Personality: the carbon cop-out
WHY WERE YOU SO MISCHIEVOUS IN YOUR CHILDHOOD?
Do you think I am different? Not a bit. I am still the same. I did not allow my childhood to be spoiled by anybody. And what you think of as mischievous, I have never thought about it in that way. Even today I don't think that anything I have ever done was a mischief I had my reasons, and very valid reasons.
For example: the first day I entered high school from my middle school.... In high school they used to have a prayer at the beginning of the day. It was a very famous song of Mirza Iqbal, who was one of the greatest Urdu poets of this age. As far as the language is concerned, it is certainly a great piece of art, but the philosophy behind it is ugly. The song says: "My country, my nation, is the best of all the nations. My country is a beautiful garden and we are nightingales in this garden...." And that's the way it goes on.
I said to the principal who was standing in front of the two thousand students and fifty teachers, "I will not participate in this prayer because to me this is absolute rubbish. Every country thinks of itself in the same way and every country has its ego in it.
"You ask the Chinese, you ask the Japanese, you ask the Germans, you ask the English, you ask anybody - they all think the same. So what Iqbal has written is simply rubbish as far as the philosophical background is concerned. And I am against the very concept of "nation". The world is one; I cannot say that my country is the best of all the countries.
"And I don't even see the reason for singing the song. It is not only that I am against nationalism, the song is untrue too, because what do you have? - poverty, slavery, starvation, sicknesses, increasing population and increasing problems. And you call this our garden and we are its nightingales! I don't see a single nightingale anywhere! These fifty teachers are here; can anybody raise his hand and say, 'I am a nightingale'? Let him sing, and let us see! These two thousand students are here; can anyone say it? Look at these poor students."
And they used to come from faraway villages, miles every day, from at least a twenty mile radius around the city, because there was no other high school except this. "They walk, they come utterly tired, they are hungry. And I have seen what they bring with them: just dry bread, not even buttered, and a little piece of salt. That's all that they bring every day and every day they eat it.
"These are your trees, this is your garden? So factually also it is not right. And I don't care whether Iqbal is a Nobel prize-winning poet or not. I don't care. It does not make me feel like singing this song; in every way uttering a lie."
The principal was so annoyed and so irritated that he could not speak for anger; he became almost red. Trembling, he went into his office and brought out his cane which was very famous - but he rarely used it. He told me to put both my hands in front of him, and he said, "This is my answer, and remember it."
I said, "These are my hands. You can beat my hands or my whole body if you want, but before you start, remember that from here I am going directly to the police station, because this is legally prohibited. Both you and your cane will be behind bars."
It was illegal to beat any student, but nobody cared. Still today, in India, students are beaten. And the law that students should not be physically beaten has existed for at least fifty years. So I said, "You decide. Here are my hands, this is your cane; you are here. And remember, these two thousand students are eyewitnesses, fifty teachers are eyewitnesses, and you will leave your signature on my hands. Leave it there! If you have any guts, beat me."
I can remember even today that he remained almost like a statue. The cane fell from his hand. He just turned back and went into his office. I told all the students, "Now you need not be worried; we are finished with this song. Unless they find something reasonable, we will simply be standing here for ten minutes in silence."
Now, do you call that mischief? It can be called mischief, and it was mischief in the eyes of my principal. He reported to my father that I had misbehaved.
I told my father, "You have to come with me. He has misbehaved. He should have answered me, told me that I was wrong. He should have convinced me that the song is right. Instead of that, he brought his cane to beat me. Is that an argument? Is that right behavior? Who has done the mischief, he or I? And then he had no guts even to beat me. I gave him the challenge; my hands were before him. I was ready to take as many beatings as he wanted, but I told him that I would go directly to the police station which is not far away from the high school, and that soon he would be behind bars because beating is illegal. Now who has misbehaved?"
My father said, "Forget about it."
I said, "I cannot forget about it. You have to come with me. It has to be decided - because the man has some nerve to tell you that I was mischievous, that I was misbehaving, that I insulted him before the whole school, all the teachers and all the students. You have to come with me."
Now, my father said, "Forgive me - perhaps you are right...."
