One night a group of friends were having a big party. Drinking and eating, they enjoyed themselves until the early hours of the morning. When they began to take their leave, the owner of the hotel told his wife to thank God for sending them such a goodly number of customers. If such a rush continued they would become rich, he told his wife. The host, as he was paying the bill, asked the proprietor to pray for the prosperity of his business as well, so that they might come again.
The owner inquired, ”By the way, what is your business, sir?”
”I am an undertaker,” he said. ”My business prospers most when people die.”
Similarly, a doctor’s profession may be to cure people, but the more people fall ill the more money he makes. Inwardly, he hopes his patient doesn’t recover too quickly. And so it takes time for patients to be cured, especially rich ones. Poor patients get well faster because the doctor doesn’t make much if the poor are ill for a long time. The profit is from rich customers, and so he goes slowly when curing the rich. Anyway, the rich are always unwell; they are the answer to a doctor’s prayers.
The preacher is in the same class. The more people are immoral, the more anti-social elements there are, the more anarchy spreads, the higher his pulpit grows – because then there is more need for him to exhort people to observe non-violence, to be truthful, to behave honestly, to observe this regulation, to stick to that rule, and so forth. If people were righteous, restrained, disciplined, peaceful, honest and holy, the profession of preacher would cease to exist. And why are there so many preachers and so-called religious leaders in India – more than anywhere else in the whole world? Why, in each and every village and in each and every house, is there a pundit, a guru, a swami or a priest? Why is there such a vast host of religious leaders in this country?
One should not assume we are a deeply religious people because we have so many saints and gurus. It is a fact that we are, today, one of the most irreligious and immoral countries in the world. That is why so many preachers find golden opportunities in our country. Preaching has become our national image. A friend of mine sent me an article from an American magazine. He wanted my opinion about a short-coming he had noticed in it. It was a humorous article, stating that the national character of any country can be ascertained by getting a man from that country drunk. If a Dutchman gets drunk, the article said, he will pounce on food and refuse to leave the dining table; no sooner does he take a drink than he is busy eating for two or three hours. If a Frenchman drinks, he becomes restless; he wants to sing and dance. If an Englishman gets very drunk, he will go sit in a corner and keep to himself. An Englishman is normally quiet and when he gets drunk he becomes all the more subdued. Such are the typical reactions of the various nationalities, according to the article.
But, by mistake or out of ignorance, there was no mention of the Indian. My friend asked what I had to say about the Indian character; he asked me what would happen if an Indian drank excessively. I wrote to him that the answer was already world-famous: when an Indian gets drunk he immediately starts preaching. This is our national character.
This unending queue of preachers, ascetics, monks and gurus is a sign of widespread disease; it is an indication of great immorality. And the strangest thing is that, in his heart of hearts, none of these leaders wants immorality to become extinct, wants this disease to be eradicated – because if and when it is cured, the preacher will no longer be put up with. Their inner craving is that the disease continues, that the illness increases. The easiest way to allow this disease to continue unchecked is to restrain the growth of an all-encompassing knowledge about life and to frighten men from wanting to understand the deeper and more significant aspects of life. And it is ignorance of these that automatically causes the spread of immorality, debauchery and corruption. If people can try to recognize and know these deep, illuminating facets of life, then irreligiousness and its subsequent ills will begin to dissipate, one by one.
I want to draw your attention to the fact that sex is the aspect of life that is the most responsible for immorality. It has always been the most basic and influential cause of perversion, debauchery and dullness in man. And so religious leaders never want to talk about it.
Another friend of mine has sent a message saying that no saint or guru ever talks about sex. He writes that the high esteem he had for me has lessened because of my talks on sex. I wish to tell him there is no reason to be disappointed in me. First of all, if you once had respect for me, it was your mistake. Why was it necessary to honour me? What was your motive? When did I ask you for respect? If you were paying me respect, it was your error; if you are not so inclined any more, it is your privilege. I am no Mahatma, nor am I inclined to be one. Had I the slightest desire to become a mahatma or a guru, I would never have selected this subject in the first place. A man can never become a mahatma if he isn’t very clever in selecting the topics for his discourse. I have never been a mahatma, I am not a mahatma, and I certainly do not want to become a mahatma – that desire itself is a projection of a subtle, refined ego. I am a man, and that is good enough for me. Is it not enough, just being a man? Can a man not be happy without riding the shoulders of other men, without imposing himself on others, without acquiring power in one form or another? Can a man not be happy simply by remaining a man? In whatever position I find myself I am happy and contented.
I long for greatness in humanity; I want to see a greater man. Isn’t it great to become a man, to attain to the full measure of manhood? Every man can become great; every man is capable of becoming great in the true sense of the word. The days of the mahatmas and the gurus are gone; they are not needed any more. Great mankind is essential; the need of the hour is for great humanity. There have been many great men, but what have we gained from them? The need is not for great men, but for great mankind, for greater humanity.
At least one person is disillusioned; at least one man has come to know that I am not a great man. This is a great relief, this man’s disillusionment. He wrote to me to tempt me with mahatmadom; he says I could become a great guru if I stopped discussing such topics. Up to now, the mahatmas and the gurus have been fooled by such approaches, and as a result, those great but weak people did not discuss subjects that might have proved disastrous to their own guruships, to their mahatmadoms. In their concern to save their own thrones, they never cared how many people they were harmfully influencing.
I am not concerned with being on some high pedestal. I do not dream about it; I have no designs on one. On the other hand, I am concerned that someone may want to make me a mahatma someday. These days, there is no shortage of gurus and mahatmas, and to be considered as one it is very important to adopt the correct pose. It has always been so. But the crux of the matter is not the availability of mahatmas, but how an authentic man can evolve. What can we do to achieve that goal? How can we apply ourselves to that task?
I trust and believe that what we have discussed will guide you on the proper road toward breaking those barriers that stand in the way of the evolution of an authentic man. A path is visible; the gradual transformation of your lust is possible. Your sex can become your samadhi.