You cannot hurt a humble man
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING HUMBLE, BEING SHY, AND JUST HIDING OUT OF FEAR?
Anand Shantideva, the difference between being humble, being shy, and just hiding out of fear is immensely great. But man's unawareness is such that he is not even capable of making distinctions between his own actions and responses to reality; otherwise, the difference is so clear that even to ask the question is useless.
First you have to go deeper into the word 'humble'. All the religions have given it a wrong connotation; by humble they mean just the opposite of the egoist. It is not so. Even the exact opposite of the ego will still be ego, hiding behind facades. It is shown once in a while in the so-called humble man: he thinks he is more humble than anybody else - and that is the ego. Humility knows no such language.
I have told you the story of three Christian monks. Their monasteries were close to each other in the mountains and they had to pass each other at the crossroads every day. One day it was too hot and they decided to rest a little and to talk to each other a little. After all they are all Christians; they may belong to different sects, but their fundamentals are Christian.
As they sat down under the shade of a tree, the first one said, "It is absolutely clear that your monasteries may have something, but you cannot find such wisdom, such scholarship as you will find in our monastery."
The second one said, "You have raised the question, hence I have to say this: your monastery may have scholarship, but that is not the question. Nobody is more austere, disciplined than the people of our monastery. Their austerity is incomparable, and in the ultimate moment of judgment, remember, scholarship will not be counted. What will be counted will be austerity."
The third man laughed and he said, "You both are right about your monasteries, but you don't know the real essence of Christianity, and that is humbleness. We are the tops in humbleness."
Humbleness and the tops? - then it is simply a repressed ego. Out of greed, out of tremendous greed to enter into paradise and to enjoy all its pleasures, a man is capable of repressing his ego and becoming humble. Before I can tell you what true humbleness is you have to understand the false humbleness. Unless you understand the false it is impossible to define the true. In fact, in understanding the false the true arises in your vision on its own.
The false humbleness is just repressed ego, pretending to be humble but desiring to be the tops.
The authentic humbleness has nothing to do with ego; it is absence of the ego. It has no claim of being superior to anybody. It is a simple and pure understanding that there is no-one who is superior, and there is no-one who is inferior; people are just themselves, incomparably unique. You cannot compare them as superior or inferior.
Hence the authentic humble man is very difficult to understand because he will not be humble the way you understand it. You have known hundreds of humble people, but they were all egoists and you are not insightful enough to see their repressed ego.
Once a Christian missionary woman, a young, beautiful woman came to my house. She presented me with THE HOLY BIBLE and a few other pamphlets, and she was looking very humble. I told her, "Take all this rubbish away from here. This HOLY BIBLE of yours is one of the most unholy scriptures in the world," - and immediately she exploded; she forgot all humbleness. I told her, "You can leave the BIBLE. It was just a device to show you who you are. You are not humble; otherwise you would not have been hurt."
Only the ego is ever hurt.
You cannot hurt a humble man.
True humbleness is simply egolessness. It is dropping all personality and the decorations that you have accumulated around you, and just being like a small child who does not know who he is, who does not know anything about the world. His eyes are clear; he can see the greens of the trees more sensitively than you can see. Your eyes are full of the dust that you call knowledge. And why have you collected this dust which is making you blind? - because knowledge in the world gives a tremendous energy to your ego. You know and others don't.
The humble man knows nothing. He has come back the full circle to his childhood innocence. He is full of wonder. He sees mysteries everywhere. He collects stones and seashells on the seabeach, and rejoices as if he has found diamonds and emeralds and rubies.
In my childhood, my mother was very much troubled by me - and so was my tailor, because I used to tell him, "Make as many pockets as possible."
He said, "On only one condition - that you don't tell anybody who has made this dress. Because of you I am losing customers. They say, 'This tailor has gone a little cuckoo'"... because I had pockets in front, at the back, by the side, on the pants as many as possible.
I told him, "wherever you can find a little space, make a pocket."
He said, "Are you mad or something?"
I said, "You can think anything, but I need so many pockets" because by the river of my village there were so many beautiful colored stones, and I had to collect them, and I needed different pockets for different colors.
My mother was very angry because I would go to sleep with all my stones in my pockets. When I was asleep, then she would start pulling my stones out of my pockets: "How can you sleep with so many stones?" I told her that this is cheating; nothing should be done to me while I am asleep.
Childhood has an immense clarity. In that clarity, in that transparency, in that perspective the whole world looks a miracle.
The humble man comes back to this miraculous existence. We take it for granted, but you don't see how from the same soil a lotus flower blossoms, and a rosebush, and millions of other flowers.
