No, I did not say that no one was poor in Krishna′s time, or that
no one is poor in the present-day West. There are poor people in the
West, but their society as a whole is affluent. In the same way,
although poor men like Sudama existed in Krishna′s time, his society
was very prosperous. A poor society is one thing; the existence of a
handful of poor people in a rich society is different. The Indian
society today is definitely poor, although there are Tatas and
Birlas among us. The presence of Tatas and Birlas does not make the
society affluent. Similarly, in spite of the Sudamas, Krishna′s
society was prosperous and rich.
The question is whether a society on the whole is rich or poor. There are rich people even in an utterly poor society like India′s, and similarly there are poor people in the very affluent society of America. The society of Krishna′s time was rich; good things of life were available to the vast majority of people. The same is true in today′s American society. And only an affluent society can afford celebration; a poor society cannot.
As a society sinks into poverty it ceases to he celebrative, to be joyous. Not that there are no festivals in a poor society, but those festivals are lack-luster, as good as dead. When the Festival of Lights - Diwali - comes here, the poor have to borrow money to celebrate it. They save their worn out clothes for Holi - the Festival of Colors. Is this the way to celebrate a festival like Holi? In the past, people came out in their best clothes to be smeared with all kinds of colors; now they go through it as if it is a kind of compulsory ritual. The festival of Holi was born when Indian society was at the peak of prosperity; now it is only dragging its feet somehow. In the past people were pleased when someone poured colors on their clothes; now in the same situation they are saddened, because they cannot afford enough clothes.
The West now can well afford a festival like Holi. They have already adopted Krishna′s dance; sooner or later they are going to adopt Holi as well. It does not need an astrologer to predict it. They have everything - money, clothes, colors and leisure - which is necessary to celebrate such a festival as Holi. And unlike us they will celebrate with enthusiasm and joy. They will really rejoice.
When a society on the whole is affluent, even its poor are not that poor; they are better off than the rich people of a poor society. Today even the poorest of America does not cling to money in the way the richest of India does. Living in a sea of poverty, even the rich people of this country share the psychology of the poor. Their clinging to money is pathetic.
I have heard that on a fine morning a beggar appeared at the doors of a house. He was young and healthy and his body was robust and beautiful. The housewife was pleasantly surprised to see such a beggar, he was rare, and she gave him food and clothes with an open heart. Then she said to the beggar, "How is it that you are a beggar? You don′t seem to be born poor."
The beggar said, "It seems you are also going the same way. I gave away my wealth in the same way you gave me food and clothes a little while ago. You will not take long to join me in the street."
Clinging to money is characteristic of a poor society; even its rich people suffer from this malady. And clinging disappears in a rich society; even its poor can afford to spend and enjoy what little they have. They are not afraid, they know they can make money when they need it.
It is in this sense that I said Krishna consciousness happens in an affluent society, and the West is really an affluent society.
The questioner also wants to know why the revolt, the breakthrough in the West is being led by people like Ginsberg, who are irrationalists. It is true that all the young rebels the West, whether they are existentialists, the Beatles, the beatniks, or the hippies or the yippies, are irrationalists who represent a revolt against the excessive rationalism of their older generations. It is also true that the intellectuals of the West are yet uninfluenced by these offbeat movements. In fact, irrationalists appear only in a society that goes to the extreme of rationalism. The West has really reached the zenith of rationalism. Hence the reaction; it was inevitable.
When a society feels stifled and strangled by too much logic and rationalism, it inevitably turns to mysticism. When materialism begins to crush a people′s sensitivity they turn to God and religion. And don′t think that Ginsberg, Sartre, Camus, and others who speak about the absurd, the illogical are like illiterate and ignorant villagers. They are great intellectuals of irrationalism. Their irrationalism, their turning to the unthinkable is not comparable to the ways of the believers, the faithful. It is a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn, like Chaitanya who after stretching thinking to its extremity, found that it was unthinkable.
