The first question
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. THE EGO CANNOT BE SACRIFICED because the ego exists not.
The ego is just all idea: it has no substance in it. It is not something -- it is just pure nothing. You give it reality by believing in it. You can withdraw belief and the reality disappears, evaporates.
The ego is a kind of absence. Because you don't know yourself, hence the ego. The moment you know yourself, no ego is found. The ego is like darkness; darkness has no positive existence of its own; it ii simply the absence of light. You cannot fight with darkness, or can you? You cannot throw darkness out of the room; you cannot take it out, you cannot take it in. You cannot do anything with darkness directly. If you want to do anything with darkness, you will have to do something with light. If you put the light on, there is no darkness; if you put the light off, there is darkness.
Darkness is only the absence of light -- so is ego: absence of self-knowledge. You cannot sacrifice it.
It has been told to you again and again: "Sacrifice your ego" -- and the statement is patently absurd, because something that does not exist cannot be sacrificed. And if you try to sacrifice it, something which is not there in the first place at all, you will be creating a new ego -- the ego of the humble, the ego of the egoless, the ego of the person who thinks he has sacrificed his ego. It will be a new kind of darkness again.
No, I don't say to you: Sacrifice the ego. On the contrary, I say: Try to see where the ego is. Look DEEP into it; try to locate it, where it exists, whether it exists at all or not.
Before one can sacrifice anything one must be certain about its existence.
But don't be against it from the very beginning. If you are against it, you cannot look deep into it. There is no need to be against anything. The ego is your experience -- maybe it is just apparent, but it is still your experience. Your whole life moves around the phenomenon of the ego. It may be a dream.
But to you it is so true.
There is no need to be against it. Dive deep into it, go into it. Going into it means bringing awareness into your house, bringing light into darkness. Be alert, watchful.
Watch the ways of the ego, how it functions, how it manages at all. And you will be surprised: the deeper you go into it, the less it is found. And when you have penetrated to the very core of your being, you will find something totally different which is not ego, which is egolessness. It is self, supreme self -- it is God. You have disappeared as a separate entity; you are no more an island, now you are part of the whole.
In that experience of being one with the whole, the ego IS sacrificed, but that is only a way of speaking, a metaphor. Don't take it literally.
Try to understand the ego. Analyse it, dissect it, watch it, observe it, from as many angles as possible. And don't be in a hurry to sacrifice it, otherwise the greatest egoist is born:
the person who thinks he is humble, the person who thinks that he has no ego.
That is again the same story played on a more subtle level. That's what the religious people have been doing down the ages: pious egoists they have been. They have made their ego even more decorated; it has taken the colour of religion and holiness. Your ego is better than the ego of a saint; your ego is better, far better -- because your ego is very gross, and the gross ego can be understood and dropped more easily than the subtle. The subtle ego goes on playing such games that it is very difficult. One will need absolute awareness to watch it.
The ego of the sinner is more easily dropped than the ego of the saint. And the saint can always manage to pretend. And his ego is so polished, so decorated, so holy, so sanctified by tradition, by convention, by the crowd, that he may almost forget about it.
The real search is not to make your ego humble; that is ego standing upside-down, ego doing SHIRSHASAN -- headstand. Avoid it. Rather, follow a totally different path:
meditate on the phenomenon of ego, enquire what it is. And as the enquiry deepens, the ego disappears. Enquiring into the ego you will come to the self.
And remember: the self has nothing to do with the ego, because the self has nothing to do with you at all. The self is always the supreme self: AHAM BRAHMASMI! -- I am God!
At that point, you are not, only God is: Tat-tvam-asi -- thou art that. At that point, there is no distinction between thou and that. The dewdrop has disappeared into the ocean and has become the ocean itself.
But no sacrifice -- the non-substantial cannot be sacrificed, it can only be understood.
And in the very understanding is the disappearing. And this disappearance is beautiful, because it does not leave any traces behind, no scars, no wounds.
The second question
RATIONALIZATION IS A TRICK OF THE MIND to deceive not only others but yourself too. Your husband may be practising rationalization himself. Whenever he says to you, "This is a rationalization," it may be nothing but a rationalization on his part. He wants to avoid, he wants to escape; he does not want to answer directly. He condemns you.
And of course he uses a big, very big word: rationalization. And naturally the wife is cowed down -- there must be something wrong. And the husband knows, and he is a professor of philosophy, so he is bound to know. He is practising rationalization himself.
Rationalization is not true reasoning; it is a strategy, a pretension. It pretends to be rational but it is not.
"Why do you drink?" asked Hogan.
"Booze killed me mother," answered Kehoe, "and booze killed me father -- I am drinking for revenge!"
This is a rationalization. If you want to drink, drink! But this is a very subtle way of deceiving yourself and others.
