Christianity: just a nice Jewish boy's hang-up

Fri, 8 January 1985 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
From Personality to Individuality
Chapter #:
pm in Lao Tzu Grove
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Question 1:



IT was not me who said that Christ was the last Christian. I was simply quoting Friedrich Nietzsche; it was Nietzsche who made that statement. In a certain sense Nietzsche is absolutely right, because in this world no individual is ever repeated.

The uniqueness of the individual is absolute.

Not only in contemporary times is nobody like you; in the whole of eternity there is never going to be a person like you again. There has never been a person like you before. You are simply you, incomparable.

Hence I support Nietzsche's statement in this sense, that the last Christian was crucified two thousand years ago. But I would like to add something more to it.

First: Jesus was not only the last Christian, he was also the first Christian - the first and the last Christian.

But this is only one sense of the statement. In other ways I am not in agreement with it, because as far as the word Christian is concerned - Jesus never even heard the word.

He was born a Jew, he lived as a Jew; he tried his whole life to prove himself to be a real Jew. In fact he was crucified because he was trying to prove himself to be a Jewish messiah. He had never heard the words christ or christian because he knew no Greek, no Latin; he knew only Aramaic and a little bit of Hebrew. And both languages have the word messiah, but christ is a Greek translation of the word messiah.

The word christ came into existence after Jesus, after three hundred years had passed; and out of the word christ comes christian. Slowly people completely forgot that poor Christ had no idea that he would be called Christ and his followers, Christians.

You will be surprised to know that in India the Hindi word for messiah is masiha, and the word for christian is masihi. Masihi is far closer to the Aramaic and Hebrew than what the Christians all over the world go on calling themselves.

Perhaps the Hindi words masiha and masihi came into existence because Jesus, after escaping from the crucifixion - it was not a resurrection, it was an escape - lived in India for really a long time, to the age of one hundred and twelve years. His most beloved disciple, Thomas, followed him.

Indian Christianity is the oldest in the whole world. The Vatican is a late development. Jesus remained in Kashmir completely tired, perhaps finished with humanity and the hope for some better future for it, because if this was the result - that you crucify a person who works for you and for your redemption, your salvation.... Of course he was not an idiot: he learned the lesson.

For the remaining time Jesus stayed silent. Yes, a few people came to him on their own. But it was not a problem because in India there have been so many incarnations of God, and it is an accepted fact that it is nobody else's business: if somebody feels he is an incarnation of God, let him be.

What is wrong in it? Somewhere else the same person will be crucified, will be imprisoned; he will be psychoanalyzed, deprogrammed. All kinds of stupid things will be done to the person because he thinks he is an incarnation of God, but in India he will be worshipped.

Nobody will object to it. There is no question of objecting, because one thing is certain: that you cannot judge whether he is or he is not; there are no criteria, no methods to measure. And India has seen so many people like Jesus that it has come to realize that each one of them was so unique that you cannot derive any criteria from one which can be applied to another.

Buddha was just himself. No similarity between Buddha and Krishna can be found; everything in them is just the opposite to each other. But India has lived thousands of years of religious philosophizing, teaching, arguing. It has attained to a certain liberality of mind as far as religion is concerned.

India knows that a Krishna can be an incarnation of God, although he lives in a palace with every luxury; Buddha can be an incarnation of God although he renounces his kingdom, luxuries, comforts; Mahavira can be an incarnation of God, although he discards even his clothes and lives naked.

India has seen so many ways of people like Jesus that it has come to one conclusion: leave the person alone. If you can learn something from him, good; otherwise there is no harm in paying him respect. Perhaps he is right; and if he is wrong, what are you losing? Giving respect, even to a wrong person, is not bad.

So in Kashmir Jesus was not troubled by anybody. He was not news there. In India such people are not news. Thomas, he sent to the south of India for a special reason. Northern India is very sophisticated, and all these great teachers, Buddha, Mahavira, Krishna, Patanjali, Gorakh, Kabir - it is an unending line - were all born and lived in northern India, for the simple reason that northern India is Aryan.

South India is non-Aryan, it has negroid blood. Once south India was just part of South Africa; South Africa has drifted away. Now it is a late discovery in geography that continents go on drifting, they are still drifting. The drift is very small, one foot in a year, so you cannot feel it. But continents are continuously drifting, they are not fixed: in thousands of years, of course, much change happens.

