A man had come with his wife to meet me. The wife was already acquainted with me, and she had come to introduce her husband to me. At the time of the introduction she said that her husband had given one lakh rupees to charity. The husband interrupted, “No, no, it is one lakh and ten thousand.” It has been given away, but the pride of giving is accumulating. We count not only what we possess, we also count what we give away. The counting continues.
We even accumulate piety – we remember whatever good we have done. But it is strange that we choose not to remember when we do something bad. So a sinner has not much recollection of his evil deeds. Others might call him bad, but he says, “What, me?” But the so-called good man has the accumulation of his good deeds. Surprisingly enough it often happens that a sinner takes the leap to go within himself sooner than the so-called good man. That is because, in a way the sinner is empty inside; he is not keeping any account of what he has done because the account is not pleasant. Whatever he has done, he himself doesn’t like that he has done it, hence he keeps no account of it.
But a “good” man…he keeps an account of everything he has done. Perhaps he counts even that which he didn’t do; he inflates the account. Maybe several things are in his mind, but not in deed, but he counts even that. This accumulation is an obstruction.
It has happened so many times that even some Valmiki, some Angulimal – total criminals – attain to the truth within a moment. This is because the accumulation of good deeds is a bigger obstruction than crime. What can a criminal collect? He knows that he is nothing, has no standing – egolessness is possible. But with a “good” man there is too much ego.
The sage says that even sattva, the feeling of being “good,” is a disease. This is a very daring statement. No religion outside of India would say that even goodness is a disease. Evil has been called a disease, sin has been called a disease, but goodness has never been called a disease. Certainly no religion born outside of India has been able to transcend the limitations of a moral code, hence none could become religious in the real sense.
When the West became acquainted with Eastern wisdom for the first time they were amazed because these statements appeared to be irreligious, they were very anarchic statements. If you tell a man that the accumulation of good deeds is also a disease, then you are allowing him to go astray. But it was a misunderstanding. Those who could say that even the accumulation of good deeds is a disease, of course they are implying that the accumulation of evil deeds is an even greater disease. The disease is the accumulating, so accumulate religious merit and it becomes a disease. Of course evil deeds are a disease; there is no need to even mention it, it is obvious. It does not need to be discussed.
To tell someone that stealing is sin only shows that society is so unevolved that such things still have to be stated. But to have the conceit of not being a thief is also a sin. And this statement is possible when the society has gone beyond a certain limit where stealing is naturally understood as being a sin. Then there would be no need to talk about it!