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“I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He was not there;
I went to the temple of the Hindus and to the old pagodas,
but I could not find a trace of Him anywhere…
I searched on the mountains and in the valleys
but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I able to find Him.
I went to the Ka’bah in Mecca, but He was not there either…
I questioned the scholars and philosophers but He was beyond their understanding…
Then I looked into my heart and it was there
where He dwelled that I saw Him,
He was nowhere else to be found.”


Having been on the meditative/spiritual journey for the last 25 years and having met religious teachers of different faiths and religions I have come to the understanding that there are seven types of religions in the world. ~Swadesh

The first type is ignorance-oriented because people cannot tolerate their ignorance, they hide it and find it difficult to know that one does not know, it is against their ego, hence they believe. Their belief systems function to protect their egos. They are helpful, but in the long range, they are very harmful. In the beginning, they seem to be protecting, but finally, they are very destructive. Religion is light, understanding, awareness, and authenticity. But a major part of humanity remains in the first type. It is simply to avoid the reality, the gap that one feels in one's own being, to avoid the black hole of ignorance. These people are the fanatics. They cannot even tolerate that there can be other sorts of religions in the world because they are so afraid of their ignorance, if there is some other religion also then they will become suspicious, then doubt will arise. To gain certainty they become madly stubborn. They cannot read others' scriptures, listen to other nuances of truth and cannot be tolerant to other revelations of God. THEIR revelation is the only revelation, and their prophet is the only prophet. Everything else is absolutely false. These people talk in terms of absolute, while a man of understanding is always relative. These people have done great harm to religion and because of these people; religion itself looks a little stupid. This stubborn man exists in everybody, and this is the lowest type of man. The problem with this first type of religion is that we are almost always brought up in it, are conditioned in it, so it becomes almost normal. This conditioning can become so deep that we may forget that this is a conditioning and that we have to go above it. One can become used to a certain conditioning, and one can start thinking as if it is one's nature, or as if it is the truth. So one has to be very alert and watchful to find this lowest possibility in oneself and not get caught in it. The first type of religion is just religion in name; If continuously we work on ourselves with a wrong attitude, our nature starts yielding. We start functioning the way we want to function. Yes, the habit can become second nature. Unfortunately, sometimes it becomes first nature, and nature is completely forgotten. The characteristic of the first sort of religion is imitation. Don't be yourself, be somebody else. And if we are very stubborn we can force ourselves to be somebody else. We will never be somebody else. Each man is born with a unique individuality, and each man has a destiny of his own. Imitation is a crime because Buddha happens only once. It is not in the nature of things to repeat. God is so creative that He never repeats anything. We cannot find another human being in the present, past, or in the future, who is going to resemble us exactly. It has never happened. Man is not a mechanism. Man is a soul, is an individual. Imitation is poisonous. Never imitate anybody; otherwise, we will be a victim of the first sort of religion, which is not a religion at all.

The second type is fear-oriented. Man is afraid and wants to be secure, and safe. Hence God is called the Father or the Mother. They need a divine Father to protect them; they are not mature enough to be on their own. They need some security, a teddy bear. So whenever we are in fear, we start remembering God, a by-product of our fear. Maturity only comes to us when we realize that we are alone, and we have to be alone, and we have to face the reality as it is. These transitory teddy bears are just of our imagination; they are not going to help. If something is going to happen, it is going to happen; the teddy bear cannot protect us. We go on calling to God, but protection cannot come to us because we are simply calling out of fear. Maybe calling loudly and praying gives us certain courage, but there is no God to respond to it. There is nobody who is going to respond to our prayer. But if we have an idea that somebody is there to respond to our prayer, we may feel a little relieved, relaxed. Is our prayer ever answered?" It may make a little difference in our mind, but it makes no difference in reality. The fear-oriented religion is the religion of 'don't': don't do this, don't do that – because fear is negative and closing oneself in safety and security, never taking any risk, never moving on the dangerous path, in fact not allowing our self to be alive. Just as the first type of religion is fanatic, the second type of religion is negative. It gives certain stiffness, up-tightness. It is childish. It is a search for security which is nowhere possible, because life exists as insecurity. God exists as insecurity, danger, and risk. The key word for the fear-oriented religion is "hell', and of course, repression, continuous repression: don't do this. The second type of person is always afraid -- And whatsoever we repress, we are never free of it; in fact, the more and more we are in its power. Because when we repress a thing it goes deeper into our unconscious. It reaches to our very roots and poisons our whole being. Deep inside we will always carry whatsoever is repressed. We may follow the religion as ritual, but it will never become our heart. Remember, repression is not a way towards freedom. Repression is worse than expression, because through expression a person is bound to become free one day or other. But through repression, one always remains obsessed. Only life gives us freedom. A lived life gives us freedom, an unlived life remains very attractive, and the mind goes on roaming around whatsoever we have repressed. People who live through rituals out of fear may avoid one thing, but they will fall into another -- because the understanding is not their own. It is just fear-oriented. It is hell they are afraid of. A real religion gives us fearlessness: let that be the criterion. If religion gives us fear, then it is not really religion.

