Chapter 9: All Principles Are No Principles
That’s what has been happening to all the definitions of religion. Each definition, once you have carved it, looks silly. First, because religion is vast. Second, it is an inner experience, it is a taste on the tongue or a smell in your nostrils or a feeling in your heart. By its very nature it cannot be reduced to words, to doctrines and creeds. It is a simple experience, very simple, but the very simplicity creates the problem. If it were a complex experience there would be a possibility of defining it. Complex things are easy to define, simple things are impossible to define. How do you define the color yellow? You can say yellow is yellow - what else is there to say? But to say yellow is yellow is not a definition, it is a tautology; you have not said a single thing more that was not already said in the word yellow itself. What have you added to it by saying that yellow is yellow?
That’s why to the logicians, the statements of the mystics look absurd - they are saying yellow is yellow, religion is religion, love is love, truth is truth. But these are not definitions; a definition is supposed to say something about the defined phenomenon. It is supposed to help those who don’t know the phenomenon itself, it is supposed to help those who have not experienced it. But there is no way; you cannot explain it.
In the past it was not so baffling, because the Christian believed that the only real religion is Christianity, so his definition was the only true definition, whatsoever it was - XYZ. And the Buddhist thought his religion is the religion; all others were false religions, so their definitions were false. And so was the case with the Hindu and the Mohammedan and the Jaina and the Parsi. It was simple: the Mohammedan thought God was a Mohammedan, and the Hindu thought God was a Hindu - just as when a small girl was asked about God, she said: “God is a Baptist.” She was a Baptist, she had been brought up in that sect. It was simple in a way. People believed in Mahavira or in Buddha or in Krishna or in Zarathustra; their definition was the only definition, all other definitions were false.
But the problem has become more and more complex today because now people are not so stupid, not so stubborn, not so orthodox, not so dogmatic. Man’s tolerance has grown, man’s heart has become more open, man has allowed himself to become acquainted with the attitudes of others. Now you can read the Koran - you may not be a Mohammedan. And you can read the Gita - you may not be a Hindu. And you can read the Talmud - you may not be a Jew. All has become available; that has created a great complexity, a great confusion. Now, what is religion? So many definitions contradicting each other.and they have to contradict each other; not that religion has not been understood by these people, not that one definition is right and others are wrong. No, all are right but religion is vast and everybody experiences it in his own way, in his individual way.
When you come to godliness, you will experience it in your own way. You can’t experience it in my way because you have a totally different personality, a different perspective, a different way of looking at things. When a painter comes into the forest, he sees one thing, when a poet comes, he sees something else, when a scientist comes, he sees still something else. And the woodcutter? He may not see the beauty at all, he may simply be seeing which wood he can cut and sell in the market. He may not be concerned with the greenery and the flowers and the birds and the songs.