Chapter 2: God is a Ventriloquist

Question 3



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The third question

Question 3



Anand Shravan,

RELIGION in the past has created in people nothing but ego. It has given people ideas of superiority, of greatness, of extraordinariness. In fact, only the very egoistic people in the past became interested in religion. And religion gives you a chance to fulfill your ego more easily than any other dimension of life.

If you want to be the richest man in the world, it is not going to be easy; but if you want to renounce the world it is simple. To be the richest man in the world will need many things. It will need a certain intelligence; it will require a constant effort, an unwavering, strong, staunch mind to remain attached to the goa, that you have decided upon in order not to change it, not to drop it. Even if all the circumstances change you have to go on dogmatically, blindly following it. It needs a certain willpower; it needs cunningness, cleverness, a certain quality of being political, competitive, ambitious, unscrupulous, not bothering about any moral values, reminding yourself again and again that the end justifies the means, so whatsoever means you are using is good if it fulfills the end. Be violent, be deceptive, be dishonest -- IF it pays.

They say, "Honesty is the best policy." But remember, it is a policy, it is not a value -- it is not something intrinsically valuable. Because it pays it is a good policy; if it does not pay, then dishonesty is the best policy.

And you have to be very mindful of what you are doing, of what you are saying, because you will have to tell many lies. You will need a good memory, otherwise you will forget what you have said yesterday and what you are saying today.

A politician needs a good memory. He may not be very intelligent, but he needs a good memory -- and they are two different things. A good memory is a mechanical thing; a good intelligence is a totally different phenomenon. There have been people of great intelligence and very low-grade memory: Albert Einstein, Thomas Alva Edison -- the highest intelligence with the lowest memory. And there have been people of great memory with no intelligence at all.

I was visiting the Hindi University in Benares. A man was brought to me and introduced to me as someone who holds two dozen M.A.s -- two dozen! So once in a while you come across a person who has double M.A.s, but two dozen M.A.s! He has set a record in the whole world. No other human being ever has possessed twenty-four M.A.s in twenty-four subjects.

But the man was utterly stupid! In fact, even without seeing him I would have said that he must be stupid. He wasted his whole life just collecting certificates. And when I told him, "You look stupid," he was very angry! He said, "You are the first person -- everybody has praised me! "

But I said, "I can see in your eyes there is no quality which can say that some intelligence is inside. I don't see any sharpness in you. You have collected degrees, but you have lost something while you were collecting all this nonsense. Your memory is good, but your intelligence is poor."

It is not necessary that both should exist together.

In the past, religion was the easiest approach to fulfil your ego. No intelligence is needed, no memory is needed, no will is needed, no struggle is needed. All that is needed is a weak, impotent personality. All that is needed is a cowardly man who is incapable of fighting in the world. He can escape to the monastery, and just by escaping to the monastery he becomes a great saint. In the monastery his whole day is uncreative: he is not doing anything, he is not enriching the world. And if he is doing something at all, that is a kind of self-torture. He may be fasting, praying five times a day, doing many yoga postures, standing on his head for hours, standing naked in the cold or in the heat -- all kinds of self-violence. And these qualities have been praised, highly praised.

We have praised stupid people as saints and we have praised uncreative people as religious, as spiritual. They have not contributed anything to the world; it is because of them the world is suffering so much.

In India religion has been very predominant, more predominant than anywhere else. And you can see the consequences! India has almost become the hell of the earth. People are starving; people are hungry, dying, ill, no energy, lethargic, no desire to do anything -- in every possible way immoral, but still thinking themselves spiritual because once a month they go on a fast, or once a week, or because they go every day to the temple, or because they read the Gita every day, or because every day they go on chanting some stupid mantra thinking that they are doing Transcendental Meditation. And you don't see any meditativeness anywhere. You don't see any peace, silence, joy. You don't see anything that can be said to be the outcome of centuries of religiousness.

My vision of religion is totally different.

Anand Shravan, you ask: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE RELIGIOUS?

To me to be religious means many things, because religion is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. First it means an egoless state -- first and foremost it means a deep acceptance of one's nobodiness. Religion is not a ladder that leads you higher than others. It is not trying to achieve some superiority but, on the contrary, it is relaxing into your ordinariness. A religious person neither feels inferior nor superior; in fact, he never compares himself with anybody else. He cannot compare -- his understanding makes it clear to him that comparison is not possible because there are no two persons similar. How can you compare people who are so dissimilar' You cannot compare Buddha to Krishna, Krishna to Christ, Christ to Mohammed, Mohammed to Kabir, Kabir to Nanak -- no, that is not possible. You cannot compare anybody with anybody else; everybody is unique.

