So the mind only becomes properly active by the age of four or five. Then it goes on becoming increasingly skillful. An old man has an old mind. We forgive children when they make mistakes. We say, “They are only children.” Why? We are saying, “The poor things don’t yet have a mind. They are still children. Their minds are not yet developed and conditioned to that extent. It will take a while; at this point they can be forgiven.” We also forgive a mad person, because he is mad. When a drunkard causes trouble we forgive him too, because he is drunk. Why do we do this? When he is drunk, it means his mind is unconscious. Right now, the mechanism that keeps control is unconscious, so he is like a child.
Once a drunkard abused Akbar. Akbar used to go out riding an elephant. The drunkard climbed onto the roof of his house and showered abuse on the emperor to his heart’s content. Akbar was amazed to see this weak, scrawny man talking so courageously. He had the man caught and brought to the court. After being locked up all night, the man was summoned in the morning and asked why he had been so abusive.
He fell at the feet of the emperor and said, “I didn’t abuse you. It wasn’t me who abused you.”
Akbar said, “Are you calling me a liar? I saw you with my own eyes. There is no need for any other witness. It was you. You abused me.”
The man replied, “I didn’t say that I wasn’t that person. I was drunk. It was the alcohol which abused you. Please forgive me. It wasn’t my fault. If there is any fault, it was that I drank alcohol. Punish me for that, but not for abusing you.”
The man’s words appealed to Akbar. What is the point of punishing a drunk? He should be forgiven. A mad person can be forgiven. If a mad person kills someone and it can be proved in a court of law that he is mad, then that is the end of the matter – because how can you expect someone who doesn’t have a mind to act in a responsible way? So a child, a mad person and a drunk can all be forgiven because either they don’t have a mind, or the mind is suspended, or it has become unconscious for the time, or it is deformed.
The entire human civilization and culture is based on the mind. Mind is the basis of our humanity. Understand this. Animals don’t have a mind and enlightened ones don’t have a mind. There is some similarity between the two – some. There is a great difference, but also some similarity. The enlightened ones have gone beyond the mind and the animals don’t yet have a mind. The enlightened ones are like children. The mind has not yet been born in a child and the enlightened one has put his mind aside. This is a great revolution – to put the mind aside – because if your goodness has its roots in your mind, what kind of goodness will that be? It will disappear the moment you drink a little alcohol. If your virtue has its roots in your mind, it cannot be very deep. Real virtue has to be natural. That is the difference between a so-called virtuous person and an enlightened mystic. A virtuous person is one who is good through constant effort. An enlightened mystic is good without any effort, naturally. A virtuous person can turn into a bad person, an enlightened one can never become evil – there is no way. But at a certain point, a virtuous person can turn into a bad person.