ON WAKING UP
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, all mystics - Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion - are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.
Last year on Spanish television I heard a story about this gentleman who knocks on his son's door. "Jaime", he says, "wake up"! Jaime answers, "I don't want to get up, Papa". The father shouts, "Get up, you have to go to school". Jaime says, "I don't want to go to school". "Why not"? asks the father. "Three reasons", says Jaime. "First, because it's so dull; second, the kids tease me; and third, I hate school". And the father says, "Well, I am going to give you three reasons why you must go to school. First, because it is your duty; second, because you are forty-five years old, and third, because you are the headmaster". Wake up, wake up! You've grown up. You're too big to be asleep. Wake up! Stop playing with your toys.
Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don't believe them. Don't believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success". This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That's all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don't really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.
Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It's irritating to be woken up. That's the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I'm going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, "Wake up!" My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it, fine; if you don't, too bad! As the Arabs say, "The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens".
WILL I BE OF HELP TO YOU?
Do you think I am going to help anybody? No! Oh, no, no, no, no, no! Don't expect me to be of help to anyone. Nor do I expect to damage anyone. If you are damaged, you did it; and if you are helped, you did it. You really did! You think people help you? They don't. You think people support you? They don't.
There was a woman in a therapy group I was conducting once. She was a religious sister. She said to me, "I don't feel supported by my superior". So I said, "What do you mean by that"? And she said, "Well, my superior, the provincial superior, never shows up at the novitiate where I am in charge, never. She never says a word of appreciation". I said to her, "All right let's do a little role playing. Pretend I know your provincial superior. In fact, pretend I know exactly what she thinks about you.
So I say to you (acting the part of the provincial superior), 'You know, Mary, the reason I don't come to that place you're in is because it is the one place in the province that is trouble-free, no problems. I know you're in charge, so all is well.' How do you feel now"? She said, "I feel great". Then I said to her, "All right, would you mind leaving the room for a minute or two? This is part of the exercise". So she did. While she was away, I said to the others in the therapy group, "I am still the provincial superior, O.K.?
Mary out there is the worst novice director I have ever had in the whole history of the province. In fact, the reason I don't go to the novitiate is because I can't bear to see what she is up to. It's simply awful. But if I tell her the truth, it's only going to make those novices suffer all the more. We are getting somebody to take her place in a year or two; we are training someone. In the meantime I thought I would say those nice things to her to keep her going. What do you think of that"?
They answered, "Well, it was really the only thing you could do under the circumstances". Then I brought Mary back into the group and asked her if she still felt great. "Oh yes", she said. Poor Mary! She thought she was being supported when she wasn't. The point is that most of what we feel and think we conjure up for ourselves in our heads, including this business of being helped by people.
Do you think you help people because you are in love with them? Well, I've got news for you. You are never in love with anyone. You're only in love with your prejudiced and hopeful idea of that person. Take a minute to think about that: You are never in love with anyone, you're in love with your prejudiced idea of that person. Isn't that how you fall out of love? Your idea changes, doesn't it? "How could you let me down when I trusted you so much"? you say to someone. Did you really trust them? You never trusted anyone. Come off it!
That's part of society's brainwashing. You never trust anyone. You only trust your judgment about that person. So what are you complaining about? The fact is that you don't like to say, "My judgment was lousy". That's not very flattering to you, is it? So you prefer to say, "How could you have let me down"?
So there it is: People don't really want to grow up, people don't really want to change, people don't really want to be happy. As someone so wisely said to me, "Don't try to make them happy, you'll only get in trouble. Don't try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it irritates the pig".
Like the businessman who goes into a bar, sits down, and sees this fellow with a banana in his ear - a banana in his ear! And he thinks, "I wonder if I should mention that to him. No, it's none of my business". But the thought nags at him. So after having a drink or two, he says to the fellow, "Excuse me, ah, you've got a banana in your ear". The fellow says, "What"? The businessman repeats, "You've got a banana in your ear. "Again the fellow says, "What was that"? "You've got a banana in your ear!" the businessman shouts. "Talk louder", the fellow says, "I've got a banana in my ear!" So it's useless. "Give up, give up, give up", I say to myself. Say your thing and get out of here. And if they profit, that's fine, and if they don't, too bad!