I said, "No perhaps - if you don't come with me, I will drag that principal here."
So I had to take my father, and he had to follow, persuading me all the way: "Leave it. It is not such a big thing; he simply mentioned by the way that you misbehaved."
I said, "That is not the question. He has to say it in front of me. This is backbiting. HE IS MISCHIEVOUS."
And when the principal saw that I was coming with my father, he again became afraid that there was, it seemed, some more trouble. And I said to him, "Now you tell my father what I have done, and what you have done: saying behind my back to my father that I have been misbehaving, doing mischief, insulting you before the whole school. Repeat it! - because I don't agree with any of it.
"You have insulted me by not answering my argument. Not only that, you wanted to beat me. Not only that, you are a coward: you could not even beat me. Now, this is very slimy, that you go around and tell my father. You prove it - that it was mischief.
"In fact, all the nations that have been proclaiming themselves the best nation in the world are mischievous. Their mischief has accounted for millions of lives; the whole of history is full of it, and still we go on doing the same thing.
"Small children are being told to repeat every day something which is absolute nonsense, and unrealistic too. There is no fact supporting it. A country which has been a slave for two thousand years cannot say,'In the whole world we are the best' - the best slaves, or what? A country which is ninety percent poor, where one meal is difficult....
"There are days when millions of people in India sleep only by drinking water, just to keep the feeling that the stomach is full. This is the best country in the world! - whom are you trying to befool? These children will become conditioned to the idea. This is a strategy of the politicians: that tomorrow these children will become soldiers, and they will die for the 'best country of the world', not even knowing that this is not true.
"And even if it is factual, then too it is egoistic, and it should not be a prayer. Accepting, just for the sake of argument, that it is true - that one country is the best in the world, the richest, the most well-educated, well-cultured, has everything that is needed so all the facts support it-still I say such a prayer is wrong, because a prayer should not be ego-fulfilling, a prayer should be ego-destroying."
The principal said to me, "Forgive me, and please forget it, and I hope that we will never come into any conflict again."
I said, "That depends on you. If you behave, and you promise to behave, perhaps the situation may not arise. Was it not possible for you to accept my argument humbly? - because it was true.
Do you think that would have been an insult to you? It would have raised your status before the whole school, that you are a man of some dignity, that you do not hesitate even to respect the right argument from a child, that you respect intelligence.
"You missed that opportunity; you brought your cane. And then again you created trouble for yourself; you gave me another chance to prove you are a coward. You are unintelligent, you have no respect for intelligence or for a child - and you are a coward: you should have beaten me! What would it matter if you were behind bars? - it was a question of your principles. If you were right, then it would have been good to be behind bars. But be right, and fight for it!"
For three years he avoided me like anything. But I will not say it was mischief although it will appear so. I don't see a single point supporting the idea that it was mischief.
For three years, while I was in the high school, we continued the silence. The ten minutes' silence continued instead of prayer, because they could not come up with something better. Whatsoever they brought up I was capable of finding faults with. And without my approval, I was not going to allow it. So finally they decided, "Let this boy be gone from here, then...." And the day I left the school and went to the university....
I came back in some holidays and I went there to see what was happening: and the children were repeating the same song again. I went to the principal and I said, "I have just come to check. It has not reached your mind at all - again you started the same thing."
But he said, "Now please leave us alone. I was afraid that if you failed, then you would be here for one year more. I was praying for you to pass. I had told all the teachers to support you, to help you so that you pass. Any way you should not fail, otherwise one year more.... But now, you leave us alone."
I said, "I will not be coming again and again. I have just come to check and to see whether you have any mind or not, and you seem to be absolutely unintelligent. You are a postgraduate in science, and that too in mathematics - which is just an extension of logic - but you can't understand a simple thing. I will not be coming here because now I am occupied in the university. There are so many problems there, I cannot take care of your school."
One of my high school teachers was a certain Mr. Nigam; he used to teach chemistry. I knew him, the whole city knew about him, but he was such an angry, violent and idiotic man that nobody raised a voice against him. He killed his wife, but I was the only witness.
