The first religious people in this world
WHAT IS THE "DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL"? AND IS IT OUT OF DATE? LOOKING INSIDE ME AND ALL AROUND ME, I ONLY SEE MORE JOY, CONTENTMENT, LOVINGNESS, APPRECIATION OF LIFE AND OF WHAT IS. LOOKING BACK, I SEE A LOT OF MISERY, HEAVINESS, PAIN - BUT THEY SEEM TO BE RELATED TO WRONG UPBRINGING AND UNNECESSARY SELF-TORTURE, NOT TO ANY DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL.
YET, I SEEM TO REMEMBER YOU ALSO TALKING ABOUT HAVING, YOURSELF, GONE THROUGH DEEP DESPAIR, RELATED TO THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH. SO I WONDER, IS THIS RELAXING MORE AND MORE INTO THE JOY OF BEING ALIVE, WITH SUCH BEAUTY ALL AROUND, WITH SLOWLY GROWING WATCHFULNESS - IS THIS JUST FINE; OR ARE WE, AM I, SOMEHOW JUST STAYING ON THE SURFACE AND NOT MOVING INTO THE DEPTH OF THE "SEARCH"? AND WHY AM I ASKING?
Garimo, the question you have raised is very significant in the context of the whole human past.
Every religion has been life-negative. And when you negate life, you create misery for yourself; when you go against life, you are going in darkness. Life is light, but no religion in the world has existed up to now which does not teach people attitudes leading to darkness, despair, depression, guilt, sinfulness. They all reduce your dignity, your humanity - it is their vested interest.
I agree with Bertrand Russell only on one point: where he says, "If every human being becomes happy, comfortably happy, religions will disappear." Nobody has taken note of the significance of his statement, what the implication of it is. Its implication is that religions need misery, despair, unhappiness, for their very survival. And they have a vast investment.
Now the Catholic Church is the greatest firm, compared to any business firm in the world. Six hundred million people, almost a nation, are under the thumb of a Polack pope. So much money and power and prestige is bestowed on religions, their deities, their temples.
In India there is a temple in the south which has so much income every day that it runs a whole university. Perhaps that is the only university in the world that a temple runs - all the salaries and everything. And still the temple goes on becoming rich, because the superstition is that if you donate to the deity of the temple, you will get a millionfold in the other world. Now, who is going to miss such a chance?
And you can see it clearly, that you remember about God and about heaven and hell, and about the BIBLE and the KORAN and the GITA only when you are miserable. Have you ever seen somebody who is happy and rejoicing carrying a BIBLE? He will carry a bottle of wine; this is not the time for carrying a BIBLE. And who reads these Bibles, Vedas? Just old people who are coming close to death and are becoming afraid - afraid perhaps there may be a God. Perhaps they are going to encounter God, and if he asks any question... naturally he will ask a question. It is better to do some homework.
A man who was a salesman of dictionaries and encyclopedias was telling the woman, standing on her doorstep, "This is the latest encyclopedia. You and your children, all will be benefited by it." But she said, "We have it already. You can see, there in the corner."
The man looked in the corner. There was a book of the same thickness. He said, "That is not an encyclopedia, that is the HOLY BIBLE." The woman could not believe it - from that far, how could he judge that the book was the HOLY BIBLE? She said, "That amazes me. You are certainly a man of knowledge. How could you manage to see that that is a HOLY BIBLE?"
He said, "Anybody can conclude that, seeing the layer of dust that has gathered on the BIBLE."
Who opens it? People become interested only when they are almost in their graves. I say almost, because they don't want to take any chance. To be on the safer side, look into the holy book, read something here and there. If God meets you and enquires, and you can't answer, you are bound to be in trouble.
I have never seen a man who is joyous, blissful, peaceful, and rejoicing in all that the existence offers you - its silences, its rain, its music of the wind passing through the pine trees, its people... all that it gives you. If you cannot dance, then perhaps you don't know the language. You have been forced to forget the language of dance; you have been forced to forget the language of love.
