Socialism and self-realization
A friend has asked:
WE WANT SELF-REALIZATION, AND WHAT YOU SAID LAST EVENING WAS SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT. WHAT HAS IT TO DO WITH SELF-REALIZATION?
It has lots to do with it. It is not possible in today's Russia or China to seek and find what you say you are seeking. Let alone Mahavira, Buddha, Mohammed and Christ, even Karl Marx will not be allowed to be born in these communist countries. Man's search for self- realization needs a climate of freedom. And what you call socialism does not accept that man has a soul. Basically, socialism is a materialist way of life. One of its fundamental tenets says that man is nothing more than matter.
It is necessary to understand this, because the socialism that does not accept man's soul will be dangerous. Because it will, according to its principles, do everything to suppress and wipe out man's soul if it is there.
The questioner wants to know what connection there is between self-realization and my criticism of socialism.
The connection is deep. In the history of man, socialism has emerged as the most formidable ideology in opposition to what you call self, soul or God. Never in the past had atheism succeeded anywhere in the world, nor had an atheist system, an atheist society or country, been established on this planet. Why? Because the atheists had mounted a direct attack on the existence of God and soul. And they lost the fight, they could not win. But communism has entered this battle from the back door. And for the first time in history the communists have created an atheistic society, an atheistic state.
Charvak and Epicurus could not win. Where all the atheists of the past had lost, Marx, Engels and Lenin won.
What is the secret? The secret is that communism brings atheism in from the back door. It does not oppose religion directly; its direct opposition is mounted against the rich, the capitalist. And then it says that to destroy the rich, it is necessary to destroy religion: the rich cannot be finished unless religion is finished first. Communism also argues that if the affluent has to be liquidated, it is essential to liquidate all the ideologies of the past that have given a foothold to the affluent class. Marx believed that every ideology is class- oriented.
Marxists say that if the rich man talks of religion, it is just because religion shields and protects him. And there is some truth in this matter -- a religion can be used as the rich man's shield. If a thief escapes from the clutches of the police by hiding himself in a temple, then for sure the temple has a hand in protecting him. But this does not mean that the temple is wrong. It is true that the rich have used religion as their shield, but this does not mean that religion is wrong. But the communists use it as a pretext to destroy religion.
Socialism also believes that man is only a by-product of matter . In its view there is no soul, no spirit, nothing beyond matter. It is because of this belief that Stalin could indulge in killing on such a massive scale. If man is only matter, then nothing dies if your throat is cut -- matter does not die. Mao, too, can indulge in killing with ease because man is only matter; there is no soul behind it. It is the communists who, for the first time, succeeded in killing people without any qualms of conscience. That is just because man's soul has been denied. And constant effort is made to smother the possibilities, the opportunities, for its discovery and growth.
In this connection it is good that we understand a few things. Firstly, for its manifestation, the soul hidden inside a man needs the right opportunity and help. A seed has a tree hidden inside it, but the tree will not appear if you destroy the seed. Undoubtedly the tree is hidden, but to manifest itself it needs so many things -- propel soil, water, sunshine, manure. management. and a loving gardener to care for it. God is hidden in man like a flower is hidden in the seed. But God cannot be found by dissecting a man. Take him to a laboratory, place him on a table and dissect his body, but you will never find God.
I have heard Marx once said as a joke that he would accept God if he was caught in a test tube in a laboratory. And then he said, "But please, don't take your God to the laboratory even by mistake, because what kind of God will he be if he is caught in a test tube?"
No, God cannot be caught in a test tube, because a test tube is too small a thing. We cannot find him by dissecting man's body, but this does not mean that there is no God. If you open my skull and dissect my brain, will you find a thing like "thought" there? But thought is. Similarly you will not find a thing like love if a man's heart is opened and dissected. But love is, though there is nothing to prove it. It cannot be caught in a laboratory. It cannot be found even by dissecting a man's heart, which is its abode. Yet you know that love is. And even if all the scientific laboratories of the world tell you that there is no love. you will not accept their verdict. You will say, "I will not accept it because I myself have known love."
God is an experience, a nd it is beyond matter.
But denial of God is foundational to socialism. And once a society accepts this principle, it will close all avenues that lead to God. How will one sow the seed if he comes to believe that there is nothing like a tree hidden in it? It will be the greatest misfortune of man if it is accepted that there is no God. Then self-realization will be a thing of the past, it will become an impossibility. If people accept that there is no tree in a seed, then who will care to sow it, water it and care for it? The seed will rot and die.
The most dangerous tenet of socialism is its materialism. And remember that socialism will destroy everything -- climate, adventure, opportunity, and freedom -- that is greatly needed for self-realization. At least the socialism that threatens to come right now will certainly do so. Because what is most essential for the socialism of the day is the destruction of human freedom. Without taking away man's freedom it cannot succeed.
And economic freedom -- freedom to pro-duce and own his production -- forms the largest pal t of man's freedom. Really economic freedom is man's basic freedom. And socialism cannot be established right now without depriving man of this freedom. Of course, if capitalism is allowed to grow fully then, and then alone, socialism with freedom will be possible. Then socialism will not need to destroy freedom.
But socialism with freedom calls for abundant wealth, as abundant as water and air. That is the first condition for the socialism that will come naturally, on its own. At the moment, no country in the world, not even America, fulfills the conditions of socialism with freedom. Maybe in fifty years' time America will reach that peak of affluence. But, if we insist, it is only through force that socialism can be imposed. And imposed socialism will mean the death of freedom. And in the absence of freedom the possibility of man's spiritual growth will be dim. Man's spirit needs the open sky of freedom to grow and bloom. And when man's economic freedom is gone, the next assault will be made on his freedom of thought. The partisans of socialism say that if they allow freedom of thought they will not succeed in creating a socialist system. So they cannot accept and ideology that goes against socialism.
