What is the difference between accepting myself and loving myself?
There is great difference between the two. Accepting yourself is a much lower state of consciousness – better, of course, than rejecting yourself. It is a medicine; the disease is rejection. And anything medicinal has no permanent or ultimate value; its value is only in curing the disease. Once the disease is cured the medicine has to be thrown away.
The idea of accepting yourself arose because of all the religions for centuries teaching you not to accept yourself. They have created a certain conditioning in the mind which condemns you. It is the priest, the state, which have managed, by continuous repetition, to convince you that a few things are ugly in you: you have to hide them, repress them. And they also give you the idea what is good – which is not in you, which you have to learn and practice.
This point has to be noted: the bad is in you, born in you, part of your nature – obviously it has to be repressed, condemned, controlled, kept in order. The best thing is to destroy it completely. If it is not possible for you to destroy it, then at least don’t leave it uncontrolled; keep it in control. And the society respects the man most who has destroyed that bad part completely, burned it out.
Such people are called saints, sages, mahatmas.
Lower than them are those people who have not been able to destroy it completely, but have been successful in controlling the bad part. It is within boundaries. They have created a cage for it – it can go on roaming inside it, roaring inside it. It is troublesome to them but it brings tremendous respectability outside in the world.
These are the respectable citizens.
The most condemned are those who allow freedom to their natural parts which religions think are bad they go with them. These people are condemned as criminals by the law. And if they are not caught by the law then religions have provided a God who is all-observing for twenty-four hours a day.
He never sleeps for a single moment, never takes his eyes off you as if you are the only person in this whole infinite universe – and goes on noting in detail what you are doing; not only that, but what you are thinking, dreaming, fantasizing. And all this has to be accounted for one day; on the day of judgment, you will have to answer for it.
So those who are caught by the law, the law will punish, and those who are somehow not caught by law – and of course the law cannot catch you if you are thinking a bad thought, fantasizing something. Even if you are fantasizing a murder, it is not illegal, it is not a crime; the law cannot punish you. The law can punish you only when your thought becomes an action.