You seem to be very optimistic about the development of the human mind, and yet the world has not changed in spite of Buddha and Christ?
The world has changed due to Buddha and Christ, in spite of the churches and in spite of the Buddhist organizations. When one is intimately and directly involved with life, related to life, there is no scope for forming an attitude towards life. Optimism is an attitude towards life, it is an approach to life which connects you with life indirectly. You do not need any optimism, pessimism, enthusiasm, or indifference towards life, when at every moment of your waking consciousness you are already in the stream itself, in the movement of life itself. Those who are afraid to swim stand on the banks of the river of life, of the river of relationships, and measure the depth, speed, momentum, coolness, hotness, etc. of the water. But, one who plunges into life does not require any measurements at all, any attitudes, any approaches.
Could it be that the world did not change in spite of Buddha and Christ, because the human mind was in the habit of looking for a saviour, waiting for someone to work for their redemption? When you wait for a saviour to save you, to work for your redemption and set you free of your sins, you become a passive consumer of ideas, of doctrines, of theories. You accept their authority; you swallow their words without digesting them. I think the spiritual consumerism that the human race has lived by through untold centuries, accepting authority, imitating words, waiting to be saved, has caused a psychic lethargy, a psychic laziness and passivity. Now we have seen that we cannot be saved that way. We have to work for our own salvation, for our own liberation or enlightenment. Psychic or spiritual acceptance of authority has lost its relevance. That is one factor in our favour, it has created a compulsion to exercise our brains, to exercise our sensitivity, and understand life.
Secondly, it seems to me that in the East as well as in the West it was considered necessary to retire from life, to withdraw from responsibilities, withdraw from relationships, in order to live a religious life. You joined an order of monks or nuns, you became a renunciate or a disciple, and then you enquired about the meaning of life, the mystery of godhood, the secret of eternity. It was done in isolation. Every culture, every society, maintained a class of religious teachers, preachers and enquirers, and looked after them, just as you maintain an army, a militia, to save you from foreign invasion. People used to join religious orders and the rest of the society was happy to pay a weekly, or a bi-weekly visit to a temple, church, or mosque, feeling assured that they were going to be saved. This enquiry, this exploration of the divinity in isolation has become irrelevant.
We are talking about self-discovery that takes place in the midst of relationships. Do you see the change? First, no authority of individuals, one has to become one’s own saviour or redeemer. And secondly, the enquiry, the exploration, the experimentation has to be conducted in the midst of relationships, where you are, in your own home, family situation, job situation, political life, economic life. Relationships are the occasions for self-discovery. They are the occasions for the exploration of peace and love and freedom.
Thirdly, it seems to me that at the end of the twentieth century, mankind has discovered that there is nothing like an individual mind, an individual ego, an individual self or me, for whose liberation one has to work. This psychological myth has been exploded in the second half of this century. It has been discovered and accepted by the human race that there is one global human consciousness, which has been conditioned in various ways.
The movement of the mind is the movement of the conditioned neurochemical system in the body. Conditionings are fed into the human organism with the help of words, ideas, symbols and measurements, they are all imprinted on the human organism. And the mental movement is nothing but a replay of these conditionings. So the fear of mind and mental movement is disappearing from the human consciousness. The global human consciousness realizes the built-in limitations of the mechanism and anatomy of the mind, and is learning to handle this neurochemical conditioned energy in a competent way.
I think the invention of the electronic brain, the computer, the calculator, has helped the human race. Science and technology have confronted us with a new context, that was not available in the days of Buddha, Christ, Rama, or Krishna. The repetitive mechanistic nature of the mental movement has been exposed and it feels so childish to worship the movement of mind, to worship its reactions, to make a big fuss about its anxieties, worries and brooding, which are just cerebral habit patterns, neurochemical habit patterns.
So whether the world has changed or not due to Buddha or Christ, the world is changing now, right before our eyes. It is not a political or an economic change, but the quality of the human consciousness is changing rapidly.
The friend who is talking to you has wandered over the globe for the last thirty years; she has seen how the young are free from hypocrisy and pretensions. They are more honest with themselves and others, they are not so tortured by the fear of what others may say.
We are living in a transitory period of human culture, the old norms, criteria and values have collapsed and the new ones have not yet emerged. The youth all over the world are struggling to form a new ethos for the nuclear age. Having seen how thought is nothing but memory, how mental movement is nothing but a conditioned energy contained in the neurochemical system, the human race has no time to waste on pampering and worshiping the movement of mind and thought. It will learn to use it in its relevant field of action. This it has to do choicelessly, there is no alternative.
Have you seen the intermingling of races and cultures taking place, due to jet aircraft? People now travel from one end of the globe to the other. This intermingling of races, cultures, religions and temperaments, due to the economic interweaving and intertwining of the trends of life, of political interaction, has loosened the grip of identification with a nation, a race or a religion. Without our conscious effort to do so, we are no longer in the grip of those ideas. We look upon ourselves as global human citizens.
I do not know if you have noticed the emergence of a planetary consciousness? This consciousness has not yet found a language to express itself in an organized systematic way, but it is manifesting itself in a hundred and one different ways in every part of the globe. There seem to be particular efforts conducted by youth groups, not connected with one another, indicating that a change in the quality of human consciousness is taking place due to the compulsions that the human race has created for itself through science, technology, means of transport and communication, the electronic media and so on.
The events that took place in the Middle East one year ago, would have exploded into a world war twenty-five years ago. Even the events taking place in the Soviet Union would have exploded into a huge civil war, chaos and anarchy. Have you not noticed the intervention of the United Nations Security Council? What is this concern? To avoid nuclear explosions? What is this environmental consciousness doing? Yes, there are signs of growing neurosis, violence, terrorism and militancy; these are the remnants of the decaying civilization, the hangovers which are going to be extinguished under their own burden and weight.
I only wanted to say that the relationship with spirituality, the methodologies of self-discovery have changed. You don’t need a Christ or a Buddha any more, it is the human beings themselves who, with their individual and collective initiatives, in utter freedom, are going to find out what is beyond thought, beyond time and space, and live related to them in an unprecedented way.
From Life As Teacher, pp. 83-89
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