Chapter 32: A Vision of the Whole
Your mind says, “Renounce all this.” It is the same mind who has been telling you all these years, “Achieve, achieve more.” Now that achievement has happened, the mind gives you a new clue: “Abandon all this. Renounce the world, renounce its wealth, renounce its comforts; become a renunciate.” That was the old meaning of sannyas.
And when kings and their sons stepped down from their thrones and became beggars - thinking that if it is not at one end, of richness, then it must be at the other end, of poverty - poverty became something spiritual. This is how the East started declining, because when poverty becomes spiritual then nobody bothers about creating more wealth, better technology. People started becoming more and more poor. The last step was to become a beggar, and the beggar was not an ordinary beggar: he had renounced his throne, he had become a beggar on his own account. It was not compulsion: it was not situations, but it was his reaction.
I call all the religions of the world reactionary; they just move from one polarity to another. So in India at the time of Gautam Buddha - that is twenty-five centuries ago - the East was rich, the West was poor. The East was well-cultured.
You will be surprised to know that the printing press was invented in China three thousand years ago. Currency notes have been used in China for four thousand years. When Marco Polo came back with currency notes and other things to show to the pope, and to the kings of Europe - “We are lagging far behind; and the Chinese think the Western people barbarous,” - do you know what the pope did? He took a note and burned it, and said, “Do you say this is money?” And then he brought a silver coin and dropped it on the floor, making a sound, and said, “This is money. So who is barbarous?”
Marco Polo said, “You don’t understand their logic. How many golden or silver coins can you carry with you? It is only possible if the country is poor that you can have gold and silver coins. But when people are carrying millions of dollars, they cannot carry gold coins.”
And four thousand years ago.China conceiving currency notes.it must have been a rich, very rich, country because poor countries cannot even think of it. The poor man will think that it has to be a gold coin, because he does not understand the whole meaning of money. The meaning of money is the exchange value. What does it matter whether it is gold or whether it is paper? If it serves for the exchange of things, it is money.
And the notes that have survived from four thousand years ago are exactly the same as the notes that you have: the best paper, the best printing, and with the promise of the emperor. They are promissory notes - that if you want you can come to the treasury and exchange the notes for gold coins. So you need not be worried that you are just being taken on a ride - instead of real gold, you are being given paper notes. The treasury was there and the treasury had to keep exactly the same amount of gold and silver as the notes they had issued. So anybody, anytime, could take gold or silver - whatever he wanted. Then people became satisfied: “There is no problem; these are promissory notes.”