This week saw the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade in New York City, where in a demonstration organized by the NAACP, about 10,000 people gathered on July 28, 1917, to march in silence down Fifth Avenue to Madison Square. The march was a response to the wave of lynching and mob violence against black people across the country, and although not as widely known as other marches, the Silent Parade was a significant precursor to the civil rights movement.
Protesting for or against something may bring it to a wider audience, but can it inspire change at a fundamental level?
“Your protests, your pacifism, your fight against warmongers is still part of war; you are not a man of peace. And you can see it when people protest – their anger, their violence is so obvious that one wonders why these people are protesting against war. They should join some camp in the war – they are full of anger, rage. They have just chosen to have a third camp behind a beautiful name – ‘peace’. A good mask, but inside is the same anger, the same rage, the same violence, the same destructiveness against anybody who does not agree with them.
“They are contributing as much violence to the atmosphere as anybody else.
“They may be talking about love, but they are also saying that you have to fight for love.
“Hazrat Mohammed had words written on his sword meaning ‘peace is my message.’ He could find only a sword to write on, that ‘peace is my message’! And he gave birth to a religion he called Islam. Islam means peace, and Islam has done more violence in the world than any other religion has done. In the name of peace, at the point of a sword, Islam has been killing, converting millions of people.
“You can choose beautiful words, but you cannot hide the reality.
“J. Krishnamurti’s statement that ‘You are the world’ simply emphasizes the fact that every individual, wherever he is, whatever he is, should accept the responsibility of creating this world that exists around us. If it is insane, you have contributed to that insanity in your own way. If it is sick, you are also a partner in making it sick.
“And the emphasis is important – because unless you understand that ‘I am also responsible for this miserable and insane world,’ there is no possibility of change. Who is going to change? Everybody thinks somebody else is responsible.
“One of India’s great emperors was Akbar. There is an incident in his life recorded in Akbar Mamaz – ‘the biography of Akbar.’
“One day he was just chit-chatting with his friends…. And he had around him the very best, wisest, most creative people chosen from every part of the country.
“His court jester was standing just by his side.
“By the way, you should understand it: in all the courts of all great emperors there used to be a jester, whose whole function was to keep the court from becoming too serious, to keep the court light, playful – once in a while, an explosion of laughter.
“It was a great insight to have a court jester, and he used to be one of the wisest men of those days – because it was not an easy phenomenon.
“Birbal was Akbar’s court jester. And as they were discussing, Akbar slapped Birbal – for no reason at all.
“Now you cannot slap the emperor back, but the slap has to go somewhere – so he slapped the person who was standing next to him.
“Everybody thought, ‘This is strange!’ There was no reason in the first place. Suddenly, as if a madness had got hold of Akbar, he slapped poor Birbal. And that man is also strange. Rather than asking, ‘Why have you slapped me?’ he simply slapped the man who was standing by his side!
“And that man, thinking perhaps this was the rule of the court, slapped the next person. In a chain, it went all over the court.
“And you will be surprised: that night, Akbar’s wife slapped him! And he said, ‘Why are slapping me?’
“She said, ‘That is not the question; a game is a game.’
“He said, ‘Who told you that this is a game?’
“She said, ‘We have been hearing the whole day long that a great game has started in the court. The only rule is you cannot hit the person back, you have to find somebody else to hit. And somebody has hit me – so your slap has come back to you, the game is complete!’
“In this big world, thousands of insane games are going on, and you are all participants – of course in very small measures, according to your capacity. But remember, the slap is going to come back to you sooner or later. Where else will it go?
“Whatever comes to you, remember, it is your doing.
“Perhaps you have forgotten when you started it. The world is big, it takes time. But everything comes back to its source – that is one of the fundamental rules of life, not a rule of a game.
“So if you are suffering, if you are miserable, if you are tense, full of anxieties, anguish, don’t just console yourself that this whole world is ugly, that everybody else is ugly, that you are a victim.
“J. Krishnamurti is saying you are not a victim, you are a creator of this insane world; and naturally, you have to participate in the outcome of whatever you have contributed to it. You are participating in sowing the seeds, you will have to participate in reaping the crop too; you cannot escape.
“To make the individual aware so that he stops throwing responsibilities on others – on the contrary, he starts looking inward to see in what way he is contributing to this whole madness – there is a possibility he may stop contributing. Because he has to suffer too. If he comes to know that the whole world is nothing but his projection on a wider scale….
“Because millions of individuals have contributed the same anger, the same hatred, the same competitiveness, the same violence, it has become mountainous. You cannot conceive that you can be responsible for it: ‘I may have contributed just a small piece…’ But an ocean is nothing except millions and millions of dewdrops. A dewdrop cannot think that it is responsible for the ocean – but the dewdrop is responsible. Without the dewdrop there is going to be no ocean at all. The ocean is only a name; the reality is in the dewdrop.
“To accept your responsibility will change you, and your change is the beginning of the change of the world – because you are the world. However small, a miniature world, but you carry all the seeds.
“If revolution comes to you, it heralds the revolution for the whole world.
“And when J. Krishnamurti says ‘You are the world’ he is not saying it only to you; he is saying it to everybody:
“You are the world.
“If you want to change the world, don’t start by changing the world – that is the wrong way humanity has followed up to now:
“Change the society, change the economic structure.
“Change this, change that.
“But don’t change the individual.
“That’s why all revolutions have failed. Only one revolution can succeed, which has not been tried up to now – and that is the revolution of the individual.
“You change yourself.
“Be alert not to contribute anything that makes the world a hell. And remember to contribute to the world something that makes it a paradise.
“This is the whole secret of a religious man.”