Chapter 11: The Very Nature of Things
In fact, even to say postponement is not right. You are enlightened and you are trying not to be enlightened. Your whole effort of being a Catholic, being a Protestant, being a Hindu, being a Mohammedan, is nothing but a device not to recognize your enlightenment.
When Socrates was poisoned, Athens was a city state, a direct democracy. Every citizen except the slaves had the right to vote and every decision had to be made by the whole city. The chief justice who was going to decide whether the majority of Athenians were in favor of poisoning Socrates or in favor of saving him, was very much puzzled. He must have been a man of some intelligence. He saw that Socrates was a simple, innocent, almost childlike person. He had not committed any crime, he had not done any harm to anybody. And that’s what Socrates had appealed to the court - “Just tell me, what is my crime?”
There was no crime, there was no charge against him. The chief justice whispered in his ear that “Your crime is that you are a natural being. I cannot say it aloud, because I know if they cannot forgive you, they cannot forgive me either. But I have immense respect for your innocence and I don’t want a man like you to be destroyed. You are an exception, but you prove the rule that every man can be so innocent and so sincere and so alive and so joyous. I give you three alternatives..
“First is that Athens is a city state; its laws are not applicable outside the boundary of the city. The simple thing is for you to move outside the city. You can open your school, your academy, and those who love you will be coming there. And I know for certain that the younger generation is immensely impressed by you. It is the older generation.”
But in the past, the older generation was always the majority, because out of ten children, nine used to die within two years after their birth. Now the situation has reversed: out of ten children only one child dies, nine go on living. It is for the first time that young people are the majority in the world. Never in the past were the young people in the majority. They were always a minority group.
The chief justice said, “You simply move out of the city.” Socrates said, “That will be cowardly. As far as death is concerned, it is going to come sooner or later. I am already old enough. But I don’t want the future generations to remember that Socrates moved out of Athens because of the fear of death. Please forgive me, I cannot go out of Athens.”
The chief justice said, “Then the second simple thing will be that you stop teaching. Live in Athens, but don’t talk about your truth. And don’t talk about people being sincere and authentic.”