Chapter 1: The Rebel: The Very Essence of Religion
It is very significant to remember that the day Gautam Buddha was born, his mother died; as he was coming out of the womb, his mother was going out of existence. Perhaps this was historical, because he was brought up by his mother’s sister - he never saw his mother alive. And now it has become a traditional idea in Buddhism that whenever a buddha is born, his mother dies immediately, his mother cannot survive. I take it as a symbolic and very significant indication. It means the birth of a rebel is the death of the old.
The revolutionary tries to change the old; the rebel simply comes out of the old, just as the snake slips out of the old skin, and never looks back. Unless we create such rebellious people around the earth, man has no future. The old man has brought man to his ultimate death. It is the old mind, the old ideologies, the old religions - they have all combined together to bring about this situation of global suicide. Only a new man can save humanity and this planet, and the beautiful life of this planet.
I teach rebellion, not revolution. To me, rebelliousness is the essential quality of a religious man. It is spirituality in its absolute purity.
The days of revolution are over. The French revolution failed, the Russian revolution failed, the Chinese revolution failed. In this country we have seen the Gandhian revolution fail, and it failed in front of Gandhi’s own eyes. Gandhi was teaching nonviolence his whole life, and in front of his own eyes the country was divided; millions of people were killed, burned alive; millions of women were raped. And Gandhi himself was shot dead. That is a strange end of a nonviolent saint.
And he himself forgot all his teachings. Before his revolution was secured, Gandhi was asked by an American thinker, Louis Fischer, “What are you going to do with the arms, armies, and all the different weapons, when India becomes an independent country?”
Gandhi said, “I’m going to throw all the arms into the ocean, and send all the armies to work in the fields and in the gardens.”
And Louis Fischer asked, “But have you forgotten? Somebody can invade your country.”
Gandhi said, “We will welcome him. If somebody invades us, we will accept him as a guest and tell him, ‘You can also live here, just the way we are living. There is no need to fight.’”
But he completely forgot all his philosophy - that’s how revolutions fail. It is very beautiful to talk about these things, but when power comes into your hands.First, Mahatma Gandhi did not accept any post in the government. It was out of fear, because how was he going to answer the whole world? What about throwing the arms into the ocean? What about sending the armies to work in the fields? He escaped from the responsibility for which he had been fighting his whole life, seeing that it was going to create tremendous trouble for him; he would have to contradict his own philosophy.