Now, what kind of humanity is this which is determined by such superficial things? But that’s how it is, and it is better to see it as it is.
People have become more intelligent – if not intelligent, at least more intellectual, more educated, more cultured, more sophisticated – but their basic style of life is still the same; unconscious, accidental. People don’t live out of their essence, they simply depend on accidental circumstances. And not only the little people, but the people you think are geniuses, even they behave in very stupid ways.
The twentieth-century physicist, Niels Bohr, made great contributions to the world when he detailed the structure and function of atoms, and laid the groundwork for the theory of quantum mechanics. He was a scientist’s scientist.
One day an American colleague visited Bohr in his Danish homeland. The American found a good luck charm above the desk – an up-ended horseshoe hanging on the wall.
“Surely you don’t believe the horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr?” asked the astonished visitor. “After all, we are level-headed scientists!”
“I believe no such thing, my good friend, not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense,” the Scandinavian reassured him. “However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not.”
Now, a man like Niels Bohr – one of the geniuses of this century – still behaving in the same way, the same unconscious way as the common people have always behaved! It seems education makes no difference, science makes no difference, civilization makes no difference. Man goes on living and repeating the old patterns.
The greatest and the oldest pattern is not to accept responsibility for yourself. Avoiding responsibility is avoiding the birth of your soul. And you can always find excuses to avoid that birth because every birth is going to be painful, and the greater the birth, the greater the pain.
People shirk their responsibility, they shrink away from their responsibility. Whenever a point comes to respond spontaneously, they are at a loss. They search in their memories, in their past, how to react. And remember: reaction is not response. Reaction means you are repeating an old pattern. You are not aware of the present situation, you are not responding to it. You are responding to some other situation which is no longer there.