So if Ginsberg′s statements and his poetry are illogical and irrational, it has nonetheless a system of its own. Nietzsche has said somewhere, "I am mad, but my madness has its own logic. I am not an ordinary madman; my madness has a method." This irrationalism is deliberate. It stands on its own ground, which cannot be the ground of logic. It is a candid, ingenuous refutation of rationalism. Certainly it will not base its assault upon logic; if it does, it will only support rationalism. No, it opposes rationalism through an irrational lifestyle.
Somewhere Ginsberg is reading his poetry to a small gathering of poets. His poetry is meaningless; there is no consistency between one concept and another. All its similies and metaphors are just inane. Its symbolism is utterly unconventional; it has nothing to do with poetic tradition. It is really a great adventure; there is no greater adventure than to be inconsistent and unconventional. He alone can have the courage to be inconsistent who is aware of his innate consistency, his inner integrity, whose innermost being is consistent and clear. He knows that however inconsistent his statements may be, they are not going to affect the integrity and consistency of his being.
People lacking in spiritual consistency and innate harmony weigh every word before they make a statement, because they are afraid that if two of their statements contradict each other their inner contradictions will be exposed. One can afford to be inconsistent only when one is consistent in his being.
This Ginsberg is reading a poem which is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. It is an act of rare courage. Someone from among his listeners rises up in his seat and says, "You seem to be an audacious person, but to be audacious in poetry is nothing. Do you have the courage to act with audacity?"
And Ginsberg looks up at the questioner, takes off his clothes and stands naked before his listeners saying, "This is the last part of my poetry." Then he says to the man who has interrupted him, "Now please take off your clothes and bare yourself."
The man says, "How can I? I cannot be naked."
The whole audience is in a state of shock. No one had thought that poetry reading would end like this, that its last part would come in the form of the nude poet. When they asked him why he did this he said, "It just happened; there was nothing deliberate about it. The man provoked me to act audaciously, and I couldn′t think of anything else. So I just concluded my poetry reading this way."
This is a spontaneous act; it is not at all deliberate. And it is wholly illogical; it has nothing to do with Ginsberg′s poetry. No Kalidas, no Keats, no Rabindranath could do it; they are poets tied to tradition. We cannot think of Kalidas, or Keats, or Tagore baring himself the way Ginsberg does. Ginsberg could do it because he rejects logic, he refuses to confine life into the prison of syllogisms. He does not want to reduce life to petty mathematical calculations. He wants to live and live in freedom, and with abandon.
A man like Ginsberg cannot be compared with a gullible villager. He represents the climactic point of a profound rationalist tradition. When a rationalist tradition reaches its climax and begins to die, people like Ginsberg come to the fore to repudiate the rational. I think Krishna too, represents the peak point of India′s great rationalist tradition. This country had once scaled the highest peaks of rationalist intelligence and thinking. We had indulged in hair-splitting analysis and interpretation of words and concepts. We have with us books that cannot be translated into any other languages of the world, because no other language possesses such refined and subtle words as we have. We have such words that only one of them can cover a whole page of a book, because we use so many adjectives, prefixes and suffixes to qualify and refine them.
Krishna comes at the pinnacle of a rationalist, intellectual culture that had left no stones unturned. We had thought everything that could be thought. From the VEDAS and Upanishads we had traveled to vedant where knowledge ends. VEDAS itself means the end of knowledge. Giants like Patanjali, Kapil, Kanad, Brihaspati and Vyas had thought so much that a time came when we felt tired of thinking. Then comes Krishna as the culmination, and he says, "Let us now live, we have done enough of thinking."
In this context it is good to know that Chaitanya happened in Bengal exactly at a similar time. Bengal reached the zenith of dialectics and reasoning in the form of the navya nyaya, the new dialectics. Navadip, the town in which Chaitanya was born, was the greatest center of learning and logic. It was called the kashi of the logicians. All logical learning of India found its apex in Navadip, and it became known as navya nyaya, which represents the Everest of dialectical reasoning. The West has yet to reach that peak. Western logic is old; it is not new. It does not go beyond Aristotle. Navadip took logic beyond Aristotle and carried it to its last frontier.
