The face behind the mask

Fri, 16 June 1987 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
The Rebel
Chapter #:
pm in Chuang Tzu Auditorium
Archive Code:
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Question 1:




Indradhanu, one of the problems that every human being has to face is the world in which he is born.

His being and the intentions of the world don't go together. The world wants him to serve, to be a slave, to be used by those who are in power. And naturally he resents it. He wants to be himself.

The world does not allow anybody to be what he is by nature supposed to be.

The world tries to mold every person into a commodity: useful, efficient, obedient - never rebellious, never asserting itself, never declaring its own individuality, but always being subservient, almost like a robot. The world does not want you to be human beings. It wants you to be efficient machines.

The more efficient you are, the more respectable, the more honored.

And this is what creates the problem. No individual is born here to be a machine. It is a humiliation, a degradation; it is taking away his pride and dignity, destroying him as a spiritual being and reducing him into a mechanical entity.

Hence every child, from the very beginning, as he becomes aware of the intentions of the society, of the parents, of the family, of the educational system, of the nation, of the religion - as he becomes aware, he starts closing himself. He starts becoming defensive, just out of fear, because he has to encounter a tremendous force. And he is so small and so fragile, so vulnerable, so helpless, so dependent on the same people against whom he has to protect himself.

And the problem becomes more complicated because the people he has to protect himself against are the people who think that they love him. And perhaps they are not lying. Their intentions are good but their consciousness is missing, they are fast asleep. They don't know that they are being puppets in the hands of a blind force called the society, the establishment - all the vested interests are together.

The child faces a dilemma. He has to fight against those whom he loves, and he thinks they love him too. But it is strange that the people who love him don't love him as he is. They say to him, "We will love you, we do love you, but only if you follow the way we are following, if you follow the religion we are following, if you become obedient the way we are obedient."

If you become part of this vast mechanism, in which you are going to live your whole life... fighting against it is simply meaningless, you will be crushed. It is wiser just to surrender and just to learn to say yes, whether you want to or not. Repress your no. In all conditions, in all situations, you are expected to be a yea-sayer. The no is prohibited. The no is the original sin. Disobedience is the original sin - and then the society takes revenge with a great vengeance.

This creates great fear in the child. His whole being wants to assert its potentiality. He wants to be himself because other than that he cannot see any meaning in life. Other than that, he will never be happy, joyous, fulfilled, contented. He will never feel at ease, he will always be in a split. A part, the most intrinsic part of his being, will always feel hungry, thirsty, unfulfilled, incomplete.

But the forces are too big and to fight against them is too risky. Naturally every child, slowly slowly, starts learning to defend himself, to protect himself. He closes all the doors of his being. He does not expose himself to anybody, he simply starts pretending. He starts being an actor. He acts according to the orders given to him. Doubts arise in him, he represses them. His nature wants to assert itself, he represses it. His intelligence wants to say, "This is not right, what are you doing?" - he drops being intelligent. It is safer to be retarded, it is safer to be unintelligent.

Anything that brings you in conflict with the vested interests is dangerous. And to open yourself, even to people who are very close, is risky.

Machiavelli, one of the most intelligent persons who has ever walked on the earth - but who misused his intelligence, misused his genius - says in his masterpiece, THE PRINCE, "Don't say anything, even to your friend, unless you are willing to say it to your enemy; because nobody knows...

tomorrow the friend can turn into your enemy. Never say anything against the enemy that you are not ready to say against the friend; because who knows?... tomorrow the enemy may become your friend. Then you will feel embarrassed. So be alert and cautious, take every step thinking of all the pros and cons."

But this kind of life cannot be a joyous life; it will be cunning, it will be clever. It may achieve comfortable living, luxurious living, it may become successful in the world, but it will not achieve any at-easeness. It will not find any peace with existence, with oneself. Deep down there will remain the child - crushed, crippled, doing everything against his will.

It is a coincidence that one of Machiavelli's descendants is my sannyasin. Machiavelli would have tossed and turned in his grave! He could not have ever thought that his children would, at some time, become sannyasins, meditators. He was teaching people to be cunning.