From a diary of an Italian girl on a Caribbean cruise:
Monday -- was invited to dine at the Captain's table.
Tuesday -- spent the day with the Captain.
Wednesday -- Captain made ungentlemanly proposals to me.
Thursday -- Captain said he would sink the ship if I did not agree to his proposals.
Friday -- saved five hundred lives.
This is rationalization. Man is very cunning; man's cunningness is unlimited. And people go on doing things in the name of reason.
Today Acharya Vinoba Bhave is going to start his fast unto death -- because he wants a total ban on cow slaughter. He calls it his religious duty. How can this be a religious duty? This is blackmail; this is threatening the country. And from where has he got the idea? He says that his mother appeared in his dream and told him, "This is the work that you have to do."
Now, for his dream, and a mother of the dream, he is threatening the country: "I will commit suicide if you don't listen to me." But rather than saying it directly, "I will commit suicide," he says he will fast unto death.
And these people are thought to be saintly, and these people are thought to be great preachers of non-violence. That's exactly what his master, Mahatma Gandhi, did his whole life; now he is perpetuating the rotten tradition. For these thirty years at least, India has suffered from these people -- and there seems to be no end to it.
This is called non-violence. If I threaten somebody that "I will kill you if you don't listen to me," I will be caught by the police. I will be a criminal against the law. But if I threaten that "I will kill myself if you don't listen to me," this is thought to be some holy act.
This is strange that nobody says, "These people should immediately be caught and brought into the court -- because they are threatening suicide, and it is a crime against the law." Any attempt to commit suicide is a crime against the law. But Vinoba Bhave is a saint.
Morarji Desai went to see him to persuade him: "Don't do it!" because he himself has been doing it, the same thing. That's how he bas come in power: by threatening to commit suicide.
These are subtle ways of coercion, violence. Who is one single person to decide for the whole country? Then somebody can say, "I will fast unto death unless everybody stops smoking -- because my mother appeared in the dream and she said, 'Son, this great work you have to do.'" Coercion becomes non-violence. A threat to commit suicide becomes a beautiful thing when you call it 'fast unto death'! And rather than being caught by the police and brought before the court, the prime minister runs, the ministers are running and everybody is trying to persuade him: "Don't go on your fast unto death." And nobody is saying that this is a crime!
These are rationalizations. One can do anything if one has a cunning and clever mind to rationalize it.
Malti, sometimes you may be rationalizing -- watch it. But my own experience of women is that they are not great rationalizers -- men are bigger rationalizers, because women live more intuitively, more instinctively, and man lives more through the head, through reason.
Women don't bother much about logic. Their behaviour is more or less illogical -- instinctive, spontaneous. They don't try to masquerade it in a logical way; they simply jump from one point to another without bothering about the Aristotelian process of logic.
They simply jump! Their leaps are quantum, from one point to another. You cannot see what the bridge is, how they manage to get from one point to another. Their ways are totally different from men's.
Malti, more possibility is that your husband is rationalizing, that this is his way of putting you down. He uses philosophical jargon: rationalization. And, of course, you become afraid -- you have done something wrong. I can't think, Malti, that you can do much of a rationalization; women don't indulge in it. But it is better to understand, because to be with a husband who is a professor of philosophy it is better to understand what rationalization is. And now, next time, whatsoever your husband says, you simply say, "This is a rationalization,' and watch what happens.
Just the other day I was reading about a psychiatrist who was mending his car, and his boy was playing with a little girl from the neighbourhood on the balcony on the first story. And down below he was tinkering with his car.
Suddenly the boy pushed the girl from the balcony and she fell down on the ground. The father was, of course, angry. He looked up and before he could say anything, the boy asked, "Dad, can you tell me why I did it? You are supposed to be the psychoanalyst, psychiatrist -- tell me why I did it."
Next time your husband says anything, don't be worried about it -- just say, "This is a rationalization." He is using a big word; a few people are obsessed with big words. But rationalization is a subtle process; people indulge in it -- men more. I have rarely come across a woman who indulges in rationalization; except the lib women nobody indulges in rationalization. They are following all the way the footsteps of men.
But it is good to understand what it is, and if you indulge in it, it is better not to indulge in it. It is a camouflage. It is better to be authentic, true, rather than hiding yourself behind smoke screens.
Now, it will be good if Vinoba Bhave simply says, "I want to impose my will on this country," that will be simple. "I am ready to die if my will is not accepted." But that he will not say, "I want to impose my will on this country," because then he will be exposed:
"Who are you to impose your will? This is a democracy. You cannot impose your will.
You have a single vote -- a single vote equal to everybody else's vote. Nobody's vote is more valuable, so who are you?"
But this is how this goes on....
