It was on a coastbound train Mieczyslaw was slumped in his seat and every few moments he sighed and cried, "Oh my! Oh my!" Forbes, sitting nearby, heard him cry but did not butt in, thinking the fellow was troubled by some great personal tragedy.
The next day it was the same cry of "Oh my! oh my!" And again the same the day after.
Finally, Forbes leaned over and whispered, "Anything seriously wrong?"
"Oh my, yes!" said the Polack. "For three days now, I have been on the wrong train!"
This is exactly the situation of humanity: everybody, almost everybody, is on the wrong train! Hence there is so much misery. Misery simply indicates that you are not where you are supposed to be, that you are not moving towards your own destiny, that you are not flowering into your own potential, that you have been diverted by others, distracted by others. Maybe those others were not intending any wrong to you, but they were unconscious people Just like you.
Every parent distracts the child from his essential being, leads him astray. Every teacher, every priest goes on doing the same. Nobody respects the individual. They have already decided what is right and what is wrong, and for all!
Each individual is a unique phenomenon. Hence no law no morality can be applicable to all. Of course, we have to agree on a few minimums, just to exist together, but those minimums have to be the non-essentials.
That is the fundamental message of the Desiderata. "Desiderata" means the fundamentals, the essentials. About the essentials there should be no compromise at all, with nobody, not even with God, because you don't know anything about God. The priest goes on speaking on behalf of some God which nobody knows. It is the priest, the cunning priest, who pretends that his voice is God's voice.
One of the most ancient scriptures in the world is the Hindu scripture, Rig Veda. Ninety-nine percent of it is sheer nonsense, not only nonsense but irreligious too - not even religious nonsense! All the prayers in the RIG VEDA are prayers for the non-essential. People are asking for money - from God!
- asking for power, prestige, more cows, more horses, more land; not only that but also the death of the enemies and the prosperity of the friends. And this scripture is worshipped by the Hindus as religious.
Religion means one is trying to transcend the mundane; otherwise, religion loses all its meaning.
But the Rig Veda is full of the mundane. It is really a miracle that once in a while you come across a statement which can be called significant, concerned with the essential and not with the peripheral.
And this is not only the case with the Hindus: this is the case with the Buddhists, with the Jainas, with the Christians, with the Jews, with the Mohammedans, with almost all the organized religions.
They have all gone astray. And when I say they have all gone astray I mean they have become entangled with the non-essential.
In Buddhist scriptures there are thirty-three thousand rules; unless you follow those thirty-three thousand rules of conduct you can never become a Buddha. One cannot even remember those rules! Just think of thirty-three thousand rules to be followed and you drop the idea, the very desire to be a Buddha. It will drive you crazy - all those rules if followed . . . and only an insane person can follow those rules. There cannot be thirty-three thousand rules about the essential, it is about the very non-essential: while you are walking how far you should see on the road - only four feet, not more than that, not even four feet six inches! If you go beyond the limit of four feet you fall from grace. Now what nonsense is this, and what does it have to do with religion? You have to have only three pieces of clothing, you cannot have four - only three, and you have to be very strict about it. You have to beg in a certain way, from certain people, not otherwise. You have to eat only at a certain time; if you are feeling hungry again, you cannot eat, you have to remain hungry.
The Buddhist monk has to eat only once a day. The Jaina monk cannot even drink water in the night. The Jaina monk cannot even urinate where the earth is wet; the Jaina monk cannot urinate in water. That's why no Jaina monk can use modern toilets! Such stupidities! But they have been propagated in the name of religion, and once something takes the color of religion it starts looking important to people.
Character has been very much emphasized; in fact, character is a peripheral phenomenon. The real thing is not character but consciousness. But consciousness happens inside and is not available for others to observe; others can only observe your character. And it is always the others who are deciding for you, hence they decide something that they can observe: they decide about your behavior. And of course man is capable of conducting himself in a certain way, he can force himself into all kinds of contortions, but that does not change his consciousness at all.
