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Chapter 9: The Fire of Knowing

On one hand it is the courts outside you which go on prohibiting, and on the other hand the prohibition comes from the courts that society has implanted within you. Man is bound between these two so that he cannot do anything wrong. He may be able to avoid doing wrong, but not to do wrong is not the same as doing right. It is possible that because of these two barriers, man does not become immoral, but not to be immoral is not the same thing as being moral. It is possible that you don’t become a criminal, antisocial, but not to become a criminal and antisocial is not the same thing as being religious. This is a very negative arrangement.

There is no reason to think that a man who does no wrong will automatically do right. The reality is that a man who wants to do wrong things and can’t because of these inner and outer barriers - and both are social arrangements - tries to find ways to do what he wants from some other angle. If he is not allowed to open one door, he tries to open some back door. He finds a way from here or from there and commits wrong. Of course, the manifestation of wrong may change, the mode, the name for it may change, but when a man has forcibly repressed doing wrong, that wrongness goes on looking for a way to explode somewhere. At some point, it gathers like a poison and surfaces like a boil. This is why the whole of humanity has become, deep down, sick and neurotic.

The immoral person suffers because the society punishes him, and if the society fails to punish him, his own conscience, which the society has created in him, becomes full of self-condemnation, self-contempt, guilt, inferiority. That too is a punishment. But the man who we call moral, who somehow manages to avoid doing wrong, and is thus able to avoid the law and the courts and the self-condemnation, becomes the victim of so many neuroses.

Sigmund Freud, the greatest psychiatrist of this century and perhaps in the whole of human history, has said that there will be no way to avoid neurosis as long as society goes on trying to make man moral. It is a frightening statement - but it is a statement from a man who knows, who has come to this conclusion after seeing, studying, analyzing and treating thousands of patients. As long as the effort to make man moral continues, there seems to be no way to be free of psychological diseases because you suppress the wrong from one side, and it starts coming out from another side. And remember: when a disease comes out from another side, it comes in a more perverted form because its natural route has been cut off. Many times it happens that you suppress one disease and it comes out as ten others - as if you have blocked the passage of a waterfall which then becomes ten streams.

People used to ask Freud, “Then what is the way out? Should the effort to make man moral be abandoned?” Freud would say that if you stop trying to make man moral, the whole civilization and culture will be destroyed. If you want to keep the civilization and culture, you will have to teach morality. But as a consequence of this, man will go on becoming a psychological victim. So the more civilized a society is, the more psychological diseases there will be - the proportion will rise with the rise of civilization. Freud’s conclusion is that if civilization is to be saved, then this is the inevitable consequence and we will just have to suffer with it.

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