Chapter 4: The Transformative Power of Idols
When you go to a temple you see only an idol, because you are not able to see the worship itself. In a temple, a Meera - the female Indian mystic who is a symbol of devotion - can be found totally absorbed in her worship. For her there is no idol. As soon as real worship deepens, the idol dissolves. We see idols because we do not know what worship is. As less and less worship happens in this world, we will see more and more idols. And once there are many idols, worship will as good as disappear. Furthermore, the idols will have to be destroyed, because what use will they be? They will be irrelevant.
Ordinarily, we think that the more primitive a man is, the more likely he is to be an idol-worshipper, and that as man becomes more intelligent he drops his idols. But this is not true. In reality, worship has its own science, and the more ignorant we become about it, the more difficult to grasp it seems to us.
In this connection it will be helpful to tell you one more thing. Our belief that man has made progress in all directions, that he has fully evolved, is absolutely wrong. The life of man is so vast, that if he makes great progress in one direction, he does not even realize how far he has remained behind in another direction. If science has made great progress, we have fallen far behind in the matter of religion. Whenever religion flourishes, science lags behind. When we grow in one dimension, the other dimensions are completely forgotten.
In 1880, in Europe, the caves of Altamira were discovered. In those caves there are colored pictures said to have been drawn twenty thousand years ago, but the colors of the pictures look as fresh as if they were painted yesterday. Because of this, Don Marcellano, who discovered these caves, was criticized all over Europe. Everyone thought that he had touched up the pictures. All the artists who saw the pictures said Marcellano was trying to fool the public, that such fresh colors could not be ancient.
What they were saying seems right in a way, because the paintings of Van Gogh, which are not even one hundred years old, are already fading; the pictures Picasso painted in his youth look as old as he himself. The colors used these days by artists throughout the world do not last more than a hundred years; they are bound to fade within a century.
But when the investigation of the caves Marcellano found was completed, it was proved beyond doubt that the caves were more than twenty thousand years old. This is a great mystery, because the people who painted those colors seem to have known much more about colors than we know at present. We have been able to reach the moon, but we have not been able to make colors that can remain fresh and last longer than a hundred years. The people who made these colors twenty thousand years ago knew much more about the science of color than we do.
The mummies of Egypt are five thousand years old. They are the dead bodies of human beings, but because they have been so well preserved, it is as if they had died just yesterday. And we have not been able to discover what preservative mediums might have been used. How could these bodies have been preserved for five thousand years? - there is no deterioration at all. But we have not been able to establish which mediums were used to preserve them.