The Long, the Short and the All
Chapter 3 - Religion and Education
WHAT IS THE AIM OF RELIGION? It is to awaken the slumbering superman in the ordinary man. This and this alone is religion's goal.
YOU ASK FOR PROOF OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD? Isn't the existence of consciousness sufficient proof? Doesn't a drop of water prove there is an ocean?
AT DAWN I watched the sparkling drops of dew gently and lovingly settling on the petals of the flowers. They made not a sound. When one's heart is ready God also descends like the tiny drops of dew. You have no inkling of his coming until he manifests himself before you.
IF YOU WISH TO KNOW GOD the path is silence. Whatsoever is said about God becomes untrue because it has been said in the first place.
TO WHICH RELIGION DO I BELONG? To none. Only in the sense of virtue, piety, justice, fairness, simplicity and the like qualities has religion any real existence, but in so-called religious cults and sects it does not exist at all. And it is the very existence of these cults and sects that have obstructed the manifestation of real religion in the world. To give birth to a true religious spirit all cults must disappear. That is why I do not belong to any particular religion, to any sect or cult.
The man who aspires to real virtue need not belong to any religion. The organized religions really only exist to encourage the evil that lives and flourishes in the wake of religion. Evil may have some cause for anxiety when it encounters virtue, but the existence of today's religions must make it positively jubilant. I do not belong to any religion because I have no wish to join Satan's party.
I have heard that Satan and his disciples had for some time been keeping their eyes on a man who was engaged in the quest for truth. They were understandably anxious and had been watching him closely. One morning, however, the disciples rushed to Satan to inform him that the man had attained truth. They were quite upset.
Satan consoled them, saying, "Don't worry. Just wait until this news spreads from city to city; People will flock to this man; they will take the truth he has attained and frame it in codes and creeds, and then they will organize themselves into a sect; You have nothing to worry about at all."
RELIGION IS A PATH. No path can be traveled just by knowing about it. You can only travel a path by walking it.
THE GREATEST RESPECT a man can show religion is to live it, to use it. The man who only talks about it but does not live it betrays his non-belief in his own words and thoughts.
A RELIGIOUS LIFE IS NOT AN IMPRACTICAL ONE. Nor is a virtuous life.
The truth of religion can only be known to the degree it is lived. Unless it is lived it cannot be known. Living it is knowing it. To those who imagine they can know religion without living it, a religious life may appear impractical, but unless they live it they will never be able to understand it.
When a man is walking in the darkness the lamp be carries only lights a few feet in front of him. Only as he walks along is the path ahead of him illumined. The path of religion is the same. But if the man with the lamp stops and says to himself, "This is such a tiny limp. Its light is so weak, the way is so long and the night is so dark," is it any wonder it seems impractical to him to continue on his way by the light of his lamp?
IT IS VERY EASY TO DIE FOR RELIGION but very difficult to live for it. Actually, it is always easy to die for some cause. All that is needed is a kind of madness. Dying happens in a moment, so even a single moment of insanity is quite enough. But to live, awareness and wakefulness are essential.
Only those who live for religion know religion. Those who martyr themselves for religion do not know it at all.
WHATEVER DRIVE THERE IS IN A MAN'S LIFE, whatever evolution there is, whatever touch of glory there is, only comes as a result of daredevil courage. What I mean by daredevil courage is accepting life's invitation to insecurity, possessing a love for the new and the unknown, finding joy in risking one's all. The man who is not prepared to take risks may exist but he is not alive.
And what is the greatest way to apply one's daredevil courage? It is to seek God, to seek the universal soul. Nothing is more insecure that the path to God. There is nothing stranger, nothing more unfamiliar, nothing more unknowable. What bigger stake, what riskier gamble, what more perilous adventure can there be than seeking the universal soul? I say unequivocably that daredevil courage is the greatest of qualities, the greatest of virtues. The man who lacks it is not meant for religion and religion is not meant for him.
YOU HAVE TO FORSAKE BOTH GOOD AND BAD TO REALIZE GOD. Only then will your consciousness rise above differences and establish itself in oneness.
THERE IS ONE MAN I have known for many years. He used to chase money; now he pursues religion. But the race is the same. The only difference is that before he was a businessman and now he is an ascetic who has renounced everything. Whenever I hear of things like this I am surprised. In the depths, is not his desire to reach God the same as his former desire to amass riches?
The ways of greed are very subtle, and is not the desire to realize God the ultimate development of greed? Man's greed is boundless; he is even greedy for salvation. But the fact remains that a man can never become liberated as long as his mind desire to acquire anything at all. The desire to acquire is the fundamental obstacle that stands in the way of liberation. And how can someone who is not free know God? What a man knows when he is liberated is God!
WHAT CONNECTION DO "I" AND "MINE" HAVE WITH TRUTH? Or with religion? How can truth be MY truth? How can religion be MY religion? Truth cannot be MY truth; MY truth cannot be truth.
ARE YOU SO POOR THAT YOU HAVE NO RELIGION? Worldly poverty is not such a big thing, but having no religion is real poverty. In spite of his gold and riches a man can be poor, but if he has the treasure of religion he can never be a pauper. The greatest thing that can happen to a man is not his worldly success, not his building of empires -- it is nothing of this sort -- it is his setting out in search of the wealth that lies hidden within him. That riches is religion. Outer wealth is nothing but soiled banknotes; inner wealth is the only real virtue. Those who seek worldly wealth are really seeking poverty but those who are seeking virtue are searching for real riches.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF RELIGION? Religion is moving from the mud to the lotus. Wherever there is mud, the lotus is there as well. But what a difference there is between them!
RELIGION IS NOT A FORMLESS CONCEPT. Religion is a concrete activity. It is not a thought, it is an experience. Living your life so that whatever causes you misery should not befall others is religion.
I DREAMED THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT HAD COME. Everyone rose from his grave to be questioned. The inquiry was conducted by God himself. Standing next to me was a pundit, a scholar I knew quite well. He had a very carefree attitude. He knew the Gita, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the whole lot. He felt he could pass any examination in religion. But as God moved down the line be became less and less sure of himself and more and more anxious. He turned to me and cried, "This is too unjust! Nothing whatsoever is being asked about the scriptures! God is only asking about life! But I know what I'll do. You know what I'll say? I shall say I know nothing but the scriptures, that I have spent my whole life trying to know them."
Scriptures and dogmas are like dry leaves. There is no sap in them. Nor can there ever be. Only the tree of the self produces green leaves and blossoms that are full of life.
ON MY SEARCH I FOUND NO GREATER SCRIPTURE THAN SILENCE. When I had dug through all the scriptures I realized how futile they all were and that silence was the only thing that had any point to it whatsoever.
IF THE TRUTH IS NOT KNOWN to you the knowledge of the scriptures is useless. If the truth is known to you the knowledge of the scriptures is also useless.
IT IS COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS TO DELVE INTO THE SCRIPTURES in the hope of realizing truth. The scriptures may well have grown out of truth, but they have never been known to generate the experience of truth in anyone. People are so silly -- they shelter the blackest ignorance in a living heart and dig among dead words trying to unearth the truth!
WORDS, SCRIPTURES, CREEDS AND CULTS conspire to keep the soul tied to the shore of slavery. And the man who is moored by the rope of slavery is denied the freedom of the limitless ocean. To sail the open sea you have to untie yourself from the shore. To attain freedom you have to break your chains. To catch a fish, anglers put a lump of dough on a hook and the fish is tempted by the dough and caught. The hook of mental slavery is baited with the dough of promised security.
It is always on the hook of security that people lose their freedom. This is one of the oldest conspiracies. And people who are not vigilant, who are not alert to this web of intrigue will never attain to that life and that bliss that go hand in hand with freedom of consciousness. Life and bliss are both hidden in that freedom.
