Here is a quote from the essay “Listen, Little Man!” And it’s the great man or the big man talking to all the little men:
“I have known you, shared your experiences; I’ve known you in myself. As a physician, I’ve freed you from what is small in you; as an educator, I’ve often guided you on the path of integrity and openness. I know how bitterly you resist your integrity, what mortal fear comes over you when called upon to follow your own, authentic nature.” – Excerpt from the book “Listen, Little Man!”
The question is can you please elaborate on how a man keeps resisting his integrity and true nature? What are those morbid fears that cripple man when he wants to follow his heart? Relating to the same excerpt, the same point, another questioner asks that when man tends to move to his true nature or individual greatness, people around him are inevitably going to get hurt because of their expectations from him but this hurt experienced by others leads to this seeker of true nature or individuality to compromise on his actions as he starts thinking that he is hurting someone and secondly, he is not fully sure about the rightness of his actions. So, the question is ‘Is it bad to care for others?’
Acharya Prashant: There are two paths open to man. And on both the paths, there are respective fruits and respective troubles or problems or thorns. And there is no judge or arbiter outside of man. The two paths are both open and available to man. Both paths involve their own pros and cons. And man has choice and choice means that either of the paths can be chosen as the right.
There is no divine decree in favor of or against anyone particular path. You can choose either of the paths and spend your entire life traveling on it. Nobody outside of you is going to come and declare to you that you have been a paragon of virtue or an epitome of wise. That won’t happen. You have all the freedom. Do whatever you want to do. Not only are you free in choosing your path, you also have all the freedom in deciding for yourself how the path has been for you. It is not as if at the end of the journey, there stands some universal decider or some god or some cosmic accountant.
There is nobody. So, if you want to insist that you have made the right decision selecting either of the paths, that’s how it is for you. If you insist that you are doing alright traveling on your own particular path, there is no authority outside of you that can overrule your judgment or your perception. If you say the going is good for you so it is. So, there are these two paths and Wilhelm Reich is a little biased actually. So, he calls one of the paths as the great path and the other path as the little path. This is just subjective judgment.
Truly objectively, both paths are just paths. Truly objectively, there is nobody outside of the traveler who can declare the utility or veracity of either of the paths. You cannot just make a sweeping judgment for the entire humanity and declare one of the paths to be valid and the other to be invalid or improper. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will retain the nomenclature given by the author and call one of the paths as great and the other one as little or small.
What is the great path? The great path says you will get liberation from yourself because your entire trouble is the sense of self that refuses to be ever placated. So, I’ll offer you liberation from yourself, and what is the price that you pay? The price that you pay is obvious in the fruit that you are getting. The fruit is liberation from the self, hence the price offers the self. Offer the self. This is the path that Wilhelm Reich is calling the great path. What is the other path? The little path on which the so-called little men walk. That is the path of retention of the little self. The great path is the path of liberation from the little self. The little path is the path of retention of the little self. Retain it, nurture it, feed it, console it, and “it” refers to littleness. So, retain littleness, nurture littleness, support littleness, feed littleness, further littleness. That is what you get along this path.
The littleness that you started out with does not need to be compromised or sacrificed. That’s the offering. That’s what the path lures you with.
Come over, you won’t have to really change. In fact, all your littlenesses will be accorded due respect, will be preserved, and will be protected against any accidental whiff of greatness. What is the price that you pay? Oh, the price that you pay is quite an imaginary price. The price that you pay is that the opportunity to realize greatness will have to be forsaken. But greatness you anyway never had.
So, what are you forsaking? Well, materially nothing. It is atmost an opportunity cost. It is not a material cost. Walking on the little path, what is it that you require to give up or pay or sacrifice? The opportunity to be great. But, being great is merely an opportunity. Greatness is not materially present with you. It is not really available to you, is it? So, the little man says, “What do I really have to give up? Greatness? Well, I anyway don’t have. Walking on the little path I am required to pay as a tax just my greatness. But that greatness I anyway I do not have or atmost I have a potential to be great, an opportunity to be great. So, what is it that I am giving up? Atmost, an imaginary possibility. Atmost, a potential to be realized in future. Atmost, something very uncertain, very dicey.” This path is quite attractive. Look at the offerings of the two paths.
The great path says what will you get - An imaginary liberation, what do you have to pay – Material self. In the great path, what you get is imaginary. Why imaginary? Because you don’t yet have it. The great path is saying you will get liberation. When the great path talks to you and says you will be given liberation, what do we say? “Liberation, what exactly is that?” And, why do we say that? Because we are in bondage, we do not know liberation. Hence, when somebody promises us liberation, what is liberation to us? Greek and Latin. You are being offered sky flowers. How tempting is that? You are being offered, in my lingo, kakatuka. How alluring is that? You do not know what kakatuka is.
