Chapter 2: Meditation: The Razor’s Edge
In the old books, in the ancient universities, it was taught that to gather material wealth is unrealistic; it can be stolen. But to gather knowledge was considered realistic because knowledge cannot be stolen. Wealth will be taken away by death, knowledge can survive death. Hence the old Indian saying that the dignity of a pundit is all-pervading; wherever he goes he will be respected. All this is now obsolete. We have found the means to break into even this internal vault. Brainwashing is being exhaustively investigated - how to change the head by cleansing it of what it has.
It is the Chinese communists who have carried out great experiments - very dangerous! Their targets were American prisoners of war in Korea. Their effort was to brainwash these young Americans. And the brain can really be washed, because memory is made up of signs, and just as the cassette of a tape recorder can be cleaned and re-recorded, so the memory can be cleared and recharged with new memories. Without his knowledge a Hindu can be turned to a Mohammedan. Erase his Gita, insert the Koran, and the Hindu is converted into a Mohammedan. In the same way a Mohammedan can be turned into a Hindu. Seeing its returning prisoners of war turned into communists, America was shocked. What was consciously impossible had been achieved. Carrying out their own investigations of these prisoners, they found that some meddling had been done, that ways had been found to break the memory.
Now in America great experiments are also afoot in this field. Skinner is a great thinker. He says that now it is not necessary to make people understand; now we have the means to change them. If anyone needs to be made “good” then his head can be changed accordingly. There is no need to tell him or to try to teach or instruct him in morality. With the aid of chemicals, or with surgery, the brain can be changed. Electrodes can be inserted in the head, and the individual can be controlled. In the brain of each child an electrode can be fixed right at the moment of birth, without the knowledge of the parents - what to say of the child! Through the electrode the whole life of the child can be controlled, yet the child will remain under the impression that his every act is his own. He will not feel that anyone is ordering him; he will feel as if whatever he is doing comes from his own free will, his own inner inspiration.
Through this research of Skinner and his colleagues, the greatest dark age of man’s slavery is about to begin. Man may feel that what he is doing is his own doing, while the fact is that he is being controlled by some external agency - from the capital, through the radio for example. His brain is responding to broadcast waves. Skinner says that even if a whole town has become troublesome, it can be brought to peace in a moment. If people are mutinous, they can be rendered obedient. If soldiers are sent off to war, they can be rendered fearless. It is simply a matter of erasing their awareness of death, and they will act without fear, as if there is no death. Now the means exist to erase, change, steal or renew memory. But this is only possible because memory is also a commodity.