Nothing is of greater value than freedom. No other experience or acquisition can compare. This is because it is only through freedom that truth can be realized. Whoever is opposed to the freedom of man's soul is an enemy of mankind.
The temptation of security is freedom's principal foe. An excessive desire for security becomes a prison for one's soul. This mad craving for security feeds the blindly-accepted superstitions and traditions that can so easily fetter the mind. And even when a man is able to drop these things a vague kind of fear seizes him. The familiar ground shifts and quakes under him and he has no choice but to walk on strange paths.
This is why all vampires, be they political leaders or the priests of the religions, never want to see a man's heart free of fear. Fear and fear alone is the mainstay of their extortion activities. It is out of fear that people cling to what is well known, to the most popular beliefs, even if they are untrue. A man with an eye on his own safety does not dare stray a single inch from the accepted traditions and recognized values of the masses, even though these things may be founded on ignorance and blind belief. This fear ultimately dulls and deadens his capacity to think. It is safer; thinking will lead him to rebellion.
As long as this web of extortion envelops man and this well planned and carefully executed conspiracy to destroy his individuality goes on, the only important thought a man can have must be how to achieve his freedom. Political and economic slavery is nothing in comparison to the slavery that chains an individual's consciousness to words and scriptures in the name of truth. This slavery is subtle; it cannot be seen or felt. It goes so deep that the individual accepts it in his very marrow.
I oppose this slavery. Because of it, millions and millions of souls have been deprived of the dazzling brilliance of truth. Their hearts have not known freedom. And without that freedom a man is deprived of the bliss and harmony that is his own birthright. A subservient mind can never encounter God. God is brilliance itself; the servile mind is the blackest night.
If you wish to hear the sweet voice of God then turn a deaf ear to the verbiage of the world. Those who are deaf to the external world hear him clearly, those who are blind to mundane things see him distinctly and those who are lame and crippled in the earthly sense keep pace with him easily.
DO NOT KEEP RELIGION IN YOUR MOUTH. Let it go to your belly; let it be absorbed into your blood. You will never fill your belly if you keep a piece of bread in your mouth.
PEOPLE WORSHIP WORDS AND THINK THEY ARE TRUTH. They mistake a milestone for their destination and settle down beside it. Isn't man's great lethargy at the root of this self-deception? Only a lazy and insensitive man could accept empty words as truth and think of a stone idol as God.
I WATCH YOU REPEATING MANTRAS and incantations, muttering words you have memorized from the scriptures, and my heart is filled with sympathy for you. What are you doing? Do you take this drugging, this self-forgetfulness, this soul-destroying slumber for some kind of religious practice?
This chanting of mantras and the repetition of words will drown the mind in a pleasant kind of sleepiness but please do not confuse this drowsiness with meditation. There is a very wide gulf between sleep and meditation. In this sleep of self-forgetfulness you may have some sort of experiences, but these experiences are nothing but dreams. Your mind is a master at creating dreams. The may be highly pleasing to you, very satisfying to you, but they are not real just because they make you feel good.
But most people are not looking for truth at all, they are only seeking satisfaction. And so it is very easy to get caught up is any kind of illusion. The mind that is seeking satisfaction is likely to be satisfied with any sort of intoxication, with any kind of self-forgetfulness. This self-forgetfulness can easily be attained through so-called mantras, through recitation of the scriptures, through concentration. Repeating anything over and over again can subdue your consciousness.
Religion is not concerned with self-forgetfulness or with stupefaction. Not at all. Religion is the state of total sensitivity, of remembering the soul completely, of absolute wakefulness.
SALVATION IS NEITHER ACHIEVED BY PRAYER NOR BY WORSHIP. It is not even achieved by faith in religious teachings. Salvation is attained by leading a peaceful life. To remain peaceful in thoughts and deed is prayer and worship. It is also the only spiritual discipline that is necessary.
IF I STEP INTO A RIVER to bathe I leave my clothes on the bank. And the man who wants to wash himself clean in God must leave all of his clothes on the bank as well -- all of the apparel that masks his individuality, all of the garments that hide his personality. Only those who are stark naked have access to that great ocean -- only those who have nothing left at all. But blessed are they who can leave everything behind them. By doing so they receive much more than the sum-total of all.
HOW CAN YOU DESIRE NIRVANA OR MOKSHA? Nothing is more impossible that the desire for nirvana, than the desire for emancipation, because nirvana is the state where there is not desire at all. And if desire is the absence of liberation, if it is your unliberated state itself, then how can you desire moksha? But there are people who desire moksha. So it is only natural that their so-called spiritual renunciation becomes a form of bondage and chains them even more securely to the world.
moksha is attained naturally, without asking, without desiring, when the futility of desire is known, when desire is recognized as misery, when the bondage of desire is understood in the subtlest of its subtle forms. When the pointlessness of the race is understood, the race finishes. An understanding of what the pursuit of desire is all about is enough to be liberated from it. And then what remains is moksha.
AREN'T WE ALL JUST LIKE FLOUNDERING, FLAILING FISH that have been caught in a fishermans's net? It seems to me. And yet this is no reason to feel desperate, because I also see something else -- not only are we the fish, we are the net and the fisherman as well. And there is the door to freedom. We ourselves are the creators of all our bondages, of all our miseries. They are the creations of our own minds. And now, from this truth, don't you see the possibilities of salvation
WHAT IS RELIGION? If you wish to know religion you will have to forget about religions. Unless you can ignore religions you will never know religion.
AM I TO PROCLAIM GOD TO YOU? Is he not proclaimed all around you? Isn't nature itself God's clearest and loudest proclamation?
LOOK AT THE GANGES. It rushes to the ocean from the mountain peaks. It is the symbol of a righteous life because it has only one aim throughout its whole journey, and that is to unite with the ocean. It wants to lose itself, to lose its individuality in the universal sea. Its bliss lies in its merger with the ocean. And there, there is no difference, no loneliness; there, there are no petty boundaries. There it is complete. There it has attained its fullness. As long as it still exists as the Ganges it is incomplete.
Become like the Ganges. Seek an ocean. Let there be a single aim in life: the vast ocean; let there be one passion, one zeal: the limitless ocean; let there be a single song in your heart: the boundless ocean. And then just keep flowing.
If the currents of your being are impatient for the ocean your feet will find the path. The river's search for the ocean is its search to lose itself, because this is the only way it will truly find itself. In this single precept all spirituality, all religion and all yoga are united. This is the only bliss, the only truth that man can attain.
I AM THE POOREST OF THE POOR. There is nothing I can call mine. Even I myself am not mine. Whatever there is belongs to God. God himself is all. But the moment I realized my utter poverty it vanished completely. I am now God too, for "I" am no longer there God alone exists. What is this search for God? It is the search for one's lost home. In this world man is but a homeless wanderer, a stranger in a foreign land.
WHEN I LOOK INTO YOUR EYES MY HEART WEEPS at the agony and disillusionment I see in them. What have you done to yourselves? Man is born with such possibilities, and see how he dies! He perishes with nothing! His consciousness has the potential of scaling the peaks of divinity and he simply wanders about aimlessly in the valley of the animals. You never experience that perfect happiness that is your birthright; your lives are heavy with the weight of darkness.
Man is in agony because he has not developed his potential, because he has not achieved that which is in his nature to achieve. Education can be the means, the medium for allowing that which is contained in the soul of man to manifest itself.
Socrates once said, "I am like a midwife. I will bring out what is hidden in you." This is a tremendously apt definition of education. Fortune and misfortune are both hidden in man; nectar and poison exist in him; God and the animal both dwell in him. And this gives man the glorious freedom to choose whatever it is he wishes to become. The right kind of education will be the one that shows his the path to godliness.
