Chapter 12: From Italy to Nirvana
When the Westerners reached China for the first time, looking at the Chinese, they laughed. They looked more like caricatures; cartoons rather than men - just four or five hairs sticking out of your face and that’s your whole beard! What kind of people are these? The first Europeans wrote in their diaries, “It seems we have discovered the missing link between the monkeys and man.”
And what were the Chinese writing in their journals? Even the emperor of China was very much interested in seeing the Europeans because he had heard many stories about them. They were invited to his court, not because he respected the Europeans, but just to see what kind of people these were. Never before.! And he could not contain his laughter; he started laughing when he saw the Europeans.
The Europeans were very much embarrassed: “Why is he laughing?” They were told, “That is his way of appreciating. He always laughs, enjoys; that is his way of welcoming the guests.” But the reality was that he could not believe that these are human beings! He asked his people, “Have you brought them from African jungles? They look like monkeys!”
That’s how the ego functions: the other is always reduced to the lowest possible; and compared to the other, one raises oneself higher.
You say, “The world seems to be getting more and more crazy from day to day.” That is not right; it has always been so. Only one thing new is happening, and that is a blessing, not a curse at all. For the first time in the whole history of humanity, a few people are becoming aware that the way we have existed up to now is somehow wrong; something basically is missing in our very foundation. There is something which does not allow us to grow into sane human beings. In our very conditioning are the seeds of insanity.
Every child is born sane, and then, slowly, slowly, we civilize him - we call it the process of civilization. We prepare him to become part of the great culture, the great church, the great state to which we belong. Our whole politics is stupid, and then he becomes stupid. Our whole education is ugly. Our politics means nothing but ambition, naked ambition - ambition for power. And only the lowest kind of people become interested in power. Only the people who are suffering from a deep inferiority complex become politicians. They want to prove that they are not inferior; they want to prove it to others, they want to prove to themselves that they are not inferior, they are superior.
But what is the need to prove it if you are superior? The superior man does not try to prove anything, he is so at ease with his superiority. That’s what Lao Tzu says: The superior man is not even conscious of his superiority; there is no need at all. It is only the ill person who starts thinking of health; the healthy person never thinks about health. The healthy person is not self-conscious about his health; only the sick, only the ill. The beautiful person, the really beautiful person is not self-conscious about his or her beauty. It is only the ugly person who is constantly worried and making every effort to prove that it is not so.