Chapter 20: Religion Can Only Be Aesthetic
Whatever you are doing, my approach is, make your doing your meditation. Don’t think in terms that you have to leave something and then you will meditate. Those are tricks of the mind of postponing, and you will end up in some ugly situation.
To me, religion can only be aesthetic and nothing else. A religious man will be in every way graceful. His very being will be surrounded by an aura of beauty. His words will be poetry itself; his silences will touch your heart; his very being will become a dance and celebration for you. What he does is not the question. What he is is the question. Whether he is a potter or a weaver or a shoemaker..
There was a shoemaker also who was a mystic, Raidas. If a shoemaker can be as realized as a Gautam Buddha, then there is no need to go anywhere. Just be wherever you are, create more beauty, create more grace in your life, in your actions. Everything should be a prayer, a gratitude to existence. Then a totally different kind of religion will prevail in the world, which will be bringing great treasures to the world.
Up to now all the religions have been escapist - escape from the world. I teach you to remain in the world; just remember, don’t be worldly. There is no need to renounce the world, just don’t let the world enter into your consciousness. You can sit in the Himalayas and still go on thinking about Sophia Loren. The Himalayas cannot prevent you.
Once a man came to Ramakrishna with ten thousand golden pieces. At that time the rupee was pure gold. The very word rupee is from Sanskrit; it means gold. He came with ten thousand gold pieces in a big bag and told Ramakrishna, “I have been collecting and waiting - when they become ten thousand, I am going to offer them to you.”
Ramakrishna said, “But I don’t have any place to keep them. And anyway, I don’t think I need them. But I cannot refuse you either. Do one thing..” Just behind Ramakrishna’s temple was flowing the beautiful Ganges. He said to the man, “Go and throw the whole load into the Ganges.”
Now, Ramakrishna was saying it. And in the first place he had offered the rupees to Ramakrishna, so they belonged to him, and he was saying it. So very reluctantly he went. His heart was sinking. His whole life he had been collecting those rupees. “And that fellow seems to be absolutely insane. What will the Ganges do with them? If he does not need them, he could have told me so. I could have taken them back. If he does not need, the Ganges does not need either. But what to do, how to argue with the man? That man is mad!”
One hour passed. Ramakrishna inquired, “What happened? That man has not returned.”