What is the difference between religion, religiousness and religio?
The difference is simple, yet very vast. The difference is that of a dead rose you find in a Holy Bible. It has lost its color, lost its fragrance, lost its life. It is just a rose for name’s sake. Otherwise there is nothing of the rose in it. It looks like a rose.
Once it may have been a rose, may have danced in the wind, in the rain, in the sun. It may have released fragrance without any conditions to anybody, to strangers or if there was nobody, even just to the winds. But now it is just past, a memory, faded. Religion is like that, a dead rose found in the Holy Bible.
Religio is a living rose: fully alive, totally alive, intensely alive, with immense glory, expressing the beauty of existence, very individual and unique… unrepeatable, irreplaceable, radiant. It is full of juice and full of fragrance, a miracle. It is a mystery from where it comes, because it is not in the roots, it is not in the tree, it is not in the leaves. And yet the living rose is surrounded by a mysterious aura of fragrance. It stands in the sun with great pride. That pride is not of the ego, it is authentic. It is true. He is what he is showing to existence — his color, his aliveness, his fragrance — these are not pretensions. It is his reality.
Religio is the living flower, and religiousness is the fragrance. You can experience it, you can smell it, but you cannot catch hold of it. You cannot catch hold of it in words, in explanations, in definitions. It defies any kind of imprisonment. It is pure freedom. That’s why I say the difference is simple, but vast, like the difference between a living man and his corpse. Simply: The living man breathes, loves, dances, sings, rejoices: the corpse does not do anything. It goes on deteriorating, it starts stinking. It is the same corpse whom you may have loved, whom you may have desired, whom you may have respected, honored. Now all that you can do is take it to the crematorium.
Religion is a corpse. Religio is a living being. And life has love, laughter, the possibility of all kinds of creativity. It can give birth to songs, beautiful, transcendental songs which can bring into words that which is almost impossible to express, songs which can be given live to a living audience from a living singer. Between the singer and the listener something can transpire which is not in the words, in the song, or in the music, but something by the side — on the margin — invisible, yet it reaches to the heart. The living man can dance. His body can rejoice in a thousand and one ways. That is religiousness.
So the difference is simple, but vast, tremendously vast. And the time has come when there should be no religions in the world, because their corpses have been carried for thousands of years. They are all stinking. They are all rotten. And under the load of those rotten corpses, living beings have completely forgotten how to live.
If you go on living with corpses, worshipping corpses, you will lose contact with life and its sources. You have become a worshipper of death. All the religions are teaching death. That’s why they all say that their paradise is beyond death. First you have to die, then everything else is possible. But the first step is death in every religion.
No religion teaches you the art of living. They teach you hope, promises, but all hope and all promises are after death and there is no guarantee because no dead man ever returns.
It is time that religions should be taken to the place where they belong, the graveyard. They have been turning human beings into graves. And once we can get rid of religions, then we can start searching for religio. Religion prevents the search. You think you have got it, hence there is no need for any search.
Religio is an individual growth; it is not an organization, but a mystery that you have to unfold. You have brought it with you from the very birth, but you have not opened it. You have not allowed it to see the light. It has remained like a seed which has not been sown in the right soil where it can become a living plant, can grow, can come to fruition and flowering.
Religio is the search for truth within yourself. Finding it is the most glorious and the most ecstatic experience possible. And one who finds it is surrounded by fragrance, by an aura, by a subtle quality of love, compassion. That is religiousness. I want to destroy religions so that religiousness can become possible.
Religio is the bridge. Deprogram yourself from all religions and start moving into an individual search. Truth has always been found by individuals, not by collectivities, not by clubs, not by churches. Have you heard of any congregation in the whole history of humanity that has found truth? It always happens to an individual. Then why waste your time in congregations? They are just a religious type of rotary clubs. And a rotary club is not so dangerous, because you know it is just a club. But your churches, your synagogues, your mosques, your temples are dangerous because they are pretending to you that they have the truth. You believe in it, that’s all that is needed to be done. A man who believes in religions remains unaware of religio, and remains absolutely unconscious of all the religiousness that was his birthright. He lives and dies, but without splendor, without glory, without fulfillment.
From The Last Testament, V.3, Chapter 23
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