Many people are ready to simply change their state of being, but they are terrified of the possibility of the end of the world. I, too, toyed around like a puppet until I searched in the scriptures. I found out that the ancient phrase is not “the end of the world” but “the end of time” or “the end of days.”
Will the highest mystery be the destruction of the world, or will it be the salvation of human beings – A glorious change of the universal forces of movement and man’s measurement of time?
It makes no difference whether you call it the end of the world or the end of time or the end of days; it is simply three ways of saying the same thing, the end of the world.
Don’t try to deceive yourself just by different phrases. If there is no time, how can the world exist? If there are no days, how can the world exist? The end of the world is terrifying – but the answer cannot be found in the old scriptures because in the old scriptures there is no answer for the contemporary man.
The old scriptures are all rotten. They had answers for their own contemporaries – but some are twenty centuries old, some are thirty centuries old, some are fifty centuries old; they don’t have any answer for you.
You have to find the answer within yourself.
The world can be saved not by changing phrases, but by changing man. And it is worth understanding this most important thing: man can change only when he is faced with ultimate death; otherwise he goes on postponing change. Change is troublesome. You are fixed with your own habits, you are accustomed to your old mind, your old ideas, your old prejudices. Change means you will have to go through almost a death of the old so the new can be born in you.
As far as I am concerned, it is good news that the end of the world is very close, because only then can man be persuaded to transform himself totally. Certainly this world will have to die. This world has come to its end, but we can create another world.
This man has lived enough, but we can give birth to a new man. All the old concepts, ideologies, religions, philosophies, have become absolutely empty. They no longer give any nutrition, any nourishment to human growth; on the contrary they all hinder. If you go on listening to them and if you go on searching for answers in the old scriptures, then the world is going to end and you are going to end. There will be no new man, no new world.
Forget the old.
I am reminded of a beautiful parable in Jesus’ life… One morning, a beautiful morning on Lake
Galilee, he came and put his hand on one of the men who was trying to catch fish. The man turned round, and there was something in the eyes of Jesus: whatever Jesus said the man followed it. Jesus said, “Drop that net. How long are you going to destroy your life just by catching fish? Come with me. I will tell you the way to catch men.”
He had never thought that he could be anything else than a fisherman. This man was so authoritative that he dropped the net and followed Jesus. Just as they were going out of the town a man came running and said to the man, “Where are you going? Your father who was ill for so many days has died. Come home.”
He asked Jesus, “Give me three days so I can go and bury my dead father and do all the rituals that are needed. I will be back soon.”
What Jesus said to that man I would like to say to you. Jesus said, “There are enough dead people in the town, you need not worry. Let the dead bury the dead. You come with me.”
Those words are tremendously significant: “Let the dead bury the dead.” The whole town is full of dead people. Although they are breathing and walking and talking and doing all kinds of things, they are not alive. There is no song in them, their heart has no dance in it, there is no ecstasy in their lives. Whether they are alive or dead does not matter; it is just the same. In fact, death will be better, it will be a great rest for them.
The world you are asking about is already dead. You cannot save it, no savior can save it – and there is no need to save it either. It is rotten. There are only corpses all around. They have forgotten to live, they have forgotten to love, they have forgotten to celebrate. They have forgotten everything that gives meaning to life, makes each moment a souvenir, a memory so golden to be kept alive forever. Their lives are just empty; inside they are hollow, there is nothing substantial in them. They don’t have a soul.
It is perfectly good that this world dies, this man dies, this society dies. But before it dies and before we take it to the graveyard, we have to bring out of it a new life, a new man, a new world – exactly in the same way as when a seed dies into the earth it sprouts into a new life, with two beautiful leaves, green, fresh. This is transformation. The seed was closed and almost dead, but it has died into the soil and has given place to a living thing. A beautiful tree will grow with many branches, great foliage, fruits, flowers. And those branches will dance in the sun, in the wind, under the stars, under the moon.
Before it dies, let us use this world as a seed for the new man; let us use this man as a seed for a new humanity. That’s my whole work – to prepare you for two things: to die as far as the past is concerned; and to start living in a totally new way, discontinuous with the past, so you can become the new man. It is absolutely urgent. You cannot postpone it.
