Suddenly one morning you are light and graceful and you are fresh and unburdened. The past is no more haunting you and the future has not yet started. You look at the sky, a vast emptiness, and everything stops within you. You also become a vast emptiness. It is not just an aesthetic experience, it is religious. Beauty is truth…and truth is beautiful!
Sometimes you hear music and the mind stops, and the music surrounds you, you are drowned in it and you are no more there. Just a transparent presence: and the music goes through and through…. In that moment, it is not only music that is happening, it is religion. But you don’t recognize it.
Do you think religion happens only in the church, where dead priests go on beating around the bush? In fact, that is the last thing – for religion to happen in the church. It is a graveyard; God is not alive there. A church is full of dead Gods. They were alive sometime, somewhere in the past. They are just histories now.
When Jesus walked on the earth, religious experiences were happening around him. But now Jesus is a dead myth. He is worshipped in a church, preached about, but he is not there.
The church, the temple, is the last place for religion to happen, for God to penetrate you. He comes to you in more alive ways. He comes through the wife, through the child, through the husband, through the friend – sometimes, even through the enemy. Flowers and ocean and sand and the mountains and the stars and the birds…he comes in a thousand and one ways, but always alive.
He is life; you can forget the name “God.” The word has become very dirty – drop it! Just call him life, that will do; call him existence or being, that will do. If truth seems too harsh, call him love, that will do. If truth has been too much monopolized by philosophers, drop it. Love is perfectly beautiful.
Wherever you had any poetic experience, wherever your heart became a small poem – something throbbed within you, something unknown – there is religion. Recognition may take time. Sometimes you may not be able to recognize for lives. And when you do recognize, then you will simply laugh, you will go mad with laughter – because then in that recognition many other things which were left unrecognized will be also recognized.
I have heard about a Zen monk – the story is simply unbelievable! He worked hard. His master has given him a koan, a Zen puzzle to work out. The koan was: If one hand claps, what will the sound be? Not two hands clapping with each other – just one hand clapping in emptiness. “What will the sound be? Try to hear it.”
He tried and tried, but he couldn’t hear it. Years passed. He would go to the master, he would always bring something that he had heard, and the master would reject it immediately. Even before he had said anything, the master would say, “No! Don’t bring any stupidity here. Go back! Work hard!”
It is said that twelve years passed and the master never even gave him an appreciative look. He was harsh, and the disciple lost heart, he lost his nerve. He escaped from the monastery.