However, the approach up until now has been exactly the opposite. That approach asks you to renounce life, to renounce the world. It does not ask you to search in life. It does not ask you to learn the art of living. It also does not say to you that how life feels, depends on how you look at it. If life seems to be dark and miserable it is because of your wrong way of living it. This very life can also become a shower of bliss if only you know the right way to live it.
I call religion the art of living. Religion is not a renunciation of life, it is a stairway for descending deep into life. Religion is not turning one’s back on life, it is opening one’s eyes fully toward life. Religion is not an escape from life; religion is the name of embracing life fully. Religion is a total encounter with life.
It is perhaps because of these basic misconceptions that only elderly people show any interest in religion. You go to the temples, to the churches, to the gurudwaras and you will find only old people there. You will not see any young people. Why? There is only one explanation: so far our religions have been religions of old people; of those nearing their death, those who are now haunted by the fear of death and are interested in thinking about “after death” stuff, and want to know what there is after death.
How can a religion based on the philosophy of death influence the whole of life? How can a religion contemplating death make this world religious? It cannot. Even after five thousand years of religious teachings, the world is sinking steadily from irreligiousness to more irreligiousness. Although there is no shortage of temples, mosques, churches, priests, teachers, ascetics on this planet, its people have not yet been able to become religious. And they will not be able to, because the very base of religion is wrong. Instead of life, death has been made the base of religion. Instead of blossoming flowers, graves have been the focus of religion. It is not surprising if death-oriented religion is unable to thrill the heart of life.
Who is responsible for all this?
During these three days, I wish to discuss the religion of life, and hence, the need to understand the basic key point first. Up to now, everything has been done to hide, to suppress, to forget about this basic truth of life rather than to understand it, explore it. And the ill-effects of this effort to forget it, to deny it, have spread all over the world.
What is the central element in the normal life of human beings? God? Soul? Truth? No. What is at the core of human beings? What is in the depths of the human heart – of someone who has never undertaken any spiritual search, who has never traveled at all on any path of spiritual search, who has never begun any kind of spiritual seeking? Prayer? Devotion? No, not at all. If we search in the life-energy of a normal human being, if we search in one’s life force, we will see neither god nor devotion nor prayer, worship nor meditation there. We will see something very different.
This is something that has been kept suppressed and unmentioned, rather than be known and understood. And what is this something that will be found if we uncover and analyze the core of human beings?