ON THE PROPER KIND OF SELFISHNESS
The first thing I want you to understand, if you really want to wake up, is that you don't want to wake up. The first step to waking up is to be honest enough to admit to yourself that you don't like it. You don't want to be happy. Want a little test? Let's try it. It will take you exactly one minute. You could close your eyes while you're doing it or you could keep them open. It doesn't really matter.
Think of someone you love very much, someone you're close to, someone who is precious to you, and say to that person in your mind, "I'd rather have happiness than have you". See what happens. "I'd rather be happy than have you. If I had a choice, no question about it, I'd choose happiness". How many of you felt selfish when you said this? Many, it seems. See how we've been brainwashed? See how we've been brainwashed into thinking, "How could I be so selfish"? But look at who's being selfish.
Imagine somebody saying to YOU, "How could you be so selfish that you'd choose happiness over me"? Would you not feel like responding, "Pardon me, but how could YOU be so selfish that YOU would demand I choose you above my own happiness?!"
A woman once told me that when she was a child her Jesuit cousin gave a retreat in the Jesuit church in Milwaukee. He opened each conference with the words: "The test of love is sacrifice, and the gauge of love is unselfishness". That's marvelous! I asked her, "Would you want me to love you at the cost of my happiness"? "Yes", she answered. Isn't that delightful? Wouldn't that be wonderful? SHE would love me at the cost of HER happiness and I would love her at the cost of MY happiness, and so you've got two unhappy people, but LONG LIVE LOVE!
ON WANTING HAPPINESS
I was saying that we don't want to be happy. We want other things. Or let's put it more accurately: We don't want to be unconditionally happy. I'm ready to be happy provided I have this and that and the other thing. But this is really to say to our friend or to our God or to anyone, "You are my happiness. If I don't get you, I refuse to be happy". It's so important to understand that. We cannot imagine being happy without those conditions. That's pretty accurate. We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We've been taught to place our happiness in them.
So that's the first thing we need to do if we want to come awake, which is the same thing as saying: if we want to love, if we want freedom, if we want joy and peace and spirituality. In that sense, spirituality is the most practical thing in the whole wide world. I challenge anyone to think of anything more practical than spirituality as I have defined it- -- not piety, not devotion, not religion, not worship, but spirituality -- -waking up, waking up! Look at the heartache everywhere, look at the loneliness, look at the fear, the confusion, the conflict in the hearts of people, inner conflict, outer conflict.
Suppose somebody gave you a way of getting rid of all of that? Suppose somebody gave you a way to stop that tremendous drainage of energy, of health, of emotion that comes from these conflicts and confusion. Would you want that? Suppose somebody showed us a way whereby we would truly love one another, and be at peace, be at love. Can you think of anything more practical than that? But, instead, you have people thinking that big business is more practical, that politics is more practical, that science is more practical. What's the earthly use of putting a man on the moon when we cannot live on the earth?
ARE WE TALKING ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY
IN THIS SPIRITUALITY COURSE?
Is psychology more practical than spirituality? Nothing is more practical than spirituality. What can the poor psychologist do? He can only relieve the pressure. I'm a psychologist myself, and I practice psychotherapy, and I have this great conflict within me when I have to choose sometimes between psychology and spirituality. I wonder if that makes sense to anybody here.
It didn't make sense to me for many years.
I'll explain. It didn't make sense to me for many years until I suddenly discovered that people have to suffer enough in a relationship so that they get disillusioned with all relationships. Isn't that a terrible thing to think? They've got to suffer enough in a relationship before they wake up and say, "I'm sick of it! There must be a better way of living than depending on another human being". And what was I doing as a psychotherapist? People were coming to me with their relationship problems, with their communication problems, etc., and sometimes what I did was a help.
But sometimes, I'm sorry to say, it wasn't, because it kept people asleep. Maybe they should have suffered a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom and say, "I'm sick of it all. " It's only when you're sick of your sickness that you'll get out of it. Most people go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to get relief. I repeat: to get relief. Not to get out of it.
There's the story of little Johnny who, they say, was mentally retarded. But evidently he wasn't, as you'll learn from this story. Johnny goes to modeling class in his school for special children and he gets his piece of putty and he's modeling it. He takes a little lump of putty and goes to a corner of the room and he's playing with it. The teacher comes up to him and says, "Hi, Johnny". And Johnny says, "Hi". And the teacher says, "What's that you've got in your hand"? And Johnny says, "This is a lump of cow dung". The teacher asks, "What are you making out of it"? He says, "I'm making a teacher".
