You have said, the wheel of truth needs to be turned again and again. Seeing the efforts of so many countries to prevent you from meeting your friends, the question arises: is the turning of the wheel more difficult than ever?
It is more difficult than ever – but it is, at the same time, more challenging than ever, too. It is with more excitement, more ecstasy.
It is difficult for the simple reason that the earth has become very small. Gautam Buddha, twenty-five centuries back, never moved out of a small state, Bihar, in India. He never even went through the whole of India. Just walking, he could not manage; forty-two years he was speaking, but he could reach only a small portion of the earth.
The same is true about Mahavira, about Parshvanatha, and Socrates. Socrates never went out of Athens; there were different reasons. Athens was the only cultured city in the whole world, and if Athens was unable to understand Socrates, he knew it would be simply futile to go anywhere. Whatever he said would just go above their heads.
When he was sentenced to death by the court, it was absolutely unjustified. The opponents had not been able to prove anything against him – and he had answered all the opponents so beautifully and so totally. But Athens was a city-state, a direct democracy: all the people had the right to vote, and all the people had the right to decide things of importance – and there could have never been a more important problem than whether to keep Socrates alive or kill him.
Socrates was the cream of the whole Athenian intelligence. But when you ask the mediocre people – who are in the majority…they had heard Socrates’ arguments, but they could not understand. They were absolutely deaf. The way he was speaking was the way he had always spoken in his school; and that school was meant for the highest qualities of mysticism. Those qualities were not in the audience.
It was a majority-decision that he should be sentenced to death. It seems the judge who had to declare the judgment of the majority did understand that something ugly was happening, because he could see Socrates had answered everything that had been asked and had satisfied the court completely; and that all condemnation about him was just false – it had no foundation in truth.
Seeing this…but the majority voted that he should be poisoned; that was the Athenian way of crucifying a person – more cultured, more human. Seeing this, the judge gave alternatives on his own authority.
He said to Socrates, “The majority has decided that you should be poisoned, but I want to give a few alternatives to you. You can leave Athens, never come back to Athens, so as far as Athenian people are concerned, you are dead – you will not be coming back. That will fulfill their desire. It is enough, more than enough, that you are not here. What harm can you do to the people?