Religion can only be aesthetic
A FRIEND TOLD US THAT SHE ONCE HEARD YOU SAY THAT YOU WANT US TO BECOME ENLIGHTENED IN THE MOST AESTHETIC WAY POSSIBLE. WILL YOU SPEAK ON THE AESTHETICS OF CONSCIOUSNESS? HAVE YOU EVER SPOKEN OF ANYTHING ELSE?
Vadan and Iti, you have raised a very significant question. All the religions that have existed on the earth have been very unaesthetic, because they denied life, they denied all the beauties, all the flowers, all creativity, sensitivity.
They killed millions of people's possibility of attaining to enlightenment through aesthetic creativity.
They simply closed the door, and for centuries nobody has even asked the question, "Is it possible that just to be a musician is enough to become enlightened?" I say yes.
Nobody will agree with me - neither Mahavira nor Gautam Buddha nor Mohammed nor Jesus.
Knowing it well, that the whole history will stand against me, I am absolutely certain that music can become meditation, that sculpture can become meditation, that dancing can become meditation, that painting can become meditation. These doors have simply been closed. It is one of the greatest crimes committed against man.
And people who are uncreative are praised as saints. All that they have done may be fasting. But being hungry is not a great quality, and it does not enhance humanity in any way. They may have lived naked, but that does not mean they are making life more beautiful. Most of these naked saints are so ugly that it would have been better... they should be praised if they stop being naked. But their nakedness has been praised; it is thought to be a great discipline.
Sometimes stupid ideas carried for a long time almost start looking like ultimate truths. All the animals are naked. I don't see any saintliness in being naked. I am not saying that to be naked is criminal, I am simply saying that if the time is right and the climate is beautiful and you have a body worth seeing... First stand naked before the mirror before you disturb other people. But on a sea beach, of course, you can be naked; in a good climate, in the home you can be naked. But there is nothing saintly in it, it is simply natural. Every animal, every bird is naked - except a few dogs.
In the Victorian age in England, where morality became hilarious, even dogs were covered with clothes. This was thought to be very Christian. You will not believe it, even the legs of the chairs and tables were covered - because they are called legs and legs should not be left naked. Except for those few idiots, the whole world of the animals has remained natural.
For man perhaps it is now difficult to be naked in all the seasons. His body is no longer capable, is no longer so strong as it was in the age of the primitive man who lived naked. For thousands of years we have protected our bodies. But remember, whenever anything is protected it becomes weaker. The more you protect, the weaker it becomes. A primitive man in the jungles of India still lives naked - in the winter, in the rain, in the hot sun - but he has the stamina and he has the body.
But he is not a saint, he is simply uncultured, uneducated, uncivilized, primitive. There is nothing that can be said in praise of him.
But religions have been preaching to people very uncreative disciplines, which are sometimes so funny that even to believe that thousands of people live under those beliefs seems impossible.
In India, Jainism is a religion whose monks, step by step, finally become naked. In five stages of discipline, the last stage of their discipline is to be naked. Because of this stage Jainism has to deny women direct entry into their paradise. First they will have to become men, because they cannot attain the final stage of discipline, of nakedness.
And the people who became naked... through twenty-five centuries continuously, thousands of people have become naked, and they have not contributed anything to the world, have not painted, have not written poetry. In fact, these are mundane affairs, worldly things, which they have renounced. In every way their disciplines have made them ugly.
For example, the Jaina monk eats standing. Now, if you eat standing, soon you will have a big belly.
Your chest will sink and your belly will become bigger. You will be pregnant without pregnancy! They have to eat food in their cupped hands because they cannot use any kind of instruments. What nonsense! To use a plate is not great technology. But they are praised because they are using only their hands, and that creates many problems.
They cannot use a razor blade to shave their beards or their hair. And the problem becomes more complicated because they are not allowed to have a bath at all. Their discipline does not even allow them to have a mouthwash. They don't brush their teeth, because the brush is great technology, and toothpaste is certainly manufactured in great factories. They have disowned the whole world - how can they use a brush? And why should they use one?
Their logic is worth understanding, because that will explain many other things in other religions.
They are the extreme and the extreme is always good to understand, because things have come to the very climax where even a blind man can see that it is stupid.
They have to pull out their hair every year with their own hands. And that is celebrated as a great religious ceremony. Thousands gather to see the naked monk pulling out his hair. He cannot use a razor blade - the razor blade belongs to the materialist world. And it is worth seeing the scene when a Jaina monk pulls out his hair. Thousands of Jainas gather and women are crying, a few have fainted. The great saint is going through so much suffering.
