Once you have listened to him, it is almost impossible to disagree with him because he is saying the truth, although the truth goes against the beliefs of the crowd. Truth always goes against the beliefs of the crowd.
The truth is individual, and the crowd does not care about truth. It cares about consolation; it cares about comfort. The crowd does not consist of explorers, adventurers, people who go into the unknown, fearless – risking their whole lives to find the meaning and the significance of their lives, and the life of the whole of existence. The crowd simply wants to be told things which are sweet to hear, comfortable and cozy; without any effort on their part, they can relax in those consoling lies.
It happened…the last time I went to my hometown was in 1970. One of my old teachers, with whom I always had a very loving relationship, was on his deathbed, so the first thing I did, was go to his house.
His son met me at the door and told me, “Please, don’t disturb him. He is just on the verge of death. He loves you, he has been remembering you, but we know that your very presence may take away his consolations. And at the moment of death, do not do this to him.”
I said, “If it was not the moment of death I would have listened to your advice – I have to see him. Even if before he dies, he drops his lies and consolations, his death will have a value even greater than his life had.”
I pushed the son aside. I went in the house. The old man opened his eyes, smiled, and he said, “I was remembering you and at the same time I was afraid. I heard that you were coming to the town, and thought that perhaps before I die, I might be able to see you one time more. But at the same time there was great fear, as meeting with you can be dangerous!”
I said, “It is certainly going to be dangerous. I have come at the right time. I want to take away all your consolations before you die. If you can die innocent, your death will have a tremendous value. Put aside your knowledge, because it is all borrowed. Put aside your God, because it is only a belief, and nothing more. Put aside the idea of any heaven or hell, because they are only your greed and your fear. Your whole life, you have remained clinging to these things. At least before you die, gather courage – now you have nothing to lose!
“A dying man cannot lose anything: death is going to shatter everything. It is better you drop your consolations by your own hand and die innocently, full of wonder and inquiry; because death is the ultimate experience in life. It is the very crescendo.”
The old man said, “I was afraid, and now you are asking me the same thing. I have worshipped God my whole life, and I know it is only a hypothesis – I have never experienced it. I have prayed to the skies, and I know no prayer has been ever replied – there is no one to reply to it. But it has been consolatory in the sufferings of life, in the anxieties of life. What else can a helpless man do?”