This is a strange phenomenon: the people who have become an inspiration for millions of other people were themselves never inspired by anybody – but nobody takes note of this fact. Gautam Buddha was never inspired by anybody, and that’s what made him a great source of inspiration. Socrates was not inspired by anybody, but that’s what makes him so unique.
All these people whom you think of as sources of inspiration have never been inspired by anybody else. That is something very fundamental to be understood. Yes, they learned; they tried to understand all kinds of people. They loved unique individuals, but nobody was to be followed. They still tried to be themselves.
So please don’t be inspired by me; otherwise you will never become a source of inspiration. You will be just a carbon copy, you won’t have your authentic, original face. You will be a hypocrite: you will say one thing – you will do another. You will show your face in different situations with different masks, and slowly, slowly you will forget which one is your real face; so many masks….
I have heard about a man:
One hundred years had passed since Abraham Lincoln was shot dead, so for one year a great celebration was arranged in his honor all over America. One man looked like Abraham Lincoln; just a few touches here and there and he was almost a photographic copy of Abraham Lincoln.
He was trained to speak the way Abraham Lincoln used to speak, with his gestures, his emphasis, his accent, everything – small details, even the way he walked – for twenty-four hours a day. He was to perform this drama of the life of Abraham Lincoln all over the country, moving from one place to another place the whole year.
He was shot dead many times, every night in every show, sometimes even twice a day. That year was a long year – he died so many times – and his part in the drama became almost his second nature.
So when the celebrations were finished, people were surprised: he walked out of the hall the same way Abraham Lincoln used to walk – he used to limp a little. He was limping. His wife said, “Come to your senses!”
He spoke in the same way, in an accent one hundred years old. His wife said, “Don’t stretch the joke too much. Just become your real self and come home.”
He said, “I am my real self, I am Abraham Lincoln.” For one year continuously he had lived as Abraham Lincoln, he died thousands of deaths as Abraham Lincoln; he slept, he dreamt as Abraham Lincoln; he had completely forgotten that he was ever anybody else.
He was brought to a doctor. The doctor talked to him, but he was still in his dramatic role. The doctor said, “Just forget that drama.”
The man said, “What drama?”
The doctor turned to the wife and said to her, “This man won’t listen unless he is shot dead!”