Everybody thinks like this and in this way that which is wrong goes on being worshipped. Fallacies go on being respected, unnaturalnesses are revered, and we get caught in the net. If somebody practices fasting, he receives our respect – as if dying from hunger has anything to do with spirituality. If that were so, all the starving people of the world would be spiritual. But someone becomes spiritual neither by starving himself nor through excessive eating. A balance, an equilibrium, is needed in life. Life is like walking on a razor’s edge – even the slightest movement this way or that, and you are in trouble!
The key for becoming healthy is right balance – an awareness that nothing in life gets taken to extremes. Extremity is sickness. But go and look at the writings of all the religions, try to understand the history of all the religions, and you will find that extremity is revered everywhere. A person who is ordinary, simple – nobody bothers about him. There is no respect for ordinariness. In this world, there is worship for the extraordinary, respect for the extraordinary. And in order to be extraordinary, it is necessary to go to extremes.
This humanity that you are seeing as insane, and this terrorism that is overshadowing the whole world, is the result of centuries of extremity. A man stands naked under the hot sun or in the cold, and you give respect to him. In the deserts of Arabia where the sun blazes like fire and the sand burns like fire, there, in that terrifying heat, the Sufis keep themselves covered in woolen blankets. They get respect. You may be surprised to know that the very word Sufi has come out of the root suf, wool. Suf means wool; he who keeps himself covered in woolen blanket is a Sufi.
And this is very interesting: when you worship madness, you are giving an indication that you yourself would like to live that madness too. It is another matter that today you yourself are helpless, it is another matter that today you do not have so much courage, it is another matter that today the circumstances are not in your favor. So never mind – tomorrow, in your next life! But your reverence indicates the direction of your life and your inner desire.
A simple man, an ordinary man in whose life there are no extremes will not even be noticed by you. Your eyes will miss him – and he is the healthy one. He will be in bliss, in peace, carefree – but not respected.
I will say it another way: we have to change our values around giving respect. We have given too much respect to egoists. And the ways of the ego are very subtle, and there is no bigger disease than the ego. But we feed our own children with this poison from their very childhood – although what we do is out of love, there is nothing wrong in our intentions. I do not suspect your intentions, but we feed them poison unknowingly.
Every father wants his son to be top of the class, top of the university, become famous all over the country; receive national honors such as Padmabhooshan, Bharat Ratna; become a Nobel Prize winner. But nobody thinks that in the family, in school, in the neighborhood, all around, respect is given to the egoist – someone who is in front. Then this race, this fever to be in front catches hold of a person so badly that the man goes on racing his whole life: “I have to be ahead of everyone.” And the crowd is so tremendous, that no matter where you may be, someone is always ahead of you. It hurts you and it saddens your heart.