I have seen Jaina monks who have followed all kinds of rules prescribed in the scriptures, and their most important value is non-violence. But they are not non-violent people; they are aggressive. Of course, their aggression takes a different form - it has to - it cannot be expressed in an ordinary way because they have prevented the ordinary way. They are very argumentative; their whole aggression becomes argumentation. Now argumentation is a way of fighting - not-with the body but with the mind. A really non-violent person will not be so much interested in argumentation.
And Jaina scriptures are full of arguments, hair-splitting. In fact, nobody else has done so much hair-splitting as Jainas have. It was bound to happen because their whore violence turned into a mental phenomenon, it was a perversion. They cannot even kill an ant, but they can kill a great argument - and they enjoy killing.
In India, Jainas, all the Jainas, have become business people. Why did it happen! It happened through the idea of non-violence. One cannot conceive the relationship, but if you look deep into it .
. . the Jaina rules say you should not cut a tree, you should not uproot a tree, because trees have life. True, but then you cannot cultivate, you cannot be a farmer. So that dimension was closed to the Jainas: they cannot be farmers, cultivators, gardeners. Even cutting a leaf is violent.
Of course they cannot be warriors, they cannot go to the battlefield. An their teerthankaras, the twenty-four Masters, were born in the race of the warriors; they were an kshatriyas, samurais. But all their followers have become business people for the simple reason they cannot be soldiers, they cannot be farmers, and to be a brahmin one has to be born a brahmin. You cannot become one, and even if you want to become one, the brahmins won't allow it to happen, so that door is closed.
And of course, who wants to be a sudra - an untouchable? Who wants to fall so low?
So the only possible outlet was: be a businessman. So all the Jainas became business people, and their whole violence became concentrated on exploitation. Hence they are the richest people in India. Their violence turned into a subtle channel, it took a very subtle form: Suck the blood of the people, exploit, oppress. Money became their goal; through money they became powerful. They cannot be powerful directly because they cannot fight for power, but in a vicarious way, by having more money, they can purchase a,L They can purchase brahmins, they can purchase sudras, they can purchase the warriors - they can purchase everybody! Their consciousness is not changed:
they are as , violent as anybody else. Of course, their violence has taken a very strange turn.
Have you observed the fact that hunters, who are violent people, are very good people, very friendly people? - for the simple reason that their violence is thrown out in hunting.
Psychologists have observed that woodcutters are very non-violent people, very peaceful, because their whole violence is thrown out of their systems by cutting wood. Their profession is such - chopping wood, cutting wood - that their whole desire to cut and chop disappears. They have done enough chopping, enough cutting; they are no more interested in it at all. They are very loving, good people.
This world is a strange world, and the strangest thing is that we go on trying to change the inner by changing the outer - and it is not possible in the very nature of things. You can change the outer by changing the inner, but not vice versa. But the society cannot see the inner; the society can only see the outer. Hence the society emphasizes the outer and makes everybody a split personality, makes everybody in a certain way schizophrenic. You are one thing on the outside; you are totally another on the inside - not even different but diametrically opposite.
You can observe people on the surface and you can decide about their inner beings. More or less you can conclude and you will be on the right track: whatsoever they are on the surface they must be the opposite of it in their innermost being. The so-called brahmacharins the so-called celibate people - think continuously of sex and nothing else. That is bound to happen, that is natural, because celibacy has not arisen out of meditation. It is imposed, it is cultivated; it is not even skin- deep. Hence they are always afraid of women. The Jaina monk, the Buddhist monk, the Hindu sannyasin, they are all afraid of the woman. A great trembling arises in them just from seeing a woman. Hence the Buddhist rule: Don't look beyond four feet.
Mahatma Gandhi has written about one of the incidents that happened in his ashram. He was reading the Ramayana, the story of Rama, ant in the story of Rama there comes a passage where he became a little puzzled. The passage is that Rama with his wife Sita and brother Laxmana are going into the forest; they have been expelled by their father for fourteen years. Rama is the first, behind him is his wife Sita, and behind Sita is Laxmana.