It is interesting to note that there exists only one political party in Russia. Is it not amazing that elections are held with a single party in the field? That is why Stalin always won the elections with such a huge number of votes -- as no other person in the world had ever secured. Stalin always won with one hundred percent of the votes. And this fact was announced to the whole world with great fanfare, and great political capital was made out of it. And no one ever asked if he had a contestant in the field. He had no contestant, no rival. What does this mean?
It simply means that there is no freedom of thought in Russia. In the course of the last fifty years of socialism in Russia, very amazing things have happened in that country.
Even scientists are told by the government what to think and what not to think. They are told what scientific theories they have to formulate, and to formulate them according to the tenets of Marxism. If a scientific theory does not accord with Marxism, it is rejected and condemned. Consequently, in the last thirty years, principles of biology were current there that were not valid in any other part of the world. Scientists and research workers all over the world said they were wrong, but they were valid in Russia because Stalin decreed them so. Of course, they became invalid after the death of Stalin. Russian scientists had to say yes to the communist party, had to conform to it, because to stay alive, they were at the mercy of the party.
Before 1917, when the Bolshevik revolution came about, Russia produced some of the most intelligent men of the world -- names worth being written in letters of gold. But after 1917 Russia could not produce a single man of their stature. Not one man of the height of Leo Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Lenin, Turgenev, Gogol, Dostoevsky! What is the matter?
It is true that communist Russia produced writers and thinkers who received awards from their government, but not even one among them can come near the grandeur and glory of those whom Russia produced in the days of her utter poverty anc1 degradation, in the worst days of the czars. Russia has yet to produce a thinker as intelligent and as creative as those of the pre-revolutionary times. Why?
It is because the basic requirement of spiritual growth is denied in communist Russia. I,et alone Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoevsky, even Lenin is not possible in present-day Russia. If Lenin, his soul, wants to be born again, he will have to go to England or America; he cannot be born in Russia again .
In fact, people who know say that Lenin was poisoned, that he did not die a natural death.
The man who made the revolution and who wanted to turn Russia into a socialist country, was killed. The other man was Trotsky, who came next to Lenin as the architect of the revolution. He had to flee Russia for his life, had to run from one country to another to hide himself: He had left behind in Russia his pet dog -- whom the communists killed in spite -- ,and then they hunted Trotsky down in Mexico and killed him brutally At no time in its history has the human society seen killing on such a massive scale. But it was easy, because there is no soul, only matter is. So people were killed like flies. It made no difference whether the communists killed their own men or killed rats. It was in accord with their philosophy.
Another logical conclusion that stems from the thinking has no soul is that man has no need of freedom. If socialism succeeds -- the socialism that we know -- it is bound to turn man into a machine. The process is already underway.
In this context I would like to repeat what I said yesterday: that man's bondage will end fully only when the machine will release man from the drudgery of labor. Man will really be free from poverty of every sort when automatic machines will do everything and man will no longer be required to work. One way to it lies through the full development of capitalism but if we are in a hurry to bring socialism right now, Then we have to take the other way, the opposite way, and this will turn men into machines. That is exactly what is happening in Russia and China at the moment. That is the other alternative: turn man into ,a machine. Then he need not think. A machine does not think. And since they believe that man is just body, their argument seems logical: he need not think: what he needs is food for his stomach, clothes for his body and ,a shade over his head. That is all he s.
Have you ever heard ,a socialist say that man needs a soul too. Socialism ends up with three demands of mall: bread, clothes and housing. Man needs nothing more. He need not think at all -- thinking will land him in unnecessary trouble. It is good that he be deprived of the bother; then he will live undisturbed. like an animal lives. He should have plenty to eat and drink, he should be properly clothed, he should have good housing, he should work and live happily. What use is thinking? It only brings worry and trouble of every sort. It even leads to rebellion. The socialist not only says so, he also works to this end -- he creates devices to eliminate thinking. And their best device is this: Before the child begins to think, indoctrinate him with socialist concepts and beliefs so that his mind is in shackles -- heavily conditioned.
Ask a child in Russia, "Is there God?" and he will say immediately, "No, there is no God." A friend of mine visited Russia in 1936. He visited a school and put this question to the children, "Is there God?" Do you know how the children answered him? They said, "We wonder how a man of your ripe age can ask such a question. Before 1917 there was a God he is now no more. He is not; he was." Children are being taught that there is no God, no soul, no religion, no higher values of life There is only one value in man's life -- if he has plenty of food, clothes and housing, he is satisfied.
A curious sort of caste system has come into being in Russia, as there is in India. There are now two castes there: one, that of the rulers or the managers, and the other of the ruled or the managed. Classes in Russia have not been abolished, they are still there, but they have changed their forms. Here in India, as we say, there are those who exploit and there are others who are exploited. Similarly in Russia there are those who manage and there are others who are managed. Russia is still a class society, not a classless society. A number of people are the managers and the rest of the people are the managed. And the division is clear-cut. In fact, it is wrong to describe them as classes, they are really castes.
There is a difference between class and caste. The class is fluid -- it is easy for one to move from one class to another; and the caste is rigid, fixed -- it is not fluid, resilient. For example, the shudras of India are a caste. Howsoever a shudra tries, he cannot become a brahmin. Whatever he does, he cannot be admitted into the caste of the brahmins. The brahmins are a caste, not a class. And the frontiers of a caste are well-defined, rigidly fixed.
A new caste system is being set up in Russia, as it once happened in India. It has two castes: one of the managers and the other of the managed -- the rulers and the ruled. A member of the managed caste cannot enter the caste of the managers. It is so difficult, there is no way. The manager will not allow him, because he has his own interests, vested interests. Please do not commit the mistake of thinking that Stalin had only as much rights and privileges as the poor worker of Russia has today. And don't think that there is equality in Russia, or for that matter, in China. Mao and his attendants don't have equal rights and privileges.
Equality is just not possible today. Until the time there is an overabundance of wealth, so much wealth that it loses meaning, the classes will remain. Classes will not disappear, they will only change their forms. If ever a classless society comes into being, it will be in a society where wealth will be as plentiful as water and air. As long as wealth is scarce and has value and meaning, as it has till now, a classless society will remain a dream. The people who will control power and property will become a new class per se.
