Chapter 13: Be, Know Thyself, Keep the Measure
Socrates was not killed because he had committed any crime. His only crime can be that he attained what is hidden in you. He made reality what is only potential in you; he transformed the seed into a glorious flower, dancing in the wind and the sun. You cannot, the masses cannot forgive such a man. It hurts our ego very deeply.
And the masses are powerful as a crowd. Men like Socrates are alone; they are a majority of one. The crowd could not prove anything against Socrates. Still, he was poisoned and killed. Even in his death he was great, and the people who killed him, even in their life proved to be very ugly, mean and small. But it creates a situation in which no other man will try to become a Socrates, because if to be Socrates means to be poisoned by the crowd, then why bother? Keep quiet. Don’t annoy and irritate the ordinary and the mundane.
Once this settles in the mind of people, great people start disappearing. Slowly, slowly a country like Greece, which has brought humanity many flowers, became poor on both counts. The outer poverty is not so important, because it can be destroyed easily, but the inner poverty is very difficult. It is not easy to create Socrates or Heraclitus or Pythagoras. We have destroyed the atmosphere in which such roses blossom. By destroying these flowers we have destroyed the possibility of other flowers who could have blossomed. What is the point, if this kind of treatment is going to happen?
One Christian missionary - a great thinker in his own right, Stanley Jones - used to come to India. I had become very friendly with him just by chance, because the church in which he used to speak was just near my house. I said to him once, “Jesus has promised to come back again, very soon. Now it is too long. You cannot stretch ‘very soon’ that long - one year, two years but not two thousand years!”
He said, “I had never thought about it.”
But I told him, “I have thought about it: he will never come!”
He said, “On what grounds are you saying this?”
I said, “If he is intelligent, then one experience is enough. What have you given to the man? Crucifixion - and you are still expecting him to come?” And I told Stanley Jones to read a book that he had not read - Dostoevski’s Brothers Karamazov, one of the greatest books written by any man. But it is so big that very few people have dared even to start to read it. Just the voluminousness of the book prevents them. But it is so valuable that hundreds of Bibles are of no value compared to it. Dostoevski has written it with his own blood.
In that book one character is Ivan Karamazov. There are three brothers, hence the name Brothers Karamazov. One brother is very religious, almost saintly. Another brother is a rationalist, an atheist, absolutely against the other brother - thinks him naive, stupid - and his worship.
One day he tells him a story..
He says, “Have you heard that Jesus has come back?”
The other brother said, “I have never heard. Where is he?”