From all the royal families of Europe, princes were sent to learn diplomacy - in other words, hypocrisy, in other words politics, the ability to commit crimes without being caught. And he was teaching these people; only princes were his disciples. He was earning enough, and when these princes became kings in their own right he thought that it was time he should become a prime minister - because almost all the kings of Europe were his disciples and none could refuse.

But he was refused by everybody, without exception. They all said, "We love you, we respect you, but we cannot take the risk of making you the prime minister because you are too clever. Our whole kingdom will be at risk. We cannot take that risk. It is according to your teachings. You have told us, 'Never allow more intelligent people than you in your court, because they will be, sooner or later, a danger to your position, to your power. They will become your competitors. Always keep a distance.

Remain surrounded by mediocres.'"

Hence, every politician who is in power remains surrounded by mediocres. He finds people who are at such a distance that they cannot dream of taking away his power or his position. People who are too close are dangerous.

But such is the worldly teaching. That's why, Indradhanu, everybody has become closed. Nobody opens one's petals fearlessly like a flower, dancing in the wind, and in the rain, and in the sun... so fragile but without any fear.

We are all living with closed petals, afraid that if we open up we will become vulnerable. So everybody is using shields of all kinds - even a thing like friendliness you say you have been using as a shield. It will look contradictory, because friendliness means openness to each other, sharing each other's secrets, sharing each other's hearts.

But it is not only the case with you. Everybody is living in such contradictions. People are using friendliness as a shield, love as a shield, prayer as a shield. When they want to cry they cannot cry, they smile, because a smile functions as a shield. When they don't feel like crying they cry, because tears can function in certain situations as a shield.

I have heard about a very rich man who had a very big office. He used to come in for only one hour every day just to see that things are going well. And this was the routine he had followed all his life. He would come, go into his office, call everybody in, offer tea to everybody. He knew only three jokes, and he would tell one of the three jokes every day. And everybody had to laugh as if they were hearing it for the first time.

But one day it happened, a girl typist did not laugh. Everybody was shocked. This was insulting to the boss. What has happened to this girl?... and the boss was furious. He said, "What is the matter with you? Can't you understand the joke?"

Now, they had heard that joke thousands of times, there was no question of understanding it. The girl said, "I understood it even before you had started telling it - so that is not the question. The reason why I am not laughing is that today I am leaving the job. Now I don't have to laugh. These poor fellows have to laugh, it is their shield. I don't have to.

"For the first time I don't have to pretend that you are telling a great joke. You have told it thousands of times. But you can continue and these people will laugh every day. As far as I am concerned, I will laugh at somebody else's jokes. I am going to join another office whose boss knows a few more jokes than you know."

Our laughters are just exercises of the lips, and behind it we are hiding the truth - our tears.

I used to live with one of my uncles. His sister was old and she had come from a faraway village to be treated in the city. So she was staying with us. Then she died.

I used to sit outside the bungalow in the garden, either working in the garden or reading - but most of the time I was in the garden. My uncle would go to his shop, and only my aunt remained in the house.

She told me, "You have to ring the bell if you see somebody is coming for the purpose of showing mourning about your uncle's sister's death, because I don't feel like crying or weeping. I had no feeling for that woman. In fact, she was an unnecessary burden, she was of no use to anybody.

Everybody feels relieved but nobody can say that. We have to cry and weep when relatives come to show mourning." This continues in India for almost a month.

So she said, "I don't want to be caught in the middle of something... somebody suddenly comes and I am smiling or laughing or talking with somebody, and I am supposed to be weeping."

So I used to ring the bell, that somebody has come - there was an electric bell there. I used to ring the bell and she would immediately change her whole role completely. She would pull down her ghunghat so that nobody could see her face, because the face might be still smiling and tears were coming; and those were false tears.

Seeing the use of her ghunghat, I saw that the sari in India is certainly more useful than anything else. You can hide your face completely behind it. Otherwise it is very difficult to show pain, misery, anguish, anxiety, when you are not feeling any of those things; rather you are feeling relieved, your prayer has been heard. Everybody wanted her to die, because everybody was tired and she was going on and on.