The third type of religion is out of greed. It is a 'do' religion. Just as the fear-oriented is a 'don't' religion, the greed-oriented is a 'do' religion: do this. And just as the fear-oriented religion has the key word 'hell', the religion of greed has the key word 'heaven'. Everything is to be done in such a way that the other world -- is completely secure and our happiness beyond death is guaranteed. 'Do' religion or greed religion is formal, ritualistic, ambitious, and desire-oriented. It is full of desires and one has to deny oneself in this life because they go on providing in heaven in great quantities. But this seems to be absurd. If something is wrong, it is wrong. How can it become good and right in heaven? It is foolish; the whole concept is foolish. But people become religious out of greed. One thing is certain: that whatsoever we accumulate here will be taken away; death will take it away. So the greedy person wants to accumulate something which cannot be taken by death. But the accumulating idea, the desire to accumulate, remains there. Now he accumulates virtue. Virtue is the coin of the other world. He goes on accumulating virtue so he can live in the other world forever and forever, in lust. This type of man is basically worldly. His other world is nothing but a projection of this world. He will do because he has desires, and he has ambition, and he has a power-lust, but his doing will not be of the heart. It will be a sort of manipulation. Then things are just on the surface. Greed and fear and ignorance are just on the periphery. These are three sorts of religions -- and they are all mixed together. We cannot find a person who is absolutely, purely of the first type or the second type or the third type. Wherever greed is, there is fear; wherever fear is, there is greed; and wherever greed and fear exist, there is ignorance -- because they cannot exist without them. These three are the lowest types of religion.

The fourth type: the religion of logic, calculation, cleverness. It is 'do' plus 'don't' religion: worldly, materialistic, opportunistic, intellectual, theoretical, scriptural, and traditional. This is the religion of the Pundits, the priests, the learned scholar who tries to prove God through logic, who thinks that the mysteries of life can be understood through the head. This type of religion creates theology. They are very successful people because they are very logical people. They cannot give us truth, but they give us great organizations, cleverness, but nothing of the real experience; just intellectual, head oriented. Life cannot be understood through logic. That's how life is: we make all the arrangements and just one arrow and one bullet is enough to finish us. Man is very fragile. How can man's logic understand reality? Man is so limited; his understanding is so short-sighted. Through logic a philosophy is born, but not real religion. THESE four are ordinarily known as religion.

The fifth, sixth and seventh are the real religions. The fifth is the religion based on intelligence; not on logic, not on intellect. Intellect is logical; intelligence is paradoxical. Intellect is analytical; intelligence is synthetical. Intellect divides, cuts into pieces to understand a thing. Science is based on intellect, dissection, division, analysis. Intelligence joins things together, makes a whole out of parts -- because this is one of the greatest understandings: that the part exists through the whole, not vice versa. And the whole is not just the sum of the parts but it is more than the sum. Beauty belongs to the whole; it is the grace that comes to the whole. It is more than the sum. Intellect dissects, analyzes. It is the instrument of science. Intelligence is the instrument of religion; it joins together. Hence, the greatest science of spirituality we have called Yoga. Yoga means to put things together. God is the greatest totality, all things together. God is not a person but a presence, the presence when the total is functioning in a great harmony. If we dissect, we will never find God. Intelligence is the method to join things together. An intelligent person is very synthetical. He always looks for a higher whole, because the meaning is always in the higher whole. He always looks for something higher in which the lower is dissolved and functions as a part, functions as a note in the harmony of the whole, gives its own contribution to the orchestra of the whole but is not separate from it. Intelligence moves upwards, intellect moves downwards. Intellect goes to the cause; intelligence goes to the goal. Intelligence moves into the future, intellect moves in the past. Intellect reduces everything to the lowest denominator. If we ask what love is, intellect will say it is nothing but sex -- the lowest denominator. If we ask what prayer is, the intellect will say it is nothing but repressed sex. Ask intelligence what sex is, and intelligence will say it is nothing but the seed of prayer. It is the potential love. Intelligence goes to the higher and higher, and the whole effort is to reach to the ultimate, to the pinnacle of existence because things can be explained only through the higher, not through the lower. And when the lower becomes too important, all beauty and truth is lost. We need to be so absorbed in the whole that we remain individual, but we become part of a greater unity, bigger than us. Meaning arises IMMEDIATELY whenever we become part of a greater unity and God is the biggest conceivable whole, and without God we cannot attain to the highest meaning. God is the total presence of existence, the being, the very ground of being. GOD exists wherever there is union; wherever there is Yoga, God comes into existence. Wherever there is love, God is; wherever there is response, God is. God is the space; it exists wherever union exists. God is the subtlest union of energies. Forget God, love will do. But never forget love, because God alone won't do. Truth is the key word. The man who moves through intelligence moves towards truth.

