Can you talk about responsibility and what it means for us? I feel its importance more and more, but I am also confused about it. Am I avoiding something?
The problem of responsibility is one of the most fundamental issues. But before we can go into it, a few words will have to be understood rightly. The so-called religions have prostituted language as much as they could. In fact they are responsible for all kinds of prostitution in the world – they have not left even language alone.
Responsibility in itself is a beautiful word of tremendous grace, significance, but in passing through the hands of the religious people it has become almost ugly, disgusting. First, the natural meaning of the word: it comes from response. To understand response you have to understand reaction.
Somebody insults you; that is his action. You get irritated, annoyed, angry; that is reaction. You are not acting on your own – the other has pushed your button. He is the master, you are behaving like a slave.
Let me tell you one story, but don’t let me drift…because stories are dangerous, intriguing. And when I start a story I have something in my mind, and by the time I end the story I have forgotten why I had started it. So I have to start again from something, where the story ends. But this story is not like that.
It is reported that Gautam the Buddha was passing by the side of a village. The village was populated by anti-Buddhists; so much so that although Buddha had just bypassed them – he had not even entered the village for the simple reason that he did not want to create any unnecessary scene there – those idiots were not going to leave him so easily.
They came rushing out of the village behind him surrounded him and started abusing him in every possible way, using language which one should not use against another human being – what to say of a man like Gautam the Buddha. The followers of Buddha really became angry. They were ready to hit back, but in front of Gautam the Buddha it was impossible for them to take any action before he said something. And what he said puzzled everybody, shocked everybody.
He turned to his disciples and said, “You have disappointed me. Those people are doing their thing. They are angry. They think that I am an enemy of their religion, of their moral values – naturally they are angry. And I am listening to them; they are abusing me, not abusing you. Why are you getting angry? Although you are controlling yourself, that does not make any difference. You have allowed those people to manipulate you. Are you their slaves?”