The other night when you were talking about the decadence and suicidal tendency of Western society, peaking now in the USA, I was wondering why the Western lifestyle is capable of penetrating other cultures and spoiling them in a short time.
It amazes me again and again how easily aboriginal tribes on all the continents, with, but mostly without force, drop their millennia-old civilization and culture and start imitating the Western way of life – often in quite ridiculous ways.
About fifteen years ago, a famous photographer produced two wonderful photo albums depicting two remote tribes in the Sudan, called the Nuba. These physically and psychically very beautiful people, created over thousands of years – besides amazing skills and arts – a social structure full of love and respect for each other. Incidents of major violence were unknown. One incident has been reported in one of these books as a typical example of how these people treat each other.
Clay pots to them were as precious as the finest Chinese porcelain is to us – those pots carried supplies of drinking water in that baking-hot climate. One of the workers dropped a pot by mistake and it broke. Nobody jumped angrily upon the poor guy; rather, they consoled the unlucky one and worked on. To me, this is highly-developed, cultured behavior – missing in our rat-race society.
Some years later these people came for the first time in contact with the Western lifestyle. Within two years, the whole social structure had collapsed, decayed. They now rate a transistor radio, a torn t-shirt, and an army cap more highly than their old values. Only photographs show what has been lost forever.
Osho, what drives people so easily into the arms of Western civilization, thus destroying their unique heritage?
It is not a question of Western society. Basically the poor are always attracted towards the rich. They desire to be rich. They can drop any culture, any civilization if they can find a way to riches.
The first thing is that their ancient culture and civilization looks to us very beautiful because we don’t know the details of their whole culture – just facets, fragments. If you know the whole culture and its implications, it won’t be difficult to see why these people dropped their heritage so easily, without resistance.
For example, in India the same has been happening for hundreds of years. Aboriginal people are becoming Christians. They have a beautiful culture seen from the outside and a highly developed sensitivity. So much so that in one culture which I have been visiting continually in central India, Bastar – the whole mountains are full of aboriginals whose culture must be at least ten thousand years old – there is no police station, there are no police, there is no court, there is no law; yet no theft happens, no murder happens.
And if sometimes a murder happens, then a very rare thing happens – which is inconceivable to the outsider. The murderer goes hundreds of miles to the capital to surrender to the police, confessing that he has murdered a fellow man and he needs to be punished. Unless he is punished, he will not find peace of mind.
These things look beautiful – nice people – but they are hungry, starving. They don’t have clothes. They live naked. They don’t have any of the facilities that science has made available to man – no comforts, no entertainment. Their life is boring from inside – no education….
And the culture that looks to us beautiful, to them is simply taken for granted, they don’t see its beauty. They have been born in it, brought up in it. They have not suddenly come across it, they have grown slowly into it.
Things look good to us – that there is nobody who is a thief; but the truth is there is nothing to steal. People are so poor. The same fact can be looked at from two viewpoints. Somebody can say people are so moral that locks are not needed on the houses, and people don’t use locks; but the reality is that there is nothing in the house that needs to be locked. Secondly, the lock itself is a highly technological thing for them, they cannot make locks. They are so far behind.
Gautam Buddha, his whole life, was teaching people not to steal. Mahavira was teaching not to steal. One of Mahatma Gandhi’s successors, Vinoba Bhave, spoke in a meeting. I was only a student then. He said that at that time people were so educated, so moral, so cultured that no locks were used.