But it must be remembered that when a man does not strive towards the achievement of a better life he automatically sinks to a level even lower than that of the animal. The fact that a man has been born is enough to achieve this kind of fall. It is always easy to slide down; it requires work and constant application of oneself to rise. It takes effort, courage, determination. Rising upwards is an art, the greatest art in life.
The aim of an authentic education must be to teach this art, to teach the art of becoming one with God. The goal of education must be life itself, not merely providing instruction in how to earn a livelihood. In itself this means nothing. It is often mistaken as the aim of education, but this is tantamount to saying that man does not eat to live but lives to eat. Yet, considering the status of modern eduction this kind of conclusion is unavoidable.
Is this the only failing of the present form of education? If I were to say so, it would be the same as saying that everything is just fine in the body of a dead man except that life is absent. Today's system of education is just such a body. It is totally without life. The means of a man's livelihood is only the existence of his body, and education will only be alive when it teaches life itself.
To teach life is to teach knowledge of the self. A man may know everything else, but if he is unaware of the existence of his self then all of his knowledge is negated. Of what use is knowledge that does not have the self as its center? The illumination of the whole world is useless if the self is in darkness.
To begin this ascent to consciousness, the first step must be in the direction of self-knowledge. The extent to which a man begins to know himself is the extent to which his animality declines. The perfection of self-knowledge a man in God. Only in that attainment is there fulfillment.
Each man carries the seed of that supreme development, of that ultimate perfection within him. And unless those seeds are fertilized he will remain barren. His situation is not unlike that of seeds sown in the earth. Only when they are watered and cultivated do they sprout; only then do they poke through the soil and reach the light of the sun. And the sense of anxiousness, the feeling of restlessness that exists between the sowing and the harvest is an excellent sign, because only after restlessness can there be peace. And education can intensify, can sharpen this wonderful time of restlessness in young people.
When education moves towards real knowledge and real peace, a new man and a new humanity will be born. Our future depends on this. The fate of mankind is in the hands of education. If man is to be saved from himself it is essential he be reshaped, re-created. If this does not happen the animal in man will destroy him. The only escape from this nightmare is for mankind to establish itself in God.
I AM AGAINST THAT KIND OF EDUCATION THAT TRIES TO SHAPE AN INDIVIDUAL IN A PREDETERMINED MOLD. That kind of education does not sharpen one's individuality, it blunts it. I do not favor an education that is based on temptations or on the fear of punishment either. What is more poisonous than fear! I also condemn outer disciplines. What are they except preparations for slavery?
DO NOT TIE YOURSELF TO DISCIPLINES. Real discipline happens when discrimination awakens in you. Then you are liberated. It can never happen if you tie yourself to anything.
HOW CAN I FIND THE WORDS to tell you how much our present so-called educational system distresses me! Knowledge that is taught destroys one's ability to think. The power to think is crushed under the burden of acquired thoughts. The memory may be trained but the springs of real knowledge are never set free. And then the trained memory gives the illusion of knowledge.
The individual who has been educated under this so-called system must learn to think from a whole new standpoint. He has to unlearn everything he has learned thus far. I had to do this. But it had to be done. It was the only way I could look at life through my own eyes.
I had to forget everything I had learned, everything I had been taught. To attain my own vision, I had to get rid of all those second-hand points of view. To think my own thoughts I had to free myself from all the borrowed ideas that had been pumped into me.
If you want to learn to walk you have to stop leaning on someone else's shoulder. And only when you stop looking through someone else's eyes will your own eyes open. Remember, the man who sees life through the eyes of another is even more blind than the man who is born without sight at all.
THE AIM OF EDUCATION IS TO BRING OUT WHAT LIES HIDDEN IN THE INDIVIDUAL. Education is not some external ideal, not some outer imposition, it is a revelation of one's inner being.
I WOULD LIKE TO TELL YOU about something that happened to a fakir I know. He was a very lonely man. One night he met God in a dream. Much to his surprise has saw that God's loneliness was even greater than his. He said to God, "Are you alone too? But so many people believe in you! Where are they all?"
God replied with serenity, "I am always alone. This is why only a man who is also alone can see me. And as far as those who believe in me are concerned, as far as those so-called religious people are concerned, when have they ever been with me? A few are with Ram; a few are with Krishna. Some are with Mohammed; some are with Mahavira. But none of them is with me. I am always alone. And only a man who is not with anyone else, who is with himself, is with me."
The fakir awoke in great bewilderment and rushed to see me. He woke me up, told me of his dream, and asked, "What does it mean?"
I said, "If it had only been a dream I would interpret it for you, but it is a fact. Since when does a fact require interpretation? Be aware; just look at it. Those who are attached to any ism, be they Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian or Buddhist, are not religious. Religion is one; only where there is oneness there is religion. To a real religious mind, all these human divisions are false. In the state where one experiences God there are no cults.
"What are the scriptures? What are all the religious organizations? How can you put such boundaries on the boundless? Where are ideologies to be found in that state of inner silence?
In that void, where are the temples? Where are the mosques in that emptiness? Rid yourself of all of these things -- and what remains is God."
Before I say anything on the topic of "religion and education" I wish to clarify one point. When I use the word "religion" I do not mean the organized religions. To be religious is different from being Hindu or Mohammedan. Being traditional is being non-religious. It is, in fact, a great barrier to being religious. As long as a man is Hindu or Moslem it is impossible for him to be religious. Those who talk about religion and education and wish to unite them are speaking of Hindu, Mohammedan or Christian when they use the word "religion". This kind of religious education will never result in authentic religion. It will simply make man more irreligious. Mankind has been given this kind of education for the last four or five thousand years but it has neither improved mankind nor brought about any radical change in our society.
More violence, injustice and bloodshed have been perpetuated in the names of Hindu, Mohammedan and Christian than in any other. You may find it hard to understand that the heretics, the non-believers in these religions are not responsible for very great sins at all. It is the theists, those who follow these religions who have committed the truly great sins. Heretics never burn temples or murder for religion, but those who belong to these religions are responsible for incredible massacres. It is those who claim to be religious who have divided humanity.
Words, ideologies, creeds and codes of conduct have set man against man. Ism and organizations have brought chaos and misery to the world. Humanity has been divided, and man's mind has become exceedingly narrow. Continuing to impart such an education in the name of religion is a very dangerous practice and will be even more so in the future. Such an education is not religious at all. Nor can it ever be. Those who have been educated in this manner prove my point. This ideological instruction has given birth to violence, anger and hatred. It has stunted the hearts and minds of men.
So in the first place, I wish to say that by "religious education" I do not mean instruction by any religious organization -- not in its likes and dislikes, not in its dogmas, not in its so-called spiritual know-how. If we want to marry religion and education we have to divorce ourselves from the concepts of Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian. Only then can religion and education become a unit, a single entity. Organizations should have no relation with education whatsoever especially those who do so under the guise of religion.
In this context it is preferable to remain non-religious. For the non-religious man there is at least a chance of his becoming religious, but the heart and mind of the so-called religious man are always closed. A man whose mind is closed can never be religious. To discover truth you need a mind that is always kept open, a mind that is completely free.
If you want to find a civilization in the true sense of that word, that civilization can neither be Hindu nor Mohammedan, neither eastern nor western. Such a civilization will have to be total. It will have to be of every individual, of the whole of humanity. Such a civilization cannot be aligned to any particular sect, because so long as there is any division in humanity, any categorization at all, mankind will never be free of frustration or war.
It is very difficult to create such a civilization as long as there is a wall between me and you. As long as there are walls between individuals how can we create a society that can live in love and joy?
The society we have created thus far can certainly not be called a society of love. Fifteen thousand wars have been waged on the earth in three thousand years. In three thousand years, fifteen thousand wars! How hard this is even to imagine! And fifteen thousand wars cannot have been fought in three thousand years without some cause.
