Perfect Conduct – In Gita Verse 16.17 Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they sometimes proudly perform sacrifices in name only, without following any rules or regulations.

When Krishna is saying one who proudly performs all his action will not be humble. They may look polite by doing all kinds of acts in the name of sacrifice, which is not sacrifice but is full of formality. Only a humble person knows how to follow the rules and regulations.

What is the difference between politeness and humbleness?

A car is a mechanical unity, there is no life in it, and that is why you can replace one part with another. Every part is replaceable. But can you replace a man? Impossible! When a man dies, a unique phenomenon disappears; disappears completely, you cannot replace it. When your wife dies or your husband dies, now how can you replace them? You may get another wife, but this will be another wife, not a replacement. And the shadow of the first will always be there; the first cannot be forgotten, it will always be there. It may become a shadow, but even shadows of love are very substantial.

You cannot replace a person, there is no way. If it is a mechanical unity then wives are replaceable parts, you can even have spare wives. You can keep them in your storeroom and whenever your wife dies, you replace her.

This is what is happening in the West. They have started to think in terms of mechanism. So now they say nothing is a problem – one wife dies, you get another, one husband is no more, you get another replacement. Marriage in the West is a mechanical unity, that’s why divorce is possible. The East denies divorce because marriage is an organic unity. How can you replace a live person? It will never happen again, that person has simply disappeared into the ultimate mystery.

Life is an organic unity. I say you cannot replace a plant because every plant is unique, you cannot find another, the same cannot be found. Life has a quality of uniqueness. Even a small rock is unique – you can go all over the world to find a similar rock and you will not be able to. How can you replace it? This is the difference between organic unity and mechanical unity. Mechanical unity depends on the parts; the parts are replaceable, they are not unique. Organic unity depends on the whole, not on the parts. Parts are not really parts, they are not separate from the whole – they are one, they cannot be replaced.

When you become alert to the inner flame of your inner being, suddenly you become alert that you are not an island, it is a vast continent, an infinite continent. There are no boundaries separating you from it. All boundaries are false, make-believe. All boundaries are in the mind; in existence there are no boundaries.

Then who is a stranger? When you step on somebody, it is you; you have stepped on your own foot. No apology is needed, no explanation is needed. There is no one else, there is only one. Then your life becomes real, authentic, spontaneous; then it is not formal, then you do not follow any rules. You have come to know the ultimate law. Now no rules are needed. You have become the law – there is no need to remember the rules now.

The greatest politeness is free of all formality. Have you looked at people who are polite? You will not find more egoistic people than these. Look at a polite person, the very way he stands, the way he talks, the way he looks, walks; he has managed everything to look, to appear polite, but inside the ego is manipulating.

Look at the so-called humble people. They say they are nobodies, but when they say it, look into their eyes, at the ego asserting. And this is a very cunning ego, because if you say, “I am somebody,” everybody will be against you, and everybody will try to put you in your place. If you say, “I am nobody,” everybody is for you, nobody is against you.

Polite people are very cunning and clever. They know what to say, what to do, so that they can exploit you. If they say, “I am somebody,” everybody is against them. Then conflict arises because everybody thinks that he is an egoist. It will be difficult to exploit people then because everybody is closed against you. If you say, “I am nobody, I am just dust on your feet,” then the doors are open and you can exploit them. All etiquette, culture, is a type of sophisticated cunningness, you are exploiting.

The greatest politeness is free of all formality.

It happened that Confucius came to see Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu’s master. And Confucius was the image of formal politeness. He was the greatest formalist in the world, the world has never known such a great formalist. He was simply manners, formality, culture, etiquette. He came to see Lao Tzu, the polar opposite.

Confucius was very old, Lao Tzu was not so old. So to be formal when Confucius came in, Lao Tzu should have stood up to receive him. But he remained sitting. It was impossible for Confucius to believe that such a great master, known all over the country for his humbleness, should be so impolite. He had to talk about it.

Immediately he said, “This is not good. I am older than you.”

Lao Tzu laughed loudly and said, “Nobody is older than me. I existed before everything came into existence. Confucius, we are of the same age, everything is of the same age. From eternity we have been in existence, so don’t carry this burden of old age. Sit down.”

Confucius had come to ask some questions. He said, “How should a religious man behave?”

Lao Tzu said, “When, the how comes in, there is no religion. How – is not a question for a religious man. The how, shows that you are not religious but that you want to behave like a religious man – that is why you ask how.”

Whatsoever Confucius asked, Lao Tzu replied in such a way that Confucius became very disturbed: “This man is dangerous!”

He went back; his disciples asked, “What happened, what manner of man is this Lao Tzu?”

Confucius said, “Don’t go near him. You may have seen dangerous snakes, but nothing compares with this man. You may have heard about ferocious lions, they are nothing before this man. This man is a dragon walking on the earth, he can swim in the sea, he can go to the very end of the sky – very dangerous. He is not for us little people, we are too small. He is dangerous, vast like an abyss. Don’t go near him, otherwise you will feel dizzy and you may fall. Even I felt dizzy. I couldn’t understand what he said, he was beyond understanding.”

Lao Tzu is bound to be beyond understanding if you try to understand him through formality; otherwise he is simple. But for Confucius he is difficult, almost impossible to understand, because he sees through forms and Lao Tzu has no form and no formality. Nameless, without any form, he lives in the infinite.

The greatest politeness is free of all formality. Lao Tzu was sitting, Confucius was waiting for him to stand up. Who was really polite? Confucius waiting for Lao Tzu to stand up and welcome him and receive him because he is older, is just egoistic. Now the ego has taken the form of age, seniority.

But Confucius could not look directly into the eyes of Lao Tzu, because Lao Tzu was right. He was saying: We are of the same age. Really, we are the same. The same life flows in you that flows in me. You are not superior to me, I am not superior to you. There is no question of superiority and inferiority, and there is no question of seniority and juniority. There is no question, we are one.

If Confucius could have looked into the eyes, and seen that those eyes were divine. But a man whose own eyes are filled with laws, rules, regulations, formalities, is almost blind, he cannot see.

Krishna says perfect conduct is free of concern. You conduct yourself well because you are concerned. You behave well because you are concerned.


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