well-travelled…

Two years later [1938], in the summer before Munich, I was invited on behalf of the Nazi government, to visit Germany, an invitation to which was added the remark that they knew my opposition to Nazism and yet they wanted me to see Germany for myself. … … Again i declined with thanks. Instead I went to Czechoslovakia, that ‘far-away country’ about which England’s then Prime Minister knew so little.

about death…

Someone said the other day: death is the birthright of every person born - a curious way of putting an obvious thing. It is a birthright which nobody has denied or can deny, and which all of us seek to forget and escape so long as we may. And yet there was something novel and attractive about the phrase. Those who cannot master life we can at least master death. A pleasing thought lessening the feeling of helplessness.

on religion…

Religion, as I saw it practised and accepted even my thinking minds, whether it was Hinduism or Islam or Buddhism or Christianity did not attract me. It seemed to be closely associated with superstitious practices and dogmatic beliefs, and behind it lay a method of approach to life’s problems which was certainly not that of science. There was an element of magic about it, an uncritical credulousness, a reliance on the supernatural. Yet it was obvious that religion had supplied some deeply felt inner need of human nature, and that the vast majority of people all over the world could not do without some form of religious belief. It had produced many types of men and women, as well as bigoted, narrow-minded, cruel tyrants. it had given a set of values to human life, and though some of these values had no application today, or were even harmful, others were still the foundation of morality and ethics.

Social ills…

There has been in the past, and there is to a lesser extent even today among some people, as absorption in finding an answer to the riddle of the universe. This leads them away from the individual and social problems of the day, and then when they are unable to solve that riddle they despair and turn to inaction and triviality, or find comfort in some dogmatic creed. Social evils, most of which are certainly capable of removal are attributed to original sin, to the unalterableness of human nature, or the social structure, or in India to the inevitable legacy of previous births. Thus, one drifts away from even the attempt to think rationally and scientifically and takes refuge in irrationalism, superstitious and unreasonable and inequitable social prejudices and practices.

God…

What the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much I do not believe in. I find myself incapable of thinking of a deity or of any unknown supreme power in anthropomorphic terms, and the fact that many people think so is continually a source of surprise to me. Any idea of personal God seems very odd to me. Intellectually, I can appreciate to some extent the conception of monism, and I have been attracted towards the Advaita (non-dualist) philosophy of the Vedanta, though I do not presume to understand it in all its depth and intricacy and I realise that merely an intellectual appreciation of such matters does not carry one far.

unity in life…

The human mind appears to have a passion for finding out some kind of unity in life, in nature and the universe. That desire, whether it is justified or not, must fulfil some essential need of the mind. The old philosophers were ever seeking this, and even modern scientists are impelled by this urge. All our schemes and planning, out ideas of education and social and political organisation, have at their back the search for unity and harmony.