Who has told him to go through so much suffering? Anybody can give him a free shave. Now, he has imposed upon himself a stupid thing and people are praising him for his great disciplined life.
This is not discipline, this is self-torture. And the reason is that he is not the body, so why should he take a bath? Now, the body without you cannot take the bath, that is certain. The body without you cannot have a good mouthwash.
The reasoning goes that people try to decorate their body. Your brushing the teeth - you may have never thought - is condemned by the Jainas because it is beautifying your body, which is really part of your sexuality. Having a bath, having a beautiful body, a good hairstyle, is certainly indicative that you are interested in bodies. If you are interested in your own body, you are certainly interested in other people's bodies also. And a man who has renounced the material world has also renounced his own body.
In fact these people are not saints. Looked at without any prejudice they are psychologically sick, masochists who enjoy torturing themselves. There are many in mad asylums but people don't know that they are Jaina saints. You are unnecessarily putting them into a madhouse. They torture themselves and they enjoy it.
There are two pathological categories: One is of masochists, who enjoy being tortured, and the other is of sadists, who enjoy torturing others. And it is said that the only perfect marriage is between a sadist and a masochist. Certainly it will be perfect. The husband beats and the wife enjoys. And the husband enjoys because he is beating, or vice versa.
I used to be a student of a professor whose every lecture started with the description of how he had been misbehaved with, mistreated by his wife that morning. One day I heard it, the next day I heard it, the third day I had to stand up. I said, "This is too much. I can say from the symptoms that you are a masochist."
He said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "I mean, you enjoy being tortured. Otherwise, what is the point? Here you teach economics - what relationship does it have with your wife? And before standing up I have enquired about everything. I have been to your wife too, because I never question anything without proper homework."
His wife was really dangerous. The one who chose her... and it was a love marriage! She was bigger than the professor, stronger than the professor, uglier than the professor, in every way ahead of him. And I enquired of the people in the neighborhood. They said, "They are a strange couple.
The wife beats the professor."
I said, "It is not news to me, because the professor himself, every day, begins his lecture with it. Half of the lecture is about how he has been mistreated, misbehaved with by his wife. He is not hiding it.
And I have seen when he relates it... the joy on his face. Both need to be in psychiatric hospitals."
But the neighbors said, "Whatever you may say, they are both happy."
I said, "That's true. That's the perfect marriage. The wife is perfectly happy; she beats the husband, tortures him in every way. Even with the doors open - neighbors are looking in and she is sitting on the chest of her husband."
I have never come across again such a perfect couple. And it was a love marriage. I don't think that even before they got married things would have been different. In fact, this relationship of torture had brought them together.
My understanding is that the people who are weeping and crying when a Jaina monk is pulling out his hair... he is a masochist and the crowd is made up of sadists. They are also enjoying; those tears should not mislead you. They have come from long distances just to see a madman pulling out his hair. But what is spiritual in it?
And I started asking my parents, "What is spiritual in it?" A man may be naked... it is nobody's business, let him be naked. If he pulls out his hair, perhaps he enjoys the exercise. Let him enjoy, just take care that he does not start pulling out other people's hair. And that's what the Jaina saint is doing. He is pulling out his hair and he is teaching others to be initiated, so finally they will have to pull out their hair. It is done in a very indirect way, but in fact he is torturing himself and teaching others, "Torture yourself. Without torturing your body, how can you attain to the spiritual?"
The division between the body and the spirit has destroyed all religions. Rather than becoming a blessing to the world, they prove to be a great calamity.
I teach an aesthetic consciousness. You should learn to appreciate beauty, you should learn to create beauty, you should behave in a beautiful way. Your life should be a long story of beauty, grace, love, peace. And whatever you are doing, there is no need to renounce the world - there is nowhere to go. This is our world. We have to make it more beautiful, more graceful, more lovable.
And it is possible, whatever you are doing, to do it meditatively.
There have been mystics like Kabir, who was a weaver. He remained a weaver, although he had kings as his followers, thousands of followers. And he was a poor man. Very few poor people have attained to the same grace and radiance as Kabir. And all his disciples prayed, "You stop weaving.
You don't have to, we are all here to support you, give you anything you need."