So, you cannot be really tempted. The great path offers you liberation. You say “Liberation, what is that?” So that’s the offering. An offering that doesn’t mean much to us. The little path offers retention of what you are and that you already have. And you are worried that you have it and you may lose it. Hence, when you are offered protection, it is something very tangible, very material, and hence, quite attractive. Do you get it?
The great path is offering you something that you do not have. Neither do you have it nor can you conceive it? You can’t even think of it. It is beyond imagination. The little path is offering you something very tangible. You already have it. You know its value and the little path is saying that which you have but is threatened by time will be protected. Not only will it be protected, but it will also be enhanced. You say “Now, that’s some deal! The fellows on the other path, they were really thugs or something. They were trying to sell bitter bananas to me.” They were saying “We’ll give you liberation.” Now, what is that? Here is a concrete proposal and the concrete proposal says, “Your ego shall be protected and enhanced.” Now, this one is talking business, I take the deal. To make things even more lopsided, look at the cost that the great path is extracting from you.
The great path says, “Give up what you have.” Now, that’s a tangible loss. The gain that you have on the great path is totally intangible and the loss that you have on the great path is totally tangible. Now, you have to be a supreme idiot to give up something tangible for something totally unforeseen, unpredictable, unimaginable, and intangible. And one does feel like an idiot walking the great path. You are giving up everything in expectation of something that cannot be even expressed in words. Ha! How wise is that?
On the other hand, look at the cost that the little path is demanding. It is saying “No, nothing. The cost is greatness”. And as we have already said, greatness the walker anyway doesn’t have. So, the cost is imaginary. Here, the benefit is tangible on the little path and the cost is imaginary. On the great path, the benefit is imaginary or para-imaginary and the cost is tangible. Now, which one do you choose? Which one do you choose? And remember, you can choose either way. Nobody would come and censor or criticize your choice. There is no authority in these matters outside of yourself. Pick what you want to. Nobody is going to label you immoral or corrupt or whatever. What do you pick? The little path? And man is entitled to pick as per his desire. Now, is it surprising anymore that 999 out of 1000 people choose to walk the mean path? The mean path offers a much better deal. Only some crackpots decide to walk the great path. The so-called great path. They give up all that they have in expectation of something beyond the mind. Ha! Are you getting it?
Now, do you see why the world is the way it is? Because the little path is offering a far better deal. So, most people pick the little deal. We are wise people, aren’t we? We know how to negotiate in the markets right? We all know. We may know nothing else but all of us are some kinds of experts in deal-making. So, the deal is made. “Hey, the little one for me!” It is not surprising that the little path is so crowded. If there is anything surprising it is that how is it possible that a handful of people still decide to walk the great path. What kind of infernal stupidity possesses them? You are prepared to give up everything you have for Kakatuka? Are you?
On the other side, you will get everything that you want, just give your Kakatuka to me. And you say very cheerfully, “Kakatuka, I don’t have. So, I don’t have to give you anything.” What is it that the little path is demanding from you? Your Kakatuka. Your greatness with which you are not acquainted at all. Your greatness that lies outside the zone of your experience. And even if we have accidentally sometimes experienced it, those experiences have been few and far between, and we have never valued them much. So, Kakatuka is easy to do away with. “Oh, Kakatuka? That useless thing? Take it, Take it.” Some say, “I don’t have it.” Some say, “Oh I have it, it is lying rusting in some corner of the basement of my consciousness. I’ll go dig it out and throw it at you. Take Kakatuka, if this is the payment that the little path requires. Take it. It’s any way of no use. A piece of drivel.”
Each of you at every moment has this choice, whether to walk the great path or to walk the mean path. The choice is not open to compromise. Nobody can violate your right to choose, ever. From the great path, you can jump over to the small one. At the same time from the small path, it is possible to turn to the great one. But the conditions always remain the same. Whenever you take the great path, the payment that you are required to make is the same. Whenever you take the small path, the temptation that is offered to you remains the same.
So, now you know how the man keeps resisting his integrity and true nature. You are asking what are those morbid fears that cripple man in following his heart? Nothing. It’s a deal. It’s a deal. If you ask what the morbid fear is, the name of the fear is the man himself. The great path requires you to not be the normal human anymore. And we are human beings right. We are bodied beings. This so-called humanity is the morbid fear that you are talking of. A man comes with baggage as his 'self'. A man comes with garbage as his constituent material. And that’s the tariff or sacrifice that the great path asks for. Give up your garbage. But giving up your garbage is tantamount to giving up the self and the self is me. Am I to walk the path or am I to dig my grave here? Hello?