One day, I did not ring the bell and one of the relatives entered into the house. She was watching television and laughing and enjoying. She was alone in the room and this man entered from the back. He was very much shocked. He said, "I had never thought that I would have to see this." She pulled her ghunghat and immediately started crying - it was so absurd, it made no sense... but she was very angry with me.

When the man was gone, she came out and started shouting at me. I said, "What could I do if the electricity failed, or something went wrong?..." I had taken out the wires because otherwise she would have killed, she would have been ferocious. So I said, "I had rung the bell but what could I do ? How could I know that the wires were not joined with the bell?"

She looked at the wires. She said, "But who could have done it? You and I are the only two persons here."

I said, "I can say only one thing: I have not done it. I cannot say anything about you. And who knows? Your husband may have done it for some reason before going to the shop. Nobody knows...

just wait, we will try to find out; but unless we have found out who has done it, your being angry at me is not right. And remember that I have been giving you the signal up to now. From now onwards, it is finished. I am not going to ring the bell. You stay prepared."

She cooled down, seeing the situation. She said, "Forget it. What happened, happened. But don't stop ringing the bell."

I said, "What is the point of it all? Neither you nor the person who had come had any intention to be authentically sad or sorry. When I saw him, he was coming singing a song and smoking a cigarette. Anybody could see that he was in good spirits, enjoying the morning air, the fresh sun and the beautiful gardens all around" - because that place was in the most beautiful part of the city and all the bungalows had gardens.

"And just as he entered he threw away the cigarette, pulled his face down long, became sad. I was watching, and by chance this bell failed. And he showed that he was so much shocked - that was also hypocrisy because he was not shocked. He was also pretending, just as you were pretending.

The only man who was not pretending was me."

He went out and he lit another cigarette - he did not think that I belonged to the family. I lived in the house but he was not aware of the fact. And he started singing a film song and went away.

I said to her, "Stop all this nonsense! Just simply say that you are relieved."

That woman had been suffering unnecessarily, there was no cure. Everybody was waiting for her death; the doctors were tired, they were also waiting for her death. They had said that there was no cure, but she could go on prolonging. She was very old.

And it often happens that young people can die quickly, because death also needs a certain energy.

Old people, very old people who should have died long before, don't even have the energy to die.

They simply go on pulling. They have become so habituated to life, they have forgotten to die. In fact, what had to happen long before has not happened - they have missed their date. And perhaps, in the bureaucracy of death, everybody has forgotten their file, too.

You know that as you go on longer in life, you will find that fewer people die. For example, at ninety, less people die than at seventy-five. At one hundred, even fewer people die. At one hundred and ten, rarely does somebody ever die. At one hundred and twenty, nobody dies - the file is forgotten, the man has forgotten to die. So here everybody was relieved and still just kept showing a face which was not authentic.

This whole society has been created around a certain idea that is basically hypocritical. Here you have to be what others expect you to be, not what you are. That's why everything has become false, phony. Even in friendliness you are keeping a distance. Only so far do you allow anybody to come close.

People like Adolf Hitler... it is known that he never allowed anybody to put their hands on his shoulders. That much intimacy people like Adolf Hitler would not allow at all. They would like people to be far away; a distance that can allow them to pretend things. Perhaps, if somebody is very close, he may look behind your mask. Or he may recognize that it is not your face; it is the mask, your face is behind it.

So it is not only you, Indradhanu, but everybody in the world in which we have been living has been untrue and unauthentic. My vision of a sannyasin is of a rebel, of a man who is in search of his original self, of his original face. A man who is ready to drop all masks, all pretensions, all hypocrisies, and show to the world what he, in reality, is. Whether he is loved or condemned, respected, honored or dishonored, crowned or crucified, does not matter; because to be yourself is the greatest blessing in existence. Even if you are crucified, you will be crucified fulfilled and immensely contented.

