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Chapter 26: The Alchemy of Enlightenment

He said, “I live alone. I sleep outside in the garden, and I don’t want any proof for stomach ache! - so one is enough. You have given me the proof that you are capable, so when you have a stomach ache raise two fingers and I will understand. But this is an agreement between us: that you will not tell anybody else that headaches or stomach aches exist.”

I said, “I am not worried about anybody else. My problem is solved because I want things from the very beginning to be clear, just like you do.”

He said, “You have made it very clear - it is still hurting! I have been a teacher thirty years and nobody ever thought of this idea. I will remember you for my whole life.”

It was a small incident, and would have been forgotten - but when people started coming to me many years after this incident he started telling people, “I knew beforehand that this boy was going to be someone extraordinary.”

People asked, “How did you come to know? - and you never mentioned it before.”

He said, “I had almost forgotten it; just now, as his name is becoming known around the world and people are coming to him from all over the world, I remembered. And now that incident has a totally different meaning. Because for my whole life I was introducing every class in the same way and nobody ever tried anything. And this was the only one - a singular instance - who proved to me that a headache had to be accepted. I knew it that very day.”

In 1970 I went to that village for the last time. He had become very old. Hearing that I was there, he came to see me. I said, “I was going to come to you. You are too old, you should not have bothered to walk almost two miles.”

He said, “I am feeling so happy. Seeing you it still hurts, but now I feel a certain pride that you were my student.”

Now the whole thing takes a different color, it becomes a pride. Otherwise, if I had turned out to be a thief or a criminal, then the same incident would have been a proof: “I knew from the very beginning that this boy was going to be a criminal, that sooner or later he would murder somebody.”

Retrospectively you always look at things in a way you would not have looked at them if life had moved in a different direction. The same things would not have given you the same indications.

By the way, I would like to remind you that all autobiographies are false because they are all written retrospectively. A man becomes a Mahatma Gandhi and then he writes his autobiography in the light of what he has become. He starts looking at things in the past when he was not Mahatma Gandhi, and everything now has to fit with Mahatma Gandhi. There has to be a logical connection, a coherence. So it is as if you are reading a novel backwards - things will be totally different. All autobiographies are fictions. They should not be categorized separately in any library. The science of librarianship should understand a simple fact: that every autobiography is a fiction.

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