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The first question

Question 1




Zen is not a religion, it is living life in its totality, herenow. Religions are always postponing life: they are giving you beautiful illusions about life somewhere in the future, far away, beyond death. That is a strategy to divert and distract you from the realities of life. That is pure cowardice. It is also a rationalization so that you can be consoled: 'If life is miserable today there is nothing to be worried about, tomorrow everything is going to be well. In fact, to suffer life today is a preparation for enjoying life tomorrow, so the more you suffer the better. There is no reason to complain, no reason to rebel, no reason to revolt against all those things which are causing misery.'

Religion protects the establishment and the vested interests. It is a very subtle strategy -- so subtle that for thousands of years man has lived under its weight without ever becoming aware of what is being done to him. Karl Marx is almost right: that religion is nothing but opium for the people. It keeps you drugged, it keeps you hoping, waiting -- and the tomorrow never comes. Desiring, fantasizing about life after death is a sheer waste of time, energy, and also it keeps you stupid. Life is herenow -- there is no other life. Life knows no past, no future, it knows only the present.

Zen is of tremendous importance. It is the greatest flowering of human consciousness yet achieved and it is one of the fundamental revolutions: it cuts the very roots of the so-called religious structure of the mind. It is not religion, it is pure religiousness. It is not religion in the sense of being Hindu, Mohammedan, Christian, Buddhist. Hence to call Zen 'Zen Buddhism' is wrong: it has nothing to do with Buddhism at all. It is not oriented in the past, it is not inspired by the past -- it has no goal in the future either -- it is living your life passionately, intensely, ecstatically this very moment.

The very idea of this very moment is shattering to the mind because mind lives in the past and the future. And Zen is a tremendous

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