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“If Somebody Insults You, Hurts You, Don’t React Immediately”

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Don’t be bothered and don’t be concerned about others. You have to wake up. And waking up is such a simple thing — just the way you wake up in the morning. Have you ever observed… do you do some gymnastics, some exercises, some chanting? You simply wake up! The night is over and you open your eyes and jump out of the bed. Spiritual awakening is not different from that. Once you understand that you are spiritually asleep…. and that is the problem. People don’t think they are spiritually asleep, that’s why they go on sleeping. Once you understand you are spiritually asleep, then waking is a very simple matter.

The hardest thing is to accept that deep in your being there is asleep, an unconsciousness. Whatever meditations are being done here are just to shake you, to bring you to a point where the sleeping consciousness cannot sleep anymore; it has to wake up. It is only a question of simple understanding: You can wake up right now! This silence is enough.

Brigitte lay in bed on the first night of their honeymoon while Pat sat fully clothed on an armchair in the bedroom. “Why don’t you come to bed?” Brigitte asked him. “My mother told me that this would be the most exciting night of my life,” said Pat, “and I don’t want to miss any of it by going to sleep!” It is very easy to misunderstand. It is also very easy to understand. It all depends on you.

Are you ready to wake up? Then nothing can prevent you, and no technique is needed. But if you are not ready to wake up, then no technique can help you. You have to see your life as the life of a somnambulist who is sleep-walking, doing things asleep… fighting, saying the same things which he has said before and has always brought anger, irritation, in other people. It is a question of watching your life. Is it the life of a man who is awake? Can a man who is awake behave the way the world is behaving?

You have been angry, you have been sorry for it thousands of times, and it has still not become clear to you that again you will be angry and again you will be sorry. What you are doing, it cannot be said that you are doing it fully awake. Your whole life is more like a robot; you are just going through mechanical actions. You suffer, and you decide to change, but when the time to change comes, you forget it completely.

It was simple advice. The advice was that “If somebody insults you, humiliates you, hurts you, you are not to react immediately. You have to say to that person, “You will have to wait twenty-four hours, and then I will come to answer you. This is something sacred to me; I have given a promise to my dying father. So wait twenty-four hours and then go to the person. In those twenty-four hours, you will see that he was right, or you may see that he was not right, but it is absolutely stupid to get into a quarrel. Those twenty-four hours will have given you a chance to be more alert. People react immediately — there is not time enough to be aware. They react just like machines. So if you find that he was right, go and thank him. If you find he was wrong, there is no need to go; or if you want to go, you can go and say `You seem to be in a misunderstanding.'”

And Gurdjieff used to say, later in his life, “That simple advice of my dying father has transformed my whole life because it gave me a certain awareness, a certain awakening. I could not do anything immediately, instantly. I had to wait for twenty-four hours. And you cannot remain angry for twenty-four hours.” A man who is awake behaves in a totally different way from the whole of humanity, which is fast asleep.

One of my friends, who was a colleague in the same university where I was a teacher, said to me “I have been trying to drop my smoking, for almost twenty years.” I said, “That is too long a time to drop a cigarette; just give me a cigarette and I can drop it right now.” He said, “Don’t make a laughing stock of me. I have worked hard to drop it, and sometimes for a few hours, or sometimes even for a few days, I manage not to smoke. But finally, I have to give way. And now I have even dropped fighting; it is meaningless — twenty years fighting.”

I said, “You don’t understand the simple laws of life. You are a man fast asleep, and in sleep, you cannot make any decisions, any commitments. My suggestion is that you do one thing: you smoke more consciously.” He said, “What — smoke? I want to drop it.” I said, “Just listen to what I am saying, you smoke more consciously. Take the packet from your pocket very slowly and consciously. Pull the cigarette out very slowly — there is no hurry. Look at the cigarette from all sides, put it in your mouth, wait. There is no hurry. Go very slow-motion, just as if a film is going in slow motion. He said, “What is that going to do?” I said, “That we will see later on… then take your lighter, look at it.” He said, “You are making me a fool — what is that going to do?”

I said, “You just… Twenty years you have done it your way; twenty days you do it my way. Look at the lighter, then light the cigarette, then smoke as slowly as possible. And be watchful that the smoke is going in, then the smoke is going out. That is the oldest meditation, vipassana. Gautam Buddha may never have thought that it will be used with a cigarette and a cigarette lighter — but I have to manage for him.

He would not do Vipassana, but this… He said, “Okay, I will try it, twenty days it is not much.” But the second day he came to me and said, “This is strange. Doing things so slowly makes me so alert; smoking, and watching the smoke going in and the smoke going out makes me so silent that already, in two days, I am smoking almost fifty per cent less. I said, “Just wait twenty days.” He said, “I don’t think it will last twenty days; at the most five days and it will be finished.”

I said, “Don’t be in a hurry to finish it, because if anything remains clinging it will enforce you again. So go very slowly; there is no hurry, and there is no harm. It does not matter — at the most, you may die two years earlier. But anyway, what were you going to do in those two years — just smoke… more! So there is no harm anyway; the world is too populated, and if people go on disappearing a little earlier, making space for other people, it is very compassionate of them.”

He said,”You are a strange fellow.” And after the fourth day, he told me, “Now, as my hand moves towards the pocket, suddenly a stop comes — from where, I don’t know. I have not been smoking for one whole day because each time I try to take a cigarette, I cannot take the packet out. What is the secret of it?”

I said, “There is no secret; you have just learned to smoke consciously, with awareness. And nobody can smoke with awareness, because smoking is not a sin — smoking is simply stupidity. If you are alert and awake, you cannot be so stupid. There is fresh air available; you can go and have good breathing, deep breaths, fresh air, perfumed with flowers. You must be an idiot if you have to pay money to make your breathing dirty, dirty with nicotine, harming your lungs, harming your life; and there is no point in it.” People are really fast asleep; it is a wonder they don’t snore with open eyes.

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