To seek respectability is a substitute, and a worthless substitute, a counterfeit. Only if respect comes through love is it meaningful. If it comes through any other way, then not only is it meaningless, it is poisonous.
That is how a man becomes political. Politics is a substitute for love. When somebody loves you they care about you, they make you feel worthwhile and significant. Whatsoever you are, howsoever you are, you are accepted. But if people miss love they start playing tricks. The trick is to manipulate others’ respect by doing something, having something – character, morality – something that people have to give respect to. But it is never fulfilling, and one can go on and on till you need a whole crowd.
You can become a president or a prime minister of a country where millions of people pay you attention. They have to because you are powerful, and you can manipulate and become dangerous. But even then, the love of one person is more valuable than the whole country looking up to you. One person’s love is enough because that is real value.
If you are given respect, it is never for you but for something else. For example, if you are a very good man, moral, the respect is for morality, not for you. If you are very rich, you are respected for your house and your car, not for you. You know too, deep down, that if the car disappears and the house is no longer yours, if you are defeated in the elections and are no longer prime minister, all the respect will disappear, because it was never for you in the first place. So you become afraid.
Respect is for something you have, not for you and what you are. Love is simply for you – whether you are rich or poor, capable of certain things or not, talented or not, it is simply for you. At least to one person you are not a stranger. Somebody has given you his or her total friendship and heart; that is fulfilling enough.
Respect is like when you are hungry and you go on reading a book on cooking. Your appetite will not be satisfied, because you need real food. You can have a thousand and one books on cooking, but that is not going to help. Love is food – and respect is a book on cooking.
Everybody has been conditioned, taught from the very childhood, to become respectable: to come first in the class, to win the gold medal in the university – to do something so that you become precious. It has been taught that only by doing something can you become precious – while you simply are! Whether you do something or not is secondary, irrelevant.
So if you have become aware of it, drop it immediately. It is a dangerous poison, so don’t allow it to remain in you a single moment. Accept yourself, because whenever you want respect from others, it simply shows that you don’t respect yourself. Otherwise what is the need?