Chapter 3: The Journey is the Goal Itself

Question 2



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The second question:

Question 2


The question is from Alan Rudick.

What do you think? Can you become religious in India, in a country like India?

My own feeling is that if you want to become religious the USA is the best place, because it has succeeded in knowing, in having all that man has desired for centuries, and in that very success it has failed. That very success has become its failure.

It is very apparent that you can have all the money in the world and remain poor inside, that you can have all the gadgets, the latest, and yet remain unfulfilled. That fulfillment has to be sought in some other direction, in some other dimension. It is apparent in America, it is not so apparent in India. It cannot be so apparent in India -- not at least in modern India. It was apparent once.

When Buddha lived, India was almost in the same situation as America is today. India was known in the world as a golden bird -- it was! It was the richest country in those days. Religion blooms only when a country is affluent, never otherwise. Buddha was the by-product of that affluence, because only in affluence do your hopes disappear. You become hopeless. There is no way outside anymore. You have seen the whole way, to the very end; there is nothing. Eyes start turning inwards automatically. It is not an accident that a poor country starts thinking of communism, not of religion.

In India if you want to be politically powerful you have to go on shouting slogans about socialism, communism, and things like that. You never hear any slogan about religion. Why? In a religious country why don't politicians exploit religion? -- they know that nobody wants religion, people are fed-up with religion. People are not religious. Traditionally they appear religious but they are not religious. They are hungry, they are starved, they don't have shelter, they don't have food, they don't have clothes. Their basic needs are not fulfilled; what to say about God?

There is a hierarchy of needs. The physical needs are basic: unless they are fulfilled you will not be able to know of psychological needs. A hungry man will not be interested in Beethoven, or in Shakespeare, or in Leonardo da Vinci. A hungry man is interested in food -- and it is natural, nothing is wrong in it. A hungry man is interested in how to feed the body and how to survive.

When the question is of survival who bothers about classical music? But when your hunger is satisfied, your body is warm, you have a house to live in, suddenly you start becoming interested in new things, things in which you had never been interested -- in music, in poetry, in art, in philosophy. These are psychological needs. You start thinking great things. The body is satisfied, the mind says "Now I can also have my needs fulfilled."

When the mind-needs are fulfilled -- when you have listened to all kinds of music and you have danced all kinds of dances, and you have gone deep into philosophy, art, poetry, sculpture, architecture, when you have seen all these things and you are satisfied, saturated -- the third kind of need arises: that is religion. That is the God-need, the spiritual need. That is the highest need.

If a hungry man is interested in God, his God cannot be the true God. His God will only be a provider of food.

He will say to God, "Give me my daily bread." That is a poor man's God. It is not strange that the Christian prayer has it: Give us our daily bread. Buddha could not have conceived, Krishna could not have conceived such a prayer: Give us our daily bread? Asking for bread? It looks profane. But Jesus himself was poor, belonged to the poor. He was teaching poor people, he had to create a God who is a provider.

It is not accidental that Jesus' followers go on talking about Jesus' miracles.What are those miracles? First, they are physiological: a blind man is given eyes, an ill person is healed; or miracles like Jesus' turning stones into bread. Just think! These miracles say something. Jesus does not turn stones into sermons, but into bread; Jesus does not turn stones into music, but into bread; and he turns water into wine. Now we don't have any miracles like that around Buddha. There are miracles, but they are totally different -- the hierarchy. Buddha's miracles are so different that you will be surprised.

A woman goes to Buddha: her child is dead and she is crying and she is weeping, and she is a widow and she will never have another child, and the only child is dead, and that was all her love and all her attention. She goes crying and weeping to Buddha. If she had gone to Christ then the miracle would have been that Christ would touch and bring the dead back, as he brought Lazarus back. What did Buddha do? Buddha smiled and said to her, "You go into the town and just find a few mustard seeds from a house where nobody has ever died." And the woman rushed into the town, and she went to each house. And wherever she went they said, "We can give you as many mustard seeds as you want, but the condition will not be fulfilled because so many people have died in our house. And woman, don't be mad! Buddha has played a trick on you. You will not find a single house on the whole earth."

But she hoped, "Maybe... who knows? There may be some house that has not known death." And she went around and around the whole day. By the evening a great understanding had dawned on her: "Death is part of life; it happens. It is not something personal, it is not something like a personal calamity that has happened to me."With that understanding she went to Buddha.

