Chapter 3: When One and One Add Up to None
It is also not a coincidence that if you see a blind man you feel very sad for him. You don’t feel so sorry for a deaf man; you don’t feel at all sad for somebody who cannot smell. In fact, he is in a far better situation; to him nothing stinks. You don’t feel sad if any other sense is missing.
Even if somebody’s legs are missing, hands are missing, you don’t feel sad the same way as when you see a blind man. Why? Without knowing, without being clearly conscious about it, you feel that eighty percent of his life is cut off, he is only twenty percent alive. Naturally, a blind man gets more sympathy.
I have heard that a blind beggar was spreading his hands at the corner of the street and saying, “Give something to a blind man.” And the man who was passing was really generous; he gave him one rupee. And the man said immediately, “But this is not authentic.” In India, to find anything authentic is very difficult. Even if you want to commit suicide, the poison will not work. You cannot find even authentic poison. By the morning you will find yourself perfectly awake and surprised: “What happened to the poison?”
But the blind man saying that the rupee is not authentic.. Naturally the man said, “Are you blind or not? I know the rupee is not authentic, that’s why I have given you the rupee; otherwise who gives a rupee to a blind man? I did it because I could not give it to anybody else; wherever I wanted to purchase something, immediately it was returned because it was not authentic, and they even threatened that they would give me to the police! Somehow I said, ‘It is not my fault, somebody has given it to me, so please forgive me.’ So finally I thought, ‘It is better to get rid of it, otherwise somewhere I am going to get into trouble.’ So I gave it to you.”
The man said, “The real thing is that I am not really a blind man; the real blind man is my friend. Today he has gone to see the movie, and he told me to sit here so nobody takes his place. I am just pretending, I am not blind: the real blind man has gone to see the movie. But sitting in his place I have found that this is far better.
“I have been pretending up to now that I am crippled, but from tomorrow I am going to be blind. This pays far better, and people are more sympathetic. Nobody starts preaching to you that you should work and you should do this and that. People give more - and more politely and more nicely; they don’t treat you the way people treat a beggar.”
In India only the blind man is treated by people with respect; they will call him Surdasji even if he is a beggar. Surdas was one of the most important poets of India. He was blind, and because of his blindness his name became synonymous with blindness. His name does not mean blindness; surdas means a servant of music. And he was a great musician, a great poet, a great singer - but blind. “Ji” is used for respect. So people will not even call a blind man just Surdas, because that is not respectful; he will be called Surdasji.