Just remember Jesus' last words on the the cross. He prayed to God, "Father, forgive these people who are crucifying me, because they know not what they are doing." He is not angry, he is not complaining. On the contrary, he is praying for them, that they should be forgiven. What a great dignity, what a man. A man of truth, a man of sincerity, a man who knows love and who knows compassion, and who understands that people are blind, unconscious, asleep, spiritually asleep.

What they are doing is almost in their sleep.

Being an initiate into sannyas simply means the beginning of dropping all your masks. And that's what is gradually happening to you. You are feeling a new space... "Out of this space a more open and less fearful connection happens. And yet, I often watch myself not being totally authentic and real."

Don't be impatient. You have been conditioned for so long, for so many years - your whole life - now unconditioning will also take a little time. You have been burdened with all kinds of false, pseudo ideas. It will take a little time to drop them, to recognize that they are false and they are pseudo. In fact, once you recognize something as false, it is not difficult to drop it. The moment you recognize the false as false, it falls by itself.

The very recognition is enough. Your connection is broken, your identity is lost. And once the false disappears, the real is there in all its newness, in all its beauty. Because sincerity is beauty, honesty is beauty, truthfulness is beauty.

Just being yourself is being beautiful.

And to me there is no other religion than this. Just a little patience... what you have gathered in your sleep of many, many years - even if you wake up, the dust of dreams that you have gathered will take a little time to fall away. But your awareness, your understanding and your courage that you are determined and committed to find yourself, will dissolve all false faces that have been given to you by people.

They are also unconscious - your parents, your teachers - don't be angry with them. They are also victims like you. Their fathers, their teachers, their priests, have corrupted their minds; and your parents and your teachers have corrupted you. All that you can do is: don't corrupt the younger children. Your children are your brothers and your sisters. Anybody whom you can influence, don't influence in a way that he becomes false; help the person to be himself. What has been done in unconsciousness to you, you should not do to others - because you are becoming a little conscious, and each day the consciousness will grow.

It needs nourishment, support; and being here with me and with all these fellow travelers, you can get immense support and nourishment. The whole atmosphere is to bring your authentic self out of all the clouds that have been covering you. But a little patience is certainly necessary.

Mr. Ronald Reagan called Harry to his office. "Harry," he said, "I understand that after the office party yesterday you pushed a wheelbarrow down Madison Avenue. Don't you realize, the Party could lose prestige by such actions?"

"I never gave it a thought," said Harry, "because you were in the wheelbarrow."

Here everybody was unconscious. Now in the party, all must have gotten drunk and the president, Ronald Reagan himself, started sitting in the wheelbarrow. And poor Harry, if he took the wheelbarrow around Madison Avenue... he didn't think that anything was wrong when the president himself was sitting in the wheelbarrow.

You have never thought that what you are being taught by your parents - who love you - by your teachers, by your priests, could be wrong. But it has been wrong; it has created a whole wrong world. It has been wrong every inch. And the proofs are spread all over history: all the wars, all the crimes, all the rapes....

Millions of people have been murdered, butchered, burned alive in the name of religion, in the name of God, in the name of freedom, in the name of democracy, in the name of communism - beautiful names. But what has happened behind those beautiful names is so ugly that one day man is going to look at history as if it were the history of insanity, not of a sane humanity.

Sannyas is an effort to at least make yourself sane and help others towards sanity. And the first step is, never pretend. Whatever the consequence, be true. Howsoever easy the hypocrisy may be, it is dangerous. It is dangerous because it is going to destroy your very spirituality, your very humanity.

It is not worth it. It is better that everything should be taken away, but your dignity and your pride as a human being, as a spiritual being, should be left. That is more than enough to feel blissful and grateful towards existence.

Question 2:



Anand Vidyartha, it is true that I am destroying you and it is also true that something is growing in you. They are not contradictory. Destruction can be a basic necessity for creation. In fact, creation is impossible without destruction. The false has to be destroyed for the real to grow. That which you are not has to be taken away from you, so that you can be what you are.

Your experience is absolutely right. I am making every effort to destroy everything phony in you.