In my vision, however, class is better than caste. Because caste is rigid, fixed, it has no fluidity. Class is better because it has mobility: a poor man can become rich and a rich man can become poor. The poor and the rich are classes, not castes, and the Russian system is giving rise to castes. There, things are becoming rigid and immobile. And the chasm between the establishment and the rest of the people is so great that it seems impossible to move from one to the other.
But it seems necessary that we examine together the fundamental assumptions of socialism. A friend has asked, DON'T YOU ACCEPT THE BASIC CONCEIT OF SOCIALISM THAT ALL MEN ARE EQUAL?
Let us consider it. First, all men are not equal and all men cannot be equal. It is not a question of the right of equality. The fact is that all men are not equal and they cannot be.
But I say that there should be equal opportunity of development for all. What does it mean?
It means that every person should have equal opportunity to be unequal. I repeat: Every person should have equal opportunity to be unequal. Everybody has the right to be what he wants to be, and this right to be himself should be equally available to all. And the right to create wealth is one such right. The right to acquire knowledge is another.
Everybody in the world cannot become Einstein, nor can they become Buddha or Mahavira. Rarely is a man born with the genius of Einstein. Similarly, I say, everybody cannot become Ford. But, strangely enough, we do not accept that the capacity to produce wealth is as much inborn as the capacity to produce poetry, mathematics, philosophy and religion. The capacity to produce wealth also comes with birth. A Ford is not made, he is born. Some people are born with the talent to produce wealth and many others are not born with this talent. This is a fact, not a theory. And if we thwart and suppress people born with the talent to produce wealth, if we prevent them from producing wealth, then the world will be the poorer for it; it will never be prosperous. It is like saying that all people should produce poetry equally, that there is no need for Kalidas or Shakespeare to be at the top, that we cannot tolerate it. We will create a society of classless poetry in which everybody will compose poetry equally In that case it will be a grotesque rhyming of verse; it can never be poetry. Then Kalidas and Shakespeare will not be born. Certainly, everyone can put a few rhymed verses together, but that will not produce Shakespeare or Kalidas. Shakespeare and Kalidas were not rhymsters. Poetry is something very different and rare. Any one of us can daub color on a poster or a canvas, but that will not make of him a Picasso or a Van Gogh. Van Gogh and Picasso are born geniuses.
The fact that socialism does not accept that every person is born different -- he is just like himself and not like everyone else -- is very dangerous. The truth is that every man is unique, peerless and incomparable. It is impossible to find another person matching him in every way. No two persons, not even twins, are alike, the same -- let alone all mankind. It has never happened. And that is why every person has a soul, a higher self.
The soul means the potentiality to be different. Machines can be equal, the same; a hundred thousand Fiat cars coming from the assembly line can be the same, but not two persons. The Fiat car has no soul, it is just a machine. Machines can be equal; only machines can be equal. And if attempts are made to force all men to be equal, it will be possible only by pulling man down to the level of animals. At any level higher than that of the animal, men will remain unequal. So turn man into a machine and he will have equality.
And men will be increasingly unequal as they rise higher and higher spiritually. And they will be increasingly equal as they descend lower and lower. We are all approximately equal at the level of sleep. We are very nearly equal at the level of our hunger and other needs. Everybody needs food, clothes, houses and sex. In these matters we are all equal, even more equal than animals. But as we ascend to the higher levels, which a Buddha, a Kalidas, a Picasso, an Einstein, a Bertrand Russel reach, inequality grows in the same measure. Because as the soul soars high, it is left alone, it is more and more alone. Then a man like Mahavira or Buddha is alone, solitary, rare -- the rarest. Then for millions of years we will not see another like him.
But the crowd, burning with jealousy, can say, "We will not allow it to happen any more; we will make all people equal." And once this madness for equality gets hold of us -- and it is doing so all over the world -- then we will destroy the glory and the greatness, the grandeur and the splendor that man is heir to. Of course, we will then achieve the leveling of men, the equality of men. Everyone will have food and clothes and jobs and sex. Eat, drink and be merry! -- only on this level of life can equality be achieved. But at what price?
Equality is not possible; it is not even desirable. But equality of opportunity is a must.
Socialism mounts its first and frontal attack on equality of opportunity. Producers of wealth are its first target; they are sorted out and finished first. Its next target is the thinker -- one who is unequal, superior in thinking. The socialist says that we are out to equalize all, so we cannot allow inequality of thought. Now it is so surprising that in the last fifty years there has been no great debate in Russia -- not even one. Fifty years is a long time. The truth is that there is not one idea in man's life over which a debate, a controversy cannot be raised. Every idea is seen from the particular angle of the thinker, and it is not necessary that another person should agree with it. Even the loftiest of thoughts have been opposed, and opposed without fail.
Great debates on ideas, clashes of ideas, ideological upheavals happen in the same measure as man's intelligence grows. But in the last fifty years Russia has not witnessed any great debate, any upsurge of thought, any explosion of ideas, or a cultural revolution that might have stirred the psyche of the country to its roots. Let alone a tidal wave, not even a ripple could rise in these fifty years in the psychic sea of Russia. Why?
If you ask the socialists why, they will simply say, "Because we are engaged in building a socialist society, we cannot allow debates, discussions and oppositions; we cannot tolerate any revolt and rebellion." They also say "Right now we don't have any space for free thinking, we cannot afford it. So we will suppress freedom of thought for the present, but we will certainly allow it when everything is okay."
But then it will be too late. It will be impossible for Russia to think again, and to think boldly, after thinking has been gagged for fifty years. Suppose a man's feet have been in shackles for fifty years and then the man is released one fine morning and told, "Now you are free, so run and climb the mountain." Do you think he can climb the mountain? It will be impossible for him even to walk a few steps inside his own courtyard. Man's mind begins to wither and die if it is enslaved for a length of time.
To the friend who wants to know what connection there is between my talk about socialism and self-realization, I would say that the greatest danger facing man and his quest for the soul is that the politician all over the world is, by and by, out to concentrate all power -- political and economic -- in the hands of the state, and thereby, he is going to capture and control man's mind and soul. So it is imperative that we think it over, debate it, and raise our voices against it.