Morarji Desai wants to impose prohibition on the country. Who are you to impose such things? Then where is freedom and where is democracy? Yes, if you are against alcohol, teach, express yourself, argue, persuade... that's what democracy means. Persuade people!
If you are against cow slaughter, go around and persuade people not to eat cow meat. But threatening that you will commit suicide is very totalitarian dictatorial, undemocratic. It is a crime against the people, against the law, against democracy.
But you can hide the fact in religious terminology, you can go on doing something with a mask. And people wear masks: rationalization is one of the ways of wearing masks.
Be true. Be authentic. There is no need to be untrue, because the more untrue you become, the farther and farther you will be from God.
I am not worried about your husband -- I am worried about your being farther and farther away from God. If you indulge in strategies like rationalization, you will never come closer to your own inner self where God resides. Drop all false faces so that you can find your original face. And to find the original face is the greatest blessing and the greatest benediction in life.
The third question
THIS QUESTION MAKES EVERYBODY AFRAID. It is nothing exceptional; it is absolutely the case with everybody. Whoever wants to go deep into the question, into the quest, of "Who am I?" is bound to feel fear at a certain point. Why? Because there comes a point where you cross the boundary of the ego and enter into the world of egolessness.
That point is the point of great fear -- because it looks like death. And, in fact, it is a kind of death: the ego disappears.
And up to now that has been your identity. Up to now that's what you have been thinking you are. And suddenly it starts evaporating. A great fear grips the heart: "I am dying!"
because your identity is dying. You are not really dying; in fact, you are being born. It is a rebirth, it is a true birth.
It is like the seed dying into the soil. The seed must be feeling afraid, nervous, trembling.
How can the seed trust that once he is gone there will be a great tree and great flowering?
The seed will not be there to witness it; no seed has ever witnessed it, so how can this seed believe and trust?
And the same happens with the ego: the ego cannot trust that there is anything more than itself And the ego is dying, and the ego starts breathing its last, and you become afraid.
Many people turn back from that point, rush back out.
This is going to happen to every meditator. Hence, Dada, your question is significant, very significant. Every meditator has to encounter this situation, this challenge. ManY times people come to the point from where they would have entered into God, but they could not risk, they could not gather courage. They became afraid, scared; they rushed out.
You have to take the risk. And I tell you, from my own experience, it is not death. Yes, it is a death to the ego, but the death of the ego is the birth of the soul. You will die as a drop, but you will be born as the ocean. It is worth it. You will be dying only as a limited being, as a defined being, and you will be born as undefined, undefinable.
Yes, you will disappear, with all your neurosis, psychosis. with all your tensions, anxieties, anguishes: you will disappear with all your problems, worries; you will disappear as you have known yourself up to now. But your disappearance is only a change of garments, and you will be getting closer to your reality, deeper into your reality. You will get more rooted into being.
That's the whole search!
You ask me: WHEN THIS QUESTION ARISES -- WHO AM I? -- I GET VERY AFRAID.
It is natural. It is a good sign that you are coming closer to the boundary. You may be standing exactly on the boundary; that's why whenever the question arises, immediately you become afraid. Feel blessed that you are so close to the boundary from where a totally new world and a totally new life can have a start. Just one single step... and you will be a new man, and you will be an original man. Just a single step, and all the garbage that the society has dumped on you will have dropped, and you will be just a pure consciousness. You will have wings! Now you are just crawling on the earth... and then you will be able to soar high towards the sun.
To be with a Master simply means to learn trust, to learn the art of risking, to learn the ways of adventuring into the unknown. Yes, the sea is uncharted, and it is dangerous to leave the shore, but it is only the people who leave the shore who taste something of immortality. It is only the people who take the risk of going into danger who really live; others only pass through life, but they really don't live. Others only vegetate; others only move through empty gestures.
So now this is a very decisive moment for you. You can go back, you can cling to your identity, or you can go ahead, not looking hack at all. Be courageous! I can only say this much: that the same has happened to me, the same fear -- it is human. I had also gone back and forth. To cross this line is really difficult. But sooner or later, one decides -- because going and coming back does not help. And once you have come so close to the line, you cannot be satisfied with your ordinary life any more. So you can go out, but there you will find everything has become meaningless. Now you will be in a dilemma.
And this is the work of a Master: to create the dilemma. The without becomes meaningless, and the within seems to be dangerous. To live the ordinary life again becomes impossible, and to take the jump into the new also seems impossible. But sooner or later, one decides to take the jump -- because what is the point of clinging to something that has become meaningless, which has lost all significance! How long can you cling to it?
The Master waits, the Master remains patient. He allows you to go back and forth, he goes on watching that you are shunting in and out. But he knows one thing: that every day the outer will go on losing its significance more and more. One day it will be utterly useless, absurd, to be there. And as the outer loses significance, the inner will become more and more magnetic -- simultaneously the process happens.