I was a witness because I was sitting in a mango tree. The mangoes were getting ripe, and it was nobody's tree so I was not stealing. In India, mango trees are planted along the roads. They give shade and they give the most delicious fruit also; so, many people out of charity plant mango trees.
Municipal committees, corporations, plant mango trees. So it was a public tree and nobody could say to me, "You are stealing" - or anything.
But this mango tree was just by the side of this Mr. Nigam's compound, outside his compound, and he was not aware that somebody was sitting in the tree. It was getting a little dark, the sun was almost gone, and I saw him dragging his wife along. He pushed the wife into the well - there was a well in his garden - and then he started shouting, "My wife has fallen into the well!"
Neighbors gathered. I also came down, but I thought it better first to enquire of my father, "Do I have to get involved in this or not? - because I am the only witness that this man pushed his wife."
My father said, "In the first place, what were you doing there?"
I said, "I was just picking a few mangoes. Even if it is a crime, it is not such a crime that a man can throw his wife down a well and I should remain silent. If there is some punishment for it, I am ready.
Just two mangoes I have taken. If somebody wants the price, you give the price, but just suggest to me what I am supposed to do. Should I speak? - because that man is trying to prove that his wife fell."
And his wife died - the well was very deep. My city is such that half the city is on top of a hill, and the other half is in the valley. Cycling is very difficult in my city. You can come down very easily, but going up you have to walk with your bicycle, you cannot go on the cycle itself. Cycle rickshaws are not yet possible because of this situation. So half is on top of the hill, and it is a very plain hill - then suddenly the slope.
The middle city is on the slope, and the other half, the main city, is in the valley - the main market and everything. So in the valley wells are very easy to make. You can dig a well alone, there is not much of a problem: six, eight feet, that's enough, and you reach the water because the river is just by the side. But on the top, sixty feet at least you have to go down.
This Mr. Nigam used to live on the top, so the well was very deep, sixty feet deep, and then the water was very deep.
By the time people gathered, his wife had died. Perhaps she died before she reached the water.
Sixty feet falling in the well... she must have hit something. The well was not very big, so she must have hit the sides, because when her body was brought up, it was bleeding from many places. Her head and body were bruised and bloody, so she must have died on the way down - or perhaps the little bit of life that remained was finished when she reached the water.
Now this man, when on the first day he came to teach.... The first thing is the attendance; so everybody who is present says, "Yes, sir," or "Present, sir," and for whoever is not present, nobody speaks, so he is marked not present. I said, "Yes, mister."
He looked at me and he said, "Don't you hear everybody saying 'yes, sir'? - and you say 'yes, mister.' Don't you have any respect for a teacher?"
I said, "I have respect for people who are respectable. I know you perfectly well. The day your wife was pushed into the well, I was sitting in the mango tree in front of your house. I can still open up the case.... And you want me to call you sir?
"There is a student in the class who lives by the house of the prostitute. You visit that prostitute almost every day. Do you want me to call out the name of the boy, and ask him to stand up and say that he sees you every day in the prostitute's house? There is a boy here whose father sells wine and all kinds of drugs. He can stand up for me and tell you what kind of things you go on purchasing from his father. And still you want me to call you sir?"
Now certainly it looks like mischief, but not to me. He was very angry and annoyed. He took me to the principal, and the principal said, "It is better you settle it yourself"
But he said, "No. This boy is going to spoil the whole class. He was saying to the class,'From tomorrow nobody calls him sir.""
I said to the principal, "These are the reasons; now you tell me whether we have to call this man sir.
As far as I am concerned, even calling him mister is too much. If he does not agree to mister, then I am going to find something worse."
The principal took him aside and said, "You had better settle for mister. It is not a bad word, it is perfectly respectable. There is no harm, because what he is saying... and he has proofs. And what he is saying is that he is an eyewitness that you pushed your wife. He is dangerous, he can go to the police and you may be in trouble. And he is not afraid of your violence or anything which your neighborhood is afraid of.
That man settled for mister. The whole class... and then I started spreading it into his other classes, "You have to call this man mister." Finally he resigned. Seeing that the whole school knew about everything that I had been telling, he resigned; not only resigned, he left the city and moved to another town.
