even if you succeed .... If you fail, you fail; but if you succeed, then too you fail, this is the trouble, because again you find that there is somebody else ahead. And you will always find that, because it is a circle.
As you go on succeeding, go on succeeding, go on succeeding, one day you will find that a man who was once behind you is ahead of you. That is the ultimate failure. When somebody becomes a president, a prime minister, then he comes to know: "My God! The man ahead of me now is the same man who was behind me when I started the journey." And you can see it every four years in America, and in India every five years: the president is begging for the vote of the man who was behind him. Now he has to ask and beg a vote from him, now his presidentship, his premiership depends on the vote of that man; he is ahead.
I have been saying again and again that the leaders are the followers of their own followers. It is a very strange game. You have to pretend to be first, and yet you know the last man has the power to keep you there or not to keep you there.
The politician's life is a life of constant struggle and constant anguish. He tries hard to get beyond them, but if he remains a politician this is not possible. All these sufferings, miseries, are part and parcel of his political game.
One education minister used to come to see me. He was a very rich man, very well educated.
Before he became the education minister he was the vice-chancellor of a university. When he was vice-chancellor of the university there, he heard me in a conference and became my friend. Once in a while he used to come, just to relax for one or two days, away from the world of the capital and the politicians.
He would ask me again and again: "You teach people methods of meditation, of becoming peaceful, silent. And I can understand that what you are saying is right, that unless you become silent and peaceful you cannot hope to be blissful. You have to create the ground for bliss to happen. But you never tell me anything."
I said, "I will tell you only when you drop your politics, because your politics and my teachings together will make you even more miserable. You are miserable enough. If you start trying to be peaceful also, to be silent even for a few moments, to meditate every day even for half an hour, you will become more miserable than you have ever been, because you cannot succeed in doing it. It is better for you to accept that this is all that life has in it: suffering, misery, sleeplessness, and continuous turmoil.
"It is better, in a way, that this is all life is. If you become aware that life is more and you start trying for it, you will be unnecessarily multiplying your suffering. You cannot be peaceful, you cannot meditate, you cannot sit silently. And that will be a very painful defeat; a great successful politician who has become a cabinet minister of a country like India - big, vast, the biggest democracy in the world; and you have one of the most important portfolios, education - such a great successful man cannot be silent even for one moment? That will be very disturbing."
But he didn't listen to me. He started meditating and reading my books. And what I had said would happen, happened - a complete nervous breakdown. He was brought to me. I said, "I told you before, these two things cannot go together. You are trying to run east and west at the same time; then one leg goes to the east and one leg goes to the west, and you will be torn apart. It is a very simple thing: if you are in politics then just be in politics. There is no such thing as religion for you."
The politician cannot be religious while remaining a politician. Remember the condition.
The religious person is on such a fantastic journey, what does he care about being a president of a country, or a prime minister, a king or a queen? What value do these kings and queens have? In fact, there are only five kings in the world: four in the playing cards and one in England. And they have a similar value: nothing much. Do you want to be the sixth king?
Politicians for centuries have been living in hell, for the simple reason that they think that through this hell they will attain one day to the highest power and position. But what are you going to do with the highest power and position?
This education minister was one day sitting with me in his car; we were just going for a ride, and a dog started chasing the car. I said to the driver, "Slow down a little - the poor dog is huffing and puffing so much, just slow down. Let him catch the car and see what happens."
The politician said, "What will happen?"
I said, "You will see - exactly that which happens to a politician."
The driver slowed down the car. The dog came close to us - and looked silly, because now what?
I told the education minister, "This is your position - now what? Chasing the car, he was far happier. At least there was something to do, a great challenge. But once he reaches the car he feels embarrassed, because now the challenge has disappeared. And he looks all around: he must be foolish, why are you staring? He never thought about why he is chasing the car, what he is going to do if he gets to the car. Even if he sits in the seat of the driver, what is he going to do?"
These great politicians sitting in great power in the White House and the Kremlin - just dogs sitting in a car looking all around, feeling silly, thinking, "Is this the end?" There is nowhere else to go. Once you have reached the White House you have nowhere to go. You are really caught - and by your own efforts - in a prison.
