We are Heading Towards Disaster

horizontal rule

If those who have had the monopoly of all the world's resources so far and for so long are threatened to be dislodged, what they would do is anybody's guess. All the destructive weapons that we have today are only to protect them.


We have arrived at a point where you cannot destroy your adversary without destroying yourself. It is terror, not love or brotherhood, that will help us to live together. Until this message percolates to the level of human consciousness, I don't think there is help.


All the political ideologies, even your legal structures, are the warty outgrowth of the religious thinking of man.

Ultimately it is force that counts. As long as it is advantageous to yourself, you talk of law. When the law fails, you use force.


I don't see any reason why anybody should starve on this planet. You may ask me what I am trying to do to solve the problem. But let me say that I have not set myself up in the business of running this world. It is they who have set themselves up in the business of ruling this or that country. If they don't do what they are expected to do, then there is something wrong, not with the leaders, but with the people who have put them there in the seats of power.


The rich nations are not going to give up what they have unless they are forced to give up. If they are forced to give up, what they would do is anybody's guess. Even if they have everything to lose, I do not think they are going to give up.


horizontal rule

horizontal rule

Q: What are your views regarding those who want to understand what this life is all about?

A: The demand to understand and bring about a change in you is the one that is responsible for the demand to understand the world and then bring about a change in the world. They are one and the same. That is why you are interested in listening to others. Through that listening you think you will be able to bring about a change in you and then also a change in the world around you. Basically there is no difference between what is here (pointing towards himself) and what is out there in the world. There is no way you can draw a line of demarcation.

One thing that I always emphasize is that it is culture that has created us all for the sole purpose of maintaining its status quo and its continuity. So, in that sense, I do not see that there are any individuals at all. At the same time, the same culture has given us the hope that there is something that you can do to become an individual and that there is such a thing as free will. Actually there is no free will at all.

The most important thing for us to realize is that thought is a very destructive weapon, and that thought is our enemy. However, we are not ready to accept the fact that thought can only create problems, but cannot help us to solve them.

Q: People go to gurus and read religious texts to bring about a change in their lives. But you completely brush aside all that. Why?

A: My point is that there is nothing there to be changed. What these gurus in the market place are doing is to sell you some ice packs and provide you with some comforters. But when you come to me, you find it very difficult for the simple reason that I do not offer you any solutions to your problems. My interest is to point out that there are actually no problems, and what we are saddled with are only solutions. Also, we are not ready to accept the fact that the solutions that these people have been offering us for centuries are not really the solutions. If they were really the solutions, the problems would have been solved long ago. If they are not the solutions, and if there are no other solutions, then there are no problems to be solved.

Q: Sweeping changes are taking place all over Europe and the Soviet Union. What part can India play in the new scenario that is emerging all over the world? The gurus who have been going to the West preaching Yoga and a number of other attractive new concepts can perhaps take advantage of the situation.

A: The changes that are taking place in Russia are actually no good for Russia and no good for the world. What has happened in Russia is that they have found suddenly, or at least the leaders of the Soviet Union have, that their Communist system of government has failed. But instead of finding solutions for their problems within that framework, they are looking for them somewhere else.

I do not think India has any answers for these problems, nor do the Western nations, for that matter. The total failure of the Communist philosophy or ideology or system of government there in the Soviet Union has unfortunately created a void. I am afraid that the Russian Orthodox Church will take advantage of the situation and step in. If it stops there, there is not much of a danger. But all these cults that have thrived on the gullibility and credulity of people in the Western nations will make a bee-line to Russia and exploit people there. That is one thing that the Russians should try to avoid. But there seems to be no way that this exploitation or the other things that foreign countries are exporting to that country can be avoided. I do not see an adequate reason why America should export organically grown potato chips to Russia. Let me say one thing very clearly: it is not your democracy, freedom of speech, or freedom of a hundred and ten different things that these nations proclaim, that won Russia over to its side. It is the Coca-Cola in China and Pepsi Cola in Russia, and then also McDonald hamburgers. That is all that the Western nations can do there: they have created a market for people to step in and exploit.

This is what I tell even the scientists and psychologists who come to see me. In fact, they also have come to the end of their tether. They are not able to tackle the problems that they are confronted with today -- both in the field of psychology and in modern science. They have to find solutions only within that framework. Unfortunately they look towards Vedanta from India, to the religious answers that come from Japan or China. But actually those don't have any answers. If the greatest heritage of India cannot help India, how in the name of God do you think it will help other nations? I don't think India has any contribution to make to the world. This is what I strongly feel.

At least you see the West has high-tech and technology to offer to those countries. Through the help of this technology the West will probably do something to enrich those countries. Russia has tremendous natural resources still untapped -- oil, gold, diamonds, and other things. High-tech and technology can help there. What can India offer to those nations? I don't see that India can offer anything. It is a total mess there. We can pat on our backs and feel that the great heritage of India has kept us going through the centuries. But we are in a sorry mess in India. I do not think India has anything to offer to the West. If you say that this is only my opinion, it doesn't matter. I am not trying to win anybody over to my point of view. And there it stops.