It can be thought of as mischief, but I don't think it is mischief. I had valid reasons and still I will stand by what I did; it was perfectly right. In fact this man should have been thrown out of the school long before, thrown out of the city long before. And it was a good non-violent strategy that I applied.
He left on his own. I was the only person on the station to say goodbye to him. And I can still remember the way he looked at me as if he wanted to kill me, then and there. But the train moved, and I went on waving to him; I went on running up to the end of the platform. And I said, "Don't be worried. I will be coming to visit sometime, wherever you are."
This world, from a child's standpoint, looks very different. You will have to understand it from a child's standpoint because his standpoint is non-political, fearless, innocent. He sees things as they are.
And if every child is allowed to behave according to his understanding, you will see that every child proves to be mischievous. It is your attitude that interprets it as a mischievous act because you are not thinking from an innocent vision.
It continued in the university. One of my vice-chancellors was Doctor Karpatri, a very famous historian. He was a professor of history at Oxford, and then he became vice-chancellor at Saugar university; an old man, a world - famous authority on history. And the first address that he gave to the whole university was on the birthday of Buddha.
He said with great feeling, "I always think that if I had been born in Buddha's time, I would have gone and sat at his feet and tried to understand the wisdom, the light, the vision that this man has brought into the world."
I was there. I stood up and said, "Wait a minute, please."
He said, "Have I said anything wrong?"
I said, "Certainly. Have you been to Krishnamurti. You have lived in England; Krishnamurti is often in England - have you been to this man's feet to learn the great wisdom, the vision?"
He said, "No, I haven't."
"Then," I said, "you would not have gone to Buddha either. Did you go to Raman Maharishi?" - who had just died a few years before. "He was alive your whole life, and he was known all over the world as one of the most enlightened Masters ever. And he was here in India, just living in one place, Arunachal. He never moved from one small hill in the south, he always remained there, his whole life.
"He went there when he was seventeen, and he died there; he must have been eighty-five. He never left, all these seventy years. He was just living on that small hill. From all the world over people were coming to him. Did you go there?"
He said, "No."
I said, "Then can you repeat that you would have gone to Buddha? I can say with certainty that this is mere oratory. You are befooling others, you are befooling yourself. You have to accept the fact that you would not have gone. Why have you not gone to Raman, to Krishnamurti, to Meher Baba?
These people were available your whole life.
"But you think yourself a far higher authority, more and better educated than all these three people.
You have wisdom, you have vision, you have light - what can these people give you? I say to you with absolute certainty, you would not have gone to Buddha. Do you agree with me or not?"
There was silence for a moment, such silence as rarely happens in a university convocation hall, pindrop silence. And the man said, "Perhaps the boy is right. In fact I have no right to speak on Buddha because I have never been interested in enlightenment, nirvana, meditation. And he is right that I would not have gone to Buddha. For what? - because my interest is not in these things.
And he has pointed out clearly that I know three persons - these three persons are well-known as enlightened Masters - but I have not gone. And they have been very close to me.
"Krishnamurti has been very close; just an hour's drive and I could have seen him many times. I have been speaking in Madras university, from where Arunachal is only a few hours' drive. I have been speaking in Poona university, and Meher Baba lives there in Poona - but I have not bothered."
He apologized to me before the whole university and asked me sometime to come to his home; he would like to talk with me. I will say this man was at least intelligent; he was not annoyed.
My professors told me, "This is not right, particularly for you, because your scholarship depends on him. He can cancel your scholarship, and he has every opportunity in many ways to harm you, because he will appoint those who are going to be your examiners. He will appoint the one who is going to take your verbal examination. And your future... after your M.A., he is the person who will decide whether to give you a research scholarship or not."
I said, "Don't be worried about anything. I have taken care of everything today."
They said, "By doing this mischief?"
I said, "The man has offered an apology and still you are calling it a mischief?"
They said, "Yes, a disturbance in a public place making him look stupid."
I said, "I was not trying to make him look stupid, and he proved that he is not stupid. And I have asked many students: they all said that their respect for him in their eyes has increased because he was ready to accept that what he had said was just oratory. You can go on sometimes carried away by words; one word takes you to another word.