Higher than intelligence is the sixth type of religion, the religion of meditation. Meditation is awareness, spontaneity -- it is non-traditional, it is radical, revolutionary, individual. The key word is consciousness. Intelligence is still the highest and the purest form of intellect. The ladder is the same. Intellect is going downwards on the same ladder, intelligence is going upwards, but the ladder is the same. In meditation the ladder is thrown. No more movement on the same ladder, neither upwards nor downwards. No more movement, but a state of no-movement inside, a drowning into oneself, a sinking in. Intellect is other-oriented; intelligence is also other-oriented. Intellect cuts the other, intelligence joins the other, but both are other-oriented. The first four types of religion are pseudo-religions. Real religion starts with the fifth type, and that is the lowest, but REAL. The sixth type of religion is that of meditation, consciousness. One simply moves into oneself. All directions are dropped, all dimensions dropped. One simply tries to be one self; one simply tries just to be.

Then comes the highest type of religion, the seventh: the religion of ecstasy. Just as the fifth type has the key word truth, and the sixth type, the religion of meditation, has the key word consciousness, the seventh the highest, has bliss, ecstasy. That is the key word: truth, consciousness, ecstasy. KRISHNA belongs to the seventh type -- joy, celebration, song, dance, ecstasy. They make meditation tremendously joyful -- because a person can be meditative and can become sad, very silent and may miss bliss. Unless dance happens in meditation, something is missing. Peace is good, very beautiful, but something is lacking in it; bliss is lacking. When peace starts dancing it is bliss. When peace becomes active, overflowing, it is bliss. When bliss is enclosed in a seed it is peace. And when the seed has sprouted, not only that, but the tree has bloomed and the flowers have come and the seed has become a bloom, then it is ecstasy. That is the highest type of religion. Peace has to dance and silence has to sing. And unless our innermost realization becomes laughter, something is still lacking. Something still has to be done. For KRISHNA his whole life was a sport. In the West the concept of God is that of a creator, and the creation seems to be very serious. But the concept of sport is of fun, play. In the East we have known that God is not serious, and religion need not be serious. God is the greatest player; He is in a great play. If God is in PLAY, then why should we be serious and keep long faces; there is no need. We need to become more playful. Life is a sport. We should look at life with the eyes of play, non-seriously. The difference is tremendous. Prayer is a play. So if we go to the temple and we become very serious, we will miss the temple. We should go to the temple to laugh, to enjoy and to celebrate. God is in our body as the breathing. He is in the psyche as our intelligence, awareness, meditation. And He is beyond us. We need to move slowly and let the body follow feeling and the feeling follow the unknown and then we will be in tune with God. We should open our heart to the skies, to the unknown, to the unfamiliar and not move with knowledge, because knowledge means that which we have already known. Knowledge is not going to help. We should move into the unknown, wait for the unknown to knock at our door. We simply wait -- alert, expectant, ready to receive, with a feeling heart, and being playful. Between birth and death there is nothing else to happen but love and If we miss love, we have missed the whole opportunity of life, the real door. The first door, the door of birth, is simply an opportunity to move through the second door, the door of love. In fact, life exists only to give an opportunity to love and be loved. If that is missed, all is missed. If that is not missed, then even if we have missed all, nothing is missed. Love is the real death because the ego disappears completely. In ordinary death the body disappears, ego remains, and that carries us into new lives. That is the whole thread of rebirth. Once that thread is broken and the root is cut, we disappear from the world of matter, from the world of the visible into the world of the invisible, the beyond, the other shore. If we can die before dying, that is, if we can pass through the door of love, if we can die living, then there is no death for us. Then we have become deathless, then we are immortal, then we are a God. The beyond is already in us but we will have to pass through the alchemy of love otherwise we will never know it. When we let the body follow the heart, the body becomes the boat. A LOVER is capable of creating life out of death; he can do the miracle. Love seems to be one of the most dangerous risky things and there is tremendous fear in humanity about love. People are afraid of love. It gives fear, because love is death. Our ego has to be dropped completely, utterly effaced. It is suicide. Fear is natural, but if we are courageous enough and we can pass through it, if we can carry the cross of love on our shoulders, resurrection is certain. The moment ego is dropped, we are born. Just intellectual search, seeking, is not going to help. We need to "Join the carnival of love": that is what prayer is, that-is what worship is. Be ecstatic, joyful, celebrating, singing, dancing. Let God be allowed to be playful through us. Let playfulness be our only prayer. Let joy be our only worship.

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