It was a great insight of Jesus to send Thomas to South India where it was possible to preach and spread Jesus' word. In northern India nobody would have bothered about it. Northern India was so full of philosophical reasoning, argumentation; was so sophisticated that Thomas, a poor, uneducated man - who was going to listen to him?

But perhaps South India would be receptive; and it was. The whole state of Kerala is eighty percent Christian; and it is not a new phenomenon - it was Thomas' work. Goa is completely Christian - Thomas' body is still in Goa.

It reminds me to tell you of one thing: Thomas' is the only body, outside Tibet, which is still the same as it was on the day the person died. It has not been preserved by any chemicals, or by any scientific methods. It is one of the rarest phenomena on the earth. Every year the body is brought out of the inner chambers of the church for the public to see.

And I have seen the body, and you can see: it is as if the man has just gone to sleep, and not even died. Yes, he is not breathing, but in two thousand years the body has not deteriorated. Scientists have tried to find out how it is preserved. There is nothing to find because it is not preserved by any preservatives; it is through a long training in yoga and certain breathing exercises that have the capacity to change the inner workings of biochemistry.

For thirty years Thomas practiced yoga. Thomas lived like a Hindu brahmin. If you see a picture of Thomas you will be surprised. What kind of Christian is this? - his head shaved like a Hindu brahmin monk, with a small piece of hair on the top of his head left uncut, the choti. He even wore a thread, yagyopavit, that is only worn by born brahmins. He used only a small piece of cloth just to cover the lower part of his body, the loincloth as it is called.

If you have seen Mahatma Gandhi's picture you know the cloth that just covers him from his waist to his knees - that's enough. And in the south they use it just as a wraparound; Thomas used just the wraparound lungi, only up to the knee. And he used the wooden sandals. He looked a perfect Hindu.

He became vegetarian when he was in India. He tried to learn as much yoga as possible and he really performed a miracle. He said, "After my death don't bury my body and don't make a grave for me. I have managed to change its inner workings." It was predicted by Thomas - and that prediction may come true - that his body would remain preserved till the very end of the world. Two thousand years have passed and the body is preserved. Only last year, for the first time, was a little sign of deterioration detected. Perhaps the end of the world is close.

If the man was right about his body, saying not to destroy it, it is going to remain till the very end of the world - and according to many sources the end of the world is coming closer - his prediction may also be true.

Only last year, that was 1984, for the first time a little deterioration appeared. Perhaps by the end of this century the body may have deteriorated completely. Thomas' prediction is: the day my body deteriorates completely, that is the end of this world.

Thomas and Jesus both brought to India the word messiah which became masiha. It happens, when a word changes from one language to another language, it has to be adapted to the whims of the other language. "Messiah" will not fit in Hindi; "masiha" fits. "Messiah" would have remained something foreign, but "masiha" is transformed, is no more foreign; and the Christians have been called for two thousand years, Masihi.

What I want to point out is that Jesus had no idea, not at all, what a Christian is, what a christ is.

He had never heard those words. In that sense Nietzsche's statement is not right. In the same reference I would like to say to you: although I have heard the word Rajneeshee, I am neither the first nor the last.

I don't belong to any group, any religion, any organization. Even in your commune I am an outsider, just a guest - a guest of Rajneeshees.

I am not a Rajneeshee.

A Christian is comparable to a Hindu, to a Jew, to a Buddhist, to a Jaina, to a communist even, because they all believe in tight organizations. They all believe in one leader, one prophet, one messiah, one God, one holy book. Nietzsche's statement cannot be applied to me because as far as Rajneeshism is concerned there is no God, there is no holy book, there is no messiah.

I am not a messiah.

To be a messiah, first a God is needed.

I have left myself without a leg to stand on by declaring that there is no God. Now I cannot declare myself a messiah; that possibility is closed. It is God who sends messiahs and messengers - and now there is nobody.

There is nobody above me and there is nobody below me.

There are only two ways to be superior. Either you are sent from high above, from the great boss, as Jesus is sent, as Mohammed is sent.... They come from the great boss, with all the powers invested in them. That is one way to declare yourself superior to others. All are not begotten sons of God, it is only Jesus. All are not messiahs, it is only Jesus.

Jesus is declaring his superiority: you are just sheep; he is the shepherd. He is the only shepherd; amongst millions of sheep, the only shepherd. I don't like such company. Millions of sheep and I am the only shepherd? What kind of company is this? - and you are judged by your company. Even if you are a shepherd it is not much to brag about, but it is a way to prove yourself superior.