"People who have been speaking their whole life - professors, teachers - go on saying things which they don't mean. You have to pull them back:'Where are you going?' lust one word leads to another word, that word leads to another word... you have to pull them back. Of course pulling on anybody's leg looks like mischief, but it was not. And he has not accepted it as mischief"
I went to him, and he said, "You have done something great to me. In my whole life nobody has ever disturbed me while I was speaking. And you disturbed me on such a point that I had no way to deny you; and I loved you for the simple reason that you had the courage. Whatever you need and whenever you need it, always remember I am here. Just let me be informed about it and every facility, everything that is in my power will be available to you."
And I didn't have to say anything to him. He, without my asking, made arrangements that from the university mess I should receive a free pass for two years, and that two hundred rupees per month, my scholarship, should be granted. And you will be surprised that before deciding on my examiners, he enquired of me, "Do you have any preference for whom you would like?"
I said, "No, when you are deciding I know that you will decide on the best people. I would like the best, the topmost people. So don't think whether they will pass me or fail me, give me more marks or less marks; that is absolutely irrelevant to me. Choose the best in the whole country."
And he chose the best. And strangely, it turned out to be very favorable. One of my professors that he chose for Indian philosophy, the best authority, was Doctor Ranade of Allahabad university. On Indian philosophy, he was the best authority. But nobody used to choose him as an examiner because he had rarely passed anybody. He would find so many faults, and he could not be challenged; he was the last person to be challenged. And almost all the professors of Indian philosophy in India were his disciples. He was the oldest man, retired. But Doctor Karpatri chose him, and asked him as a special favor, because he was old and retired by then, "You have to."
A strange thing happened - and if you trust life, strange things go on happening. He gave me ninety-nine percent out of a hundred. He wrote a special note on the paper that he was not giving a hundred percent because that would look a little too much; that's why he had cut the one percent, "But the paper deserves one hundred percent. I am a miser," he wrote on his note.
I read the note; Karpatri showed it to me saying, "Just look at this note: 'I am a miser, I have never gone above fifty in my whole life; the best I have given is fifty percent.'"
But what appealed to him were my strange answers, that he had never received before. And that was his whole life's effort - that a student of philosophy should not be like a parrot, just repeating what is written in the textbook. The moment he would see that it was just a textbook thing, he was no more interested in it.
He was a thinker and he wanted you to say something new. And with me the problem was I had no idea of the textbooks, so anything that I was writing could not be from the textbooks - that much was certain. And he loved it for the simple reason that I am not bookish. I answered on my own.
He appointed, for my viva voce, one Mohammedan professor of Allahabad university. He was thought to be a very strict man. And even Doctor Karpatri told me, "He is a very strict man, so be careful."
I said to him, "I am always careful whether the man is strict or not. I don't care about the man, I simply am careful. The man is not the point: even if there is nobody in the room, I am still careful."
He said, "I would love to be present and see it because I have heard about this man that he is really hard." So he came. That was very rare. The head of my department was there, the vice-chancellor was there, and Doctor Karpatri. He asked special permission from the Mohammedan professor, Sir Saiyad, "Can I be present? I just want to see this, because you are known as the hardest examiner, and I know this boy - he is also, in his way, as hard as you are. So I want to see what happens."
And my professor, Doctor S.K. Saxena, who loved me so much, just like a son, and cared for me in every possible way.... He would even go out of his way to take care of me. For example every morning when the examinations were on, he would come to the university, to my hostel room, to pick me up in his car and leave me in the examination hall, because he was not certain - I may go, I may not go. So for those few days while the examinations were on... and it was very difficult for him to get up that early.
He lived four, five miles away from the hostel, and he was a man who loved drinking, sleeping late.
His classes never began before one o'clock in the afternoon because only by that time was he ready. But to pick me up, because the examination started at seven-thirty, at seven exactly he was in front of my room. I asked him, "Why do you waste thirty minutes? - because from here it is just a one-minute drive to the examination hall."
He said, "These thirty minutes are so that if you are not here then I can find where you are - because I am not certain about you. Once you are inside the hall and the door is closed, then I take a deep breath of relief, that now you will do something, and we will see what happens."