And one day it becomes irresistible -- one has to cross the line. And that day is the greatest day in a human being's life, when you drop your old identity and enter into the unknown -- you have encountered God, you have come home.
The fourth question
Darius M. Mody,
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE BELIEFS and still live in peace. The belief is the root cause of all conflict. Only a world of agnostic seekers can be one. Believers cannot allow the world to be one.
For example, the Christian believes that it is only through Christ that salvation is possible -- now, how is a Mohammedan going to tolerate it? The very idea is a danger for him. He believes that only through Mohammed is true salvation possible. And how can this be tolerated by the Buddhist who thinks that except for Buddha there has never been another enlightened person? Buddha and Mahavira lived together, they were contemporaries, but Buddhists don't think that Mahavira is enlightened; neither do Jainas, the followers of Mahavira, think that Buddha is enlightened. Now, how is a Jaina going to believe that Jesus is enlightened? -- because he is not a vegetarian, he is a non-vegetarian. How can a non-vegetarian become enlightened? The belief of the Jaina is that one who becomes enlightened is bound to be vegetarian. How can he kill? His belief is going to become a barrier.
And ask the Christian -- he cannot believe in Mahavira because he never helped the poor.
Just standing under a tree naked, meditating with closed eyes, looks very selfish to the Christian. Mahavira should have opened at least a few hospitals, schools; he never did anything. He did not do any miracles either -- giving eyes to the blind, raising dead people back to life. What kind of enlightened person is he? No miracle, no service to humanity -- only talks about non-violence, but no compassion in his acts, in deed. The Christian cannot believe that Buddha is enlightened. What service has he done for humanity...?
Now, these differing beliefs divide people. Belief is the way of division. Humanity can be one only when people drop beliefs. And that's what I am trying to do here. Be an enquirer, don't be a believer. Enquire into truth, but don't start with a prejudice -- don't start as a Christian or a Mohammedan or a Hindu.
Darius, you say: I ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT AN AMERICAN, A CHINESE, AN AFRICAN, A SWEDE, AN ITALIAN, ALL COULD BE HAPPY AND CONTENT AND COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER DESPITE THEIR VARYING COLOURS, HABITS, BELIEFS, ETCETERA, JUST AS LONG AS THEY WERE NATURAL AND HONEST WITH THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER.
The American believes in the American way of life, and the Indian believes in the Indian way of life -- the conflict is there. And the Indian believes that India is the only holy country in the world, the only religious country in the world. American. The very word smells of materialism. To the Indian mind, the word 'American' means something absolutely irreligious, unholy. The American represents to him the man of indulgence.
And to the American the Indian symbolizes snobbery, hypocrisy, egoism. How can these people meet? The American has to drop his being American, and the Indian has to drop his being Indian. We have to start thinking in terms of the whole earth. Religious beliefs, political beliefs, beliefs of all kinds, divide people. And, hence, all beliefs are dangerous, poisonous.
You can see here, Darius, people of all races, all countries, all religions, meeting -- with NO problem. And never is it being told to them: "Be tolerant of others" -- because the very idea of being tolerant carries intolerance in it. Why should it be told to somebody:
"Be tolerant of others"? It simply means that there is intolerance and one has to learn to tolerate.
It is never told here to anybody that Hinduism and Christianity and Islam all mean the same thing; to say so means that you are suspicious. Mahatma Gandhi used to say that the Koran and the Gita and the Dhammapada, they all mean the same thing. And with great effort he used to try to find similarities -- why bother? The very effort shows that there is suspicion. And the effort cannot succeed, because they are not similar. The Koran has its own beauty and the Gita has its own beauty, and they are not similar, not at all.
Trying to impose similarity on such unique, original scriptures is really sickening. How can Mahavira and Krishna have the same message? It is not. Just think if Arjuna had told Mahavira, "I want to renounce the world and the war and I want to go to the forest" -- Mahavira would have immediately initiated him into renunciation. He would have said, "That's what you should have done. It is already late; but, still, good. War is violence, and it is good that an insight is born in you -- renounce the world and go to the forest."
But Krishna persuaded him not to go to the forest: "Fight the war because this is your duty. And your very being is such that you can only be a warrior; your type is such.
Renunciation won't suit you, it won't fit you. You will be a misfit, and even in the forest you will start hunting; you will not be able to meditate, you will hunt. I know you well, I know you from your very childhood. And all this nonsense that you are talking about is nothing but a rationalization. You are not against war!" And he was not -- Krishna was right, his insight was deep -- he was not against war. He was really against killing his own people.
