Chapter 12: To Be an Individual Takes Courage
Why has life all along been a very serious affair for me, and not fun to live and enjoy and celebrate as you say it should be?
Maitreya, you have been in the wrong hands from the very beginning of your life. It will be difficult for others to understand the answer if I don’t tell you the background of the questioner.
Maitreya is an old politician. He was for three terms a member of the parliament, a close friend of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He had devoted his whole life to the struggle for freedom. He had never looked at his own being; he was too much concerned with the freedom of the nation. He had no time to think that there is a higher freedom, the freedom of the self. He came into contact with me very late in his life. By that time Gandhiism had made its deep conditioning in him, and that is the fundamental reason for his misery.
Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy represent the ancient idea of the religious man as serious, sad, miserable, suffering. The old religions conceive this earth as a punishment; you are imprisoned here - because of your past lives’ evil acts you have been thrown into this life; this is a punishment. And how can one be joyous when life itself is condemned as punishment? Then the only way out of the miseries is to get rid of life; hence the anti-life attitude of all the religions.
And Mahatma Gandhi is a contemporary representative of the whole rubbish of the past: Man has to fight life, man has to fight everything that makes life beautiful, joyous, everything that will make you desirous of life - because the very desire for life has to be destroyed.
A point comes when you are against everything in life, so there is no question of desiring a future life. You desire freedom from the body: how can you enjoy your body? How can you enjoy swimming? The body is the enemy. How can you enjoy love? The body is the bondage. How can you enjoy food? You have to uproot all possibilities of enjoying your body, others’ bodies.
And the whole world is made of matter. You have to avoid enjoying the surrounding world: you have to avoid a beautiful sunset. It is materialistic to enjoy a beautiful sunset, because it is material. To enjoy a roseflower is against religions. To enjoy anything is dangerous because it will lead you deeper into life, and you have to get rid of life. So all the teachings of religion try in different disguises to cut the roots of your joy, of your pleasure, of your blissfulness.