Love is the most selfish thing in the world. Love is basically love of oneself. If you love yourself, only then can you love somebody else. If you don’t love yourself, to love anybody else is almost impossible. The quality of love has to grow within you, only then can the fragrance reach to somebody else. If you don’t love yourself you can only pretend that you love others. Your love will be pseudo, false, a deception. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred this is what is happening — because humanity has been debarred, conditioned. Every child has been conditioned not to love himself but to love others. That is impossible. That cannot happen; that is not the way things are. Every child has been taught not to be selfish, and that’s the only way of being.
If you are not selfish you will not be altruistic, remember. If you are not selfish you will not be unselfish, remember. Only a very deeply selfish person can be unselfish. But this has to be understood because it looks like a paradox.
What is the meaning of being selfish? The first basic thing is to be self-centered. The second basic thing is always to look for one’s blissfulness. If you are self-centered you will be selfish whatsoever you do. You may go and serve people, but you will do it only because you enjoy it, because you love doing it, you feel happy and blissful doing it. You feel yourself doing it. You are not doing any duty; you are not serving humanity. You are not a great martyr; you are not sacrificing. These are all nonsensical terms. You are simply being happy in your own way. It feels good to you: you go to the hospital and serve the ill people there, or you go to the poor and serve them. But you love it. It is how you grow. Deep down you feel blissful and silent, happy about yourself.
A self-centered person is always seeking his happiness. And this is the beauty of it: that the more you seek your happiness, the more you will help others to be happy. Because that is the only way to be happy in the world. If everybody else around you is unhappy, you cannot be happy, because man is not an island. He is part of the vast continent. If you want to be happy you will have to help others who surround you to be happy. Only then — and only then — can you be happy.
You have to create the atmosphere of happiness around you. If everybody is miserable, how can you be happy? You will be affected. You are not a stone. You are a very delicate being, very sensitive. If everybody is miserable around you, their misery will affect you. Misery is as infectious as any disease. Blissfulness is also infectious as any disease. If you help others to be happy, in the end you help yourself to be happy. A person who is deeply interested in his happiness is always interested in others’ happiness also — but not for them. Deep down he is interested in himself, that’s why he helps. If in the world everybody is taught to be selfish, the whole world will be happy. There will be no possibility for misery.
If you want to be healthy you cannot live amongst people who are ill. How can you be healthy? It will be impossible. It is against the law. You have to help others to be healthy. In health your health becomes possible.
Teach everybody to be selfish; unselfishness grows out of it. Unselfishness is ultimately selfishness. It may look unselfish in the beginning, but finally it fulfills you. And then happiness can be multiplied: as many as are the people around you that are happy, that much happiness goes on falling on you. You can become superbly happy.
But never forget about yourself — you have been taught…. Politicians, priests have been doing that, because that is the only way in the world for politicians and priests to be. If you are miserable, priests will be needed. If you are ill, unhappy, politicians will be needed. If you are unruly, only then rulers are needed. If you are ill, only then doctors are needed. Politicians want you to be disorderly; otherwise on whom will they impose the order? Through your disorder they become the rulers; and they teach you to be unselfish. They teach you to sacrifice yourself for the country, for the god, for the religion — Islam, Hinduism — for the Koran, the Geeta, for the Bible — any word will do — but sacrifice yourself. If you are sacrificed, the priest remains happy, the politician remains happy.
Priests and politicians are in a deep conspiracy — maybe they are unconscious, not aware what they are doing, but they don’t want you to be happy. One thing, they don’t want you to be happy. Whenever they see that you are becoming happy, they become alert. Then you are a danger to them, their society, their established world — you are dangerous. A happy person is the most dangerous person in the world. He can prove to be subversive — because a happy person is a free person, and a happy person doesn’t bother about wars, Vietnams, Israel. For a happy person these things look neurotic, foolish.
A happy person is so happy, he wants to be left alone to be happy. He wants his own privacy to be preserved. He wants to live with the flowers and the poetry and the music. Why should he bother to go to the wars, be killed and kill others? Why should he be murderous and suicidal? Only unselfish people can do that, because they have never known the bliss that is possible to them. They have never had any experience: what it is to be, what it is to celebrate. They have never danced. They have never breathed life. They have not known any divine glimpse; all those glimpses come from deep happiness, from deep satiety, contentment.
An unselfish person is uprooted, uncentered. He is in deep neurosis. He is against nature; he cannot be healthy and whole. He is fighting against the current of life, being, existence: he is trying to be unselfish. He cannot be unselfish — because only a selfish person can be unselfish. When you have happiness you can share it; when you don’t have, how can you share it? To share, in the first place one must have it. An unselfish person is always serious, deep down ill, in anguish. He has missed his own life.
And remember, whenever you miss your life you become murderous, suicidal. Whenever a person lives in misery, he would like to destroy. Misery is destructive; happiness creative. There is only one creativity, and that is of blissfulness, cheerfulness, delight. When you are delighted you want to create something, maybe a toy for children, maybe a poem, maybe a painting — something. Whenever you are too delighted in life, how to express it? You create something — something or other. But when you are miserable you want to crush and destroy something. You would like to become a politician, you would like to become a soldier — you would like to create some situation in which you can be destructive.