He asked, "Where are the mustard seeds?" And she smiled... and she said, "You did it!" She fell at his feet and said, "Initiate me. I would like to know that which never dies. I don't ask for my child back, because even if he is given he will die again. So what is the point? Teach me something so that I can know inside myself that which never dies."

Now this is a totally different story. Jesus' miracle looks more miraculous because the earth was still poor. Can't you see the point? The East is turning Christian and the West is turning Buddhist. The more the West becomes rich the more Buddhist it will be. The new Christians are born in the East -- poor tribes, primitive tribes, untouchables, the downtrodden. To them, Jesus has appeal. They would like somebody to turn stones into bread, they are hungry. What have they to do with Buddha? Buddha seems too aristocratic, talks about great things which make no sense to the poor and the hungry.

In the Second World War a miracle happened: Japan from the East, fought with America. That was the first great encounter between East and West in war. And what happened? Now Los Angeles has moved to Japan and all Buddhist Zen centers have moved to America. This is a miracle! If you want to find Zen you will have to go to America. Don't go to Japan; people will think you are stupid: "Zen? Have you gone mad?" "You don't belong to this century," they will think. "You are not contemporary."

If you want to find Zen centers, they are flourishing in America. But if you want better car technology, better radios, better watches, go to Japan.

This has been happening all the time, down the ages, through the ages. There is a hierarchy: Japan is interested in better cars, better radios, better television; America is fed-up with the telly!

Just a few days ago, in one university, they purchased a brand new Cadillac and burned it! Very symbolic.... People are fed-up with the cars, people are fed-up with gadgets. People want something higher. Jesus will not be relevant anymore, only Buddha can be relevant. Jesus' miracles will seem very small because science can do those miracles. Buddha's miracle will seem very very great because science cannot do it.


Where else? America is the land where religion has a future. In India, in China, religion has no future. Yes, religion has a past in India, but no future. America? -- there is no past for religion, but there is a future. In the East the sun is setting, in the West the sun is rising. Don't be worried about that -- about how you can be religious in America. You cannot be religious in India! India only pretends to be religious, and its religion remains a very very low kind of religion. I'm not talking about the past, remember; I'm not talking about the Upanishads and the Gita and the Buddha. In those days, India was America. Now, all that is gone.

And there is a very subtle point to be understood; this is how the wheel of history moves: whenever a country becomes very rich it becomes religious because then the highest need starts asserting, and whenever religion starts flowering the country will become poor, sooner or later. Just think: if hippies go on growing in America, and Zen centers go on growing in America, and my sannyasins go on growing in America, how long can America remain rich? Who will take care of the technology that makes America rich? People will meditate. They will not go to the universities, they will be dropouts. Who will bother about ordinary, mundane things, the worldly things? People will become navel-gazers. They will close their eyes and be quiet and satisfied and happy. They will not be scientists anymore.

This is how the wheel moves. First, a country is poor: it starts rushing towards technology, better science, better ways of living, higher standards of living; then one day, when it attains and comes to a peak, suddenly it falls flat. Suddenly it comes to know that all effort has been in vain: "We have not arrived anywhere, we have been chasing an illusion, we have been after a mirage"; suddenly people start dropping out. That's what sannyas is.

Thousands of people dropped out of their world in Buddha's time and followed Buddha. They had seen the illusoriness of worldly desire. They had arrived and found it lacking. But then the country started becoming poor. Sooner or later the country becomes poor; when people meditate too much the country becomes poor. People think of the other world, this world becomes poor. When the world becomes poor they start turning anti-religious. They become communists, they become ANYTHING else, but not religious. Again the wheel starts moving.

Now Japan has dropped Zen, has dropped religion, has dropped meditation; it is one of the MOST materialistic cultures. Now soon it will become rich; it is becoming rich. Once it has become rich.... And there will be rebellion against richness, and people will start thinking of the beauties of poverty, the beauties of non-possession, the beauties of being free of all attachment. People will start thinking how to become wanderers: 'Why bother to live in a house, caged? Why not have a tent and move, one day on this beach and another day on that beach?Why not enjoy the whole earth?"

This is the circle: poverty, technology, religion, poverty, technology, religion. This is how things move.

In India, if you remain too long, you will become communist.


To be religious does not mean to renounce. It simply means to see what is the case. If you can see that competition is a game, there is no problem. Don't be serious about it. Seriousness is the problem, competition is not the problem at all! Then it is a game. Enjoy it, but know it is a game. And whether you succeed or fail does not make much difference; it doesn't matter, it is irrelevant. All that matters is that you enjoyed the game, that it was fun. The loser and the gainer both enjoyed the game. A kind of sportsmanship is needed, that's all.

