Chapter 11: No Higher, No Lower
A bus loaded with cockney tourists was making a rather prolonged drive along the sea front in Sicily, when it stopped for the passengers to have a brief rest and enjoy the scenery. At once most of the men rushed up the embankment where they relieved themselves despite the fact that the women remaining on the bus could see them.
When the men reboarded the bus, one indignant wife was so furious that she told her husband and the others in a loud tone of voice exactly what she thought of the strange maneuver. “But, Jock,” she continued in a more conciliatory tone, “I was awfully proud when you took out ours!”
The motive is the same. It may be profane, it may be sacred, it does not matter, it makes no difference at all. The motive is the same: somehow to prove that, “I am greater than you, holier than you, wiser than you, more virtuous than you.”
You say: “I thanked God daily that I was part of the one true religion.” Every religion believes that. There are three hundred religions on the earth, and every religion believes in the same idiotic idea. There are hundreds of countries in the world, and every country believes in the same nonsense. There are many races, many colors, but everybody believes that there is something special about his country, his religion, his race, his color.
If you observe these attitudes of others, you will be immediately aware what kind of idiocy prevails amongst human beings. But it will be difficult for you to see your own idiotic, irrational prejudices. First watch others, then it will become easier for you to see that the same is the case with you.
I always love a beautiful story about a professor of philosophy. He was the head of the philosophy department in the University of Paris. He was a very logical man - obviously - he was a great philosopher.
One day he declared to his students, “I am the greatest man in the world.”
The students were shocked. They had never thought that their philosopher, their professor, who is such a logical man, will ever say something so absurd.
One of the students asked, “Sir, you have always been proving your statements rationally - can you prove this one too?”
And the professor laughed and he said, “Yes. If I cannot prove it, then I would not have made it at all in the first place.”
He spread on the board a world map. All the students watched him: “What he is doing?”
Then he asked them, “Which country is the best country in the world, and the greatest country in the world?”
Of course, they were all French so they said, “France.”
So he said, “Now, I have only to prove that if I am the greatest man in France that will do. France is obviously the greatest country in the world, and I am the greatest man in France, so the natural corollary will be: I am the greatest man in the world.”