The other day when you were speaking about coming closer to you, I was aware that I still feel a thin armor around me that keeps me from coming closer. This armor is incongruous with my openness to you. I don’t know where it is coming from. Please help me to melt it away.
Everybody has that kind of armor. There are reasons for it. First, the child is born so utterly helpless into a world he knows nothing of. Naturally he is afraid of the unknown that faces him. He has not yet forgotten those nine months of absolute security, safety, when there was no problem, no responsibility, no worry for tomorrow.
To us, those are nine months, but to the child it is eternity. He knows nothing of the calendar, he knows nothing of minutes, hours, days, months. He has lived an eternity in absolute safety and security, without any responsibility, and then suddenly he is thrown into a world unknown, where he is dependent for everything on others. It is natural that he will feel afraid. Everybody is bigger and more powerful, and he cannot live without the help of others. He knows he is dependent; he has lost his independence, his freedom. And small incidents may give him some taste of the reality he is going to face in the future.
Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by Nelson, but in fact the credit should not go to Nelson. Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by a small incident in his childhood. Now history does not look at things in this way, but to me it is absolutely clear.
When he was just six months old, a wild cat jumped on him. The maidservant who was looking after him had gone for something in the house; he was in the garden in the early morning sun and the fresh air, lying down, and the wild cat jumped on him. It didn’t harm him – perhaps it was just being playful – but to the child’s mind it was almost death. Since then, he was not afraid of tigers or lions – he could have fought a lion without any weapons, with no fear – but a cat? That was a different affair. He was absolutely helpless. Seeing a cat he was almost frozen; he became again a small six-month-old child, with no defense, with no capacity to fight. In those small child’s eyes that cat must have looked very big – it was a wild cat. The cat may have looked into the eyes of the child.
Something in his psyche became so much impressed by the incident that Nelson exploited it. Nelson was no comparison to Napoleon, and Napoleon was never defeated in his life; this was his first and last defeat. And he would not have been defeated, but Nelson had brought seventy cats at the front of the army.
The moment Napoleon saw those seventy wild cats his mind stopped functioning. His generals could not understand what had happened. He was no longer the same great warrior; he was almost frozen with fear, trembling. He had never allowed any of his generals to arrange the army, but today he said, with tears in his eyes, “I am incapable of thinking – you arrange the army. I will be here, but I am incapable of fighting. Something has gone wrong with me.”