What is religion? What is your opinion on organized religion?
Anand Maitreya, religion is the highest flight of human consciousness — it is the individual search for truth.
The inner truth cannot be made an object of common knowledge. Each one has to go within himself; each time, it is a new discovery. It does not matter how many people have attained awakening, realization; the moment you attain it, it will be absolutely fresh – because it cannot be borrowed.
The search basically consists of knowing your interiority. You have an outside, and no outside can exist without an inside: the very existence of the outside is proof of an inner world.
The inner world consists of three layers: thoughts are the most superficial; feelings are deeper — and then is the being, which is your godliness. To know one’s own godliness, to know one’s own eternity, is the basic search of religion.
All your senses lead you outside: eyes open to look outside, ears hear what is happening outside, your hands can touch what is outside. Senses are the doors to go out — and always remember, the door that takes you out, can also take you in. It is the same door from which you go out of your home and through which you come back in; just the direction changes.
To go out, you need open eyes. To come in, you need closed eyes, all your senses silent. The first encounter is with the mind — but that is not your reality. Although it is inside your skull, it is not you — it is the reflection of the outside. All your thoughts are reflections of the outside.
For example, a blind man cannot think about colors because he has not seen colors — hence the reflection is not possible. The blind man cannot even see darkness; and because he has never seen light or darkness outside, there is no possibility of any reflection. The blind man does not know whether there is darkness or there is light — both words are meaningless. And if you analyze your thoughts, you will find they are all triggered inside you by outside reality — so they are basically of the outside, reflected in your inner lake of consciousness.
But because of these thoughts… and they are a tremendous crowd in you; they go on accumulating, they create a China wall. You have to go beyond your thoughts. And religion knows only one method — there are different names, but the method is one: it is watchfulness, it is witnessing. You simply watch your thoughts, with no judgment, no condemnation, no appreciation — utterly aloof; you just see the process of thoughts passing on the screen of your mind.
As your watcher becomes stronger, thoughts become less — in the same proportion. If the watcher is ten percent of your energy, then ninety percent of your energy is wasted in thoughts; if your watcher becomes ninety percent, then only ten percent remains in thoughts. The moment you are one hundred percent a watcher, the mind becomes empty.
This whole process is known as meditation. As you pass through the thoughts, you will come to the second layer which is inside you — of feelings, of your heart, which is more subtle. But by now, your watcher is capable even of watching your moods, your sentiments, your emotions, your feelings — howsoever subtle they may be. And the same method works in the same way as it worked with the thoughts: soon there will be no sentiments, no feelings, no moods. You have gone beyond the mind, and the heart. Now there is utter silence; nothing moves. This is your being; this is you.
The taste of your being is truth.
The beauty of your being is the beauty of existence.
The silence of your being is the language that existence understands. And just settled in being, you have come home. The wandering is finished. The struggle is finished. At ease, you sit silently within yourself.
A great hidden splendor is revealed to you: you are not separate from reality, you are one with it. The trees and the moon and the stars and the mountains are all part of one organic unity; you are also part of that organic unity — you become part of God.
Religion is man’s highest achievement.
Beyond religion, there is nothing — but there is no need either. Your being is so abundant, so overflowing with bliss, silence, peace, understanding, ecstasy, that for the first time, life becomes really a song, a dance, a celebration. Those who do not know religion, don’t know celebration.
But organized religion is a totally different affair, so I have to make it clear to you that authentic religion is always individual. The moment truth is organized, it dies; it becomes a doctrine, a theology, a philosophy — but it is no longer experienced, because the crowd cannot experience. Experience happens only to individuals — separately.
It is almost like love. You cannot have organizations of love — so that you need not bother; the organization will take care, the priest will love on your behalf. But that’s what has happened to religion. Each time a man discovers the truth, immediately one of the most cunning parts of humanity, the priests, surround him. They start compiling his words; they start interpreting his words; and they start making it clear to people that if you want to know truth, you have to go via them — they are agents of God. They may call themselves prophets, they may call themselves messengers; they may choose any name, but the reality is, they are self-appointed agents of God. They don’t know God, but in the name of God, they exploit humanity.
Organized religion is another form of politics. Just as I have always condemned politics as the lowest activity of human beings, the same is my attitude about organized religions. You can see it: the priests and the politicians have always been in conspiracy against humanity. They have been supporting each other. They have divided things between themselves so that your worldly life belongs to the politician, he is the ruler there, and your inner life belongs to the priest, he is the ruler there.
One sometimes feels so amazed… it seems unbelievable, that even in the twentieth century the pope could declare, a few months ago, that to communicate with God directly is a sin. You should go through the priest, the right channel — because if people start going directly to God, confessing to God, praying to God, the millions of priests will be unemployed. They don’t do anything; their whole function is to deceive you. Because you don’t understand the language of God, and you are not so evolved, just for some fee — a donation to their church or to their temple — they will do the job for you.
All those donations go in the pockets of the priests. They don’t know anything about God, but they are very learned — they can repeat scriptures like parrots. But their inner desire is not for God, not for truth — they are not seekers, they are exploiters.
