Just the other day I was reading an article written by a bishop in The Times against me. He says: “Beware of this man.” He quotes me: “This man says, ‘Character is the concern of the stupid. The really intelligent people are only concerned with consciousness.’” He is quoting me to make people beware because this is a dangerous statement. He says: “Rather than publishing articles on this man, The Times should publish more articles on Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who teaches character. And character is the only thing, the real thing.”
Character is not the real thing at all. But the poor bishop has not been able to understand what I have been saying. He does not understand the consequences of consciousness. Character is a consequence of consciousness. If character comes out of your consciousness then it has a beauty of its own; if it is just imposed from the outside then it is ugly. But that’s what Christians are doing all over the world – and Hindus and Mohammedans; they are all in the same boat.
My whole concern is consciousness. I teach you how to be more conscious because I know one thing for certain: that if you are more conscious your character will change of its own accord. A conscious person lives in a totally different way: he is more compassionate. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is not compassionate – she behaves compassionately but is not compassionate. All her compassion is nothing but a means to reach to heaven. And to reduce compassion to a means is ugly; compassion is an end unto itself.
An ancient Taoist parable says:
A man fell into a well. He started shouting loudly, “Save me! I am drowning!”
A Buddhist monk passed by. He looked in the well and he said, “Be calm, be quiet, don’t be disturbed. Life is a flux. It comes, it goes. And remember what Gautam the Buddha has said: ‘It is all dream.’ Your drowning is a dream, my seeing is a dream. Don’t shout. And even if you are saved, what is the point? Sooner or later you will have to die, so why not now? Why postpone it? Die silently, peacefully, so that you are not born again. Get out of the wheel of birth and death!”
The man was aghast. He said, “What nonsense you are talking! You can sermonize later on. First take me out! This is no time to teach me great philosophy.”
But the Buddhist said, “I cannot be distracted by things. The Buddha has said: ‘Walk on undistracted.’ Goodbye.” And he walked on, undistracted!
Then a Confucian monk looked in the well, and the man said, “Now please save me. Don’t waste time!”
And the Confucian monk said, “Do you know what the master has said? Confucius has said that each well should have a protective wall around it. Don’t be worried. I will create a great movement all over the country so that no well is unprotected like this.”
The man said, “But that is not going to save me!”
The Confucian monk said, “It is not a question of individuals. The master says the question is always of the society, the question is of the future. Think of the future and think of the society. Don’t be so selfish!”