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Chapter 1: Zen: The Koan of Life

Mohammedanism has developed one characteristic of the mind. Each mind is fanatic: you want to be right and the other to be wrong; you are always right and the other is always wrong. It is not a question of what you are right about - because it is you who believe in it, it has to be right. The fanatic is not logical, he is illogical. The fanatic is not ready to understand, he is a believer and his belief is absolute. He is not open, he is closed. And this is the characteristic of all minds.

The Jaina is a sadomasochist. And every mind is a sadomasochist. One enjoys torturing the body because the mind feels powerful. When you torture your body you enjoy that torture because your mind starts thinking, “Now I am the master and the body is the slave.” That’s what Jainism has been teaching: master your body. If the body asks for food, don’t give it. You are the master, you have to assert your mastery. So fasting became one of the most significant things in Jainism. And the people who can fast for many days are thought to be great saints. They are simply torturing their bodies - they are mentally ill. When the body needs food, food has to be given to the body; the body is a temple - it has to be loved, respected. But Jainism has developed that characteristic to its omega point.

It exists in everybody. You also enjoy torturing your body in many ways, and you feel good when you succeed in torturing it. When you can force your body like a slave, like a machine, certainly the idea of power arises in you that “I am powerful.” When you cannot force it you feel very dull.

For example, if you want to stop smoking. It may be harmful to smoke, but you are enjoying it. It must be helping you in some way. It may be relaxing you in some way, it may be taking your mind away from your constant occupations, your worries, your anxieties. People smoke only when they are very tense. When they are not tense they don’t tend to smoke. When they are tense they smoke. If you don’t smoke your tension goes on accumulating, which is far more dangerous than smoking.

Smoking is just stupid, not dangerous. Maybe you will live one or two years less - so what? What are you going to do even if you live two, three years longer? If you have not done anything in seventy years, what are you hoping to do in those extra two years? You will go on doing the same nonsense, you will be living the same misery. So that is not the point. Whether you are healthy or unhealthy - a little bit unhealthy - does not matter much. In fact, it may prevent you from doing nuisance things.

Just think, if Adolf Hitler had been a cripple or had amoebas or was continuously getting hepatitis, the world would have been saved. In fact, Adolf Hitler was against smoking, against alcohol. He was a pure vegetarian like Mahatma Gandhi.

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