Chapter 30: Let Everything Pass
There is only one thing I would like to say about Socrates: his whole approach was logical and argumentative. His method is known as Socratic dialogue. It is a very lengthy process, like psychoanalysis. He will discuss and discuss, and destroy all your false arguments and false ideas. This was his contention, which has a truth in it: When all false ideas are demolished, that which remains behind and cannot be argued about, is your being. And from that being arises the fragrance of love.
But Socrates knew nothing of meditation. He came to know truth through the long, unnecessary route of arguments. He was one of the best arguers the world has produced; there is no parallel. But what he was doing by argument cannot become a universal phenomenon; the path is long, and unnecessarily long.
The false can disappear if you sit silently, whenever you have time, and just watch your thoughts. No need to argue, no need to fight, no need to push them out, just watch - as if you are seeing something on the TV-screen.
The East has known a greater miracle than Socrates. Socrates was not acquainted with the East at all. And the obvious reason was: he has found love, he has found truth - and he never thought that there could be a shortcut. His process is torturous. If you read the dialogues of Socrates you will feel that the process is long, and each argument creates new problems - new problems create new arguments.he is fighting with shadows.
But it was not his fault. In his time Athens was one of the most sophisticated, intellectual cities in the world. He was unaware that exactly at the same time Buddha was teaching meditation in India, Lao Tzu was teaching meditation in China, Mahavira was teaching meditation.. It was at exactly the same time, twenty-five centuries ago.
Socrates had inherited logic from his forefathers; Greece was full of sophists. Sophists were strange people, their philosophy was that there is no truth, there is no untruth - it all depends who has the better argument. If you can argue better, than your opponent, you are right. And if you come across another person who can argue better than you, then you are wrong.
So it was only the gymnastics of argument that Socrates inherited. He changed the whole process: Sophistry became philosophy. The word philo means love, and sophia means wisdom. Sophistry was simply argumentativeness. He did a great job, but it almost always happens - the people you are fighting with, even if you are victorious, leave a great impact on you.
Just by fighting with them you have to use their own methods; otherwise you cannot fight. If one country is piling up nuclear weapons, then those who fight them have to pile up nuclear weapons. Because Socrates was continually fighting with the sophists.. He wanted to destroy this idea that better argument is all, that there is no truth and there is no untruth - and he succeeded. He was a discontinuity with his past. But the people he had been fighting, he had to fight with arguments. So although the Sophists were defeated, the argumentativeness remained with Socrates himself.