So Doctor Karpatri was there at the viva voce, and he was continually hitting my leg, reminding me that that man was really.... So I asked Sir Saiyad, "One thing: first you prevent my professor, who is hitting my leg again and again, telling me not to be outrageous, not to be in any way mischievous. He told me before, 'Whenever I hit your leg, that means you are going astray, and this will be difficult."
So please stop this man first. This is a strange situation that somebody is being examined and somebody else is hitting his leg. This is inconvenient. What do you think?"
He said, "Certainly this is inconvenient," but he laughed.
And I said, "My vice-chancellor has told me the same: 'Be very careful.' But I can't be more careful than I am. Just start!"
He asked me a simple question, my answer to which my professor thought mischievous. The vice- chancellor thought it mischievous, because I destroyed the whole thing.... He asked, "What is Indian philosophy?"
I told him, "In the first place philosophy is only philosophy. It cannot be Indian, Chinese, German, Japanese - philosophy is simply philosophy. What are you asking? Philosophy is philosophizing; whether a man philosophizes in Greece or in India or in Jerusalem, what difference does it make?
Geography has no impact; nor have the boundaries of a nation any impact on philosophy. So first drop that word "Indian", which is wrong. Ask me simply,'What is philosophy?' You please drop it and ask the question again."
The man looked at my vice-chancellor and he said, "You are right; the student is also hard! He has a point, but now it will be difficult for me to ask any questions because I know he will make a mockery of my questions." So he said, "I accept! What is philosophy? - because that question you have put yourself."
I said to him, "It is strange that you have been a professor of philosophy for many years and you don't know what philosophy is. I really cannot believe it." And the interview was finished.
He said to Doctor Karpatri, "Don't unnecessarily let me be harassed by this student. He will simply harass me." And to me he said, "You are passed. You needn't be worried about passing."
I said, "I am never worried about that; about that these two persons are worried. They somehow are forcing me to pass; I am trying my best to undo what they are trying to do, but they are pushing hard."
If you take anything as mischief, you have a certain prejudice. Once you understand that whatsoever I have done in my life... it may not be part of the formal behavior, it may not be the accepted etiquette, but then you are taking your standpoint from a certain prejudice.
All things - and so many things have happened in such a small life that sometimes I wonder why so many things happened.
They happened simply because I was always ready to jump into anything, never thinking twice what the consequences would be.
I had won my first inter-university debate; it was an all-india debate, and I had come first and brought the shield to my university. The professor in charge, Indrabahadur Khare, was a poet and a good man, but a very proper gentleman - just like proper Sagar - everything closed. Buttons, coat, everything had to be proper - and I was very unproper.
He took me to a photo studio. Because I had won the shield for the all-india competition, the newspapers needed a picture, so he took me. For my whole university career I was wearing a kurtha, a kind of robe without any buttons at all. So when I stood there by the shield, Indrabahadur said to me, "Wait, where are your buttons?"
I said, "I have never used buttons. I love the air, I enjoy it - why buttons?" And he was completely closed up with so many buttons. He was using a Mohammedan sherwani, which is the national dress in India, a long coat with many buttons; even the collar is closed with a button.
So he said, "But without buttons... this picture will be reprinted in all the newspapers; I cannot allow this."
I said, "I cannot allow buttons. I can bring the buttons, and you can take a picture of the buttons for the copy - I have no objection. I have no interest in the picture. Has it to be my picture - or your picture? You stand up, you are absolutely proper; the picture will look good. But if you want my picture, it has to be without buttons, because I have lived without buttons for almost four years.
"I cannot change just for the picture - that will be phony, a lie. And how can I put on buttons, because there are no holes on the other side; even if I want to put on buttons, it will need holes and I don't want to destroy my dress at all. So please forgive me - either my picture has to be without buttons, or it is not going to be at all."
He said, "But this is mischievous of you."
I said, "It is not mischievous of me, it is too much of a mannerism on your part. And who are you to decide? In these four years, every professor has tried to insist that I should use buttons, and I have asked them,'Where in the university code is it written that you should have buttons? lust show me the law, bylaw, any amendment, anything that proves that you should have buttons, and I will have buttons.' But nobody has thought about buttons, that this question will arise one day, that you should have it printed in the university code. So they all became silent to show that it's okay, nothing can be done about it."