Everything valuable has been condemned: love is sin; even to rejoice in the world is preparing your path to hell. The only way to God and to his paradise is, torture yourself, and torture as perfectly as possible. Renounce everything that can give any joy to you. Escape from every place where people are happy, where people are loving. Go to the mountains, to the monasteries where other idiots have gathered already. Read the same stupid stories of the BIBLE every day. And naturally, if a man can read the Old Testament every day, even if he has any intelligence, he will lose it. Then begins the dark night of the soul.
You are more fortunate than I am. You are saying, Garimo, "Even you have talked somewhere about having yourself gone through deep despair, related to the search for truth." I was not so fortunate to meet a man like me! I met all kinds of fools; it was sheer fortune that I never became convinced of any life-negative attitude.
That remained my criterion: unless I find a source which affirms love, which affirms beauty, which affirms flowers and the stars; unless I find the source from where all that is great has arisen - great poetry, great art, great painting, great architecture... I am not going to be convinced by any person whose whole contribution in life has been destructive.
It is a strange phenomenon. Politicians have been destroying, in wars, continuously. Religious people are destroying not others but themselves, very piously, and feeling great. But whether you commit suicide or you commit murder, in every case you destroy life. It doesn't matter whether it is suicide or murder; the politician commits murder, and your so-called saint commits suicide. This was so clear to me that I never followed any life-negative approach.
I had to struggle alone, without any guide, without any friend, without any map. It is a miracle that, surrounded by all these religious teachings, I was not convinced by anybody. I remained stubborn, absolutely trusting only one thing - you can call it love, you can call it life, you can call it light... But to me, destruction cannot be the goal of existence, only creation. That which creates is the only authentic religious consciousness. You can understand my problem, why all the religions are bound to be against me, and why I am going to be against them.
In a world news conference, the first question was asked to me by a woman reporter, "Don't you believe in coexistence?" I simply said, "No." Everybody was shocked. All the reporters, all the media people - nobody was expecting such an answer. Coexistence means compromise; coexistence means, "I know you are my enemy, I am your enemy, but what to do? Neither I can destroy you, nor you can destroy me, because nobody wants to go to jail. So it is better to talk about a great philosophy of coexistence."
I believe in love, but I don't believe in coexistence. But unfortunately every husband and every wife are living in coexistence, not life; tolerating each other as much as possible.
They can see the superstitions of religions, but again they compromise, because so many people...
who is going to be against six hundred million Catholics? And you have to live with them, you have to work with them. It is better to compromise, it is better to remain silent; it is better to ignore points where you differ. Your life is a life of compromise. And a life of compromise is a life of the dark night of the soul.
I have never compromised. Either I am right or I am wrong. There are not degrees - that I am a little right. There are not percentages - that fifty percent I am right, fifty percent you are right. Right is a hundred percent; otherwise it is not right. And a lie is a hundred percent a lie; otherwise it is not a lie.
But from the very childhood, in every sphere of your life you are told not to come in conflict - be polite.
In other words, always manage some compromise. But when there are so many compromises - politically, socially - you become a stranger to yourself. You have so many masks, you lose contact with your original face. And a mask cannot enjoy, it is dead. It cannot laugh, it cannot love. Only the original face is capable of understanding the language of the universe.
Love is the language.
Dance is the expression of your gratitude.
There is no question of any dark night of the soul, but I had to pass through it because nobody told me. There was no reference anywhere in the whole literature of the world. I went to this saint and to that saint. And if I see all kinds of idiots doing all kinds of stupid things, I cannot tolerate it. When I see something stupid, I make it a point to make that man alert, that this is stupid.
A saint was fasting for sixty days, and thousands of people were coming every day to touch his feet - a great spiritual master. Seeing that so many people were going, I thought, "There is no harm.
Perhaps this is somebody in whose eyes I can see the light, in whose gestures I can see the grace."
And there I saw a half-dead, utterly stupid man. I asked him, "Before you die, answer me at least, what relationship is there between spirituality and starvation? And if starvation is spiritual, then why are people trying to remove poverty from the world? People should try to remove richness from the world, so that everybody becomes spiritual."