The war was a family war between brothers, and on both the sides were relatives.
Because the fight was between cousin-brothers, all the relatives had to divide -- a few had gone to this side, a few to that side. One brother was on this side, another brother was on that side. Even Krishna himself had divided; his army was fighting on the other side and he himself was fighting with Arjuna, because both were his friends and both had asked his help. So he had said, "You can choose: one can take my army and one can take me."
Arjuna's own teacher from whom he had learnt all that he knew about war, who had made him a perfect warrior, Drona, he was on the other side -- his own master, from whom he had learnt archery, he was fighting on the other side. It was really a family war. And Arjuna was not against war: he was against killing one's own people. Seeing the whole war-field full of his own people -- a few on this side, a few on that side -- and both would be killed and many would be killed -- he started thinking, "What is the point of it all?
Killing my own family! It is better I should renounce."
He was not against violence. If his own people had not been involved, he would have enjoyed the war like anything. Krishna persuaded him to see the fact that he was rationalizing; all this nonsense talk about non-violence, no war, peace, renunciation, was just a rationalization. He forced him to see the trick of his mind.
Now, how can you say Mahavira and Krishna are saying the same thing? They are not saying the same thing.
My own experience is this, that all those who have become enlightened in the world -- and Moses is enlightened, and Zarathustra is enlightened, and Lao Tzu is enlightened and Mohammed and Jesus and Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Kabir, and many many more -- what they have experienced is the same. But still their personalities are so different, their individuality is so unique, that their expressions are utterly different and you cannot force by ally strategy to make it appear that they are saying the same thing -- they are not.
Their experience is the same, their ultimate experience is the same, but their choice of how life should be lived, how that ultimate experience should be approached, is totally different. Their paths are different, their goal may be the same -- but the goal will be known only when you have arrived, not before that. Before the goal you will have to follow the path.
MAHATMA GANDHI WAS TRYING somehow to prove that the Mohammedan and the Hindu and the Jaina are all saying the same thing. It was a forgery, because he was choosing from the Koran only sentences which are harmonious with the Gita, and not choosing sentences which are disharmonious with the Gita. The Gita is his criterion. He calls the Gita his mother, but he does not call the Koran his father. The Gita is his mother; he remains a Hindu, basically a Hindu. And according to the Gita he goes on finding...
wherever anything can be found which is similar, he chooses it, picks it up; but anything that is not similar to the Gita, he simply drops it, he forgets all about it.
This is not a right approach. And still he could not convince anybody. In fact, the very effort was futile, an exercise in futility -- he could not convince the Mohammedans, he could not convince the Hindus. Mohammedans remained Unconvinced; they continued demanding a separate country, and they succeeded in having a separate country. And he could not convince the Hindus -- in fact, one Hindu murdered him, one fanatic Hindu murdered him. He could not convince anybody.
And I cannot believe that he convinced himself either. His whole life he was singing in his ashram: "ALLAH-ISHWAR TERI nam -- Allah and Ishwar, both are thy names!" But when he was shot dead, Allah didn't come to his heart. When the bullet passed into his heart, he cried, "Ram!" not Allah -- "Hey Ram!" That is very decisive. At that moment all philo-sophizing was forgotten, the real Hindu surfaced. He could not remember Allah at that moment, could not remember Buddha, could not remember Mahavira. The person he remembered was Ram -- the Hindu ideal, the Hindu incarnation of God. That shows that he could not even convince himself -- what to say of others?
In this place I am not trying to convince anybody, and still things are happening. I am not trying to bring a synthesis of all religions, because I know it is utterly futile. They ARE different, they are unique. And I respect their uniqueness. In fact, the world is richer because there is a Koran and there is a Gita and there is a Dhammapada. The world is richer because Zarathustra happened, Lao Tzu happened, Buddha happened; the world is richer because there is Nanak and Kabir and Farid. So many different flowers! The world is a beautiful garden.
And the rose is not the lotus, and the lotus is not the rose -- both are flowers, both have bloomed, that is true. Buddha has bloomed and Jesus has bloomed -- both are flowers -- but a rose is a rose and a lotus is a lotus. And it is good that not all are roses, that not all are lotuses.
But something very mysterious is happening here, Darius, you can see: all kinds of people are here, from almost every country, from every religion, and nobody teaches them to be tolerant and nobody teaches them to be respectful of the other's religion.
These things are simply not talked about, and still nobody is intolerant. In fact, nobody thinks in terms that the other is other. This is a totally different vision.
My approach is that you have to drop -- not to imbibe tolerance, not to imbibe a certain synthesis, manipulated, man-made -- you have to drop this whole nonsense of the American way of life and the Indian way of life and the Chinese way of life. You have to drop this whole nonsense that "I am a Hindu, Mohammedan, Parsi, Sikh." You are just a human being! Maybe your colour is different -- so what? It is good that there are people of different colours, different flowers. Your hair is different -- good! It makes life more worth living, more interesting. The variety gives richness.
