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Chapter 23: The Only Way to Fail Me Is Not to Be Yourself

For example, I would like to say something about Mahatma Gandhi. It was an everyday affair in his ashram that some disciple failed him, because what he was asking of those poor people was so unnatural, so devoid of any reason and sense, that unless they were absolute idiots they were going to fail him. That was the only way to save themselves, otherwise they would be destroyed by him. In Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram you could not drink tea. That was enough to fail him. Now, tea is such an innocent thing. Buddhist monks have used it for thousands of years as a help to meditation because it keeps you alert, awake. When you are feeling sleepy, just a cup of tea brings you a little awareness.

The story is that Bodhidharma was determined to remain awake for twenty-four hours. But the body is the body, the eyelids get tired, and when they get tired the eyes close. He became so angry that he cut off his eyelids and threw them in the grass. Then his eyes could not be closed. It is a symbolic story. It did not happen, it cannot happen - because I know Bodhidharma perfectly well.. He is the last person to do such a thing. But the story is significant, although it is just a story: those eyelids grew into a plant that became the tea plant. And because those were the eyelids of a man like Bodhidharma, the tea still carries the quality of awareness. That is the significance of the story.

In every Buddhist monastery, the first thing is the tea. But in Gandhi’s ashram, if somebody was caught drinking tea it was a great sin: he has failed the master. And the master was a sado-masochist. All disciplinarians, whether they are mahatmas, sages, rabbis, saints, principals, teachers, headmasters - all disciplinarians are, deep down, dictatorial.

Discipline is a beautiful name for an ugly thing: dictatorship. But you cannot revolt against a disciplinarian. You can revolt against a dictator. You can revolt against Stalin, you can revolt against Mussolini, but you cannot revolt against Mahatma Gandhi, and there is the danger.

Why can’t you revolt against Mahatma Gandhi? - because before he disciplines you, he tortures himself. He is a sado-masochist. Before he tortures you, he tortures himself more than he is asking you to. You cannot revolt. This man is not simply torturing you like Joseph Stalin. He has tortured himself, he has disciplined himself, far deeper than he is asking you. How can you revolt against him? You cannot find any excuse.

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