That man looked at me and he said, "You are asking me a strange question. For thousands of years fasting has been considered to be spiritual."
I said, "I am not worried about thousands of years. You have the experience of sixty days - what spirituality have you gained? Just give me some indication." He looked here and there - what indication could he give?
I said, "The only indication is that within a few days you will die. But there is still time if you have courage - it needs great courage to disappoint the worshippers. When you have thousands of worshippers, it needs tremendous courage." I said, "I can bring delicious food for you. These people will be very much against me, but if you are ready...."
He said, "Don't talk about such things. Don't seduce me! You are trying to drag me out of my spiritual path."
I said, "I am simply wasting some money for your food, I am not dragging you. Once you are okay, then you can drag yourself anywhere you want to go. For a few days I can manage to keep you in my house. You can get well, and then go on any path you want. But right now you are going into death, it is not a path."
The man thought for a moment, understood clearly that what I was saying was right. But to disappoint so many people... And it was not only a question of disappointing so many people, it was a question of losing respect in the eyes of so many people.
He said to me, "Please, don't disturb me." Because I went every day with the same proposal, with greater persuasion. And the man was getting more and more persuaded and more and more afraid of me.
Finally he said to his disciples that if I come he does not want to see me. "Prevent this man from coming, because one or two days more and he will convince me - because I cannot give any argument about why being hungry is spiritual." And if being hungry is spiritual, then why are you drinking water? Stop drinking too. That will make you more spiritual. In fact, why waste the time of so many people? Just commit hara-kiri! Why make such a circus? But these circuses have been going on around the world for ages.
And what do these worshippers see in these saints? They are suffering, they are being tortured. It touches a very strange thing in human psychology. You enjoy people being tortured, and you enjoy more if the people are torturing themselves. Then nobody is responsible. The crowd that follows such saints are sadists; they love to see torture. And the people who are torturing themselves are suffering from another psychological disease - they are masochists. They enjoy torturing themselves and enjoy also the great respect that is coming to them.
But no religion in the world has given respect to love or to joy or to music or to dance or to any creativity that beautifies existence. They are all against it. Their whole business is to convince you that your authentic blissfulness is not in this world. Jesus says, "My kingdom of God is not of this world." This is, in essence, the teaching of all the religions. Their kingdom is beyond death, a fiction.
Torture yourself if you want to enter their fictitious paradise. And meanwhile let the priest enjoy the power, the money; let the priest enjoy the ego.
In fact, seen in the light of psychological analysis, the whole humanity has been, up to now, sick.
But because the sickness is so prevalent, it is very difficult to think that it is sickness. You never think that your nose is something wrong, but if you have instead of five fingers, six fingers, you think something is wrong.
I used to work in a university, and one university teacher had twelve fingers. She used to hide them, and I said, "You are an idiot. You should make other people feel that 'You are missing. I have six - you have only five.' What is wrong in having six fingers? Why feel guilty about it? Make some use of it and let others feel that they are missing the sixth finger." But it is difficult because millions of people have only ten fingers.
That's why every language in the world has ten basic mathematical digits, because man started calculating, in the primitive days, on his fingers. And a person like me still counts on the fingers and still gets lost after the fourth - it becomes so complicated! You will be surprised, all the languages have, strangely, agreed without even being in contact; they have developed ten basic digits. And then it is repetition - eleven and twelve and thirteen.... After ten you can go on repeating as long as you want, but ten is the base. It simply means that man has always had five fingers, so nobody thinks anything wrong about five fingers, or anything right about five fingers. One simply takes it for granted; that's how things are.
The psychological sickness of enjoying either your own torture or somebody else's torture is the very foundation of all your religions. And you will not believe how inventive these psychologically sick people have been. Just a few examples... I will have to count on my fingers, and I know I will get lost!