When the socialists attack freedom they do it with cunning and tact. Their tactics are appealing. They say they want equality and therefore curbs on freedom become necessary. With freedom, they argue, they cannot achieve equality. Socialists don't talk of freedom, they lay all their emphasis on equality. Equality, for them, comes first; without equality freedom is a myth. And as long as inequality remains, freedom will remain a dream. So equality has to be had first, they argue, even if freedom has to be destroyed for its sake.
Now we have to make our choice. We have to decide clearly which has the highest value, equality or freedom. We have to settle our preference. And all of mankind has to decide, and to decide soon: What is more valued, freedom or equality?
Remember, if freedom lives, it makes it possible for equality to happen in the future. But if we sacrifice freedom for equality, then there is no possibility for regaining freedom in the future. Because once we lose freedom, it will be extremely difficult to regain it.
And this matter called equality is very unscientific and anti-psychological. Men are not equal. And so, if we impose equality on man with force, it will only destroy him. Man should have full opportunity to be unequal and different; he should be free to differ, to dissent, to deny, to rebel. Then only will he grow and blossom and bear fruit.
Socialism today, is the loudest voice against man's spirit, soul, against God and religion.
Another friend has asked:
SOCIALISM WANTS TO DO GOOD TO THE POOR. ARE YOU AGAINST THE GOOD OF THE POOR?
Me -- against the good of the poor! In fact, no one should go against the good of the poor.
But remember, this talk of serving the poor has been going on for thousands of years -- and innumerable servants of the poor have come and gone -- but up to now they have not done a thing for the poor. But they have done lots for themselves in the name of the poor.
And the poor have remained where they always were. The servants of the poor have nothing to do with the poor, but the poor become their camp followers, because they are told that everything is being done for their sake. And the poor follow them, and even go to the gallows at their behest.
But the people who become martyrs for socialism are not the same as those who grab power in the name of socialism. They are altogether different people. The poor suffer and die for socialism, but those who come to power are not poor. They are a new class of the rich, a new bourgeoisie.
In fact, the man who comes to power gets rich immediately. There is really no difference between man and man. Today he is a partisan of the poor, but tomorrow when he is in power he will have his own vested interests. Now he will want to stay in power, and to do so he will systematically destroy the very ladder with which he reached the top. Who knows? -- by the same ladder others may come to the top and displace him.
The poor have never been served; they have never been helped. Yes, in the name of the poor there have been plenty of movements, plenty of revolutions, and plenty of bloodshed. But they did the poor no good. It is time that we become alert about this whole business. Be alert and aware when somebody tells you that he wants to serve the poor -- for sure, he is a dangerous man. He, too, is going to use the poor as a ladder. And the poor people are foolish; otherwise they would not have been poor. They are poor because of their foolishness. So they will accept him as their new messiah. This is how they get their messiahs again and again, messiahs U ho exploit them, enslave them, torture them.
Hitler rose to power through "doing good for the poor". Mussolini came to power for "the good of the poor". So did Stalin and Mao. Everybody in the world seems to be busy doing good for the poor, and no good ever happens to them. The poor have remained as poor as ever. Why is it so?
There is a single reason why wealth is less and the number of people very large. As it is, you cannot do a thing for the good of the poor. Put whosoever in the seat of power, and nothing will happen. The real problem is that wealth is much less than the number of people on the earth. We need more wealth, much more. We need to have more wealth than the number of people. We need to have more wealth than the needs of the people.
And the next problem is: How to produce this wealth?
The irony is that the poor people are in opposition to those who can produce more wealth.
The poor are fighting their own benefactors. And this has been an ancient habit with mankind, and it is amazing. Galileo was killed, and yet the whole world today benefits by his discovery. We crucified Jesus, and yet the teachings of Jesus are instrumental in humanizing the world. We poisoned Socrates, and yet Socrates' sayings will continue to guide mankind's spiritual evolution for eternity.
Man is really a strange creature. He can never know who is really working for his good.
His difficulty is that those who shout and scream, professing their concern for the people, come to the forefront, while the real benefactors are doing their work silently, unobtrusively. And we are influenced by propaganda. But I say that the real do-gooders are very different. A scientist doing research in his laboratory is one, but not a politician busy politicking, quibbling and intriguing in Delhi. The politician can do no good, though he is always before the eyes of the people. And the poor man will never know that his child is alive today because some Pasteur found a vaccine in a laboratory. He will never know who saved him when he was stricken with T.B. He will never know the ones who are working strenuously to prolong his life and to find a remedy for cancer and other deadly diseases. The poor man is not grateful to the person who found electricity. But he knows the politician because he holds a flag in his hand and shouts. In fact, there are a few people who enjoy shouting and make it their business.
I have heard... A boy stood on a pavement and began shouting in a hoarse voice to sell his newspapers. A man became curious and asked him, "What profit do you make? I see you every day, straining your vocal chords so much." The boy said, "I make no profit at all. I buy these papers from the vendor on the opposite side of the street at the rate of ten paise each and sell them for the same price." The man said, "You seem to be crazy! You shout so much for nothing?" The boy said, "No, I am not crazy," which made the man fire another question at him. He asked, "Then for what?" And the boy said, "For the sake of shouting. I enjoy shouting." Then the curious man left, saying, "You will make a good politician."
Who are the people really working for the good of man? They do it very silently; they are not even known. They die for you, but you don't know them. Do you know who the scientist was who died tasting a deadly poison on his own tongue so that you are saved from it? Do you know the names of those who died working on disease-bearing germs so that you remain alive and healthy? You don't know the scientists who are developing automation so that man is saved from the drudgery of labor. But you know the politician who shouts from the rooftops that he is working for your good.
The politicians have done no good. The revolutionaries have done no good. And all revolutions have failed. Not only revolutions that we know have failed to do good, they have definitely done immense harm to the society of homo sapiens. They have obstructed the growth of man; they have impeded the natural flow of life at many points.
