Chapter 10: Everybody Can Laugh
There are so many religions in the world which cause so many divisions amongst people, although all religions have good things in them.
Why can’t there be a religion which has the good things of all religions, which is accepted universally and which breaks down all divisions, thus causing a world fraternity? Kindly show the way.
The first thing to be understood is: there are many types of people in the world, and they can’t belong to one religion. It is inevitable that there will be many religions. To impose one religion on the whole of humanity will be ugly, it will destroy the immense richness that variety brings. Just think of a world where only the Bible exists - no Vedas, no Upanishads, no Koran; no Dhammapada, no Bhagavadgita, no Tao Te Ching. It will be a very poor world. The world certainly needs a brotherhood, a fraternity, a great love, a universality, but that cannot come by imposing a certain religion. Any religion that you choose will be applicable only to a few people, and the majority will feel imprisoned.
For example, just look around.. Mahavira has a certain appeal, but only to a few people. I myself would not like the life that he lived. Still I say he lived beautifully, as far as he is concerned. He lived beautifully, authentically, but he is not the person that I would like to follow. He lived naked, fasting for days at a time. To me that seems to be a kind of self-torture.
Animals live naked - they can, because they have a totally different kind of skin, a thicker skin. And moreover, whenever winter comes their bodies start growing thicker hair. Man is no longer an animal, he has lost that hairy growth on his body. To leave him in the cold, standing naked, is an unnecessary masochistic attitude. It may suit a few people, because people are different in many ways. It must have suited Mahavira - nobody was imposing the idea on him to live naked. He may have had a certain different kind of body structure, different hormones, hotter blood, a thicker skin.
I am not saying that he should not have lived naked, and I am not saying that there is nothing beautiful in it. If somebody enjoys it, if somebody feels beautiful in it, it is good, but it cannot be made into any universal religion. The whole of humanity shivering in the cold, in great fraternity, chattering their teeth, will not be a very good scene. I cannot support it.