Chapter 22: Laughter Is Divine
But he could not attract the ordinary mind. The ordinary mind found that whatever Mahavira says simply goes above his head. You ask him about God and he says, “perhaps.” You want some solid answer, whether God exists or not, and he says, “perhaps.” Perhaps what? What should we understand by perhaps? It does not mean God exists, it does not mean God does not exist. It simply means: it depends on you, from what aspect you look at it.
There is an aspect from which it is significant to say God exists; there is another aspect from which to say, significantly, God does not exist. And there is also a third possibility: to say that God exists and does not exist, together.
There is also a fourth possibility.just to remain silent; not to answer, because the question is unanswerable. And in this way he goes on. By the time he has finished his discourse about the seven aspects of God, you return home more confused than you had ever been before. Who is going to follow this man? About everything he begins with “perhaps.” But he was the most logical man.
Twenty-five centuries ago he talked about the theory of relativity. It took twenty-five centuries for the West to understand - when Albert Einstein brought the theory of relativity into the field of science. This man, Mahavira, must have had a tremendous insight into existence. He had no lab, nothing to experiment with except his logical correctness.
So, Mukta, you should not think that it is a misfortune. It is a blessing that you never got trapped into Aristotelian thinking. That has destroyed half of the mind of all humanity. It has made everybody look at life in terms of either/or, and life is much more mysterious. It is closer to Mahavira’s “perhaps,” than a simple yes and no.
I have heard about a great philosopher who had gone to challenge Mahavira about his philosophy of perhaps. And he said, “You give me any concrete example.”
Mahavira said, “The whole of life is the example; but for your pleasure, just visualize in a court a judge asks you, ‘Have you stopped beating your wife or not? Answer “yes” or “no” - choose. Have you stopped beating your wife or not?’ If you say, ‘Yes, I have stopped,’ it means you were beating her. If you say ‘no,’ it means you are still beating her. But it does not allow you any possibility to say, ‘I have never beaten my wife.’”
Life cannot possibly be answered in simple ways of yes and no. And now even the scientists in the West are getting rid of Aristotle. Particularly modern physics, after Albert Einstein, has dropped Aristotle and his logic. They have moved closer to Mahavira without knowing anything about Mahavira; because they have penetrated energy fields and they have found life is so complex, you cannot say yes, you cannot say no. You have to find something different, a third alternative.
One logician has suggested a new word, which is being used and becoming more and more current, and that is po. When you cannot say yes, when you cannot say no, say po. But po means “perhaps,” it cannot mean anything else.