Chapter 11: Yes, I Teach You Selfishness
A Confucian comes and the man sees some hope because Confucians are more worldly, more earthbound. He says, “It is my good fortune that you have come, a Confucian scholar. I know you, I have heard your name. Now do something for me, because Confucius says, ‘Help others.’” After seeing the Buddhist and the Taoist, the man thinks, “It is better to talk philosophy if these people are to be convinced to save me.” He says, “Confucius says, ‘Help others.’”
The Confucian monk says, “You are right. And I will help. I am going from one city to another, and I will try and protest and force the government to make a protective wall around every well in the country. Don’t be afraid.”
The man says, “But by the time those protective walls are made and your revolution succeeds, I will be gone.”
The Confucian says, “You don’t matter, I don’t matter, individuals don’t matter - society matters. You have raised a very significant question by falling in the well. Now we are going to fight for it. You be calm and quiet. We will see that every well has a protective wall around it so nobody falls into it. Just by saving you, what is saved? The whole country has millions of wells, and millions of people can fall into them. So don’t be too selfish about yourself, rise above the selfish attitude. I am going to serve humanity. You have served by falling into the well. I am going to serve by forcing the government to make protective walls.” And he walks on. But he makes a significant point: “You are very selfish. You just want to be saved and waste my time, which I can use for the whole of humanity.”
Do you know if anything like “humanity” exists anywhere, if anything like a “society” exists anywhere? These are just words. Only individuals exist.
The fourth man is a Christian minister, a missionary, who is carrying a bag with him. He immediately opens the bag, takes out a rope, throws the rope; before the man says anything, he throws the rope into the well. The man is surprised. He says, “Your religion seems to be the truest religion.”
He says, “Of course. We are prepared for every emergency. Knowing that people can fall into wells, I am carrying this rope to save them, because only by saving them can I save myself. But remember - I have heard what the Confucian was saying - don’t make protective walls around the wells; otherwise how will we serve humanity? How will we pull out people from wells who fall in? They have to fall first, only then can we pull them out. We exist to serve, but the opportunity must be there. Without the opportunity, how can you serve?”
All these religions talking about service are certainly interested that humanity remains poor, that people remain in need of service, that there are orphans, there are widows, old people nobody takes care of, beggars. These people are needed, absolutely needed. Otherwise, what will happen to these great servants of the people? What will happen to all these religions and their teachings? And how will people enter into the kingdom of God? These people have to be used as a ladder.