The teacher thought, "Little Johnny has regressed". So she calls out to the principal, who was passing by the door at that moment, and says, "Johnny has regressed".
So the principal goes up to Johnny and says, "Hi, son". And Johnny says, "Hi". And the principal says, "What do you have in your hand"? And he says, "A lump of cow dung". "What are you making out of it"? And he says, "A principal".
The principal thinks that this is a case for the school psychologist. "Send for the psychologist!"
The psychologist is a clever guy. He goes up and says, "Hi". And Johnny says, "Hi". And the psychologist says, "I know what you've got in your hand". "What"? "A lump cow dung". Johnny says, "Right". "And I know what you're making out of it". "What"? "You're making a psychologist".
"Wrong. Not enough cow dung!"
And they called him mentally retarded! The poor psychologists, they're doing a good job. They really are. There are times when psychotherapy is a tremendous help, because when you're on the verge of going insane, raving mad, you're about to become either a psychotic or a mystic. That's what the mystic is, the opposite of the lunatic. Do you know one sign that you've woken up? It's when you are asking yourself, "Am I crazy, or are all of them crazy"? It really is.
Because we are crazy. The whole world is crazy. Certifiable lunatics! The only reason we're not locked up in an institution is that there are so many of us. So we're crazy. We're living on crazy ideas about love, about relationships, about happiness, about joy, about everything. We're crazy to the point, I've come to believe, that if everybody agrees on something, you can be sure it's wrong! Every new idea, every great idea, when it first began was in a minority of one.
That man called Jesus Christ - minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. The Buddha - minority of one. Everybody was saying something different from what he was saying. I think it was Bertrand Russell who said, "Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy". That's well and accurately put. You're going to hear lots of blasphemies during these days. "He hath blasphemed!" Because people are crazy, they're lunatics, and the sooner you see this, the better for your mental and spiritual health.
Don't trust them. Don't trust your best friends. Get disillusioned with your best friends. They're very clever. As you are in your dealings with everybody else, though you probably don't know it. Ah, you're so wily, and subtle, and clever. You're putting on a great act.
I'm not being very complimentary here, am I? But I repeat: You want to wake up. You're putting on a great act. And you don't even know it. You think you're being so loving. Ha! Whom are you loving? Even your self-sacrifice gives you a good feeling, doesn't it? "I'm sacrificing myself! I'm living up to my ideal". But you're getting something out of it, aren't you? You're
always getting something out of everything you do, until you wake up.
So there it is: step one. Realize that you don't want to wake up. It's pretty difficult to wake up when you have been hypnotized into thinking that a scrap of old newspaper is a check for a million dollars. How difficult it is to tear yourself away from that scrap of old newspaper.
NEITHER IS RENUNCIATION THE SOLUTION
Anytime you're practicing renunciation, you're deluded. How about that! You're deluded. What are you renouncing? Anytime you renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce. There's a guru in India who says, "Every time a prostitute comes to me, she's talking about nothing but God. She says I'm sick of this life that I'm living. I want God. But every time a priest comes to me he's talking about nothing but sex". Very well, when you renounce something, you're stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you're tied to it forever. As long as you're fighting it, you are giving it power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it.
This includes communism and everything else. So you must "receive" your demons, because when you fight them, you empower them. Has nobody ever told you this? When you renounce something, you're tied to it. The only way to get out of this is to see through it. Don't renounce it, SEE THROUGH IT. Understand its true value and you won't need to renounce it; it will just drop from your hands. But of course, if you don't see that, if you're hypnotized into thinking that you won't be happy without this, that, or the other thing, you're stuck. What we need to do for you is not what so-called spirituality attempts to do --namely, to get you to make sacrifices, to renounce things. That's useless. You're still asleep. What we need to do is to help you understand, understand, understand. If you understood, you'd simply drop the desire for it. This is another way of saying: If you woke up, you'd simply drop the desire for it.
LISTEN AND UNLEARN
Some of us get woken up by the harsh realities of life. We suffer so much that we wake up. But people keep bumping again and again into life. They still go on sleepwalking. They never wake up. Tragically, it never occurs to them that there may be another way. It never occurs to them that there may be a better way. Still, if you haven't been bumped sufficiently by life, and you haven't suffered enough, then there is another way: to listen. I don't mean you have to agree with what I'm saying.
