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Chapter 20: Diogenes and the Dog

The dog ran fast, jumped into the river, drank to his heart’s content. And Diogenes thought, “So the dog is far more intelligent: without any begging bowl, and he is doing well. Why do I go on carrying this weight?” He threw away the begging bowl, he thanked the dog; they became friends. They became so friendly that they started sharing the place; where the dog used to live Diogenes also started living. It was just a big pipe, the dog used to live there; that became the house of Diogenes too.

When Alexander went to see Diogenes - naturally, polar opposites are always attracted - he was lying down on the sand by the side of the river in the early morning sun, warm, naked, he was enjoying, singing a song. The dog was sitting by his side, also enjoying the morning. Alexander came with all his paraphernalia, the generals and the prime ministers, and they declared, as was part of the court mannerism, that “Alexander the Great is here!”

Diogenes looked at the dog and laughed. Alexander could not understand why he looked at the dog; he asked why. Diogenes said, “I looked at the dog because only he will understand. These fools that you have brought with you, they will not understand at all. This dog is very wise. In the first place he never speaks - so wise, never utters a word, just keeps everything secret. And he is the only one who can understand that one who declares that he is great, can’t be. Greatness need not be declared; it is there, or it is not there.”

Shocked, Alexander could not believe that this could be the way he would be received, but still he was impressed by the man - he was so joyous. He said, “I feel a little jealous of you. Next time, if God asks me, ‘Alexander, what do you want to become?’ I will ask to become Diogenes.”

Diogenes again looked at the dog. And it is said that the dog smiled. Alexander could not believe what was happening, what was transpiring. He said, “What is the meaning of it?”

Diogenes said, “It is so foolish to wait for the next life. We live moment to moment, me and my friend, and you are hoping for the next life. If you are so jealous of Diogenes, who is preventing you? Is God preventing you? Throw off the clothes - and tell these foolish people to go! And the bank is so big, we can share. That is our house. First only the dog used to live here, then I became a part of it; you can also become a part of it. We have nothing else, so there is no quarrel, no competition, nothing.”

It must have been one of the greatest moments in history. Just to think of it. Alexander said, “I am happy that I came. I have seen a man worth seeing. Can I do something for you?”

Diogenes said, “You just move a little to the left, because you are hindering the sun. Nothing else is needed, because we don’t need anything.”

You ask me, “Who is a lazy man?” It is very relative. My own suggestion is: act only when it is essential. And even while doing things, don’t become a doer, become a non-doer. Let existence do things through you, then action and inaction are one.