Religion is dead. It has really lived too long, it should have been dead long ago. It has not done any good to humanity, it has done immense harm. It has divided humanity. It has given different groups of people the idea that “You are the real people of God,” that “You are special; other human beings are second class.” It has fulfilled the egos of Jews, of Christians, of Hindus, of Mohammedans – of everybody. It has created so many wars. It has killed millions of people, burned thousands of people alive, and all in the name of God. For your own sake you are being burned alive!
Religion is one of the most criminal phenomena that have existed in the world. It is time that we declare it dead.
But remember, every death is a beginning of something new; every death is not an end. On the one side it looks as if something has ended, but on the other side something fresh starts growing. The death of religion becomes the beginning of religio.
The word “religion” comes from religio. Religio has a beauty of its own, which is lost in “religion.” Religio means an existential, an experiential phenomenon. The very word means coming to a point where you are one – one with yourself, one with existence. Religion which comes from the same root does not have that meaning. It, on the contrary, makes you split. Making you one is not its work; its work is to make you schizophrenic, to put you into a split state, to put you against your own body, to put you against your own sex, to put you against yourself; to divide you into parts, fragments, and create an inner conflict in you.
All religious people are continuously fighting with themselves, because their biology says to do something, and their holy scripture says to do just the opposite. Their own being wants to grow in one way, but the priests direct them into some other way.
Every religion has been trying to make you somebody else. No religion has allowed you to be just yourself. They are all afraid of your being just yourself; then their function is lost. Their function is to create conflict in you, to make you miserable, suffering, in anguish. Then naturally you have to seek help.
They create the disease, and then they start praying for you to be forgiven. They are the criminals, and they are asking for you to be forgiven. And whom are they asking? There is nobody.
So it is really a great exploitation by the priesthood of all the religions. They have destroyed every individual. They have made you Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, but they have not allowed you to become just an individual, a human being. You were born not as a Christian, you were born not as a Buddhist; you were born just as a human being. They have destroyed your innocence; they have misdirected your life. They have molded you into something which you cannot become; it is not your potential.
This is not religio. Religio is accepting you in your totality, making you whole, healthy. And that opens the door to become one with existence. You are part of it; every moment you are part of it. You are breathing existence in and out every moment – you are eating it, you are living it in every possible way. No man is an island, we are all part of an infinite continent; that’s what I am calling existence.
Religio will relax you. Religio will give you, for the first time, the dignity of being a human being, and the vastness of being part of the whole existence.
Religion is dead, religio is born.
Religion is something like marriage: unnatural, arbitrary, artificial, created by social convenience.
Religio is like love: natural, simple. No law is involved in it; no society, no culture dominates it.
Love is a law unto itself, and love gives you something that is immensely precious. You start feeling needed. You are not superficial, you are not just accidental; you are needed, you are fulfilling some essential need. Love gives you the first glimpse that existence wants you the way you are. There is no need to become Jesus Christ or Gautam Buddha. Nature does not like carbon copies. Existence likes originals. You, in your originality, are acceptable.
But a Christian is a carbon copy; he is trying to become Jesus Christ, and in two thousand years not a single Christian has succeeded. In twenty-five centuries not a single Buddhist has succeeded in becoming Gautam Buddha. Is it not proof enough? You can go even further backwards. In five thousand years, no Hindu has succeeded in becoming a Krishna. It is simply impossible. Nature never repeats.
They say history repeats itself – because history is not nature. History belongs to carbon copies, retarded people; naturally it repeats itself. They don’t know what else to do, so they go on doing the same thing again.
Nature is very inventive. It does not create even two persons equal, even similar. There are four billion people on the earth today, but you cannot find two persons who are exactly alike. Even twins are not exactly alike. They may appear to be, but their mother knows who is who; their wives know who is who. There are differences – very subtle. Outsiders may be puzzled, but those who know them closely can see the differences in their individuality – in their gestures, in their way of speaking, in their way of thinking, in their way of walking – in small things. But the differences are bound to be there.