That wouldn't be listening. Believe me, it really doesn't matter whether you agree with what I'm saying or you don't. Because agreement and disagreement have to do with words and concepts and theories. They don't have anything to do with truth. Truth is never expressed in words. Truth is sighted suddenly, as a result of a certain attitude. So you could be disagreeing with me and still sight the truth. But there has to be an attitude of openness, of willingness to discover something new. That's important, not your agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. After all, most of what I'm giving you is really theories.
No theory adequately covers reality. So I can speak to you, not of the truth, but of obstacles to the truth. Those I can describe. I cannot describe the truth. No one can. All I can do is give you a description of your falsehoods, so that you can drop them. All I can do for you is challenge your beliefs and the belief system that makes you unhappy. All I can do for you is help you to unlearn. That's what learning is all about where spirituality is concerned: unlearning, unlearning almost everything you've been taught. A willingness to unlearn, to listen.
Are you listening, as most people do, in order to confirm what you already think? Observe your reactions as I talk. Frequently you'll be startled or shocked or scandalized or irritated or annoyed or frustrated. Or you'll be saying, "Great! "
But are you listening for what will confirm what you already think? Or are you listening in order to discover something new? That is important. It is difficult for sleeping people. Jesus proclaimed the good news, yet he was rejected. Not because it was good, but because it was new. We hate the new. We hate it! And the sooner we face up to that fact, the better. We don't want new things, particularly when they're disturbing, particularly when they involve change. Most particularly if it involves saying, "I was wrong".
I remember meeting an eighty-seven-year-old Jesuit in Spain; he'd been my professor and rector in India thirty or forty years ago. And he attended a workshop like this. "I should have heard you speak sixty years ago", he said. "You know something. I've been wrong all my life". God, to listen to that! It's like looking at one of the wonders of the world. That, ladies and gentlemen, is faith!
An openness to the truth, no matter what the consequences, no matter where it leads you and when you don't even know where it's going to lead you. That's faith. Not belief, but faith. Your beliefs give you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity. You don't know. You're ready to follow and you're open, you're wide open! You're ready to listen. And, mind you, being open does not mean being gullible, it doesn't mean swallowing whatever the speaker is saying. Oh no.
You've got to challenge everything I'm saying. But challenge it from an attitude of openness, not from an attitude of stubbornness. And challenge it all. Recall those lovely words of Buddha when he said, "Monks and scholars must not accept my words out of respect, but must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes-gold by cutting, scraping, rubbing, melting".
When you do that, you're listening. You've taken another major step toward awakening. The first step, as I said, was a readiness to admit that you don't want to wake up, that you don't want to be happy. There are all kinds of resistances to that within you. The second step is a readiness to understand, to listen, to challenge your whole belief system. Not just your religious beliefs, your political beliefs, your social beliefs, your psychological beliefs, but all of them. A readiness to reappraise them all, in the Buddha's metaphor. And I'll give you plenty of opportunity to do that here.
THE MASQUERADE OF CHARITY
Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism. You say that it is very difficult to accept that there may be times when you are not honest to goodness really trying to be loving or trustful. Let me simplify it. Let's make it as simple as possible. Let's even make it as blunt and extreme as possible, at least to begin with. There are two types of selfishness. The first type is the one where I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself. That's what we generally call self-centeredness. The second is when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. That would be a more refined kind of selfishness.
The first one is very obvious, but the second one is hidden, very hidden, and for that reason more dangerous, because we get to feel that we're really great. But maybe we're not all that great after all. You protest when I say that. That's great! You, madam, you say that, in your case, you live alone, and go to the rectory and give several hours of your time. But you also admit you're really doing it for a selfish reason - your need to be needed. And you also know you need to be needed in a way that makes you feel like you're contributing to the world a little bit. But you also claim that, because they also need you to do this, it's a two-way street.
You're almost enlightened! We've got to learn from you. That's right. She is saying, "I give something, I get something". She is right. I go out to help, I give something, I get something. That's beautiful. That's true. That's real. That isn't charity, that's enlightened self-interest. And you, sir, you point out that the gospel of Jesus is ultimately a gospel of self-interest. We achieve eternal life by our acts of charity. "Come blest of my Father, when I was hungry, you gave me to eat", and so on. You say that perfectly confirms what I've said. When we look at Jesus, you say, we see that his acts of charity were acts of ultimate self-interest, to win souls for eternal life. And you see that as the whole thrust and meaning of life the achievement of self-interest by acts of charity.
