What is the religion of a rebellious spirit?
Maneesha, the rebellious spirit can be religious, but cannot have a religion. And the difference between the two is immense, unbridgeable.
To be religious is an experience, just like love. It is an encounter with the totality of existence. It is facing yourself in the mirror of life. It is orgasmic in the sense that you melt and merge with the whole – the earth, the trees, the flowers, the sky, the stars. It is an oceanic experience, the dewdrop slipping from the lotus leaf into the ocean. You can say either the dewdrop has become the ocean, or you can say the ocean has become the dewdrop. It is the greatest experience there is.
But to belong to a religion is not an experience; it is just a belief system in which you have been brought up. It is all borrowed. And remember that truth cannot be borrowed. Either it is yours, or it is not there.
Gautam Buddha may have known the truth, but there is no way to follow him, because to follow means to imitate, to follow means to become a shadow, to follow means to betray yourself. Following is nothing but the effort of trying to be somebody that you are not; and that is not your destiny either.
Jesus is not a Christian, he is a rebellious spirit; he does not belong to any religion, and that is his crime. Jews could not tolerate him because he had become a stranger to his own people; he had started talking about having a direct contact with the universal spirit.
A religion is a marketplace thing. It is a kind of bureaucracy – you should go through the right channel. You are not even allowed to confess to God directly; you have to confess to the priest and the priest will pray for you. The priest has to always be there as a mediator.
Religion is the business of the priest; it has nothing to do with religiousness. It is a profession, pure and simple, of exploiting the ignorance and the helplessness of mankind. It is exploiting the fear of death, the fear of the unknown, the fear of the responsibilities of life. The priest takes care – you have to simply believe in his church, his religion, his god, his holy scripture.
To belong to a religion is to belong to all kinds of lies and superstitions. To belong to a religion is to belong to the past – which is dead.
A rebellious spirit has no past. A rebellious spirit has only the present and a vast opening towards the future.
Religion, to the religious spirit, is not in the holy scriptures but in the holiness of existence. It is not in the prayer taught by the priests of all kinds of religions. It is in the gratitude that one feels before a sunset, before a sunrise; it is in the gratitude that one feels to be a part of this beautiful and tremendously miraculous existence.
It is a prayer without words. It is a song without sound. It is pure silence. And in that silence existence speaks to you. In that silence you speak to existence, there is a dialogue. No one speaks, no one hears, but there is a transfer of energy. Something transpires within you – perhaps a flame that makes you afire.
Religiousness and rebelliousness are basically names of one experience. But to be a part of an organized religion is to be not really alive, not really in search of truth, not in love with existence. It is a kind of death – although you go on breathing, you go on eating. But all your breathing and all your eating drive you only towards the graveyard. You don’t grow up, you only grow old.
Only the rebellious spirit grows up; its longing is to touch the stars. It is not satisfied with the trivia of life. Its contentment is far away; its discontentment is a present reality. The rebellious man has a divine discontent in his heart and a longing to find contentment and peace. He is on a pilgrimage towards that contentment.
His whole life is a pilgrimage, always moving closer and closer and closer to the ultimate reality; that realization that releases one from all bondage, all frustration, all misery, all anguish, and allows one to taste freedom, truth, beauty, love and an outburst of creativity – creativity in the multi-dimensions of life.
The rebellious man has a golden touch – whatever he touches becomes gold, it does not matter what. He may play on a bamboo flute and it becomes pure gold, twenty-four carat. He may dance alone under the starry sky, and his dance is more meaningful, more significant than all the paintings in the world, all the statues and all the holy scriptures. His creativity may simply be expressed in his silence. But his silence will not be an ordinary silence – just an absence of noise. His silence will be a positive blossoming of roses in his being. You can experience the fragrance of his silence, it is almost tangible.
The organized religions are all dead; the churches, the temples, the mosques, the synagogues… they are all graveyards of the past. And the sooner we convert them into museums the better, otherwise they are going to kill the whole of humanity – they have already killed too much in every man. They have crippled everybody, poisoned everybody; their destruction is uncountable. You are asking, Maneesha, “What is the religion of a rebellious spirit?”
Rebellion! Rebellion is the religion of a rebellious spirit – to rebel against all exploitation, to rebel against all discrimination, to rebel against oppression, to rebel against all kinds of spiritual slavery, to rebel against all kinds of superstitions. There is so much to rebel against.
And that is only half of the rebellion, because the other half is to rebel for – to rebel against superstition is only half – to rebel for the truth, to rebel for freedom, to rebel for love, to rebel for a new humanity, to rebel for a new man, a new society, a new kind of consciousness.
Rebellion has two parts. The negative part is against all that is ugly but has been worshipped for centuries, and the positive part is for all that is beautiful but has been ignored for centuries – not only ignored, but crucified, poisoned, murdered. Whenever any individual has tried the authentic religion of rebelliousness, his reward has been crucifixion. Hence I want so many rebellious people in the world that it will be difficult to find people to crucify them.
Mick had returned to his native town after many years overseas. “I hope,” said the parish priest, “that you have been loyal to your faith while you have been away.”
