With Gautam Buddha religion took a quantum leap. God became meaningless and only meditation was important. Now, twenty-five centuries after Buddha, again religion is taking the quantum leap in your presence becoming religiousness. Please talk about this phenomenon.
The credit of bringing a quantum leap in religion goes back twenty-five centuries before Gautam Buddha to Adinatha, who for the first time preached a religion without God. It was a tremendous revolution because nowhere in the whole world had it ever been conceived that religion could exist without God.
God has been an essential part—the center—of all the religions: Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism. But to make God the center of religion makes man just the periphery. To conceive of God as the creator of the world makes man only a puppet.
That’s why in Hebrew, which is the language of Judaism, man is called Adam. ‘Adam’ means mud. In Arabic man is called ‘admi’; it is from Adam, again it means mud. In English, which has become the language of Christianity by and large, the word human comes from ‘humus’ and humus means mud.
Naturally if God is the creator he has to create from something. He has to make man like a statue, so first he makes man with mud and then breathes life into him. But if this is so man loses all dignity, and if God is the creator of man and everything else, the whole idea is whimsical because what has he been doing for eternity before he created man and the universe?
According to Christianity he created man only four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ. So what was he doing all along through eternity? So it seems whimsical. There cannot be any cause, because to have a cause for which God had to create existence means there are powers higher than God, there are causes which can make him create. Or there is a possibility that suddenly desire arose in him. That too is not very philosophically sound, because for eternity he was desireless. And to be desireless is so blissful that it is impossible to conceive that out of an experience of eternal blissfulness a desire arises in him to create the world. Desire is desire, whether you want to make a house or become the prime minister or create the world. And God cannot be conceived as having desires. So the only thing that remains is that he is whimsical, eccentric. Then there is no need for cause and no need for desire — just a whim.
But if this whole existence is just out of a whim it loses all meaning, all significance. And tomorrow another whim may arise in him to destroy, to dissolve the whole universe. So we are simply puppets in the hands of a dictatorial god who has all the powers but who has not a sane mind, who is whimsical.
To conceive this five thousand years ago Adinatha must have been a very deep meditator, contemplative, and he must have come to the conclusion that with God there is no meaning in the world. If we want meaning in the world then God has to be disposed of. He must have been a man of tremendous courage.
People are still worshipping in the churches, in the synagogues, in the temples; yet that man Adinatha five thousand years before us came to a very clear-cut scientific conclusion that there is nothing higher than man and any evolution that is going to happen is within man and in his consciousness.
This was the first quantum leap—God was disposed of.
Adinatha is the first master of Jainism. The credit does not go to Buddha because Buddha comes twenty-five centuries later than Adinatha. But another credit goes to Buddha. Adinatha disposed of God but could not manage to put meditation in its place. On the contrary, he created asceticism, austerities, torturing the body, fasting, remaining naked, eating only once a day, not drinking in the night, not eating in the night, eating only certain foods. He had come to a beautiful philosophical conclusion but it seems the conclusion was only philosophical, it was not meditational.
When you depose God you cannot have any ritual, you cannot have worship, you cannot have prayer; something has to be substituted. He substituted austerities, because man became the center of his religion and man has to purify himself. Purity in his conception was that man has to detach himself from the world, has to detach himself from his own body. This distorted the whole thing. He had come to a very significant conclusion, but it remained only a philosophical concept.
Adinatha disposed of God but left a vacuum, and Buddha filled it with meditation. Adinatha made a godless religion, Buddha made a meditative religion.
Meditation is Buddha’s contribution. The question is not to torture the body; the question is to become more silent, to become more relaxed, to become more peaceful. It is an inward journey to reach to one’s own center of consciousness, and the center of one’s own consciousness is the center of the whole existence.
Twenty-five centuries have again passed. Just as Adinatha’s revolutionary concept of godless religion got lost in a desert of austerities and self-torture, Buddha’s idea of meditation—something inner, that nobody else can see ; only you know where you are, only you know whether you are progressing or not—got lost into another desert, and that was organized religion.
