Chapter 19: Where Nothing Is Right and Nothing Is Wrong
You have said that right and wrong are determined by each society. Is there no universal right and wrong?
There is no possibility of any division between right and wrong on the highest level of universal consciousnesses, for the simple reason that there are no divisions at all. It is one.
In the East, those who have attained universal consciousness are not even willing to say that it is one, because “one” implies two, three, four - the whole infinity of numbers; one is only the beginning. Hence they have used a very strange concept. They say in universal consciousness there is not-two; it is non-dual. To avoid the implications of one they have used a negative: not-two.
The concepts of right and wrong are local, social, cultural. In every society, in different times they had to change their concepts continuously because circumstances change, climates change; then naturally, something that was right becomes wrong, something that was wrong becomes right: Let us take a few examples.
Mohammed married nine women, and he made it a rule for every Mohammedan to marry at least four women. Not to marry four was falling below the Mohammedan concept of right; marrying more was good. A strange thing it appears to us, but it was really right in Mohammed’s time - that was the proportion between men and women in Arabia: four women, one man. The reason for this strange proportion was because men were continually fighting and killing each other, and it was thought unmanly to kill a woman. So women were surviving and men were dying.
When in a society there are four women to one man there is bound to be trouble, great trouble: only one woman is going to get a husband. The other three women are going to sabotage the marriage in every possible way. They will become prostitutes, and there will be so much jealousy and so much conflict.. To avoid this, Mohammed made a moral rule - but it is applicable only in that circumstance.
Now, Mohammedans marrying several wives in other countries are simply stupid, because circumstances have changed. Now even in Arabia the proportion is equal: one man to one woman. It seems that once a certain rule is accepted, people become so much addicted to it they completely forget in what circumstance the rule was made.
It was perfectly okay in Mahavira’s time in India to allow millions of sannyasins to be celibate. It was something not only moral but, they thought, spiritual too. But if you look into the mechanism of the concept it becomes very clear.