Torturing the body is not a way. Torturing is violent. Whether you torture others or yourself it is violence, and violence can never be religious. What is the difference between torturing someone else’s body and torturing your own body? What is the difference? The body is “the other.” Even your own body is the other. Your body is a little closer and the other’s body is a little further away, that’s all. Because yours is closer it is more likely to become a victim of your violence; you can torture it. And for thousands of years people have been torturing their bodies with the false notion that this is the way towards God.
In the first place, why would God give you a body? He has not provided you with any implements to torture your body. Rather, on the contrary, he has provided you with sensibilities, sensitiveness, senses: to enjoy it, not to torture it. He has made you so sensitive because through sensitivity awareness grows. If you torture your body you will become more and more insensitive. If you lie down on a bed of thorns, by and by you will become insensitive. The body will have to become insensitive, otherwise how can you continuously tolerate thorns? The body will become dead in a way, it will lose its sensitivity. If you stand in the hot sun continuously, the body will protect itself by becoming insensitive. If you sit naked in the Himalayas when snow is falling and the whole mountain range is covered in snow, by and by the body will lose its sensitivity to coldness. It will become a dead body.
And with a dead body, how can you feel the blessings of existence? How can you feel the constant shower of blessings that is happening every moment? Existence goes on pouring millions of blessings upon you; you cannot even count them. In fact, you need more sensitivity to become a religious man, not less, because the more sensitive you are, the more you will be able to see the Divine everywhere. Sensitivity should become the eye, the penetration. When you become absolutely sensitive, every small breeze touches you and gives you the message, and even an ordinary leaf shaking in the wind becomes such a tremendous phenomenon because of your sensitivity. You look at an ordinary pebble and it becomes a Kohinoor. It depends on your sensitivity.
Life is more if you are more sensitive; life is less if you are less sensitive. If you have a completely wooden body with no sensitivity, life is nil, life is no longer there; you are already in your grave. Masochists have done that. Sadhana has become an effort to deaden the body and the sensitivity.
To me, just the opposite is the way. Austerity does not mean torture; austerity means a simple life, an austere life. Why a simple life? Why not a very complicated life? Because the more complicated the life is, again, the less sensitive you will be. A rich man is less sensitive than a poor man because his whole effort of accumulating riches has made him insensitive. You have to be insensitive if you are going to accumulate riches. You have to be completely like a murderer and not bother about what is happening to others. You go on accumulating treasures, and others are dying. You go on becoming more and more rich, and others are losing their very lives in it. A rich man has to be insensitive, otherwise he cannot be rich. How will he exploit? – it will be impossible.