And almost everything is phony. The real is hidden far behind. So much rubbish has to be thrown out and burned before we can find you. You are lost in a crowd of false personalities.

In Jaipur, I was taken into a temple. The interior of the temple is made of small pieces of mirror. And the priest told me that once it happened that somehow, when in the evening the temple doors were closed, a dog was left inside. In the morning the neighbors reported that a dog was barking madly, almost till the middle of the night. When the doors were opened in the morning, the dog was found dead and his blood was all over the place - because the dog had seen himself in millions of mirrors.

All those reflections were false, there was nobody; but for the poor dog they were real, and they became more real because when he started barking, they also started barking. When he rushed towards a dog the reflection also rushed towards him, and he hit against the wall again and again, splashing his blood all over the temple. In the middle of the night, the neighbors reported, the barking stopped - he must have died. The priest told me that it was a beautiful dog, belonged to the temple, but always used to live outside the temple at the gate. Just by chance he entered and nobody took note of it. Somebody closed the door, locked it.

This is happening with everybody, I told the priest. Everybody is surrounded with many, many people - almost a crowd - in the mind. And it is almost impossible to find who you are, because there are so many faces and they all pretend to be you. They all say, "I am you. Look here, I am you." And you go on believing each. Perhaps you have not looked at it in this way.

In the evening, you say, "I am going to get up at five o'clock, early in the morning. Whatever happens, I am not going to repeat the old story; many times I have decided and I have never awakened." You fix the alarm and with absolute determination, with no suspicion, you go to bed. And at five o'clock when the alarm goes off somebody inside you says, "It is so cozy here, and outside it seems to be too cold and there is no harm if you sleep a few minutes more." You turn off the alarm, pull the blanket up, thinking, "Just for a few minutes..." and again it is nine o'clock.

It has always been so; and at nine o'clock you are feeling very guilty, that this should not have happened. But you don't understand that the person who had decided to get up early was one person, and the person who at five o'clock said, "Go back to sleep," was another person, and the person who is feeling guilty is yet another person.

You are not a single human being; you are a crowd, you are a multitude. But each false face in its own turn looks to be so real that you believe in it, and you go on almost like a wheel which is moving.

One spoke comes up, goes down, another spoke comes up, goes down; one face possesses you, one personality, and while it lasts it is in power - it seems to be your real self. But the wheel goes on moving, personalities after personalities.

You can judge it very easily. When you are with your wife do you have the same personality that you have when you are with your girlfriend? Anybody can say - just seeing you, anybody can say - whether you are with your wife or with your girlfriend. With the wife you look so serious, so afraid, almost a prisoner. A beautiful woman passes by, you cannot even look at her. On the contrary, you start looking to the other side, because the wife is watching continuously.

If one wants to learn observation, one should learn from wives; they are acute observers, particularly of their husbands. The husbands are just like scientific objects that the wives go on observing from all sides... what the poor guy is doing, and how to improve him. Every wife is improving her husband, that's why the husband looks so serious. A continuous improvement is going on, day in day out. With the girlfriend you are giggling, you are laughing, you are enjoying; anybody can see that this is not your wife. Somebody else's wife maybe....

What happens? A different personality takes possession of you. When you meet your boss, you are one person, and when you meet your servant you are a different person. Your language is different, your face is different, your behavior is different. Not only you change, even animals like dogs, which live with man and are clever enough to imitate man, start learning hypocrisies.

I have seen dogs barking and at the same time waving their tails. Now this is strange - but they are not certain whether you are a friend to be welcomed in the home, or an enemy to be prevented from entering into the home. Because of this indecision, they are doing both things. Whatever fits, later on they will save it, and the other they will stop. When the master of the house comes out and hugs you, the dog understands. He stops barking and then he waves his tail really fast, to compensate:

"Just forgive me, I was not aware at all who you are, what kind of personality I had to present to you."

But you are doing the same before your boss, before your husband, before your wife, before your servant, before your friend or before your enemy. You go on changing, and this changing is so swift and so automatic that you don't even see the gaps. If you start seeing the gaps between two false personalities, perhaps you may start recognizing yourself.

