Chapter 4: Man is Always an Opening

Question 3



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The third question:

Question 3


Sri AUROBINDO was never really a very spiritual man. Originally he was a politician, and politics lingered and lingered to the very end. He became religious, he tried hard, but the shadow of politics continued. His assertions should not be given too much value. He was a little chauvinistic about India, as people are about their own country all over the world.

An Indian thinks that he is the very center of the world spiritually, very highly evolved. All rubbish! No country as such is spiritually evolved, no race as such is spiritually evolved. Spirituality happens only to individuals, not to countries. Yes, Buddha was evolved, so was Jesus; Mahavir was evolved, so was Mohammed; Krishna was evolved, so was Zarathustra -- so what! Individuals. Just because Buddha happened to be born in India, India does not become spiritual -- because spiritual people have been born all over the world, to every part, to every country, to every century, to every race. But there is a spiritual egoism, and there are reasons also.

India feels very inferior in many ways; it has to compensate. The West is very materially progressive, materially affluent, rich -- rich in science, rich in living, rich in every way. India feels inferior: how to compensate for it? This becomes a compensation: that we are spiritually evolved.

No country is spiritually evolved -- because spirituality is basically individual. It has nothing to do with country and climate; it is not confined to the boundaries of politics. Ask the Indians: "Now what about Pakistan?" Just twenty years ago it was India -- then it was spiritually evolved. Now? -- now it is the worst country in the world -- ask an Indian. It was India just twenty years ago! Now it is no more India. Political boundaries. The world is one, the earth is one, for a spiritual man.

So if Aurobindo is talking about the geographical India, he is talking nonsense. But Indians feel good; they have nothing else to claim. Spirituality is good because it is a very invisible thing; you cannot disprove it. If somebody says, "I am very rich," you can prove or disprove it -- mm? -- you can go and see the bank-balance. And somebody says, "I am spiritual," now what to do? How to prove or how to disprove?

I have heard an anecdote:

A few Christian theologians have concluded that Adam and Eve were Indians. Why? "First," they argue, "they had nothing to wear. Second, they stole apples; and, third, with it all, they thought they were living in the Garden of Eden."

They had nothing to wear, were stealing apples, and still thinking that they lived in Paradise! That's what an Indian goes on thinking. So when somebody like Sri Aurobindo declares that India is the center, the spiritual guide, the spiritual guru of the whole world, Indians feel very good. It enhances the;r ego. It helps them to stand a little more erect; it helps them to feel a little good. It cheers them -- that's all. But it is not a truth.

And Sri Aurobindo was definitely talking about the geographical India -- because he was very fanatical, chauvinistic. He had the idea that Indians are very superior, that they have spiritual work to do in the world. No. But in another way, if you take India not as a geographical thing, not as a political map, but if you take India as an eternal search for truth, then this country has been in search long -- longer than any other country. It has sacrificed much for its search. That's how it has become so poor -- because when people start thinking of the inner world, they start dropping from the outside world, they become dropouts.

India has been approaching the inner continuously. If you take India as a symbol of inner search, good -- but then you should remember that it is an inner search and a symbol of inner search. Then somebody who is born in the West and is seeking God is an Indian; and somebody who is born in India and is seeking money is an American. Then there is no trouble -- then Jesus is Indian, Zarathustra is Indian, Lao Tzu is Indian, Chuang Tzu is Indian, Bokuju, Rinzai -- all are Indians. Then 'India' has a totally different meaning.

I also say that India is significant, but just as a psychological symbol. Longest India has been searching. And MORE Buddhas have happened here. The very climate of spirituality, the milieu, helps. Jesus is rare, Zarathustra is rare. In India, Buddha, Mahavir, Krishna, Ram -- it seems almost a normal state of affairs.

But it is just like when somebody says: "The West is symbolic for science." Yes, the West has been searching scientifically longest. From the ancient Greeks up to today the Western mind has been searching in scientific categories. It has been leaning more and more towards logic, mathematics, experimentation. And in the East, India has been leaning more and more illogically, irrationally, towards the inner.

If you can think of the West as a symbol of science, then the East can become a symbol for spirituality. If you think of the Greek mind as logical, then you can think of the Indian mind as religious -- but then these are symbols, nothing to brag about.

But every country, every race, goes on bragging about itself. I have heard an anecdote:

The mother superior of a convent was interviewing the three girls graduating from the high school.

"Wee Margaret," she asked the first, "and what will you be doing when you leave us?"

"Oh, Mother," the girl replied, "I'm not going to be leaving you -- I'm going to stay here and take the veil!"

"Bless you, Margaret," said the nun, well pleased. Turning to the next one she asked,"And you, Katherine, what are your plans?"

"Oh," replied Katherine, "I'm going to continue to get a good Catholic education and then teach little children in a parochial school."

"Most commendable," said the nun. "And what will you do, Eileen?" she asked of the third student.

Lowering her eyes, the girl replied, "I'm going to become a prostitute."

"A what?" shrieked the mother superior.

"A prostitute," the girl repeated, whereupon the nun fainted to the floor.

They quickly revived her, but even before she rose from the floor, the nun gasped, "Eileen, say that again."

"Mother," the girl replied firmly, "I'm going to be a prostitute! "

"Oh, saints preserve us!" said the nun crossing herself quickly. "I thought you said a Protestant!"

Every religion, every country, every sect, is fanatically mad Only they are the right, they are the true ones. They are on the right track and everybody else is wrong, everybody else is condemned.

So, it is natural that the thinkers all over the West felt offended. But to feel offended is to be ill with the same disease. "They mocked and laughed at it." There is no need to mock and laugh.

Sri Aurobindo's statement is absurd -- but there is no need to mock and laugh at it, because when you mock and laugh at it then you are carrying the same mind within you. Then an American feels offended -- because India, the guru? Then an Englishman feels offended. How can an Englishman ever think of India as the guru? -- impossible. But this is the same mind! One extreme is declaring that India is the center, the suprememost guru of the world, and then the other is feeling offended.

No need to feel offended -- just feel pity for such statements. Just feel sorry that still in this twentieth century there are people who don't belong to this century -- very traditional, orthodox; not contemporaries at all. But there is no need to feel offended -- because it is ego asserting and it is ego feeling offended. So just see the point; don't feel offended -- otherwise you are in the same boat.


Next: Chapter 4: Man is Always an Opening, Question 4


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