Now we need a different revolution -- altogether different from the past revolutions. We need a revolution that will make us forget all other revolutions. We need a revolution that will tell the do-gooders, "For God's sake, leave us to ourselves. Enough is enough. You failed to do us any good for five thousand years; we don't need you anymore. Be quiet!"
The good of the poor depends upon the production of wealth, more wealth. It depends upon the production of such instruments as can increase production a thousand times. The well-being of the poor demands that class conflict be eradicated from the world.
But socialism, every variety of it, thrives on class conflict. Class conflict is the oxygen on which socialists all over the world live. Inciting the poor against the rich, slowing down and stopping production in factories, strikes and bunds and marches have become their stock-in-trade. And the poor are blissfully unaware that through all these strikes and marches they are only adding to their poverty, multiplying their miseries, because they are instrumental in hampering production, in reducing production all around. Is this what you call "the good of the poor"?
If you really want your "good", then forget the politicians and put all your energies into the imperative task of increasing production and adding to the wealth of the society.
Forget the politicians and work hard. Don't impede production by setting one class against another. Class conflict has to go. It is time classes come closer to each other and work unitedly for massive production.
But the politician will lose his business if he promotes friendly relations and understanding among the classes. The political leader lives by inciting conflicts and strife between different groups and classes. Without them he will cease to be. And as long as the leader is alive on this earth, wars will go on. Say good-bye to all your politicians and wars will say goodbye to you. They are the architects of conflict and strife and war. And they depend on them for their very existence.
Hitler has said in his autobiography that if you intend to be a great leader, then you need a great war. And if there is no real war, then a cold war will do. But war is a must, so that people are kept in fear. Because when they are in fear they need a leader to cling to. But when they are free of fear, when they have no worries, then they don't need the politician.
So keep war alive, create new conflicts and wars, and the masses will flock to you and ask you to lead them.
In the twenty years after Indian independence, the politicians prevented the industrialization of India by inciting class conflicts all over. This is the greatest crime they have committed; they have stabbed the country in the back. But the poor will never know that it was especially a stab in their backs.
Another friend has asked,
WHAT YOU SAY GOES IN SUPPORT OF THE CAPITALISTS. WON'T YOU SAY SOMETHING AGAINST THEM?
Of course, I am going to say a lot against them. And I will have to say it because the capitalists have also played a basic role in creating class conflicts. In fact, the man who becomes wealthy soon begins to think that he belongs to a different world -- different from the rest of the society. This is utterly wrong; no man becomes great by amassing wealth. By amassing wealth no one gets to the top of the world. If a man paints a picture, he does not get to the top of the world. A sculptor does not think that he is great, but a rich man thinks himself to be high and mighty. And as long as a rich man goes on feeding his ego with riches, he will arouse the jealousy of the poor; this is inevitable. I said yesterday that the jealousy of the poor is being aroused and inflamed.
Fifty percent of the responsibility for the poor man's jealousy belongs to poverty; another fifty percent belongs to the ego of the poor man's rich neighbor. The rich man will have to give up his arrogance.
Production of wealth should be his joy. But if he inflates his ego with wealth and thinks himself to be superior to others, to be a demigod, then it is inevitable that the masses around him will do everything to pull him down.
Really, wealth should not become a means to gratify the ego. On the contrary, the more wealth a man has, the more humble and egoless he should be. He should be egoless because he has gone through the abundance of wealth and found that nothing is gained by gaining wealth. Buddha and Mahavira were sons of the rich, but they renounced riches and walked away. Why?
Once Buddha was camping in a village that belonged to some other state than his father's.
The ruler of that state came to see him, and he said, "I have come to remonstrate with you. Are you crazy? Why did you give up your palace, your riches, and the grandeur and glory associated with them? This is crazy! I beseech you to give up this craziness. You marry my daughter, and become heir to my state; my daughter is my only child. Give up the monk's robe and manage the affairs of my kingdom." Buddha said, "The kingdom that I left behind is larger than yours. Now don't tempt me." Then the king asked, "What is it that made you leave your kingdom?" and Buddha answered, "I realized that I had everything and yet there was an emptiness inside me which wealth could not fill."
My vision is that it is difficult for a poor man to drop his ego because he does not know that even after having riches one has nothing. But the rich man's ego should go. He alone is truly rich who has come to realize that he has everything -- riches and mansions, cars and everything that riches bring -- yet there is something inside him which is utterly empty. If you fill that emptiness with wealth, you become egoistic, arrogant. And if you see that emptiness with clarity, against the background of riches, then egolessness arises.
If the rich man gives up his ego, it will be easier for the poor to shed his jealousy. But if the rich remain abundantly egoistic and arrogant, then the poor are left with nothing but Jealousy and bitterness to nurse.
The arrogance of the rich provides an opportunity to the politician to fan the jealousy of the poor. And when the politician does so, the rich man becomes more arrogant in defense. He seeks to defend his ego, what he calls his prestige, in various ways. But these ways are dangerous; they only add fuel to the fire.
No, if the country has to be rich, it is urgent that class conflict be reduced and eliminated.
And this is the responsibility of the rich -- much more than that of the poor, because the poor man's jealousy is very natural while it is unnatural on the part of the rich to be egoistic. While the poor man's jealousy is real, the ego of the rich is irrational and unreal.
I remember a small story. There is a hospital inside a jail with a hundred beds where sick prisoners are kept for treatment. Like the prisoners, their beds are also numbered. The number one bed is allotted to the prisoner who is a little hefty and enjoys the favor of the jail authorities. The second bed goes to one with less influence with the authorities. The prisoner on bed number one hundred thinks himself to be a nobody, a nonentity.
The man on bed number one is chained to his cot like the others, but he has an air of arrogance about him, the arrogance of being somebody. His bed is close to the window.
Rising from his bed every morning he looks out and says, "What a beautiful morning!"