What is the meaning of this ratio, five wars a year? It means that in the last three thousand years there has only been a small span of three hundred years in which there have been no wars. But that period of three hundred years was not continuous. Between wars we have only had short lapses -- one day here, two days there, a week, ten days. And these brief intervals add up to three hundred years. Three thousand years of war and three hundred years of peace! And it isn't even correct to call those three hundred years peace. At the most they have been a truce. And whatever peace we have today is as unreal. What we call peace is nothing more than the preparation for the next war.
I divide the history of man's evolution into two stages -- war, and the preparation for war. We have never had peace. And it is this kind of human behavior that is responsible for the disintegration of mankind.
Who has divided mankind? Who, I ask? Have not the religions done it? Haven't ideologies, codes of conduct and organizations split man asunder? Hasn't the whole petty concept of nations and nationalities separated man from man? But religion is the worst culprit.
All controversy has some identifications with a particular sect inherent in it. And these sects may be religious or political. No matter which, their existence causes controversy and controversy ultimately results in war. Today, Russian communism and American democracy are the new religions.
But I ask if it is not possible to stop this discrimination, to end this division in humanity. Can it not all be traced to our personal ideologies and to our private dreams? Do you think it is right that there should be "my ideas" and "your ideas" when all they do is corrupt the hearts and minds of us both? Up to now this is what has happened.
No organization based on religious and national preferences can ever be any organization of brotherly love. They are, in fact, organizations of brotherly hate. You must be aware that anyone can be made to join an organization if the poison of hatred sufficiently pollutes the general atmosphere. Adolf Hitler said somewhere that to unite a community it was necessary to create hatred for another community. Not only did he say this, he put it into action and found the formula to be very effective indeed. And any revolutionary who has ever wanted to create chaos on earth has found it as true and as applicable as Hitler did.
You can unite Mohammedans by shouting "Islam is in danger" and Hindus will really if they hear the same cry about Hinduism. Danger produces fear, and whatever makes a man afraid becomes the object of his hatred. It is his way of reacting to the fear. All organizations and alliances are based on some aspect of his fear and hatred.
All religions say they want to foster love in the world, but since they want individual organizational unity they must ultimately take shelter in hatred. And so they only pay lip service to love. Their hatred of each other is the backbone of each and every one of them.
The religion I am talking about is not an organization at all. It is meditation. It is a sadhana; it is the journey to self-realization itself. It is an experience, an individual experience. It has nothing whatsoever to do with amassing large groups of followers. The experience of religion is a totally individual one.
All these organizations we call religions are based on hatred. But what possible relation can there ever be between hatred and religion? Whatever makes me hate you cannot be called religion. Only something that allows love to flow between you and me can be called religion. How can anything that divides man from man ever unite man with God? But what we call religion does just this -- it separates us from each other.
Although the religions all talk about love and say they stand for unity and brotherhood, it is all just hot air. No matter what they have said to date, it has simply resulted in hatred and hostility. Christianity preaches the gospel of love, but no other cult can possibly compete with Christianity in numbers of lives destroyed. Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace and tranquility, but do you know of any other sect that has created more unrest in the world? Perhaps they believe fine sentiments are a good way to cancel out evil deeds!
If a man would like to kill people, then it becomes quite easy to do so in the name of love. And if one wants to indulge in violence it is a simple matter to strike out in defense of nonviolence. If I wished to take your life I could easily convince myself that it would be for your own good because you are going to die anyway. You are going to die one day so why should I feel like a criminal? You would never complain about it to anyone. Man is a very logical animal and can always find a rational excuse for anything he does or wants to do.
Perhaps Satan has led man to believe, from the beginning, that if there is any bad work to be done all he need do is find a good banner under which to do it. The worse the deed, the better the slogan he requires.
Those organizations that exist under the banner of religion have no relation whatsoever with God, with love, with prayer or, indeed, with religion. Mutual hatred and envy hold them together. Otherwise how could there possibly be so much desecration of mosques, burning of temples, smashing of idols and killing of people? How can all this happen? But it has happened, it is happening and it will continue to happen. If this is religion, then it is beyond me to imagine what irreligion is!
A traditional attitude is not religious. If the truth be known, it is the shadow of irreligiousness. That is why the first requirement for a religious education must be total freedom from all organized religions.
So-called religious people say they want their children to learn to live together in harmony, but they insist this be learned under the mantle of their own particular religion. Why is this so? Is it because they are so very interested in religion? No, they are definitely not interested in religion at all. Their concern is only for their own religion. And this kind of self-interest is completely irreligious because anything that has to be identified as "mine" or "yours" is not religion. Religion is only present when there is no "mine' or "yours'. And that is the beginning of the wisdom that leads to God.
Whenever religion is taught by so-called religious people there is always a selfish motive underneath. This selfishness has very deep and ancient roots. And these very roots themselves are responsible for may different kinds of exploitation.
The younger generation, however, is capable of effecting a radical change in society if it is able to free itself from the vicious circle of its conditioning. This revolution must be one of total deconditioning. Such a revolution will have far-reaching and adverse effects on those who thrive on the promotion of conflict between men. And those whose livelihood depends on perpetuating this vicious circle of the organized religions will find themselves unemployed. Then the selfishness and exploitation that are based on the differences between men and carried on under the fatherly eye of religion will be greatly undermined.
Under the pretext of religious education the older generation endeavors to pass along all its blind faiths and its ignorance, all its illnesses and its enmity to young people. And that very transmission itself brings great satisfaction to the ego. It is this very ego that does not allow a man to break through the barriers of his conditioning. In the process of human evolution there is no greater obstacle than the ego.
There is only evolution where there is revolution. But the older generation cannot accept the fact that evolution comes through revolution. It prefers the status quo; it wants to keep its old faiths, its old disciplines, its comfortable submissiveness. It wants to hold the younger generation down so that all of its creative energy is destroyed, so that the energy that is capable of discarding the old, and creating the new has no chance to grow. This is cold-blooded murder. But it is done invisibly, in secret. Perhaps they are not even aware of what they are doing; perhaps their actions are completely unconscious. Their fathers and their fathers' fathers have done the same thing; they have behaved as unconsciously towards their children. This vicious circle is a very ancient one indeed. But it must be brought to a Halt! This is the very thing that prevents the union of truth and religion.
What is the basis of this vicious circle? Parents plant the seeds of their own beliefs in their children before the young people have a chance to mature. And for a preconditioned mind to think for itself, to think new thoughts, is an almost impossible task. Faith and creativity exist in opposite dimensions. Faith is blindness; creativity is self-understanding. And children are deprived of any possibility of understanding themselves by this parental imposition of ready-made answers. And it is in support of something this sinister that so-called religious people are anxious to impart "religious education" to their children. This is a great misfortune. There is no greater sin than the destruction of creativity. But parents are always committing this crime and it is one of the basic reasons why real religion does not exist in the world today.
Children have to be taught how to think, not how to believe; they need to be helped to understand themselves, not to have blind faith in someone else's ideas. And only when religion is based on self-knowledge and not of blind faith can it be united with education. And the result will be sheer bliss! When tested with right-thinking and self-understanding, and not simply accepted blindly, even scientific facts can also bring a man bliss!
Did you know that a man who just believes what he is told eventually becomes incapable of any kind of creativity whatsoever, and that all he sees around him then wherever he looks, is frustration? And these are the people who want to educate their children with ready-made formulas so they do not appear stupid! It is so easy for these people to believe they are right. And if someone awakens and realizes the significance and magnitude of this vast network of deceptions, then what do they do to him? They do the same thing to him they did to Socrates and to Christ.
When you consider the question of religious education, it is essential you ask yourselves whether you are not, in fact, bringing darkness to these young minds under the illusion you are bringing them light. Cut and dried concepts have corrupted the vision of many in the name of sight. Any kind of belief is ignorance; any kind of belief is darkness.