Your idea, Darius, that people can live in harmony even though they have different beliefs is wrong. Those different beliefs are the problem. In fact, to believe is to go wrong: knowing is good, believing is wrong. Enquiring is good, gathering prejudice is wrong. Be a seeker and be an agnostic.
By 'agnostic' is meant: say clearly to others and to yourself that "I don't know -- so how can I cling to any belief? I was born in a Hindu family, so I have been taught the Hindu religion by my parents, but I don't know what is right and what is wrong -- it is just incidental. Had I been brought up by a Christian, I would have believed in the Christian religion in the same way. Or, if I had been born in Soviet Russia then I would have been a communist; then I would not have believed in the trinity of God the Father and God the Son and the Holy Ghost. I would have believed in a totally different trinity: Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the Kremlin would have been my Kaaba, and DAS KAPITAL would have been my Bhagavad Gita."
Just see -- it is simple! Nobody is born a Hindu or a Mohammedan or a Christian -- these things are imposed on you. This is ugly that these things are imposed on you. In a really free world no religion will be imposed on anybody. All religions will be available to everybody! One should be free to shop around. One can go to the temple, to the mosque, to the gurudwara, and one can move around, do a little religious shopping; one can look into the Koran and the Bible and the Vedas, and decide on one's own.
Parents should not decide the religion of their children. It should be a crime against humanity to force any child into any religion. Yes, parents should teach the child to enquire and how to enquire. They should make available to him all alternatives, so if the child wants one day to become a Mohammedan, you may be a Hindu but if your child wants to become a Mohammedan, it is perfectly good. You should be happy your child has chosen a religion. It is good that he is becoming religious. How does it matter where he will pray? -- in the temple or in the mosque. The only thing that matters is that he will pray.
But now, right now, that is not the case. Nobody is interested in prayer: everybody is interested -- where? Nobody is interested in making you really religious; everybody is interested in making you a Christian, Catholic, Protestant, this and that. This is an ugly situation -- and that divides people.
We have to fight for a world where children will not be forced into any religion. And every child should be given all opportunities to choose. Who knows what is going to fit him? My own observation is that it happens that a man is born in a Jaina family, but he is not that type -- he is not the type of Mahavira. Then his whole life he will be doing something for which he is not meant. He will follow Mahavira, but his heart will not be in it. His heart can go far more deeply with Meera, with Krishna -- but that is not possible, he is a Jaina. And vice versa: a man may be born into a family which worships Krishna but seeing Krishna no bells ring in his heart. Then what is he supposed to do?
Pretend? Be a hypocrite? Go on believing because his parents are Hindus so he has to remain a Hindu? Seeing the statue of Mahavira naked, silent, his heart may be stirred, he may feel a new fluttering in his being, a new energy, a new flash of lightning. It may click! Then that is his religion.
Religion has to be found by your own heart. All religions are good. All religions are different. All religions are ways: They reach the same goal. But nobody can follow all the ways. If you follow all the ways you will go crazy. You have to follow one way, knowing perfectly well that all the ways are leading to the same peak of the mountain. Still one has to follow one way.
But if the beginning is not a belief but enquiry, the world will be totally different. Darius, with beliefs it is not possible. Habits are okay; habits are going to be different.
In the Indian atmosphere there will be different habits. But habits are not a big problem; you can understand that in a cold country there will be different habits than in a hot country. That is very natural. But beliefs have nothing to do with cold or hot, beliefs have nothing to do with climate. Beliefs have nothing to do with nature: beliefs are man-made.
Beliefs are all basically political, tactics, strategy, to manipulate the crowds, to control the crowds.
You ask: WHY IS MANKIND MAKING THIS IMPOSSIBLE FOR MANKIND?
BECAUSE MAN IS NOT YET BORN: mankind exists only in theory. Once a man said to George Bernard Shaw. "What do you think of civilization?" He said, "It is a good idea, but somebody has to try it."
Mankind is also a good idea -- but somebody has to try it. It has not yet happened.
Humanity has not yet arrived. Hindus are there, Mohammedans are there, Christians are there, Indians and Germans and Italians are there, but humanity has not yet arrived. It is a simple word, but empty, with no substance.
If somebody asks you, "Darius, who are you?" it is almost impossible to conceive that you will say, "A human being." You will say, "A Christian, a Hindu, a Parsi, a Mohammedan...." You may say, "A doctor, an engineer, a professor, a scientist..." so on and so forth, ad nauseam, but almost impossible to comprehend, even to imagine that you will say, "A human being."