The politician cannot be religious because religion means understanding, awareness, silence, harmony, and a deep let-go with existence, a feeling of being at peace with everything as it is:
no desire to be anybody else, no desire to be anywhere else, no desire for tomorrow. All is fulfilled in this moment. The politician cannot afford this. And the religious man who is in this situation, in this ultimate state of being, for him politicians are just foolish people, although he may not say so just out of etiquette.
I am not a man of etiquette, I don't know manners. I simply call a spade a fucking spade, because that's what it is. I have made the spade actually what it is. The old proverb is, a spade is a spade.
That doesn't sound of any import. Of course a spade is a spade - so what! It does not say anything about the spade. So I simply say that these are all idiots.
But there is still hope for humanity. The hope is not that religious people will become politicians, or that religious people will start taking an interest in politics, no. But religious people can become, should become, rebellious against all political stupidity. There is the hope. The religious person should not remain just contented with his blissfulness and allow all these idiots to go on doing harm to innocent humanity.
To me this is the only compassion:
To rebel against the whole history of humanity.
The religious person should rebel.
In the past he has not done that. That's why I say, in the past religion has been just immature.
Even the greatest religious personalities in the past will look like pygmies compared to the authentic religious person who is going to be born, because the authentic religion is basically rebellion - rebellion against all superstition, rebellion against all stupidity, rebellion against all the nonsense that goes on being imposed on the human mind continuously.
A rebellious religious man is a fire; his words will be words on fire.
His silence is not going to be the silence of a cemetery.
His silence will be the silence of a song, of a dance.
His silence will be the silence of two lovers meeting, and not capable to find words to convey their love. Their love makes them wordless. The moment lovers start talking too much you can understand; love has disappeared. Conversation has started; conflict is not very far away.
Conversation is the beginning, soon there will be argument. Where else can conversation lead except to controversy? But two lovers when they are really in love, throbbing with a new energy, feel themselves stuck, suddenly wordless. Even to say "I love you" seems to be difficult, seems to be far below the fact of love. It seems somehow to be sacrilegious to bring words into something which is so silent, and so glowing in silence, and so alive in silence.
The religious person is silent, but it is not the silence of a cemetery, not the silence of a dead man.
It is the silence of one who is really alive, fully alive, intensely alive.
This intense aliveness is going to become his rebellion.
What have I been doing for thirty years continuously? - fighting every kind of nonsense. Was there any reward, was I seeking any reward out of all this fight? No, it was not for any reward. It was just the way my aliveness was asserting itself. It was not goal-oriented, there was no motivation; I was simply being myself.
I enjoyed all that fight. In fact the people who came in conflict with me were very much surprised because it was an agony for them. To me it was an ecstasy. They could not understand how I was enjoying it. And I was surrounded on all sides with enemies. Alone, single-handedly I was moving among millions of people and against them, saying things which were very hurtful to their beliefs.
One shankaracharya even asked me, "What are you going to get out of it? You are simply making so many enemies. Politicians are your enemies, all kinds of religious people are your enemies. The rich are your enemies, the poor are your enemies, the capitalists are your enemies, the communists are your enemies." He said, "This is strange; Mohammedans, Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, Parsees, Sikhs, Christians - they are all your enemies."
I said to him, "I am going to write a book, How to Impress People and Create Enemies. This is just an experience for it.
He said, "You are never serious. I was just being concerned." He was a young man, newly appointed to be a shankaracharya; he had known me before he was a shankaracharya. He was genuinely concerned, he said, "I don't see anything that you can get out of this except making everybody an enemy; and yet you enjoy it."
It happened in Faridabad, a place near New Delhi, that there was a great Hindu world conference.
This shankaracharya told me, "There is danger."
He was still being friendly towards me, and he said, "In public I cannot be on your side but deep down I feel your authenticity, your sincerity. I cannot say this before the public because I don't have that much courage. But I want you to be warned because there is much conspiracy going on: 'Today something has to be done to this man because he has been hammering all our beliefs, all our heritage, all our institutions. Nobody seems to have any answer for him, nobody seems to have any argument.' So they are thinking, just the way idiots will think, 'Why not kill this man, why not destroy this man?' So today's meeting can become fatal to you."
