Sigmund Freud calls a man exhibitionist if he tries to show his naked body to somebody. Diogenes calls all people who have been forced by your so-called civilization to wear clothes, exhibitionists. This is a beginning of deception, hypocrisy. My feeling is that one day man will return back to being naked, because only then he will regain his health – for the simple reason that then he will have to be healthy, otherwise he will feel embarrassed. Then he will have to exercise, then he will have to go to some gymnasium and maintain his body and his beauty, because now it is not only his face that is his identity; now his whole body is his identity. He will not be ashamed of it; it is his body and nature has given it to him. He will be proud of it.
Diogenes was as beautiful a man as Mahavira – both lived naked – so proportionate, so beautiful. In India Mahavira’s nakedness became spiritual; in Greece Diogenes became a madman.
He used to carry a lamp with him, and whomsoever he met – even in the full daylight – he would raise his lamp and look at the man. People would ask, “What are you doing? It is full daylight, the sun is shining; why are you carrying a lamp? And what do you go on looking for in people’s faces?”
He used to say, “I am looking for a real, authentic man.”
My search is, in a way, similar: I am also looking for a real, authentic man. But the real, authentic man cannot be searched for with a lamp.
Diogenes’ lamp is only symbolic. It simply says that he is putting his whole lighted being as a beam on the person, as an X-ray, to see whether there is anything left or everything is hypocrisy. The day he died he had his lamp by his side, still in his hand. One man, just to joke, asked Diogenes, “Now you are dying. Before you die, please answer one question. Your whole life you have been searching for the authentic, real man, with your lamp. Have you found him or not?”
Diogenes was really a beautiful man. He laughed. He said, “I have not found him, but I am grateful to the whole of humanity that nobody stole my lamp, because I found all kinds of thieves all around. I have not been able to come across an authentic man, but even this is enough, that they have left my lamp with me. Otherwise when I looked at these people they were criminals, murderers, thieves, and I was worried about my lamp – that’s the only thing I possess. So one thing I can say before I die – a good thing about humanity – is that my lamp was not stolen.”
At the moment of death also he could laugh and joke. In Greece he was not understood at all. He belongs to the category of people like Bodhidharma, Chuang Tzu, Hotei. That was his category, but he was with the wrong people. Diogenes was a contemporary of Aristotle. Aristotle had defined man as “a two-legged animal without feathers.” That shows the depth of logic, and the insight of Aristotle. When Diogenes heard it, he caught hold of an animal with two legs, took away all the feathers, and sent it as a present to Aristotle, saying, “This is your man: a two-legged animal without feathers.”
Aristotle was very angry: “It is not a joke, and this Diogenes is never serious!”
But I say to you, he was serious. He was saying to Aristotle, “This is not the way to define man – two-legged, without feathers. You are degrading man to animals with a little different variety – without feathers. That’s the only difference: there are many animals with two legs.”