Children must be saved from these blind beliefs, but they can only be saved if they are given clarity of mind. They must be helped to think clearly; they must be helped to think creatively. Do not give them thoughts, give them the ability to think. Giving them thoughts means you are giving them your thoughts, but giving them a chance to be creative is giving them something that is their own. That energy is what must be generated. That energy, that energy of creativity, is enough to bring your children lives that are new, fresh and real.
Thinking is the way. Beliefs bring nothing but frustration. That is why I say that a man who is conditioned by beliefs cannot think freely. One who is a Hindu cannot be really creative; one who is a Jain cannot be creative; one who is a communist cannot be creative. His belief itself is his conditioning.
Because thinking can destroy his beliefs, a believer chooses not to think. And this becomes his security. But all this security is, is a denial of himself. Do you not see that belief is an obstacle to creative thinking?
This murder of your minds is being carried out both consciously and unconsciously. A Hindu father wants his son to be a Hindu and a Mohammedan father wants his son to be a Mohammedan, yet this is all decided when the child is an infant and incapable of thinking for himself. But this kind of corruption is only possible during that period; to accomplish this in later years is very difficult indeed. When the ability to think exists, deception is impossible.
A man's capacity for rational understanding becomes his self-awareness. It is no wonder that so-called religious people are opposed to such reasoning, to such understanding. If the truth be known, they are not even in favor of intelligence. Wherever there is intelligence, creativity and reason, there is revolution. And revolution means the quest for a new way of life. Revolution means leaving the known in search of the unknown. Revolution means breaking through the barriers that separate every older generation from every younger one.
As I see it, revolution is the nucleus of a religious mind. There is no greater revolution than religion. Religion is a life-transforming process. It is the most radical transformation there is. So, religious education cannot be an education in dullness, in ignorance -- it must be an education in profound and creative thinking. A religious education must spark deep reasoning abilities; it must foster creative intelligence.
An innocent child should not be burdened with pat answers or conditioned in ways that go against his basic intelligence, he should be encouraged along paths that will allow his intrinsic intelligence to function freely, actively and with constant awareness. He should be helped to reach a point where it is impossible for him to be conditioned by anything or anyone at all. Only such a mind can be capable of joy, of love. This is what truth is.
Freedom is the path to truth. So allow children to be free. Awaken a sense of freedom in them. Help them to be alert to all possible enslavement of their hearts and minds. This and this alone is what real religious eduction is.
The various religions, however, do not impart this type of education. What they do is exactly the opposite. They provide an education in slavery. This is not an education in creativity, it is an attempt to promote the worship of belief. It is not an education in intelligence, it is an education in ignorance. It is founded on blindness and not on self-understanding.
Why are all the religions so afraid of creativity? Their fear is definitely not without foundation.There are many fundamental reasons, but the most important one is that if there is too much creative thought many religious organizations will not be able to survive for very long. Religion will endure of course, but religious organizations would be in certain danger.
Any move towards effortless creative thinking is a move in the direction of truth. Just as the rivers flow naturally towards the sea, creativity moves towards the totality. And there in the totality, only truth remains unidentified with anything and unattached to anything.
There cannot be any paths to truth -- the truth is one. There is no separate truth for Hindus and Christians, but when their so-called truths are based on blind faith there is no possibility of their having any common denominator whatsoever. Beliefs are obstructions to creativity. Beliefs are imprisoned within their own narrow limitations and because they are static and do not move towards the totality they can never attain oneness. It is because they are confined within such rigid and private structures that there are so many different beliefs in the world.
Thinking is creativity; belief is conditioning. Thinking is self-revolution; belief is self-programming. A thought may start out from any point but it ultimately leads to deeper realms, towards the center, towards the truth; a belief simply blocks the way to God.
I have heard that there is even a Jain geography! And this type of foolishness exists in other religions as well. Can there even be a separate geography? If it is based on a belief, yes -- then it is possible. Where there is no creative thinking there is fantasy, blind faith and gullibility -- and these things all differ from individual to individual.
The truth is one, but each man's imagination is different. No two person's desires are the same; no two people dream the same dream. The truth that exists within the self is universal. It is not someone's dream, not someone's projection, not someone's interpretation.
To perceive truth one needs enormous capacity; one needs a wide-open mind that is constantly alert. The creative totality can only be perceived by a man with great clarity of mind. That is why I say over and over again that if you want your children to know the truth you must give them the chance to think creatively. Stop conditioning them with beliefs; allow them to understand things for themselves. Creativity will become their capacity for life; creativity will become their wisdom. That capacity and that wisdom will lead them to the uncharted sea of truth.
Did you know that Aristotles, that a man of his stature has written that women have less teeth than men! How could he write such a thing? Was there no woman around so he could count her teeth? Although there was no scarcity of women, he simply accepted the traditional belief and saw no reason to check things out for himself. And he even had two wives of his own! All he had to do was ask either the first Mrs. Aristotle or the second Mrs. Aristotle to open her mouth so he could count her teeth! But he never bothered. He never doubted tradition. He simply accepted the belief that women have less teeth than men. If the truth be known, the male ego is not prepared to accept that women can be equal to men in any respect, not even in the number of teeth! And when a man like Aristotle did not doubt a popular belief then who else would.
Doubt is the beginning of discovery. Real doubt is the first step on the path to the discovery of truth. And that is the beginning of an authentic religious education. Doubt, not faith, is the real foundation of religion. Doubt is the beginning; faith is the end. Doubt is the search; faith is the fulfillment.
The man who sets out in doubt ultimately reaches God, but the man who starts out in faith reaches nowhere at all. He has put the cart before the horse. You can only begin at the beginning. How can you begin at the end? Where there is no doubt there is no thinking, where there is no thinking there is no understanding, and where there is no understanding there is no truth.
Religious organizations teach belief, not doubt. They teach how to follow not who to explore. But an authentic religion will teach how to doubt, how to think, how to discover.
Real perception only comes through self-discovery, and that very discovery itself brings about that radical transformation we know as truth. Truth is discovery, constant discovery. It is a continuing revolution in creative inventiveness. Truth cannot be passed from one hand to another; it can only come from one's own direct experience. Truth cannot be borrowed; it is the result of one's own effort.
Any activity directed towards the discovery of truth is part of a religious education. But as long as religion is hung up on belief, there is virtually no hope for religious education at all. You can call it religious education if you wish, but all it will really be will be Hindu education, Christian education, Mohammedan education. This kind of education is not a religious education at all. This is an education in narrow-mindedness; it is definitely not the way to become broad-minded.
Anyone who has been given this kind of education cannot help but be prejudiced. His intelligence has not been freed; it has become stale, stagnant. He has grown old in heart and mind. To make any kind of discovery a mind that is young and fresh is needed. And a man who is free of prejudices is always young. A man who is free form ideologies and preconceived ideas is forever fresh. A biased mind ages quickly, and a man is conditioned to the same extent he is prejudiced. This kind of mind is not religious but the man who is free from all these ready-made theories and structures lives in religion, in a flow of natural creativity, in self-understanding.
A man's ideologies grow out of his identification with his environment, but these are simply outward expressions. Like dust covers a mirror, ideologies veil one's consciousness. The mirror of consciousness must not be coated with the dust of stock answers, blind beliefs and preconceived ideas, it must be clear.
An authentic education in religion and in meditation gives birth to an aspiration for freedom. Religion is the way to free the intelligence from all of its complexes. But the religion that is offered in the marketplace is not real religion at all, and before religion can enter the domain of education it must free itself from virtually all other involvements. Only then it can bring a new creativity and intelligence to the younger generation.
Young people have to learn to live in religion. It has to become part of their daily lives, and until this comes to pass their lives will remain crippled, twisted and out of harmony.
