Chapter 10: Saying Yes to Life
Both are ugly phenomena. Going crazy, becoming, neurotic, guilt-ridden is ugly; becoming a hypocrite is ugly. But your so-called religions leave you no other alternative: they all talk about saying yes, but they all teach you saying no. They all think they are theistic - they are all atheistic, because to me atheism means a deep-rooted no and theism means a fundamental yes to life. Theism has nothing to do with God, nor has atheism anything to do with the denial of God. Theism is saying yes to life with all its imperfections, as it is, saying yes to it with no conditions, with no strings attached. And atheism to me means saying no to life as it is and trying to make it better, trying to make it perfect.
You say: “Why can’t I say yes to myself?” Because you have been told you are all wrong, you are nothing but a sinner. Everything that you do is wrong, everything that you think is wrong, everything that you are is wrong - how can you say yes to yourself? You have been given ideas, great ideals, shoulds: “You should be like this, like that.” And you go on comparing yourself with those stupid ideals. Of course, you fall very short, and when you fall very short you start feeling a deep no to yourself you want to destroy yourself; you cannot love yourself.
You have been told to love others, but you have never been told to love yourself. And you can love others only if you have loved yourself in the first place: if you don’t love yourself you cannot love anybody else in the world. Loving yourself, you learn the art of love. And if you can love yourself with all your imperfections you will be able to love other human beings with all their imperfections. If you cannot love yourself with your imperfections, how are you going to love others with their imperfections? You will hate them!
Parents hate their children, children hate their parents, wives hate their husbands, husbands hate their wives, for the simple reason that they can see the imperfections. Everybody is in search of a perfect person and you will not find a perfect person anywhere, except some fools who go on claiming that they are infallible, perfect. Pope John Paul the Polack, he is infallible! Popes are infallible. They represent God - how can they be fallible? In India Satya Sai Baba claims to be infallible. Now, to me these are utter idiots! They have no sense of any manners, of any etiquette even; they don’t have any intelligence. Otherwise they could see - it is so simple. But it is a traditional thing.
Jainas in India have claimed that Mahavira is all-knowing. Buddha laughed at the whole idea. He was an intelligent man, a really penetrating intelligence, but he never claimed that he was infallible. No intelligent person can do that. He laughed at the whole idea that Mahavira was infallible. We don’t know what was Mahavira’s own statement about it because according to the Jaina tradition he remained silent, he never said a single word. There were interpreters of his silence who were telling people what he meant. I cannot conceive that he would have ever meant that he was infallible. A man of such intelligence as Mahavira could not do that.
Buddha says, “I have heard: Mahavira going for a morning walk steps on a dog’s tail, and when the dog barks then he comes to know that there is a dog - because it is still dark in the morning. And this is the all-knowing man who knows past, present, future, and he does not know that he is stepping on the tail of a dog!”