BENGALURU: One is afraid to think apart from what has been said by the leaders because one might lose one’s job, be ostracized, excommunicated, or put into a concentration camp. We submit to authority because all of us have this inward demand to be safe, this urge to be secure. So long as we want to be secure in our possessions, in our power, in our thoughts we must have authority, we must be followers; and in that lies the seed of evil, for it invariably leads to the exploitation of man by man. He who would really find out what truth is, what God is, can have no authority, whether of the book, of the government, of the image, or of the priest; he must be totally free of all that. This is very difficult for most of us because it means being insecure, standing completely alone, searching, groping, never being satisfied, never seeking success. But if we seriously experiment with it, then I think we shall find that there is no longer any question of creating or following authority because something else begins to operate which is not a mere verbal statement but an actual fact. The man who is ceaselessly questioning, who has no authority, who does not follow any tradition, any book or teacher, becomes a light unto himself.
I know the inevitable question will arise: If we have no authority of any kind, will there not be anarchy? Of course there may be. But does authority create order? Or does it merely create a blind following which has no meaning at all except that it leads to destruction, to misery? But if we begin to understand ourselves-which is a very complex process-then we shall also begin to understand the anatomy of authority. Then I think we shall be able to find out, as individuals, what is true. Without the compulsion of society, without the authority of a religion or of any person, however great, without the influence of another, we shall be able to discover and experience for ourselves something beyond mere intellection, beyond the clever assertions of the mind.
There is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably implies the desire to attain some result and that is what we all want. We follow authority - if not that of a person, then of a system, of an ideology - because we want a result that will be satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to understand ourselves, our impulses and reactions, the whole process of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would rather pursue a system that assures us of a result. But the pursuit of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of oneself. When we follow a method, we must have authorities - the teacher, the guru, the savior, the Master - who will guarantee us what we desire; and surely that is not the way to self-knowledge.
Authority prevents the understanding of oneself, does it not? Under the shelter of an authority, a guide, you may have temporarily a sense of security, a sense of well-being, but that is not the understanding of the total process of oneself. Authority in its very nature prevents the full awareness of oneself and therefore ultimately destroys freedom; in freedom alone can there be creativeness. There can be creativeness only through self-knowledge.