And it is not just this one time, but a thousand times; it is not only in this life, but in thousands of lives, that you have been doing the same thing. For how long will you go on doing the same things? One may err once – that is forgivable – but the second time it becomes unforgivable. And yet we are making the same mistakes thousands of times. Now, the only thing we know is how to commit mistakes. Now, the only thing we know is how to keep going round and round in that circle of mistakes – and so many mistakes, and such a crowd of mistakes that what gets lost in it was actually your real being.
From the day I recognized myself I have not come across any change within me. Everything has changed, every day it will go on changing, but someone deep within, standing quietly – in health, in sickness, in success, in failure – is exactly the same.
I came to experience many things in the American jails that perhaps would never have happened outside, because I was dragged around through five jails without any reason, without any crime. But perhaps I am wrong: what I don’t consider to be criminal, they do. Thinking is a crime, to be peaceful is a crime, to be silent is a crime, meditation is crime. Truth, is perhaps, the greatest sin in this world. For this alone they were punishing me. But their difficulty was – and every jailer told me this at the time of my leaving their prison – “Thousands of prisoners have passed through my jail, but the one thing about you that gives me sleepless nights is that we are trying to harass you and you are enjoying the whole thing!”
I would say to them, “It is beyond your understanding, because the one you are harassing is not me. I am the one that is enjoying the whole thing.”
And when the journalists outside the jails would ask me, “How are you?” and I would reply, “I am exactly the same as ever before.” It would be beyond the wits of an American journalist. He would say, “Don’t you don’t feel any difference between being in jail and being out of jail?”
I would say, “There is tremendous difference between being inside the jail and outside the jail, but you have asked something else. You have asked about me – not about the jail. Inside the jail or outside the jail – I am the same. The inside of the jail is different, the outside of the jail is different; I am the same even in my handcuffs, and I will be the same when I am free of the handcuffs. How can handcuffs change me or the prison walls change me?”
At the time of leaving the last prison, the head of that prison said to me, “This is the most unique experience of my whole life. I have seen people happy before coming into the jail, but I had never seen anyone still happy by the time they were leaving the jail. You are leaving the same as you came in. What is the secret?”