I used to walk in an Indian sandal which is made of wood. It has been used by sannyasins for centuries, almost ten thousand years or perhaps longer. A wooden sandal... because it avoids any kind of leather, which is bound to be coming from an animal who maybe has been killed, killed only for this purpose - and the best leather comes from very young children of animals. So sannyasins have been avoiding that, and using a wooden sandal. But it makes so much noise when the sannyasin walks, you can hear from almost half a mile away that he is coming. And on a cement road or walking on the verandah in the university... the whole university knows.
The whole university used to know me, know that I was coming or going; there was no need to see me, just my sandals were enough. Now, one of my professors, Awasthi, a very loving man asked me, "Why do you choose strange things? Now, there are thousands of students, hundreds of professors - and I have been to many universities as a professor - but I have never come across a single student using wooden sandals and disturbing the whole university."
I said, "That's not right. If you are disturbed that means you don't have any control of your own mind.
My wooden sandals, what can they do to you? Otherwise there are so many noises around, you will be continually disturbed: the car is passing by, the bus is passing by, somebody's horn - and in India you have continually....
Here I have not used the horn at all, but in India you have to use it every minute. There is no other way, otherwise you cannot move: a cow is standing there, a buffalo is standing there, a few people are standing and gossiping in the middle of the road.... Particularly in places like Varanasi, where people go on leaving bulls as a religious thing - it is thought to be a great virtue.
The bull is Shiva's devotee, his symbol. So in a Shiva temple you will find a bull outside the temple.
Shiva is inside, and the bull is sitting outside. He is Shiva's bodyguard, servant, devotee - everything.
And whenever Shiva wants to move around, he rides on the bull.
So it has become a convention for hundreds of years that people bring bulls and leave them in Varanasi, because Varanasi is thought to be Shiva's city. And according to Hindu mythology it is the ancientmost city in the world. Perhaps it is true; it seems to be. The whole structure of the city, particularly the old city, seems to be really ancient.
So in Varanasi there are thousands of bulls, and to feed those bulls is a religious thing. A man may be dying, starving, but you will not bother about him: the bull has to be fed. If a bull comes to a vegetable shop and starts eating your vegetables, you cannot prevent him. No, he has the license from Shiva, he has simply to be allowed. When he goes, he goes. You cannot disturb him. He can eat sweets in a sweet shop, he can eat vegetables, fruits, whatsoever he wants; and he is completely free.
The only free being in India is the bull, particularly in Varanasi.
And nobody can beat the bull, nobody can do any harm to him. In Varanasi it was such a trouble.
You go on honking the horn, but the bull does not care - and the bull is sitting just in front of your car.
Unless you get out, push him, persuade him to move... and they are well fed because they are free, nobody can interfere with them. lust to travel a small distance, you have to start one hour earlier because on the way everything is possible.
I used to speak in the Theosophical Society in Varanasi, and the place where I stayed was just five minutes walk away. But it took one hour to drive, so I told my host, "It is better if we can walk and reach there without this trouble and without troubling so many of Shiva's devotees - because they are everywhere and they are resting and sitting. They have no other work - eating, walking, sitting, fighting."
I told Awasthi, "All these disturbances are going on around you."
He said, "I know all those disturbances are going on, but still your sandal stands separate. It is impossible to forget that you are around, even in all this noise. Why have you chosen this sandal?
Just to annoy people, or...?"
I said, "No, not to annoy anybody. This keeps me alert. And my feeling is that they were not chosen to avoid leather, because Hindus are not against killing animals; they sacrificed animals. But they have chosen it. Jainas, who are vegetarians - non-violent, against sacrifice - they have not chosen even the wooden sandal. They walk without anything, just naked feet; Buddhists also, just naked feet. so this reasoning, that wooden sandals have been chosen so that leather can be avoided, is nonsense - because you see the same sannyasin sitting on the hide of a lion. That is the traditional seat for a Hindu monk: the full hide of a lion, even with the head!