In Russia there was a Christian sect - most prominent, because nobody could do what they were doing. Every religion has been teaching celibacy, but they had done the ultimate: they started cutting off their sexual organs. A man who cut off his sexual organs would become a saint - so simple. That means people who are born... a few people are born impotent; they are born spiritual people. You may not be aware - in the world outside India, perhaps they don't show themselves the way they do in India.
In India they have their own organizations and their only work is... they are neither man nor woman.
They don't have any sexual organs. They look like men, and they use the clothes of women; they are very strange people. Their main center is Lucknow, their headquarters; they have their president.
And their only work is, when somebody is born, they go and dance and celebrate and get rewarded.
They move from one place to another place in groups, finding out if somebody has been born. They look strange, very ugly.
But in Russia, thousands of men used to cut off their sexual organs in great ceremonies. Thousands of people would come to see it - if they cannot cut, at least they can see the great saints who are renouncing sexuality completely. And they don't know that sexuality is not in the sexual organ.
Sexuality has its center in your brain. That's why you can dream a sexual dream, and if you start thinking of sexual images, immediately your sexual organ will be ready to act. But the source is in your mind. The soldier does not act on his own accord! Even if you cut it off, do you think you will not think of sex anymore, your dreams will not be sexual? They will be more sexual. Of course, you cannot do anything.
And women were not going to remain behind when so many men were becoming saints so easily.
Poor women started cutting off their breasts - thousands of women. Before the Russian revolution, they made it a law that anybody doing such harm to the body will be thought a criminal. It continued for centuries. It is crime, but it is the same kind of crime whether you fast, you torture the body... or you can take the vow of celibacy, then you torture the body. Or you can learn from yogis distortions of all kinds. It takes a long time and training and discipline, and all that you can do is stupid distortions unnecessarily.
Somebody is standing on his head.... Do you think a man standing on his head becomes spiritual?
All it simply says is that he is an idiot. He will lose all intelligence, because man has intelligence just because he is the only animal who stands on legs, against gravitation. So a very small quantity of blood reaches his head. Because of the small quantity of blood very fine nerves have grown in the brain. If you stand on your head, all the blood rushes towards your head, destroying this delicate system. It is so clear. Have you seen any yogi - and in this country, for thousands of years there have been millions of yogis - who has contributed to life anything - anything intelligible, anything understandable? But they become great saints.
In Varanasi, which is the Hindu capital, you will still find people lying on a bed of thorns. And flowers are showered on them, and sweets and coconuts. That man was a nut himself, and now you are offering him coconuts! I have been with these people, and I became friendly with such a coconut, to find out his secret. He said, "Do you want to become a saint like me?"
I said, "Really, I want to become a saint like you. This is such a beautiful job, and you are the most expert here." I puffed up his ego as much as possible. I told other people also, "You are just wasting time unnecessarily. The real saint is lying there in that corner." More flowers, more coconuts started coming. The man became very friendly. He said, "Come on, I will tell you the truth."
One evening when there was nobody... And on the bank of the Ganges where he used to lie it was not silent. The day had ended, the sun had set - just a little light before the night came. He showed me his back. And what I suspected was the truth. On your back there are points which don't feel pain and there are points which feel very much pain. You can tell a friend to take a needle and prick a few places on your back, and you will be surprised that there are a few places where you cannot feel the needle.
Those beds are made in such a way that the needles touch only the painless spots. It is simple cheating, but it is called saintliness. But if you say this, you are against religion, you are against tradition; you are destroying and corrupting people's faith.
There is a record of a certain Christian sect in the Middle Ages which used to have shoes made in such a way that needles were coming up inside the shoe, entering the feet. They would make wounds and the monk would walk on those shoes. They would make belts with needles entering inside the body, and those needles would make wounds. And people would worship the monks.
There was another sect that was very highly praised. Every morning, the saint had to stand naked under the sky and beat himself. Blood would start coming out, and people were gathering around churches to see these scenes. In Mohammedanism there is still a sect in which the person beats just on his chest until he becomes unconscious. And when he becomes unconscious, then people touch his feet. Then people take the dust on which he has fallen, because he is a saint. These ideologies and different ways of torturing created the dark night of the soul.