The other way is followed by the Buddhists and the Jainas, because neither of them believe in God, so that possibility is closed. They have found another possibility, and that is the tirthankara - the Jaina equivalent to the messiah - who is not sent by God, because there is no God, but who attains to the same state of cosmic consciousness through millions of lives' effort. You are millions of lives behind him, below him. It will take millions of lives for you to be able to reach that state.

That is the other way of declaring superiority - perhaps far better a way, because it is so arduous.

To become a messiah all that you need is a retarded mind, stupid, stubborn - and you can declare yourself And to declare yourself the only begotten son of God, what do you need? Just no sense of shame, that's all; otherwise such stupid things.... Any intelligent person, even if he is the only begotten son of God, will try to hide the fact: if somebody hears, what are people going to think about it?

Even if he knows that he is a messenger from God he will not tell anybody. He will deliver the message and escape because it looks so foolish that you are the son of a poor carpenter, uneducated, and you have been chosen to be the messenger of God.

God could not find an educated, sophisticated rabbi? - and there were thousands! In fact rabbis are some of the most scholarly people in the world. God seems to be crazy: He should have chosen somebody refined, cultured, knowing all the scriptures, but Jesus was not even able to read. And there were people whose whole life was devoted to study, to thinking, to contemplation - it was a traditional thing.

Judaism and Hinduism are the only two basic religions in the world. Other religions are offshoots either of Hinduism or of Judaism, but Judaism and Hinduism remain separate. There is no connection between them, no communication has happened between them; and both are tremendously scholarly.

If God chooses Krishna as an incarnation it can be understood. Krishna has that understanding, wisdom, education - the best that was available was available to him; the most famous teachers were his teachers. He was trained to be a wise man, and he was a wise man.

And there were so many rabbis commenting on the TORAH; and such intelligent commentaries that if you look at those commentaries even today you will find them immensely contemporary. Perhaps they are three thousand years old but so insightful and so beautiful. Small statements in the TORAH or the TALMUD have been made in the rabbis' commentaries, so significant that when you see the statement by itself, you think there is not much in it.

But when you see the commentaries and commentaries upon the commentaries, you become aware of the immense dimensions opening from that stale statement. There was nothing in it - you could not have found anything in it - but these commentators have some third eye. They go on looking - something like an X-ray - and they go to the very depth. Perhaps they create the depth: they are so creative that they bring something significant out of an absolutely insignificant statement. God should have chosen these people, not a carpenter's son.

But Jesus proclaimed himself to be the messenger of God. He must have looked like a buffoon. I can't help saying it. He used to travel on a donkey declaring himself the only begotten son of God.

The messiah that you have been waiting for for centuries is coming on a donkey!

People must have laughed. In the beginning he was just a laughingstock - yes, it was funny - but this man went on and on. Soon people started realizing that it was no longer funny, it was becoming a serious business because Jesus was gathering a few idiots around him who were saying that he was the messiah.

And there was, as there has always been, a class of people who are rejected by the society: thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, tax collectors. These people are rejected people; and these were the people who Jesus collected. It was easy to collect them because they were rejected by the society and Jesus was rejected by the society. They had found a great messiah - "so let's join him." Not a single rabbi went with Jesus. This is strange; this has never happened anywhere else.

Buddha was speaking against brahmins, against Hindus, but all his great disciples were brahmins.

It seems sensible because he was appealing to the best in the society. Although he was against brahmins, the brahmins were the topmost, and out of the brahmins came the greater part of intelligentsia.

Sariputta was a brahmin, Moggalayan was a brahmin, Mahakashyapa was a brahmin. They all had come to Buddha, not because they were illiterate idiots, the rejected - gamblers, prostitutes, tax collectors, thieves - no, but because they were great scholars and they could understand that what Buddha was saying was right. And they were not nobodies.

When Sariputta came to Buddha, he himself had five hundred disciples of his own coming with him - all great scholars. He had come first to have a discussion, and Buddha was very happy: what could be more welcome? But Buddha asked, "Have you experienced the truth or are you only a great scholar? - I have heard your name."

Looking at Buddha for a moment in silence, as if looking in a mirror, utterly naked, Sariputta said, "I am a great scholar, but as far as knowing the truth is concerned, I have not known it."