I came to walk the distance. I didn’t come to get buried in the middle of the road. But that’s how your conditions sound. You are saying “If you have to walk this path, you’ll have to give yourself up.” If I give myself up, who will reach the destination? It’s almost like paying your car for toll tax. Traveling to Agra, the toll tax chaps stop you and then they say that tax is your car. And the great path is worse. It is not saying that tax is merely the car, the tax is the car and the driver which is you. Who will gather the receipt then? None of your business. You just deposit yourself with us. “To hell with your highway. I want to take the other route.” How fascinating does such a highway sound?
It’s a great path you see. We want to reach a great destination, but we want to reach a great destination as ourselves. Do you see our dilemma? And somehow you know, we are not responsible for putting ourselves in these dilemmas. Somebody else is. He deserves one or two polite words from us. What is the dilemma? You have to reach somewhere but you cannot reach there as you are. If you remain who you are, you will not reach. And if you will reach, you will not remain. So, who will reach there? Not you. “If I am not to reach there, why must I travel the distance at all? One travels for the sake of reaching. And if I am not reaching, then must I travel at all?” These are obvious and logical questions.
The great path says, “Logic not allowed.” And when you start quarreling too much with the great pathers, they offer you another bate. They say, “You will have love here, you will get love here.” You say “Nice, that’s a pretty exciting word. How will I get love?” The great pathers say “By disappearing. By disappearing, you will meet the great beloved.” “If I will disappear, exactly who will enjoy the fun of meeting the beloved?” “No, you know, that we cannot say. But what is certain is that if you are who you are, then there will only be a separation between you and the beloved. Don’t you want the beloved?” “Yes, I do want the beloved, but I want the beloved. I want the beloved.
So there has to be the beloved and me. Your condition is when I meet the beloved, there would only be the beloved and not me. Now, this kind of meeting I don’t want. There would be nice fun, some excitement, some enjoyment only if the two of us are there right. He is there and I am there. And there will be some tango.” We want to enjoy our beloved. In other words, we want to consume the beloved.
So, the great path does offer love but it’s a very very demanding love. How many of you are prepared to date someone who would eat you up? If you are told it’s going to be a very exciting date but you will not return from it, how many of you will say “Yes, ready”? And the beloved is the most beautiful, the most charming one, beyond your imagination. You can meet him but that’ll be your final meeting.
To make matters worse, you will not even meet him. Just as you are about to meet him, he will remain, and you will dissolve. So, you’ll not even get the pleasure of actually meeting him. How many will be prepared to sign such a deal? You’ll not even be able to see him because just as you are about to see him, you will disappear. That’s the great path. Now, I am wondering what kind of a bug bites those who choose that path. A small path is cool and it’s crowded, there is security. There are all kinds of entertainment zones, eateries, little shopping complexes, fun places for kids, clean restrooms. Certain things cannot be achieved by man. Certain things happen when a man and his tendency to achieve do not remain at all.
Then, the accompanying question “Is it bad to care for others?” Because when somebody moves in the pursuit of greatness, he inevitably finds that others are getting hurt. So, the question is shouldn’t one be full of care for others and not do things that hurt them? And nothing hurts the small man more than seeing a great man in his vicinity or a small man trying to move towards greatness. It’s an utter insult. Smallness is justified by numbers. The moment even one person defies smallness, and move towards greatness unreasonably, there is a commotion in the crowd of the small ones. They feel humiliated. Because the conclusion is so obvious. If it was possible for one man to move towards greatness, it was possible for everybody.
Even if you have collected great numbers, all those numbers mean nothing in front of the one person who is demonstrating that something could have been done, so they get hurt. They do not get hurt because of you Ankit, they get hurt because of their own insistence on remaining small. Why do you want to blame yourself?
In fact, that which makes you blame yourself is the smallness present in you. If you move towards greatness or aspire for it, and that hurts people around you, that only means that the people around you are insistent on remaining small, further it also means that people around you do not love you at all. Not only do they not love you, they are actually actively vicious towards you. Not only do they not want to accompany you to the right place, well again the rightness of that place is my subjective interjection, but they want to actually stop you from moving in that direction.
In love, you want the best for the other one, right? Without caring for yourself. And if someone close to you is moving towards liberation and you start feeling hurt or shedding tears, then it only means that you are probably that person’s worst enemy. Who else can be called an enemy?
