Morality or moral behavior is simply utilitarian as far as society is concerned, but for the individual it is not a utility, it is his joy. Therefore, society’s needs are satisfied even by pseudo-morality, but that is not good enough for the individual. That you behave well towards others is good enough for society but it is not good enough for you, for it is also worth considering whether you are good inside yourself or not. Society is concerned with your personality, not with your inner being. But for you yourself the personality is nothing more than your clothing. Your being begins where this clothing ends. Behind this mask of personality, separate from it, is your real being. And this is where real morality is born.
A society created by false morality is called a civilization. A society consisting of men who have attained to real life is called a culture. This is the difference between civilization and culture. Civilization is based on utility; culture is based on inner joy and harmony.
Today we have civilization but not culture. But if we want, we can give birth to a culture with our individual efforts together. Civilization is born out of purifying our behavior with other people; culture is born out of purifying ourselves. Civilization is the body; culture is the soul. Those who are rooted in their beings create a culture.
But isn’t religion social? Is it totally personal?
Yes, religion is absolutely personal. Society has no soul, no center of consciousness as such. Society is simply an accumulation of our inter-relationships. It is the individual who has a soul and therefore religion must be individual as well. Religion is not one of my relationships, it is my being. The discovery of what one is in one’s intrinsic nature, in one’s real isness, is religion.
Religion, dharma, is self-knowledge. Religion itself is not social. This means one’s sadhana for religion, one’s search and endeavor for religion, does not relate to any group or crowd. But one’s religious experience does cast its light on the group, on society. The practice of religion is personal, but its effect does touch the society. When a man is filled with inner light his behavior also fills with it. The inner being is individual, personal, but behavior is social.
Spiritual growth can never be collective, because one has to come to know one’s self not in the company of others, but alone, all alone. Plotinus has said: “It is the flight of the alone to the alone.” It is quite true. The flight is indeed very alone, companionless. But the bliss that comes from the flight infects others and they are also moved. What is attained in aloneness, in the aloneness of one’s self, spreads its fragrance far and wide.
What is God?