That’s why every now and then war erupts somewhere on the earth. It is a great disease. And all politicians go on talking about peace. They prepare for war; they talk for peace. In fact they say, “We are preparing for war to preserve peace.” Most irrational. If you are preparing for war, how can you preserve peace? To preserve peace one should prepare for peace.
That’s why the new generation all over the world is a great danger to the establishment. They are interested only in being happy. They are interested in love, they are interested in meditation, they are interested in music, dance…. Politicians have become very alert all over the world. The new generation is not interested in politics — rightist or leftist. No, they are not interested at all. They are not communists; they don’t belong to any ism.
A happy person belongs to himself. Why should he belong to any organization? That is the way of an unhappy person: to belong to some organization, to belong to some crowd. Because he has no roots within himself, he does not belong — and that gives him a very, very deep anxiety: he should belong. He creates a substitute belonging. He goes and becomes part of a political party, of a revolutionary party, or anything — a religion. Now he feels he belongs: a crowd is there in which he is rooted.
One should be rooted in oneself because the way from oneself moves deep down to God, to existence. If you belong to a crowd you belong to an impasse; from there no further growth is possible. There comes the end, a cul-de-sac.
But politicians depend on your sacrifice. They don’t want you to be happy; they don’t want your smiles, your laughter. They want you to be miserable, so miserable that you become destructive, angry, in a rage. Then you can be used; for their ends you can be used. They teach you to be unselfish, they teach you to be martyrs, they teach you, “Sacrifice your life for others” — and they are teaching the same thing to others also. It seems a big, foolish, game.
I don’t teach you to be unselfish because I know if you are selfish you will be unselfish automatically, spontaneously. If you are not selfish you have missed yourself; now you cannot be in contact with anybody else — the basic contact is missing. The first step has been missed.
Forget about the world and the society and the utopias and Karl Marx. Forget about all this. You are just here for a few years to be. Enjoy, delight, be happy, dance, and love; and out of your love and dancing, out of your deep selfishness will start an overflowing of energy. You will be able to share with others.
Love, I say, is one of the most selfish things. If you want a still deeper selfish thing then comes meditation, prayer. If you want a still more selfish thing then comes God. You cannot be related to God through somebody else; there is no via media. With God you have to be face to face, immediate, without any media. You alone in your superb aloneness will encounter that supreme experience.
I teach selfishness, but if you understand my selfishness you will understand all that is beautiful, all that is unselfish.
IN BEING SELFISH DOES ONE STILL REMAIN AWARE OF OTHERS OR NOT?
If you are aware of yourself you become aware of others. How can it be otherwise? If you are not aware of yourself, how can you be aware of others? Awareness first must happen within you. The light must be lighted there first. The flame must arise within you; only then can the light spread and envelop others. You live in darkness, unawareness — how can you be aware of others? You go on thinking, you dream — you are not aware of others.
The husband may say, “I am aware of my wife and her feelings.” Simply not possible, because the husband is not aware of himself. He lives in deep darkness and unconsciousness. He does not know from where his anger comes, he does not know from where love arises, he does not know from where comes this existence, flowing. He is not aware of himself — and that is the closest thing you can be aware of — and he says, “I am aware of my wife and her feelings.” Foolishness. He may be thinking, dreaming that he is aware. Everybody lives surrounded in his own dreams; and hidden behind the dreams, one’s own projections, one goes on thinking: “I am aware.”
Ask the wife; she says, “He is never aware of me.” The wife thinks she is aware of her husband, his needs; but those needs that she thinks she is aware of are not her husband’s needs. That’s what she thinks are his needs. The conflict continues, and both are aware and both feel for each other and both are careful about each other.
Nobody can be careful about anybody else unless one has learned the lesson first in the deeper, inner core of his being. First be careful about yourself. That is the nearest, closest point. Learn awareness there; then you will be aware of others. Then for the first time you will not project. You will not interpret; you will look directly. You will look at the other as he is, not as you would like him to be or as you think him to be. Then you will look at reality.
When dreams drop from your eyes and your eyes are not full of dreams, only then can you be aware. Otherwise your eyes are cloudy; many clouds and much smoke exist there. You look, but you look from behind screens, and those screens pervert everything that you see. They distort. They don’t mirror; they project. When your dreams have disappeared and you are alert — alert, aware, mindful — then your eyes become like the eyes of a camera. You simply see that which is; you don’t project. You don’t do anything to the reality; you simply allow the reality to be revealed. Your eyes are simple, innocent passages. They simply look. Right now, as you are, you can’t look. Your eyes are filled already with prejudice, ideas, conceptions, beliefs. You cannot look. Your eyes are not empty enough to Look.
How can you be aware of others? Only a Buddha is aware, one who has awakened within himself. But a Buddha is a very selfish man, a Mahavir is a selfish man, a Patanjali, absolutely selfish — but they help millions. They become a benediction to millions. All those who are in need and in search can use their light. But they are lighted. That is the meaning of enlightenment: their flame is burning. You can partake of it. You can light your own inner flame through it. You can become a participant.
Awareness has to be learned within. When you awake inside yourself you awake to the whole world, to the whole existence. Suddenly shrouds fall. Suddenly your eyes are no longer filled… empty, receptive, naked. You see. You don’t project, you don’t interpret. You have nothing to project. You have become just space, an inner emptiness.
Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 6
Chapter title: Selfishness: The only Unselfishness
4 September 1975 am in Buddha Hall