If we think only in terms of our outer environment, our inner being will remain unknown, undiscovered. As long as our attention is towards material things alone we are deprived of God. This a costly affair, this forsaking of diamonds for pebbles. Of what value are outer comforts when you compare them with the inner experience? Can you compare worldly pleasure with the unfathomable joy of God, with the bliss of the unknown? You have to come to know the heart, the core of your being. The heart and soul of all your activities must become the discovery of your inner being. As long as this urge towards inner discovery is missing in you, your life will never be total.
I do not want to see religion and education joined together in name only; I want to see the core of life become the focal point of education as well. And the unknown is the foundation. Unless a man is in communion with the unknown, with God, there is neither meaning nor significance to his life. And how can there be any joy in a life that is empty of all meaning? There is joy in life only when there is meaning to life.
Science is the discovery of things useful to life; religion is the discovery of the significance of life itself. Science is incomplete on its own, and religion is as incomplete. There can only be perfection and joy in the union, in the combined virtues of the two. The same it true of religion and education.
One universe exists outside man. But that is not all. A universe exists within him too. One is the goal of objective research; the other, of inward discovery. But subjective discovery must not be ignored at the expense of objective research. If this happens we will have power but we will have no peace, we will have outer comforts but no inner serenity. And what is the point of possessing worldly riches at the cost of inner peace? This kind of success is tantamount to defeat and failure.
There was once a holy woman named Rabiya. One morning someone called to her from outside her hut, "Rabiya, come out! The sunrise is so beautiful. The morning is exquisite. Come out!"
Rabiya replied, "My friend, I invite you to come in. In here I am looking at the creator of that very sun, of that very morning you are admiring outside. Shouldn't you be inside too? I have seen the outer beauty. Have you never seen the beauty that is inside?"
One world is the objective one. It is very beautiful indeed, and anyone who wants to pit mankind against the outer world has no intelligence whatsoever. This outer world is tremendously beautiful, and those who reject its splendors without understanding are against the welfare of humanity. The beauty of the outer world is beyond question, but there is a world inside that is infused with a beauty that has no limit. The man who stops at the outer world has stopped halfway.
Such a man has been in a hurry to settle down; he has confused the means with the end. He has mistaken the door for the palace and is standing on the staircase. He must be shaken up; he must be awakened. He has to be directed towards the goal so he can continue on his way.
Children must be given a sense of the same goal so they won't stop somewhere en route. It must be the aim of a religious education to help children understand the goal so their lives don't grind to a halt at the half-way mark.
It is absolutely essential to understand that learning is only concerned with the exploration and discovery of the outer world. On its own, objective research is incomplete. The concentration of education must be on subjectivity, on inner discovery. But the search of religion as we know it is not subjective at all. The religions may talk a lot about the inner, but their talk is empty, unless. Their temples are outside, their mosques are outside, their idols are outside, their scriptures are outside, their ideologies are outside, and every day we see them fighting over external things. Their whole insistence is on the outer. These so-called religions do not lead mankind towards any sort of subjective exploration whatsoever.
One morning a Negro approached a clergyman standing at the door of his church and asked permission to enter. Now how can a man with black skin enter a church that belongs to men with white skin? The very people who talk about subjectivity all the time never fail to notice whether a mans skin is black or white! And those who go on and on about God in this country are also very aware of whether a man is a Brahmin or an untouchable!
The priest said, "My friend, what would you do in church? So long as your mind is impure or restless, what good will it do you to go in?"
Times have changed and along with them, the priest has changed his way of putting things. In the past he simply would have obstructed the man, saying, "Begone. Your sort is not allowed here." But times have changed and he has had to change his tone. But his heart has not changed. He stills manages to keep those he considers undesirable out. He did not say "You are untouchable and unchaste, so go away" but he did say, "My friend, what good will it do you? So long as your mind is impure and not at rest, how will you understand God? Go and purify your mind first." This is what he said to the Negro. But if a man with white skin had come to the church he would have said nothing at all. As if having white skin guaranteed peace of mind!
That innocent black man withdrew. The clergyman must have rejoiced. He must have thought the man would never attain peace of mind in a million years, and so would never come back again. The Negro never did come again in fact -- but he did attain tranquility.
A year rolled by and one day the priest saw the Negro walking down the street in front of the church. He looked totally different. He radiated a divine glory and was surrounded by a celestial glow. The priest thought he was going to try to come into the church again, and the idea upset him greatly. But his fears were groundless. The Negro continued down the street without so much as a glance in the direction of the church. The priest could not contain himself. He ran after him and asked, "Where have you been? I have not seen you around here in quite some time."
The Negro laughed and said, "My friend, thank you. I followed your advice. For the past year I have been trying to attain peace of mind so that I might come to church. But last night God himself appeared to me in a dream and said, "Why do you want to go to church? To see me? Let me tell you, I have been trying to get in myself for the past ten years. If the priest won"t let me in, he'll never allow you to enter!"
I would like to say that not only has God been unable to get into that particular church. He has never been allowed into any! Any church or temple built by man cannot be greater than man. And those man-made churches and temples are so small and insignificant there isn't enough room for God! A temple built by someone whose mind is not a temple itself is of no use whatsoever.
One who has never experienced God within will never find him somewhere outside. God makes his first appearance to a man within the man himself. And that first appearance is total. There is no outer way to reach the totality; the inner is the only route.
One's self is the closest thing to God; instead of searching for him far and wide one has to discover him within. If a man cannot find something so close, how can he expect to find anything that is far away? God is not experienced in the temples; God is experienced within. Because of this, the religions of the temples and mosques can never be united with education. Nor should they. Their influence is just more insistence on the outer, and any insistence on the objective world is an obstacle blocking the way to inner discovery.
I feel like laughing when I hear them talking in the universities about the education imparted by religious organizations in the temples. Doesn't man learn anything at all from history? Haven't we already seen what the religions of the temples and mosques can accomplish and cannot accomplish?
There is no need for any kind of outward religious formalities or rites whatsoever. If they were only useless there would be no problem, but they are really very harmful. Religion is not to be found in any kind of externalization, and so any type of outward ritual is a non-religious act. This should be as easy to understand as two plus two equals four.
There is also a real temple of God, but it cannot be built from bricks and mortar. A temple built of stone can be Hindu, Christian, Jain or Buddhist, but it cannot belong to God. Something that is the private property of some organization cannot belong to God as well. There cannot by any structure to God's temple because he is whole, total. God's temple can only be the temple of consciousness. That temple is not in the sky or on the earth, it is in the soul itself. And it does not have to be built. God's temple is already there. It need only be unveiled.
So for an education to be integrated with religion, it cannot have anything to do with the religions of the temples and mosques. It must only be associated with that religion that can unveil the temple hidden within the self.
What exists within is what has to be understood, because to understand that can bring about a revolution in one' life. To understand truth means to effect a radical transformation in one's life. An education which does not uncover the inner truth, which does not discover God, is not only incomplete but also very dangerous. And it is this incompleteness itself that is the root cause of the failure of today's educational system.
The education of the young man who has just completed his university training these days is thoroughly incomplete. He is absolutely unaware of what throbs at the core of his being, at the heart of life itself. He has no understanding of truth or of beauty; he is totally unacquainted with love. He enters the world with certain trivial facts he has learned and these are all he has to live with, all he has to live by. This kind of a life never brings him peace, and his consciousness gradually becomes suffocated by a sense of purposelessness, of superficiality, of futility. The living creativity that is life is lost in a desert of pointlessness -- and his reaction to this is anger and frustration towards the world in general. This is what happens to a non-religious mind.
A religious mind, on the other hand, is filled with bliss and with a sense of benediction. A religious mind is grateful to all. But this only happens when a man is total, when his whole being pulsates with joy. This joy and this feeling of totality are only available to the man who has understood his self, who has come to know his inner being. Until it merges with religion there can never be such a thing as real education, because the consciousness of one's inner being is the foundation of life itself. To understand this, to be open to this is indispensable if a man is to live his life to the full. Religion is the education of the inner man.
