Chapter 9: Everybody Wants to Change the World
You cannot look at yourself, you cannot come to self-realization, because that is a very faraway goal. You cannot turn and see the facticity about yourself, and the reason is a false image, a false identity, a false idea that you are somebody very important, significant, the whole world will stop if you die. What will happen to the world when you are not there? When you were not there, what was happening? The world was a little more at peace, that’s all. When you are not there, there will be a little less trouble in the world, that’s all: because one uneasy person will have disappeared, and he was creating uneasiness in others. But to support the ego all these fictions are needed.
Napoleon became a prisoner in his last days. He was kept prisoner on a small island, Saint Helena. He was nothing anymore. Nobody ever is, but now even to continue in the fiction was very difficult. He was an emperor, one of the greatest conquerors: “What to do now? How to allow this fact that I am nothing anymore, just a prisoner, an ordinary prisoner?” But he would not look at the fact, he continued in the old fiction. He didn’t change his clothes for six years, because the prison wouldn’t give him clothes that suit an emperor. His clothes were completely rotten, the color faded, they became dirty, but he would not change them.
The doctor of the prison asked him, “Why don’t you change this coat? It has become so dirty! We can give you better clothes, cleaner.”
Napoleon looked at him and said, “This is an emperor’s coat; it may be dirty but I cannot change it for an ordinary coat!” He walked as if he were still the emperor, he talked as if he were still the emperor: he ordered. There was no one to listen to his orders, but he continued ordering. He would write letters and orders, and he had brought his letter-pad with him. In his mind he was still the emperor.
What was happening to this poor man? And unoccupied, he began to be permanently ill. The doctor who was with him kept a diary, and in the diary he writes, “I feel that he is not really ill, now illness is just an occupation. Sometimes he says ‘my stomach,’ sometimes ‘my head,’ sometimes ‘my legs,’” and the doctor thought that nothing was wrong, the body was absolutely okay. But now he had nothing to remain engaged with, now the only “other” was the body. The whole world of others had disappeared, he was alone. Now the body was the other, so he remained occupied with the body.
Many people are ill as an occupation: in the world, fifty percent of illness exists as an occupation. You remain occupied, then you need not face yourself. Otherwise, what would have happened to Napoleon? If he had faced himself, then he would have seen that he was a beggar, and that would have been too much. He died an emperor. Before his death he ordered how he should be given the last send-off, every detail. Nobody was there to follow those details because nobody was interested. But he gave the orders, and he must have died at ease thinking that he was going to be given the last send-off like an emperor.