This way they roamed in the forest for years. Then Sita was stolen by Ravana. When Ravana was taking her away she wanted to leave a few clues for Rama to find out where she had been taken, so on the path, unnoticed by Ravana, she dropped her ornaments one by one. She was a queen and she had many ornaments, so she dropped ornaments all the way, and of course they were the clues.
Rama found those ornaments, but he was in such a state of shock and his eyes were so full of tears that he looked at those ornaments but could not recognize them. He was almost going crazy. He was asking the trees, "Trees, tell me, please, where is my Sita?"
He asked Laxmana, his younger brother, "Can you recognize these ornaments? Do they belong to Sita? If they belong to Sita, then this is the route she has been taken away by and we have to follow this route."
Laxmana said, "I can recognize only the ornaments that she used to wear on her feet because those are the only ornaments I have ever seen."
Mahatma Gandhi became very puzzled: "For years they have lived together, wandered in the forest, and Laxmana has not seen another ornament - of the hands or the necklace or something else. He sees only the ornaments of the feet. Why?"
Vinoba Bhave, one of his great disciples, suggested, "Laxmana must have been following an ancient rule not to look at any woman, because looking at a woman may create desire in you. So he was simply focusing on the feet; he was not looking up. And of course, the ornaments of the feet he could recognize because for years he had looked only at the feet. He must have touched her feet, bowed down to her feet, must have seen those ornaments."
And Mahatma Gandhi was very much impressed by Vinoba Bhave's interpretation - this is a great revelation! Laxmana was following the rule of celibacy, he was following Brahmacharya.
When I read about this whole incident, I said that if Laxmana was so much afraid even to look at Sita's face, then one thing is certain: that he was not a celibate. The elder brother's wife is almost like a mother - and he could not look at her face? could not look at her whole figure? What kind of fear is there, what kind of paranoia? Is this something healthy? Does this show a man of understanding, of awareness, or only a man fast asleep? And if he was forcing himself to look only at the feet, could he avoid the desire to look up at the face? You may not look, but can you avoid the desire? In fact, the curiosity will become more and more, bigger and bigger. You may become obsessed with it:
"How does she look? The feet are so beautiful, so impressive - how must her whole figure be!"
Then she will start entering into your dreams. Then more fear will arise. The fear can be so much that there are stories in India that there have been saints like Surdas who destroyed his eyes because he saw a beautiful woman and became allured, fascinated. Obviously he concluded, according to the Hindu tradition, that these eyes were leading him astray, so he destroyed his eyes, became blind. But can you see the stupidity of it? Do you think the blind person has no sexual desire? Do you think just by becoming blind you can avoid sexual desire? But Surdas is respected for this act, tremendously respected: "What sacrifice and what a great character! What great morality! What purity!"
But I don't see any purity in it or any greatness in it. I see simply something idiotic, something utterly silly. You can destroy your eyes or you can close your eyes, but your mind will still continue. In fact, the woman is never so beautiful when you look at her as she is when you avoid her. When you forcibly distract yourself from her she becomes more beautiful. Ant the same is true about the man, because nobody in fact is o beautiful as your fancy can make them appear.
That's why psychoanalysts try to penetrate into your dreams, for the simple reason . . . it is a condemnation of humanity. Nobody has thought about it that way, that the psychologist, the psychoanalyst, is trying to know about your dreams, not about you while you are awake. Strange!
He should ask you questions about while you are awake. He never bothers with what you do while you are awake; he wants to know what you do when you are asleep Why? - because he has come to know one thing absolutely and certainly, categorically: that man is false when he is awake.
Centuries of outer imposition have made his so-called awakened state absolutely false and pseudo.
If you want to know about the real, authentic man you nave to know about his dreams; only in his dreams will you find him.
