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Chapter 22: The Greatest Joke There Is

Belief is only the circumference of the center called doubt; because the doubt is there you create belief. The doubt hurts, it is like a wound, it is painful. It hurts because the doubt is a wound; it makes you feel your inner emptiness, your inner ignorance. You want to cover it up. But hiding your wound behind a roseflower - do you think it is going to help? Do you think the roseflower will be able to help the wound disappear? Just the contrary! Sooner or later the roseflower will start stinking of the wound. The wound will not disappear because of the roseflower; in fact the roseflower will disappear because of the wound.

And you may be able to deceive somebody else who is looking from the outside - your neighbors may think that there is no wound, but a roseflower - but how can you deceive yourself? That is impossible. Nobody can deceive himself; deep down somewhere you will know, you are bound to know, that the wound exists and you are hiding it behind a roseflower. And you know the roseflower is arbitrary: it has not grown in you, you have plucked it from the outside; whereas the wound has grown in you, you have not plucked it from the outside.

The child brings the doubt in him - an inner doubt, that is natural. It is because of the doubt he inquires, it is because of the doubt he questions. Go with a child for a morning walk in the woods, and he brings so many questions, that you feel bored, that you want to tell him to shut up. But he goes on asking. From where are these questions coming? They are natural to the child. Doubt is an inner potential; it is the only way the child will be able to inquire and search and seek. Nothing is wrong about it. Your priests have been telling you a lie, that there is something wrong about doubt. There is nothing wrong about it. It is natural, and it has to be accepted and respected. When you respect your doubt, it is no longer a wound; when you reject it, it becomes a wound.

Let it be very clear: doubt itself is not a wound. It is a tremendous help, because it will make you an adventurer, an explorer. It will take you to the farthest star in search of truth, it will make you a pilgrim. It is not unhealthy to have doubt. Doubt is beautiful, doubt is innocent, doubt is natural. But the priests have condemned it down the ages. Because of their condemnation, the doubt which could have become a flowering of trust has become just a stinking wound. Condemn anything and it becomes a wound, reject anything and it becomes a wound.

My teaching is: the first thing to be done, is not to try to believe. Why? If doubt is there, doubt is there! There is no need to hide it. In fact, allow it, help it, let it become a great quest. Let it become a thousand and one questions - and ultimately you will see it is not the questions that are relevant, it is the question mark! Doubt is not a search for belief; doubt simply is groping for the mystery, making every effort to understand the un-understandable, to comprehend the incomprehensible - a groping effort.

And if you go on searching, seeking, without stuffing yourself with borrowed beliefs, two things will happen. One: you will never have any disbelief. Remember, doubt and disbelief are not synonymous. Disbelief happens only when you have already believed, when you have already deceived yourself and others. Disbelief comes only when belief has entered in; it is a shadow of belief.

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