And if you say it, the other person who is asking will feel that you are a little crazy or something. "Yes, of course, you are a human being! But I am asking: who are you?"
Humanity has yet to happen, and we have to prepare the ground for humanity to happen.
It can happen only by dropping ALL kinds of beliefs. It can happen only by creating a great upsurge of enquiry, creating an atmosphere, a space, in which belief simply means that you are ignorant -- you don't know, still you are trying to pretend that you know.
Belief is not knowing but a deception.
A real man does not believe. Either he knows or he does not know. If somebody asks you, "Does God exist?" if you are honest, sincere, you cannot say, "I believe in God, I believe that he exists." And you cannot say, "I don't believe in God, and I say that he does not exist." No. If you are a sincere man, if you have any respect for truth, you will say, "I don't know. I am searching, seeking. I am neither a believer nor a non-believer. I am a seeker, a searcher."
And the day you know, do you think you will believe then? Then there will be no need to believe. You don't believe in the sun! You don't see people fighting that the sun exists, that the sun does not exist, that the sun rises in the east or the sun rises in the west, south, north -- you don't see people fighting. Everybody knows the sun rises in the east, and everybody knows that the sun IS -- there IS no question of belief.
If you ask me, "Do you believe in God?" I will say, "No, because I know God is. I need not believe." Knowing is the real thing; belief is just a camouflage, a cover-up.
Help people to drop beliefs. Help people to become enquirers. Help people to start functioning from not knowing. And that is the state of meditation: to function from a state of not knowing is to function meditatively. To function from the state of knowledge is to miss the whole point. Knowledge is always old and life is never old. Knowledge and life never meet.
Hence I am using the word 'knowing' deliberately, instead of 'knowledge'. 'Knowledge' is a noun, 'knowing' is a verb. Knowing is a flow, knowledge is static. Knowledge has a full point, knowing has no full point -- it is simply an ongoing process. One never knows God in the sense of knowledge; one only knows God in the sense of knowing. Yes, there is a beginning, but then there is no end. One goes on knowing more and more and more, and the more one knows, the more one feels there is more to knower.
You say, Darius: I ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT JUST AS LONG AS THEY WERE NATURAL AND HONEST WITH THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER, THEY COULD ALL BE HAPPY AND CONTENT AND COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER DESPITE THEIR VARYING COLOURS, HABITS, BELIEFS, ETCETERA.
But how can people be natural and honest when they are carrying so many beliefs? To be natural means to be without any belief Children are natural, but you are not natural.
Animals are natural, but you are not natural. Trees are natural, but you are not natural.
And what has made you unnatural and artificial? Your belief system.
But it is very difficult to drop the belief system. And how can you be honest if you believe? It is a contradiction in terms, to be honest and to believe. If somebody says, "I believe in God," he is saying, "I don't know -- I have heard, I have been taught, I have been told. I believe in God; I don't know myself " How can he be honest? This is the beginning of dishonesty. Not knowing himself, and still believing, what more dishonesty can there be?
Parents teach their children, "Believe in God and be honest." This is such a contradiction in terms: "Believe in God and be honest!" Only one is possible: either you can believe in God, then you cannot be honest; or you can be honest, then you have to say clearly and loudly, "I cannot believe in God, because I don't know."
But this is a double bind that is being created in every person. You are taught contradictory things -- hence your schizophrenic state. You are taught such contradictory things that you remain split. And you have been taught so long that you don't see the contradiction either. The so-called religious person -- Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu -- he cannot be honest. If he is honest, he cannot be Christian, Hindu or Mohammedan.
How can you be honest and still believe that Christ was born of a virgin mother? Just tell me -- how can you be honest and still believe it? How can you be honest? Deep down you know it is not possible. Children are not born of virgin mothers.
How can you be honest and still believe that when a snake attacked Mahavira, instead of blood, milk flowed from his foot? How can you believe it -- and still be honest? There is only one possibility, that in Mahavira's body instead of blood milk was circulating. But to keep milk circulating for so long -- he must have been nearabout fifty when this snake attacked him -- milk would have turned into curd long before.
And curd cannot flow. Mahavira would have been dead long before. How can you be honest and still believe in this? If you are honest, questions will arise. And if you believe, you have to be dishonest -- you have to repress your questions.
Man can be natural and honest, but then beliefs have to be dropped -- all kinds of beliefs have to be dropped. And dropping the beliefs, your energy is freed, and that same energy becomes enquiry, and that same energy can take you to the ultimate truth.
People are so religious, so fanatically religious, that I have heard:
"Is your grandfather a religious man?" asked the young coed of her date.
"He is so Orthodox," replied the boy, " when he plays chess, he doesn't use bishops -- he uses rabbis."
