Chapter 23: Ten Non-Commandments
He told his father, “I am not going to listen to you at all. If I had not disobeyed you and had not listened to Mahavira, we would both be hanging on the gallows; just one sentence - and that too, a small part of a story - has saved me. I am going to the man. His magic has caught me.”
He became a great disciple of Mahavira.
He said, “You have saved me. Now give me a new life, because I don’t want just to be saved and continue to be a thief and a murderer. It was good that I was caught, a discontinuity has happened. You start my life from scratch; accept me as a child.”
Coming to the master is coming in search of your innocence, in search of your lost childhood, in search of your originality, in search of your individuality, in search of freedom.
One day - it was Friday, when orthodox Jews are preparing for the sabbath - a man who didn’t like Jews met an orthodox rabbi on the street. In an attempt to torment him, he asked him to express the entire philosophy of Judaism while he stood on one foot.
The rabbi stood on one foot and said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is the law - the rest is commentary.”
If I were to be met by a tormentor and asked to stand on one foot and explain in one sentence what your teaching is, would I be correct in saying that it is freedom from suppression?
It will not be so easy. First, you don’t know the name of the rabbi. His name was Hillel. He is the most famous Jewish philosopher, and he certainly condensed the whole philosophy of Judaism into a single sentence.
The incident is true. He was asked to stand on one foot and answer in the shortest way what the essence of Judaism is. And what he said is beautiful, but not without flaw. He said: Do unto others what you would like to be done to you by them. This is the essence of Judaism; the rest is commentary. All great scriptures of the Jews, the Torah, the Talmud, are all just commentaries on the single, small, seedlike statement: Do unto others what you would like to be done to you by them.
As far as Judaism is concerned, no Jewish thinker has raised any suspicion about it. Neither has any non-Jewish philosopher raised any question about it. But I am more concerned with human reality than just with philosophical arguments. And looking at human reality, the statement is not correct, because my taste and your taste may be different.