Just a few days ago you spoke to us of three categories of belief: theist, atheist, and agnostic. What do you say about gnostic?
I do not consider “gnostic” a category of belief. The theist believes in God, without knowing, without any experience. His belief is just an escape from doubt.
To remain in doubt needs tremendous courage. Not to escape from doubt is one of the fundamental qualities of a seeker, and belief is an escape. It covers up your doubt, and it gives you a sense of relief, a false confidence that you know, although deep down you still know that you know not.
So the believer is divided into two split layers. On the surface is the belief, which he thinks and projects himself to be. Underneath is his reality, like a wound: the doubt, which he denies but cannot completely eradicate. It is there, part of his reality. So the believer is always in a state of conflict. He is schizophrenic. A small thing goes against his belief – and the doubt comes up.
A man once came to me and said, “I have become a firm believer in God.” I said, “What do you mean by ‘firm believer’? Are there infirm believers too? The very use of the word firm shows that there is something inside you that you are keeping down forcibly, firmly. But,” I said, “that we will discuss later; first let me ask what has made you a firm believer in God.” He said, “I go to worship.”
In India there are hundreds of temples devoted to different gods. One of the most common temples you will find – which is very funny to the outsider – is the temple of the monkey god, Hanumana. He is a monkey, but he served one of the incarnations of God, Rama, so totally that he himself became a symbol of God. Now, it is thought that if you can persuade Hanumana, he can easily persuade Rama. And to persuade the monkey is certainly easier. He is such a devoted servant of Rama that Rama can never say no to him. To persuade Rama directly is difficult, but Hanumana – he is just a poor monkey. Any small gift will be enough, a bribe – a few fruits, sweets – and you can ask him, “Help me.”
So this man used to go to the temple of Hanumana, and he asked Hanumana, “If within fifteen days I don’t get employed….” He was unemployed; well educated, but in India there are millions of educated people who are unemployed; there are no places for them. “If within fifteen days you can manage through Rama, then I am going to give a feast in your temple to eleven brahmins, and I am going to bring fruits and sweets and flowers for you. But remember, I am passing through a very crucial moment. If within fifteen days you are not able to arrange it, my belief in God will be finished. It is not only a question of employment, it is a question of my belief in God. So it is up to you.”