Religion says that single individuals cannot be trusted, whether they are meditating or not. They need communities, masters, monasteries where they can live together. Those who are on a higher level of consciousness can watch over others and help them. It became essential that religions should not be left in the hands of individuals, they should be organized and should be in the hands of those who have arrived at a high point of meditation.
In the beginning it was good; while Buddha was alive there were many people who reached self-realization, enlightenment. But as Buddha died and these people died, the very organization that was supposed to help people to meditate fell in the hands of a priesthood, and rather than helping you to meditate they started creating rituals around the image of Buddha. Buddha became another God. Adinatha disposed of God, Buddha never accepted that God exists, but this priesthood cannot exist without a God. So there may not be a God who is a creator, but Buddha has reached godhood.
For others the only thing is to worship Buddha, to have faith in Buddha, to follow the principles of Buddha, to live life according to his doctrine; and Buddha got lost in the organization, the imitation. But they all forgot the basic thing which was meditation. My whole effort is to create a religionless religion.
We have seen what happened to religions which have God as the center. We have seen what happened to Adinatha’s revolutionary concept, godless religion. We have seen what happened to Buddha — organized religion without God.
Now my effort is: just as they dissolved God, dissolve religion also. Leave only meditation so it cannot be forgotten in any way. There is nothing else to replace it. There is no God and there is no religion. By religion I mean an organized doctrine, creed, ritual, priesthood. And for the first time I want religion to be absolutely individual, because all organized religions, whether with God or without God, have misled humanity. And the sole cause has been organization, because organization has its own ways which go against meditativeness. Organization is really a political phenomenon, it is not religious. It is another way of power and will to power.
Now every Christian priest hopes someday to become a bishop at least, to become a cardinal, to become a pope. This is a new hierarchy, a new bureaucracy, and because it is spiritual nobody objects. You may be a bishop, you may be a pope, you may be anything. It is not objectionable because you are not going to obstruct anybody’s life. It is just an abstract idea.
My effort is to destroy the priesthood completely. It remained with God, it remained with godless religion, now the only way is that we should dispose of God and religion both so that there is no possibility of any priesthood. Then man is absolutely free, totally responsible for his own growth. My feeling is that the more a man is responsible for his own growth, the more difficult it is for him to postpone it for long. Because it means if you are miserable, you are responsible. If you are tense, you are responsible. If you are not relaxed, you are responsible. If you are in suffering, you are the cause of it. There is no God, there is no priesthood that you can go to and ask for some ritual. You are left alone with your misery, and nobody wants to be miserable.
The priests go on giving you opium, they go on giving you hope, “Don’t be worried, it is just a test of your faith, of your trust; and if you can pass through this misery and suffering silently and patiently, in the other world beyond death you will be immensely rewarded.” If there is no priesthood you have to understand that whatever you are, you are responsible for it, nobody else.
And the feeling that “I am responsible for my misery,” opens the door. Then you start looking for methods and means to get out of this miserable state, and that’s what meditation is. It is simply the opposite state of misery, suffering, anguish, anxiety. It is a state of a peaceful, blissful flowering of being, so silent and so timeless that you cannot conceive that anything better is possible. And there is nothing which is better than the state of a meditative mind.
So you can say these are the three quantum leaps: Adinatha drops God because he finds God is becoming too heavy on man; rather than helping him in his growth he has become a burden—but he forgets to replace him with something. Man will need something in his miserable moments, in his suffering. He used to pray to God. You have taken God away, you have taken his prayer away and now when he will be miserable, what will he do? In Jainism meditation has no place.
It is Buddha’s insight to see that God has been dropped; now the gap should be filled, otherwise the gap will destroy man. He puts in meditation—something really authentic which can change the whole being. But he was not aware—perhaps he could not be aware because there are things you cannot be aware of unless they happen—that there should be no organization, that there should be no priesthood, that as God is gone religion should also be gone. But he can be forgiven because he had not thought about it and there was no past to help him to see it, it came after him.
The real problem is the priest, and God is the invention of the priest. Unless you drop the priest, you can drop God, but the priest will always find new rituals, he will create new gods.
