Chapter 2: What’s the Attraction?
Our attitude toward life is not unlike what people have toward the waiting room in a railway station. The person knows he is only there for a while, that he will be leaving shortly. Of what concern is the waiting room? Of what meaning? So he tosses odds and ends about; he spits; he dirties it; he is thoughtless; he’s not concerned with the waiting room - after all, he will be leaving it shortly. We behave in the same way with life - as a temporary residence. Where is then the need for search and the creation of beauty and truth in life? I want to tell you that certainly we will depart from this life, but there is no way whatsoever to depart from life, as such, ever. We will leave this abode, we will depart from this place, but the essence of life remains with us - we are it. The place will change, the house will change, but life? Life will be with us. There is absolutely no way to be rid of it.
And the point is not that we had beautified where we were staying, that we had created a loving milieu where we were staying, that we had sung a song of joy where we were staying.the point is not that we had sung a song of joy there. The point is that the one who had sung the song of joy has opened the possibility for more joy in himself. The one who had beautified that house has attained the capacity for finding greater beauty. The one who had spent even those few moments of the waiting room in love has earned the worthiness for receiving vaster love.
We are formed by what we do. It is our actions that ultimately make us. What we do, slowly, slowly becomes the creator of our lives and our souls. What we are doing in life decides how we are creating ourselves. What our behavior is in life decides the directions our soul will travel, the paths it will move on, the new worlds it will explore. If we were aware that it is our behavior in life that creates us, then perhaps the viewpoint that life is futile and meaningless will appear misconceived. Then perhaps the idea of accepting life as a suffering will seem to be wrong. Then perhaps the anti-life attitude will look irreligious to us.
But so far we have been taught only negation of life in the name of religion. So far, the reality is that the whole of religion has only been death-oriented instead of life-oriented. What comes after death has been important to it, not what is before death. Up to now, the viewpoint of religion has been to revere death, not life. Nowhere is reverence for the flowers of life to be found; everywhere there are only eulogies and reverence for dead flowers, withered flowers, flowers that have gone to the graves.
So far, all religious reflection has been concerned with what is after death - heaven, salvation, nirvana. As if what is before death has been of no concern at all to religion. I want to say to you that if you are unable even to take care of what is before death, you will never be able to take care of what comes after death. If what is here, before death, is deemed meaningless, we can never develop any worthiness, any scope for meaning in what comes after death. The preparation for death has to be done through all that is here in life. If there is another world after death, there too we will be able to see only that which we have created and lived in this life. But up until now the only thing that has been propagated is to disregard this life, to ignore this life.
I want to say to you that there is no god other than life itself. There cannot be.
I also want to say to you that to strive to perfect the art of life is to strive to perfect the art of religion, and to experience the ultimate truth in life itself is the first step toward attaining ultimate salvation. The one who misses life itself is sure to miss everything else.