So what should we teach? Should we teach what is contained in the scriptures? Should we teach codes of moral conduct? Should we tell our children our ideas about God, about the soul, about heaven, about hell, about salvation? No, absolutely not. Such an education will not be a religious education at all. Such an education can never lead a man inside. Such an education is first passing along one's own prejudices; such an education is simply memorizing words and trite phrases. All this does is give birth to misconceptions which in themselves are even more dangerous than ignorance.
Wisdom only comes from self-understanding. Knowledge that is acquired from others is not wisdom. Knowledge acquired from others is simply the illusion of wisdom. This illusion only acts as a veil over one's own ignorance and shuts the door on creative discovery forever. To understand one's ignorance is a truly beautiful thing, because it leads a man to the discovery of his own creativity. But to accept acquired knowledge as gospel is very dangerous indeed. The contentment that borrowed knowledge brings is a barrier that can stop a man from making any further attempts at discovery.
I once visited an orphanage where some hundred children lived. The administrator informed me they also gave the children a religious education, and so to show me he began putting questions to the youngsters.
"Is there a God?" he asked.
The children answered, "Yes, there is a God."
"And where is he?" the administrator inquired.
The children pointed their fingers towards the sky.
"And where is the soul?"
The children said, "Here" and put their hands on their chests.
I watched the whole thing. The administrator and the teachers were very pleased with themselves. They said to me "You may also ask something."
I asked one small child, "Where is your heart?"
He looked around, a bit confused, and then said, "They haven't taught us that yet."
Can you call this religious education: Is the repetition of memorized answers what education is? Wouldn't the world have become religious long ago if it were that easy? I informed the administrator and the teachers that the education they were giving those children was not a religious education at all, that all they were doing was training the children to become parrots. If an individual learns to memorize certain things and to repeat them mechanically his intelligence suffers greatly. And then when life faces him with a challenge, the type of challenge that could be a doorway to the discovery of truth, he will repeat what he has memorized and be quite satisfied with it.
"Your teaching techniques are murdering their sense of inquiry," I said. "They know neither the soul nor God and this putting their hands on their chests and pointing to the sky to show where they are, is a complete sham. And you say you are giving them a religious education!
"But isn't your own understanding the same as that of a child's?" I asked. "Aren't you just repeating what someone has told you?"
And they began looking around in confusion, just like that child.
From generation to generation we continue to pass the same empty words along -- and we call them knowledge. Can truth be taught? Can truth be memorized? Is truth something to be repeated by rote?
In the material world, these techniques can be of some use, just as symbols are effective in indicating knowledge man has acquired about the objective world. But as far as God is concerned, symbols are meaningless, valueless, God's dimension is not one of symbols; it is the realm of understanding alone. It is the dimension of direct perception. One can be there, can live there -- but this cannot be taught. When one is there, both teaching and learning become play, just like being on a stage.
Can anyone learn love? If a man thinks he has learned love somewhere then it is not love at all, it is just an act. This is the reason that all acquired knowledge about God and dogmas is so phony; this is the reason worship and prayer have become so false. If love cannot be learned, how can one learn how to pray? Prayer is a deeper aspect of love. And if a man cannot learn about love, then how is there the remotest possibility he can be taught to understand God? The fulfillment of love itself is God.
The truth is unknown, and with what is known -- with rules, codes of conduct, words -- one cannot reach the truth. To enter into the unknown a man must leave all he knows behind him. Freeing oneself from the known is the beginning of facing the unknown. Unlearning all one knows is better than receiving a so-called religious education. In this case, forgetting is better than remembering. Nothing more should be imprinted on one's consciousness; what has to happen is that everything already written there must be erased.
When the consciousness is freed of words it becomes the mirror to truth. One's consciousness must not be allowed to become a storehouse of ideologies, it must be made the very mirror of truth itself. Only then will religious education become less education, in the ordinary sense of the word, and more an active sadhana, more a direct journey to truth itself. Preparing a man for this sadhana is what a religious education is.
An education in religion is not like an academic education, and so no examination is possible. The test of religious education is life itself; life is its examination.
After completing their university educations three young men were preparing to return to their homes. They were examined in all their subjects, but not in religion. They had been surprised at not being examined in religion; they had simply been given passing grades.
When they left the school, night was beginning to fall. As they walked along they came across a thorny branch that had fallen onto the road from a nearby tree. The first youth jumped over the branch, the second skirted it, then the third picked it up and placed it safely out of the way.
The others asked, "What are you bothering with that for? It's getting dark and we should hurry if we want to be out of the forest before it's pitch black."
"That is exactly why I'm removing the branch." he said. "If anyone else comes along in the darkness he won't be able to see it and might step on the thorns."
At this point their teacher stepped out from behind the tree. To the third youth he said, "My son, you may go. You have passed your religious examination." He led the other two back to school to complete their educations.
Can there be any other examination for life except life itself? Religion is life itself. Those who think they are educated, simply because they have passed some exam are living in illusion. Where examinations end one's real education begins, because the end of schooling is the beginning of life.
Then what is to be done about religious education? The seed of religion exists in everyone. Truth exists in each of us; life exists in each of us. An environment that allows the evolution of that seed must be created and barriers that stand in the way of its development must be removed. If this can be accomplished, then with its own spontaneous and inherent capacity for life the seed will find its true course. For its natural evolution no effort is required at all. And that instinctive activity itself is what life is all about. When a man evolves naturally his life will be full of joy, full of beauty, full of love.
All we must do is to create the correct environment and let life take its natural course. This will be a real religious education. Educational institutions are quite capable of providing the kind of atmosphere necessary to allow religion to find its own natural and spontaneous route. And as well, circumstances can be created to remove all the barriers that stand in the way of this natural evolution of religion.
To create this opportunity there are three fundamental requirements. The first element is courage. An individual needs tremendous courage. The first requirement on the road to the discovery of truth, in the search for God, is courage. To discover God a man needs more courage than he does to climb the Himalayas or to plumb the depths of the ocean. There is no loftier deed, no effort more profound than the discovery of God.
But so-called religious people are usually not courageous at all. In fact, their religiousness is generally an escape from their cowardice. Both religion and God are masks to hide their fear. A mind that is afraid can never be religious.
To be religious fearlessness is essential. Courage grows out of fearlessness, so the first thing is not to teach fear, not to teach children any kind of fear at all! And the second thing is to instill a sense of fearlessness in them. Fearlessness is such a glorious thing. It is so radiant, so tremendous! Real religion can only be built on a foundation of fearlessness.
The so-called religions exploit men through fear, and it is because of this and this alone that religion is in the state it is in today. It has not been able to transcend the material world at all. Can there ever be any kind of transcendence when fear is so deep? Whenever I go to a temple, to a mosque or to a church, I see people huddled together in fear. Their prayers are nothing more than reactions to their fear, and the God before whom they kneel is nothing more than a personification of that fear. A man runs to God in times of crisis because that is when he is most afraid. And at the end of his life a man rushes headlong to God because death terrifies him even more than anything else.
Go to a temple and look. Visit a church. You will only see people there who are either approaching death or who are already dead. Such fear should not be taught. We should teach fearlessness instead. Only then will religion become the religion of the living.
Why are you so afraid to teach fearlessness? One of your fears is that young people will deny God. But this only frightens you because your God is based in fear.
What is wrong with denying God? I say it is wrong just to accept him, I am so keen on fearlessness that I say it is fine to deny God -- if we do not know him ourselves. Where there is no denial there is no fearlessness. And unless a man denies what is false for him how can he ever discover what is true?