Kabir said, "But my meditation and my weaving have grown so together that neither can I meditate without weaving, nor can I weave without meditation. So please don't disturb me, just let me do whatever I have been doing."
Another mystic was Gora. He was a potter and he continued to make beautiful pottery after his realization. His pottery also became of a different quality. Something of his beauty became part of what he was making.
His disciples said, "Stop, we feel ashamed. People say, 'You go to a potter?'" - in India a potter is counted as an untouchable - "'And you touch the feet of that man?'" But still, thousands of people became illuminated by Gora's experience. And he remained a potter to the very end.
Whatever you are doing, my approach is, make your doing your meditation. Don't think in terms that you have to leave something and then you will meditate. Those are tricks of the mind of postponing, and you will end up in some ugly situation.
To me, religion can only be aesthetic and nothing else. A religious man will be in every way graceful.
His very being will be surrounded by an aura of beauty. His words will be poetry itself; his silences will touch your heart; his very being will become a dance and celebration for you. What he does is not the question. What he is is the question. Whether he is a potter or a weaver or a shoemaker...
There was a shoemaker also who was a mystic, Raidas. If a shoemaker can be as realized as a Gautam Buddha, then there is no need to go anywhere. Just be wherever you are, create more beauty, create more grace in your life, in your actions. Everything should be a prayer, a gratitude to existence. Then a totally different kind of religion will prevail in the world, which will be bringing great treasures to the world.
Up to now all the religions have been escapist - escape from the world. I teach you to remain in the world; just remember, don't be worldly. There is no need to renounce the world, just don't let the world enter into your consciousness. You can sit in the Himalayas and still go on thinking about Sophia Loren. The Himalayas cannot prevent you.
Once a man came to Ramakrishna with ten thousand golden pieces. At that time the rupee was pure gold. The very word 'rupee' is from Sanskrit; it means gold. He came with ten thousand gold pieces in a big bag and told Ramakrishna, "I have been collecting and waiting - when they become ten thousand, I am going to offer them to you."
Ramakrishna said, "But I don't have any place to keep them. And anyway, I don't think I need them.
But I cannot refuse you either. Do one thing..." Just behind Ramakrishna's temple was flowing the beautiful Ganges. He said to the man, "Go and throw the whole load into the Ganges."
Now, Ramakrishna was saying it. And in the first place he had offered the rupees to Ramakrishna, so they belonged to him, and he was saying it. So very reluctantly he went. His heart was sinking.
His whole life he had been collecting those rupees. "And that fellow seems to be absolutely insane.
What will the Ganges do with them? If he does not need them, he could have told me so. I could have taken them back. If he does not need, the Ganges does not need either. But what to do, how to argue with the man? That man is mad!"
One hour passed. Ramakrishna enquired, "What happened? That man has not returned."
Somebody was sent and he informed Ramakrishna, "That man is doing a great job. He has created a big crowd. Many are swimming in the Ganges, many are standing on the bank. He takes one rupee at a time, shows to the whole crowd that it is pure gold by throwing it on a stone - the sound of the gold - and then he throws it into the Ganges.
"So it is a very long process. Ten thousand rupees... and the crowd is gathering and those who can swim, those who can catch the thrown rupees, they are enjoying."
Ramakrishna said, "This is strange. I had told him to throw the whole lot."
He himself went to see. It was really a great festival there. Ramakrishna tapped the man on the shoulder and said, "What are you doing?"
He said, "Nothing. Just I check whether the gold is real or not and then I count: three hundred thirty-nine, three hundred forty, three hundred forty-one..."
Ramakrishna said, "You idiot. When somebody is collecting money, certainly he checks whether it is real gold or not and he also counts. But when you are throwing it away, why bother? Just throw the whole bag in one go."
He had to do that, but very sadly. He was enjoying his life's greatest moment, because so many people were appreciating him, that this is great renunciation, throwing away wealth.
All the religions have been teaching, throw away wealth. And then all around the world millions of people are starving, dying in poverty. No religion has taught, create wealth. Wealth is not something that comes from the sky; it has to be created. Not everybody is a Henry Ford. It needs intelligence, it needs inventiveness, it needs many qualities; only then can man create wealth. If all the religions had taught the people, "Create wealth and we will respect the wealthiest as the saints," the world would not be poor. There is no reason for the world to be poor.
