Does the ceremony of oath in the courts around the world have any significance?
It is sheer nonsense. It is carrying out an ancient superstition. It is ugly to see that even in the twentieth century’s courts we have not been able to get rid of it. In the past people believed in God; they feared hell, they were greedy for heaven. Naturally, it was easy to manipulate them with the ceremony of the oath. If a Christian has to take the oath, putting his hand on The Holy Bible, he cannot speak any lie – just out of fear, because God is the witness, and this is God’s book. And to touch it and take the oath, that “I am going to tell the truth, and only the truth,” had a certain meaning in those dark ages, because the man was so afraid that if he lied he would fall into hell.
Now it is not a question of the court; it is a question of his religious conditioning. His conditioning has been challenged; the court is exploiting the conditioning. And if he speaks the truth, then there is bound to be a reward – perhaps after death, but God will know that he has been true to his word.
But today, in a scientific age, when people are no longer burdened with past superstitions, the ceremony of the oath is simply stupid. Who cares about hell and heaven? Who is worried about God? The whole conditioning has disappeared. Now putting your hand on the Bible means nothing, you can still lie – of course with less embarrassment, because you have taken the oath. The oath used to serve the truth in the past because of your superstition. Now it serves the lie: because of your oath, your lie is accepted as truth. It is absolutely irrelevant – and particularly for a man of evolved consciousness. It is against his being to take the oath, because it simply means that without an oath you are not capable of saying the truth. And if a man is capable of lying, what prevents him? – he can lie even if he takes the oath. And the book on which he is taking the oath is full of lies, utter lies!
And it is not only The Holy Bible; all religious books are third-rate fictions – not even first-rate. There is no holy book in the world; there are only well-written books and not-so-well-written books. And your so-called holy scriptures belong to the second category. As literature they have no value.
A man should be accepted on his own authority, on his own individuality. He should be respected – that he will speak truth.