My effort is to leave you alone with meditation, with no mediator between you and existence. When you are not in meditation you are separated from existence and that is your suffering. It’s the same as when you take a fish out of the ocean and throw it on the bank — the misery and the suffering and the tortures he goes through, the hankering and the effort to reach back to the ocean because it is where he belongs, he is part of the ocean and he cannot remain apart. Any suffering is simply indicative that you are not in communion with existence, that the fish is not in the ocean.
Meditation is nothing but withdrawing all the barriers, thoughts, emotions, sentiments, which create a wall between you and existence. The moment they drop you suddenly find yourself in tune with the whole; not only in tune, you really find you are the whole.
When a dewdrop slips from a lotus leaf into the ocean it does not find that it is part of the ocean, it finds it is the ocean. And to find it is the ultimate goal, the ultimate realization, there is nothing beyond it.
So Adinatha dropped God but did not drop organization. And because there was no God, the organization created rituals.
Buddha, seeing what had happened to Jainism, that it had become a ritualism, dropped God. He dropped all rituals and single-pointedly insisted on meditation, but he forgot that the priests who had made rituals in Jainism are going to do the same with meditation. And they did it, they made Buddha himself a God. They talk about meditation but basically Buddhists are worshipers of Buddha—they go to the temple and instead of Krishna or Christ there is Buddha’s statue. There was no statue of Buddha for five hundred years after Buddha. In Buddhist temples they had just the tree under which Buddha became enlightened, engraved on marble, just a symbol. Buddha was not there, only the tree.
You will be surprised that the statue of Buddha that we see today has no resemblance at all to Buddha’s personality, it resembles the personality of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great came to India three hundred years after Buddha. Till then there was no statue of Buddha. The priests were in search because there was no photograph, there was no painting, so how to make a statue of Buddha? And Alexander’s face looked really superhuman, he had a beautiful personality, the Greek face and physiology; they picked up the idea of Buddha’s face and body from Alexander. So all the statues that are being worshipped in Buddhist temples are statues of Alexander the Great, they have nothing to do with Buddha. But the priests had to create the statue—God was not there, ritual was difficult, around meditation ritual was difficult. They created a statue and they started saying — in the same way all religions have been doing — have faith in Buddha, have trust in Buddha, and you will be saved. Both the revolutions were lost. I would like that what I am doing is not lost. So I am trying in every possible way to drop all those things which in the past have been barriers for the revolution to continue and grow. I don’t want anybody to stand between the individual and existence. No prayer, no priest, you alone are enough to face the sunrise, you don’t need somebody to interpret for you what a beautiful sunrise it is.
It is said that every morning Lao Tzu used to go for a walk in the hills. One friend asked him, “Can I come with you one day? I would particularly like to come tomorrow, because I have a guest who is very much interested in you, and he will be immensely glad to have the opportunity to be with you for two hours in the mountains.”
Lao Tzu said, “I have no objection, just one simple thing has to be remembered. I don’t want anything to be said because I have my eyes, you have your eyes, he has his eyes, we can see. There is no need to say anything.”
The friend agreed, but on the way when the sun started rising the guest forgot. It was so beautiful by the side of the lake, the reflection of all the colors, the birds singing and the lotuses blossoming, opening, he could not resist, he forgot. He said, “What a beautiful sunrise.”
His host was shocked because he has broken the condition. Lao Tzu did not say anything, nothing was said there. Back home he called his friend and told him, “Don’t bring your guest again. He is too talkative. The sunrise was there, I was there, he was there, you were there — what is the need to say anything, any comment, any interpretation?”
And this is my attitude: you are here, every individual is here, the whole existence is available. All that you need is just to be silent and listen to existence. There is no need of any religion, there is no need of any God, there is no need of any priesthood, there is no need of any organization.
I trust in the individual categorically. Nobody up to now has trusted in the individual in such a way. So all things can be removed. Now all that has been left to you is a state of meditation which simply means a state of utter silence. The word meditation makes it look heavier. It is better to call it just a simple, innocent silence and existence opens all its beauties to you.
And as it goes on growing you go on growing, and there comes a moment when you have reached the very peak of your potentiality—you can call it Buddhahood, enlightenment, bhagwatta, godliness, whatever, it has no name, so any name will do.
From The Last Testament, Vol. 5
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