Chapter 2: The Beggar and the Emperor
If an inferiority complex gets hold of a man, he becomes sick to his very depths. If someone starts living as if he is nothing, his very survival becomes difficult. He is dead even while living. There are very few people who remain alive until their death; most people die earlier. Generally, although they are buried at the age of seventy, the dying has already happened much earlier. There are gaps of thirty, forty or even fifty years between the dying and the burying.
The day one finds he is feeling inferior.. And if you look at the immensity spread all around you, you are bound to feel inferior. What is the status of man? Nothing. He seems like a straw on the waves of the ocean. He has neither any power nor any direction. So if such an inferiority grips the mind, one’s life becomes sad and dead even while living; it becomes ashes, the fire becomes dull. And if your own life is dull and extinguished inside, if the flame of your own lamp is extinguished, then what will you do with even the whole light of the sun? The sun will hold no significance for you.
It is necessary to remember the reality: that the whole vastness of the cosmos exists within man. It is necessary to remember that the divine exists within man, so that he does not become inferior. And the interesting thing is that in order to destroy his inferiority complex, man falls into the fantasies of a superiority complex. He starts finding ways to suppress the inferiority complex.
When he feels inferior inside he starts making money so that, having amassed great wealth, he may show the world, and may feel too, that “I am not just a nothing, I am quite something.” The man with an inferiority complex rushes to climb onto a throne, so that sitting on the throne he may declare, “Who says I am a nobody? I am really important.” Inferiority itself becomes the race for superiority. So all the people who go into the mad race to become superior are necessarily suffering from an inferiority complex inside.
Adler has said many amazing things. His statements are significant. He has said that often those who come first in running races are the people who used to limp in their childhood; those who become very skillful in music are those who were a little hard of hearing when they were children; those who become presidents, prime ministers are often those who sat in the back of the class in school.
Because of that hurt feeling of inferiority they set out to prove to the world that they are something; they want to show that they are something. Hence, if a politician suffers from feeling inferior, there is nothing strange in it. A worm is eating him up inside - that he is nothing - and it hurts the mind, it puts him in difficulty, causes him to run.
When Lenin sat on a chair, his legs would not reach the ground. The upper part of his body was long and his legs were short. Hitler was a man of very ordinary intellect, an ordinary soldier in the army, and he was even thrown out from there as unfit. Stalin was the son of a shoemaker, and Lincoln was also the son of a shoemaker.