Chapter 7: Spirituality Is the Ultimate in Luxury
For example, in India nobody asks, “What is the meaning of life?” because that is a higher problem - the meaning of life. In the West you are concerned with the meaning of life, not in the East. It cannot arise - there is no background for it. People are so poor, how can they think of any meaning, any significance? The question is how to feed their children, the question is how to survive. survival is the question! When you have survived and you are completely at ease in life, then you ask, “What is the meaning of life? Is survival enough?” But that question arises only when you have managed to survive.
Higher problems arise with higher needs. Then with higher problems you have new kinds of troubles but their plane is higher. Psychoanalysis is not needed in the East at all; Sigmund Freud or Carl Gustav Jung or Adler and others have no relevance. And the Indian religious mahatmas go on bragging about it: “Look, our country is so peaceful!” It is not peaceful, it is simply dead! It is the peace of the cemetery, it is not peacefulness. They say, “Look, our people are so contented!” They are not contented. The discontent has not arisen, because to be discontented with life first you have to manage to survive. They are struggling for survival, so there is no question of psychoanalysis.
But the so-called mahatmas who go on teaching in the West, saying to people in America and Europe, “India is a great spiritual country. People are so satisfied, so contented,” are simply lying - maybe not knowingly, maybe they also believe that this is so. Certainly more people go mad in the West than in the East, because the West can afford it. Madness is a higher problem; hunger is a lower problem. A hungry person cannot go mad - it is impossible. When you are hungry, can you afford to be mad? Keep the madman hungry for three weeks and you will see that he has become sane! He will start talking sense. He will come down from the clouds to the earth.
The hungry person remains closer to the earth, rooted in the earth. When you are satisfied with the earthly plane you start having wings, and of course then there are new dangers. When you start flying then you will have to face new problems, new dangers, new crises. Madness belongs to the psychological realm, not to the physical.
More people commit suicide in the West than in the East, and I take it as a sign of growth - because when you are perfectly okay on the physiological plane, the question starts haunting you: “Why go on living? For what?” The hungry man has some goals, very immediate goals. He cannot see far away; it is an everyday question how to survive. In the morning he has to think about his lunch, in the evening he has to think about his supper.
Half of the Indians eat only once a day, and the whole country is undernourished. Millions of people go to sleep with a hungry stomach. Now, do you think these people can commit suicide? They have not even been able to be alive, how can they commit suicide? First you have to be alive! Even if you want to commit suicide that much has to be fulfilled first.
When all your physical needs are fulfilled, then suddenly a question arises, a new challenge: “Why am I trying to survive?” It is philosophical, psychological: one searches for the meaning of life. Then one can go mad one can commit suicide, one can start being creative. Then all the doors open, good and bad. One can be either lower than the animals or can rise higher than the angels.