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Chapter 29: Positive Thinking: Philosophy for Phonies

If you want to influence a Hindu, you have to have a different kind of personality than when you are trying to influence a Christian. To Christians, Jesus crucified on the cross is the symbol of the greatest sacrifice anybody can make to redeem humanity.

To the Hindus, crucifixion simply means this man must have committed a great sin in the past. Their philosophy is of karma and its consequence. You cannot be just crucified without any karma on your part. You must have acted in evil ways, and this is the outcome of that. The crucifixion of Jesus does not prove to the Hindu or the Jaina or the Buddhist that he is a messiah.

But to the Christian, Mahavira, Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tzu - nobody seems to be comparable to Jesus. In fact to a Christian mind they all look very selfish: they are just working for their own redemption while Jesus is working for the redemption of the whole of humanity. A man who is interested in his own ultimate realization is obviously the most selfish man in the world. What selfishness is possible which can go beyond this selfishness?

If he renounces the world, that is selfish because he simply wants his soul to be freed from the wheel of life and death. He wants to meet the universal spirit of God, or he wants to enter nirvana and disappear into the cosmos where there is no suffering, where there is only bliss, eternal bliss. And this man does not bother about anybody else. You call him a saint? - an incarnation of God? - a tirthankara? No, not to the Christian; that is not appealing.

If you want to influence many people you will have to have many personalities, many masks. You will have to continuously pretend that which you are not, and you will have to hide that which you are. Now this is what makes a man phony. Dale Carnegie’s whole philosophy is for phonies.

In fact, the word phony is also a contribution of America. Strangely, it means exactly what personality means. In Greek drama the actors used masks and they spoke through the mask. Sona means sound, and sound coming from a mask is called persona in Greek - it is not the real man, but the mask. You don’t know who is behind it; all that you hear is the sound, and you see a mask. The mask is a mask, it cannot speak. And the one who can speak you don’t see; he is hiding. From persona comes the English word personality. And phony is exactly the same.

Since telephones came into existence, you can hear people’s voices through the telephone, and you don’t see the person. And of course the voice also is not exactly the same; coming through wires or by wireless much is changed. It is phony; phony comes from phone. Strangely, persona and phony mean exactly the same. You don’t see who is speaking, you only hear the voice. That too has gone through a change, through the mechanism; it is not exactly the same voice.

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