All right. But see, you are cheating a bit because you brought religion into this. It's legitimate. It's valid. But how would it be if I deal with the gospels, with the Bible, with Jesus, toward the END of this retreat. I will say this much now to complicate it even more. "I was hungry, and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink", and what do they reply? "When? When did we do it? We didn't know it". They were unconscious! I sometimes have a horrid fantasy where the king says, "I was hungry and you gave me to eat", and the people on the right side say, "That's right, Lord, we KNOW". "I wasn't talking to you", the king tells them. "It doesn't follow the script; you're not SUPPOSED to have known". Isn't that interesting?
But YOU know. You know the inner pleasure you have while doing acts of charity. Aha!!! That's right! It's the opposite of someone who says, "What's so great about what I did? I did something, I got something. I had no notion I was doing anything good. My left hand had no idea what my right hand was doing". You know, a good is never so good as when you have no awareness that you're doing good. You are never so good as when you have no consciousness that you're good. Or as the great Sufi would say, "A saint is one until he or she knows it". Unselfconscious! Unselfconscious!
Some of you object to this. You say, "Isn't the pleasure I receive in giving, isn't that eternal life right here and now"? I wouldn't know. I call pleasure, pleasure, and nothing more. For the time being, at least until we get into religion later on. But I want you to understand something right at the beginning, that religion is not - I repeat not - necessarily connected with spirituality. Please keep religion out of this for the time being.
All right, you ask, what about the soldier who falls on a grenade to keep it from hurting others? And what about the man who got into a truck full of dynamite and drove into the American camp in Beirut? How about him? "Greater love than this no one has". But the Americans don't think so. He did it deliberately. He was terrible, wasn't he? But he wouldn't think so, I assure you. He thought he was going to heaven. That's right. Just like your soldier falling on the grenade.
I'm trying to get at a picture of an action where there is not self, where you're awake and what you do is done through you. Your deed in that case becomes a happening. "Let it be done to me". I'm not excluding that. But when YOU do it, I'm searching for the selfishness. Even if it is only "I'll be remembered as a great hero", or "I'd never be able to live if I didn't do this. I'd never be able to live with the thought if I ran away". But remember, I'm not excluding the other kind of act.
I didn't say that there never is any act where there is not self. Maybe there is. We'll have to explore that. A mother saving a child - saving HER child, you say. But how come she's not saving the neighbor's child? It's the HERS. It's the soldier dying for his country. Many such deaths bother me. I ask myself, "Are they the result of brainwashing"? Martyrs bother me. I think they're often brainwashed. Muslim martyrs, Hindu martyrs, Buddhist martyrs, Christian martyrs, they are brainwashed!
They've got an idea in their heads that they must die, that death is a great thing. They feel nothing, they go right in. But not all of them, so listen to me properly. I didn't say ALL of them, but I wouldn't exclude the possibility. Lots of communists get brainwashed (you're ready to believe that). They're so brainwashed they're ready to die.
I sometimes say to myself that the process that we use for making, for example, a St. Francis Xavier could be exactly the same process used for producing terrorists. You can have a man go on a thirty-day retreat and come out all aflame with the love of Christ, yet without the slightest bit of self-awareness. None. He could be a big pain. He thinks he's a great saint. I don't mean to slander Francis Xavier, who probably was a great saint, but he was a difficult man to live with.
You know he was a lousy superior, he really was! Do a historical investigation. Ignatius always had to step in to undo the harm that this good man was doing by his intolerance. You need to be pretty intolerant to achieve what he achieved. Go, go, go, go - no matter how many corpses fall by the wayside. Some critics of Francis Xavier claim exactly that. He used to dismiss men from our Society and they'd appeal to Ignatius, who would say, "Come to Rome and we'll talk about it". And Ignatius surreptitiously got them in again. How much self-awareness was there in this situation? Who are we to judge, we don't know.
I'm not saying there's no such thing as pure motivation. I'm saying that ordinarily everything we do is in our self-interest. Everything. When you do something for the love of Christ, is that selfishness? Yes. When you're doing something for the love of anybody, it is in your self-interest. I'll have to explain that.
