Chapter 34: A Danger to the Crowd
Why is it that so many people abandon their intelligence, their sensitivity, their responsibility and their individuality when they become part of a group? Must the rebellious spirit always be alone?
The rebellious spirit is basically the experience of one’s own individuality, absolutely free from any kind of psychological slavery. It is a revolt against being reduced to a cog in the wheel; it is against the crowd mind. The crowd mind is the lowest mind in existence. It is the minimum sensibility, minimum consciousness, minimum love, minimum life. One simply survives, one does not live, because life is not a dance.
The crowd never wants anybody to be unique - it hurts the crowd mind. The unique person is a humiliation because it reminds people of what they are and what they could have been. The presence of the unique person makes them aware of what they have missed - and they have missed their whole life. They cannot forgive the unique person, although he has done no harm to them. He has always done great service to humanity: he has brought more beauty to existence, more poetry to life, has created more songs in the souls - he is the very salt of the earth.
All that man is, whatsoever is great in man, belongs to only a very few unique individuals’ contribution. But the crowd cannot forgive them. It can forgive criminals, it can forgive murderers, it can forgive politicians, it can forgive any kind of person in the world, but it cannot forgive a man who has an individuality of his own, who is not part of the collective mind.
It reminds me of the crucifixion of Jesus. The man was absolutely harmless. He had not done anything wrong to anybody, he was not a criminal. And the governor general of Judea was Roman, he was not a Jew. Judea was under the Roman Empire. And every year at the annual festival of the Jews, they were allowed to forgive one person from all the persons who were going to be murdered on that day. On that day it was decided, for all the criminals who had been sentenced to death. Millions of people gathered in Jerusalem and it was a great entertainment to see people crucified - such is the barbarous instinct in the crowd.
Governor General Pontius Pilate was perfectly aware that this young man, Jesus, was not a criminal. But the whole crowd of the Jews, their priests, the high priest, were unanimously asking that he should be crucified. He tried to persuade the priests, but they were absolutely deaf to any persuasion. Finally Pontius Pilate talked to Jesus and felt immensely sorry for the young man. He was only thirty-three, he had not seen more than thirty-three springs in his life, and it was absolutely unjust.