The earth has no colors; from where do those beautiful colors come? The earth is very rough; from where do the velvety roses come? The earth has no greenery; from where do the green trees come?
The humble man is as if a child again. He has no claim, but only gratitude - gratitude for everything; even gratitude for things for which you cannot conceive how one can be grateful.
A Sufi mystic, Junnaid, was on a religious pilgrimage with his disciples. In his mystery school it was almost a routine for the disciples to pray with the master. And his prayer was always the same, ending with a thankfulness to God: "How am I going to pay? You are giving me so much, you are pouring over me so much bliss, and you never think how I am going to pay for it. I don't have anything other than gratefulness. Forgive me for my poverty, but I thank you for all the great things that you have given to me."
Nobody had objected to it. The mystery school of Junnaid was flourishing, people were coming from faraway places; it had become one of the richest schools of the Sufis. But on the pilgrimage the disciples started wavering about the last part of the prayer.
One day they passed through a fanatic village. Mohammedans don't believe that Sufis are real Mohammedans - and Sufis are the only real Mohammedans in the whole world. Mohammedans - the orthodox Mohammedans, the priests - condemn Sufis that they have gone astray because they have left the crowd and they have started moving on their own lonely paths. They don't bother about tradition, and they declare clearly that "if something is wrong in the tradition we are going to correct it.
For example, Mohammedans pray to God in their prayers, and end the prayer that the God of the Mohammedans is the only God; there is only one God, and there is only one holy book, KORAN, and there is only one prophet, Hazrat Mohammed.
Sufis never complete the whole thing; they simply say there is only God - and nothing else. They drop the two points that there is only one holy book, KORAN, and there is only one prophet, Hazrat Mohammed. This hurts the orthodox Mohammedans.
Sufis are very humble people and open to receive from all the sources - they don't bother whether it comes from Christian sources, or Jewish sources, or Hindu sources. Truth is truth; from what door it enters into your being is immaterial.
That fanatic village did not give them shelter, did not give them food, did not even allow them to drink from their well. It was desert country and this continued to happen for three days. They were sleeping in the cold night in the desert, shivering the whole night, hungry, thirsty, rejected, condemned - and in one last village they were even stoned. Somehow they survived and escaped.
But the master continued his prayer, just the same as he was doing it in his mystery school: "How much you have given to us! Your compassion is infinite! And you know our poverty - we cannot give you anything except our heartfelt gratitude."
Now this was too much. Three days no food, no shelter, cold nights in the desert... the disciples could not tolerate it. Junnaid is going a little too far. One of the disciples said to him, "At least for such days, drop this last part."
Junnaid said, "You don't understand. God has given us these three days as a fire test. His compassion is infinite; he was just trying to see whether our trust is also infinite or not, whether our trust has some conditions. If you were received by these three villages, welcomed, given good food, shelter to rest" - because Mohammedans respect people very much who are going for a holy pilgrimage - "then you would have agreed with my prayer. Because until now you have never disagreed, for the first time God is giving me the opportunity to show that it is not only on good days that I am grateful; whatever happens, my gratefulness will remain unwavering. Even in my death I will be dying with the same words on my lips."
A humble man lives an unconditional life of gratitude - not only gratitude to God, but gratitude to human beings, to trees, to stars, to everything.
Being shy is another way of the ego. It has been converted almost into something ornamental. A person who feels shy, particularly women in the East, are thought to be very graceful because they are so shy - but they are shy because it is thought to be great.
In the West, slowly, slowly that shyness is disappearing from the women because it is no more thought to be of any value. It simply shows a long tradition of slavery. The modern woman in the West has thrown it away because it was also a binding chain, and for liberation it needs to be broken.
What are the moments when you start feeling shy? Those are the moments when somebody praises you; those are the moments when somebody says, "You are so beautiful" - and you know that it is not true, there are not so many beautiful people around. But almost everybody will come across an idiot who will say, "You are so beautiful!" And then a shyness comes because you know it is not true, but it is very ego-fulfilling.
You can try, you can tell the ugliest man or the ugliest woman, "My God! The world has never seen anything like you. You are so beautiful that even Cleopatra would have been nothing compared to you" - and even the ugliest woman will not deny it. In fact she will say, "You are the only person who has the sensitivity..."
It happened that I was expelled from a college.... I was expelled from many colleges and many universities; that way it gave me great richness. Nobody has belonged to so many colleges and so many universities. In the city where I was there were twenty colleges; time came when not a single college was ready to accept me.
I asked those principles, "What is the problem?"