It was enough to say anywhere in the India of those days that such-and-such a scholar comes from Navadip - nobody dared enter into a debate with him. He was supposed to be invincible as a dialectician; nobody could think of defeating him in polemics. Students from all over India went to Navadip to learn logic. Scholars of logic went there to debate with their counterparts, and if once someone won a debate he immediately became famous all over the country; he was acclaimed as the greatest pundit - the scholar laureate of India. Often enough it happened that someone who went to Navadip to debate got defeated at the hands of some scholar and became his disciple. It was impossible to defeat Navadip; the whole town was full of logicians; every home was the home of a scholar. If someone defeated one scholar there was another round the comer ready to challenge him. The town was a beehive of scholars.
Chaitanya was born in Navadip, and was himself a towering scholar of logic. He was the top logician of the Navadip of his time, held in great respect by all. The same Chaitanya one day said goodbye to scholarship and went dancing and singing ecstatically through the streets of Navadip saying that everything is unthinkable. When such a person says something it is bound to have tremendous significance. Chaitanya too represents the climactic point of a great tradition. After exploring and analyzing every nook and comer of thinking and intellectual understanding, after going to the very roots of words, concepts and their meanings, he renounces knowledge and returns to his basic ignorance and declares he is now going to sing and dance like a madman. He said that he would not argue any more, not search truth through logic, he would simply live and live with abandon.
Life begins where logic ends.
In Sanskrit "moon" is called "Soma". It is your moon side which is
psychedelic. And Aldous Huxley was right; he has named the ultimate
drug SOMA. In the Vedas they talk much about SOMA. Nobody has yet
been able to find what exactly it is. Many people have tried -
somebody tries to prove something is SOMA, somebody tries to prove
something else is SOMA. Many mushrooms have been tried in the past,
but in fact SOMA is not a mushroom, it is not marijuana, it is not
hash. It is some inner psychedelic. It has nothing to do with the
outer chemistry; it is inner alchemy. And the Vedas talk about SOMA
Something outside, something injected from the outside or swallowed from the outside, may create an illusion, but that is an illusion. The same thing: the outer woman can only reflect the inner woman; the outer drug - LSD or psilocybin - can only reflect the inner drug. The inner drug is the real thing. And what Allen Ginsberg is doing is absolutely wrong. He is trying to prove that the outer drug is the inner drug. It is not so.
Just a few days before, a young man asked me, "What do you think, Osho, about hash?" I said, "First thing, don′t be so disrespectful about hash. Show a little respect. To rhyme with ′Maharishi Mahesh Yogi′ you can call it ′Maharishi HASHISH Yogi,′ but be respectful! And if you are not a follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, then to rhyme with ′Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh′ you can call it ′Bhagwan Shree HASHISH′ - but be respectful."
In the Vedas they call SOMA God, but they are talking about the inner hash. I am also talking about the inner hash. That which is manufactured outside in a factory may have some reflections of it, but it is not the true thing. The outer is a substitute. When you start moving inside and when the meeting of the sun and moon happens, SOMA is released. Then a very great change happens in your being. You become absolutely calm and quiet... and of course you become tremendously sensitive. Then for the first time your become able to hear and your eyes become able to see and your hands become able to touch. For the first time you become capable of feeling.
We are deaf, blind. That is the real problem, the very crux. It is not a question of renouncing anything or escaping from anything. It is a question of becoming more sensitive, more aware, more full of understanding, more of a witness. And then your witnessing starts flowing into your eyes and into your ears, into your body. So what is needed according to Kabir - and according to me also - is only one thing, and that is stop being sleepy. Don′t live in a slumber-like state. Shake yourself and bring yourself to a little more awareness. Otherwise you are continuously sleepy - sometimes with open eyes, sometimes with closed eyes - but you are sleepy. And you go on finding rationalizations for your sleep.(Osho - Ecstasy, The Forgotten Language #3)