The time is running short – because the old world has prepared for its own suicide. The nuclear weapons, a third world war… it has prepared everything for its own suicide. It has not taken any chances: just now on the earth there are so many nuclear weapons that we can kill seven hundred earths of this size, seven hundred human civilizations of this size. We are not taking any chance; the whole society has prepared its grave already.
Before it commits suicide, we have to save the essential life principle. And that can be done by each individual without being dependent on any organization; that is the old way. Without being dependent on any church – that is again of the past… For the first time the individual has to take all the responsibility for his life in his own hands. No God, no savior, no church is going to help; they are all part of the old structure which is going to die. They are all woven together so closely that you cannot save anything from them; they will all die together.
But each individual can free himself.
Just when I came to your beautiful island I was informed that Kazantzakis, one of the greatest artists of the contemporary world, was expelled, excommunicated from the Greek Orthodox church. The reason for his expulsion was the creation of Zorba the Buddha. He named it Zorba the Greek. Unconsciously he was creating the base of a new man; I call that new man Zorba the Buddha. It cannot be Greek, it cannot be Italian, it cannot be German, it cannot be Hindu, it cannot be Mohammedan….
The same was the situation with me. I was also born into a religion – perhaps the oldest religion in the world, Jainism. It is older than Hinduism, because the Hindus’ oldest book, Rigveda, mentions the first Jaina tirthankara, the founder of Jainism. That means Jainism was already in existence when Rigveda was written.
And about Rigveda there are problems. Contemporary scholarship thinks it must be at least five thousand years old; but one very great scholar of ancient scriptures, Lokmanya Tilak has decided Rigveda is ninety thousand years old. And his argument is such that there is no way to destroy it; his argument is very factual.
In Rigveda there is a description of a certain configuration of stars that happened ninety thousand years ago, and about which astronomers are scientifically agreed that it has happened only once. That kind of constellation only happened ninety thousand years ago, and Rigveda describes the constellations so minutely, in such detail that it is impossible that the people who were writing it were not aware of it. It could not be fiction; they could not create it out of their minds. If Rigveda is ninety thousand years old, then Jainism must be perhaps one hundred thousand years old.
I was born into a Jaina family, and what happened to Kazantzakis was going to happen to me – but I am a different kind of man. The supreme command of the Jaina religion was going to decide about my expulsion from the Jaina religion. I wrote them a letter saying, “You don’t have to make any trouble. I expel you all; now you cannot expel me. I do not belong to your gang, I am finished with it.” They could not expel me because I expelled them all.
It is up to every individual not to be part of any dead, rotten ideology. Try to find out within yourself whatsoever is old, dead, and drop out of it. Throw it away. Clean yourself completely and be again a child. Be again innocent, with no ideas, no prejudices, no conditionings.
You have already been born; a new man has come into being, and it has to go from individual to individual. The fire can take almost like a wildfire, and if millions of individuals drop out of all old heritages, there is no need for life to disappear from this beautiful earth.
But we have to create a new life based on totally different principles. The old life was based, very strangely, on antilife principles. It was against everything that is living in you; it was against your love, it was against your sex, it was against your joy, it was against your pleasure. It was against everything that you enjoyed. It wanted you to be a dead saint, not a living human being. Antilife principles have ruled for thousands of years.
The ultimate result of it is that we are coming close to the end of the world. Your religions have contributed to it, your saints have contributed to it, and your so-called philosophers have contributed to it… because they were all antilife. Anybody like Zorba who was for life was not allowed by the society to exist. He was condemned, he was discredited; in every way his dignity was taken away. He was reduced into an animal. Naturally, the crowd was powerful and managed to repress all rebellious individuals and forced them to follow the crowd.
I want the society to disappear. I want the crowd to have no power anymore. Each individual has a birthright to be free, to choose his life pattern and to move according to his nature, respectfully, with dignity. That is going to be the new way of life, where each individual is respected in his uniqueness, and there are no ready-made ideas that everybody has to fulfill in his life.
Everybody has to live according to his own heart, has to move according to his own inner being, wherever it leads. That is your destiny. Nobody else is going to decide it; you are the only one to decide for yourself. This decisiveness – freed from all crowds, mobs, organizations – will create a new earth and a new jubilant, celebrant life for each individual. There will be no need for anybody to think of paradise after death; paradise will be here-now.
It is good that the old world is coming to an end. Now you have to decide whether you want to die with the old world or to take a quantum leap out of the old, and create a new world and a new man.
From Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries, Discourse #23
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