Enlightenment is certainly the key, but almost all the traditions are against it – and there is a reason why they are against it. The most fundamental reason is that if enlightenment is a reality, God becomes an unreality. If your own illumination is the ultimate, then nothing can be above it. Then man’s own consciousness becomes the highest reality.
Religions and traditions believing in God cannot allow enlightenment. It goes against all their fictions. Their fictions can exist only in the darkness, not in the light. To keep their fictions alive, to keep their dreams real, they don’t allow human beings to be awake. You don’t hear of Christian mystics as enlightened, you don’t hear of Jewish mystics as awakened. In fact, enlightenment is the alternative of God.
All that belongs to the ritualistic religions is endangered by enlightenment, because enlightenment has no ritual, it has no prayer, it has no scriptures. It so totally believes in you, its respect for humanity is so absolute and irrevocable . . . It is natural that all the priests are going to be against it, because the whole profession of the priests depends on fictions, and enlightenment destroys fictions.
All theologies are fabrications of the mind, and enlightenment is a transcendence going beyond the mind. All that belongs to the mind is a nightmare. Where do your gods exist?
Where is your heaven, your hell? Where are your angels and your ghosts? They all constitute the entity called the mind.
Enlightenment is the greatest revolution you can conceive of because it destroys all fictions, all rituals, all gods, all traditions, all scriptures. It leaves you with only the essential consciousness of your own being. Its trust in consciousness is so total that there is no need of anything else.
It has not been said as clearly as I am putting it . . . I want to make it absolutely clear that the very idea of enlightenment is against all religions. Or, in other words, the only authentic religion is that of enlightenment. All other religions are part of the marketplace; they are businesses exploiting human helplessness, exploiting human weakness, exploiting human limitations.
Religions have done so much harm to man that it is unparalleled. Nothing else has been so dangerous. In every possible way they have been preventing man from even hearing the word ‘enlightenment.’ You should not become aware that raising your hands to the sky is stupid—there is no one to answer your prayers, no prayer has ever been answered. All your gods are your own creations. You sculpt them, and you never think about it – that you go on worshipping things which you have created. The Christian Bible says, “God created man in his own image.” The truth is just the contrary: man has created God in his own image. And then—the ultimate foolishness—you worship your own image. In fact, if you were a little intelligent, you could just purchase a mirror and worship.
All your gods are nothing but your own reflections. There is no need to go to a temple or to a church; you can just keep a small mirror. Perhaps ladies are very intelligent about it—they go on looking again and again in the mirror, they believe in the mirror.
But all your gods are the same, all your rituals are created by crafty priests. None of your scriptures are even first-rate literature; they are very third-class contributions. But just because they are holy . . . Who makes them holy? There are people who have their vested interests . . . It is a long chain from God to the prophets, to the messiahs, to the holy scripture, to the church. But the only reality in this whole long line of fictions is the priest, and his whole effort through the ages has been to exploit you. And not only to exploit—exploitation is possible only if certain conditions are fulfilled: you have to be made to feel guilty.
Strange ways have been invented to make you feel guilty. The Hindus say that you are suffering, in misery, not because of your stupidities, not because of your unconsciousness, not because of your unmeditativeness, not because you have made no effort to become enlightened, but because of the evil acts you have done in millions of past lives. Now you cannot undo them; there is no way backwards. That burden you have to carry, and under that burden you lose all your dignity, all your pride. All that you can do is pray to God to help you, to save you.
Christians—because they don’t have the idea of many, many lives, but only one life – cannot use the same strategy. They have found their own strategy: the Hindu is suffering because of millions of past lives; the Christian is suffering because Adam and Eve, faraway, back in the very beginning, disobeyed God. The idea is so far-fetched . . . In what way can I be responsible if Adam disobeyed God?
But Christianity goes on insisting, and Christianity means half of humanity, that you were born in sin because your forefathers, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. You are born of sinners; hence, you are miserable. And you will remain miserable unless you repent and unless you are forgiven. Only the son of God, Jesus, can save you. He is going to plead on your behalf; he is going to be your advocate. You have just to believe in him and at the last Day of Judgment he will choose the people who believe in him, and will ask God to forgive them. The remainder of humanity is going to fall into eternal hell.
These are great strategies to bring people into the fold of Christianity . . . because that is the only way to save your future; otherwise there is no hope. Every religion has in some way taken away your beauty, your greatness, has destroyed the very idea that you have any worth, any meaning, any significance, that you have any potential.
Enlightenment is a rebellion against all traditions, against all priests, against all religions, because it declares that there is nothing higher than man’s consciousness. And man is not suffering because some stupid man in the past disobeyed a fictitious God; man is not suffering because of millions of lives of evil acts. Man is suffering for the simple reason that he does not know himself. His ignorance about himself is the only cause of his suffering, misery, torture.
Enlightenment brings everything to a very simple and scientific conclusion. It pinpoints that all that you need is to learn the art of awareness.
Ta Hui is right to say that enlightenment is the key, the only key which opens all the realities and all the blessings and all the potentials which have been hidden within you. You are a seed: enlightenment is nothing but finding the right soil and waiting for the spring to come.
Enlightenment is such a radical standpoint. It is not another religion. It is the only religion. All other religions are pseudo.
From The Great Zen Master Ta Hui, Discourse #34
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