By Ma Prem Naina
An interesting fact is that when a man is cunning in his acts, we look upon him as evil; we call it cunningness. But when a man is cunning in acts which we look upon as good, we call him wise and intelligent. This is a part of our cunningness as well. Cunningness means: Whatever I do, I do with an eye to the result.
Sometimes we greet another person only if it is worthwhile to do so. We quickly weigh in our mind the pros and cons: Whether he is the son of a minister, or some relation of his, or a relation of his relation, how far is the reach of his influence. Even a simple act of greeting is calculated with a clever mind. If nothing can be achieved by greeting this man, there is no sense in greeting him at all.All around us, there are manipulations and calculations.
According to Lao Tzu, “As long as this cunningness prevails, not only in wrong things but also in right things, life can never step out of its hollow artificiality into simple naturalness. Live not in result but in action. Live from moment to moment. Live in the act, not in the consequence. When you pass a stranger, greet him with a smile. This act in itself is fulfilling.”
Often we may have come across beautiful rustic people in the villages who greet us without even knowing us. It seems so strange. But it is not strange for these simple village folk. They meet and they greet. They do not know us nor do they care who we are. Just to wish someone well is a source of joy to them, and so they do it.
But we, the so-called civilized ones, are bogged down with calculations. Our love is calculated; our prayersare calculated. Not only our shops and business centres are filled with cunningness but our temples are also an expansion of this psyche, there also we calculate.
Lao Tzu said,’Banish cunningness and discard utility’. This cunningness will never let us be simple and spontaneous. This matter of utility goes even deeper. We seek utility in everything. If we develop a new bomb, our names will be paraded in the newspapers but if we write beautiful poems, who cares? What is the utility of a song? What is utilitarian is sought after. How many people can it kill; how many people can it provide with work, how many people can be fed and clothed with it? What is the utility of a song or a flower? None whatsoever. They are as good as useless.
Osho points out, “This point of view is “materialism”. An atheist is not one who does not believe in God, but one who believes in utility. A theist is one who does not even glance at utility. Utility is not at all significant. Everything that is best, everything that is excellent in life, is non-utilitarian.”
If we concentrate on utility, what is the utility of love? On the contrary, it creates difficulties. Those who are clever never fall in love. Money has its uses, a house has its uses but what will one do with a song, or with love?
We have created a concept of life in which everything has become a commodity, a thing to be used. In Egypt,wives and servants of ancient kings were buried along with the king after his death because they were utilitarian objects for him when he was alive. For thousands of years, we forced women in India to commit sati on the death of their husbands for this very reason. The wife was useful as long as the husband lived; otherwise she was useless. She was a means of utility, and nothing more. So she was made to die with her husband and we know how to cover even murder with clever words. We called this murder sati. But the man who brought this tradition into being never once thought of ending their lives after their wives’ death. Man was always, the owner, the master. The woman only had utilitarian value. This manner of looking at life is called materialism.
We have forgotten that each thing has a value of its own. This value is not based on utility. To be, in itself, is valuable. For instance, a woman is precious in herself, and not because she is somebody’s wife or somebody’s mother or somebody’s daughter. She is valuable in herself. We are not more valuable according to what we do. Our value is not the sum total of our actions. The individual is enough and his or her actions have nothing to do with it.
Real religion is that which relieves us from materialism. The concept that deals with life in terms of utility turns life into a marketplace, where everything is bought and sold.
Lao Tzu says that the value will be discernible only when the cacophony of the marketplace dies down, when prices no longer exist. We have turned life into a big marketplace where everything has its price. Each man bears a price tag on his forehead. Each man is for sale. Some for more, some for less.
If the value of things remains, but no price is fixed on them, what will be the worth of diamonds? In itself, the diamond is just another stone. But it is very expensive. The value of a diamond is man-made. Man has set the price on everything. This makes a worthless thing seem precious and a valuable thing look worthless.
If life is natural and is based on intrinsic values, then there shall be no thieves and brigands. They exist because of the materialistic concept we have given to life. When life is reduced to the utilitarian then thefts will take place; but when life is based on its own value, there can be no thefts. Thefts can only take place in bazaars. We live in the centre of these bazaars. The result of man’s efforts for the last 5,000 years have brought all facets of life into the marketplace. Nothing is outside the marketplace, so we know nothing of nature or truth or the self.
Lao Tzu says: Banish all calculations, discard price and know the simple self. He tells us not to involve ourselves in these things; but to try and discover the tiny ray of consciousness within ourselves and not give it big names. The day we open the door within, we come upon the temple within yourself.This can only be attained when we succeed in destroying the web we have created around us. This web is intricate and we keep adding unto it every day. The result is that the music of life within us is completely lost to us, so much so that we do not even know of its existence.
Ma PremNaina (Naina Rajkumari) is a Master’s in Business Administration and also holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication. She was initiated into Osho’s Neo Sanyas in 2003 and has been heading the publications and media relations at Osho World Foundation before moving on to join Solidaridad Network Asia as Head of Communications.