And then you will be surprised: the man who has renounced all money, in his dream goes on counting money and he does nothing else. The man who has renounced the woman - the woman he loved, the woman he wanted to love - goes on dreaming about the same woman or maybe about thousands of other women. His dreams will be full of women.
I have heard about a Catholic monk who went to a psychoanalyst and said to the psychoanalyst, "I have come in great trouble to seek help from you. Every night in my dream I am surrounded by at least a dozen naked, beautiful women!"
The psychoanalyst said, "But why be worried about it? There is nothing wrong! You should on the contrary be happy. What problem is there? If the women are beautiful and you are surrounded by beautiful women the whole night, enjoy it!"
The monk said, "You don't understand. In the dream I am also a woman, that is the trouble! I am not objecting to the presence of the women - that is the only solace. The problem is that I am always a woman myself in the dream. Help me somehow so that I can remain a man in my dreams."
Now on the surface he is a Catholic monk and deep down just a human being. And I am not condemning his humanity and his human desire. but I am certainly condemning his bogus Catholic monkhood.
But all the religions have done the same thing in different degrees: they have divided man into two.
And what he is on the surface is one thing and what he is underneath is totally different.
Because of this the whole of humanity lives in a very strange state: divided, tense, anxious, fighting with itself. And the way it has been done is by leading people astray through the non-essential.
The character is non-essential. What you do is not the essential thing, but what you are because doing comes out of being. Being does not come out of your doing, so doing is secondary, just like a shadow. Being is essential. And you should know first who you are. Rather than trying to become somebody - Mahavira, Buddha, Christ - try first to know who you are.
A GREAT HASSID MYSTIC, Zusya, was dying. His old aunt was always worried about Zusya because he was not following the traditional Jewish religion . . . she was very much worried about him. She was an old woman with all the old orthodox thoughts. At his deathbed she came and asked Zusya, "Have you made peace with God?"
Zusya opened his eyes and said, "But I have never been in and conflict with him! Why should I make any peace with God? I have never struggled against him. I have lived a life of let-go!"
The old woman could not understand the life of let-go, the life of total surrender to the ultimate, to the whole, flowing with the whole. She again asked, thinking that he had not understood; she said, "Have you made peace with Moses?"
Zusya said, "When I am in front of God, he is not going to ask me, 'Zusya, why are you not a Moses?'
He will ask me, 'Zusya, why are you not a Zusya?' I am not supposed to be Moses, otherwise ke would have made me a Moses! Who was preventing him? He never made another Moses."
God never repeats. He never sends carbon copies to the world. Mahavira is not repeated, Buddha is not repeated, Christ is not repeated, Mohammed is not repeated, Kabir, Nanak - nobody is ever repeated.
And this is what we all are doing: we are trying to be like Moses or like Mahavira or like Mohammed.
Zusya is right, his insight is great. He says, "God will ask me, 'Why are you not Zusya?' He has made me Zusya and I have to be myself. That is my responsibility. To be Moses is not my responsibility; that was Moses' responsibility and that is something between Moses and God. I have nothing to say about it, nothing to do with it; it is not my concern at all."
The most essential thing is: you have to be yourself. Don't be distracted by anybody, by any scripture, by any priest, by any politician. Don't be distracted. Stick to one thing: "I have to be myself." Don't be stubborn. Don't bother about non-essentials. If the rule is to keep to the left, follow it; it is a non-essential thing. Whether you keep to the left or whether you keep to the right does not matter; it is just a traffic convenience. In India we keep to the left because of the Britishers, because they had the idea of keeping to the left; the Americans keep to the right. Both are okay; there is nothing essential about it. But one thing is certain, that the traffic has to be managed and one has to decide either left or right - the traffic cannot be left in chaos.
These are non-essentials. Don't start fighting for them; that is a sheer wastage of energy. But about the essential no compromise should ever be made.
The Desiderata says: Without surrender, without making any compromise, remain yourself. That does not mean that you have to be continuously fighting. It simply means if you are alert, aware, watchful, you can save your being without being contaminated by the others.
