Chapter 4: Danger: Truth at Work
Where can you escape? Perhaps wherever you are going, there is the right place and the right time. In fact every place is the right place for death, and every time is the right time.
Now, facts like death. Religions have been trying to console you, giving you ideas that can help you to create a buffer between you and the fear of death - shock absorbers - so that you don’t get continually shocked; otherwise life would become impossible. So, all kinds of fictions have been woven into mythologies, into theologies. Anybody saying the truth is bound to cut through all these cobwebs, these mythologies, these fictions.
And when you suddenly see the naked truth, you are going to be against the person who has brought you such a shocking gift. You would like to believe that it is not true, but you know it is. Hence the anger; otherwise there was no need to kill Socrates.
If you are right, and you know that you are right, then let this man befool himself with his “truth” - it does not matter to you. The people of Athens believed in an afterlife, as did the people of the whole earth. Everybody, except the atheists, believed in an afterlife of some kind. The Greek mythology was rich, but Socrates said, “Nothing can be said about death because nobody has ever returned. So we have to keep our minds open. We cannot accept any fiction about death and life after death, because there has not been a single eyewitness. Until I die, I cannot say whether one lives after death or not. If I die, then there is no question, no problem arises - I am simply not there.
“What about before you were born?” His argument was solid. In what trouble were you: what anxiety, what anguish, what suffering? You know that there is no question of any suffering or any anguish before you were born. Who was going to suffer, and who was going to be in anxiety and anguish? You were not there!
Socrates just simply looked at death with the same vision. If you are simply finished, as the atheists say; if you completely disappear, if nothing of you remains, then there is no problem because you are not there. All problems, all anxieties disappear. This is one possibility.
The other possibility is that perhaps the theists are right, and you survive. But then too, he said, “I don’t see any problem. You are surviving right now, and somehow you are managing your misery, your anxiety, your problems; somehow you are managing. And if you are there, you will be experienced, more experienced; you will still be able to manage.”