Chapter 1: You Are Always on the Funeral Pyre
The Buddha said:
Moved by their selfish desires, people seek after fame and glory. But when they have acquired it, they are already stricken in years. If you hanker after worldly fame and practice not the way, your labors are wrongfully applied and your energy is wasted. It is like unto burning an incense stick. However much its pleasing odor be admired, the fire that consumes is steadily burning up the stick.
The Buddha said:
People cleave to their worldly possessions and selfish passions so blindly as to sacrifice their own lives for them. They are like a child who tries to eat a little honey smeared on the edge of a knife. The amount is by no means sufficient to appease his appetite, but he runs the risk of wounding his tongue.
The Buddha said:
Men are tied up to their families and possessions more helplessly than in a prison. There is an occasion for the prisoner to be released, but householders entertain no desire to be relieved from the ties of family. When a man’s passion is aroused nothing prevents him from ruining himself. Even into the maws of a tiger he will jump. Those who are thus drowned in the filth of passion are called the ignorant. Those who are able to overcome it are saintly arhats.
The way of the buddha is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the term because it has no belief system, no dogma, no scripture. It does not believe in God, it does not believe in the soul, it does not believe in any state of moksha. It is a tremendous nonbelief - and yet it is a religion.
It is unique. Nothing has ever happened before like that in the history of human consciousness, and nothing afterwards. Buddha remains utterly unique, incomparable.
He says that God is nothing but a search for security, a search for safety, a search for shelter. You believe in God not because God is there, you believe in God because you feel helpless without that belief. Even if there is no God, you will go on inventing. The temptation comes from your weakness. It is a projection.
Man feels very limited, very helpless, almost a victim of circumstances - not knowing from where he comes and not knowing where he is going, not knowing why he is here. If there is no God it is very difficult for ordinary man to have any meaning in life. The ordinary mind will go berserk without God.
“God” is a prop - it helps you, it consoles you, it comforts you. It says, “Don’t be worried - the Almighty God knows everything about why you are here. He is the creator, he knows why he has created the world. You may not know but the Father knows, and you can trust in him.” It is a great consolation.
The very idea of God gives you a sense of relief - that you are not alone, that somebody is looking after the affairs; that this cosmos is not just a chaos, it is really a cosmos; that there is a system behind it, that there is logic behind it; that it is not an illogical jumble of things, that it is not anarchy. Somebody rules it; the sovereign king is there looking after each small detail - not even a leaf moves without his moving it. Everything is planned. You are part of a great destiny. Maybe the meaning is not known to you, but the meaning is there - because God is there.
“God” brings a tremendous relief. One starts feeling that life is not accidental; there is a certain undercurrent of significance, meaning, destiny. “God” brings a sense of destiny.
Buddha says: There is no God - it simply shows that man knows not why he is here. It simply shows man is helpless. It simply shows that man has no meaning available to him. By creating the idea of God he can believe in meaning, and he can live this futile life with the idea that somebody is looking after it.