MR: If all we have to do is see things differently, be born-again, why is the world still such a mess?
RT: On the surface of it, at the level of power, at the level of dominating governance everywhere, you have people wasting money, wasting life, wasting the planet. I mean it’s just incredible. And the people are ready to march by the tens of millions, because they don’t believe in this anymore.
MR: And so, what good is being born-again, as an individual or a society?
RT: You mean, why isn’t it that we feel like we’re all in the jewel Zen center forever? And why are we struggling around here, having these asinine wars? Forty years I’ve been doing Buddhism. I’ve seen and I feel the consciousness of people being so much elevated compared to where it was forty years ago in the fifties, when I was a teenager. When you see a movie of people in the fifties, they look like wind-up toys, they look like completely unconscious humans. They’re marching around, attending parades. People now are all battered and difficult and there’s weird things, and people are horrifyingly aware of everything in a funny way.
Don’t misunderstand my Inner Revolution thesis. My thesis is that there has been a Buddhist revolution going on for thousands of years. It’s like a revolution in consciousness, and it has had a drastic impact on society. And my thesis is that it is getting riper and riper, to where it’s going to have to unify the whole thing: the way the mind of the people is going in one direction, and domination is going in the other has to end because domination is so self-destructive now. You know in Hitler’s time or Genghis Khan’s time you could seem to win a war, you could bomb a lot of people and kill all the people and seemingly come out and hang the enemy generals and you could seem to win. But not since the fifties and not really since 1945, since the nuclear weapons, and then the proliferation of them and then the germ warfare. No one can win now. It’s ridiculous.
MR: What would it mean to win a war?
RT: Jesus and Buddha have always been against war. But from the point of view of the warriors, the key point about war is not just bombing some people or obliterating their country; war is using force to make a political point so the people you’re fighting with will do your will—that is to say, they will work for you: you will dominate them. It is not a matter of killing. You may have to kill some, but then you dominate them and they do what you want. But that was the era of the empires, the Mongol empire, the empires that we’ve had for several thousand years. Nobody’s got any empires, now. Even the Russians let go of it.