Thus, the attraction for the new slowly increased just as several traditions came in close contact and met. We began to live, so to speak, at a crossroads, a junction where all roads met or ended.
But now there is no attraction for the new either, because now we have come to know that all that is new becomes old in the end, and whatsoever is old was once new. We also know now that the difference between the old and the new is only of words. It is only that the new is moving faster. Within approximately three hundred years, the new acquired the same reputation and status that the old once had.
At one time the antiquity of something was a certificate of its rightness. Nowadays, newness in itself has become the proof of something being right. To prove that something is new is enough for people to begin to trust in it, just as in the past they trusted in all that was ancient. Nowadays, to call something old is in itself a condemnation.
So all traditions became busy making themselves new. Every tradition developed propounders who talked about the new. The old paths remained, and the new ones also were found to have people walking upon them. But when this attraction for the new became strong, one unique phenomenon took place.
At the time when the antiquity of a tradition was taken as the proof of its being right, all religions were trying to prove that theirs was the oldest and the most ancient. If one asked the Jainas they would say that theirs was the most ancient tradition and that even the Vedas were born afterwards. If one asked the Vedantists, they would say that the Vedas were the oldest, and they would try to trace their origin as far back as possible – because the more ancient, the higher the status.
Similarly, when newness became the status symbol, the question arose, “How new?” About fifty years ago in America, where the attraction for the new was the strongest due to the fact that American civilization and society were the most new, there were two generations – one of the old people and the other of the younger people.
But now a very strange thing has happened. At present in America there are not only two generations. Today there is a separate generation of forty-year-olds, a separate generation of thirty-year-olds, and again a separate one for twenty- and fifteen-year-olds. The thirty-year-olds say, “Do not trust those who are above thirty years old.” And even twenty-five-year-olds are now useless. High school students are now taking twenty-five-year-old collegians to be old. It has never happened before that there could be so many generations in a span of fifty years. No one even imagined that there could be grades even in the generation of young people, and that the twenty-year-olds would label the twenty-five-year-olds out of date and as good as dead.