When you play cards the real thing is not to win, the real thing is to pass time. The real thing is to enjoy the game, the nuances of the game, the strategies of the game -- that is the real thing. One is bound to be defeated, one is bound to succeed: that is not the point at all, that is not the target.

If you can live in the world and play it like a game, if you can live in all kinds of relationships and remember that the world is a GREAT drama -- the stage is big and you cannot see where it begins and where it ends, but it is a drama, it is a very dramatic world -- if you can remember that it is a drama, then there is no problem. Then you are simply playing a role but it will not create any worry in you, it will not create any strain or tension in you. You will play the game, and by the evening, when you come home, you will forget all about it.

If you are serious then there is trouble. But if you are serious, you can renounce the world, you can renounce competitive games and you can move to the Himalayas -- sitting in the cave you will remain serious. Then your meditation will take the flavor of seriousness and it will create strain. What will be the difference? You are on Wall Street, fighting tooth-and-nail, a cut-throat competition, murderous, and you are seriously in it, and worried day and night about whether you are going to succeed, whether you are going to make it or not! Then you will be sitting in a Himalayan cave, meditating SERIOUSLY, tooth-and-nail. Now you will not have any other throat to cut but your own, but it will remain cut-throat. Now you will be in competition with yourself, with your body, with your mind, and fighting and fighting. You will divide yourself and the fight will start. And now you will be worried about whether you are going to make it or not -- "When is this enlightenment going to happen?" -- whether it is going to happen or not. And I would like to tell you: this will be more of a worry than being there on Wall Street, because very many people are known to have made it there, and in the Himalayan caves... very rarely, once in a while. You will be in more trouble.

My suggestion is: drop seriousness. Take life as a fun, take life as a play. Enjoy it, it is worth enjoying. It is a beautiful game, it is a great opportunity -- to learn, to see, to understand. But don't be serious.

Life is non-purposive. It is not going anywhere, it has no goal. The journey is the goal itself! That's what I want my sannyasins to learn: the journey is the goal itself. Move non-seriously, playfully, and then whatsoever you are doing is meditation. Any act done playfully becomes meditative. Meditation is the quality that arises naturally when you are enjoying, non-seriously. Yes, playing cards can be meditative, gambling can be meditative, business can be meditative. Anything can be turned into meditation. The only thing that needs to be added is a non-serious playfulness. Then it doesn't create any tension in you, no stress is produced. You remain relaxed. Learn how to remain relaxed and Wall Street is as good as any Himalayan cave.

And never be deceived by the so-called Indian spiritual saints who go on trotting around America and saying that "India is the only religious land". Don't be deceived by them; India is not. India is one of the most materialistic lands on the earth right now. Its materialism is repressed, deep down repressed. It has a face of religiousness, but behind that face you will find nothing but materialism. Don't be deceived by the face.

I'm not saying that there are not a few people who are religious; there are, but there are everywhere. Religion has nothing to do with the East and the West in fact. Religious people are everywhere. Just as poetry has nothing to do with East and West -- poets are everywhere; painting has nothing to do with East and West -- painters are every-where; singing has nothing to do with East and West -- singers are everywhere; loving has nothing to do with East and West; so with religiousness -- religious people are everywhere. They are very few, that is true; it is very difficult to find them, that too is true, but no country has any monopoly. In India, if you watch deeply, if you observe deeply, you will be surprised.

Meditate on this small anecdote.

A young unsophisticated priest was walking through Times Square when a young lady approached him and asked, "Would you like a blowjob? Ten dollars." The priest did not answer but proceeded on his way.

A few blocks later another damsel sauntered up to the priest and sweetly inquired, "How about a blowjob, Father? Ten bucks." Again the priest said nothing.

When he reached his church the priest encountered a nun and asked her, "Say, sister, what is a blowjob?"

She looked him straight in the eye and said, "Ten dollars!"

You just try to look straight in the Indian eye, and you will find ten dollars! They go on talking against money, but all their talk against money is money-oriented. They go on talking against sex, but that talk is just a symbol of their repressed sexuality. Beware of this phoniness. India is one of the most phony lands in the world today.


Next: Chapter 3: The Journey is the Goal Itself, Question 3


Energy Enhancement                Enlightened Texts                Sufism                 The Wisdom of the Sands, Vol. 1



Chapter 3






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