In my childhood – because from there I can speak to you more authoritatively, I don’t know your childhood, I know only my childhood – it was an everyday question. I was continually asked to be truthful. And I said to my father, “Whenever you say to me to be truthful, you have to remember one thing, that truth has to be rewarded; otherwise you are forcing me not to be truthful. I am willing.”
Very easily I figured out that truth does not pay – you are punished. Lies pay – you are rewarded. Now it was a question of very decisive, very great importance. So I made it clear to my parents that it had to be understood clearly: “If you want me to be truthful then truth has to be rewarded, and not in a future life but here and now, because I am being truthful here and now. And if truth is not rewarded, if I am punished for it, then you are forcing me to lie. So let this be clearly understood; then there is no problem for me, I will always be truthful.”
I don’t think that every child tries to figure it out and makes a clear-cut contract with the parents. But this became a contract with my father. Howsoever the truth was against him, his morality, his family, his society, his respect, that did not matter, what mattered was that I was true. And for that I needed immediate reward, “Otherwise next time you know I will say what you want to hear – but remember, it will be a lie.”
The day I said this to my father for the first time, he said, “Let me think it over, because you seem to be tricky. You are putting me into a subtle net. You do some mischief and are truthful, and I will have to reward you for your mischief”
I said, “It is your business to decide whether you want me to be truthful or not. Anyway, I am going to do what I want to do. The mischief would have happened anyway. It has happened, only afterwards the question arises to be true or to be untrue. So why bring mischief into it? It has already happened. Now nothing can be done about it. You cannot undo it.
“What can be done is: you can force me to lie, and I can lie. And I can lie with such a face that you will think I am absolutely truthful. I will learn. If that is the way, then let it be the way, but remember, you have been responsible for distracting me from truth because you were rewarding lies and punishing the truth. You can think it over. I am not in a hurry. You are asking me.”
What had happened was that, living two or three blocks away from my family was a brahmin family, very orthodox brahmins. Brahmins cut all their hair and leave just a small part over the seventh chakra on the head uncut, so that part goes on growing. They go on tying it up and keeping it inside their cap or inside their turban. And what I had done was, I had cut the father’s hair. In summertime in India, people sleep outside the house, on the street. They bring their beds, cots, on the streets. The whole town sleeps on the streets in the night; it is so hot inside.