Chapter 3: On the Character of Tao
He is not religious in the sense that you understand. He is not a saint because he has never practiced saintliness. He has not forced it; it is not his character. A real religious man has no religious character - cannot have it because character is a device of the irreligious. Try to understand it: you develop a character because you are afraid of your being; you develop morality because you are afraid of inner immorality; you force yourself into a certain way of life because you know that if you live spontaneously and naturally you will become a sinner, not a saint. You are afraid of your being; you impose a character all around you. Character is an armor; it protects you from others and it protects you from yourself. It is a citadel; you move in it. You speak truth not because you have come to know the bliss of it; you speak truth because you have been taught that if you don’t, you will be thrown into hell.
Your theologians have tried to picture your God as the greatest sadist possible - throwing people into hell, into burning fire, into boiling oil. This God seems to be a sadist. He needs a great psychological treatment - he seems to be the greatest torturer.
You are afraid of hell and you are ambitious for heaven - the carrot of heaven is hanging in front of you continuously. And your character is just a device between heaven and hell - a protection against hell and an effort to achieve the ambition: heaven. How can you be religious if you are so afraid and so ambitious?
A religious man is not ambitious at all. Ambition is the first thing that drops from a religious man, because ambition means to be in the future and a religious man is always here and now. He exists in the present, he has no future to bother about. And he is not in any way afraid. He lives so totally, how can he be afraid? The fear comes because you live fragmentarily. You have not lived at all, that’s why the fear.
Just try to understand the point. A man is afraid of death - why? Do you know that death is bad? How can you know unless you die? Do you know that death is going to be worse than life? How can you know? It may be better than life. Why are you afraid of death without knowing? How can one be afraid of the unknown? It seems to be impossible. You can be afraid only of the known. How can you be afraid of the unknown, the unfamiliar that you don’t know at all? No, you are not afraid of death. You have wrongly placed your fear in death. You are really afraid of death because you have not been able to live - the fear is concerned with the unlived life. You are afraid that you have not been able to live, love, and death is coming near, which will finish everything. You will be no more, and you have not been able to love.
You are like a tree which has not flowered and the woodcutter is coming. The tree feels afraid, not knowing what is going to happen. The fear is not coming from death, the fear is coming from something which has not happened. The tree knows well that the fruits have not come, the flowers have not come, it has not bloomed. The tree has not known the spring yet; it has not danced with the winds, it has not loved, it has not lived. This unlived life creates fear.and the woodcutter is coming. And the woodcutter will come and there will be no future. Death means no future. Past is gone, and no future - and the present is so narrow. Fear takes over, you tremble.