Q: In spite of the radical changes that are taking place in the world, especially in Europe and Russia, I find that there is a revival of the old religion.

A: The religious revivalism that you are talking about is there even in the Western countries. There is this whole talk of "Back to Jesus," "Back to the heritage of India," "Back to Islam," back to this, that and the other. I am afraid that the rise of Islam not only in the Moslem world but also in Russia and China is going make it a formidable force. Once this cry of holy war, "Jihad," spreads around, we will not know how to tackle that problem. I am not singing a doomsday song. That is what you are going to face very soon. Islam is going to be a formidable force in the world.

Q: I have been to the United States and Europe. I feel there is much jubilation and expectation in the minds of the politicians there that the world is changing for the better. But I find suddenly this crisis in the Middle East. What do you think about the future of the world in this context?

A: I don't know, I am not a prophet. I cannot say anything, but like anybody else, I can hazard, if I may use the word, a view of the shape of things to come. I don't know for sure, and nobody knows, for that matter, what will happen.

There is one thing that I want to say, emphasize, and overemphasize, that there is no way we can reverse the whole thing. We are heading towards a disaster. Man must realize (and there seems to be no hope of his coming to terms with the reality of the situation) that thought and all that is born out of our thinking are the enemy of mankind, and there is nothing to replace that. Religious revivalism is not really the answer.

I personally feel that the basic question which we all should ask ourselves is, "What kind of a human being you want on this planet?" Unfortunately, culture, whether it is Oriental or Occidental, has placed before us the model of a perfect being. That model is patterned after the behavior of the religious thinkers of mankind who have done more harm than good. Everything that we are confronting today is a product of the religious thinking of man. But that thinking has no answers for the future of mankind. So if you want, you have to find answers within the framework of the systems that have failed to deliver the goods. I don't think religious thinking has any answers for our problems today.

The two things that we have to bear in mind are high-tech and technology. They will help us to solve the problems of this planet. Genetic engineering and the understanding of microbiology will take care of what kind of a human being you want. They now say that we are genetically deficient and that the brain is neurologically deficient in many areas. Therefore, anything that is born out of the thinking of man is very destructive. Thought is a protective mechanism. Its interest is only to protect itself, maintain its status quo, and preserve the continuity of the knowledge that is passed on to us from generation to generation.

Q: What about the problems of the underdeveloped countries, like poverty and lack of education?

A: Do you mean to say that literacy is the solution or answer for the problems of India? We want to educate people so that they can read our newspapers, and through the media you are going to brainwash these people. In India there are still peasants who are not touched by the modern man. They are something unique. I don't know. I have never visited any village recently. But I really don't think educating people in the sense in which we are talking about, the literacy that we are talking about, is the way to really educate people. Let me give you the example of my grandmother. My grandmother was not a literate person, although she knew how to read and sign papers. I learned more from her about Advaita than I did from the professors at the University of Madras. She was not an educated woman, nor was she an enlightened person. But she was a very practical woman. She knew all about the great culture of India. So, educating the masses to be literate is really not the answer. We have the tremendous power of the media at our disposal. If this power is in the hands of the government, there is nothing that you can do to avoid its influence. Also, if you take the example of the United States, their so-called free media are in no way better than the media that are under the grip of the government. Both are the same. I don't know, I am expressing a lot of opinions.

Q: I feel what you are saying is that the present technological and scientific changes are the only answers for this world.

A: Yes, but I must say one thing. Whatever achievements we have had so far through the help of high-tech and technology have benefited only a limited number of people on this planet. If what they say is true, it is possible to feed twelve billion people with the resources at our command, the resources that nature has provided us, without the aid of high-tech and technology. But then why amongst five billion people is there poverty and misery? The answer is very simple. We are individually responsible for them, and it [poverty] is not some curse of the high gods.

The rich nations are not going to give up their riches unless they are forced to give them up. You see, the nine rich nations, the nine industrial nations, sit here and dictate their terms. Are they going to give up the whole of the natural resources of the world? I don't think so, unless they are forced to. If they are forced to give them up, what they would do is anybody's guess. Even if they have everything to lose, I don't think they are going to give up anything.

Even this [pointing to someone] man sitting here who is a pacifist will fight to the end to protect his way of life and his way of thinking. I don't believe him at all. He will fight. He may be a pacifist today, but tomorrow, if everything he has were to be taken away from him, I wouldn't be surprised if he were to kill me also, his best friend.

Q: You do not sound like much of an optimist.

A: What does it mean -- the difference between an optimist and a pessimist? It is just a very clever way of putting things -- that an optimist does not give up and he still, somehow, has faith that he can maintain his own way of life and his own way of thinking. That is all. He would resort to any kind of force to maintain that way of life and that way of thinking.

Q: I feel that many things you have been talking about for the last few years are coming true.

A: I don't sit here patting myself on my back, and telling myself, or you, that "I told you so." No, not at all. Anyway, Sir, thank you very much.

horizontal rule

Go to Chapter 7
Go to Table of Contents