The last question
IT CAN'T BE OTHERWISE, because fiction is only a reflection of life, only an echo, a faraway echo. How can fiction be more strange than life? It is just a shadow of life, footprints of life. Life is really unbelievable, incredible. It should not be, and it is. It is utterly mysterious.
But you become aware of the strangeness of a fictitious story and you never become aware of the strangeness of life, because you take it for granted. You take it for granted as the fish takes the ocean for granted -- and it never becomes aware of it. How can the fish be aware of the ocean? It was born in the ocean, it has lived in the ocean; from the very beginning the ocean was there. Just as you are not aware of the air and the weight of the air, you are not aware of the gravitation and the pull of the gravitation, in the same way, the fish is not aware of the ocean, and in the same way you are not aware of the incredible life that surrounds you within and without -- you take it for granted, and that's what makes you miserable.
Stop taking life for granted, and immediately you are constantly in awe. Each moment becomes a surprise, each moment becomes such a revelation of mystery, and life takes a totally different colour and flavour. You grow wings. Then you are no more bored, then you are no more dull. Then life is excitement, exhilaration, ecstasy.
And that's what, basically, true religion is: to make you aware of the life, to make you alert to all that is happening around you -- the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers, the mountains, the people... this silence this moment... your being here, my being here... what more mystery can there be than this communion? Your hearts beating with my heart, your life energy in rhythm with my life energy... for this single moment, three thousand people in harmony, in such an utter silence, as if there exists nobody... this melting, this merging... what more mystery can there be? What more miracles?
Just to be is a miracle! Just to be able to breathe is a miracle! Just to be able to see the light and the rainbow and the starry night -- what more can you ask for? What more can you imagine?
You ask me: OSHO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE STATEMENT THAT LIFE IS STRANGER THAN FICTION?
I don't think! -- it is. There is no need to think -- I know -- it is, it is so. Thinking is a lower activity, seeing is a higher activity. I see it is so -- it is not a logical conclusion for me, it is my existential experience. I am constantly surprised -- each moment, every breath is a surprise. And this is not a statement, this is the truth! Just become a little more alert, a little more aware, a little more observant. Snap your fingers and slap your face and be awake! And then look around... and the silence, and the beauty and the benediction.
It is said that Hotei became enlightened and started laughing, and then he never stopped laughing. For many years he lived, he laughed. He laughed all the way to God, all the way to death. And people would ask, "Hotei, why do you laugh?" because he became famous in Japan as the laughing Buddha. And he would say, "Because life is incredible, so ridiculous, so absurd." It should not be, but it is! For no reason at all flowers go on blooming and birds go on singing, and every morning the sun is back. For NO reason! If it doesn't turn up one day, what can we do? For no reason at all!
And all exists in such harmony, accord, in such rhythm, that if you touch a grass leaf, you have touched the whole universe -- because the small grass leaf contains the whole of the universe. It will not be there without the sun, it will not be there without the earth, it will not be there without the planets and the stars. It will not be there if this universe is not exactly the way it is. And if that grass leaf is gone, the universe will be a little less, a little minus; it will miss it. Such an infinity, and it goes on with such rhythmic flow, with such organic oneness, with such orgasmic joy.
Just watch life... and you will be able to laugh. It IS absurd, it IS ridiculous, it IS strange, it is miraculous. No dream can be more dreamlike than life, and no poetry can be more poetic than life -- and no joke can create more laughter than life.
A couple of hillbillies from the backwoods country came into town to get married and brought their best man, Zeke, along. When they applied for a license, the clerk informed them that state law required blood tests before they could get a license, and told them there was a doctor around the corner who would make the tests.
As the M.D. took blood samples from the prospective bride and groom, Zeke watched with great interest. "What are you doing, Doc?" he asked.
"We check for venereal disease," said the physician. "If we find any, the wedding can't take place until it is cured."
"Well then," said the best man, "ain't you gonna test my blood?"
"What for?" asked the doctor. "You are not getting married are you?"
"Oh, no," said Zeke, as he pointed to the couple, "but I am gonna board with them!"
... You missed it...! You will need another.
Payne and Butler were washing their hands in a Pittsburgh men's room when three burly blacks came in and headed for the urinals.
"Wow!" whispered Payne, "those mothers are laa-arge!"
"Yeah," said Butler, "and look how they are built. They must have the longest dicks in the state of Pennsylvania. I gotta get closer and see their size!"
He came back in a minute. "Wowee! They are built big," said Payne, "not only that, the cat in the middle has one that is white!"
"Oh, man, whoever heard of a black man with a white wang! I'm gonna go look myself."
He returned immediately. "Brother, those cats ain't black!" exclaimed Butler. "They are Polish coal miners! And the guy in the middle is on his honeymoon!"