Religion means one is trying to transcend the mundane; otherwise, religion loses all its meaning. But the Rig Veda is full of the mundane. It is really a miracle that once in a while you come across a statement which can be called significant, concerned with the essential and not with the peripheral.
And this is not only the case with the Hindus: this is the case with the Buddhists, with the Jainas, with the Christians, with the Jews, with the Mohammedans, with almost all the organized religions. They have all gone astray and when I say they have all gone astray I mean they have become entangled with the nonessential.
In Buddhist scriptures there are thirty-three thousand rules; unless you follow those thirty-three thousand rules of conduct you can never become a buddha. One cannot even remember those rules! Just think of thirty-three thousand rules to be followed and you will drop the idea, the very desire to be a buddha – it will drive you crazy. All those rules if followed…and only an insane person can follow those rules. There cannot be thirty-three thousand rules about the essential, it is about the very nonessential: while you are walking how much you should see of the road – only four feet, not more than that, not even four feet six inches! If you go beyond the limit of four feet, you fall from grace. Now what nonsense is this, and what does it have to do with religion? You have to have only three pieces of clothing, you cannot have four – only three, and you have to be very strict about it. You have to beg in a certain way, from certain people, not otherwise. You have to eat only at a certain time; if you are feeling hungry again you cannot eat, you have to remain hungry.
The Buddhist monk has to eat only once a day. The Jaina monk cannot even drink water in the night. The Jaina monk cannot even urinate where the earth is wet; the Jaina monk cannot urinate in water. That’s why no Jaina monk can use modern toilets! Such stupidities – but they have been propagated in the name of religion, and once something takes the color of religion it starts looking important to people.
Character has been very much emphasized; in fact character is a peripheral phenomenon. The real thing is not character but consciousness, but consciousness happens inside and is not available for others to observe; others can only observe your character. And it is always the others who are deciding for you, hence they decide something that they can observe: they decide about your behavior. And of course man is capable of conducting himself in a certain way; he can force himself to do all kinds of contortions, but that does not change his consciousness at all.