Religion is the ultimate expression of all luxuries.
When the physical needs are not fulfilled no great music is born, no great literature is born, no poetry is written. Hungry stomachs don’t produce poetry. Dying bodies cannot dance. So when the society is poor and its basic needs are not fulfilled, there is no possibility of an authentic religion.
Yes, there will be something in the name of religion, but that religion will be a religion not of affluence, of overflowing ecstasies; it will be a religion of the beggar.
You can look at poor countries: their religion consists of demands, their prayers consist of asking God, ‘Give us this, give us that. Give us our daily bread.’ Their rituals are continuously to persuade God about something or other. Perhaps the rains have not come and they will do some religious ritual. Or perhaps too much rain is there and it has to be stopped; they have to pray to God. One thing is certain: whatever they do in the name of religion is concerned with their physical needs.
God is just a father figure, and they believe that the father will help them in times of need.
Poor societies, civilizations, cultures, have a very poor religion too. It is a kind of compensation. What they are missing here they project onto heaven.
Look at the ancient scriptures: they say that in heaven there will never be starvation. Those people must have been starving, whoever has written that must be starving. We don’t know who wrote that but this can be said absolutely, that he was starving, his society was starving, and they were trying to find some consolation: ‘It is only a question of a few years; they will pass. In heaven there is no starvation, nobody will be sleeping hungry.’
All the religions in their scriptures provide things in heaven which are being missed here: beautiful palaces—and to people who don’t have even grass huts or bamboo huts, to these poor people they are giving the hope of marble palaces in heaven!
You can see the simple strategy. They are giving them dreams. And all poor societies have lived out of those dreams; hoping, hoping, hoping—and then death comes. And nobody knows what happens after death; nobody comes back, so the others continue to hope.
Poor people, poor countries, have a very bogus religion. It is not religion, it is a psychological compensation. It is selling dreams to hungry people, just trying to convince them: Don’t be worried; blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom of God.
These religions are just exploiting people, giving them dreams and hopes. And because you give them dreams and hopes you become messiahs, prophets. You gain out of it. You give them empty dreams—and they make you great leaders of humanity.
Whenever you go to the temple or the church to ask, that’s an indication of a false religion. Whenever you go to the temple to give something then it is the sign of a real religion.
The authentic religion has nothing to ask.
It has much to share, much to give.”