Everybody is like a vulture trying to dominate you. Even those who say they love you, their love is also nothing but an ego trip. They love you so that they can dominate you. The husband loves the wife to reduce her almost to a thing, to a commodity. The wife loves the husband just to dominate him, just to exploit him. All this love, all these relationships. . . Parents love their children if the children are following the ideas of the parents; if they are obedient then they love their children, if they are not obedient then all love disappears - instead of love they start hating.
One sannyasin asked me just the other day: "Listening to the Desiderata I am confused about what to do. I have not Gone to see my mother for two years because she insists that I have to come to her not as a sannyasin. I cannot come in orange with a new name." So she is puzzled: "What to do?
Is it an essential or a non-essential? Should I compromise?"
If you think only of clothes it will look like a non-essential: why hurt the mother unnecessarily? You can go in white, you can go in any other color - clothes are just clothes. But that is not the point: the mother is trying to dominate you. It is not a question of clothes, because why should she be against orange? If you go in blue she is not against it, if you go in green she is not against it, if you go in white she is not against it. Why should she be worried about orange? What is wrong with orange?
Is your mother a kind of bull or something? Why should she be worried about orange? Orange is one of the colors! If all other colors ate acceptable and orange is not acceptable, it is not a question of colors or clothes; the question is deeper. She insists that you have to be obedient to her. And the sannyasin is thirty-two years old, not a small child. But the desire to dominate. . . "Otherwise,"
the mother says, "I don't want to see you." What kind of love is this? It insists that "You have to be according to me."
Forget the clothes. It is a very essential question; it is not non-essential. It is essential to defend yourself against all these who try to dominate you, because they will not stop only at that. Once you give in, then the whole trip begins, and then there is no end to it.
Every person has the freedom to be himself or herself. And if the mother really loves you she would like you to be yourself, she would like you to come the way you are. Love always accepts the other without any conditions; if there are conditions, it is not love.
So you will have to be very very clear about it, otherwise the Desiderata can create much confusion in you. The Desiderata is a simple statement, because it is for the beginner, for those who are just beginning the journey into the world of truth, those who are beginning the enquiry. Listen to it very intelligently. Try to understand it without bringing your mind in. Just put your mind aside and listen in silence, because whatsoever is listened to in silence is understood immediately. Otherwise you will hear today, and some day in the future you may be able - and that too is a "perhaps" - to understand it. But meanwhile your life will be a wastage and it will become entangled in many non-essentials.
Zowicki, in a body-cast, lay in a hospital bed explaining to a doctor how he fell off the roof and broke most of his bones. "Twenty years ago, I be on road selling brushes when my car break down and I walk to nearby house to use the phone," he began. "A good-looking blonde built like a brick shipyard answered the door. She did not have phone, but ask me to stay over till morning.
"I stay in upstairs room. That night she ask if I need anything. I tell her 'No.' One hour later she come back again, ask if I want anything. I tell her everything all right. Around midnight she stop by again and ask if I want anything. I tell her I be fine."
"What's that got to do with your accident?" asked the doctor.
"Well," said the Polack, "I be up on the roof fixing TV antenna when I remember that night back then, and all of a sudden I realize what she driving at. I jumped up, fell off the roof, and here I am!"
After twenty years. . . ! Don't be a Polack! Try to understand right now, here.
These are simple words and simple words are in a way dangerous: because they are simple you think you have understood them. Simple words contain more truth than complex words; complex words are creations of the stupid scholars. Simple words are direct, immediate; they don't go roundabout. If you silently listen to them there is nothing which can prevent you from understanding them, but the silence is a prerequisite. If your mind is full of thoughts and you are listening through all the garbage, then those simple words will become complex by the time they reach you and they will not have the same meaning.
Czarobski walked into a drugstore. "Give me a can of talcum," he said.
"Mennen's?" asked the clerk.