They said, "You are not the problem. Certainly we cannot say you are the problem, because from every other college you have been expelled - not because you are a problem, but because you create such situations that professors start resigning. Nothing can be said against you, because you are only asking relevant questions. But because the professors cannot answer them they feel very humiliated. We don't want our staff to be disturbed."
Only one college remained, and I thought now it was better not to approach directly but to find some indirect way. So rather than going to the office of the college, I inquired about the principal, his qualities, what he likes and what he does not like. And from every source I collected all information about the principal. They said, "He is a very religious man. Early in the morning, at four o'clock, he disturbs the whole neighborhood - because he is a very big fellow, very fat, and he is a devotee of Mother Kali of Calcutta. He has a big statue in his house, he has made a temple, and when he starts shouting what he calls prayer..he is the only man in the city who can address a meeting of ten thousand people without any microphone. And he becomes so utterly intoxicated by his own words...."
I said, "That will do."
I went to the principal's house early in the morning at exactly four o'clock. He was in his temple, just a small cloth wrapped around him - otherwise he was almost naked - and he was shouting continuously, "Jai Kali, Jai Kali, Jai Kali..." The words mean "victory to the Mother Goddess."
I was sitting in the corner of his temple and I also started shouting, "Jai Kali!" He looked around, because this was the first time that anybody had joined him. I shouted with all my strength, because I cannot speak without a microphone. But it was an absolute necessity....
He asked me, "Who are you?"
I said, "Just a devotee of the Mother Goddess of Calcutta - but I am a small devotee, you are a big devotee. I have just come to sit at your feet, because in this whole city you are the only religious man."
He said, "You are the only man who has ever understood me; otherwise all the neighbors are reporting me to the police, and my staff in the college think me a little cuckoo."
I said, "All those idiots are of no importance. A man of heart and love declares you to be the greatest devotee of Mother Kali. You are the most spiritual man I have come across."
He said, "Can I do something for you?"
I said, "Nothing much... I just want to be admitted to your college. Although there are twenty colleges, when I have the opportunity and chance to be under your grace, I would not get entrance into any other college."
He said, "You are admitted. And the day you come, sign the forms. I give you a scholarship, and if you want to move into the hostel you will not be charged. You are the only person who has understood me in my whole life. Not even my wife, not even my children - everybody thinks I am insane, something is wrong."
I went to his college and he welcomed me at the gate. Even his own staff of professors and students could not believe it. He took me by his side into his office and he told me, "You are not going to pay anything in this college. But as people came to know that you were being admitted... they are as afraid of you as they are afraid of me. So there is only one condition... Because I don't want to disturb the whole staff - they are all against you, and I know they are all against me too; they are all irreligious, materialist people - so you will have to forgive me. Just one condition... you should not attend any classes."
I said, "I don't care about classes. Can I attend the temple?"
He hugged me, and with tears in his eyes he said, "At this early age you have such a pure heart.
The doors of my temple will always be open for you. I keep it locked because there is fear of the neighbors destroying the statue. But I will give you a copy of the key, so whenever you want you can go there. Lock the door from inside, so even if a crowd gathers, don't be worried. These kinds of distractions always come on the path of religious seekers."
I said, "Don't be worried."
When I graduated from his college I had not attended a single lecture. I was moving to another city for my post-graduation, so I thought it was better to tell him the truth. I went to him, met him in the temple, and I said, "It is very heavy on my heart; I want to tell you the truth. You said that I understand you, and I am the only person who understands you. I beg your pardon, but I don't understand you either - and I am absolutely certain that some nuts and bolts are either loose or tight."
He said, "What are you saying?"
I said, "I have graduated and now there is no problem. It was a simple bribe, a spiritual bribe." And when I had said to him, "You are the greatest religious person I have come across," even that fat and very big man looked shy. It is the ego again playing a different game.
The egoless person never feels shy. If you say anything untrue about him, he will refute it himself.
He wants to expose himself in his absolute authenticity.
And the last thing, "just hiding out of fear." All are different expressions of the ego: a false humbleness, being shy - knowing perfectly well that what is being said is not true - and the third, hiding out of fear. Except ego, there is no element in you which ever feels fear, because ego is the only thing which is false and which has to die. Neither will your body disappear - it will just go back to its basic elements - nor is your consciousness going to die. It will move in its journey to higher levels and forms of expression, or finally it may disappear into the universal consciousness.
But that is not death. That is becoming greater, vaster... infinite and eternal. It is not a loss. The only thing that is going to die, and has been dying continuously each time you have died - the body goes to the material elements, the consciousness goes to the universal consciousness, or into a new form of consciousness - the one thing that dies again and again is the ego. So ego is the root cause of all fear in you.
A man who is egoless is also fearless.