The one who wants to keep you in bondage. You say people around the aspirant of greatness get hurt because they have their expectations from him. What are these expectations exactly? The fellow is moving towards greatness and they are saying “Oh, you are not fulfilling our expectations.” So, surely, their expectations are? If I want you to be great and you move towards greatness, then I’ll say “Thank you so much. You are fulfilling my expectations.” Correct?
Now if you move towards greatness, and I say “Oh, you are not meeting my expectations”, then that surely implies that my expectation was that you must remain small. You want to honor such an expectation? You want to honor such an expectation?
Please, tell me. You move towards freedom and somebody says “Oh, you are hurting my expectations,” then don’t you want to investigate that fellow’s expectations? What is he expecting? That you should remain in bondage. That’s why when you move towards freedom, he starts crying “You just broke my heart, sweetie. I wanted you to remain in the cage.” How else do you know a person? By what he likes and what he dislikes. What else? If a fellow dislikes freedom, that tells everything about him, does it not? Do you require more information to know a person? Is this much not sufficient? Tell me. You move towards freedom and somebody starts feeling annoyed, now don’t you know everything about that person? What do you know about that person? He is a lover of cages. He is dangerous for himself and for everybody else.
On the other hand, if you proceed to encage yourself, and somebody comes to stop you with determination, what does that tell you about the person? He is a lover of freedom. You require no more information. Get rid of this business of taking care, avoiding hurt, and all that. All that is just popular culture. All that is Facebook spirituality.
Facebook spirituality says, “The greatest religion is to not hurt others.” Just google it. You’ll find a million responses. What is the greatest religion? To not to hurt others. That’s great. So, why prevent the thief from stealing? The bugger would be hurt. Why prevent the rapist from raping? He will be deeply hurt, down there. But there are many who follow this cult - “Don’t hurt.” In fact, if they are hurt, they will accuse you as if you have committed sacrilege, “You just hurt me.” Yes, I did, obviously, deliberately, I’ll do that once more and then again and again till you break because you deserve to be broken and I am greatly sorry if I hurt you and didn’t shatter you. “You’ll be violent!” Not yet, but I can be. From where do we gather these diamond ethics? “You must take care of me." In what way? “Help me remaining small.” No, I am not being a misogynist. I am not trying to imitate a female voice. I am speaking as a child does, as a kid does. Because this littleness is a sign of kiddishness, immaturity. You’re trying to protect that which deserves to be thrown away. Do not be a sissy. Do not just keep saying “Oh!, I get hurt. I need to be handled with kid gloves”. Have you seen those boxes? On top of them, it’s written: “Fragile, handle with care.” Are you that box? We are a t-shirt. On the front, it should read “Fragile” and on the back, it should read “Handle with care”. And what is it that you are protecting? Nonsense inside. What is inside that box? Nonsense. The nonsense that has outlived itself. The nonsense that deserves to be broken and directed to the waste bin.
If there is one fellow who is a bigger culprit than the fellow who gets easily hurt, it is the one who avoids hurting the one who gets easily hurt. Because the one who gets easily hurt would have long backdropped his habit of getting easily hurt, had that habit not been patronized by his so-called friends and well-wishers. In fact, we care more for the ones who get more easily hurt, don’t we? It’s a strange appended logic. “Oh this fellow, he is thick-skinned. Jolly and fine. You go and slap him, he minds not”. “Oh that one, he is very touchy.
Be careful. Offer him all the goodies, offer him respect, offer him care, he might feel bad you know. Display your best manners when you’re with him. He might just feel offended.” Don’t we do all this, please? As they say, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Grease, you understand. The wheel that keeps squeaking gets the grease and the wheels that just perform and don’t make the noise, they don’t get the grease. It’s tempting to be the squeaky wheel, is it not? You’ll be greased. The squeaky wheel does not always get greased. If the driver is like me, it gets replaced. Aren’t there other wheels available? There is a fifth one resting right in the boot of the car, so you go and relax yourself. There is somebody else waiting to be deployed. “But we thought this is a spiritual session and in spirituality, you are supposed to be nice and loving and caring and you are supposed to say good things to each other. You are supposed to make each other feel happy. Why are you being so cruel? Isn’t love about calling the cauliflower as the rose flower? I do that daily.”
Each of us deserves to be the highest that he can be. Each of us deserves to be liberated from our mean concept of ourselves. That alone is the definition of care. If you care for someone, then don’t let them remain what they are. Do you get this? Ankit has asked me, “Is it bad to care for others?” I am saying if you care for someone, don’t let them remain what they are. Rather, to make things cleaner, don’t let them remain what they pretend to be or don’t let them remain what they have become. That is the genuine meaning of care.