Chapter 7: Turning the Key
Natural evolution has stopped at man. This is a fact. Even scientists are becoming more and more aware of it: that for thousands of years nothing has happened to man, man has remained the same - as if nature’s work is done. Now man has to take the course of further growth into his own hands. That’s what religion is.
Religion means man starts standing on his own feet, becomes responsible for his own being, starts looking and searching and inquiring into what is the case - who am I? And this should not only be curiosity.
Philosophy is out of curiosity. Religion is a very sincere, authentic search; it is inquiry. And there is a great difference between curiosity and inquiry. Curiosity is childish, just a little itching in the head; you would like to scratch and then you feel satisfied. Philosophy is that scratching; religion is a life-and-death matter. In philosophy you never become involved, you remain aloof. You play with the toys, but it is not a question of life and death. You accumulate knowledge, but you never practice it.
I have heard..
Once upon a time there lived an eminent Confucian scholar. He was a gentleman of nearly eighty and was said to have no equal in learning and understanding.
Then a rumor arose that far away a new doctrine had sprung up that was even deeper than his knowledge. The old gentleman found this intolerable and decided that the issue had to be settled one way or the other.
In spite of his age he set out on the long journey. After months of hardship on the road, he arrived at his destination, introduced himself and told the purpose of his visit.
His host, who was a master of the new Zen school, merely quoted, “To avoid doing evil, to do as much good as possible, this is the teaching of all the buddhas.”
On hearing this, the Confucian gentleman flared up, “I have come here in spite of the dangers and hazards of such a long and rough journey and in spite of my advanced age, and you just quote a little jingle that every three-year-old child knows by heart! Are you mocking me?”
But the Zen master replied, “I am not mocking you, sir. Please consider that though it is true that every three-year-old child knows this verse, yet even a man of eighty fails to live up to it!”
Religion is not a question of knowing but of living up to it. Religion is life, and unless you live it, you will not know anything about what it is. And to live religion one has to drop all philosophizing and one has to start experimenting. One has to become a lab. The scientist’s lab is outside; the religious person’s lab is his own being - his own body, his own soul, his own mind. The scientist has to concentrate on the object on which he is experimenting: his work has to be done with open eyes. The work of religion has to be done with closed eyes: he has to concentrate upon himself.