Chapter 23: Religion Is Dead, Religio Is Born
The death of God is an immense freedom, multidimensional. It is not to be mourned; it has to be celebrated. Yes, I have declared that religion too is dead. If God is dead, how can religion survive? One lie leads you to another lie, and God is the fundamental lie. Then you can make a whole palace of playing cards - just a small breeze of understanding, of intelligence, and the whole palace collapses.
Religion is dead. It has really lived too long, it should have been dead long ago. It has not done any good to humanity, it has done immense harm. It has divided humanity. It has given different groups of people the idea that “You are the real people of God,” that “You are special; other human beings are second class.” It has fulfilled the egos of Jews, of Christians, of Hindus, of Mohammedans - of everybody. It has created so many wars. It has killed millions of people, burned thousands of people alive, and all in the name of God. For your own sake you are being burned alive!
Religion is one of the most criminal phenomena that have existed in the world. It is time that we declare it dead.
But remember, every death is a beginning of something new; every death is not an end. On the one side it looks as if something has ended, but on the other side something fresh starts growing. The death of religion becomes the beginning of religio.
The word religion comes from religio. Religio has a beauty of its own, which is lost in religion. Religio means an existential, an experiential phenomenon. The very word means coming to a point where you are one - one with yourself, one with existence. The religion which comes from the same root does not have that meaning. It, on the contrary, makes you split. Making you one is not its work; its work is to make you schizophrenic, to put you into a split state, to put you against your own body, to put you against your own sex, to put you against yourself; to divide you into parts, fragments, and create an inner conflict in you.
All religious people are continuously fighting with themselves, because their biology says to do something, and their holy scripture says to do just the opposite. Their own being wants to grow in one way, but the priests direct them into some other way.
Every religion has been trying to make you somebody else. No religion has allowed you to be just yourself. They are all afraid of your being just yourself; then their function is lost. Their function is to create conflict in you, to make you miserable, suffering, in anguish. Then naturally you have to seek help.
They create the disease, and then they start praying for you to be forgiven. They are the criminals, and they are asking for you to be forgiven. And whom are they asking? There is nobody.