The first question:
When I was a child attending Sunday school there was a Hebrew proverb hanging on the wall. It read: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” For many years I was convinced of the meaning that God was frightened of man gaining any wisdom. After all, didn’t he forbid eating of the Tree of Knowledge?
And then one day it was explained: “Fearing God is the first step in man’s path towards understanding.” Again it made perfect sense. After all, wasn’t Jehovah a fearsome, punitive, omnipotent God! And now I am finding it hard to recover from that idea, and it interferes with my love for you. In spite of “knowing better” I have to see you as all-powerful; I have to be dependent on you for my liberation; and sometimes it follows that then I have to be afraid of you and your “punishment.” If understanding doesn’t effect the cure, what does?
The priest is the most cunning person in the world. They say prostitution is the oldest institution; it is not. Priesthood is the oldest institution in the world, because without the priests who will create the prostitutes? The priest is at the root of almost every problem that man is facing today.
And one of the greatest problems is because we have been conditioned by the priest for thousands of years, he has become almost part of our blood; he is not there somewhere outside. The outside priests – the imam, the ayatollah, the pope – they only represent something now which has become part of our inner world. In fact, whatsoever is known as conscience is nothing but the priest and his voice echoing in you. But now you think it is your voice; you have become identified with it.
That’s why we cannot understand our problems and we cannot find any solutions for them. Otherwise, every problem, rightly understood, is immediately solved. To see what it is, is also to see the way out of it. It is not that after understanding something more is needed – understanding is enough unto itself. It melts and dissolves the problems. It is like the sun rising in the morning…and the dew drops start evaporating.
Nirgrantha, you say that in your schooldays you read this proverb – and you must have read it again and again because it was hanging on the wall in the school – “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.”
That is the beginning of ignorance, not the beginning of wisdom. That is the beginning of slavery. That is the beginning of insanity. But the priest wants humanity to be in an insane state; only then can he and his profession prosper.