I said, "Don't be worried. Every moment is fatal because any moment death can come. And this is great: with fifty thousand people I will enjoy my death too!"
He said, "You are incurable. I am just being friendly to you, and I am certain there is something going on."
I said, "If you are certain, I trust you. I will do my best to let it happen." And really, in the evening conference there must have been at least one hundred thousand people. In the morning conference there were only fifty thousand; the number had doubled because the gossip that something was going to happen, something was boiling up, brought many more people to the evening meeting.
As I started speaking I could see that three persons, strong men, came and sat just behind me. They looked like professional criminals. Perhaps they were borrowed for the occasion. Before speaking I said, "I want to say a few things about these three strong men who are sitting behind me." There was deep silence on the stage. They were all great Hindu monks, three shankaracharyas, prominent politicians - at least fifty people were there. Delhi was so close, so great politicians were available - and they don't miss such a gathering. One hundred thousand people ... just seeing them on the stage is enough!
Those three people had not expected that I was going to speak about them first. And how did I know about them? I said, "These three persons are here to kill me, so you all have to be aware - at least they should be patient. There is no problem in killing, they can kill me, but first let me finish what I want to say to you. If they kill me in the middle you will be at a loss; you will have missed what I was going to say to you.
"So I want to ask you one thing: Do you want me to say all that I have to say? If you want me me to, then please raise your hands. If you don't want me to, then what is the point of saying half the things; half the truth is far worse than a lie. Then I would rather remain silent and tell these three people to kill me."
One hundred thousand hands shot up, with shouts of "We want to hear you, and we will see who can attack you" - and many people, hundreds of people, came behind me, to prevent those three people. You will be surprised; I spoke the way I always speak, I said things as strongly as possible.
And the miracle was that I was speaking against those people's beliefs!
But somewhere, deep down, man remains innocent. You just have to know the knack of reaching that point, to touch his heart.
All those shankaracharyas and politicians by and by started getting off the stage. I had been given only twenty minutes to speak ... but the president had left, the other organizers had left, seeing the situation, that the whole thing had backfired. But the people would not let those three persons go, they were holding them.
The whole meeting became my meeting. I spoke for almost two and a half hours because there was nobody else to speak, and nobody to tell me to stop or anything. The chairman was missing - they had all escaped because they were all part of the conspiracy. And those three men fell at my feet and said, "Somehow save us. If you leave, these people will kill us."
I told the crowd, "Just leave them, because they have not done anything; moreover, they are professionals, they have nothing personal against me. They may have got some money, and I am not against that. Have you got the money?" I asked them, "or have you not got it yet?"
And these are the moments when you see realities which are not ordinarily available. They said ...
they could not tell a lie. They were professional criminals, murderers, they had been charged with murder before, they had been in jail many times - but they could not tell a lie. Just seeing my truth, a synchronicity ... something in them also was touched. They said, "Half they have given us and half they have promised after we kill you."
"So," I said, "you will lose half. You kill me and get the other half."
They said, "We don't want to kill you. We had no idea who you are. Listening to you we wanted to kill all those people who were trying to kill you."
I said to the people, "Leave these simple, innocent people, don't harass them, I would like them to move away before I leave the place because I don't know ... this is such a big crowd and you look so angry."
The conference was going to be for three days; this was the first day, so I said, "The conference will continue. Now it is my conference. Every arrangement is here, so for three days we will continue."
And we continued for three days. You will be surprised, those three men were continuously coming to listen and sitting in front of me with tears in their eyes.
When I was leaving Faridabad, among the people who had come to give me a send-off were those three people, with garlands and with tears. And they said, "You have changed our whole life. We have always played like puppets in the hands of politicians and priests. We are not criminals; these people have made us criminals, they pay us to commit a crime. If we are caught then they try to save us; they give us all legal support, any bribery that is needed for the judges. They do everything to save us because they need criminals for their political careers, for their religious careers."
I said, "Yes, a priest is not a religious man, he has a religious career. He is a professional."
