Chapter 9: What Can Man Offer?
Mind constantly arrowed towards That
is arghya - the offering.
What can man offer? What can the offering be? We can offer only that which belongs to us. That which does not belong cannot become an offering, and man has always offered that which does not belong to him at all. Man has sacrificed that which is not his at all.
Religion becomes a ritual if you offer something which is not yours. Religion becomes an authentic experience if you offer something which really belongs to you. Rituals are really methods to escape from authentic religiousness. You can find substitutes, but you are deceiving no one except yourself - because how can you offer something which is not yours? You can sacrifice a cow, you can sacrifice a horse, you can offer properties of land, but nothing belongs to you. So, really, this is theft in the name of religion. How can you offer to the divine that which is not yours?
So the first thing is to find out what is yours, what belongs to you. Is there anything which belongs to you? Are you the master of anything of which you can say, “This belongs to man and I offer it to the divine”? This is one of the most difficult questions: “What belongs to man?” Nothing seems to belong, and when nothing seems to belong to you, then you can only say, “I can offer myself.” But even that is not right, because do you yourself belong to you? Is your being yours? Are you responsible for your being? Are you responsible to be?
Man comes from somewhere, some unknown source. He is not responsible for his being here. Kierkegaard has said, “When I look at man, I feel that he has been thrown here.” He is not even responsible for his own being; the being is grounded in the divine. Look at it this way, can a tree say, “I offer myself to the earth”? What does it mean? It is meaningless because the tree is rooted in the earth, the tree is just a part of the earth. The tree is just earth and nothing else, so how can a tree say, “I offer myself to the earth”? It is meaningless. The tree is already a part. It is not different, so offering is not possible. So, first: you can offer something which belongs to you. Second: you can offer if there is a distance, a separateness.
The tree cannot offer itself because it is not different from the earth. Or, think of it this way: a river cannot say, “I offer myself to the sea.” The river is not rooted in the sea, it is separate. But, still, the river cannot say, “I offer myself to the sea.” Why? It cannot say this because it is not the river’s choice. The river has to flow to the sea, there is no choice left. The river is just helpless. Even if the river wants to choose not to offer she cannot choose it, so offering is inevitable. When the offering has no choice it is meaningless.