I have heard… a priest bought two parrots and he taught them, with great hardship, beautiful statements of Jesus Christ. And everybody was really amazed — the parrots were so accurate. He made small beads for them so they were constantly praying, and he also found small bibles for them… So they were always keeping their bibles open, and moving their beads. Although they could not read, they had already crammed everything. The priest would open the page and say, “Twelfth page,” and they would start reading it — not that they were reading; they had memorized it.
The priest was very pleased and he felt it would be good to have one more parrot. Rather than learning the bible and the beads, he could be taught to give whole sermons. He found a parrot, and the pet shop owner said, “Your wish will be fulfilled; this parrot is the most intelligent I have ever seen.”
But he was not aware that it was a female parrot. And as the parrot was put in the same cage as the two parrots who were moving their beads and reading the bible, they both looked at the female parrot, and one parrot said to the other, “George, now drop those beads! Our prayers have been heard.”
Your priests are no more than parrots — and their prayers are for power, for prestige, for money. They are politicians in disguise; they are doing politics in the name of God – the politics of numbers. There are now seven hundred million Catholics; naturally the pope is the most powerful religious man in the world.
Every religion has been trying to increase its population by different methods. Mohammedans are allowed to marry four women so that they can produce four children per year. And they have been successful: they are the second largest religion after Christianity.
Organized religion is only a content-less, meaningless word; hidden inside is the politics of numbers. And you know perfectly well — as the election comes near, your politicians start going to see the shankaracharya. For five years, nobody goes to visit the shankaracharya, but when the election comes near, then the prime minister goes to visit the shankaracharya. He goes for a pilgrimage to the temples, high and deep in the mountains of the Himalayan range. For what? Suddenly, a great religious urge has arisen… which subsides as the election ends.
These people need votes; they have to pay respect to the leaders of religions. And a shankaracharya feels great that the prime minister is touching his feet. And the followers of the shankaracharya, the Hindus, feel that “our prime minister is a very religious person.”
When the pope comes to India, even the president and the prime minister with his whole cabinet stand in line at the airport to receive him. For what? The third largest religion in India is now Christianity, and to pay respect to the pope means all the votes of the Christians will be yours.
Organized religions — whether it is Christianity or Hinduism or Mohammedanism – have not been seekers of truth. In two thousand years, what truth has organized Christianity added to the statements of Jesus? So what is the need of this organization? It is not increasing religiousness in the world, it is simply repeating what Jesus has said — which is available in books for anybody to read. In twenty-five centuries, how many Buddhists have searched for the truth, or have found the truth? — just a long line of parrots repeating what Gautam Buddha has found.
And you should be reminded that Gautam Buddha was not part of any organized religion; neither was Mahavira part of any organized religion, nor was Jesus part of any organized religion — they were individual seekers.
Truth has always been found by individuals. That is the privilege of the individual, and his dignity.
Organized religions have created wars — just like politicians have done. Their names may be different… politicians fight for socialism, for communism, for fascism, for Nazism, and organized religions have been fighting for God, for love, for their concept of what truth is. And millions of people have been killed in the clashes between Christians and Mohammedans, between Christians and Jews, between Mohammedans and Hindus, between Hindus and Buddhists. Religion has nothing to do with war; it is a search for peace. But organized religions are not interested in peace; they are interested in becoming more and more powerful and dominant.
I condemn the organized religions in the same way I condemn the politicians — they are nothing but politics. So when I said to you that religious people should be respected, honored — the politicians should go to them for advice — I was not talking about organized religions; I was talking only about religious individuals. And a religious individual is neither Hindu nor Christian nor Mohammedan. How can he be? — God himself is not Hindu, not Mohammedan, not Christian. And the man who knows something of the divine becomes colored with his divinity, becomes fragrant with godliness.
In the ancient East these religious people were our highest flowers, and even kings and emperors used to go to them to touch their feet and to be blessed — to ask their advice on problems which they were unable to solve.
If we want the world to remain alive, we have to bring back our ancient childhood days when the religious person had no interest of his own. That’s why his eyes were clear, his heart was pure love, his being was nothing but a blessing. Whomsoever came to him was healed, his problems were solved; he was given new insights into rotten old problems.
Organized religions should disappear from the world — they should drop this mask of being religious. They are simply politicians, wolves hiding themselves in the skin of sheep. They should come into their true colors; they should be politicians — there is no harm in that. And all the time they are politicians, but they are playing the game in the name of religion.
Organized religions don’t have any future. They should drop their disguise and come truly out in front as politicians, and be part of the political world so that we can find the authentic religious individual — who will be very rare. But just a few authentic religious individuals can lead the whole world towards light, towards immortal life, towards ultimate truth.
From The Hidden Splendor, Chapter Eight
Copyright© OSHO International Foundation
An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com, or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.
Many of Osho’s books are available online from Amazon.com and in the U.S. from OshoStore-Sedona and Osho Here and Now.