Chapter 8: The Light of Disbelief
In America, Sweden, Switzerland, and other first world countries, the percentage of killer diseases has been reduced so much that one can say that man was never so healthy before. The longevity has increased. In Russia during the 1917 revolution, the average age of a Russian was twenty-three years! We can say that after every year they added one more year to their life. In Sweden and Switzerland, the average life expectancy is eighty two years. The scientists and thinkers there say that if we wish there is not much difficulty in giving man an average life span of one hundred years. When that one hundred years becomes the average, you can find an old man aged two hundred and fifty years. In our country, where the average age is only thirty years, we can find an old man of ninety years three times the average so it should be easy to find an old man of three hundred years if the average age rises up to one hundred. At this time in Russia there are over one thousand people who are a hundred and fifty years old.
The whole world is changing everything, but in India the traditional structures are decisive. We go on saying that we are short of wheat and clothes and we say it in such a way that we look helpless. We are starving and naked since the last five thousand years, but our way of living is such that we may continue to remain so for a further five thousand years. In this the fault is not that of our land or the sky, but of our wrong way of thinking.
In 1940, Russia burnt wheat instead of coal in their trains, because they found that coal was more valuable than wheat. Wheat can be grown every year, but for coal to form in mines takes lakhs of years. Therefore, coal must be burnt economically. Now in this world, in one country people burn wheat in their train engines and in another country people do not have enough wheat for their bellies! In such a situation, one is forced to wonder what is the matter.
.And it is not the case that America was rich from the beginning; the wealth has been created there during the last fifty or sixty years. Otherwise they were as poor as we are. And remember, in America, the American Indians, the natives, are still poor. The richness is not just due to the land in America.
One German thinker, Count Keyserling, returned after visiting India. In his book he has made a strange observation. When I was reading it I was surprised. He has written that India is a rich country where poor people live! I was thinking, “How can this be? If the country is rich, how can the people remain poor, and if the people are poor, how can the country be called rich?”. Then I realized that he was just being ironical. He was just trying to say that the people can become rich, but the intelligence, the mind and the thinking of the people living there is for remaining poor. They cannot become rich. If this country can get people like the Americans to live here, this country will become richer than America. We have everything, except the thinking mind. Our habits for thousands of years have been not of thinking, but of avoiding thinking. When it is a question of thinking, we would rather avoid thinking! If we have a problem we will go straight to the temple, but will not think of a solution for a problem.
Recently I was in Bihar. Thousands of famines have happened in Bihar since the time of the Buddha, but the people of Bihar have done nothing. There is a lot of water underground in Bihar, but they do not dig wells. Every year they are waiting for the famine and begging for help to go on living. They do nothing! When the famine comes, they accept it and beg. When there is famine, the leaders of the whole country begin to ask for donations and help. When the famine is over, nobody bothers. The same situation continues, there will be no change.