Quote of the Day

Nov 22, 2023
To listen properly, there must be neither opposition nor antagonism. Most people have a certain background of tradition, prejudice, hope and fear which they put forward as a defence; and this, which is but opposition, they call criticism. If, for instance, you are a Christian or you belong to some other religion or to some political party, you will try, with your particular prejudices, to oppose what I am going to say. This is not true criticism. But there is an active form of criticism which demands a clear and an open mind - being conscious of one's prejudices, one's limitations, and at the same time trying to find out the intrinsic value of what the speaker has to say. So, putting aside the background of tradition and habit of thought in which mind constantly dwells, pursue critically, without accepting what I am going to say.

What I have to say is fundamentally simple, and not very philosophical, metaphysical or complicated. As I happen to come from India, people are apt to think that what I say is metaphysical and impractical, and so often brush aside the ideas which I try to put forward. Now to understand the present chaos with all its miseries, conflicts and difficulties, real criticism is required; not acceptance, but an active form of critical examination. If you merely accept a new set of ideas or a new system of thought, you are only substituting the new in place of the old, and so do not fundamentally understand the cause of suffering and the many problems that confront each one of you.

My intention is not to put forward a new theory or a new system of thought, or a new practice of discipline, but to awaken that understanding of the present; for in understanding the existing chaos and suffering in which man is caught, he will know for himself how to live completely, intelligently and divinely.

In your suffering, you are apt to turn to the established authority or create a new one, which will not in any way help you to understand and free yourself from the cause of suffering. But if you truly understood the significance of the present, then you would not turn to any authority whatsoever, but being intelligent, actively conscious, you would be able to adjust yourself constantly to the movement of life.

So, if each one can understand the present, then he will discover for himself how to live intelligently and supremely. That is, by discovering and eradicating the cause of existing chaos, of human suffering, of spiritual and economic exploitation, each one will truly fulfil.
Montevideo, Uruguay | 1st Public Talk 21st June, 1935 Read full text