Chapter 3: Wisdom Is an Awakening
If somebody insults you, the man of character has a ready-made answer. The man of consciousness has no ready-made answers. He need not be bothered - he has consciousness, he has a mirror-like quality. He will reflect the situation and he will respond to the situation. His act will be out of that moment’s awareness. His act will not be out of the past, out of memory, out of the mind. His act will be born anew in the present. His act will be fresh, as fresh as dewdrops in the morning. His act will have beauty, his act will have splendor, his very act will be that of grace.
The man of character is ugly. He is dull, stupid; he lives in the past, he lives in habits. He has created what are called “good habits” - but why do you need habits? You need habits because you can’t depend on your awareness; otherwise there is no need to have any habits. You can always rely on your consciousness, you know you will be there, fully aware - so why prepare beforehand? There is no need. Whatsoever is required by the moment will be arising in you.
The society has substituted character for consciousness. Children are very conscious, more alert than they will ever be. You can watch children; that’s why they look so alive, so fresh, such a bubbling cheerfulness I Where does all that disappear to? And look at people who have character - you will always see a kind of dullness in their eyes. You will not find any spark, you will not see intelligence. Children are intelligent: they are not yet covered by layers of dust, they have not yet gone through the factory called education, they have not yet been cultured; they are yet wild and they still have the freedom and the innocence and the joy of the wild animals. They act moment to moment.
But we start cultivating them, we start curbing their freedom. We start imposing, “Do this, don’t do that.” We start imposing do’s and don’ts on them. Soon they will forget all about freedom, soon they will start acting out of the past, pretending. Soon they will be no more alive.
A small girl was getting ready for her first dance. She was very ecstatically thrilled. The mother was putting her dress on her, combing her hair, and the small girl looked in the mirror - she was looking so beautiful. She said, “Mummy, were there dances arranged in the old days also, when you were alive?”
Yes, people die long before they actually die. A person is dead by the age of four. Then he simply repeats, then he moves in a groove, in a rut. Then his whole life is just a long story of unconsciousness.
Character is the cause of your unconsciousness. If you are not forced to have a character you will grow more and more brilliant, luminous - you will have to, because you will not have anything else to lean upon except your consciousness. Because of these substitutes: marriage for love, character for consciousness, morality for religion, logic for truth, philosophy for existential experience - because of these substitutes you are lost in a kind of desert. You have become unconscious. Whenever the question of truth arises you start thinking immediately; that’s your response.