All the basic principles of mathematics were known but they were never applied. They remained theoretical, they remained undeveloped, because the genius of the country was attracted by Gautam Buddha, Mahavira, Shankara, who were emphasizing that matter is illusory, that this life is just a dream, and the only use you can make of this life is to find that which remains forever. Naturally, the East has remained poor. Nobody else is responsible for it – it was bound to happen.
If I had been there at Buddha’s time, I would have predicted that what he was teaching would result in poverty, sickness and death to the same people who were influenced by him. And remember, when people are poor, hungry, dying, do you think they can meditate? With a hungry stomach, can you go on sitting silently and let the grass grow by itself? Basho’s stomach was full when he wrote those lines. He must have begged and eaten well. Then, sitting under a tree by the side of a pond, he could write beautiful poetry of tremendous significance.
We should not forget that Basho was not hungry. If he had been hungry, then there was no possibility of these beautiful lines coming out of him: “The ancient pond, the frog jumps in, the sound.” Or “the silence.” It is difficult to translate exactly the Japanese word, because Japanese has no alphabet. In India we have a word which is pronounced chapak – the sound of the frog. When a frog jumps into the pond, there is something like chapak.
But these beautiful statements are not out of a hungry stomach. The East went on becoming poorer and poorer, because without technology and science you cannot be rich. And if Ethiopia is dying today – almost one thousand people are dying per day, and in the last four years millions have died in Ethiopia – who is responsible for these people dying there? Why have they not been able to develop enough technology and science to create and produce wealth? Because wealth was condemned by their religious leaders. They listened to their religious leaders.
Wealth was condemned; children were declared to be gifts of God, so they went on producing only one thing – children. Now, no child brings with him a piece of land, seeds for the new crop, water to nourish the plants. God goes on sending children without any equipment to be here, and the religious leaders go on saying they are gifts of God – but they have proved to be the very curse against humanity.
The East was bound to remain poor because of Gautam Buddha. It was bound to remain unprogressive, backward, because of Gautam Buddha. And I love the man; you can understand my anguish that I have to say that Gautam Buddha is responsible for this whole misery. For twenty-five centuries, millions of people have suffered, have gone mad, have become perverted – and the man who is responsible for it, I love him.