"No, wimmen's - it's for my wife," he answered.
The clerk shrugged. "You want it scented?"
"Nope," replied the Polack. "I can take it along."
And did you hear about the Italian girl who almost ruined her health by going to the doctor?
She thought he prescribed three hearty males a day.
Mrs. Marzanini complained to a lawyer that every time she had relations with her husband it hurt her unbearably.
"He is big! He is like a horse!" she added.
"In that case," said the attorney, "the best thing you can do is to file our petition."
"Oh no! Let him sandpaper his!"
Beware of simple words!
Pierino walked into a cocktail lounge and said to the barmaid, "Give me a double scotch!"
"Hey, kid," she sighed, "you want to get me in trouble?"
"Maybe later, lady! Right now I just wanna drink!"
The Desiderata is very simple, but don't postpone. Let it be an immediate understanding.
The Desiderata says:
"AVOID LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE PERSONS; THEY ARE VEXATIONS TO THE SPIRIT."
A very simple statement, but of tremendous importance. It is very pregnant.
"AVOID LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE PERSONS. . ."
WHO IS A LOUD PERSON? And why is a certain person loud in the first place? The person who feels deep down inferior is always loud. He is afraid that if he is not loud you will see his weakness if he is not loud you may be able to see his inferiority; if he is not loud he may be exposed. By being loud he creates smoke around himself: he hides behind his loudness.
Adler's insight is right when he says that all politicians basically suffer from inferiority complexes.
Unless somebody suffers from an inferiority complex he will not go into politics. Politics is loud, very loud, very noisy and very aggressive. The inferior person tries to prove that he is not inferior. He wants to hide his inferiority by becoming a prime minister, by becoming a president, by having much money, by conquering the world.
Alexander the Great must have suffered from a greater inferiority complex than anybody else; otherwise who bothers to conquer the world? When he was coming to India - that was the last put of the world which was still not conquered by him - he met a tremendously beautiful man, Diogenes.
And Diogenes asked him, "Why are you bothering to conquer the world? Why not conquer yourself?"
Alexander laughed - a shallow laugh. He said, "What you are saying is true, but right now I cannot stop. I have to finish what I have decided to do. First I have to conquer the world and then I will do what you are saying to me."
Diogenes said, "There will be no time left then - the world is vast. By the time you have conquered it, your life will have slipped out of your hands."
But he did not listen. And that's what actually happened: he could not reach back to his home. He died on the way back from India. No time to reach back home, what to say about reaching back to one's own center, the real home? His whole life was lost in proving that "I am a great conqueror."
But why should one try to prove it? People always try to prove something which they feel they are missing.
"AVOID LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE PERSONS. . ."
They are empty, they have nothing. You cannot learn anything from them. On the contrary:
". . . THEY ALL VEXATIONS TO THE SPIRIT."
They will distract your mind. They will give their stupid ideas to you. They will advise you and guide you. They have reached nowhere, they know nothing, but they will pretend that they are wise, they will pretend that they have arrived; they will pretend aU kinds of things.
"AVOID LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE PERSONS. . ."
Seek the company of the humble, of the simple, of the silent ones, of the non-political, of the non- aggressive, and you may learn much. But it is always learned in the company of the innocent. Yes, you can learn much more by playing with children than by being with a politician. You can learn much more even by being with animals or trees than by being with the so-called rich.
And they can easily distract you because you are not yet centered. Ambitions are infectious. Avoid ambitious people, otherwise something of their fever is bound to infect you, is bound to affect you.
You may start moving in a direction which is not yours, you may start doing things which you had never thought to do in the first place, but just because you fell in company with somebody. . .
Just look at your life - it is almost all accidental. It is not essential, it is accidental. Your father wanted you to be a doctor so you are a doctor. Now it was his ambition that his son should be a famous doctor; he fulfilled his ambition. He used you as a means to fulfill his ambition. This is not love - this is exploitation.
