‘THE CURRENT’ OF 18TH DECEMBER HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. ABRAHAM T. KOVOOR, EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD RATIONALIST AND ATHEIST, OF CEYLON, IN WHICH HE REFERS TO AND CRITICIZES YOU. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT?
R. ABRAHAM T. KOVOOR seems to be a nice old man, but a little senile. Senile, I call him, because a person cannot be both together — a rationalist and an atheist. It is impossible. Either you can be a rationalist or you can be an atheist. A rationalist cannot believe in anything. A rationalist cannot have any belief — in God or in no God. A rationalist suspends all belief. A rationalist can only be an agnostic; he can only say, “I do not know.”
The moment you say “I know,” you are no longer a rationalist. The moment you say “I know that God does not exist,” you are as irrational as the person who says God exists. You have lost track.
How can you say God is not? The whole existence has not yet been measured. There are depths upon depths, there is much still unknown. A little is known. Far more remains unknown and unknowable. How can you say dogmatically that God is not?
A rationalist will avoid all temptation of dogmatism. He will say, “I do not know.” Socrates was a rationalist, Buddha was a rationalist, Nagarjuna was a rationalist, but they were not atheists. Atheism means you are against theism; you have chosen a belief. To believe in God is a belief; to believe in no God is a belief again. You remain a believer.
To be a rationalist is very difficult, arduous, because man wants to cling to some belief.
Now this T. Kovoor is eighty years old. For eighty years continuously he has been traveling around, arguing, saying to people that God does not exist. This seems to be absurd. If God does not exist, he does not exist. Why bother? And why waste your precious life for something which does not exist? It is absurd, it is irrational, but if you look deep into it, he is clinging to this no-belief. This disbelief has become his practice, his religion. Now he cannot simply rest; he has to argue — argue against God, argue against religion, try to prove that God does not exist. For what? What is the point?
Your precious life is wasted. And he believes that he has only one life; after death there will be no life. Then this is foolhardy, then this is simply stupid — to waste your life in the service of something which does not exist. And you don’t have a soul, he says, and there is going to be no more life, this is the only life there is. And he has devoted his whole life to nonsense. How can he be a rationalist?
A rationalist will say that life is mysterious. We are trying to know, we have come to know a little, but much more is still left; so the conclusion cannot be decided right now. We will have to wait till the very end. When everything is known, only then can we conclude.
A rationalist has to live without a conclusion. A rationalist has to live without a philosophy, without a religion.
T. Kovoor has made a religion out of his atheism. He is not a rationalist, because rationalism and atheism cannot go together. That’s why I say he must be suffering from senile dementia.
The second thing I would like to say is that he is senile and yet juvenile, too, because atheism is a phase of adolescence. Every intelligent person becomes atheistic at a certain age. Near about the fourteenth year, everybody becomes atheistic. That’s a natural part of growth because the child needs to say no. It is a psychological need. Up to the age of fourteen, the child has lived protected by the mother, the father, the family; now he wants to be himself. And he wants to say no because only by saying no can he feel free, can he have a sense of freedom. He starts saying no to everything. If the father says, “Don’t smoke!” he will smoke, because that is the only way — to deny the father is the only way to grow. If the mother says, “Don’t do this!” he has to do it; it is a must. If he does not do it he will never have any backbone. He will be impotent. He will not have any power. He will be unable to define himself, who he is. He has to say no.
If you have never been an atheist you will never really become a theist, because one who has not said no, how can he say yes? His yes will be impotent. Your yes is meaningful only when you have said no.
But it is a phase and, naturally, people grow out of it. Atheism is a phase. After atheism comes theism. Theism is also a phase. First you say no to feel yourself, then you become a hard ego. Then it hurts. Then you have to say yes to relax. First you say no to become an ego, strong enough to be on your own, then one day you feel it is now hurting, it has become too hard. You have to drop it; you have to say yes. You become a theist.
[Ecstasy – The Forgotten Language]