Chapter 3: Walking the Tightrope
That’s what has happened to many people. In this century many people have become irreligious - not that they have come to know that God does not exist, but only because this age has made man a little more mature. Man has come of age; man has become a little more mature. So the God of the childhood, the God of the immature mind, has simply become irrelevant.
That is the meaning when Friedrich Nietzsche declares that “God is dead.” It is not God that is dead, it is the God of the immature mind that is dead. In fact to say that God is dead is not right because that God was never alive. The only right expression will be to say that “God is no longer relevant.” Man can rely more upon himself - he does not need belief, he does not need the crutches of belief.
Hence people have become less and less interested in religion. They have become indifferent to what goes on in the church. They have become so indifferent to it that they will not even argue against it. If you say, “Do you believe in God?” they will say, “It’s okay whether he is or not, it doesn’t make any difference, it doesn’t matter.” Just to be polite, if you believe, they will say, “Yes, he is.” If you don’t believe, they will say, “Yes, he is not.” But it is no longer a passionate concern.
This is the first type of religion; it has existed for centuries, down the centuries, down the ages, and it is becoming more and more outmoded, out of date. Its time is finished. A new God is needed - who is not psychological. A new God is needed - who is existential, the God of reality or the God as reality. We can even drop the word God - the real will do, the existential will do.
Then there is a second type of religious people for whom religion is not out of fear. The first type of religion is out of fear, the second type - also bogus, also pseudo, also so-called - is not out of fear, it is only out of cleverness. There are very clever people who go on inventing theories, who are very trained in logic, in metaphysics, in philosophy. They create a religion which is just an abstraction: a beautiful piece of artwork, of intelligence, of intellectuality, of philosophizing. But it never penetrates life, it never touches life anywhere, it simply remains an abstract conceptualization.
Once Mulla Nasruddin was saying to me, “I have never been what I oughta been. I stole chickens and watermelons, got drunk and got in fights with my fists and my razor, but there is one thing I ain’t never done: in spite of all my meanness I ain’t never lost my religion.”
Now what kind of religion is that? It has no impact on life.