Garimo, to you, to my people there is no dark night of the soul. For me it was. I had seen that it was a tradition-oriented, self-torturing ideology which dominated all over the world, every religion. But I went on questioning, until I was satisfied that something was in tune with life. Those were the days of despair, because I was trying to find and there was no answer anywhere for any question.
Nobody could tell me what is the meaning of our being here, what is the significance. Why should I go on living? If today has been a wastage, tomorrow is going to be a repetition. Those days were days of despair. But I went on questioning; I did not compromise; I did not get consoled with some bogus, hocus-pocus ideology. I never said to myself, "One has just to live, so don't go on digging into the roots. Just accept whatever is offered - millions of people are living without any problem, why should you create problems?"
But I never accepted any belief, I never accepted any idea. And slowly, slowly the ultimate result was, a tremendous silence started happening to me. My friends, my family, people all became afraid - it seemed I was going mad, because they had seen only mad people in such situations. I would sit for hours staring at nothing. My friends would ask, "What are you staring at?"
I said, "Nothing."
They asked, "Then why are you staring?"
I said, "What else to do? It is a difficult world. If I sit with closed eyes, people ask, 'Why are you sitting with closed eyes?' If I don't close my eyes, they think I am going mad - 'Why are you staring?' If I stare at somebody he becomes fidgety. He starts becoming angry - 'Why are you staring at me?'"
Psychologists have found that you can look at a person without making him annoyed only for three seconds. More than that and he will start becoming annoyed - why does this man go on staring at me? Just try. And I said, "I have nothing else to do. And here I don't see anything worth seeing; you are worth seeing, so I am staring."
But my inner world was becoming so silent that either with closed eyes or open eyes there was not a single thought moving. This silence was the beginning of my learning the language of universal silence. This is what I have called hari om tat sat. It has nothing to do with any religion. It is simply means, the divine sound: that is the only truth.
Everything else is a fiction. Everything else is ephemeral, illusory. But the music of the universe, if you can get in tune with it... And there is nothing to be done. You don't have to be on a fast, because if you are on a fast you cannot get in tune with the universe; you will get in tune with your hunger. But even in this end part of the twentieth century, in the most evolved countries like America, stupidities continue.
One man, the founder of EST, Erhardt, was here. He has been earning millions of dollars, but finally people found out the trick - they have been befooled. That's why so many religions have arisen and disappeared. There was a time when they became the fashion; they appealed and everybody started saying, "This is great!" And particularly in America, any stupid thing and you will find people who will say, "This is great. Far out!"
What Erhardt was doing was such a simple strategy: a weekend seminar for two weeks; one seminar for two hundred and fifty dollars. For two days you have to be from the morning till late in the night sitting in the hall, listening to all kinds of nonsense. And you are not allowed to go to the toilet - that was the spiritual discipline. But the bladder is the bladder; it becomes full sooner or later.
People will keep holding, they will become tense as time will pass, and they will look all around - everybody is tense, but it needs courage. You cannot be allowed, otherwise you will miss it. And nobody asks what it is that you will miss. And finally somebody will get it. There will come a moment when you cannot control; there is a limitation. And finally one man proves courageous enough and urinates in the hall. And immediately others start, because everybody is ready.
You can try it alone, although it will not be so effective alone. When after a long, tense control you relax, it feels so great! It is a spiritual experience. And you cannot say to anybody that it is not, because you have paid two hundred and fifty dollars. So you go on spreading the message, "I have got it. What it is, is inexpressible. One has to get it, only then one understands." And spreading by word of mouth, that a few people are getting it just for two hundred and fifty dollars... give it a try.
Women were first to get it because their bladder control is not that great. Man can control a little longer. So women became leaders, almost saints, because they got it first. And when a woman is getting it, then it hurts the ego of the man: "Forget all about it and get IT." Now he has stopped that business because everybody has got it. And now nobody is ready; everybody understands that they have been befooled. But for almost ten years he made thousands of people enlightened.
