BENGALURU: If you do something with your own hands, if you plant a tree and see it grow, if you paint a picture, or write a poem, or, when you are older, build a bridge or run some administrative job extremely well, it gives you confidence that you are able to do something. But, you see, confidence as we know it now is always within the prison, the prison which society –whether communist, Hindu, or Christian –has built around us.
Initiative within the prison does create a certain confidence, because you feel you can do things: you can design a motor, be a very good doctor, an excellent scientist, and so on. But this feeling of confidence which comes with the capacity to succeed within the social structure, or to reform, to give more light, to decorate the interior of the prison is really self-confidence; you know you can do something, and you feel important in doing it, Whereas, when through investigating, through understanding, you break away from the social structure of which you are a part, there comes an entirely different kind of confidence which is without the sense of self-importance; and if we can understand the difference between these two - between self-confidence, and confidence without the self. I think it will have great significance in our life.
When you play a game very well, like badminton, cricket, or football, you have a certain sense of confidence, have you not? It gives you the feeling that you are pretty good at it. If you are quick at solving mathematical problems, that also breeds a sense of self-assurance. When confidence is born of action within the social structure, there always goes with it a strange arrogance, does there not? The confidence of a man who can do things, who is capable of achieving results, is always coloured by this arrogance of the self, the feeling, “It is I who do it”. So, in the very act of achieving a result, of bringing about a social reform within the prison, there is the arrogance of the self, the feeling that I have done it, that my ideal is important, that my group has succeeded. This sense of the ‘me’ and the ‘mine’ always goes with the confidence that expresses itself within the social prison.
Have you not noticed how arrogant idealists are? The political leaders who bring about certain results, who achieve great reforms - have you not noticed that they are full of themselves, puffed up with their ideals and their achievements? In their own estimation they are very important. Read a few of the political speeches, watch some of these people who call themselves reformers, and you will see that in the very process of reformation they are cultivating their own ego; their reforms, however extensive, are still within the prison, therefore they are destructive and ultimately bring more misery and conflict to man.
Now, if you can see through this whole social structure, the cultural pattern of the collective will which we call civilization - if you can understand all that and break away from it, break through the prison walls of your particular society, whether Hindu, communist, or Christian, then you will find that there comes a confidence which is not tainted with the sense of arrogance. It is the confidence of innocence.