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Question - Beloved Master, I have tried my whole Life to live a Religious Life, but then why am I still Miserable?

Osho - Nand Kishor, the religious life cannot be tried. Whatsoever you have been doing in the name of religion must have been something else. Religion is not an effort, it is a consciousness. It is not a practice, it is awareness. It is not a cultivation; you cannot cultivate it -- religious life has nothing to do with character.

Character can be cultivated. Character is moral; even an irreligious person can cultivate it. In fact irreligious people have more character than the so-called religious, because the religious person goes on believing that he can bribe God, or at least he can bribe the priest of God, and he will find some way to enter into paradise. But the irreligious has to be responsible for his life himself, towards himself. There is no God, no priest, nobody that he is answerable to; he is answerable to himself only. He has more character.

Religion has nothing to do with character. In fact, the really religious person is absolutely characterless. But try to understand the word 'characterless'; it does not mean without character, it means with FLUID character. He lives moment to moment, responding to new situations, new challenges, with no ready-made answers.

The so-called man of character has ready-made answers. He never bothers what is the challenge, he goes on responding in the old, learned ways. Hence he is always falling short and that is his misery. He is never in tune with existence; he cannot be, because he is more interested in keeping his character than in being in tune with existence. What was right yesterday may not be right today, and what is right this moment may not be right the next moment. And the man of character has fixed ideas of what is right and what is wrong; his fixation is the problem.

Nand Kishor, that must be keeping you miserable. You are not flexible, you cannot be. The so-called man of character is absolutely inflexible. He is like dry wood. He is not like a green tree which moves with the wind, dances with the wind, bows down to let the wind pass and then stands back.

The real religious man is like a green tree -- in fact, more like green grass. That's how Lao Tzu defines the religious man: he is like the grass. Let the wind come, and the grass bows down, falls on the earth, is not in any way fighting with the wind. Why fight it? We are part of one organic unity; the wind is not our enemy. The grass bows down; the wind is gone and the grass is back again dancing. The wind has been a help, it has taken all the dust away. The grass is greener, fresher, it enjoyed the whole play with the wind.

But a big tree, egoistic, stiff, rigid, unable to bow down, will fall in the strong wind and will not be able to get back again; it is bound to be miserable. A man of character is always miserable. His only happiness is that he is a man of character, that's all. And what does character have to do with religion? You may eat something, you may not eat something; you may drink something, you may not drink something else; you may smoke, you may not smoke.... Such trivia is thought to be of immense value! And you practice it -- and what do you mean by practicing it?

Nand Kishor, it must be a repression -- and a man who represses is bound to be miserable, because all that he has repressed is struggling within him to come back, to be powerful again. And even though you have repressed it, it goes on pulling your strings from the unconscious. It will keep you always in a state of conflict, inner turmoil; a civil war continues inside you. You will remain tense, anxious, worried, and always afraid -- because you know the enemy is there -- that you have repressed and the enemy is trying every moment to take revenge. And there is a point beyond which you cannot repress any more because you cannot contain any more; there is a limit to everything. Then all that you have repressed explodes, like pus oozing out of you.

This is what we have been told is the state of a religious man -- this repressive character. My approach is totally different. I don't say that you can practice religion and I don't say that religion has anything to do with this ordinary, moralistic, puritanical ideology.

An unshaven, bedraggled panhandler, with bloodshot eyes and teeth half gone, asked Hogan for a dime. "Do you drink, smoke, or gamble?" asked the Irishman.
"Mister," said the bum, "I don't touch a drop, or smoke the filthy weed, or bother with evil gambling."
"Okay," said Hogan. "If you will come home with me I will give you a dollar."
As they entered the house, Mrs. Hogan took her husband aside and hissed, "How dare you bring that terrible-looking specimen into our home!"
"Darling," said Hogan, "I just wanted you to see what a man looks like who does not drink, smoke or gamble."

These people are not religious people. You say, Nand Kishor, "I have tried my whole life to live a religious life." You have wasted your life! Don't waste it any more. Religion is not something to be tried. What do you know of religion?

Except in deep meditation, one never comes across religion. It is not written in the Gita and it is not written in the Koran. It is not written anywhere -- because it cannot be written. What is written is morality. What is written is, "You should do this, you should not do that" -- "shoulds" and "should nots." Religion has nothing to do with all that.

Religion is basically the science of creating consciousness in you. Become more meditative, become more conscious. Out of that consciousness a very flexible, spontaneous character is born, which changes every day with the situation, which is not attached to the past, which is not like something ready-made. On the contrary, it is a responsibility -- a moment-to-moment capacity to respond to reality. It is mirrorlike; it reflects whatsoever is the case, and out of that reflection, action is born. That action is religious action.

You don't know anything about religion, Nand Kishor. How can you practice it?
And you say, "Why am I still miserable?"

Whatsoever you have practiced, you must have practiced with greed, to attain something. You must be waiting that great happiness is going to shower on you, that God is going to reward you, that you will be made the richest man in the world or the president of a country, or you will become very famous -- a great saint, something like that. You have not loved religion, you have been using religion as a means to some other end; otherwise this question never arises.

A religious person cannot say, "Why am I still miserable?" because he knows, "If I am miserable, that means I am not religious."

Misery is a by-product of being unconscious. If you are conscious, misery disappears. Not that it is a reward; it is just a simple outcome of consciousness. Bring a light, a lamp, into the house, and the darkness disappears. It is not a reward from God -- not that he sees that you have brought the light, now you have to be rewarded and the darkness has to be removed. No, it is the natural law: AES DHAMMO SANANTANO -- this is the eternal law. Bring light and darkness disappears, because darkness has no existence of its own; it is only absence of light.

Misery is absence of consciousness. So it is impossible to be conscious AND miserable; nobody has ever been able to do it up to now. If you can do it, you will be doing something historical, something unheard of, something incomprehensible. You will be doing a miracle which no buddha has ever been able to do. You cannot do it either; it is impossible, it is not in the nature of things. How can you keep the darkness, too, with the light burning in your room? You can keep the darkness, then you have to put out the light; you cannot keep them both together, no coexistence is possible.

If you are miserable, that simply shows you have not understood what religion is and you have been trying something else in the name of religion. You have been trying to be a moralist, a puritan. You have been trying to create a character. Why? For what? Because character is praised, because the society respects character. It is an ego trip -- very subtle, but an ego trip all the same.

And ego creates misery. Your so-called saints are all miserable. I have come across thousands of your saints -- Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist, Mohammedan, Christian -- and they are all miserable. They are all hoping to be rewarded after death. Real religion is instant: here you become conscious and immediately misery disappears. You need not wait for the other life, you need not wait for tomorrow even. And that's what Buddha means when he says: Be quick in doing good. The greatest good is to be conscious -- because all other goods are born out of it. Being conscious is the source of all goodness, all virtue.

Source - Osho Book "The Dhammapada, Vol4"

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