Even today, although the population has got to five billion, the scientists say that if we put all our intelligence and scientific and technological understanding together, we can make not only five billion people healthy, wealthy, comfortable, we can make twenty-five billion people live perfectly happily on this earth. But all the religions have been teaching poverty. Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor." And everybody knows who is blessed! But these consoling lies have helped the poor to remain poor.
Jesus says that those who are rich, they don't have any hope. "Even a camel can pass through the eye of the needle, but not a rich man through the gates of heaven."
Now, if this kind of teaching has been rampant all over the world, you see the ultimate result.
Thousands of people are dying every day just because there is not enough food. Just by the end of this century, only in India five hundred million people will die, if the situation remains the same. And there seems to be no possibility that this situation will change.
India does not produce food, it only produces children. It is a very productive land! When it became independent in 1947, its population was only four hundred million. Today its population is nine hundred million. Just in forty years the population has increased by five hundred million, and within the coming ten years India will pass beyond one billion.
For the first time, India will be the leading nation in the world as far as poverty, hunger, starvation, population is concerned. Up to now China has been the leader, but in the coming ten years China is going to lose its permanent position. It has been the leading nation up to now - no more.
A man was saying to his wife, "In this newspaper is some report about population. It says that in every five children born on the earth, one is a Chinese." This will not be the case after ten years - in every five children born on the earth, one will be an Indian. The wife was very much worried. She said, "My God. I am pregnant and this is my fifth child, and I don't want a Chinese in the house!"
Religions have been teaching wrong values. Man would have been in a totally different position...
They have not taught how to live in tune with nature, in tune with ecology; they have not taught how to live with each other without continuous killing, massacre, rape. In three thousand years there have been five thousand wars - as if man's only profession is to fight. For whom are you fighting?
If religions had taught, "Instead of being destructive, be creative. Rather than renouncing the world, renounce the nation, renounce the race; renounce all discriminations between black and white; renounce all limitations, boundaries that divide humanity. It is one humanity. This planet is our home, and we are all responsible to make it more beautiful, more livable..." But they were teaching, "Renounce this world, escape from this world." And where will these people escape to? They don't escape anywhere, they simply live here. They become parasites.
Now there are thousands of monasteries in China, in Japan, in India, in Europe. In these monasteries there are thousands of monks. Who feeds them? They don't create anything. All that they have created in the whole of history is the disease AIDS, nothing else. That is their only positive contribution! Homosexuality, sodomy... but their highest point is the disease AIDS. And they had renounced the world. Then why do they go on sitting on our necks? They should go and jump into the ocean. They have renounced the world; we can tell them goodbye. But they live here, they torture us, and they go on preaching all those ugly teachings which have made this earth so suicidal, so meaningless, so utterly poor in every dimension of life.
My basic interest is in bringing religiousness to life, to the marketplace, and in destroying the antagonism that has been created by all the religions between religiousness and the world. There is no antagonism. Religiousness is a beautiful flower; it can blossom in the marketplace, there is no problem, because religiousness can be reduced to a simple principle of meditation. There is no need of any other discipline.
Just as you deepen your meditativeness, your awareness becomes more and more crystal-clear, your life starts becoming more moral. Not according to any scripture, because they are all old and dead, and the situation in which they were written does not exist anymore. A moral person, according to me, is one who is capable of responding to the real situation directly, not according to any principle.
I am reminded of a Chinese story. There was a fair. And in old China the wells, water wells, were not protected by walls around them. They were open holes. In the night, in darkness, you could fall into a water well.
A man had fallen into a water well, but there was a fair - so much noise, so many people, who would hear his... he was shouting with his whole energy, "Help, I am dying!"
Just by chance a Buddhist monk passing by heard the man and looked down into the well. The man said, "Thank God you have heard; otherwise in this fair people are so mad, all kinds of noises are going on - music, dance, singing - who is going to listen to me?"
The Buddhist monk said, "Don't be worried, I will listen to you."
He said, "It is not a question of listening! You have to take me out of the well."
The Buddhist monk said, "That I cannot do, because according to my scripture, everybody has to suffer for his own evil acts done in past lives. You must have done evil acts. Suffer silently, be peaceful so that in the next life you don't have to suffer. Take care of the next life. What has happened has happened."
That man said, "I am still alive! All has not happened. I am young, my wife is there, my children are there, and you are saying all that has happened has happened. Do something!"
He said, "I cannot go against my scripture." And he went away.
He was followed by a Confucian monk. The monk said, "Confucius was right." The man said, "I agree, but first get me out!"
