Chapter 5: Just to Relax on the River
But Diogenes must have been a more courageous man than Mahavira. He lived in Greece absolutely naked. All his possessions consisted only of one ordinary old-style lamp that he carried twenty-four hours, lighted, even in full daylight. Whenever he would meet anybody he would bring his lamp close to the person’s face.and you could see the disappointment, the frustration on his face. People would ask, “What are you trying to find?”
He said, “I am simply trying to find an authentic man, a simple man, a sincere man - a man without a mask, just natural, as if he has been born just now.”
The day Diogenes died, people gathered, and they asked, “For your whole life, your search has been only one. Did you succeed in finding a natural, simple, innocent man?”
Diogenes said, “Don’t ask such depressing questions. All that I can say about men is that they have not stolen my lamp yet.”
There were many stories about the man. Alexander stopped his army and said, “I would like to see him.”
The first question that Diogenes asked Alexander is the first question every intelligent person has to ask himself.
Diogenes did not waste a single moment. He said, “Alexander, you are trying to conquer the whole world. What about you? Will there be time enough after you have conquered the world to know yourself? Are you certain about tomorrow, or the next moment?”
Alexander had never faced such a man. He had conquered great kings, emperors, but he could see that Diogenes is a lion of a man. With downcast eyes, Alexander said, “I cannot say that I am certain about the next moment. But one thing I can promise to you, that when I have conquered the world I would love to rest and relax just like you.”
Diogenes was having a morning sunbath by the side of a river, surrounded by beautiful trees. He laughed.sometimes I think his laughter must be still echoing.
People like Diogenes belong to eternity. Their signatures are not made on water.
Alexander felt offended and asked, “Why are you laughing?”
Diogenes said, “It is so simple! If I can rest and relax without conquering the world, what is preventing you? The river is big enough and I have no objection. You can take any place you want - even if you want my place, I can change. Rest now if you ever want to rest. Relax now. Now - or remember, never.”
What Diogenes was saying was absolute truth, but to a man who is on an ego trip it was too obvious, too simple. Just to relax on the river bank does not give any nourishment to the ego. What have you conquered? What is your achievement?
People measure their own lives according to their successes, according to their money, according to their power. There is no way to measure your success if you simply settle with the obvious and the simple. The obvious is nothing but a graveyard for your ego.