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Chapter 3: The Shadow of Religion

You can find the second type; they may be pretending to be yogis, but they are not. The yogi cannot hate. It is not a question of any object: the yogi simply cannot hate because hate creates impurity. It is not a question of hating somebody else or something or one’s own body: whatsoever the object of hate, hate brings impurity. The yogi cannot hate his own body. But you can find this type of perverted yogi in the streets of Benares lying on thorns or pointed steel nails, torturing his own body. This is just the opposite of a woman enjoying a narcissistic indulgence before a mirror.

Fasting: fasting in itself can be good, can be bad. It depends. Fasting can be just a way of torturing the body; then it is bad, then it is violence. And this is my observation: people who are not violent towards others, who have suppressed their violence towards others and have become nonviolent - their violence starts a new way: as a release they start becoming violent towards their own bodies. There are stories of perverted people who destroyed their own eyes so that they could not see a beautiful woman. Stories of people - and not exceptional, in thousands.

In Russia there existed a sect before the revolution, thousands of followers, who had cut off their genital organs - just to be in deep hate with the body. They could not produce children. But then how to increase the number of the followers - because every organization is interested? So they were in a difficulty. They would adopt children and cut off their genital organs - a criminal act against one’s own body.

In Christianity there have been sects whose only prayer was to flog their own body every morning. And the greatest saint was thought to be one who flogged his body so much that it became blue - all over the body, skin broken and blood flowing. It used to be written in the biographies of great saints how many times he hits his body in the morning with a whip - one hundred times, two hundred times, three hundred times; just as in India Jaina monks go on counting their days, how many days they have fasted in the year - one hundred days, fifty days, how many days. The greater one is who has been fasting, almost starving, his own body.

In Christianity there have been monks who had nails in their shoes intruding in their bodies; and they would walk on those shoes and they would carry continuous wounds in their feet. Blood flowing, puss accumulating - they were great saints.

If one looks at religion scientifically then ninety per cent of it will prove to be pathological. These people needed mental treatment. These people were not religious, not at all. To call them religious is simply foolish: they were not even normal; they were mad.

These are the two types, and then between these two - just exactly in the middle - is the third, for whom Patanjali uses the word jugupsa: he is not disgusted with his own body, he is not obsessed either. He is in a deep balance. He takes care of the body because the body is a vehicle. He even treats the body as a holy thing. It is - God created it; and whatsoever God creates, how can it be unholy? It is a temple. It has not to be condemned. It has not to be indulged so madly that you are lost in it.

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