Chapter 20: Fear of Hell, Greed for Heaven: The Savior’s Soft Sell
Is it wrong to try to save somebody? Is it not part of compassion?
Compassion is a very delicate affair. It certainly has some place in making an effort to save others, but there are many conditions which have to be fulfilled first.
The first condition is that you are saved; otherwise, in the name of saving others you will be simply destroying them. And in the effort of saving others you will be missing the opportunity to save yourself Only a person who has come home himself can be of any help to somebody. A blind man cannot help blind people. You must have your eyes opened; you must have seen light yourself before you start telling others what it is.
Compassion certainly includes the idea of saving others, but not against their will. If somebody does not want to be saved, you are not to force him; not at the point of a sword do you have to save him. That is not saving. That simply shows that in the name of saving you are trying to dominate people.
In Raipur there is an old, very ancient pond. Because of its ancientness it is called budha talub - old, aged, pond, and it belongs to the part of Raipur which is the ancientmost part. That part is also called budha padu - ancient part, very old; budha means old man. And the pond is certainly very beautiful in its oldness; all the old stone steps are covered with thick moss.
I used to go there just to sit because nobody goes there. The pond has become dirty; thick moss floats on the water and the water is almost green. The pond has not been cleaned for years, so nobody goes there. And there are other ponds in other places, so there is no need; the water is not used any more. And because it was such a silent place I used to go there every evening to sit and see the sunset.
One day when I was sitting there a man suddenly fell into the pond and started shouting, “help! Help!” I had not seen him when he came by, or how he slipped. Anybody could have slipped, those steps were so slippery with moss. I jumped in to help that man and I pulled him out somehow. He was very angry.
He said to me, “Why did you do that?”
I said, “This is strange! You were asking for help.”
He said, “Yes, I was asking for help because I became so afraid, but really I wanted to commit suicide - and you prevented me. I would not have shouted if I had any idea that somebody else was present here; nobody comes here. What are you doing here?”
I said, “This is strange, but when you started shouting, ‘Help! Help!’ I thought you were drowning. I have unnecessarily become wet in this muddy pond and you are now angry.”