Quote of the Day

Dec 24, 2022
It seems to me that it is always good to be serious, especially when we are sitting down here talking about serious things. We need a certain attention, a certain quality of penetration and a deep enquiry into the various problems that each one of us has and into the problems that the world is facing. As one observes, not only in this country but right throughout the world, there is chaos, a great deal of confusion and human misery in every form that does not seem to diminish. Though there is great prosperity in the West, the West has many problems, not only at the economic and social levels but at a much deeper level. There is a revolt going on there among the young; they no longer accept the tradition, the authority, the pattern of society.

And when one comes to this country, as we do every year, one sees the rapid decline, the poverty, the utter disregard for human beings, the political chicanery, the absolute cessation of any religious, deep enquiry, the tribal warfare between various groups, and fasting over some trivial affair. When the house is burning, when there is such chaos, when there is such misery, to spend one's life or even make an exhibition of oneself over some trivial affair indicates the state of mind of those who are supposed to be leaders, religious or political.

When one observes all these facts, not only outwardly, organizationally, economically, socially, but also inwardly, apart from all the repetition of traditions, apart from the accepted norms of thought and the innumerable platitudes that one utters, and when one goes deeply beyond all this inwardly, one will find that there is also great chaos, contradiction.

One does not know what to do. One is always seeking endlessly, going from one book to another, from one philosophy to another, from one teacher to another. And what we are really seeking is not clarity, is not the understanding of the actual state of one's mind, but rather we are searching for ways and means to escape from ourselves. Religions in different forms throughout the world have offered this escape, and we are satisfied in trying to find out a convenient, pleasurable, satisfying retreat. When one observes all this - the increasing population, the utter callousness of human beings, the utter disregard for others' feelings, for others' lives, the utter neglect of the social structure - one wonders if order out of this chaos can be brought about. Not political order - politics can never bring about order; neither an economic structure nor a different ideology can bring about order. But we do need order. For, there is a great deal of disorder, both outwardly and inwardly, of which one is vaguely, speculatively, casually aware. One feels the problems are too immense. The population is exploding so fast that one asks oneself, "What can I do as a human being living in this chaotic misery, violence, and stupidity? What can I do?" Surely, you must have asked this question of yourself if you are at all serious. And if one has asked oneself this very serious question, "What can one do oneself?", the invariable answer is: "I am afraid I can do very little to alter the structure of society, to bring about order, not only within but also outwardly".

And generally one asks the question "what can I do?", and invariably the answer is "very little". There one stops. But the problem demands a much deeper answer. The challenge is so great that every one of us must respond to it totally, not with some conditioned reply - not as a Hindu, as a Buddhist, as a Muslim, as a Parsi, as a Christian; all these are dead, gone, finished; they have no longer any meaning except for the politician who exploits ignorance and superstition. The scriptures, what has been said by the philosophers, by the authorities in religion with their sanctions and with their demands that you obey, that you follow - these have totally lost all meaning for any man who is aware, who is conscious of the problems of the world.

You know, man has lost faith in what he has believed; he no longer follows anybody. You understand what is happening politically when the audience throws shoes and stones at the speaker? It means that they are discarding leadership, they do not want to be told what to do any more. Man is in despair. Man is in confusion. There is a great deal of sorrow. And no ideology, whether of the left or the right, has any meaning. All ideologies are idiotic anyhow. They have no meaning, when they are faced with the actual fact of what is. So we can disregard not only the authority of leadership but also the authority of the priest, the authority of the book, the authority of religion; we can totally disregard all these and we have to disregard them in order to find out what is true. Nor can you go back to what has been. You know, one hears often in this country about the heritage of India, what India has been. They are everlastingly talking about the past, what India was. And the people who generally talk about the cultures of the past, have very little thought; they can repeat what has been, what the books have said, and it is a convenient dope with which to lull the people. So we can disregard all those, sweep them completely away; we have to, because we have problems that demand tremendous attention, deep thought and inquiry, not a repetition of what somebody has said, however great he may be. So, when you put away all the things that have been, that have brought about this immense misery, this utter brutality and violence, then we are confronted with facts, actually with what is, both outwardly and inwardly, not with what should be. The `what should be' has no meaning.
Public Talk 1 Bombay (Mumbai), India, 19 February 1967 Read full text