My father wanted me to be an engineer or a scientist or a doctor. I told him, "If you insist, if it makes you happy, I will do any stupid thing you ten me. But remember, this is not love. If you love me, then let me be what I want to be. I don't want to be a doctor and I don't want to be an engineer. I have no desire at all to be a scientist - that is not my way - I don't feel any joy in the scientific way of thinking.
My love is totally different: I am in deep love with poetry, aesthetics, beauty, truth."
He said, "Then you will remain a beggar!"
I said, "That's perfectly okay, that I can accept. I will be a beggar, that is okay, but let me be what I want to be. Even in my poverty I will be rich, and following you and becoming a doctor I may become very rich but I will remain poor, and I will always hanker for that which was my real longing."
He was a man of tremendous understanding He meditated over it and he said, "Then it is okay. You do whatsoever you feel like doing, and you have my blessings.
He could have forced me easily because he had the money. He could have forced me to go in any direction because I was helpless. He showed love, he showed understanding. He allowed me to be whatsoever I wanted to be.
If you are with loud people they are bound to distract you. He was not a loud person at all - very humble - he was not aggressive at all. I never saw him fight with anybody. He never even shouted at me for any wrong that I had done that he did not like. I never saw him in an angry mood. It was beautiful to be with such a man, but rare is the opportunity.
At least do one thing: avoid loud people, aggressive people. If you cannot find loving, silent persons - if you try you will find them - if you cannot find them, be with trees. At least they are not loud, at least they are not aggressive. Learn to be with animals, be with children. Or you can be alone; no need to bother with being with others. Make the minimum contact and remain alone, or remain with those who are silent.
One of the greatest sayings of Lao Tzu is: The most beautiful company is when you can be with someone as if you are alone. See the insight of Lao Tzu: . . . when you can be with someone as if you are alone, when he allows you so much silence and so much freedom that you are absolutely alone, as if actually alone. His presence is not a hindrance; his presence, in fact, enhances your aloneness, enriches your aloneness.
"AVOID LOUD AND AGGRESSIVE PERSONS; THEY ARE VEXATIONS TO THE SPIRIT.
"IF YOU COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS, YOU MAY BECOME VAIN OR BITTER. . .
AND NEVER COMPARE Comparison is a disease, one of the greatest diseases. And we are taught from the very beginning to compare. Your mother starts comparing you with other children, your father starts comparing you with other children. The teacher compares you: "Look at Johnny, how well he is doing, and you are no good at all! Look at others! From the very beginning you are being told to compare yourself with others. This is the greatest disease; it is like a cancer that goes on destroying your very soul - because each individual is unique, and comparison is not possible. I am just myself and you are just yourself. There is nobody else in the world you an be compared with.
Do you compare a marigold with a roseflower? You don't compare. Do you compare a mango with an apple? You don't compare. You know they are different! Comparison is not possible.
And man is not a species because each man is unique. There has never been any individual like you before and there will never be again. You are utterly unique. This is your privilege, your prerogative, God's blessing, that He has made you unique. Don't compare. Comparison will bring trouble.
The Desiderata says:
"IF YOU COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS, YOU MAY BECOME VAIN OR BITTER, FOR ALWAYS THERE WILL A GREATER AND LESSER PERSONS THAN YOURSELF "
If you fall victim to this disease of comparison, naturally you will either become very egoistic or you will become very bitter; it depends on whom you compare yourself with. If you compare yourself with those who seem to be bigger than you, higher than you, greater than you, you will become bitter.
You will become a complaint against God, an anger: "Why am I not greater than I am? Why am I not like that person? Why am I not physically so beautiful, so strong? Why am I not intelligent? Why am I not this, not that?" And there are millions of things in the world....
If you compare yourself with the people who are greater in some way than you, you will become bitter, very bitter. Your life will become poisoned by the comparison. You will remain always in a state of depression, as if God has deceived you, betrayed you, as if you have been let down.
