Chapter 10: Beyond East and West
Whatsoever we look at, whatsoever we see, is not very important. The important thing is where you stand. If you are clinging to the East, whatsoever you see in the West will be a misinterpretation.
Just the other day I was reading a newspaper. Someone had written an article against me. The article asked how Americans can understand religion, how Western people can understand religion. They cannot, so my whole effort is a wastage. This is the Indian chauvinist mind. The Indian thinks that nobody can understand religion except the Indian. And this is not only so with the Indian, this is so with everybody. Everybody deep down carries this nonsense - that we are the chosen few. This idea is very destructive. It is not a question of being American or Indian; truth has nothing to do with all these labels. Truth is available to anybody who is ready to drop all these labels. Truth is understood only when you are neither - American nor Indian nor Hindu nor Christian. Truth is understood by a consciousness that is no longer clouded by any conditionings, which is no longer clouded by the past. Otherwise we go on seeing in things only that which we can understand.
I was reading a very beautiful anecdote..
The family managed to bring the patriarchal grandfather from Hungary and he came to live with his daughter and her family.
The old man was fascinated by New York and all it had to offer.
One day his grandson, Yunkel, took him to the zoo in Central Park. Most of the animals were familiar to the old man. However they came to the cage where the laughing hyena was confined and the old man became curious.
“Yunkel, in the old country I never heard of an animal that laughed.”
Yunkel noticed the keeper standing nearby and approached him.
“My grandfather recently came from Europe. He says they don’t have any laughing hyenas there. Could you tell me something about it so that I can in turn tell him?”
The keeper said, “Well, he eats once a day.”
Yunkel turned to his grandfather and said in Yiddish, “He eats once a day.”
The keeper continued, “He takes a bath once a week.”
“He bathes once a week.”
The old man listened intently.
The keeper added, “He mates once a year.”
“He mates once a year.”
The old man shook his head up and down thoughtfully.
“All right. He eats once a day, he bathes once a week, but if he mates only once a year, why is he laughing?”