For example, a thief is standing in front of a mirror: the mirror is impure because the thief is being reflected in it. But in fact the mirror is also impure when a saint is standing in front of it and is reflected in it. The mirror is pure only when there is nothing in front of it. In this same way, the sage is neither a saint nor a sinner; the sage is totally different from both.
The Upanishadic concept of the sage is very profound. This concept of purity is very subtle: that the mind is impure as long as there is even a single ripple of thought arising in it. When the mind is without any ripples and has become empty, the mirror is without any reflection. When the desire to do good or bad disappears, no desire is left. Sin or virtue do not fill the mind, selfishness or unselfishness do not fill the mind – and when nothing occupies the mind then mind becomes unlimited, limitless. Then the capacity of the mind is there in its pure state. Then nothing remains to ponder over, to think about; then it is just an empty mirror.
The Upanishads say that when the mind becomes just a mirror and when there is no reflection, no image, no picture, no shadow in it, then with this mind one can know the ultimate reality.
This is the difference between religion and morality: according to morality the good mind is pure, and according to religion the empty mind is the pure mind. To be a moralist, it is not necessary to be religious. Even an atheist can be very moral – and very often he is more of a moralist than the theist.
Compared to India the Soviet Union is much more moralistic, and the Soviet Union is an atheist country. There is not as much stealing and corruption, there is not as much adultery. An atheist can be very moralistic, and the fact of the matter is that for an atheist there is no other alternative than to be moralistic, because he cannot be religious. For an atheist the ultimate state is to renounce evil and to hold on to being virtuous.
But for a theist this is not enough. The journey of the theist is very long. The theist says, “I have given up evil and now I am clinging to virtue, but my clinging remains. Until yesterday I had been holding on to the bad and now I am holding on to the good. Until yesterday the chains were made of iron and now they are made of gold – but the chains are still there.” He wants that nothing should bind him, that he should hold on to nothing. There should be no clinging; the mind should become free of any holding or clinging, totally empty.
Of course, religion goes beyond immorality – but it also goes beyond morality. In fact, a religious man is neither moral nor immoral. This is why it is difficult to understand the behavior of a religious man. We can understand the behavior of a moralist: we know what is good and what is bad. We understand the person who does good and we also understand the person who does bad.