I have read your literature, I have heard you. Your language has hypnotic charm and is very lucid. Sometimes you speak on Mahavira, sometimes on Krishna or Buddha and sometimes you tell about Jesus and Mohammed as well. You reveal the secrets of the Gita in a most inspiring manner, you give discourses on the Upanishads and the Vedas, and you would not hesitate to go to temples or churches to give discourses. All the same, you maintain that you are not influenced by any of the personages mentioned above. You say that you have nothing to do with them and you do not agree with them. Continuously, you criticize and shatter to pieces the ancient religious beliefs and scriptures. What is your purpose? Do you want to establish your own religion? Do you want to show that you have limitless knowledge? Or do you want to confuse everyone? You speak and explain in words, but at the same time you say: “You will not reach anywhere by clinging to words.” You say, “Neither believe me nor cling to me; otherwise you will commit the same mistake.” You also say that this negation itself is an invitation. Kindly explain who and what you are and what you want to do and say. What is your intention?
Firstly, I am not influenced by Mahavira, Buddha, Christ or Mohammed. It is the beauty of religion that in one sense it is always old. It is in this sense that religious experiences are known to many persons. No religious experience is such that one can say that “It is mine only.”
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, on having a religious experience, the sense of “my-ness” dies. That is why, in this world, a claim of “my-ness” can be made for everything, but not for religious experience. This is the only experience which falls beyond the orbit of “my-ness,” because this experience can be had only on the death of “my-ness.” That is why the claim of “my-ness” could be there for everything, but not for a religious experience. Nor can anyone say that such an experience is new, because truth is neither new nor old.
It is in this sense that I speak of Mahavira, Jesus, Krishna, Christ and others: they had religious experiences. When I say that I am not influenced by them, I only mean that what I say comes out of my own experience and knowledge. I speak about them, I use their names, because what I have known tallies with what they have known. But for me the test is my own experience.
On that test I find them right, and that is why I use their names. I am telling what I tell out of my own experience. They also prove right in my experience; therefore, I talk about them. They are my witnesses; they are witnesses of my experience as well. But this experience cannot be called new. Yet, in another sense, it can be called new. This is the riddle and fundamental mystery of religion.
A religious experience can be called new because to whomsoever this experience dawns it is absolutely new and happening for the first time. It has not occurred before. It may have occurred to someone else, but for the one who has experienced it for the first time it is new. It is so new to him that he cannot conceive that such an experience could have occurred to someone else.
As long as this experience has a relationship with the consciousness of the person, the experience is for the first time. The experience is so novel, so fresh, that whosoever experiences it never feels that it can ever be old. It is like the freshness of a flower opening in the morning, its petals wet with dew, the early rays of the sun falling on them. Looking at this flower, one who may have seen it for the first time cannot say that this flower is old, even though every morning a new flower opens.
Every morning the dew and the rays of the sun fall on new flowers. Someone’s eyes may have seen these flowers daily, but whoever has seen the flower for the first time in this setting cannot even think that this flower could have been seen before. It is so new that if he says that truth can never be old, that it is always new and original, he is not wrong.