You said that imitation of any kind, even imitation of a Buddha, is alien to pure consciousness. But we see that all our cultural life is nothing but imitation. In that case, is culture itself alien to religion?
Yes, culture, society, civilization, all are alien to religion. Religion is a revolution, a revolution in your cultural conditioning, a revolution in your social conditioning, a revolution in all the spheres that you have lived and you are living. Every society is against religion. I’m not talking about your temples and mosques and churches that society has created. Those are tricks. Those are things to befool you. Those are substitutes for religion, they are not religion. They are to misguide you. You need religion: they say, ‘Yes, come to the temple, to the church, to the gurudwara. Here it is religion. You come and pray and the preacher is there who will teach you religion.’ This is a trick. Society has created false religions: those religions are Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism. But a Buddha, or a Mahavira, or a Jesus, or a Mohammed, always exist beyond society. And society always fights with them. When they are dead, then the society starts worshipping them, then the society creates temples. And then there is nothing; the reality is gone, the flame has disappeared. Buddha is no longer there in the statue of a Buddha. In the temples you will find the society, the culture, but not religion. But what is religion?
In the first place, religion is a personal thing. It is not a social phenomenon. You alone go into it; you cannot go into it with a group. How can you go into samadhi with somebody else? Not even your nearest, not even your closest will be with you. When you go inwards, everything will be left out: the society, the culture, the civilization, enemies, friends, lovers, beloveds, children, wife, husband — everything will be left, by and by. And a moment comes when you also will be left out. Then only, the flowering; then the transformation. Because you are also a part of the society, a member of society: a Hindu, a Mohammedan, a Christian, an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese. First, others will be left; then, by and by, nearer ones will be left, closer ones will be left. Finally you will come to yourself, which is also a part of the society, trained by the society, conditioned by the society: your brain, your mind, your ego — given by the society. That too has to be left outside the temple. Then you enter in your absolute aloneness. Nobody is there, not even you.
Religion is personal. And religion is revolutionary. Religion is the only revolution in the world. All other revolutions are false, pseudo, games, not revolutions. In fact, because of those revolutions, the real revolution is always postponed. They are anti-revolutions.
A communist comes and he says, ‘How can you change yourself unless the whole society is changed?’ And you feel, ‘Right. How can I change myself? How can I live a free life in an unfree society?’ The logic seems relevant. How can you be happy in an unhappy society? How can you find bliss when everybody is miserable? The communist hits, he appeals. ‘Yes,’ you say, ‘unless the whole society is happy, how can I be?’ Then the communist says, ‘Come, let us first have a revolution in the society.’ And then you start on a march, morcha, gherao, all types of nonsense. You have been caught in the trap. Now you are going to change the whole world.
But have you forgotten how long you are going to live? And when the whole world is changed, by that time you will not be here. You will have lost your life. Many stupid people are losing their whole lives marching against this and that, for this and that; trying to transform the whole world and postponing the only transformation which is possible, and that is self-transformation.
And I tell you, you can be free in an unfree society, you can be blissful in a miserable world. There is no hindrance from others; you can be transformed. Nobody is hindering you except you yourself. Nobody is creating any obstacle. Don’t bother about the society and the world because the world will continue. And it has continued the same forever and ever. Many revolutions come and go and the world remains the same.
If all the revolutionaries could be revived from their graves — Lenin and Marx — they would not be able to believe that the world has remained the same and the revolution has happened. In Russia or in America, nothing is different, just a formal difference. Forms differ; the basic reality remains the same, the basic misery of man remains the same. Society will never come to any utopia. This word ‘utopia’ is very beautiful. The very word means: that which never comes. The word ‘utopia’ means: that which never comes. It is always coming but it never comes; always the promise but the goods are never delivered. And this will be so. It has been so. There is only one possibility: you can change.
Politics is social, religion is personal. And whenever religion becomes social, it is part of politics. It is no longer religion. Islam and Hinduism and Jainism, they are politics. They are now no longer religion; they have become social.
It is a personal understanding.
You, in your ‘deepest core of being, realize that a change is needed, that as you are, you are wrong; as you are, you are creating a hell around you; as you are, you are the very seed of misery. You realize this in the deepest core of your being, and the very realization becomes a change. You drop the seed; you move in a different dimension. It is personal, it is not cultural.
And that’s why it is so difficult for you to become religious. You would like the society to teach you. If religion could be taught, you all would have become religious. But religion cannot be taught. It is not a teaching; it is a jump into the unknown. It needs courage, not learning. And who can teach you courage? And how can courage be taught? Either you have it or you don’t have it, so try to find out if you have courage. And if you try to find it, everybody will find somewhere hidden in him a vast possibility for courage. Because without courage, life is not possible.
Life is a risk every single moment. How can you live without courage? How can you breathe without courage? The courage is there, but you are unaware. Find the courage; give the responsibility of a personal commitment. Forget about the world and the utopias, and change yourself. And this is the beauty: if you change yourself you have already started changing the world. Because with your change a part of the world has changed. You are an organic part of the world. Even if one part changes, it will affect the whole because the whole is one; everything is related.
If I change, I change the whole world in a way. The world will never be the same because one part — one millionth, but still one part — has changed, has become totally different, is no more of this world. Another world has penetrated through me. The eternity has penetrated into time. God has come to dwell in a human body; nothing can be the same, everything will change through me.
