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Chapter 19: Man: The Greatest Problem - and the Only Solution

He said, “You ask what speciality? Can’t you see these two threads hanging down by his legs?”

The priest said, “Yes, I can see them.”

The shopkeeper said, “If you pull the right thread - and nobody will be able to see it, nobody you have brought to introduce to the parrot.. You just slightly pull the right thread and immediately he gives the Sermon on the Mount.”

The preacher said, “That is great, because my parrot used to give sermons but not the Sermon on the Mount. He used to repeat my sermons, and I was repeating others’ sermons. And this parrot gives the Sermon on the Mount just with a slight hint to go? My parrot was not like that.

“He didn’t know any signals; the moment he saw me he started, and unless I shouted and made much fuss, he wouldn’t stop. Starting was no problem; the problem was stopping, because unless he stopped the whole sermon, it was very difficult to interrupt him. It was just a mechanical thing, he had to go all the way. But this is good. And what about the left thread?

The shopkeeper said, “If you pull the left thread he repeats the Christian prayer.”

The priest was really amazed, and he said, ‘What if I pull both the threads?”

“You are expecting a sermon? a Christian prayer?” said the parrot. “You son-of-a-bitch, can’t you see I will fall on my bottom?”

Now, even a parrot has some sense, more than the priest asking about pulling on both his legs. Even the parrot could see that this was sheer stupidity. What kind of man is this priest!

So I am saying to you that, just parrot-like, man has been repeating words - but perhaps parrots are more alert. Perhaps they are just playing a game, perhaps they are just befooling you. You want to be befooled; you want to be entertained, and they are doing it. But deep down..

I have thought about it. I used to have a parrot myself in my childhood - I used to collect all kinds of animals. Looking into the eyes of the parrot, I had the feeling many times that when he was repeating the words that had been taught to him, he knew that these were just meaningless words. That was my feeling looking into his eyes. He was a very clever bird, because whenever I looked into his eyes, I would see a subtle smile. He knew why I was looking. I had an absolute certainty about his eyes: deep down we had not been able to deceive him. But I cannot say the same about so-called man.

Looking into the eyes of my professors who were saying, “Man has a destiny,” I have not found that smile of the parrot. They really believed what they were saying, because they knew the meaning of the words; but they don’t know the implications of the words. And the implications are many, and the most profound implications are indirect. They are never direct; you will not find them in the dictionaries.

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