One of the followers of J. Krishnamurti – an old man and very respected in India – used to come to me because his son was attorney general of Madhya Pradesh, and the MP court is in Jabalpur. He used to come to visit his son, and whenever he was there he made it a point to see me if I was in town. The old man had been Krishnamurti’s follower for almost fifty years. He had dropped all rituals, all scriptures; he was absolutely convinced logically, intellectually, that Krishnamurti was right. I used to say to him, “You should remember, intellectual conviction, logical or rational conviction is very superficial. In times of crisis it disappears, evaporates.”
But he used to say to me, “Fifty years – it cannot remain superficial.”
One day his son came to me and said, “My father is dying and I could not think of anybody else whom he would like to have near him – he loves you so much. So you just come with me; I have brought the car, there is not much time.”
So I simply went with him. As I entered through the door of his father’s room, very silently his lips were moving. So I went in, also very silently, because I wanted to hear what he was repeating. He was saying, “Ram Ram Ram,” the Hindu name of God. And for fifty years he had been saying there was no God.
I shook him. He opened his eyes, and he said, “Don’t disturb me. This is no time for argumentation.”
I said, “I am not going to argue, but just to ask: what happened to those fifty years? From where does this repetition of the name of God come? You insisted that there is no God.”
He said, “That was okay at that time, but now that I am dying – and the doctors have said I cannot survive more than half an hour – just don’t disturb me; let me repeat the name of God. Anyway, who knows? He may be. If there is no God, there is no harm in repeating his name. But if there is a God, and you don’t die repeating his name, then you are on the blacklist. And I don’t want to go to hell, I have suffered enough here on the earth.”
I said, “That’s what I was saying to you, that intellectual conviction is of no use.”
He did not die; he survived. After three, four days I went to see him. He was sitting in the garden and I said, “What about that evening?”
He said, “Forget all about it. It was just a time of weakness, a fear of death that made me start repeating the name of God. Otherwise there is no God.”
I said, “It means you need another experience of dying? This was your first heart attack: you survived – the second will be coming soon. At the most you can survive the second, but the third you will not be able to survive. And remember what you were saying to me.”
He said, “Forget all that. I am absolutely certain there is no God.”
I said, “Just let death start approaching near you, and immediately your superficial, intellectual convictions will disappear. This idea that there is no God is not your own, it is borrowed. It is not your own exploration; it is not your own insight; it is not part of your consciousness but only part of your mind.”
People will behave differently.
You are asking: “What happens to human consciousness when the people of the world suddenly realize they are in the midst of an unstoppable, devastating plague that will kill most of the people they know?”