They are not binding your bodies and they are not imprisoning your bodies, but they are putting chains on your soul – and that is the worst slavery in the world. And it becomes even worse than it would have been, because the chains are of gold. And the chains of gold convince you that they are not chains but ornaments, that your society is making you richer, that your society is making you better. But chains are chains, whether they are made of steel or of gold. The chains of gold are worse, because there is a possibility of your clinging to them, and forgetting that they are your chains.
With all good intentions, the people who think they love you, the people who think it is their duty to make a man of you, are really the destroyers. Beware of the neighbors. Gather courage to be an outsider; be strong enough to be a stranger – but remain yourself. You are bound to be a stranger if you remain yourself, because then you will find a totally different category of values to live by, to live for – not the dead values that are being imposed on you. The values imposed by your neighbors, by your society, simply create a split in you.
Your own being needs assertion, expression. Your own heart wants to sing its own song. But even that is not allowed. You have to sing the songs of others. They are not a nourishment, and they are not a fulfillment; and they will never bring contentment to your life.
Much that seemed good to one people, seemed shame and disgrace to another: thus I found. I found much that was called evil in one place was in another decked with purple honors.
He is saying that values are not something universal. Every society has created its own values according to its own needs, but those values were created thousands of years ago. Needs have changed; values have remained.
That is why it is very difficult to find a contemporary human being. You cannot be contemporary if you are not moving with the times, but you are lagging thousands of years behind. Life does not stop for you; it goes on moving into new spaces, and your values remain dead, unmoving, and every generation goes on giving the same set of values to another generation. And you never think your misery is caused by many factors. One of the most basic factors is that your values are not in tune with the time, your values are not harmonious with existence – they are not contemporary.
All the religions, all the cultures, all the civilizations belong to the past. They should be dead by now, and we should have taken them to the graveyard – of course with respect. But those dead corpses are moving amongst us; not only moving amongst us – they are dominating us. They have become absolutely absurd and irrelevant. But they are ancient, and you have been told, “Whatever is ancient is right.”