The first question:
“Holier-than-thou” seems to be my lifelong mantra. Growing up as a Catholic, I thanked God daily that I was a part of the one true religion. As a Catholic nun I knew I had “made it.” Now, as a sannyasin, I observe those same attitudes and judgments happening at every turn. I watch myself as I act superior around non-sannyasins and inferior around those who have been with you longer than I.
I really exhaust myself in constructing intricate continua along which to place everyone in relation to myself. I simply can’t shake hard enough to let it go.
Religion, as it has existed down the ages, is nothing but a subtle ego trip. Far more subtle, of course, than those trips which people are making for money, power, prestige, respectability, and all that. But the basic quality is the same.
Man’s mind has been molded, distorted poisoned, for only one thing, and that is the ego. Sacrifice everything for the ego! That is the single note of our all civilizations, cultures, societies, religions, educational systems. From the very beginning we implant seeds of ambition in the child’s mind. Then we devote twenty-five years in the schools colleges, and universities to nursing, watering those seeds so that they can have roots, branches, flowers, fruits.
Twenty-five years is a long time; it is one-third of your total life. And when you are conditioned for such a long time for ambitiousness, it certainly becomes very difficult to get rid of it. But ambition starts in such a way that you never become aware what poison it contains. The bottle of ambition contains pure poison, but the label is not that of poison: the label says it is pure nectar.
We live through words, we are word-oriented. Our whole life is dominated by words. Beautiful words can hide ugly realities. In fact, ugly realities exist in the world only because we are camouflaging them behind beautiful facades of language, philosophy, theology, ideology. Just give a beautiful word and you can cover up anything.
The so-called religious people are the most egoistic, because religion is one of the most beautiful words. It contains the whole spectrum of all that has been valued, appreciated, longed for: freedom, love, liberation, God, nirvana, moksha, immortality. What more can you ask? It contains the whole kingdom of God. The word is so beautiful that one has to be really intelligent to see what it is hiding behind it.