Today, a fundamental misunderstanding about the meaning, role and function of religion has greatly undermined the already shaky structure of human values and social responsibility. In spite of the prominent role that religion plays in people's lives, the fundamental understanding about religion is basically neglected in pursuing non-religious goals. We are actually caught in a vicious circle, and the challenge before us is how to break away from it. Most religions seem to have lost connection with their source. In many centuries of the past, they have collected so much superstition and nonsense that it has distracted people from, or have confused them in regards to, the original message. But, by and large, religion, as it is seen and followed today, has become part of social hypnosis.
All religions teach about the brotherhood of man, but they only end up creating enemies of each other. All religions teach that every man has the potential right to reach God, but practically they say: Only our religion is the true religion.
Pseudo-religion is always basically afraid, because deep down the pseudo-religious person knows that it is only his imagination; he has no actual experience. He himself is not convinced; hence, he needs to convince others. The person who wants to convert others is a person who is suspicious of his truth. He is really trying, by converting people, to convince himself that he is right. If he can convert so many people, he gets confidence to follow his religion.
While political reforms, eco-planning, conservation projects and policies regarding sustainable development may provide temporary relief to slow down the massive devastation to our planet Earth, very little will change until humanity, once again, can feel the beauty of a night sky glittering with stars or breathe the innocent freshness of the wild forests. Basically, the environment is dying because something in our hearts is already dead. The sad truth is that we have lost touch with the living bridge of feeling; which, as the Latin root of religion, religare, shows, binds man to the cosmic web of life. What is desperately needed is a radical paradigmatic change in our antiquated understanding of religion.
Society is made of relationships which are maintained through the application of ethical and moral codes. Often, we hear an outcry for enforcing "moral order" or for returning to "old fashioned values." Such talks of morality are essentially driven from one or the other institutionalized religious teaching. For example, one may come across an impassioned plea to stress on the moral values based on Christian belief. But then, is the morality of Christians different from that of the Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists? If yes, then there can never be peace in the world.
A dynamic worldview reflects an organic and integrated consciousness. It is a paradigm based on a holistic awareness. A man aware of the dangers of fire will not play with it; he does not have to follow any religion to know the truth about the fire. Similarly, a truly religious man, who is aware of himself, aware of the life around him, knows his place in the universe is unlikely to cause harm - either to himself - or to the world around him. On this issue, certain observations made by spiritual guru Osho are very relevant:
According to Osho, "As you become more and more silent, serene, calm, and quiet, as you start understanding your own consciousness, as your inner being becomes more and more centered, your actions will reflect morality. It will not be something that you decide to do, it will be something as natural as roses blooming on a rosebush."
Since time immemorial, attempts have been made to reduce God to a set of concrete, conceptualized, and ritualistic definition. This may have served the purpose of the priest in asserting non-empirical factors in shaping religion into an almost chaotic, superstition-ridden random belief system; it certainly deprived people of experiencing God as a presence rather than as a person.
Today, science carries implicit pressing messages that the universe is nothing but an energetic presence. As science continues to go deeper into the matter, it is mystified in observing the fact that matter is essentially a mass of energy, that it is energy which is manifested in the myriad forms throughout the universe. Undergoing a radical change in its perception and understanding, it is now being realized that science and religion are not "separate and mutually exclusive".
Science also has come to see that it is an expanding universe. The very word 'brahman' too means that which is ever expanding. In other words, God is not the "creator", rather it is creativity. God is an uninterrupted process of creativity. As human beings, our ultimate fulfillment is in creatively manifesting our energy. Osho says, "The urge to create is the first stirring of the divine within you. The urge to create is the presence of God. You have the first message; the first ripple has reached you. It is the beginning and the birth of prayer... To be creative is to be religious."
In the ongoing creative process, God is what Krishna says in the Geeta: A catalytic agent, that is. God does not do anything, only his energetic presence works. Hydrogen and oxygen become water when electricity is passed through it - It is the missing link. Electricity does not mix, it simply is there.
As Krishna says in the 'Bhagavad Geeta', He does not create, His very being, His very presence makes creativity possible:
'Mayadhyakshena Prakritihi Sooyate Sacharacharam
Hetunanena Kaunteya Jagat Viparivartate’
“My very presence alone creates the universe, and in my very presence itself, the universe keeps dissolving, and recreating again.” - Krishna
To be religious is to realize that God is a creative presence; that I am a manifestation of God's creativity and I too can creatively manifest God. Religiousness consists in recognizing that we need to create God every moment - we are the rock, we are the sculptor, and we are the carved image as well.
However, defined or explained, every religion asserts views regarding the creation and the creator, the place of mankind in the ultimate scheme of things, heaven and hell, reward and punishment, the nature of ethical and moral values. But in view of how historically religion has been conceived and practiced to the detriment of human life and values, there is enough to justify the failure of this most significant phenomenon of human experience.
Religion, is more likely to play a vital role only if we are ready to accept and grapple with its core, intrinsic, subjective, qualitative and transcendental aspects, which Osho calls, "religiousness".
In Osho's vision, "Religiousness can become just a way of life. A religious person will walk differently than a non-religious person. What will the difference be? The difference will be his awareness. A religious person will act differently from a non-religious person. What will the difference be? His action will come out of love. A religious person will create a different kind of fragrance around himself, naturally, obviously, because there will be no ego, so there will be no shadow around him. A religious person will live a luminous life; a light which will go on filtering out from his innermost core. A religious person will be A CONSCIOUS PERSON - not a Christian, not a Hindu and nor a Mohammedan."
A religious man, functioning from the highest point of consciousness intuition, is just like the fragrance of a flower. There is no question of being converted. Even if nobody passes by the side of the rose, the fragrance will still be spreading around, moving... somewhere, somebody may get it. And even if nobody gets it, it doesn't matter; it is simply natural for the flower to explode into fragrance.
Naina Rajkumari (Ma Prem Naina) is associated with Osho World Foundation and travels widely facilitating workshops and seminars. Born in Jorhat, she was initiated as a Osho Sannyas in 2003 at Oshodham, New Delhi.