For thirty years I have been hammering as hard as possible. And a few things I have realized:
howsoever thick the conditioning may be that has happened to humanity in the past, it can all be broken. We just need a few authentic religious persons - not priests, not professionals but people who have experienced. They will become burning torches in the darkness of the night.
They will not become politicians, but they can destroy the whole political structure of the world - and that's what is needed.
They will not be interested in politics - but they will certainly be interested in the humanity that the politicians have been exploiting for centuries.
They will not take power in their hands, they will simply destroy these parasites and let the power be with everybody.
In fact, power should be distributed to everybody. It should be decentralized; there is not need for power to be centralized.
Centralized, power is bound to corrupt.
With power decentralized, everybody is powerful in his own way.
What is the need of having politicians?
The animal called politician has to disappear from the earth; this is the hope. And I know that now - and only now - is it possible. Before it was not possible, for two reasons: the authentic religious people were not there; and secondly, the politician had not yet done his worst. Now both things are available. The sincere, authentic religion is being born among you. And the politician has come to his tether's end. He has done the worst, now he cannot do anything more. What more can he do than to bring about a nuclear war, destroying the whole world?
Before the politician and his nuclear weapons destroy the whole humanity, the few authentic religious people have to bring fire to every heart, a fire in which the whole political game is finished. And with the political game finished, the politician will disappear. This is the only hope.
The third world war is a great hope because it will reveal the politician in his true colors.
Up to now there have been wars, big wars - the first world war, the second world war, and thousands of other wars - but they were not total. Somebody was going to win, somebody was going to be defeated. The third world war is going to be a total world war: nobody is going to win, nobody is going to be defeated. All are going to be finished.
Now this is the ultimate in war, the ultimate in idiocy. What is the point of fighting if both are going to be finished? The whole point was that you can win, there is a possibility of your winning. At the worst you can lose, but the other will win; somebody is going to be victorious.
In the third world war nobody is going to be victorious because nobody is going to survive it. Neither democracy nor communism, neither American nor Russia - nobody is going to survive it, so what is the point? But the politician has come to such a state, he cannot go back. He has to go on, knowing perfectly well that this is going to end finally in the ultimate destruction of this whole planet, this beautiful planet.
There are millions of planets in the universe but perhaps the earth is the most beautiful. All those planets are without greenery, without flowers, without birds, without animals, without human beings; without poetry, without music, without dance, without celebration. They are just dead - the earth is so alive.
It is not only the question of humanity's future. It is also the questions of existence missing its most precious planet.
It is an existential question, not just a planetary one, not confined to this small earth.
It is a question for the whole infinite universe, because in this whole universe this small planet has become an oasis of consciousness. And there are more possibilities; they should not be stopped.
Hence I say there is hope - but the hope lies in the religious person's rebelliousness.
I have been asked thousands of times, "You go on teaching religion, there is no problem; but why do you mix religion with rebellion? That creates a problem."
One of the prime ministers of India, Lalbahadur Shastri, was a very good man, as good as a politician can be. I have known so many politicians that I can say perhaps he was the best out of all those criminals. He said, "If you are a little less sincere and a little more diplomatic, you can become the greatest mahatma in the country. But you go on saying the naked truth without bothering that this is going to create more enemies for you. Can't you be a little diplomatic?"
I said, "You are asking me to be diplomatic? That means being a hypocrite; knowing something but saying something else, doing something else. I am going to remain the same. I can drop being religious if it is needed, but I cannot drop being rebellious because to me that is the very soul of religion. I can drop every other thing which is thought to be religious, but I cannot drop rebellion; that is the very soul."
The day I became convinced that now I have enough people who can move towards that Everest I have been pointing to all my life, I dropped my contact with the masses completely, so that I can give my whole time - whatsoever there remains - so that I can give my whole energy, whatsoever existence allows me, to a small concentrated group. The need is not of millions of religious people, no. The need is only of a few chosen ones.
If I can ignite fire in my sannyasins then I have done my work.
Then each of my sannyasins will be capable of doing the same as I have done to him.
And we can put this whole earth afire, aglow with a new humanity and with a new sunrise.