And all the other prisoners feel humbled before him. They think him to be the most fortunate man and feel jealous of him. And the prisoner in bed number one goes on talking. Sometimes he praises the grandeur of the full moon in the sky, at other times he describes the beauty and smell of the various flowers.
By and by the number one bed becomes the most coveted bed of the hospital, the object of ninety-nine prisoners' desires and dreams. The fellow prisoners tell the occupant of the number one bed, "You are the most fortunate one among us; you must have earned it in your previous lives," but in their heart of hearts they pray for his death. And whenever he has a heart attack -- occupants of bed number one often suffer from heart troubles -- it sends a wave of joy among his fellow prisoners and they begin to look forward to the time when he will die. But he survives, because people like him die with difficulty. And when he is a little better, he begins again his hymns of praise to the splendor of the world beyond the window.
At long last the prisoner in bed number one dies.
His death sends a wave of joy among the ninety-nine prisoners, each of whom aspires for his bed. A contest starts -- as it happens in Delhi after the death of the "number one" man.
A mad race is on. They flatter the officials of the jail to win their favor. They even bribe them. And ultimately the prisoner offering the largest bribe wins the race. The winner is overjoyed and soon occupies the coveted bed. And the first thing he does after occupying it is to inspect his state and surroundings. This is what one does after becoming the president of the country. As the new occupant looks out the window, all his joys vanish into thin air. He is utterly disappointed to see that there is nothing except the massive outer wall of the prison. There is no sky, no sunrise, no flowers, no song of the birds -- nothing of those joys that his predecessor had gleefully talked about for years. And now he is in great difficulty -- how to say that there is nothing? And do you know what he said to his fellow prisoners?
He said, "Hey guys, how fortunate I am! The sun is rising, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing." And again the rest of the prisoners say outwardly, "How fortunate you are," and secretly pray for his death as well.
I have also heard that this hospital has been there for hundreds of years, and for hundreds of years the same drama is being played again and again. And up to now no prisoner in bed number one has gathered enough courage to say the truth.
The man getting to the top of the ladder of wealth should gather courage to say that though he has amassed wealth, he has not found his soul, he has not known the truth, he has not experienced love. In fact, he should realize the utter poverty of his being and say it. Then he will cease to be the pillar of ego that he is -- and, with the cessation of ego, he will also cease to inflame the jealousy of the poor. If class conflict has to be removed, the rich man will have to drop his arrogance and come down from his imaginary height.
Man does not become great because of wealth. A clerk in an office is not small because he is a clerk. To be really human is altogether different. It comes with the richness of being, which has nothing to do with outer richness. And the man who has no respect for this inner richness harms the society in many ways. The rich man should know that wealth does not make for inner richness. He should also know that God resides within the poor too. He has not to look down upon the poor man as if he is an animal. Only then we will extinguish the fire of class conflict. And this fire can be extinguished. And the country can engage itself in creativity, in the production of wealth, only if class conflict disappears.
A friend has asked,
HOW IS IT THAT INDIA COULD NOT PRODUCE WEALTH?
There are reasons for it. And I would like to go into a few of them. The first reason is that we, as a people, are anti-wealth. It must have been a most unfortunate moment in our long past when we decided to go against wealth. For thousands of years we have respected poverty, even deified it. And we also respect the poor. Perhaps the reason was that we were very poor, and because of our envy of the rich we began to respect the poor.
If I am a beggar and there is no way whatsoever to be a king, then as a last measure, my mind may say that I am happy being a beggar, that I would never, like to be a king. This would be the last device of the poor man's ego.
India has remained poor for thousands of years. Our poverty has been so long that it became necessary to find a way to gratify our ego even in the midst of poverty. And we found it at last: we gave poverty many good names. We said, "It is simplicity, non- acquisitiveness, renunciation," and the rest of it. And if some wealthy person embraced poverty voluntarily, we bowed down to him, we touched his feet. All the twenty-four teerthankaras of Jainism were sons of kings. Why could not a poor man's son be accepted as a teerthankara?
There is a reason for it. The poor man has nothing to renounce, and we measure a man's greatness by what he renounces. Really, wealth is our measure, whether one amasses it or renounces it. Mahavira is great because he renounced a huge amount of wealth. Buddha is great because he renounced his riches. No one would have cared to take note of him if he had been born in a poor family. We would have asked, "How much gold, how many palaces, elephants and horses did you renounce?" And he would have said, "None, because I had nothing." How could one be a teerthankara if he had no wealth? To be a teerthankara, one needs to be a millionaire. We measure everything with money. Poor people measure everything with money. We measure one's wealth by the amount of wealth one has; we measure renunciation by the amount of wealth one gives up.
Once I visited Jaipur. A man came to me and said, "There is a great sannyasin here; you must see him. He is an extraordinary sannyasin." I asked, "How did you find out that he is a great sannyasin?" And he answered, "The king of Jaipur himself touches his feet." I told the man, "You respect the king of Jaipur, and not the sannyasin. What would you say if the king refused to touch his feet?"
On another occasion I happened to be the guest of a sannyasin. In the course of our talks, every now and then he said that he had renounced wealth worth hundreds of thousands of rupees. Once I asked him, "Can you tell me about the time when you renounced so much wealth?" And he said, "Almost thirty years ago." Then I said, "Your renunciation did not click, because you remember it even after the lapse of thirty years. You are still enjoying the wealth. Once your ego thrived on its possession, now it thrives on its renunciation.
But in each case wealth remains the basis."
A poor man's measure is wealth.
But it was most unfortunate that we accepted poverty and thought that it was a blessing.
We said that contentment was of the highest. And that is why we failed to produce wealth, and we remained poor.
Now in order to produce wealth we have to stop respecting poverty. We have to stop calling the poor by the name of daidranarain, saying the poor are God. We have had enough of this nonsense. The poor are not God, and poverty is not a virtue. Poverty is a great disease, a curse, a scourge. It is like a plague, and it has to be destroyed, and wealth has to be respected. We will produce wealth only if we respect it.
