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Chapter 13: Reverence for Life

7. Regard earnestly all the life that surrounds you.

Regard the constantly changing
and moving life which surrounds you,
for it is formed by the hearts of men;
and as you learn to understand
their constitution and meaning,
you will by degrees
be able to read the larger word of life.

8. Learn to look intelligently into the hearts of men.

Study the hearts of men,
that you may know
what is that world in which you live
and of which you will to be a part.
Intelligence is impartial;
no man is your enemy; no man is your friend.
All alike are your teachers.
Your enemy becomes a mystery that must be solved,
even though it takes ages;
for man must be understood.
Your friend becomes a part of yourself,
an extension of yourself,
a riddle hard to read.

In our search for the truth of life, the biggest difficulty that we come across is our irreverence for life. And we all carry this irreverence inside us. It will seem a little paradoxical, and it will be a little hard for you to understand, but it is all our so-called religions that have filled us with this irreverence. Real religiousness would have given us a reverence for life - because God himself is hidden in life; life is his very clothing, his covering. Life is his breath. So as long as we feel irreverence for life, it will be impossible to find God, because it is reverence that brings us to the door of the divine. By showing irreverence, we turn our backs on it.

Now a strange dilemma has been created. Religions exhort you to seek the universal reality, the ultimate source of life, and they also proclaim that it is hidden in each and every particle of life. But pathologically-minded people take the seeking of the ultimate source of life to mean a search in which the first condition is to negate life - as though the quest for godliness is anti-life, as though if you want to find the divine you will first have to renounce life. And if this is true, that if you want to find the supreme mystery of life you have first to renounce life, then you can never have any respect for life; you will rather denounce and scorn it. And when life is scorned, how can you show any reverence to the supreme mystery of life?

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