These are poisonous ideas, but you have been poisoned. You have been poisoned with your mother’s milk – and this has been your whole past. Humanity has lived under a dark, dark cloud of self-condemnation. If you condemn yourself, how can you grow? How can you ever become mature? And if you condemn yourself, how can you worship existence? If you cannot worship existence in you, you will become incapable of worshipping existence in others; it will be impossible. You can become part of the whole only if you have great respect for the whole that resides within you.
You are a host, God is your guest. By loving yourself you will know this: that God has chosen you to be a vehicle. In choosing you to be a vehicle he has already respected you, loved you. In creating you he has shown his love for you. He has not made you accidentally; he has made you with a certain destiny, with a certain potential, with a certain glory that you have to attain. Yes, God has created man in his own image.
Man has to become a god. Unless man becomes a god there is going to be no fulfillment, no contentment. But how can you become a god? Your priests say that you are a sinner. Your priests say that you are doomed, that you are bound to go to hell. And they make you very much afraid of loving yourself.
This is their trick: to cut the very root of love. And they are very cunning people. The most cunning profession in the world is that of the priest. He says: “Love others.” Now it is going to be plastic, synthetic, a pretension, a performance. They say: “Now love humanity, your mother country, your motherland, life, existence, God.” Big words, but utterly meaningless. Have you ever come across humanity? You always come across human beings – and you have condemned the first human being that you came across, that is you. You have not respected yourself, not loved yourself. Now your whole life will be wasted in condemning others.
That’s why people are such great fault-finders. They find fault with themselves – how can they avoid finding the same faults in others? In fact, they will find them and they will magnify them, they will make them as big as possible. That seems to be the only saving device; somehow, to save face, you have to do it. That’s why there is so much criticism and such a lack of love.
I say this is one of the most profound sutras of Buddha, and only an awakened person can give you such an insight.
He says: Love yourself… This can become the foundation of a radical transformation. Don’t be afraid of loving yourself. Love totally, and you will be surprised: the day you can get rid of all self-condemnation, self-disrespect, the day you can get rid of the idea of original sin, the day you can think of yourself as worthy and loved by existence, will be a day of great blessing. From that day onwards you will start seeing people in their true light, and you will have compassion. And it will not be a cultivated compassion; it will be a natural, spontaneous flow.
And a person who loves himself can easily become meditative, because meditation means being with yourself. If you hate yourself – as you do, as you have been told to do, and you have been following it religiously – if you hate yourself, how can you be with yourself? And meditation is nothing but enjoying your beautiful aloneness, celebrating yourself; that’s what meditation is all about.