"So for a man who is sitting on the lion's hide, or a tiger's hide or a deer's hide, what problem has he to make shoes? That reason is not applicable. My reason is that when you walk on a wooden sandal you cannot fall asleep once. You can walk miles, you cannot fall asleep; that noise will keep you continually waking up, like an alarm. And it does keep you alert.
"If you start watching it, observing it, it is far better than breathing and watching the breath, because breath is a subtle thing, so you will miss it very soon: within a few seconds your mind will wander. But that click-clock, click-clock, click-clock hits you continually, as if somebody is hitting you on your head - click-clock, click-clock.... How can you go astray? It has been of immense help for meditation."
Awasthi said, "You are simply impossible. It is just mischief, but you are now making a philosophy out of it.
I still say that I was not making a philosophy out it. It was not mischief If somebody is disturbed, that simply means that the man is not very centered. Otherwise somebody walking on the wooden sandal... if you are disturbed, then you will be disturbed by anything: a dog will start barking, a crow may be sitting on the roof calling you; you will be disturbed by anything. Sometimes, if there is nothing happening, that may disturb you: "What is the matter? - no noise, nothing is happening?"
But he insisted, "Whatsoever you say, I know that this is mischief"
I said, "If you know already, then there is no question of disputing the fact. I have explained it to you.
If you want to refute me, I can bring a pair for you; I have a spare pair. Just start, and you'll see."
He said, "You will make a buffoon out of me too! You are notorious for your sandals; now you want to play the trick on me."
I said, "No, just do it in your house, there's no need to go outside. Just do it in your house and see how it keeps you alert."
He seemed interested - just a little more persuasion.... His wife came out and she said, "You are spoiling my husband. I will not allow these wooden sandals in my house. If you want wooden sandals and this meditation, do it anywhere else in the university, but not in my house. I have been tolerating even this boy's sandals for two years, and now he is persuading you."
Awasthi said to me, "This is true. I was almost on the verge of telling you to bring them. I have been trying meditation, but I have never been successful, because with breathing it is so subtle that the mind moves away easily. Your idea is good, but my wife...."
I said, "You can try them outside; others' wives will get disturbed" - because he was living in the professors' colony. "You can walk on the verandah of other people's houses, so why should you be worried? Nobody can prevent me. I have already established the precedent - you just go."
He said, "Let me think about it."
The next day I came with a pair. He said, "No, because I enquired of my neighbors. They said, 'Awasthi, if you do this then we are all going to complain against you that you should be removed from this colony to another colony; this is too much. This boy is enough. When he comes to meet you he wakes everybody. And a strange time he chooses - three o'clock in the morning! - and we cannot do anything against him. We have reported it to the vice-chancellor. The vice-chancellor says that he says it is a meditation.""
Now, in India you cannot prevent anybody from any kind of meditation. That word is enough! When I started teaching people dynamic meditation, there was trouble everywhere, even in my own house.
My uncle started doing it, and the neighbor filed a case against him in the court. My uncle told me, "This is a difficult meditation. That neighbor was my friend, and he would not normally do such a thing, but he is so angry that he says, 'unless you stop this meditation I am going to fight the case, because you disturb me early in the morning; when one really feels like falling into a deep sleep, that is the time of your dynamic!""
But I told my uncle - and he is our sannyasin; he was here just a few days ago - "Don't be worried.
You just say that this is our religion, and this is our meditation." Once you say "meditation" in India, there is no problem.
When he came here, I asked, "What happened to the case?"
He said, "We have won the case, because I said, 'This is our meditation,' and I produced the book.
"The judge read the description and he said, 'If it is a meditation, then... the court has no power over religion.' So he told the neighbor,'You have to accept it, there is no other way. This is his meditation.
If you want to do it, you can also do it. Why get unnecessarily boiled up and angry in your bed? - better you also start.'"
And the neighbor was very irritated with the court.
He said, "This is strange - the court suggesting, 'You also start, why waste time? And if it is meditation, we have no jurisdiction over religion.'"
It may appear as mischief - it was not. My mischief was the same shape as now; my shoes are still the same shape.
This is the shape of the wooden one I dropped because now it would disturb my meditation! Now I don't need any help from it; rather, it is a disturbance. That's why I changed it!