Shantideva, it is just intellectual discrimination as far as you are concerned. It is not intellectual distinction as far as I am concerned; it is my experience. The day my ego disappeared, I found a totally new kind of humbleness. I have found that there is nothing to be shy about, and I have not been hiding in any way out of fear.
This can become your experience too, and unless it becomes your experience, just intellectual understanding will not be enough. Meditation can help you to get rid of the ego and all these three things will disappear. But in an unconscious state it is very difficult to make a distinction between the authentic humbleness and the bogus.
A man was saying to me, "Not only don't I know what tomorrow will bring, I'm still not exactly sure what yesterday brought."
We are all living like a somnambulist who walks in his sleep. Our consciousness is so shallow, and our unconsciousness is so deep... All our actions come from our unconscious; all our decisions come from our conscious. That's why our decisions and our actions are never synonymous. You say something but you do something else, because in yourself there is a great split.
The doer is the unconscious, and the conscious mind is so small it can only do the talking. So everybody talks beautifully. Even the greatest poets, painters, artists of different dimensions - what they are doing with painting or sculpture or poetry is only from their conscious minds. It is their way of talking, it is their way of expressing - communicating with others. But it is a very unfortunate experience that if you come in contact with these people personally, they are more ordinary than the ordinary people. And they have written such golden poetry....
I happen to know almost all the great poets of this country, because I was traveling all over the country, and I was meeting every kind of people. I was surprised: I had read their poetry, and I had loved their poetry, but I could not believe that such ordinary men could rise to such heights.
Slowly, slowly I became aware of a split. The conscious mind talks and it talks beautifully, but the unconscious mind does not know anything about your conscious.
As far as action is concerned and your lifestyle is concerned, it is going to come from your unconscious. It is vast, it is your heritage of millions of years of human evolution; it is tremendously powerful. Remember, if you are in the grip of the unconscious, there is no way to see things exactly as they are.
Except meditation, there is no other way to bring light into the unconscious darkness of your being.
As your meditation grows your consciousness grows, your unconsciousness diminishes. At the ultimate point your consciousness is total, and your unconsciousness has disappeared completely.
That is the moment when your words and your life and you are all synonymous. Then there is no split, no division, no antagonism.
As far as ordinary humanity is concerned, it may appreciate beautiful paintings, but its appreciation is again an expression of the ego.
I have heard about a very rich woman who had purchased a Picasso. She was keeping the Picasso painting in her drawing room. She could not understand what it was, she could not even figure out whether it was hanging upside-down or rightside-up. Many times even Picasso was puzzled, what has he painted?
Picasso was certainly a great artist, but not a conscious artist. He has poured the colors in the most beautiful combinations, but his paintings don't have any headings to them. He himself could not figure out what they were all about, and once when he was asked he was very angry. He said, "Nobody asks the rose, nobody asks the trees, nobody asks the sun and the moon, what is their meaning. Then why do you harass me, continuously asking, "What is the meaning of the painting?"
It is just beautiful, it has no meaning."
The woman was just an exhibitionist: she wanted to show that she had a Picasso painting - one million dollars worth. But it happened many times... a critic would come to see and would say "It is fake." Immediately the painting would be removed. Then another critic would come and say, "I want to see the painting" - and it had been thrown in the basement. He would say, "Who says it is fake?
It is absolutely authentic" - and again it would come into the drawing room. This happened many times.
Your ego is a very subtle phenomenon. If anything fulfills it, it is good. If it does not fulfill it, it is bad.
And everybody pretends to appreciate great music, just to show that he understands great music, great poetry, great literature - just to show that he understands. But the reality is totally different.
Ego never wants to accept one thing - ignorance.
Little Ernie was getting very tired of the long sermon at the church. In a loud whisper he asked his mother, "If we give him the money now, will he let us go out?"
This is pure innocence: If he is after money, give him the money and let us get out. Why get tortured?
But only a child can say that, and I would like all my sannyasins to be children again.
"Boys," said Father O'Flanagan to his bible class, "you should never lose your tempers. You should never swear, or get excited or angry. I never do. Now to illustrate - you see that big fly on my nose?
A good many wicked men would get angry at that fly, but I don't. I never lose my temper. I simply say, 'Go away, fly, go away.' And then suddenly he jumped and said,"JESUS CHRIST! It's a bee, the son of a bitch!"
So thin is the layer of consciousness.... Our pretensions, our promises are not more than just skindeep. He forgot all about the great sermon he was giving; he acted exactly how he was telling others not to.
Shantideva, it will be good not to be only curious about distinctions between things.
Become more of a meditator, then the answer will arise within you yourself. Only your answer can make you truly wise. You can accumulate answers from others but you will still remain otherwise.
