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Chapter 9: Just to Be Born Is Not Enough to Be Alive

So he thought, “It is better to keep silent about it, not to say anything; it will look bad.” And he thought that rather than spoiling all the food - because all these people were dipping their bread in it and eating - he thought, “It is better to finish it in one gulp and then take the food; that is easier.” So he took one gulp, with closed eyes, with closed breath - just somehow to finish it, because nothing could be left. And do you know what Gandhi did? Gandhi called the cook and said, “Look how much he liked it! Bring another cup; he loved it!” So the cup was filled again.

To live the life of the poor, Gandhi would not allow anybody to use a mosquito net; that is luxury. And the place where he used to live, Wardha, is a very hot place, exactly in the middle of India, exactly in the center - one of the hottest places. And so many mosquitoes all around, that even in the daytime you had to use a mosquito net and sit inside it if you wanted to do any work: reading, writing, or anything. Even in the day, hundreds of mosquitoes are all over your body; how can you sleep in the night? But the idea of poverty.how can you use a mosquito net? That is a great luxury.

So Gandhi had discovered - and he was a great discoverer of things, such things - he discovered that if you put kerosene oil on your face, your hands, then mosquitoes cannot come close to you because of the smell. Certainly they don’t come, they are not so foolish as you are; but because of the smell you cannot sleep! I simply refused to stay there. I told Ramdas, “This is not the place for me. What kind of nonsense is going on here? And you are torturing these thirty-five people in the name of asceticism. You are glorifying all this.”

Gandhi was doing this his whole life. He was absolutely a masochist, who enjoyed torturing himself - and also a sadist. It is a rare combination, very unique. There are people who are masochists, there are people who are sadists, but to be a sadomasochist is a very unique phenomenon. There are very few people - but there are some - who enjoy both: torturing themselves and torturing others. In the name of religion it is very easy because you can give a motivation to people - that if you torture yourself, you will gain much in the other life.

That motivation, that greed.they don’t call it motivation or greed, and they don’t call it torture what I am calling torture - they call it tapascharya, sadhana, spiritual discipline. But just giving a good name to an ugly thing does not change its nature. It is not a spiritual discipline, it is simple torture. But under the name of spiritual discipline you can torture yourself.

Down the ages, in how many ways have religious people tortured themselves? If you come to know the whole story you will be simply amazed. There have been Christian ascetics whose practice consisted - still consists, they are still in existence - in beating themselves, early in the morning, naked. And the person who managed to beat himself the most was thought to be the greatest saint. The blood would be oozing out of the body, and they would go on flagellating. And the crowd would gather around their monastery to see this scene. And that crowd would support them, appreciate them, clap them, and help them to beat themselves more. And of course when a big crowd is appreciating you, you can go to any limit. Many times a person would die beating himself. Then he would be declared a saint by the pope. These people are still in existence.

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