I used to have a friend who was a kleptomaniac. He was not interested in stealing – he belonged to a rich family, there was no need for him to steal. And things like a button, a safety pin – absolutely absurd. And he had a box in his house which he always kept locked; nobody knew what was in it.
But feeling a deep friendship with me, he said, “I will show you one of my secrets. You come with me to my home.” I went. He locked the room, opened the box, and showed me all kinds of things. I found one of my fountain pens there, one of my notebooks which I had been missing, because it had all the telephone numbers around the country.
I said, “This is your secret?” He said, “Yes, I enjoy stealing so much. It does not matter what I steal, what matters is that I have stolen and have not been caught. I have deceived somebody and proved that I am more clever than they are.”
I said, “That is good. Is that the whole secret?” He said, “One thing more I have to confess to you. Since I have brought you here, and you are the first man to know that I enjoy stealing, the second thing I also want to say to you in order to get rid of it, because it is very embarrassing to me….”
I said, “What is that?” He said, “Sometimes I cannot find anything to steal from anybody; then I steal from my right pocket and put it in the left. I feel embarrassed to accept it, but this is the truth.” You see my point? He has become so accustomed to stealing from others, now without stealing he cannot feel at ease.
You say you are a hypocrite; you certainly are. And what is conscious to you, you are trying to put into the unconscious to get out of the responsibility for it. Now you are being a hypocrite to yourself.
I would like to tell you another story, very famous in the East. There was a great saint, Eknath. He was going on a pilgrimage to holy places. And in India it is difficult to find an unholy place; there are holy places all around. It takes years for somebody to travel to all the holy places.
Thirty of his disciples were going with him. They were all rich people, they could afford a ten, twelve years’ journey, the expenses and the dangers.
A new man who had never been to him, came to him and said, “Master, I am a poor man. I would also like to go on this pilgrimage you are going on. And when thirty people are going with you, when food is prepared for thirty, it can easily be managed for one poor man, a little food, a little clothing.”
Eknath said, “There is not much of a problem in it, you can come.” The man said, “The problem is that I am a thief, and I am afraid that I may let you down.” Eknath said, “That is difficult. Poverty is okay, we will take care of you, but who is going to take care of your stealing? You have to promise that you will not steal while we are on the pilgrimage. Only then can I accept you in the group.”