Adi Shankaracharya, the Indian mystic, was likewise scorned and was the target of much abuse, but the present shankaracharyas of his monasteries receive great honor. Adi Shankaracharya was an unbounded flow of revolutionary energy, a Ganges rushing toward the ocean. He cannot be channeled like a canal. And these shankaracharyas today are like canals; you can lead them anywhere you like – they have no freedom of their own.
Understand it well that religion is the greatest revolution possible in the world, because the goal of religion is to take you back to that original, innocent state of being in which you were born; it is to undo everything that society has done to you. Zen masters say, “Religion is discovering your original face.” When you were born you had no inkling of life and death, right and wrong; nor was there fear or hatred, attachment or freedom, nor were you worldly or religious. At the moment of your birth you were like pure water, with not even a hint of any impurity. Religiousness is the name given to the regaining of that clarity, and religion is its process.
When you start becoming a witness to what is happening in you, all that society has taught you to repress will begin to rise, because witnessing means that the weight holding it all down is removed. Right now you are sitting on top of it so everything remains suppressed. People come to me to tell me about the strange states arising out of their meditation. They expected meditation to bring them peace, and instead they find themselves facing inner tempests. They expected meditation to bring them satisfaction, and find themselves aflame with dissatisfaction. They thought anger would disappear, and find themselves, to their dismay, hot with anger!
In the beginning this is bound to happen. You have been sitting on the lid that covers your repressions, and you have been riding on that lid a long time, trying continuously to hold down everything beneath it. To become a witness means that you have finally jumped off the lid; now you will only stand aside and will not do anything. Now you will no longer repress, now you will just witness. So everything suppressed will arise, all the repressions will catch fire; you will find flames leaping where before there were only ashes. All the anger and sex and turmoil will surge up, will surround you, but even in these moments you maintain your witnessing. It will not last for long, because it is just the explosion of the repressions. As these flames flare up, and fade, the fire below will begin to disappear; and as the smoke is dispelled into the vastness you will find a clear, smokeless space within. A day comes when you find suddenly that you are standing alone, nothing is left to be seen. The witness is there, but there is nothing to be witnessed – no anger, no sex, no hatred, no envy, no jealousy. But this will take time….
If you were dealing with the accumulated repressions of only one lifetime it would be different. But these are the repressions of numerous lives. Nobody knows how many times you have been born and how many societies have crushed you. Each time it was a different society, and all these societies were destroying you in different ways…this is why you carry so many inner contradictions.