4 types of “religious” people

चतुर्विधा भजन्ते मां जनाः सुकृतिनोर्जुन ।
अार्तो जिज्ञासुरर्थार्थी ज्ञाबी च भरतर्षाभ ।। ७-१६ ।।

Four types of religious people seek me: the bereft, the curious, the seekers of benediction, and those who have true wisdom.

तेषां ज्ञानी नित्युक्त एकभक् तिर्विशिष्यते ।
प्रियो हि ज्ञानिनो अत्यर्थमहं स च मम प्रियः ।। ७-१७ ।।

Those who seek me because of true wisdom are the best of all these four. I love them dearly and they love me.

These are quotes from the ancient book, Bhagavad-Gita – spoken by the famous Sri Krishna. They are full of insight.

There are 4 kinds of religious motivations. Not everyone involved in “religion” is involved in the same thing, just because it looks the same to the outsider. In general a person has to have सुकृति (sukriti) otherwise when they need things they will turn to other resources of a more selfish or physical nature than God and religion. Krishna explained this just previous to the quotes I’ve referenced above. But assuming that people have “virtue” (sukriti) they will be inclined to look up and turn to God for strength and fulfillment.

Still, there are four different types of such people. And they are not all of the same quality.

The First

The first type turns to religion or God because they are “bereft” – they are just wrecked, worn out, beaten, and destitute and they need help. Because they have sukriti they turn to religion and God for this help, and not to the mafia or something like that. But still, these people are not the greatest types of spiritualists nor is their form of religion very highly evolved.

In fact, what you often see is that as soon as their distress is cured they lose an awful lot of their interest in God and religion. When they are crushed they are praying every day, but when the flowers start to bloom they tend to misplace their rosaries.

There is a more evolved form of religion than this.

It is the religion of “the curious.” This, of course, seems very odd to my readers who only have experience of western religions expressed through priests who really try to suffocation inquiry and explorative thought. But in the East and at the heart of all religious traditions is the encouragement of inquisitiveness and curiousity.

In fact, you could say that much of the human impulse to religion results from our looking up at the sky and just feeling like “whoa! what is all this stuff?”

Persons who have sukriti turn to the logical and intellectual religious traditions which are mainly, but not exclusively Eastern in nature. The inquisitive who do not have sukriti turn more to microscopes and empirical answers than towards meditations and intuitive answers.

This is the second type of “religion” and it is a lot more attractive, at least to me, than the first.

There is still more.

The third type of religion is that which bestows blessings.

The first type of religion was created by those with gaping holes in themselves needing to be filled. They need to get things from God and religion to fill their holes. The third type of religion is an evolution of that thread, that train of thought. Now, there are no gaping holes to be filled. One merely wants to obtain better and better things. It is still essentially materialistic, just like the first kind, and is therefore of a lower grade. One turns to God not because one needs cancer cured, for example, but simply because one desires better and better happiness for oneself and ones friends and family and so one. This is more evolved than the first type of religion, because the practitioners don’t have as marked a tendency to give up on God and religion as soon as they get their cure and get what they needed.

Finally, there is the fourth religion.

This one is quite special.

It is practiced by “those who are wise.”

Those who are truly wise realize who they truly are. They become self-realized and therefore realize that they have an unfathomably deep relationship to Godhead. That wisdom impels them to turn to God seeking to establish that relationship more and more tangibly.

Krishna notes that this is the most evolved for of religion. It is his personal favorite, because it leads to the highest bliss of life, which is divine love. He says that wise people turn to him realizing that they want to develop their relationship of love with Godhead. He says, “They are the best of all. The come to me out of love. And I love them.”

Unconditional love – प्रेम prema – is the only truly eternal force, you could say. It has no cause other than itself, and therefore it is self-causing, thus without beginning. Everything with a beginning has an end. Only things which are self-causing are eternal. The religion of those who turn to “religion” out of self-realized love is eternal. It never ends.

It is beautiful.


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