But when I say everybody is unique, remember the word "everybody." I am not using the word "unique" in a comparative sense -- more unique than others, more unique than somebody else. EVERYBODY is unique! Uniqueness is an ordinary quality, the MOST ordinary quality. A religious person is utterly ordinary.

In India there is a tremendously beautiful treatise which contains only the names of God and nothing else: VISHNU SAHASRANAM, THE ONE THOUSAND NAMES OF GOD -- just names and nothing else. But those names are something unbelievably beautiful, showing different aspects of God. In those one thousand names there are two names: one is "God is the most ordinary" and the other is "God is the most extraordinary." Ordinary and extraordinary, both -- two names of God.

The religious person is ordinary, very ordinary. He lives a very simple, unpretentious life with no claim to extra-ordinariness. But that's what makes him extraordinary, so there is no contradiction in those two names.

To be extraordinary is a very ordinary desire. To be ordinary is not an ordinary desire; it is extraordinary. And to relax into one's ordinariness is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the world. The moment you relax into your ordinariness and you start enjoying the ordinary small things of life... in the early morning a cup of tea, a walk in the woods, a swim in the river, listening to the birds or just sitting under a tree -- "doing nothing, sitting silently, spring comes and the grass grows by itself" -- or cooking food or cleaning your house...

Religion is not concerned with what you do, it is concerned with the quality that you bring to your work. You may be praying in a church and there may be no religion in it, because the WAY you are doing it is irreligious.

I have heard:

A king and the high priest of the country were both praying early in the morning. It was still dark and they could not see in the temple. The king was saying, "My God, I am just dust under your feet. I am nobody. Have mercy on me!" And the priest said almost the same, maybe in different words but the same thing, "I am nobody. Have mercy on us!"

And then they both heard, with surprise, a third voice. By that time it was becoming a little light and they could see -- the poorest beggar of the town was also praying and he was saying, "God, I am dust under your feet. I am nobody. Have mercy on us!"

The king blinked his eyes, turned towards the priest and said, "Look who is saying that he is just ordinary, that he is nobody. Just look! Who is saying,'I am nobody'? Just a beggar! The king can say,'I am nobody,' the high priest can say,'I am nobody,' but a beggar? How egoistic! How pretentious!"

They both laughed at the idea of the beggar trying to be just like the king or the high priest. He was also bragging about being nobody. The king and the priest thought it insulting.

Of course, THEY can say they are nobody, because everybody knows they are not. Even God knows they are not! They are just being humble. But this poor beggar -- what humility is there? He is certainly nobody, and he is saying, "I am nobody." What is the point of saying it?

Remember, your so-called saints have tried to be humble before God, but just in order that they can be higher in the eyes of people. But MY idea of a religious man is that he does not even claim ordinariness -- he claims not. He is simply ordinary, whatsoever he is.

A Zen Master, Rinzai, was asked, "What did you use to do before you were enlightened?"

He said, "I used to chop wood and carry water from the well."

And the man asked, "Now, now that you are enlightened, what do you do?"

He said, "The same thing -- chopping wood and carrying water from the well."

The man was puzzled. He said, "I cannot understand. Then what is the difference? Then what is the POINT of becoming enlightened? Before you used to chop wood and carry water, now you continue the same thing. Then what is the difference?"

And Rinzai laughed. He said, "The difference is: before I was doing it because I HAD to do it, it was a duty; now it is a joy. The quality has changed -- the work is the same! "

You eat, the religious person eats, but the quality is different. In the Upanishads it is said: ANNAM BRAHM, "food is God. " The religious person eats as if he is eating God, because all is God. He drinks as if he is drinking God, because all is God. To you he is just sipping tea -- he is sipping God!

Hence the Zen tea temple and the tea ceremony. The Zen Master gathers his disciples, prepares tea, and they sit silently listening to the samovar and its humming sound, and the aroma of the tea fills the small room. And the room is made in the garden by a pond. Birds are singing outside, the air is fragrant, and they are all sitting silently. The Master pours the tea; they receive it with great gratitude, with deep love. It is a gift from the Master -- it is no more ordinary tea, it is not tea at all -- as if the Master has poured his own being in their cups. Then silently, meditatively, prayerfully, they drink the tea.

When Christian missionaries came to know about it they could not believe how tea -- drinking could be called meditative. In a Christian church if you start drinking tea and coffee or smoking cigarettes you will be thrown out. "What are you doing?" Even in a Hindu temple you will not be allowed to drink tea. "This is a temple," they will say, "a sacred place, and you are doing such a mundane activity! Go to some hotel -- this is not a hotel."