He said, "That will happen, but it will take time. A great revolution is needed." The man said, "But by that time... what revolution are you talking about?"
The monk said, "Confucius has written that every well should have a protective wall. I will go all over the country for your sake, for your children's sake, saying that every well should be protected with a wall."
The man said, "But, what about me?" He said, "As for you... I cannot do anything. Nobody listened to Confucius - what can I do? But as for your children, certainly nobody will fall."
The man said, "This is a strange place. A living man is dying and these idiots are talking about great revolutions."
Then came a Christian with a rope, with a bucket, and he immediately threw the rope in and the bucket and told the man, "Sit in the bucket and I will pull you out, don't be worried."
The man said, "This seems to be the only real religion. All those others are very cunning people talking about scriptures."
He said to the Christian missionary, "Your religion is the only true religion. But by the way, I want to ask, why were you carrying a rope and a bucket?"
The missionary said, "I am always on the safe side. Who knows? Somebody may have fallen, and this is the only way I can enter paradise. I am going to oppose that Confucian monk who is trying to make walls around every well. Then nobody will fall, and if nobody falls there will be no need of saviors. The door of paradise will be closed."
The man understood for the first time that he was not being saved. The missionary was making his own account, bank balance in paradise.
All these scriptures, all these religions, all these moralities may have been useful in certain circumstances, but life goes on changing. Every moment is new. So there are two ways of receiving the new moment that is knocking on your door. One is reaction: reaction comes from your principles, scriptures, knowledge, your church. And the other is response: response comes from your awareness. Except response there is no morality. Without response, whatever you do is going to lead you into some stupidity.
You see in Poona there are so many non-vegetarian mosquitoes. I have not heard of any species of mosquito which is vegetarian. You may not believe that in Calcutta the rich vegetarians have many cots in their gardens. Anybody who is ready to lie down on those cots, naked, the whole night, is paid. It happens even today.
They are so compassionate about the mosquitoes, because what will happen to those mosquitoes?
Their scriptures say save people, help people. They are saving people, helping people. Those people are the mosquitoes! And just giving five rupees to a man... he suffers the whole night, but it is worth five rupees. He will fight with the mosquitoes, but he will remain on the bed. And the people who are paying him are doing a virtuous act of paying the hungry.
Now, this net around the Buddha Auditorium is very much against the scriptures, because it is preventing the hungry. It is very immoral - so much good food and hungry people all around, but barriers... That's why people are against me - I teach against the scriptures.
Now a few religious things. You force me to talk about irreligion, but I don't forget the real religious things.
A young Arab returns to his tent late one night, very hungry. He lights a candle and starts to look through his bag for some food until he finds four dates. Taking out his knife, he cuts open a date to find it full of worms. He cuts open a second date, but it too has worms. The third date also has worms.
He sighs deeply, blows out the candle, and eats the last date.
A Canadian farmer is chopping wood to store it for the winter when an old Indian comes out of the forest and says, "Cold winter this year."
Hearing this, the farmer decides to chop more wood than usual. The following day he is still chopping when the old Indian appears again and says, "Very cold winter this year."
So the farmer keeps chopping late into the night. The following day he is at it again and by now he has a huge pile of wood when the old Indian comes by and says, "Very, very cold winter this year."
The farmer stops chopping and says, "Hey chief, how do you know that?"
"Well," says the Indian, "in my tribe we have a maxim which says: Cold weather comes to the neighborhood when you see the white man chopping wood."
Moishe Finkelstein gets a nasty letter from the tax office and he has to go for an interview. He phones his son, Fagin the lawyer, for some advice, and Fagin suggests that he wears old clothes so that he does not look too prosperous.
On the way to the tax office, Moishe bumps into Mendel Kravitz who tells him that dressed in this way he looks like a rascal and that the tax officer would immediately suspect something.
Moishe is very confused so he goes to visit Rabbi Nussbaum. The rabbi is out, but his wife lets Moishe into the house.
"What is your trouble?" she asks. And Moishe tells her his story.
"Aha!" she replies at the end of the tale. "This reminds me of when I was about to get married. I could not decide whether to wear a white nightdress and look like a virgin, or a black one and look experienced and seductive, so I asked my grandmother for advice."
"Oy!" cries Moishe. "And what did she say?"
"Well," says the rabbi's wife, "she told me, 'It doesn't matter what you wear - you'll get fucked anyway.'"
Yes, Beloved Master.