Chapter 18: Shame Was His Loom
But there is nothing in life which is unimportant. If it appears unimportant, it only means your perceptivity is not clear. The moment your perceptivity is clear, and your eyes are innocent, the smallest pebble on the shore becomes as mysterious as the greatest star in the sky - because they both belong to the same mystery.
And he answered:
Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
This is a half-truth - because clothes were discovered by the unbeautiful, to hide it. You don’t see any animals, any birds, having clothes. Man is the only living being on the planet who has invented clothes. For what?
Superficially, it seems they protect you from the rain, from the winter, from the summer. But if all the animals and all the trees are protected without clothes, man seems to be in a fallacy. Yes, today it is true that they protect you from winter and rain and heat because you have become weaker. Using clothes for thousands of years you have lost your strength, which is given intrinsically to every baby when he is born.
But why did man in the very beginning become interested? The first reason was - and the Biblical story indicates a certain truth, that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of knowledge and were no longer innocent, they immediately felt ashamed of their nakedness. Man has tried to cover his nakedness; and the people who are more unbeautiful are more obsessed with clothes. The more beautiful a person is, he would like not to hide his beauty behind the clothes.
In India, there are millions of statues. Amongst them, the most beautiful statues are of Mahavira, who remained naked for almost forty years. In Greece, we know only one man who has dared to live in nakedness, Diogenes. He was a contemporary of Alexander the Great. Alexander was interested in Diogenes, because he had heard so much about him - and he was one of the most interesting persons that humanity has produced.
But the people of Alexander’s court always prevented him: “Don’t invite him to the court. He’s naked.” But there came a chance. When Alexander was coming to India, he passed by a forest and a river where Diogenes used to live. Now there was nobody to prevent him. He told his armies to rest a little, because he wanted to meet a man who lived very close by.
His bodyguards, his prime minister, wanted to accompany him. He said no. He himself was a little hesitant that others should know that he has gone to see a naked man. But when he saw Diogenes, the first thing he said was, “I have never seen such a beautiful body. And looking at you, it is absolutely plain and clear to me that clothes were invented by the unbeautiful.”