It is certainly a great experience, and you don't have to depend on anyone, you can try it alone.
There is no need to waste two hundred and fifty dollars. Just one morning go on controlling, and soon there will come a moment when it will happen. You don't have to do it. That is how Zen has come to the West: it happens, you don't have to do it; it is effortless effort. But when it comes it brings such peace. One feels so much at ease, forgets all anxiety. One has arrived. Although tomorrow the same rut... but now you have the key. Whenever you want to arrive - a simple strategy.
But in a very well-educated, sophisticated society, if people can be deceived, what about the whole past of humanity?
All the religions have been deceiving you. They have been deceiving in the name of God. They have been deceiving that you will get rewarded after death, and if you don't listen you will be punished by hellfire for eternity. And people believed it.
I have heard about Christian missionaries in the Middle Ages, shouting and beating on the table about what will happen to the sinners. And describing it in such detail that ladies will faint, children will start crying. Even men will start perspiring. "Hellfire. Somehow one has to save oneself from hellfire. Only God can save you. Only Jesus Christ can save you." And the strangest thing is, Jesus Christ could not save himself. My people in America made a small sign to be put on cars: Moses earns, Jesus saves, Shree Rajneesh spends. Now, what stupidity!
Garimo, you need not be worried, there is no dark night of the soul for you. There will be only a starry night, full of light and joy, with a dawn coming closer every moment. I want to insist on it.
It appears very strange, but I cannot resist. I have to declare it, that you are the first religious people in this world, in the sense that you can laugh, that you can love, that you can live, that you can enjoy small things of life without bothering about fictions. And if you can learn to enjoy this life, this moment, then if there is any other life, you know how to enjoy it.
In this life learn to enjoy. Discipline your senses to be more musical; discipline yourself to be more sensitive, intelligent, because whatever is going to come... I don't say what is going to come - who cares? - because whatever will be said will be simply a fiction again. Whatever is going to come tomorrow, we will enjoy it with more intensity, more clarity, more discipline, more love.
And the same is true about after death. If there is life after death... I say there is, but I don't want you to believe it. There is no need to believe. Just live this life, and if any life happens after this life you will be able to enjoy. And if nothing happens, nothing happens. There is no harm; you simply are not.
What was the problem when you were not born? Everything was going perfectly well. One day you will die, and everything will go perfectly well. Either you will be - then you know how to enjoy - or you will not be, so there is no problem for you. My understanding is simple and clear.
Paddy and Seamus are sitting in the pub, having a drink together.
"A burglar got into my house at three o'clock this morning," says Paddy, "while I was on my way home from the pub."
"Did he get anything?" asks Seamus.
"He certainly did," says Paddy. "The poor guy is in the hospital. My wife, Maureen, thought it was me!"
Hymie Goldberg walks into where the last supper is being held. He sits down at the table and says to the waiter, "Give me a scotch and soda."
"I'm sorry sir," replies the waiter, "all we are serving here is wine."
"Okay, some wine then," says Hymie, "and give me a mushroom pizza and a large salad."
"Sorry sir," says the waiter, "but all we are serving is bread."
"My God! Only bread and wine?" yells Hymie. "The guy who's giving this party should be crucified!"
A man goes into a pharmacy and buys a pound of arsenic poison. Next week he comes back and asks for a packet of sleeping pills.
"I'm sorry, sir," says the pharmacist, "but you need a prescription for them."
"My God!" says the man. "Last week you sold me a pound of arsenic poison and I did not need a prescription for that."
"I know," replies the pharmacist, "but arsenic is not addictive."
Paddy wakes up in hospital, covered in bandages, and notices Seamus sitting at his bedside.
"What happened to me?" asks Paddy.
"Well," replies Seamus, "you had a few too many drinks last night, and then you made a bet that you could jump out of the window and fly around the pub."
"Why didn't you stop me?" Paddy screams.
"Stop you?" replies Seamus. "Hell, I bet twenty-five dollars on you."
Yes, Beloved Master.