The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Acharya Prashant (AP): Amit says, ‘Assuming that I have to go to a place where there are all foolish men, how can I retain my individuality there?’ First of all the individual does not have to go anywhere. ‘Have to’ implies compulsion. ‘Have to’ implies that there is somebody else who is your master. If he goes somewhere, then it is out of his own understanding. He truthfully understands why he is going somewhere.
Amit, how can you say that there are foolish men somewhere unless you yourself have understood that they are foolish? This understanding that others are foolish can come only from your own intelligence. Isn’t it possible that you already are with foolish men but you cannot see that they are foolish? Isn’t it possible that you are already surrounded by foolish men but you do not know that they are foolish? When you have not opened your eyes, how it is possible for you to see this?
Suppose six men are sleeping in a room. Is it possible for one of them to know that the other five are sleeping? A sleeping man cannot know that others are sleeping. Similarly, a foolish man can never know that others are foolish. To know that the others are sleeping, you must first be awake. Am I right?
It is when you wake up then you say that others are sleeping. To know that the others are sleeping, you must first be awake. Hence to know that others are foolish, you must first be intelligent.
How do you know that others are foolish? How do you know? You have attached labels to people. All those labels are coming from your past. You have attached adjectives to people and you do not know where these adjectives come from. But you are using those adjectives to classify people and your very relationship with people is based on those objectives. You called somebody ‘intelligent’ because he gets good marks. What is your relationship with him before you think that he is intelligent? Now this definition of intelligence itself is a stupid definition.
Your very relationship, the very foundation of your life, the base of your life is based on these labels. ‘Foolish’ is one of those labels. You call other people foolish, but you do not know…