Or if you compare yourself with people who are smaller than you, in some way lesser than you, then you will become very egoistic. This is one of the reasons why politicians are always surrounded by people smaller than themselves. They collect them; that is their joy. They collect smaller people around themselves so that they can look bigger than they are by comparison. It is stupid, but one cannot expect anything more from a politician.
Rich people are always surrounded by those who are smaller. They feel good, very good, great in comparison to those people.
But ordinarily people always look at others' houses, their successes, their achievements, and feel very bitter against God. In the world, religion cannot prosper because people cannot pray to a god who has betrayed them from the very beginning, who has made them so small, so ugly. How can they be thankful towards him? Impossible. And without thankfulness there is no prayer, and without prayer there is no religion.
But a man who understands the uniqueness of everybody can be religious, can only be religious, because he feels immense gratitude for whatsoever God has given to him. If you don' t compare, then you are neither bigger nor smaller, neither ugly nor beautiful, neither intelligent nor stupid. If you don't compare, you are simply yourself And in that state of simply being yourself, spring comes, flowers come, because a deep acceptance of life and a deep gratitude towards God helps to bring the spring.
"ENJOY YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS AS WELL AS YOUR PLANS."
Don't be bothered with others. Enjoy whatsoever your achievement is. Enjoy whatsoever your vision to achieve is.
"KEEP INTERESTED IN YOUR OWN CAREER, HOWEVER HUMBLE; IT IS A REAL POSSESSION IN THE CHANGING FORTUNES OF TIME."
Don't be bothered that others are earning more money, that others are becoming more successful, more famous. Remain interested in the thing that you are really interested in; whether it keeps you poor, humble, does not matter. If you enjoy doing it, if you love doing it, if it is your creativity, then you are rich, very rich, immensely rich, and God will be very much pleased with you. If you are pleased yourself, God is pleased with you.
"EXERCISE CAUTION IN YOUR BUSINESS AFFAIRS, FOR THE WORLD IS FULL OF TRICKERY.
BUT LET THIS NOT BLIND YOU TO WHAT VIRTUE THERE IS; MANY PERSONS STRIVE FOR HIGH IDEALS, AND EVERYWHERE LIFE IS FULL OF HEROISM."
The Desiderata is very pragmatic. It says:
"EXERCISE CAUTION IN YOUR BUSINESS AFFAIRS. . ."
As FAR AS WORLDLY THINGS are concerned, be cautious. Don t blame others that they are cunning. If you allow them to exploit you, they will exploit you. They are not cunning - you are not cautious, that's the only thing to be remembered. Don't blame them; that is their business, to be cunning or not to be cunning. Don't think that they are sinners and will suffer in hell; that is not your concern at all. Your concern should be that "I am not cautious enough." Be more cautious, more alert, more aware.
Lorenzo staggered home filled with vino, and his wife would not let him in the house.
"Hey, Rosa," he shouted from below their window, "if you donna let me in, I am-a gonna tell-a everybody I slept-a with you before we gotta married!"
"Go ahead!" yelled back his spouse. "And I am-a gonna tell-a them you were not-a the first-a one!"
Don't blame others. Whatsoever they are, they are. In fact, all the cunningness of the world and the trickery of the world helps you to be aware. If this world cannot help you to be aware; then what world will ever be able to make you aware, to be cautious? It is a good world - it gives you a tremendous challenge to be cautious.
"But," reminds the Desiderata, "let this not blind you to what virtue there is."
It is not only trickery, it is not only cunningness. There are many beautiful things in the world. There is always a silver lining to the cloud; don't miss that. So don't be blinded by the trickery, otherwise you will never find anything beautiful. And the world is full of beauty.
". . . MANY PERSONS STRIVE FOR HIGH IDEALS AND EVERYWHERE LIFE IS FULL OF HEROISM."
If you watch you will be surprised: this may be the most perfect world. With all the darkness, with all the thorns, there are roses, there is great light too. And you have to learn from both.