But I still include the book because it is written beautifully. I am such a man, please note, let it be on record, that even if you lie beautifully I will appreciate it for its beauty. Not for its being a lie – who cares whether it is a lie or not! Its beauty makes it worth enjoying, appreciating.
Confessions is a masterpiece of lies. It is full of lies. But the man did his job almost perfectly. I say almost because there is always the possibility somebody may do the job even better. But he has done it almost ninety-nine percent perfectly; there is not much scope left for anyone else. Yes, after him many tried, even a great man like Leo Tolstoy. I talked about his books Resurrection and War and Peace. Throughout his whole life he was trying to write his own confessions; in that he could not succeed. Augustine seems to be unsurpassable even for a man like Tolstoy. But, Tolstoy, please don’t freak out; I am going to put you on my list.
Third: Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, a small but immensely beautiful novel. You must wonder why I should include a novel in my list. Just because I am crazy! I like all kinds of things. Anna Karenina is one of my most loved books. How many times I have read it I can’t remember. I mean the number of times – I remember the book perfectly well, I can relate the whole book.
Look! Ashu heaved a great sigh. She must have become worried: Now this madman is going to relate the whole of Anna Karenina! No, Ashu, don’t be worried, I am not going to. I have to do many other things. Perhaps sometime, but not now.
If I was drowning in the ocean and had to choose just one novel out of all the millions of novels in the world, I would choose Anna Karenina. It would be beautiful to be with that beautiful book. It has to be read and read again; only then you can feel it, smell it, and taste the flavor. It is no ordinary book.
Leo Tolstoy failed as a saint, just as Mahatma Gandhi failed as a saint, but Leo Tolstoy was a great novelist. Mahatma Gandhi succeeded as – and will remain forever – a pinnacle of sincerity. I don’t know of any other man in this century who was so sincere. When he wrote to people “sincerely yours” he was really sincere. When you write “sincerely yours,” you know, and everybody else knows, and the person to whom you are writing also knows, that it is all bullshit. It is very difficult, almost impossible, to really be “sincerely yours.” That’s what makes a person religious – sincerity.
Leo Tolstoy wanted to be religious but could not be. He tried hard. I feel great sympathy with his effort, but he was not a religious person. He has to wait at least a few more lives. In a way it is good that he was not a religious man like Muktananda; otherwise we would have missed Resurrection, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and dozens more beautiful, immensely beautiful books. Then he would have been another Swami Idiotananda, and nothing else.