Chapter 4: Don’t Throw Responsibility
You would find it just as easy to enter into these meditations if you were in England or America, because that society is not yours, those people are nobodies as far as you are concerned. No matter what they see and think of you, how can it affect your interests? But in the case of acquaintances, with whom you have to interact, with whom you have business and other interests, there is much fear. They may well affect your interests. And if your image changes in their eyes you will find yourself becoming uneasy, because you have no self-awareness. You have taken it for granted that you are that which others think you to be. If others say you are beautiful, then you think you are beautiful. If others see you as being good and a nice guy, then that is how you see yourself. And if others regard you as mad, it won’t be long before you start having doubts yourself, and finally one day even start believing you are mad.
Psychologists maintain that we retard the intellectual development of most children because we treat them from their very childhood as though they are stupid. If you consistently tell a child that he is stupid and unintelligent, when can he learn to trust his intelligence? Never! And remember, it is you who are committing the sin of making him stupid. When the father tells the child he is stupid, when the schoolteachers tell him he is stupid over and over again, the child begins to think, “They must be right! If they all think so, then I must be stupid!” Then the child begins to prove them right, because his logic is that it is not good to oppose what so many people say. What so many people believe must be right! And whenever any situation proves him stupid, he will say to himself, “This was bound to happen, because I am stupid, just as everybody says.”
Repeat any idea often enough, psychologists tell us, and eventually it will take root in the mind and affect your behavior accordingly. You have created your self-image out of all that society says about you. This identity of yours is borrowed, you are dependent on the views of others for this image. Only those who have discovered their own true identity, who have realized their own self, can be free of this pseudo-identity. Only one who knows himself can liberate himself from this borrowed self-image, and only in breaking the borrowed image can you know yourself.
This is why Mahavira and Buddha go to the forest - it is not that the forests attract them, but that they are repelled by you. It is not that the mountains are calling, it is you that are driving them there! The mountains are lovely because they do not judge them. No mountain will regard you as insane if you dance ecstatically. Trees are like saints; they do not think about you, they form no opinion about you. You are sitting, that’s fine; standing - perfectly okay; weeping, laughing - all okay! The tree accepts you as you are; the tree will not disturb your being in any way.
But man is very strange. Man cannot accept that there is any freedom of your being, that you have the right to be as you are. Man says, “I shall interfere, I am going to improve upon you.” Everybody is engaged in molding everybody else. The husband is busy molding the wife, the wife is busy shaping the husband, the father is shaping the children, the children are also shaping the father. Everyone’s eyes are like guards watching others. They are not just eyes but bayonets. And through them we are expressing our opinions, right or wrong. >From all sides come the condemnations and praises. Caught in this web, it is difficult to find the self.