Osho speaks about a letter written to Dale Carnegie and how Carnegie’s answer was transformed over and over again. From our series 1001 Tales, compiled by Shanti.
It happened once…
One woman wrote a letter to an American author, Dale Carnegie.
Dale Carnegie had delivered a lecture on the radio on Abraham Lincoln, and he had mentioned many wrong dates in it. The woman was a lover of Abraham Lincoln, so she wrote a very angry letter saying, ”If you don’t know the ABC of Abraham Lincoln’s life, you should not go on the radio. And this is insulting. If you are not well informed, then first get informed and then start lecturing.”
Dale Carnegie was a man of fame, had written many bestsellers; he got offended, he was very angry. So he wrote a letter immediately, in the same tone, the same anger, the same irritation. But it was late and the servant had gone, so he left the letter on the table. In the morning he would post it.
In the morning, when he was putting it in the envelope, he just looked once more at it. He felt, ”This is too much. The woman has not written like this, she doesn’t deserve so much anger from me.”
And, in a way, he felt she was right also. So he tore up the letter and wrote another, which was totally different. There was no anger, no irritation in it, rather the attitude of thanking her for making him aware of some mistakes and he felt obliged.
But then he thought, ”If in twelve hours so much can change, there is no hurry. I can wait for a few more days.”
So he tried one experiment. He left the letter again on the table. By the evening he again read it and he wanted to change a few words again. For seven days he continued. On the seventh day it became a love letter. And Dale Carnegie relates that that woman proved one of the best friends that he had ever had in his life.
What would have happened if the servant had not gone and the letter had been posted? He would have created an enemy.
As we live, we live out of the past. If someone insults you, you immediately react. That reaction comes from your past experiences…
For example, someone insults you. Many people have insulted you in the past; there has come a wound in your heart, through all the insults a wound is created. This insult will also hit the wound, and then you will react. That reaction will not be justified, because this man is not creating the wound. And if the wound is touched, the pain is not created by his insult really. It has been created by many insults and the reaction is accumulated; it is not justified.
That’s why it happens that, if you react, the other always feels, ”Why are you reacting so much? I have not said anything.”
You also know it: you are not aware that you have said something to someone, which has become a hurt in him and he reacts. And you say, ”You have misunderstood me, because I have not said anything to insult you. Why are you reacting? Are you mad?”
But you don’t know. He has a wound, and when you hit the wound the whole pain comes towards you. The wound may have been created by many people – unknown, known, not remembered – but the whole wound is poured on this person. This is not justified.
So what will it be to respond immediately? It will be first to put aside the past. Look at this man with alertness, so that the past doesn’t cloud you. Look at whatsoever he has said, dissect it, analyse it, in the light of the present. And it will be better if you can wait a little and meditate on it.
Osho, Vedanta, Seven Steps to Samadhi – Discourses on the Akshya Upanishad, Ch 15, Q 5 (excerpt)