Vidyartha, I have to destroy you in the sense that whatever is wrong in you, whatever is unauthentic in you, has to be completely destroyed, without any mercy. Because that is the only way to bring to light your innermost being, your original face - to bring to light your authenticity. Once you start recognizing who you are, you start growing new foliage, new flowers; no more plastic, but real and natural and with fragrance.

Orelli was arrested for murder, but bribed a member of the jury to hold out for manslaughter. The jury was out for eight hours, and when it returned the verdict was for manslaughter. Orelli smiled at the man he had bribed and whispered, "I am really very grateful. I hope it was not too difficult."

"It was touch and go," said the man. "The others all wanted to acquit you."

It is possible, not only possible but it is happening to almost everyone, that what is false you go on saving - protecting it, defending it. And what is real you don't care about at all. You don't recognize what is real as your own. Hence, slowly slowly, the false almost becomes real to you, and the real is completely forgotten.

To bring the forgotten language of the real and to destroy all that you have learned in the meantime is a tedious process, hard and difficult, but immensely rewarding. Once you have tasted something of the real, then you will not feel sorry, even for a split second, for losing your whole personality - which was unreal. Then you will enjoy to be utterly naked in your reality, open and available to existence.

And the moment you are open and available to existence, existence also replies in the same coin.

It also becomes open and available to you, opens its secrets and mysteries to you. That is one of the most fundamental things to remember on the path: that if you want to know the miracles, the mysteries of existence, you will have to be authentically true and open. And existence will fill you from all sides with immense treasures.

I was just telling you about the wife - that you can learn much from her as far as observation is concerned - and here is an anecdote:

"What is the matter with you?" growled Joe at his wife. "Why do you keep talking about that mistake I made? I thought you said you had forgiven and forgotten?"

"I have forgiven and forgotten," snapped his wife, "but I just don't want you to forget that I have forgiven and forgotten."

It is a very strange world in which wives and husbands live. She has forgotten, forgiven, but she does not want you to forget. You have to keep remembering - it is not for you.

Naturally even in such an intimate relationship as husband and wife, both remain closed to each other, both remain false to each other, and both know that they are pretending. When the husband says, "I love you," the wife knows very well... it is better to just keep your mouth shut.

The wife is feeling perfectly well... I have seen it with my own eyes, because I used to travel around the country and I would stay with hundreds of families. The wife was perfectly okay, talking to me and laughing, and as she heard the horn of the car, she suddenly went inside the room and went to bed. I could not see the point - what had happened? As the husband came in, he asked me, "You are sitting alone?"

I said, "Certainly, right now I am sitting alone, your wife is in the bedroom."

And as he reached inside, I heard the wife say, "I am having such a headache." I could not think how this headache had come so suddenly, out of nowhere; as the horn... it seems a horn is the cause of headaches.

But every husband causes a headache in his wife, because this is one of the strategies of being powerful over her husband. Now, even if the husband was going to be angry for something, he cannot. If he was going to shout, he cannot. On the contrary, he has to run back to the market to bring some ice cream or something else, because headaches need these things.

Vidyartha, you say, "I can allow you to tear me apart." Whether you allow me or not, I have started it already, the day I initiated you in sannyas.

I don't give any notice beforehand. I let you become aware only when you are almost gone; when the elephant has passed and only the tail has remained. When you see the tail is also moving out, then you become aware..."My God, now it is better to say I allow you."

What is the point? - now there is no need. Once you are my sannyasin I have every right. What else can sannyas mean? I don't have to ask your permission. The day you became a sannyasin you gave me a blank check.

Okay, Maneesha?

Yes, Beloved Master.

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"Bolshevism is a religion and a faith. How could those half
converted believers dream to vanquish the 'Truthful' and the
'Faithful of their own creed, those holy crusaders, who had
gathered around the Red standard of the prophet Karl Marx,
and who fought under the daring guidance of those experienced
officers of all latterday revolutions the Jews?"

-- Dr. Oscar Levy, Preface to the World Significance of the
   Russian Revolution by George PittRivers, 1920