We create what we desire, intensely desire to create. We created poverty because we accepted it. If somebody asked Gandhi why he traveled in a third-class compartment, he used to say, "Because there is no fourth class on the railway trains." If there had been a fourth class Gandhi would have traveled in that class saying, "I travel in the fourth because there is no fifth class on the train." Now Gandhi would not he contented until he traveled in the train of hell itself. We say that Gandhi was a mahatma, a great soul, a saint, because he accepted the third class.
Because we all, being poor, travel in the third, we think of Gandhi as the real mahatma.
Really, we are sick of traveling third class; we would travel by first class if w e could afford it . But that is not possible, so we have to lend respectability to the third class by honoring one who travels by it. Third class is now sought. It is turned into an object of our respect; it is made important -- and it gratifies our ego.
This false and senseless gratification of ego has ruined this country. It is time for it to go.
We need wealth. Wealth is not everything, but it is certainly something. Self-realization is not possible through wealth, but it is also true that without wealth self-realization is more difficult to attain. There is at least one great value in wealth: it helps us to forget our bodies, bodily needs. Bread serves one great purpose: we are freed from our bodily concerns. In hunger it is difficult to forget the body. If I have a headache, I cannot forget my head, but with the headache gone I forget it completely. If I have a thorn in my foot, my whole mind enters and lives around the paining foot. With the thorn taken out, the mind leaves the foot, it becomes free, carefree. Where there is a want, there is a sore. It hurts and haunts us. The poor man lives in his body, he lives on the level of the body; he cannot think beyond it. The rich man has an advantage: he can forget his body.
That is why I feel that the whole world should be made prosperous and rich, so that every person can rise above his body. And the day we forget the body, we begin to take care of our soul. When the needs of the body are fulfilled, then the question arises: What next?
What to seek next? The search for religion and God arises after all the physical needs of man have been satisfied. It is the last luxury. When you have all the good things of this world, the ultimate journey begins.
So now we have to change all our old choices; they were illusory, ill-conceived and wrong.
There is yet another important matter to consider. Our acceptance of poverty has one other reason: We believe that a man is poor because of his past sins, the sins of his past lives. This was also a device of consolation. We said that the rich were rich because they had earned merits in past lives, and the poor were poor because of their past sins. This fatalist thinking again provided us with consolation. And it made poverty and misery bearable. But it also made it impossible to end poverty.
Poverty is not the result of any mistakes that we made in our past lives, it is the result of the mistakes made in the present life itself. If what we do in this life fails to produce wealth, then poverty is inevitable.
And secondly, poverty is not only the result of our individual ways of life, it is also the cumulative effect of our group or collective life and its inner organization.
If we understand two things -- fallacies of past karmas and individual ways of life -- then we can get rid of our age-old poverty.
As long as we believed that the lifespan of a man was determined by fate, we could not increase our longevity. But the same lifespan increased considerably when our belief in fate declined. There was a strange custom in Tibet. When a child was born, he was dipped in ice-cold water and then taken out. This ritual was repeated several times, as a result of which seven out of ten children died only three survived. The people of Tibet believed that of the ten, seven died because they were destined to die, and three lived because they were destined to live. And they thought that this ritual was just a way of testing the fate of the children. This custom continued for centuries, and as a result, millions of children lost their lives.
It is wrong to conclude from the history of the Tibetan custom that if these millions of children had been spared this ordeal they would yet have died because they were destined to die. It simply shows that their resistance was low. But resistance could have been improved. But the Tibetans opted for killing them.
Our lifespan increased when we realized that longevity was not determined by fate. We now live much longer.
In the same way, we believed that diseases were caused by principles of karma, and so we did not do anything to fight or eradicate disease. However, when we dropped this belief, the situation changed radically. Now any number of diseases have disappeared, and a time will come when they will disappear altogether.
We are poor because we have decided to be so, and poverty can end only when we reject it with all our heart and mind. And if the whole country so decides and says goodbye to poverty, there will be no difficulty whatsoever. But the will to end poverty should come first -- the ending will follow inevitably.
Now the poor man is taught new stupidities, new superstitions in place of the old ones.
He is being ceaselessly harangued that he is poor because he is exploited by the rich, and that in order to liquidate poverty the exploiter has to be liquidated first. This is an utterly senseless argument. Liquidation of the so-called exploiter will never end poverty.
Another friend has asked,
YOU ARE WRONG IN SAYING THAT THE POOR MAN IS NOT EXPLOITED.
WHY IS HE PAID BY THE EMPLOYER ONLY TWO RUPEES FOR WORK WORTH TEN?
I ask this friend what will happen if this poor man refuses to work for two rupees? And then let him try to sell his ten rupees worth of labor for ten, not less. Where will he get this amount? Maybe he will fail to earn even two paise if he refuses to work for two rupees. And how did you determine the worth of his labor to be ten? Do you know how wages, the price of labor are determined?
Marx preached a strange theory that the worker is paid much less than the real value of his labor. But the question is that if the worker refuses to work for two rupees, is he going to be employed elsewhere for more? It is true that search for wages higher than the current ones should be undertaken. So also for higher production. But if we think in terms of the exploited and the exploiter, we will only create a wall of enmity between the poor and the rich, and the country will suffer. It will never attain prosperity if the institution of production is turned into an institution of conflict, strife and enmity.
So, it has to be an institution of friendship and cooperation. The worker and employer have to work with understanding and in cooperation. The worker should know that it is not a question of exploitation, it is a question of increasing production and productivity.
And the employer should know that it is not merely a matter of earning profits, but a question of investing them in further production. And if this twin understanding happens, the country will attain affluence unfailingly.
But if what the socialists say is accepted, the country will go to the wall, because after twenty years we will be poorer than we are today. Socialists give no thought to the matter of production, their sole concern is distribution of wealth. And this thing appeals to the poor -- that he will share the wealth of the rich for nothing. He is poor because he lacks the will to work, to create, to produce. So what more could he desire if wealth comes free of charge? And he joins the chorus: "Stop all work and march! We demand distribution of wealth!"
If this mad wish takes a firm hold on the country's poor, it means that India has finally decided to remain poor forever. Then riddance from poverty would be simply impossible.
