‘What is Religion?’ It is anything that remains in and results in its own intrinsic properties. Religion means one’s intrinsic nature and properties. For example, when can you call gold, gold? It is only when it exhibits the properties that are intrinsic to gold. Another example is if these grapes are bitter, then you could say that it does not exhibit its intrinsic property. Brass can look and shine just like gold if it is polished enough. But if a goldsmith were to test it, he would be able to tell that it is not gold from the intrinsic properties of that metal.
Similarly you can say that a thing is in its innate nature, good religion, if it exhibits its innate nature. The belief of ‘I am the body’, or to believe the body, the non-self, to be your real identity is non-religion (religion of another). To believe the Self (Soul) as the Self is own-religion. That is Enlightenment Religion, religion of the Self.
Who do you think created this world? The Christians, the Muslims, the Hindus, say that God created this world. They are correct by their viewpoints, but according to facts, they are incorrect. If you want to know the facts, I can give them to you.
A circle has 360 degrees. Christians, Parsis, Muslims, Hindus etc., all have different viewpoints. One is sitting at 80 degrees, one at 120 degrees, and one at 220 degrees. Everyone sees through his or her own perspective and viewpoint. I am sitting in the center, having completed 360 degrees, as a fully enlightened being. A Gnani Purush, sitting in the center, can see and know things exactly as they are and can impart that knowledge to others exactly as it is. All religions are correct but they are relative religions. They are religions of viewpoints. But if one wants to know the facts, then he will have to come to the center. Only in the center will one find the Real religion (religion of the Soul, Enlightenment Religion). Only the one in the center that can see all points of view and therefore is without any prejudice or bias towards any religion. That is why I say that I am Lord Mahavir of the Jains, Lord Krishna of the Vaishnavas, Sahajanand of the Swaminarayans, Christ of the Christians, Zarthustra of the Parsis and Khuda of the Muslims. So anyone may come here and receive whatever he wants. I am the God of all religions. So get your work done here. I can bestow upon you the status of God within an hour but you have to be ready for it.
As people continue to read scriptures, interpreting them with their own intellect and imagination (svachhand), their obstinacy increases; this in turn makes their veils of ignorance (avaran) denser over the self. If reading scriptures enlightens you, then why do you still stumble? People only stumble in the dark, how can one stumble in the light? If you claim to have knowledge, have any of your worries decreased as a result? On the contrary, your confusion about what is right and what is wrong has increased along with your doubts and uncertainty. And where there is uncertainty, suspicion takes hold. Where there is suspicion, ignorance prevails. The Self does not remain where there are doubts and suspicions. Gnan is that which makes one completely free of doubts.
Gnan is such that it will not disturb the stillness of even a single atom within the body. Doubts or suspicion is the enemy of the Self. It will make you ‘throw away the Soul’ (loose all spirituality). Therefore any doubts or suspicions that surface should be ripped out from their root. Once Self-realization is acquired and you become firmly established in the awareness of the Self, is there anything that can shake you? Is there anything in this world that can snatch away from you what is intrinsically your own?
Many of us have faithfully adhered to religious rituals. We have surrendered ourselves to strict penance, fasting, meditation, and other such austerities, only to discover that we still make mistakes through our minds, our speech, and our conduct. Why have we not found internal peace? What should we do when we realize our faults and how should we get rid of them? There should be some method through which we can eliminate kashays from our lives, and progress spiritually toward liberation. Surely there must be a way to live happily with peace and love. What spiritual knowledge have the Vitarag Lords (the supreme enlightened beings) bestowed upon the world? What is True Enlightenment Religion? Is there any assurance that one can be absolved for the sins he commits? And if there is such a method, why is it not evident?
One can attain an abundance of knowledge from scriptures, but why can he not incorporate it into his daily life. Ascetics and spiritual teachers continue to preach, but where do they fall short in getting the desired results? Practically every religion mandates stringent rituals and austerities, yet why does the aspirant not achieve any results? Why do his kashays not decrease or his sins erase? Doesn’t the liability for all this fall upon the heads of religion? This statement is not made with any malice, it is made with compassion. There should be some way to eliminate our problems. What have the Gnanis and the Tirthankars said about one’s progress from the state of ignorance to the attainment of Absolute Knowledge? How can we be liberated from the bondage of our past karmas and the bondage created through our inherent attachment and abhorrence?
Many scriptures contain profound knowledge about the reality of this universe. However, this knowledge can only be obtained through words. The scriptures cannot take you beyond this point. Only someone who has lived through a similar experience and has expert knowledge on how to do so can mend shattered lives.
Many people claim their daily life interactions (vyavahaar) is their dharma (Enlightenment Religion). But you cannot say that until you are Self-realized (nischay dharma). How can you say that your worldly life is your Enlightenment Religion if you do not have the knowledge of your (real) Self? The Gnani uses his infinite powers to create a line of demarcation between the real (the Self) and the relative (non-self), and after that it will always keep them separate. Then they are eternally separate. Thereafter, your worldly interactions become your relative religion and the activity of the Self is your real Enlightenment Religion. It is only then that you understand the difference between the two. The Gnani will separate the territory of the Real from the relative and you will inherently come to understand what belongs to your real Self and what belongs to your relative self. How can anyone claim vyavahaar dharma (the worldly life) until he acquires nischay dharma (the real)? Until then it is regarded as laukik dharma (worldly or relative religion).
Worldly religion means religion believed by the worldly people. Worldly religions teach people to get rid of bad habits and develop good ones. They teach you to do merit karma and avoid demerit karma. Such religions teach people not to steal or lie and to conduct themselves in a way that will bring them happiness and peace. According to the world, real Enlightenment Religion is doing good deeds, but I call that relative religion. With such religions you are bound for a birth in one of following four life forms: celestial, human, animal or hell.
Relative religion is to move from bad towards the good. Real Enlightenment Religion is to move from good to the absolutely pure. If you want liberation you will have to embrace the real religion. In real religion you become free from the good and the bad, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the right and the wrong. The religion of the Self is the only True Enlightenment religion. It is a non-worldly religion. All other religions that focus on the physical body and its actions are relative religions; they are the religions of the non-self, they are worldly religions. There are no boundaries or sects in real religion, no flags to fly, no conflicts of opinions, nothing to renounce or accumulate. In the real religion there is no partiality towards anything.
People want liberation and yet they engage in conflicts and difference of opinions, and take sides. By claiming you are right, you automatically say that the other person is wrong. You will never achieve liberation by saying anyone is wrong. You will only attain the abode of the supreme Self, which is void of any partiality, when you get rid of your differences of opinions, discord, and sectarianism and come to the center.