EVERY ANSWER YOU GIVE, NOT QUESTIONED BY ME, I STILL TAKE VERY PERSONALLY. IS THAT POSSIBLE?
Again it is Anand Shantideva. In a way whatever I am saying applies to you all, more or less, because I am talking about the very structure of human consciousness and being. People are not much different, so the question may be coming from anyone - it is also your question too. So there is a possibility - and in fact it should be the case always - that the question perhaps is not yours but the answer is for you. Somebody else has asked your question.
My experience is that it is always good to let somebody else ask your question. Then you can listen more attentively, more peacefully, more at ease - it is poor Shantideva's!
Shantideva cannot listen so peacefully and so silently. He will be tense, worried - because nobody knows what I am going to say. Most probably he will get a few hits, so he is sitting in a defensive posture. Everybody else is enjoying, at the cost of poor Shantideva.
But Shantideva, there is no problem. You will have your chance when somebody else asks; you can relax and you can listen and laugh. But remember one thing: any question that any human being can ask will be relevant to you too, because we are all in the same boat. Maybe quantitatively somebody may be more involved in the question, somebody less; but it is impossible, unless you are enlightened, unless there is no question left in you, but only the answer...
This is one of the miracles of existence: when there are questions you don't have the answer, and when the answer comes, the questions disappear just like when you bring the light in the room and the darkness disappears. The questions and the answers never meet. They cannot face each other, because the question is only a shadow, a darkness, an absence of light.
But my answer cannot become your answer. Your answer is hidden in your own being at the deepest center. You will have to search for it. I can give you indications, I can give you devices. I can show you the path, but you will have to walk alone. I cannot come along with you because it is an inner journey.
Little Hymie, on his ninth birthday, walked into the local pub and yelled to the barmaid to bring him a scotch on the rocks. "What do you want to do?" exclaimed the pretty barmaid. "Get me into trouble?"
"Maybe later," replied little Hymie, "But right now I want the drink."
Very few people get beyond the age of thirteen or fourteen as far as mind is concerned. That creates a strange situation. Physically they look older and you start expecting from them something wise, but you don't know their mental age is still thirteen or fourteen, and they will behave according to their mental age, not according to their physical age.
At the annual gathering of the MacTavish clan, Hamish MacTavish suddenly raced to the microphone, interrupted the singing of "Blue Bells of Scotland," and cried, "Hoots! Hear this all ye fine and loyal MacTavishes! It is my money purse, lost it is! There is a hundred pounds in that purse and whoever brings it up here, now, I will give a reward of fifteen pounds!"
From the back of the crowd came a voice, "I will give twenty-five."
In real situations you are bound to behave according to your actual mental state. Ordinarily you can pretend to be a wise old man, but your wisest old men are still as retarded as anybody else.
Mulla Nasruddin was sitting on his balcony and suddenly he shouted to his servant, "Bring my glasses, quick."
The servant brought the glasses, but he said, "What is the hurry?"
Mulla said, "What is the hurry? - you idiot, a beautiful woman was passing and I could not figure out whether she was a woman or a man. I needed glasses quick. But you came a little late and that beautiful woman is no more on the street; she turned the corner into a smaller lane."
One day Mulla Nasruddin is walking on the road. All his hair has become absolutely white. He finds a beautiful young girl and he pinches the girl's backside. The girl shrieks and says, "You are an old man, the age of my grandfather. All your hair is white - and what are you doing?"
Mulla Nasruddin said, "It is true that my hair is white, but my heart is still black - and I follow my heart, not my hair."
Shantideva, it is perfectly good that you take my answers to questions not asked by you very personally. That's the right attitude. It doesn't matter who has asked; what matters is that the question is also yours, lurking somewhere in your unconsciousness. Because the other has asked, it has surfaced. My answer is as much for you as for the man who has asked the question.
I am talking to you all almost as if to one individuality. I am not answering questions for different people because my understanding is that all questions are human, and those who are understanding enough will take as much out of the answer for themselves as they can without thinking whose question it was.
And it is easier, I repeat again, to understand the answer when it is not your question because you are relaxed. It has nothing to do with you, it is somebody else's problem; you can listen more attentively, more totally. The person who has taken the trouble to ask the question cannot relax while I am answering.
You can feel it, Shantideva, right now. You will be tense, because I am not a reliable man. Sometimes I am good, sometimes I am not; sometimes I can be absolutely mad. If you can provoke me by your question, then I can behave just like a bull in a china shop.
The third question is also from Shantideva, so I am not going to answer it today. It is enough. We will take his question another time. Three questions in one morning session - he will get dengue fever!