Religion has tried a very futile experiment, and almost destroyed humanity for thousands of years.
The death of religion releases you from becoming somebody else. Now you can enjoy being yourself.
We can call our commune, religio – a mystery school, a way of searching for one’s own spiritual being, a way of discovering one’s original face. Nobody has to become anybody else.
And you are asking me, “God is dead, religion is dead, then what is left now?”
In fact, those were the hindrances, which are removed, and everything that is essential is available now. Now you can be yourself without any guilt. Now you can be simply a human being without belonging to any organized religion. The moment truth becomes organized, it becomes untrue.
I am reminded of a beautiful ancient story. A newly-recruited devil came running to the master devil, huffing and puffing, and said, “Something has to be done immediately! One man on the earth has just found the truth! And if he spreads it, what are we going to do? Our whole business is finished! He has to be prevented.”
The old man laughed. He said, “You are a new recruit; you don’t know – my people are already there.”
The young devil said, “Your people?”
He said, “Yes, my people. The priests are already around the man, and they are organizing whatever he has found. That is my way of destroying truth, and it has never failed; for centuries I have been doing that. The priests – all the priests – are in my service! They don’t know it, but the moment truth is organized, it dies.”
Why does truth die when it is organized? It dies because it is an individual experience. Can you organize love? Nobody has ever thought about it; otherwise it would have died. You cannot organize love. Love is something that transpires between two individuals. It does not need any priest, it does not need any book of instructions.
When I was studying in the university I used to have a roommate – he was a little bit of an idiot, just the same as people are all over the world.
He asked me, “Everybody talks about the fact that he has fallen in love, and some girl has fallen in love with him. It seems we are the only two persons in this whole university…. About you there is no problem, because you don’t want anything to do with any love, any woman, because you think they will be a distraction in your search. I don’t know what you are searching for, but I am at a loss. I want to fall in love. But how to fall in love? I have been to the university library looking for a book, HOW TO FALL IN LOVE; there is not a single book on the subject. And I cannot ask anybody else, because they will simply laugh. If everybody knows how to fall, then why don’t I?”
I said, “You don’t be worried, I will teach you. You just choose the girl that you would like to fall in love with.”
He said, “I chose her two years ago, but how to start? The moment she enters, I become so nervous in the classroom, I forget all about love. I forget even what the teacher is saying.”
I said, “Don’t be worried. I will write a love letter for you. You simply post it to the girl and wait for the answer.”
I knew the girl; she was one of the most beautiful girls in the university. She had been interested in me, but I had told her, “Right now, I am involved too much in my own work, in my meditations, and I don’t think you have patience enough to wait. But if you can wait, then I can promise you one thing: the day I become enlightened I will be ready. But not before that.”
She said, “Enlightened? My God! How long will I have to wait?”
I said, “Nobody knows. I may become enlightened in this life, I may become enlightened in another life. Nothing can be said, it is unpredictable. So the best is, for the time being you choose somebody else.”
But she was persistent. So I approached her and said, “Just do me a favor.”
She said, “Have you become enlightened?”
I said, “No, not yet. But one of my friends is in a difficulty. He wants to fall in love, but he does not know how to fall in love. So you will receive a letter from him. Don’t discourage him – write him a beautiful letter.”
She said, “This is tricky. Then I will be stuck with that boy – and I know your roommate, I don’t want anything to do with him.”
I said, “You need not be worried.”
And she said, “How can I write a very loving letter to that idiot? I cannot!”
I said, “Then I will write it.” So I was writing letters from both the sides. And the boy was so ecstatic!
He could not believe that just with his writing a letter, love began.
But then the girl fell in love with somebody else. She told me that she could not wait, her parents were forcing her: either she had to choose someone, or they would. “You are my choice, but your enlightenment is a strange thing,” she said. ”I have never heard of anybody making such a condition, that when they become enlightened, then they will think about other matters. I have to choose; otherwise they will choose. So I have chosen, unwillingly. I will remember you, but I am getting married.”
