Pavlov, B. F. Skinner and the other behaviorists, go on circling around the physical, the muladhar. They think man is only the body. They get too much involved in the first temple, they get too much involved with the physical, they forget everything else. These people are trying to explain man only through the physical, the material. This attitude becomes a hindrance because they are not open. When from the very beginning you deny that there is nothing other than the body, then you deny the exploration itself. This becomes a prejudice. A communist, a Marxist, a behaviorist, an atheist – people who believe that man is only the body – their very belief closes doors to higher realities. They become blind. And the physical is there, the physical is the most apparent; it needs no proof. The physical body is there, you need not prove it. Because it need not be proved, it becomes the only reality. That is nonsense. Then man loses all dignity. If there is nothing to grow in or to grow towards, there cannot be any dignity in life. Then man becomes a thing. Then you are not an opening, then nothing more is going to happen to you – you are a body: you will eat, and you will defecate, and you will eat and you will make love and produce children, and this will go on and on, and one day you die. A mechanical repetition of the mundane, the trivia – how can there be any significance, any meaning, any poetry? How can there be any dance?
Skinner has written a book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity. It should be called Below Freedom and Dignity, not beyond. It is below, it is the lowest standpoint about man, the ugliest. There is nothing wrong about the body, remember. I am not against the body, it is a beautiful temple. The ugliness enters when you think this is all.
Man can be conceived of as a ladder with seven rungs, and you get identified with the first rung. Then you are not going anywhere. And the ladder is there, and the ladder bridges this world and the other; the ladder bridges matter with God. The first rung is perfectly good if it is used in relationship to the whole ladder. If it functions as a first step it is immensely beautiful: one should be thankful to the body. But if you start worshipping the first rung and you forget the remaining six, you forget that the whole ladder exists and you become closed, confined to the first rung, then it is no longer a rung at all…because a rung is a rung only when it leads to another rung, a rung is a rung only when it is part of a ladder. If it is no longer a rung then you are stuck with it. Hence, people who are materialistic are always stuck, they always feel something is missing, they don’t feel they are going anywhere. They move in rounds, in circles, and they come again and again to the same point. They become tired and bored. They start contemplating how to commit suicide. And their whole effort in life is to find some sensations, so something new can happen. But what “new” can happen? All the things that we go on being occupied with are nothing but toys to play with.
Think of these words of Frank Sheed: “The soul of man is crying for purpose or meaning. And the scientist says, ‘Here is a telephone.’ Or, ‘Look! Television!’ – exactly as one tries to distract a baby crying for its mother by offering it sugar sticks and making funny faces at it. The leaping stream of invention has served extraordinarily well to keep man occupied, to keep him from remembering that which is troubling him.”
All that the modern world has provided you with is nothing but sugar sticks, toys to play with – and you were crying for the mother, you were crying for love, and you were crying for consciousness, and you were crying for some significance in life. And they say, “Look! the telephone. Look! the television. Look! we have brought so many beautiful things for you.” And you play around a little bit; again you get fed up, again you are bored, and again they go on searching for new toys for you to play with.
This state of affairs is ridiculous. It is so absurd that it seems almost inconceivable how we go on living in it. We have got caught at the first rung.