Once Gautam Buddha was asked, “Why don’t you teach your people to pray?” It was an obvious question – a religion without prayer is simply inconceivable to many people. And the answer Buddha gave is as fresh today as it was twenty-five centuries before, as new and as revolutionary. He said, “I don’t teach my people to pray because their prayers will harm them. Right now they are not conscious enough to ask for anything, and whatsoever they ask will be wrong. First, let them become conscious enough. I teach them how to become more conscious and then it is up to them. When they are fully conscious, if they want to pray, they are free. They are not my slaves. But I can say one thing: that anybody who is fully conscious has nothing to ask for. He has got everything that one can ever ask for.”
Mildred had been nagging her family for years, and everyone had become accustomed to her whining and her sour face. One day she attended a “positive thinking” lecture, where the speaker talked for an hour on the winning qualities of the face with a smile. Mildred went home, very impressed, and decided to reform.
Next morning she got up early, put on her favorite dress, and prepared a good breakfast. When the family came in to the dining room she greeted them with a beaming smile. Her husband George took a good look at her face and collapsed in a chair.
“Along with everything else,” he moaned, “she has gone and developed lockjaw.”
He could not believe that her smile could be true. It must be lockjaw!
People try to pray, people try to smile, people try to look happy, people try to be truthful, honest – whatever qualities are praised. But their unconsciousness stands there behind every act of theirs, and their unconsciousness distorts their honesty, distorts their smiles, distorts their truth. But no morality in the world teaches people to first be conscious and only then to find, by your own consciousness, what qualities you would like to blossom in your being…. Honesty, sincerity, truth, love, compassion?
Except for a very few rebels like Gautam Buddha, nobody has thought about your unconscious – that first it has to be dropped, changed, your inner being has to be full of light, and then whatever you do is going to be right. Out of a totally conscious mind nothing can go wrong. But who listens?
For forty-two years continuously, Gautam Buddha went on telling people only one thing: be more alert, be more conscious. They became accustomed to hearing him, and for forty-two years continuously he said, “I am not here for you to worship me. If you have any respect for me, do what I am saying – don’t waste your life by worshipping me, because that is not going to help. And the worship of unconscious human beings is absolutely futile, meaningless; it is a deception – a deception that you have understood me.”
The last day of his life he repeated again, for the last time, “Don’t make my statues. If you love me, do what I have been telling you for forty-two years continuously: be more alert. Don’t raise temples and statues in my name.”
But it is something that shows how our unconscious mind functions. Gautam Buddha’s statues were the first statues to come into existence. And he has more statues in the world than anybody else. There are temples which are almost a whole mountain, carved. One temple in China has ten thousand statues of Gautam Buddha. The whole mountain has been carved in statues, it is called the temple of ten thousand buddhas.