If only this was the case you would have jumped off the ladder and you would have told those people on the ladder to go wherever they want to go. But you cannot jump because there are people below you; as far as you can see there are rungs below you and rungs below them. That gives a great satisfaction, a great feeling that you have passed so many people; you are not absolutely useless. You have proved that you have some strength of will and you are not a failure; these people under you are enough to prove it.
You are now in a dilemma:
Whenever you look upwards, a great misery descends on you; whenever you look downwards, a great satisfaction.
Now, how can you jump off the ladder? – because in jumping off it, you will be jumping from both, and nobody will be below you. Nobody will be above you, certainly, but nobody will be below you; and you will be left alone if you jump off.
Here on the ladder you are with everybody else, part of the society, culture, civilization – and it is only a question of a little more effort. And people go on telling you, “Bravo, go on! Don’t be depressed, don’t be pessimistic, remain optimistic. The night is not going to last forever.” They go on saying to you, “When the night is darkest, the morning is the closest, so don’t be afraid of the darkness, of failure.” They will give you a thousand and one examples.
In my middle school I heard for the first time about a Mohammedan conqueror of India, Mahmud Gaznavi. He attacked India nineteen times and he was defeated eighteen times. When he was defeated the eighteenth time he was hiding in a cave, and he saw a spider trying to weave its net in the front of the cave. He was just hiding there with nothing to do, so he started looking at the spider and its efforts. It was raining, and the stones were very slippery. The spider went on falling; coincidentally he fell eighteen times but he succeeded on the nineteenth.
Mahmud suddenly became optimistic. He had been thinking to stop this foolish effort. Eighteen times…his whole life he has wasted, thousands of people have been killed to no purpose. He had been defeated again and again by a single man, Prithviraj Chauhan – who was on the border of India; he was the ruler of the frontier of India. Mahmud was never able to enter the country because just on the border he was defeated, and by a single man. It was really too much – he was thinking to commit suicide, because “I am no longer able to show my face to my people.”
Mahmud was the king of his own kingdom, there was no need to invade India. But nothing satisfies, nothing is enough; it is always less than you want, and there is always much more that is available. He had a small kingdom, and just by its side was this vast country, India. It was immensely rich at that time – it was called the Golden Bird in those days – because the population was very small, only twenty million people. Now there are more than seven hundred million people. That was at the last count; right now there must be nearabout eight hundred million.
It is estimated that by the end of this century there will be one thousand million people; it will be the biggest country in the world. China will be left behind because China is controlling its birthrate very carefully. Right now the population is ahead of India, but by the end of the century it is going to be left behind. At least in one thing India will be the Olympic winner.