When you move on heights you are taking a risk. A man who moves on plain ground cannot fall but a man who goes climbing mountains is always in danger of falling. Animals cannot fall because they have no consciousness yet. Animals cannot commit sin because to commit sin one needs to be aware. To go astray one needs freedom; to do wrong one needs a certain growth capacity, a certain power. Only those people who are capable of doing right can do wrong. Only those people who can rise can fall. The sinners and the saints are not separate – the saint is possible because sin is possible.
No animal is a sinner but no animal is a saint either. Have you ever heard of any animal becoming a Buddha or a Christ? Yes, they are not Judases, they are not Adolph Hitlers, they are not Joseph Stalins – right – but nobody is born in the world of animals as a Buddha either. Man is an adventure: risky of course, very risky, dangerous. Man is trying to rise higher and higher…and the more you rise, the more is the possibility to fall. The higher the peak, the deeper will be the valley surrounding it. Around an animal there is no valley; with man there is a valley…and the greater the man, the greater the valley, remember.
And modern man is at the peak of a big mountain, at the peak of the Everest – hence so much trembling, anguish, anxiety. Modern man, if he falls, will fall totally. If something goes wrong with modern man, everything will go wrong. That was not so in the past.
The more you become alert, conscious, capable, the more is the danger. It grows in the same proportion.
So I tell you to meditate on these words of Walt Whitman, not to follow Walt Whitman – because Walt Whitman is basically wrong. I can understand his temptation, but no man can become an animal again; that is not possible. And if you become an animal in the forest – you will still be a man. There is no possibility. You can do bad, you can do good, but you cannot fall back from your consciousness: you will remain conscious.
Consciousness is such a quality that once gained, it cannot be lost; once learned, there is no way to unlearn it. It is almost as if you have become a youth and you are tempted to become a child again. Yes, you can play with the children, you can go and have fun – but you will still remain a youth. There is no way to really become a child again. Nobody can go backwards: all movement is forwards. All movement is forwards and upwards.
To many people, Walt Whitman’s temptation has appealed. It is not new: down the centuries, many people have escaped from human society to become animals again. and many have lived life almost like animals – the people who go to the caves, the people who escape to the Himalayas, the people who hide themselves in the monasteries. They become almost animal-like, but there is nothing of worth in it. They are neither man nor animals, they are simply avoiding the risk – and the man who avoids the risk never grows.
The path of growth is tremendously risky. One can come home…and one can go astray for ever and ever. That’s the beauty too: with the risk, with the danger, is the thrill.