Chapter 29: Positive Thinking: Philosophy for Phonies
First, the philosophy of positive thinking means being untruthful, it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others. Positive thinking is the only bullshit philosophy that America has contributed to human thought - nothing else. Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and the Christian priest, Vincent Peale - all these people have filled the whole American mind with this absolutely absurd idea of a positive philosophy. And it appeals particularly to mediocre minds.
Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has been sold in numbers just next to the Christian Bible. No other book has been able to reach that popularity. The Christian Bible should not be a competitor in fact, because it is more or less given free, forced on people. But Dale Carnegie’s book people have been purchasing; it has not been given to you free. And it has created a certain kind of ideology which has given birth to many books of a similar kind. But to me it is nauseating.
The very idea that you want to influence people is the idea of a salesman, and that’s what Dale Carnegie was - salesman turned philosopher. It has happened many times. Just recently Werner Erhard, the founder of EST. He was a salesman of encyclopedias, dictionaries, but in trying to sell encyclopedias and dictionaries he became aware of salesmanship. Then why bother about encyclopedias? Why not sell ideas directly? - which are a more invisible commodity.
People can’t see it and yet they go on purchasing it. And once you have paid two hundred and fifty dollars for a certain idea which you can’t see, you have to pretend that you have got it; otherwise people will think you are a fool. Two hundred and fifty dollars, and you have not “got it”.? It is very simple.
In the East there is an old story.
A king caught his prime minister fooling around with his wife. Naturally he was mad. In those days, this was a common punishment: he cut off the nose of the prime minister. And the nose was cut off only when somebody was caught fooling around with somebody else’s wife, so that became a signboard. Wherever you went, your missing nose went ahead of you as a declaration.
But the man was a politician, he was a prime minister. He simply escaped from his kingdom to another kingdom and entered the other kingdom as a saint. Now, nobody can doubt a saint. The nose was certainly missing, but to doubt a saint is to commit a sin. But some curious people asked him, “What happened to your nose?”
And the saint smiled; he said, “That’s a secret. It is a certain technique to attain to the ultimate truth. But you have to lose your nose: the nose represents the ego.” He is on the right lines: he is creating a philosophy - people’s egos are written on their noses. The crowd thought that what he was saying was significant. The nose represents the ego, and the ego is the only barrier between God and man. There must be some technique that if you remove the nose, the ego is removed and you meet the ultimate truth, you realize it.