Chapter 9: Cultivating Right Attitudes
Don’t be miserable with somebody who is miserable. Help him to come out of it. Never make misery an object of love; don’t give any affection to misery, because if you give affection and you make it an object of love you are opening a door for it. Sooner or later you will become miserable. Remain aloof. Compassion means remain aloof. Extend your hand, remain aloof, help - don’t feel miserable, don’t feel happy, because both are the same. When you feel miserable on the surface with somebody’s misery, deep down runs the current of being happy. Both have to be dropped. Compassion will bring you tranquillity of the mind.
Many people come to me - social reformers, revolutionaries, politicians, utopians, and they say, “How can you teach people meditation and silence when there is so much misery in the world?” They tell me, “This is selfish.” They would like me to teach people to be miserable with others who are miserable. They don’t know what they are saying, but they feel very good - doing social work, social service, they feel very good. And if suddenly the world becomes a heaven, and God says, “Now everything will be okay,” you will find social reformers and revolutionaries in absolute misery, because they will have nothing to do.
Kahlil Gibran has written a small parable. In a city, in a big city, there was a dog who was a preacher and a missionary, and he preached to other dogs, “Stop barking! We are wasting almost ninety-nine percent of our energy in barking unnecessarily. That’s why we have not been evolving. Stop barking unnecessarily!”
But it is difficult for dogs to stop barking. That is an inbuilt process. Really, they feel happy only when they bark. It is a catharsis. They feel silent when they have barked. So they listened to the leader, the revolutionary, the utopian who was thinking of a kingdom of gods, a kingdom of dogs, somewhere in the coming future, where every dog is reformed and has become religious - where there is no barking, no fighting, where everything is silent. That missionary must have been a pacifist.
But dogs are dogs. They would listen to him and then they would say, “You are a great man, and whatsoever you say is true, but we are helpless, poor dogs. We don’t understand such big things.” So all the dogs felt guilty because they couldn’t stop. They believed in the message of the leader, and he was right. Rationally, they could follow, but what to do with the bodies? The bodies are irrational. Whenever there is a chance - a sannyasin walking, a policeman, a postman, they will bark, because they are against uniforms.
It was almost impossible for them, and they had agreed: “That dog is a great man, and we cannot follow. He is like an avatar - something from the other shore - so we will worship him, but how can we follow him?” And that leader was always true to his word, he never barked.
But one day everything failed. One dark night the dogs decided, “This great leader is always trying to convert us, and we never listen to him. At least once a year, on the birthday of our leader, we should keep a complete fast: no barking, absolute silence, no matter how difficult. At least once a year we do that.”