Suppose you happen to live in Phoenix and you feed over five hundred children a day. That gives you a good feeling? Well, would you expect it to give you a bad feeling? But sometimes it does. And that is because there are some people who do things so that they won't HAVE TO HAVE A BAD FEELING. And they call THAT charity. They act out of guilt. That isn't love. But, thank God, you do things for people and it's pleasurable. Wonderful! You're a healthy individual because you're SELF-INTERESTED. That's healthy.
Let me summarize what I was saying about selfless charity. I said there were two types of selfishness; maybe I should have said three. First, when I do something, or rather, when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself; second, when I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others. Don't take pride in that. Don't think you're a great person. You're a very ordinary person, but you've got refined tastes.
Your taste is good, not the quality of your spirituality. When you were a child, you liked Coca-Cola; now you've grown older and you appreciate chilled beer on a hot day. You've got better tastes now. When you were a child, you loved chocolates; now you're older, you enjoy a symphony, you enjoy a poem. You've got better tastes. But you're getting your pleasure all the same, except now it's in the pleasure of pleasing others.
Then you've got the third type, which is the worst when you do something good so that you won't get a bad feeling. It doesn't give you a good feeling to do it; it gives you a bad feeling to do it. You hate it. You're making loving sacrifices but you're grumbling. Ha! How little you know of yourself if you think you don't do things this way.
If I had a dollar for every time I did things that gave me a bad feeling, I'd be a millionaire by now. You know how it goes. "Could I meet you tonight, Father"? "Yes, come on in!" I don't want to meet him and I hate meeting him. I want to watch that TV show tonight, but how do I say no to him? I don't have the guts to say no. "Come on in", and I'm thinking, "Oh God, I've got to put up with this pain".
It doesn't give me a good feeling to meet with him and it doesn't give me a good feeling to say no to him, so I choose the lesser of the two evils and I say, "O.K., come on in". I'm going to be happy when this thing is over and I'll be able to take my smile off, but I start the session with him "How are you"? "Wonderful", he says, and he goes on and on about how he loves that workshop, and I'm thinking, "Oh God, when is he going to come to the point"?
Finally he comes to the point, and I metaphorically slam him against the wall and say, "Well, any fool could solve that kind of problem", and I send him out. "Whew! Got rid of him", I say. And the next morning at breakfast (because I'm feeling I was so rude) I go up to him and say, "How's life"? And he answers, "Pretty good". And he adds, "You know, what you said to me last night was a real help. Can I meet you today, after lunch"? Oh God!
That's the worst kind of charity, when you're doing something so you won't get a bad feeling. You don't have the guts to say you want to be left alone. You want people to think you're a good priest! When you say, "I don't like hurting people", I say, "Come off it! I don't believe you". I don't believe anyone who says that he or she does not like hurting people. We love to hurt people, especially some people. We love it.
And when someone else is doing the hurting we rejoice in it. But we don't want to do the hurting ourselves because we'll get hurt! Ah, there it is. If we do the hurting, others will have a bad opinion of us. They won't like us, they'll talk against us and we don't like that!
WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?
Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death. That's what I'm really talking about. There's a nice story about some people who were on a raft off the coast of Brazil perishing from thirst. They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water. The river was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea. In the same way, we're surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love. Most people have no idea of this whatsoever.
The reason - They're brainwashed. The reason - They're hypnotized; they're asleep. Imagine a stage magician who hypnotizes someone so that the person sees what is not there and does not see what is there. That's what it's all about. Repent and accept the good news. Repent! Wake up! Don't weep for your sins. Why weep for sins that you committed when you were asleep? Are you going to cry because of what you did in your hypnotized state?
Why do you want to identify with a person like this? Wake up! Wake up! Repent! Put on a new mind. Take on a new way of looking at things! For "the kingdom is here!" It's the rare Christian who takes that seriously. I said to you that the first thing you need to do is wake up, to face the fact that you don't like being woken up. You'd much rather have all of the things which you were hypnotized into believing are so precious to you, so important to you, so important for your life and your survival.
Second, understand. Understand that maybe you've got the wrong ideas and it is these ideas that are influencing your life and making it the mess that it is and keeping you asleep. Ideas about love, ideas about freedom, ideas about happiness, and so forth. And it isn't easy to listen to someone who would challenge those ideas of yours which have come to be so precious to you.
There have been some interesting studies in brainwashing. It has been shown that you're brainwashed when you take on or "introject" an idea that isn't yours, that is someone else's. And the funny thing is that you'll be ready to die for this idea. Isn't that strange? The first test of whether you've been brainwashed and have introjected convictions and beliefs occurs the moment they're attacked.
