There is a deep reason. Religion is the last luxury so only an affluent society can afford religion. Religion is the flowering. When every so-called natural need is fulfilled, only then does the beyond become meaningful and significant. When body needs are fulfilled, when you are not in any struggle at the physical level, then a new struggle begins on a higher level. That is the struggle to achieve consciousness. So whenever a society becomes rich, only then does religion become meaningful. A poor society can never be religious.
Isn’t India religious?
Yes, India is religious. But India became religious when India was a rich country. Now it is just a hangover.
India was a rich country at the time of Buddha. It was at a peak, just like America is today. Patliputra was the same as New York is today. In the time of Buddha, India was at its golden peak. It could think in dimensions that are not confined to the body, not confined to the physical, visible world. So India could probe deeply into the ultimate mystery.
It is a strange fact that whenever a country becomes rich it becomes religious, and whenever a country becomes religious it is bound to fall back from its riches. When a country becomes religious it becomes otherworldly; this world becomes meaningless.
Is it a vicious circle?
I won’t say “vicious,” I will just say “circle.” You have to look at many things. To become young, you will have to become old; if you want to be born, you will have to die. If you consider death bad, then do not be born at all. If you consider old age bad, then do not be young at all – because to be young means that you are now on the way to being old. Life moves in circles. Nothing is bad.
A rich youth leads to a rich old age and a rich birth leads to a rich death. Religion is a flowering. Whenever a society reaches a point of leisure, art, meditation, religion flowers. Religion is the last flowering. But every flower is a sign that now the tree will die.
Can religion or meditation help one to be more economically well off? Can it make a poor country rich?
No, it cannot. It is not an economic movement; it is a religious movement. It has a specific dimension within which to work. It can help a person to become more conscious, it can help a person to be more silent, it can help a person to be calm and collected, but it cannot help economically in any way.