As I see it, an atheism that has arisen out of a man's fearlessness is just the other side of theism; it is a fundamental factor in the growth of theism. How can a man who has not been an atheist ever become a theist? It is much more difficult to be a theist than to be an atheist. But if a man is afraid of atheism then his theism is totally false; then he is a theist simply because he is afraid of being an theist. And of what value is his theism?
I prefer an atheism based on fearlessness to a theism based on fear because there can never be real religion where fear exists. A religion is only creative when fearlessness exists. Passing through atheism is a joy; it makes one's being more vital, more energetic. If a man becomes a theist without first having gone through a period of atheism his theism is empty. The atheist will always be there, hidden in the deeper regions of his mind. But if one passes through atheism completely he is free of it forever.
Atheism is denial. If a society is against God and against religion, then in that society it will be atheism to believe in God. The denial of what is generally accepted and believed is atheism. This period of denial is very useful, a very valuable stage in the maturing process of an individual. One who has not passed through this period of denial will always remain immature. And maturity only comes through one's own personal experience, though one's own fearlessness, through one's courage to experience life.
What is the greatest courage? The greatest courage is to deny what is false for you. If you are not convinced that God exists then do not accept his existence. Though someone may try his utmost to convince you, may tempt you with heaven or threaten you will hell, do not let yourself be convinced if you are not sure. It is better to lose heaven and prepare for hell than to be afraid. It is ruinous to be afraid. Only a man who possesses great courage is capable of discovering the truth.
What does a man who is afraid do? Such a man is ready to accept anything and everything because of his fear. In a theist society he becomes a theist; in Soviet Russia he becomes an atheist. He is dead, a shadow of the society. He cannot be called alive. Only fearlessness can bring an individual's creativity to the fore.
A few people came to see me yesterday. They said, "We believe in the eternity of the soul," but their faces betrayed their fear of death.
I said, "Don't you just believe this because you are afraid of death? Those who are afraid of death always feel consoled when they are told the soul is eternal."
What I said to them makes no difference whatsoever. And it makes no difference whether the soul is eternal or not. The question is whether one who is afraid of death can ever discover or understand life! Fearlessness is the most essential factor on the path to the discovery of truth.
And I want to say to you as well that those who are the most afraid of death are those who have the greatest faith in the eternity of the soul. Their faith is equal to their fear. Are such people ready to open their eyes and face the facts? The truth can never be experienced unless one is fearless.
Yes, the soul is eternal, but this is not the belief of a frightened mind, it is an experience of consciousness. A frightened mind does not want the truth, it wants to escape into whatever makes it feel secure. A mind full of fear does not really want to know truth, it wants consolation. And such a man will grab onto any belief which gives him the security and consolation he is looking for.
But how can beliefs, persuasions or past experiences give any security or consolation? There is no security except in truth. Only in truth is there contentment and peace. To discover the truth one needs a mind that is free from this desire for false security and well-being. This is why I say infinite courage is the greatest religious virtue.
A priest was giving a sermon on courage to a group of children and the youngsters asked for an example. He said, "Suppose twelve children are staying in a hill-station. It is a very chilly night. All the children are tired from their journey and ready to go to bed. Eleven of the twelve children jump into bed and snuggle down into the blankets immediately, but despite the cold one child kneels down to say his prayers. To me, this is courage. Don't you find this courageous?
One child spoke up. "Suppose there were twelve priests in the inn," he said, "and eleven kneeled down in prayer. And suppose the twelfth priest covered himself with a blanket and jumped into bed. Wouldn't this be courage too?"
I have no idea how that priest handled that young boy's question, but I do know that just too be oneself takes great courage. To stand on one's own, free of the crowd, is courage. To help a child to be as he is, is to give him courage. Courage is confidence in oneself, in one's self. Courage is self-confidence.
Along with courage, give children understanding, give them self-awareness. This is the second fundamental requirement of education. If there is no understanding, then courage can be dangerous on its own. Then, instead of helping a child to become self-confident, courage can pervert him, make him egoistic. Courage is an energy; understanding is vision. Courage is a force; understanding is sight.
Have you heard the story of the lame man and the blind man? Once the forest they were in caught fire and they were both trapped. Naturally each of them wanted to escape the flames. The blind man could run but he could not see. And since the forest was on fire what chance would he have anyway? The lame man could see but he could not run. So of what use was his sight? There was no way he could run from the fire! But they found the solution and they both escaped death. The blind man carried the lame man on his shoulders.
This is not only a tale of the blind and the halt, it is also a story of courage and understanding. If a man wants to rescue himself from the fire of ignorance, from the burning forest of this environment, he needs courage that is guided by understanding.
Most people live their lives in ignorance. Man is asleep, in a deep hypnotic sleep. He is in the deep sleep of self-forgetfulness. Becoming conscious, becoming aware of one's self, rouses one from this sleep -- and self-understanding is born. Children must be educated in awareness. They must become aware of their whole beings. And they must be helped to develop self-understanding.
Generally, all of our conscious activities are outer ones. We are only aware of what goes on outside. But that very energy can be directed inside, towards the self, towards an awareness of one's self. This understanding results in an awareness that awakens a man from the sleep of ignorance to the reality of his own being.
Nothing that is perpetuated in the name of religion, be it hymns or prayers, brings any kind of self-understanding of awareness whatsoever. These things bring nothing but self-forgetfulness. The contentedness a man feels through this kind of religious activity is akin to the enjoyment he gets from a good night's sleep, like the happiness he feels when he's had a few drinks.
Educational institutions are the perfect places to begin instilling awareness in young people. And the awareness must be all-encompassing, on all levels -- on the physical level, on the mental level and at the level of the child's inner being, at the level of his soul. If everything is done in awareness, done with understanding, life can be filled with consciousness. Alertness to each and every aspect of a child's mental creativity will bring total awareness and understanding to his life. Constant awareness of one's inner being results in self-awareness and self-knowledge.
The third fundamental requirement in a religious education is stillness, silence, tranquility. Words are the most offenders. Words disturb the mind; they make it tense. The mind is always thinking. It thinks and thinks and thinks. It is never at peace.
By stillness I mean peace of mind. Being in a state of stillness and watchfulness generates freshness, youthfulness. In a state of stillness, of total silence, the mind becomes crystal clear. It becomes a mirror in which truth is reflected.
Tell me, what can a disturbed mind understand? What can such a mind ever discover? Such a mind becomes so caught up in its own machinations it has no interest in exploring any new avenues whatsoever.
The discovery of truth requires a mind that is totally still, completely calm, empty of thoughts. This mental state is meditation. And children can be easily directed towards this calm and quiet state of mind, towards meditation. The mind has a natural tendency towards tranquility, and intrinsic attraction towards silence.
The mind must be totally calm. It must be as peaceful as a man is when he is simply floating on the waves -- not swimming, simply floating on the waves. Just floating. No movement at all. And this action of complete inactivity will lead a man to a silence he has never known before. And in that peace, in that silence, the mystery and the joy of life appear before him. It is then he perceives the truth.
In fact, truth has always been there. Because of his frustrations it was invisible to him. In silence, in total peace, his self is revealed.
Religious education then is an education in courage, understanding and peace. Religious education is an eduction in fearlessness, in awareness, in stillness, in thoughtlessness. And without a doubt, such an education can be the foundation of a new generation, the foundation of a new humanity.
I hope you will meditate upon what have said to you today. I do not want you just to believe what I have said, I would like you to meditate on my words, to experience them for yourselves. You only require an attitude that is free of prejudice; you only need to test what I have said by your own experimentation.
When tested in the fire of self-experience, the truth becomes pure gold.
I HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT I HAVE LEARNED, I have realized the only thing worth learning but it is something that cannot be taught. In order to realize the truth are your ready to forget everything you have ever learned about it? If your answer is "yes" then come, the door of truth is open for you.