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On Hypocrisy

Q:

You say hypocrisy is fundamental. What about a person who openly declares that he/she holds no principles or idealistic attributes? I think I've come across a few of those. Is he/she also a hypocrite?

A:

A declaration of not being idealist in a society which at least notionally believes in idealism, also becomes an ideal. Even the person who says that he does not believe in anything is also a hypocrite at the fundamental level, because he would have to do things for the act of mere living, and supporting a family and himself, which would be contrary to his being not idealistic: he would have to go to hospital to inquire after somebody’s health – that would be an ideal. He would explain it away by saying that it was out of sympathy. But then sympathy is considered an ideal. Going to somebody’s funeral or attending marriages is conforming to an ideal.

Can one really claim to believe in nothing, without making that itself an ideal? That is the essential hypocrisy, which is unavoidable in a conscious existence. That is part and parcel of living consciously, because you cannot live without contradictions at each point of transacting and going about the business of living your life. Making a compromise here, a sacrifice there, or fighting a battle on principal -- or without.

Even becoming a ‘non-idealist’ is a product of seeing hypocrisy in idealism. Even a sadhu can be questioned: Why are you even eating? If you don’t believe in attachment, why are you supporting and sustaining your life? That is a compromise, which is hypocritical.

The secondary hypocrisy – the kind we mean when we call someone a hypocrite, is not essential or endemic. And it is not all-pervasive – some people go about doing their work without any pronouncements of right or wrong, either because they have no notion, or because they are not articulate. They just go through living without making statements. They do not come under societal condemnation as hypocrites in the secondary sense. But people who make pronouncements which are contrary to their actions – they are secondary hypocrites. For example, by and large, politicians are in that category; socialites; most successful businessmen, who must function in a corrupt and inefficient environment.

I am an idealist entirely out of conditioning, and not out of reasoning, belief or conviction. Actually, by the very nature of my investigation, I cannot believe in anything. My entire life is a continuous contradiction of my beliefs.
Practising idealism, like being very sentimental, sincere, punctual, full of piety, nobility, virtue, et al., make me an essential hypocrite. I may or may not be considered a societal hypocrite, because I pronounce what I do and do not do in the exact and honest manner in which my actions are taken. I may, therefore, be spared from the secondary, societal, hypocrisy.
ramesh gandhi