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What is the cause of this effort we are always making? Surely, it is self-contradiction. Do you understand? There is contradiction in our thinking, in our living, in our very being; and where there is contradiction, there must be effort - the effort to be or not to be this or that. Contradiction exists in little things, and in big things too. There is contradiction in our various desires; there is the contradiction or what I am and what I think I should be, which is exaggerated by the ideal. Wherever there is an ideal, self-contradiction is inevitable. All ideals perpetuate this inward conflict. However noble the ideal may be, a mind that follows the ideal must be in a continuous state of self-contradiction; and a self-contradictory mind is caught in this net of incessant effort.
Please, sirs, see the truth of this, and do not merely accept or reject what I am saying, for then it will have no value. It is of the utmost importance to see that the ideal perpetuates self-contradiction, and that through self-contradiction there can be no action which is not corrupt. As long as there is self-contradiction, all action is corruption. Sirs, 'good' action in the wrong direction is evil, and the 'good' action of a mind which is in contradiction with itself, is bound to produce misery. That is exactly what is happening in this and every other land.
So, self-contradiction is the cause of this ceaseless effort which most of us are making. Self-contradiction exists, because one wants to be something, does it not? I want to be the governor, or the prime minister; I want to be noble, non-greedy; I want to become a saint. Do you follow, sirs? The moment you have an idea of being or becoming something, there must be self-contradiction. Don't say, "Then must I not become something?" That is not the problem. Just see what is implied in becoming something. That is enough.
Bombay 2nd Public Talk 27th December 1959 Read full text