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Chapter 1: Spiritual Hedonism

Matthew 9

14 Then came to him
the disciples of John, saying,
“Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft,
but thy disciples fast not?”

15 And Jesus said unto them,
“Can the children
of the bride-chamber mourn,
as long as the bridegroom
is with them?
But the days will come,
when the bridegroom
shall be taken from them,
and then shall they fast.”

16 “No man putteth
a piece of new cloth
unto an old garment,
for that which is put in to fill it up
taketh from the garment,
and the rent is made worse.”

17 “Neither do men put new wine
into old bottles:
else the bottles break,
and the wine runneth out,
and the bottles perish:
but they put new wine
into new bottles,
and both are preserved.”

Religion can be healthy: as healthy as a newborn babe, as healthy as the songs of the birds in the morning, as healthy as a newly-opening lotus. Or religion can be ill, diseased, dying: just like an old man - shrinking, sad, moving into death.

When religion is young it has a fragrance, the fragrance of life. It has a song, it has a mystery around it. It has the quality of dance, joy, delight. It is a celebration. When religion is young, alive, fresh, religion is always a celebration. It is a feast. It is life-enhancing, life-affirmative. When religion is old, dying or already dead - just a stinking corpse - then it is renunciation; then it is not celebration. Then it is anti-life, then it is life-negating. Then it leaves the world, it leaves all that is alive, it starts being suicidal. It shrinks.

Life expands, death is a shrinkage. When you are young you are flowing in all directions. When you are old you are frozen. You no longer flow, you only grumble. You become hard; the flexibility is lost.

When religion is young, alive, it is ordinary. It has nothing to fulfill the ego - it is very ordinary. In fact, it is extraordinary in its very ordinariness. It is superb in being just ordinary. When religion is young, life is enough, no other God is needed. Then, life is God, life is divine.

When religion becomes old and ill.as everything becomes old and ill, whatsoever is born has to die. Even a religion is born one day, lives for a while and then dies. But followers go on clinging to the dead body. Then the dead body kills those followers too: it becomes a source of illness, neurosis. It becomes an abnormality, a cancerous growth. When religion becomes ill or dead, it kills you, it is poisonous. This has to be understood from many directions.

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