You feel stunned, you react emotionally. That's a pretty good sign - not infallible, but a pretty good sign - that we're dealing with brainwashing. You're ready to die for an idea that never was yours. Terrorists or saints (so called) take on an idea, swallow it whole, and are ready to die for it. It's not easy to listen, especially when you get emotional about an idea.
And even when you don't get emotional about it, it's not easy to listen; you're always listening from your programming, from your conditioning, from your hypnotic state. You frequently interpret everything that's being said in terms of your hypnotic state or your conditioning or your programming. Like this girl who's listening to a lecture on agriculture and says, "Excuse me, sir, you know I agree with you completely that the best manure is aged horse manure.
Would you tell us how old the horse should optimally be"? See where she's coming from? We all have our positions, don't we? And we listen from those positions. "Henry, how you've changed! You were so tall and you've grown so short. You were so well built and you've grown so thin. You were so fair and you've become so dark. What happened to you, Henry"? Henry says, "I'm not Henry. I'm John". "Oh, you changed your name too!" How do you get people like that to listen?
The most difficult thing in the world is to listen, to see. We don't want to see. Do you think a capitalist wants to see what is good in the communist system? Do you think a communist wants to see what is good and healthy in the capitalist system? Do you think a rich man wants to look at poor people? We don't want to look, because if we do, we may change. We don't want to look. If you look, you lose control of the life that you are so precariously holding together.
And so in order to wake up, the one thing you need the most is not energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something new. The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away. How much are you ready to take? How much of everything you've held dear are you ready to have shattered, without running away? How ready are you to think of something unfamiliar?
The first reaction is one of fear. It's not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That's what you fear. By way of an example, I made the point that everything we do is tainted with selfishness. That isn't easy to hear. But think now for a minute, let's go a little deeper into that. If everything you do comes from self-interest, enlightened or otherwise, how does that make you feel about all your charity and all your good deeds? What happens to those? Here's a little exercise for you. Think of all the good deeds you've done, or of some of them (because I'm only giving you a few seconds). Now understand that they really sprang from self-interest, whether you knew it or not.
What happens to your pride? What happens to your vanity? What happens to that good feeling you gave yourself, that pat on the back every time you did something that you thought was so charitable? It gets flattened out, doesn't it? What happens to that looking down your nose at your neighbor who you thought was so selfish? The whole thing changes, doesn't it? "Well", you say, "my neighbor has coarser tastes than I do". You're the more dangerous person, you really are. Jesus Christ seems to have had less trouble with the other type than with your type. Much less trouble. He ran into trouble with people who were really convinced they were good.
Other types didn't seem to give him much trouble at all, the ones who were openly selfish and knew it. Can you see how liberating that is? Hey, wake up! It's liberating. It's wonderful! Are you feeling depressed? Maybe you are. Isn't it wonderful to realize you're no better than anybody else in this world? Isn't it wonderful? Are you disappointed? Look what we've brought to light! What happens to your vanity? You'd like to give yourself a good feeling that you're better than others. But look how we brought a fallacy to light!
GOOD BAD OR LUCKY
To me, selfishness seems to come out of an instinct for self-preservation, which is our deepest and first instinct. How can we opt for selflessness? It would be almost like opting for non-being. To me, it would seem to be the same thing as non-being. Whatever it is, I'm saying: Stop feeling bad about being selfish; we're all the same. Someone once had a terribly beautiful thing to say about Jesus.
This person wasn't even Christian. He said, "The lovely thing about Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he understood that he wasn't one bit better than they were". We differ from others - from criminals, for example - only in what we do or don't do, NOT IN WHAT WE ARE. The only difference between Jesus and those others was that he was awake and they weren't. Look at people who win the lottery.
Do they say, "I'm so proud to accept this prize, not for myself, but for my nation and my society". Does anybody talk like that when they win the lottery? No. Because they were LUCKY, LUCKY. So they won the lottery, first prize. Anything to be proud of in that?
In the same way, if you achieved enlightenment, you would do so in the interest of self and you would be lucky. Do you want to glory in that? What's there to glory about? Can't you see how utterly stupid it is to be vain about your good deeds? The Pharisee wasn't an evil man, he was a stupid man. He was stupid, not evil. He didn't stop to think. Someone once said, "I dare not stop to think, because if I did, I wouldn't know how to get started again".
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