Was Benjamin Franklin right in saying Honesty is the Best Policy?
“Most of us were told this as children, and took it on board as a given, but what if honesty isn’t a policy at all? And famous saying “Honesty is the Best Policy” is teaching us dishonesty and hypocrisy.
“As you grow up, as the society goes on teaching you to be this way, to behave this way, you start becoming a hypocrite, and you become identified with your hypocrisy.
My function here is to destroy all hypocrisy in you. To me honesty is not a policy.
“The man who first made up this maxim, ‘Honesty is the best policy,’ must have been a very cunning man. Honesty is not policy; and if it is policy, then it is not honesty: you are honest because it pays, you will be dishonest if that pays. Honesty is the best policy if it is paying, but if sometimes it is not paying, then dishonesty of course is the best policy. The question is, what is going to pay?…
What is politeness? It is a kind of politics. Both words are derived from the same root. All three words – policy, politeness, politics – have the same root, they all mean the same thing.
Is Politeness a Quality?
“But politeness you think is a nice quality. You would never think of it in terms of politics, but it is politics. To be polite is a defense measure.
“In Europe you shake hands. Why do you shake the right hand? Why not the left? It is really part of politics. To shake hands is nothing friendly. It is just a gesture that ‘My right hand is empty so don’t be worried. And let me see that your right hand also is empty, that there is not a knife or something in it.’ And when you are shaking right hands you cannot pull your sword out because with the left hand… unless you happen to be a leftist. It is just a way of giving certainty to the other person, that you are not going to harm him, and he is giving certainty to you that he is not going to harm you. Slowly slowly, it became a symbol of greeting each other.
“In India, you greet with both hands, but that too is simply showing that both your hands are empty. It is far better than shaking hands, because who knows about the left hand? Sometimes even the right hand does not know about the left hand, so it is better to show that both hands are empty; that is far better, and far more polite also. But you are saying, ‘I am completely defenseless. You need not be wary about me or worried about me. You can relax.’ These are symbols that people have learned.
Our culture, our education, our religion – they all teach us to be hypocrites in such subtle ways that unless you go deep in search, you will never find out what you have been doing.
“Why do you smile when you meet a friend? What is the need? If you are not feeling like smiling, why do you smile? You have to do it. This is a policy that is paying, because some day you may need this man’s help, and if you have always been smiling at him, he cannot refuse. If you have never smiled at him and never even said ‘Hi,’ then you need not bother even to approach him; he will throw you out of his house with a ‘Go to hell!’
“One has to understand all these layers and detach oneself from all of them. Become a watcher so that you cannot become identified with any dream.”
To continue reading and see all available formats of this talk:
Osho, From Personality to Individuality, Talk #3 – Beware! I Am Here to Destroy Your Dreams