I said, ‘You get married happily, and don’t feel that you are doing it unwillingly. I am responsible for making you sad, and for making you decide in favor of someone else. I like you, but as far as love is concerned, that involvement is possible only after my enlightenment, not before that!”
She said, “Then what about your friend that you have been unnecessarily forcing upon me? He goes on writing every day. And you have made it such a mess that you go on writing in my name, and I have to post those letters. I read them and I say, ‘My God! That idiot!’ And you are praising him and telling him, ‘I will die without you, and I cannot live without you. You are my heart.’ What am I to say to that man?”
I said, “You have simply to say that your parents are forcing you to get married.” And in India it is common, an arranged marriage. A love marriage is still not acceptable.
So she told the idiot, “What can I do? I love you so much, but my parents have arranged my marriage. So now I will not be seeing you anymore, and you stop writing the letters.”
He almost came to a nervous breakdown, crying, in tears. I asked, “What is the matter?” – I knew what was the matter!
He said, “My love affair was going so smoothly. Every day a letter – I was writing, she was replying; everything was going so smoothly. And her father has disturbed everything. I will shoot that man!”
I said, “That won’t help. You find another girl – there is no problem – and start writing letters again.”
He said, “But I don’t know what to write.”
So I said, “You do one thing. You go to the girl and ask for all the letters you have written to her.”
He said, “What!”
“You just tell her, ‘I need those letters, because I have not been writing them.’ And return her letters to her.”
So he went to the girl and asked for his letters. But she said, “What will you do with those letters?”
He said, “What will I do? Have I to live or not? You are getting married – I will have to write letters to somebody else. Now what is the point of writing the same letters again? I can use these letters. And here are your letters that you had written to me; perhaps you may need them sometime, because who loves one’s own husband? Who loves one’s own wife? You may need them.”
The girl said, “You can have both the sets, because both are written by the same man.”
He was very angry with me, but I said to him, “That is the function of a priest. I have not done anything unique; that is what the priests have been doing all through man’s history. They pray for you to God. They even bring answers from God to you – answers to your prayers. They make your prayer, they make the answers for your prayer. I have been just functioning like a priest – only the area was different; it was love, it was not God.”
The priests have no function if there is no God. Then there is no prayer, then there is no holy book, then there is no ritual. The priest has nothing left. He wants an organized religion. He turns religio into its opposite and calls it religion.
Religio is a freedom. Religion is a slavery. Dropping God, dropping religion, I have restored your freedom. Now you can be yourself without any fear. You can grow without copying anybody. You can just grow into your own unknown potential.
You are asking, “What is left?” Everything becomes available; only blocks have been removed, hindrances have been removed. Now you can meditate. You cannot pray; prayer needs a God.
Meditation needs no God. Prayer has divided humanity, because Christian prayer is different from Hindu prayer. Mohammedan prayer is different from Christian prayer. But meditation is the same.
Here, this very moment… if you are all silent, it is the same silence.
Silence cannot have any name, any label.
And meditation is the ultimate growth of silence.
Now you can be silent, you can grow deeper and deeper within yourself, searching for the center from where your life arises. The moment you discover that center, there is an explosion which is far more significant than any atomic explosion, far more luminous. The atomic explosion is destructive. The explosion that happens at your center gives you a tremendous energy to be creative.
And it does not make you part of any organized cult, creed, dogma – no. It simply makes you a dignified individual, immensely blissful because you have found the greatest treasure in the world. There is nothing more to be found. In finding your center, you have found the very center of existence.
You have found eternity.
Now there is no death.
And out of this experience arises lovingness, compassion, creativity. Even sitting silently, doing nothing, there will be a certain aura of bliss around you, a certain fragrance around you.
You have come home.
From Bondage to Freedom, Discourse #23
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