The first question:
Jesus taught his followers to love thy neighbor as thyself. Could you give us your views on caring, compassion and service to the community?
Jesus’ statement is tremendously significant but has been totally missed by his followers. Let me repeat it. Jesus says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” The fundamental question is whether you love yourself or not. You can love the neighbor only if you love yourself.
Christianity has been teaching you to love the neighbor, and the fundamental has been completely forgotten – not only forgotten, but just the opposite has been done. People are taught to condemn themselves: how can they love themselves? They are taught that they are sinners. How can you love yourself if you feel you are a sinner?
Christianity creates guilt in people, tremendous guilt. And if you are guilty you cannot love yourself; you will hate yourself, you would like to destroy yourself. That’s what the so-called Christian saints have been doing down the ages – destroying themselves. Out of guilt, only destruction can arise; out of guilt, only suicide. And they go on teaching, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” You have never loved yourself: it is impossible to love thy neighbor.
Hence I don’t say love thy neighbor as thyself. My teaching is simple: Love thyself. And my experience is this, that if you become capable of loving yourself, love for the neighbor will come of its own accord; it does not have to be brought, it does not have to be practiced. All practiced love creates hypocrisy.
So I completely drop the second part of the statement. Forget about the neighbor, simply love thyself. And you will be surprised: the day you bloom, you flower, the fragrance is bound to reach the neighbor. Where else will it go? When you are full of love for yourself, love starts overflowing. It reaches the neighbor; it reaches the farthest star.
And that happens of its own accord. You need not think about it, you need not create it. It is none of your concern. Just love yourself, be friendly to yourself, and you will be surprised: the man who loves himself cannot hate anybody.
It is reported of a great mystic woman, Rabiya al-Adabiya, that when she was reading the Koran she came across a statement that said, “Hate Satan.” She immediately crossed it out.
Another Sufi mystic, Hassan, was present, he saw it being done. He could not believe his eyes – is Rabiya correcting the Koran? Dropping a statement from the Koran? This is sacrilegious! He said, “What are you doing, Rabiya? Have you really gone mad? This cannot be done; the Koran cannot be corrected.”