And now the last thing... There remain a number of questions to be answered; I will answer them tomorrow. A friend wants to know if I am paid by the capitalists for supporting them.
No payment so far, but if there is a suggestion please bring it to me. It is strange, the whole pattern of our thinking is such. When I speak in favor of socialism I receive letters saying that I am Mao's agent and paid by China. And when I criticize socialism they say I am in the pay of America and I am an agent of American capital.
Is it a crime to think? Do only agents think, and no one else? I wonder if the questioner himself is connected with some agency. If not why this question?
We cannot imagine that one can think independently. We say one must be an agent. This means that man does not have a soul of his own and he cannot think on his own.
Another friend says that as I sometimes speak in support of socialism and again against it, I create confusion.
In reality our problem is different. We treat socialism and capitalism as contradictory to each other. This is a very wrong assessment Socialism is nothing more than the developed stage of capitalism; they are not opposite. So, when I speak in support of socialism, I speak about the end, the goal. And when I support capitalism, I speak about the means, the process. There is no contradiction whatsoever. But because we are in the habit of thinking in terms of enmity, we cannot think in any other manner. We have been trained to think in terms of conflict, not cooperation. The political leader knows only the language of conflict.
But I am not a leader. To me it seems that socialism is the end, and capitalism the means.
And that is why I am in favor of socialism and I am not opposed to capitalism. This has to be understood very clearly.
Any number of friends have written to me that I say things that are very inconsistent, that sometimes I say one thing and at other times its very opposite. This charge is again wrong.
You were young yesterday, and today you are an old man. If someone tells you that you are very inconsistent -- once you were a child, then young and now you are old -- what would you say to him? You will say that it is not inconsistent, it is growth. Childhood leads to youth, and youth in its turn leads to old age. In the same way capitalism will lead to socialism, socialism to communism and communism to anarchism. The day communism will have been established rightly, there will be no need of the state. But these are the gradual processes of social growth; they are not contradictory at all.
I am not inconsistent. Whatever I say is relevant, and that is why I say it. In my view, socialism will not come through those who talk of it -- the demagogues. There is every possibility that they will impede it, prevent it. They may succeed in subverting and sabotaging the system of capital formation, and consequently prevent the advent of socialism in India. But nobody can think that Tatas and Birlas are going to bring socialism here. I say to you, Tatas and Birlas are doing exactly that. I mean to say that if the wealth that they are engaged in producing becomes massive and abundant, then it is bound to culminate in socialism, and in no other way. It is inevitable. And then socialism will be a very natural consequence of capitalism.
But Karl Marx thought in terms of thesis and antithesis. He thought in terms of conflict and struggle and the revolution of the proletariat. And his followers are conditioned by his teachings. Marx had no concept of evolution. This is the basic weakness of his philosophy. But evolution is the fundamental law of life and its basic function. And revolution becomes necessary only when the evolutionary process is blocked. Revolution should not step in where evolution itself has not happened. As I said yesterday, it would be wrong if a childbirth is forced much before the child has completed nine months in the mother's womb. It would be dangerous. The child will die; even the mother may die. And if the child survives, it would be as good as dead.
It is also possible that childbirth does not take place even after completion of the pregnancy, and a Caesarian section becomes unavoidable. In the same way, if the evolutionary process is impeded, revolution will become necessary. Revolution will be needed to remove the impediment. If America does not become socialist after fifty years, a revolution can be needed there. But it was not necessary for Russia and China, and it is not needed in India yet. It is unfortunate that revolutions are taking place where they were not needed at all.
Lenin had predicted that the road of communism to London lies through Moscow, Peking and Calcutta. It was a dangerous prophecy which seems to be coming true. Already there is a paved road from Moscow to Peking, and footpaths between Peking and Calcutta have become visible. Nobody can say that Lenin's prediction will really come true. But in case it comes true, it will be most unfortunate for Asia and the world. There is yet time to remove the footpaths because they are in their rudimentary stage. But how can it be done in the absence of a definite vision and goal?
The irony is that while socialism has a movement and a philosophy, capitalism has none.
Capitalism has no philosophy of its own. That is why it cannot take a bold stand. it is always on the defensive. And if it does not change its posture, its stance, it is going to die.
Its being on the defensive means that it accepts defeat. A person or a system, if it wants to win, must not be on the defensive. But capitalism is committing the same mistake.
Capitalism says, "It does not matter if Calcutta is lost, we will take care of Bombay." And if tomorrow Bombay is lost, they will take care of Delhi. This is the certain way of retreat and ultimate defeat.
So, this will not do. When a movement is based on jealousy, hatred and violence, it gathers much fire and goes on spreading like wildfire. A great force of thought. ideology and philosophy is needed to counteract and defeat it. And I say, it is possible to build that force. As I see it. capitalism is dying for want of argument, for want of philosophy. It is not able to argue its case, and it is afraid of appearing in court because it cannot produce evidence in its favor. A single party is present in the court and getting away with a default judgment.
Capitalism must present its case, Its philosophy. It should announce in clear terms that we are part of socialism. part of its development. Socialism is not the first, but the last stage of capitalism. And when capitalism presents its case well, we will drive away communism not only from Calcutta and Peking, but from Moscow itself. That is not so difficult.
There is great unrest in Russia at the moment. It is seething with discontent, stress and strain. Its youth are in foment, but they are not in a position to rebel. They don't have the wherewithal, the necessary ideology. That ideology, that rebellion. has to reach Russia too. America also suffers from the same deficiency -- it does not have an aggressive ideology. America is also on the defensive, and that is why it is in difficulty. But I think socialism will not reach London via Moscow, Peking and Calcutta. If socialism has to spread in the world, its headquarters will be Washington. Socialism via Washington.
There can be no other way.
And if socialism goes all over the world via Washington, it will be natural, healthy and happy.
If you have any questions, please give them in writing and we will discuss them together.
I am grateful to you for having listened to me with such love and attention. I salute the God residing in each of you. Please accept my salutations.