There was a time when temples, places of pilgrimage, the wearing of forehead marks, idol worship, the use of rosaries, incantations and spells, scriptures, rituals and astrology, a belief in good and bad omens – all had a meaning. Now, however, they have become meaningless. Please, explain them to us.
We would also like to know if all these were only the outer tools of spiritual discipline, merely the outer arrangements to trigger a remembrance, whose meaning has been totally lost with the passage of time, or had they some intrinsic value?
Will there be a time when they will be used again?
Suppose we have a key in our hands. We cannot directly understand the purpose of it from the key itself, nor is it possible to imagine from the key itself that a great treasure is likely to be revealed with its help. There is no hidden indication in the key regarding the treasure; the key itself is closed. Even if we break it or cut it into pieces, we may find the metal of which it is made, but we cannot learn anything about the hidden treasure which the key is capable of revealing. And whenever such a key – without any clues as to the treasure – is preserved for a long time, it only becomes a burden on our life.
There are many such keys in life which can open the doors of treasures even today, but unfortunately we neither know anything about these treasures nor about the locks which may be opened. And if we do not know either about the treasures or the locks, then what is left in our hands cannot even be called a key. It can only be a key if it opens a lock. This same key may have revealed treasures some time in the past, but because today nothing can be unlocked, the key has become a burden; and yet, somehow we still do not feel like throwing it away.
The key has left a sort of lingering fragrance in the unconscious mind of man. Maybe thousands of years ago this key did open locks, and treasures were found: the memory of that in the unconscious mind makes us carry the burden of the key to this day. However much we may be persuaded about the uselessness of the key, we cannot gather the courage to throw it away. In some unknown corner of the heart the hope still lingers that some day, some lock might be opened by it.
Take for example, temples…. There is no race on earth which has not built something like a temple – it does not matter whether it is called a masjid or a church or a gurudwara. Today it is possible for us to learn something from other races, but there was a time when we did not even know about the existence of other races, so there was no way to learn from them. The temple is not the fanciful result of the imagination of some eccentric people, its roots lie somewhere deep in the inner consciousness of man.