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Chapter 5: The Dogs of the Mind Go on Barking

But you can tell him that he can do something and can come out of his misery, and that it is not in fact a disease, but rather, an attitude. Now western psychology is discovering that madness is not always a disease; rather, it is a hiding place. Life had become too much for the person and he could not find anywhere to hide. So madness becomes a hiding place, a defense.

The problem is that most people will still want to hide.

No, not once he knows that it is not a disease. That hiding is not conscious, it is absolutely unconscious. He has come to feel the convenience of it, but it has never been a conscious decision.

For example, you are burdened too much with financial difficulties; too many family responsibilities, and a thousand and one problems. You can’t sleep well, you feel depressed, and by and by you see that if people start thinking that you have gone out of your mind, then suddenly they don’t make you responsible. On the contrary, you become their responsibility; then they have to help you. And once the unconscious gets the hint, it relaxes.

But this is unconscious. Consciously no one would like to be mad. At such a great cost, no one would like to. But once it happens it becomes a comfortable thing. The government takes care of you, everybody sympathizes, the children cannot demand, the wife cannot quarrel with you - you are not in your senses. And then too, one does not want to come out, and that too is unconscious.

So help them to see the fact: that just for small comforts they are destroying their whole life, missing a great opportunity in which much was possible and still is possible. Tell them that they can do something about it if they decide to come out of it.

It happened once that I stayed in a friend’s house. His father was mad and he had always been so. But I suspected something because the man looked very clever.

So when there was nobody there and I was sitting with this madman, I told him, “I suspect you cannot be mad. You look too clever!”

He looked surprised. Then he said, “How did you come to know?”

Then he told me the whole story: that his father was a very hard taskmaster and he had learned a trick - by and by he proved himself mad. It was very comfortable and convenient, with nothing to worry about. The father worked till the day he died, and this boy never had to do anything! Then his children started working - because their father was mad!

“So,” he said, “it was such a convenient thing. First my father worked and now my children work, and I have lived at ease. But, please don’t tell anybody!”