But I agree with the Zen people: the small things of life have to be transformed by your inner transformation. This I call the religious quality; everything becomes sacred. Taking a bath, making love, eating food, going to sleep -- everything becomes sacred, because wherever you look is God and whatsoever you do you do WITH God.

Anand Shravan, to experience life as divine is the most fundamental quality of a religious person. For him God is not a person but the whole energy of existence. God is godliness; not a person but a quality. He breathes godliness, he lives surrounded by godliness.


That is very difficult to say because it happens to different people in different ways. After awareness... awareness of course, is the method that transforms you, makes you religious. But then one never knows. Meera.started dancing and singing. Buddha never danced and never sang in the same way as Meera. Meera never sat under a tree silently like a Buddha. Jesus speaks in words of fire. The words of Buddha are like lotus flowers falling from the beyond; there is no fire in them. Jesus is fire. He could drive away the money-changers from the temple almost violently, with a whip in his hand. He turned their boards upside down and single-handed he drove them out of the temple. You cannot conceive such an act from Buddha. Jesus is pure rebellion; Buddha is just silence.

It is said the first thing that Zarathustra did in his life was to laugh the moment he was born. Now children are not supposed to laugh when they are born, they are supposed to cry! Zarathustra laughed, and that laughter remained like an undercurrent his whole life. He is the most life-affirmative Buddha ever. He loved life so deeply that for him there was no God other than life.

Mahavira renounced life, renounced the market-place. But he was not an escapist, he was not a coward -- not at all. He lived with ferocious wild animals in the jungle, naked, in total insecurity, with no possessions. And he worked hard; in fact, nobody else in the whole history of humanity has worked so hard to achieve the ultimate state of no-mind. Buddha achieved it through relaxation and Mahavira achieved it through effort.

Now, individuals differ and one never knows. If you are carrying a talent hidden inside you for being a poet, the moment awareness happens to you you will suddenly start on a new pilgrimage: you will become a poet, you will explode like a poet. Or you may be a Vincent van Gogh or a Picasso, unaware of it. Once awareness happens you may start painting. One never knows because each person is such a mystery, unpredictable.

So I cannot say, Anand Shravan, what will be the first quality of a religious being AFTER awareness. Awareness certainly has to be the most fundamental background -- without it nobody can be religious -- but AFTER that nothing can be said. People have behaved differently, and I accept them all as religious: the Zen Masters who painted, Krishna who played on his flute, Buddha who sat silently under the tree, Meera who danced all over the country from village to village, Jesus with all his rebellion, Zarathustra with his laughter. There is no way of saying, and it is better that there is no way of saying what will be the first thing, because the danger is that if it can be said you may imitate.

If I say that after awareness has happened you will dance, there is every possibility that at least you will try. Howsoever awkward it looks, howsoever embarrassing to others, but you will try -- you have to prove that you have attained to awareness, you have become a Buddha. Now, unless you dance...

I don't think Mahavira dancing would look very good! Meera looks beautiful while she is dancing. In fact, it would have been unfortunate if she had not danced and simply sat under a tree; we would have missed the beautiful songs she sang. Nobody in the whole world has sung such beautiful songs. They come directly from the innermost core of her being. They are not ordinary poetry, they are divine. It is not that she is composing them; they are simply flowing through her naturally. She never learned to dance; it exploded! It was an explosion.

So it is good that it cannot be said. Although all the religions have said something, and that's where they have created difficulties for people. Christians say what the qualities will be, Jainas say what the qualities will be, Buddhists say what the qualities will be. And then Buddhists and Jainas and Christians and Hindus and Mohammedans all have tried to imitate. People are imitators. Even if Charles Darwin had not discovered that man was born of the monkeys, sooner or later we would have had to accept it -- because of his imitativeness. Man simply imitates.

My own approach is to leave you free. Awareness certainly has to be there, because without awareness nothing will happen, but then you have to be left absolutely free. Then you have to wait, then you have to see what happens. Not only will others be surprised, you are also in for a great surprise after awareness, because your innermost genius will surface and for the first time you will know what you really are. A rose will become a rose, a marigold will become a marigold, a lotus will become a lotus. And nobody knows, because man's intrinsic nature is freedom.

And it is good that different people will express their religiousness differently. It makes the world more beautiful, more ecstatic, more wondrous. It makes the world something worth living; otherwise it will be a monotonous world, it will be a boring world, it will lack variety.


Next: Chapter 2: God is a Ventriloquist, Question 4


Energy Enhancement                Enlightened Texts               Christianity                Theologia Mystica



Chapter 2






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