Remember this, and remember also that religion is not an imitation. You cannot imitate a religious person. If you imitate, it will be a pseudo-religion — false, insincere. How can you imitate me? And if you imitate, how can you be true to yourself? You will become untrue to yourself. You are not here to be like me.
You are here to be just like yourself. You are not here to be like me; you are here to be just like yourself, like you.
I have heard about a Jewish mystic, Josiah. He was dying and somebody asked, ‘Josiah, pray to Moses, and ask him to help you.’ Josiah said, ‘Forget about Moses. Because when I am dead, God will not ask me why I am not like Moses. He will ask why I am not like Josiah. He will not ask me, “Why are you not like Moses?” That is not my responsibility, to be like Moses. If God wanted me like Moses, He would have made me a Moses. He will ask me, “Josiah, why are you not like Josiah?” And that is my trouble: my whole life I have been trying to be like somebody else. But at least now, at the last moment, leave me alone! Let me be myself, because that is the face I should show to God. And that is the only face that He will be waiting for.’
Be authentically yourself. You cannot imitate. Religion makes everybody unique. No Master who is really a Master will insist that you imitate him. He will help you to be yourself, he will not help you to be like him.
And all culture is imitation. The whole society is imitative. That’s why the whole society is more like a drama than like a reality. Hindus call it maya — a game, a play, but not real. Parents are teaching their children to be like themselves. Everybody is pushing and pulling everybody else to be like himself — a whole chaos all around.
I was staying with a family, and I was sitting on the lawn. The small child of the house came, and I asked, ‘What are you thinking to become in your life?’ He said, ‘Difficult to say, be, cause my father wants me to be a doctor. My mother wants me to be an engineer; my uncle, he wants me to become an advocate, because he is an advocate. And I am confused. I don’t know what I am going to become.’ I asked him, ‘What do you want to become?’ He said, ‘But nobody has asked me that!’ I told him, ‘You think about it. Tomorrow you tell me.’ The next day he came and he said, ‘I would like to become a dancer, but my mother won’t allow, my father won’t allow.’ He told me, ‘Help me. They will listen to you.’
Every child is being pushed and pulled to become something else. That’s why there is so much ugliness all around. Nobody is himself. If you become the greatest engineer in the world, even that will not be a fulfillment if it was not your own urge. And I tell you, you may become the worst dancer in the world; that doesn’t make any difference. If it was your own urge, you will be happy and fulfilled.
I have heard about a great scientist who won a Nobel Prize. He was one of the greatest surgeons the world has ever known. And on the day when he received the Nobel Prize, somebody said, ‘You must be happy’ — because he was not looking happy at all. His face was sad. Somebody asked, ‘You must be happy. Why are you looking so sad? This is the greatest prize, the greatest reward the world can give to you, the greatest honor. Why are you not happy? And you are one of the greatest surgeons in the world.’ He said, ‘That is not the point. When the Nobel Prize was given to me, I was thinking of my childhood. I had never wanted to become a surgeon. It has been forced on me. My whole life has been a wastage. What will I do with this Nobel Prize? I would have liked to become a dancer. Even the lousiest, that would have done; I would have been fulfilled. That was my urge.’
Remember this: why do you feel so discontented? Why do you feel so discontented; why do you feel always so dissatisfied for no particular reason at all? Even if everything is going well, something is missing. What is missing? — you have never listened to your own being. Somebody else has manoeuvred, manipulated you, somebody else has dominated you, somebody else has forced you into a life-pattern which was never yours, which you never wanted. I tell you, even if it happens that you become a beggar, don’t be worried if that is your urge. Find the urge and follow k, because God will not ask, ‘Why are you not a Mahavir? Why are you not a Mohammed, or why are you not a Zarathustra?’ He will ask Josiah, ‘Why are you not a Josiah?’
You have to be yourself, and the whole society is a great imitation, a false show. That’s why there is so much discontent on every face. I look into your eyes and I see discontent, unfulfillment. Not even a small breeze comes to you which gives you happiness, ecstasy — it is not possible. And ecstasy is possible. It is a simple phenomenon: be natural and loose and follow your own inclination.
I’m here to help you to be yourself. When you become a disciple, when I initiate you, I am not initiating you to be imitators. I am just trying to help you to find your own being, your own authentic being — because you are so confused, you have so many faces that you have forgotten which is the original one. You don’t know what your real urge is. The society has confused you completely, misguided you. Now you are not certain of who you are. When I initiate you, the only thing that I want to do is to help you come to your own home. Once you are centered in your own being, my work is finished. Then you can start. In fact, a Master has to undo what the society has done. A Master has to undo what the culture has done. He has to make you a clean sheet again.
That’s the meaning of a Master giving you a rebirth: again you become a child, your past cleaned, your slate washed. How can you come to the first point where you had entered into this world, forty, fifty years ago? And the society got hold of you, trapped you, led you astray. For fifty years you have wandered and now suddenly you have come to me. I have to do only one thing: to wash clean whatsoever has been done to you, to bring you back to your childhood, to the initial stage from where you started the journey, and to help you to start the journey again.
From The Alchemy of Yoga (previously titled Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol. 4), Discourse #4
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