Chapter 5: Read between the Lines
You have come to me because of fear. I know it. But my actions are not designed to minimize your fear, but to awaken your fearlessness. You have not even come to me to attain fearlessness. You came looking for courage, for bravery, so you can fight - that’s all. That will satisfy you. You are satisfied with such meager gifts. Your dissatisfaction does not run very deep. A drowning man will clutch at a blade of grass to save himself, and I know that blades of grass cannot save anybody. Perhaps you may drown because of the blade of grass, because one who takes the blade of grass for a boat will stop looking for the real boat. The one who has seen a false shore has lengthened his path to the real shore. I have no concern with the reasons for which you have come to me; I shall do only that which is right for your true welfare.
Recently in the West some psychological studies have been done on fasting, and a very strange fact has emerged, one that you would not have ever imagined. Man is so complex, he is never what you think! One of the questions asked is, “Who are more successful in fasting, the introverts or the extroverts?” For thousands of years we have maintained that the introvert is more successful at fasting - a great meditator, forgetting his meals and his hunger, deeply involved in the divine within, immersed in the religious experience and total in his prayerfulness - and that the one who cannot succeed in fasting is the extrovert, who breaks his fast when hunger strikes him, is not deeply involved in existence, has no faith, and is not religious. So all the religions of the world have used fasting as a way to make man religious. But the psychological evidence says just the opposite. It is the extrovert who succeeds in fasting, not the introvert. The extrovert, whose eyes are focused on the external, succeeds; while the introvert, whose eyes are focused on the internal, fails.
Try to understand this, because it applies to all the other facets of life. The extrovert lives externally. If a beautiful woman passes by and he sees her, his sexual feelings are aroused; if there is no beautiful woman around, his sexual feelings are not aroused. If such a man goes to the wilderness and sits there, it will appear that sex has disappeared from his life. This is the extrovert - the cause of his desire is external. If he smells the aroma of cooking coming from a hotel, the extrovert’s hunger is aroused. If he goes to the temple where there are no smells of food, no sight of food, no talk of food, then he will find it easy to fast there.
The introvert lives from within. He feels hungry, then he goes to find food. The extrovert becomes hungry when he sees the food. The introvert gets interested and looks for a woman because he feels sexually aroused. The extrovert becomes aroused when he sees the woman. For the extrovert, the cause is outside, and because of this external stimulus his impulse, his inner flow, is aroused. The cause for the introvert is inside, and his behavior is governed only by the internal stimulus. The implications of this are that if you are an extrovert and you go to the temple to fast, your fasting will be successful. If you are an introvert, going to the temple will make no difference; even there you will feel hungry. Hunger is hunger - how can sitting in the temple make any difference?
There is a Jewish festival called Yom Kippur. On the day of Yom Kippur the Jews go to the synagogue and stay there, fasting all day. Many of these fasters were observed in this scientific experiment, and it was found that those who were extrovert forgot their hunger.