Chapter 8: Life Lives for Itself
Religion is not for the failures. It is for those who have succeeded in life, who have lived life to its deepest core, to its depth and height, in all dimensions, and who have become so enriched by the experience that they are ready to transcend it. These people will never be antilife; they will be life-affirmative. They will say life is divine. In fact they will say, “Forget all about God. Life is divine.” They will not be against love, because love is the very juice of life. They will say, “Love is like blood circulating in the body of the divine.” Love is to life exactly as blood is to your body. How can they be against it?
If you become anti-love, you start shrinking. A really religious person is expanding, expanding. It is an expansion of consciousness, not a shrinking.
In India we have called the ultimate truth brahman. The word brahman means “who goes on expanding” - on and on and on, and knows no end. The very word is beautiful, has a tremendous significance. This ongoing expansion, this endless expansion of life, love, consciousness - this is what godliness is.
Beware, because the life-negative religion is very cheap; you can get it by just being bored. It is very cheap because you can get it just by being a failure, just by being uncreative, just by being lazy, desperate, sad. It is really cheap. But real religion, authentic religion, is at a great cost: you have to lose yourself in life. You have to pay the cost. It is earned, and it is earned the hard way. One has to move through life: to know its sadnesses, its happinesses, to know its failures, its successes, to know sunny days and cloudy ones, to know poverty and richness, to know love and to know hate - to touch the very rock bottom of life, the hell, and to soar high and touch the highest peak, heaven. One has to move in all the directions, in all the dimensions; nothing should remain covered. Religion is a discovery; it is to unveil life.
And of course pain is part of it. Never think only in terms of pleasure; otherwise soon you will get out of life, out of touch. Life is both pain and pleasure. In fact it will be better to call it “pain-pleasure”; even “and” is not good, because that divides. Pain-pleasure, hell-heaven, night-day, summer-winter, good-evil - life is this tremendous opportunity of polar opposites. Live it, be courageous, risk, move in danger; and then you will attain to a totally different kind of religious understanding, which comes out of bitter and sweet experiences.
A man who has known only sweet experiences and has never known bitter experiences is not man enough: is still poor not rich. One who has not known love, its beauty and its terror; one who has not known love, its ecstasy and its agony; one who has not known the meeting and also the divorce; one who has not known arrival and also the departure, has not known much. He has lived on goodies and will become ill sooner or later, and will be fed up and bored.
Life is a tremendous challenge. So if you say that “one has to just live the remaining years of life,” then these remaining years will not be of life. You will have died before your death.
I have heard:
A beautiful woman reached the Pearly Gates. Even St. Peter felt a tremor. The woman was really beautiful, even St. Peter could not see her eye to eye. He started looking in his files, and he said, “Where have you been? What have you been doing? Have you done any sin on earth?”