“But,” the prime minister said, “How is this going to help anybody?”
The king said, “I have heard: it is one of the ancient pillars of wisdom, so let us try it. After everybody has gone mad, after we have gone mad, whenever I look at your forehead I will remember that I am mad. And whenever you look at my forehead, remember that you are mad.”
The prime minister was still puzzled; he said, “But what will it do?”
The king said, “I have heard from wise men that if you can remember that you are mad, you are mad no longer.”
A madman cannot remember that he is mad. An ignorant man cannot remember that he is ignorant. A man who is in a dream cannot remember that he is dreaming. If, in your dreams, you become alert and know that you are dreaming, the dream has stopped, you are fully awake. If you can understand that you are ignorant, ignorance drops. Ignorant people go on believing that they are wise, and mad people think that they are the only really sane ones. When someone becomes really wise, he becomes so by recognizing his ignorance. So the king said, “This we are going to do.”
I don’t know what happened, the story ends here, but the story is meaningful.
Only alertness can help when the whole world is mad, nothing else. Keeping yourself outside, going to the Himalayas, will not be of much help. When everyone is mad, you are going to be mad, because you are part and parcel of everybody; it is a totality, an organic totality.
How can you separate yourself? How can you go to the Himalayas? Deep down you remain part of the whole. Even living in the Himalayas you will remember your friends. They will knock in your dreams, you will think of them, you will wonder what they are thinking of you – you go on being related.
You cannot go out of the world. There is no place outside the world, the world is one continent. Nobody can be an island – even islands are joined with the continent deep down. You can just think superficially that you are separate, but nobody can be separate.
The king was really wise. He said, “It is not going to help. I am not going to be an outsider, I will be an insider, and this is what I will do. I will try to remember that I am mad, because when you forget that you are mad, then you are really mad. This is what is to be done.”
Wherever you are, remember yourself, that you are; this consciousness that you are should become a continuity. Not your name, your caste, your nationality, those are futile things, absolutely useless. Just remember that I am; this must not be forgotten. This is what Hindus call self-remembrance, what the Buddha called right-mindfulness, what Gurdjieff used to call self-remembering, what Krishnamurti calls awareness.