“Indeed, Father,” said Mick, “I have lied, I fought, I cursed, I robbed and I made love to women; but not for a moment did I forget the religion I was brought up in.”
What is the point of all these religions? There are three hundred religions in existence in the world today. There are also millions of murders, suicides, rapes, robberies and continuous warfare, either in this part of the world or in another part of the world. What are these religions doing? And everybody is religious! Nobody is disloyal to his religion; he robs, he murders, he rapes, but he remembers that he is a Christian, that he is a Hindu, that he is a Mohammedan, that he is a believer in God, that he is a follower of Gautam Buddha.
What does all this following mean? Sheer deception, not only to others, but to yourself. It is strange – so strange that it is almost unbelievable – that there are three hundred religions in the world and there is no peace, no joy, no celebration, no holiness, no divineness anywhere. All these religions are fake. The rebellious spirit has to get rid of all these religions and create only a quality of religiousness without any adjective – simply religious.
It has always been a problem…. In my whole life I have not been able to vote, for the simple reason that whenever the officers reached me to fill in the form so that I could be a valid voter, there was a clause, “What is your religion?”
I said, “I don’t have any religion. I am a religious person.”
They said, “But all the clauses have to be filled in.”
I said, “Then you can take your form back. I am not so much interested in voting anyway, because it is an unnecessary anxiety when you have to choose between two idiots. Whom to vote for? – Whoever you vote for, you are voting for an idiot. It is better not to vote; at least your hands are clean. You can see: my hands are absolutely clean!”
Man’s problems have increased as time has passed. It should have been otherwise – that the problems would be less and less as man has become more and more cultured, educated, civilized.
But the more he is cultured, the more he is civilized, the more he is educated; his problems have increased out of all proportion. And religions go on proclaiming that they have the cure for every disease, for every spiritual sickness. But man is suffering from spiritual sickness all over the world – everybody is feeling hollow. And these religions have not been of any help; on the contrary, they have increased his problems by their wrong, unnatural, stupid teachings.
It was Mrs. Levy’s third visit to the doctor for a cure from her cold. “Doctor,” she complained, “nothing you have given me has been of any use. Mr. Levy complains that I keep him awake all night with my cough. Can you do something – anything to cure me?”
“Okay,” the doctor replied, “go home and have a hot bath and without drying yourself stand in the nude where there is a strong draft.”
“Really,” Mrs. Levy sniffed, “will that cure me?”
“No,” replied the doctor, “but it will give you pneumonia, and I can cure pneumonia.”
These religions have been giving you bigger diseases. Perhaps, in a certain way, when you have a bigger disease you tend to forget the smaller one.
I have heard about Mulla Nasruddin, that he was purchasing shoes in a shop. The shopkeeper said, “Mulla, are you mad or something, because you are trying on shoes which are not going to fit. You need shoes that are one size bigger.”
Mulla said, “Don’t disturb me. I have always used that size and I am going to continue to use that size. I am a man of principles.”
The shopkeeper said, “It is up to you, but you will suffer the whole day. The shoes will pinch you.”
Mulla said, “That’s what I want.”
The shopkeeper said, “But why do you want that?”
He said, “You don’t understand the psychology of it. Suffering the whole day, when I come home and take off my shoes, it is such a relief that I say, ‘My God!’ – it brings such pleasure. Without these shoes, life is nothing but misery. The whole day they keep me away from all miseries. I don’t have enough energy to look at other miseries. What my wife is saying, who has ears to hear her?
My shoes are pinching me so badly that I am only hearing my shoes. She goes on talking to herself – she has become accustomed to monologues.
“Business is bad, things are going from bad to worse, but nothing worries me. My only worry is my shoes. The shoes keep me away from all the miseries of the world; and in the end, before going to bed, taking them off gives me such relief that I sleep so relaxedly, so deeply…. And you are suggesting that I wear shoes that are one size bigger? You are going to destroy my life!”
These religions have provided you all with shoes that don’t fit – shoes which may have fit somebody five thousand years ago. They have given you pants which don’t fit. They are making a mockery of you, because those shoes are not made according to your needs, those pants are not made for you; those shirts are not made for you. Everything that these religions are supplying for you has been made by somebody else for somebody else far back – centuries before. Nothing fits; everything gives nothing but pain.
But these religions have been teaching you: blessed are those who suffer, blessed are those who live in misery, blessed are those whose lives are of hostility, asceticism, self-torture, because they shall inherit the kingdom of God. So just to inherit the kingdom of God you go on wearing shoes that don’t fit, caps that are so loose that you cannot see – they cover your eyes. Clothes that are either so small that you want to jump out of them or so loose that a crowd can live inside them – the whole family can be accommodated.
The rebellious man cannot accept any of this idiocy. His religion is his intelligence. His religion is his consciousness.
His religion is his awareness.
And out of his awareness, he becomes as free as a bird on the wing, as beautiful as a lotus in the pond, and as joyous as a cuckoo singing from the mango grove. He starts living for the first time, and he knows that life is the only God there is – there is no other God.
The rebellious man is a pagan. He worships the trees, he worships the stars, he worships the rivers, the mountains. He worships man, he worships everything that is alive – because wherever there is life, there is godliness.
From The Rebel, Chapter Ten
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