Why do you decry religion?
- Sirs, what do you mean by religion? Organized dogma, belief, rituals, worshipping any person however great, reciting prayers, repeating Shastras, quoting the Bible – is that religion? Or is religion the search for truth or God? Can you find God through organized belief? By your calling yourself a Hindu and following all the rituals of Hinduism or of any other « ism », will you find God or truth? Surely, what I decry is not religion, not the search for reality, but organized belief with its dogmas and separative forces and influences. We are not seeking reality, but are caught in the net of organized beliefs, repetitive rituals – you know the whole business of it – which I call nonsense, because they are drugs that distract the mind from seeking; they offer escapes, and thereby make the mind dull, ineffective.
So, as our minds are caught in the net of organized beliefs with their whole system of authorities, priests and gurus, all of which are engendered through fear and the desire for certainty – as we are caught in that net, obviously, we cannot merely accept, we must enquire, we must look directly, experience directly, and see what it is we are caught in and why we are caught. Because my great grandfather did some ritual, or my mother is going to cry if I do not do it, therefore I must do it. Surely, such a man, who is psychologically dependent on others and hence fearful, is incapable of finding out what truth is. He may talk about it, he may repeat the name of God umpteen times, but he is nowhere, he has no reality. Reality will shun him, because he is encased in his own prejudices and fears. And you are responsible for this organized religion, whether of the East or of the West, whether of the left or of the right, which, being based on authority, has separated man from man. Why do you want authority, either of the past or of the present? You want authority because you are confused, you are in pain, in anxiety, there is loneliness and you are suffering.
Therefore, you want help from outside; so you create authority, whether political or religious, and having created that authority, you follow its directions, hoping that the confusion, the anxiety, the pain in your heart, will be removed. Can another remove your pains, your sorrows? Others may help you to escape from sorrow, but it is always there.
So, it is you who create authority; and having created the authority, you become its slaves. Belief is a product of authority; and because you want to escape from confusion, you are caught in belief and therefore continue in confusion. Your leaders are the outcome of your confusion, therefore they must be confused. You would never follow anyone if you were clear, unconfused and directly experiencing. It is because you are confused that there is no direct experience. Out of your confusion you create the leader, organized religion, separative worship, which brings about the strife that is going on in the world at the present time. In India it is taking the form of communal conflicts between the Mussalmans and the Hindus, in Europe it is the communists against the rightists, and so on and on. If you look into it carefully, analyze it, you will see that it is all based on authority, one person says this and another person says that; and authority is created by you and me, because we are confused. This may sound oversimplified verbally, but if you go into it, it is not simple, it is extremely complex. Being confused, you want to be led out – which means you are not understanding the problem of confusion, you are only seeking an escape. To understand confusion, you must understand the person who is making the confusion, which is yourself; and without understanding yourself what is the good of following somebody?
Being confused, do you think you will find truth in any practice or organized religion? Though you may study the Upanishads, the Gita, the Bible, or any other book, do you think that you are capable of reading the truth of it when you yourself are confused?
You will translate what you read according to your confusion, your likes and dislikes, your prejudices, your conditioning. Your approach, surely, is not to reality To find truth, Sir, is to understand yourself. Then truth comes to you you do not have to go to truth – and that is the beauty of it. If you go to truth, that which you approach is projected out of yourself, and therefore it is not truth. Then it becomes merely a process of self-hypnosis, which is organized religion. To find truth, for truth to come to you, you must see very clearly your own prejudices, opinions, ideas and conclusions; and that clarity comes through the freedom which is virtue. For the virtuous mind, there is truth everywhere. Then you do not belong to any organized religion, then you are free.
So, truth comes into being when the mind is capable of receiving it, when the heart is empty of the things of the mind. At present our hearts are full of the things of the mind; and when the heart frees itself of the mind, then it is receptive, sensitive to reality.