The whole audience stood up. For two minutes there was tremendous clapping. He had not even started saying anything; he had only addressed them. It was miraculous. People immediately felt that “Ladies and Gentlemen” is not the truth. And there comes a man who calls you, “My brothers, my sisters of America.” Immediately there is a tremendous connection with the man. Something transpires immediately, and thousands of people are aflame. It was difficult for the chairman to persuade people to stop clapping and sit down and listen to the man; this was only the beginning.
But I cannot even call you my brothers and my sisters. To call any woman sister is humiliating her. She could be my beloved; the moment I call her sister, I have created a wall between her and me. Just think, visualize a woman who is addressed by everybody as sister. She will commit suicide.
This commune is not for brothers and sisters. It is not a family, it is a freedom. Here, people are lovers. And who knows? – the woman you are addressing as sister today, tomorrow will be making love to you. Then there will be great guilt inside.
And why should you be addressed as brothers? It has deep implications you may not be aware of. Men are called brothers because god is the father – naturally all men are brothers. I don’t have any god to offer to you; the father is a fiction. And when the father disappears you cannot be brothers, you can only be lovers. You can be friends but not brothers.
And to me, friendship, friendliness, is the highest fragrance of love. That’s why I don’t address you.
Moreover I am not a messiah, not a prophet. You are not to think of yourselves as my followers – because I am nobody’s leader. We are all fellow travelers, seeking, searching, inquiring. Nobody is higher and nobody is lower.
I start my talks without addressing you because these are not gospels, or sermons, or lectures. I simply love to gossip, and in gossips you don’t address anyone. I enjoy talking to you, you enjoy listening to me. There is a synchronicity.
Without you, who am I?
Without me, who are you?
There is no separation. We cannot exist separately, we are an organic whole.
And my talks are just friendly talks, the way you talk with your friends. Do you address them first, “Ladies and Gentlemen”? There is no need. That creates a distance, a formality. You simply talk. You open your heart. And remember, the talker is not higher than the listener. They are two polarities of one phenomenon. They are absolutely equal, because neither of them can exist separate from the other. So if I address anyone, I will be addressing myself. That looks a little silly.
And one point more: I don’t like the word gentleman and the word lady. These are plastic. There are men and there are women – and I want my people to be just that, your natural selves.