Buddha said, "Then it will be very difficult to argue. Argument is possible between two people who don't know truth. They can argue till eternity because neither knows. Both are ignorant so they can go on playing with words and logic and quotations and scriptures, but because neither knows, there is no possibility of their coming to a conclusion. At the most what can happen is whoever is more clever and cunning and tricky may defeat the other, and the other will become the follower of the more cunning or more sophisticated. But is this any decision about truth?

"Or there is a possibility of a meeting of two people who both have realized the truth, but then there is no way to argue. What is there to argue about? They will sit silently, perhaps they may smile, or hold each other's hands, but what is there to say? Looking into each other's eyes they will see that there is nothing to say - we both know the same things, we are in the same space - so there will be only silence.

"Or the third possibility is that one knows and one does not know. Then it is going to be very troublesome because the one who knows cannot translate what he knows into the language of the ignorant one. And the one who does not know will be unnecessarily wasting his time, his mind, because he cannot convince the one who knows. The whole world cannot convince the person who knows, because he knows and you don't know. You may be all together...."

Buddha said, "You have come with your five hundred disciples. You don't know, and it is absolutely certain that in these five hundred disciples no one knows; otherwise he would not be your disciple, he would be your Master. You are more scholarly, they are less scholarly. You are older, they are younger. They are your disciples.

"But how are we going to discuss anything? I am ready, but I know. One thing is certain: You cannot convert me. The only possibility is that you will be converted, so think twice." But Sariputta was already converted. Seeing this man.... And he was intelligent enough, he had defeated many great scholars.

It was a tradition in India in those days, that scholars would move all over the country defeating other scholars. Unless a person had defeated all the scholars, he would not be recognized by the scholarly mob as a wise man. But to stand before a Buddha, before one who knows.... It is not a question of your scholarship and how many scholars you have defeated.

And Buddha simply said, "I am ready. If you want to argue I am ready, but what argument is possible?

I have eyes, you don't have eyes: I cannot explain to you what light is. You cannot have any idea what light is. You will hear only the word light but the word will not have any meaning for you. It will be contentless, heard - but not understood.

"So if you are really interested in truth, and not in getting defeated or being victorious... because that is not my interest. I have arrived. Who cares to defeat anybody? For what? If you are really interested in truth then just be here and do what I say. You can argue later on when you have come to know something substantial, existential. Then you can argue."

But Sariputta was a tremendously intelligent man. He said, "I know that neither I can argue now, nor will I be able to argue then. You have finished my argumentation. Now I cannot argue because I don't have eyes; then I will not be able to argue because I will have eyes. But I am going to stay."

He stayed with his five hundred disciples. He said to the disciples, "Now I am no longer your master.

Here is the man; I will be sitting by his side as his disciple. Please forget me as your master. If you want to be here, he is your Master."

Now if a man like Buddha could have said, "I am a messenger of God," he would not have been laughed at. But he didn't say that because he and Mahavira were contemporaries and both had an absolute trust in their experience that there is no God. But they found another way.

To me it is the same. Whether you descend from above; then you are special.... They ascend from below and go on above you, so far away. Millions of lives you will have to work and then you will be able to reach that state - it is almost impossible.

I cannot declare myself a messiah because there is no God.

I cannot declare myself a tirthankara or an avatara, because to me truth is not obtained by arduous effort in millions of lives.

Truth can be attained instantly, immediately, herenow, because you have it already. So it is not a question of achieving it; you have not to go somewhere to find it.

You are carrying truth within you all the time.

It is just that you are not awake.

But awakening does not need millions of lives.

Just a good hit on your head and you will be awake - more than awake.

So I don't see myself superior to you. I don't see anybody inferior to me; I don't see anybody superior to me either - neither Jesus, nor Buddha, nor Mahavira. I don't see them as superior to me, because it is such a simple human experience. Why make so much ado about nothing? Somehow even in Mahavira and Buddha some shadow of the ego is still persisting. They have arrived but they are not whole. Perhaps a leg is missing, a hand is missing; something is missing, something is left behind.

Pakhtoonistan is a very small country between Pakistan and Afghanistan, almost a part of Afghanistan. Once it was a part of India; now legally it is part of Pakistan. But the Pakhtoons don't want to be part of Pakistan, they want to be part of India; and if that is not possible they want....

Because now, Pakistan is in between. They are Mohammedans but a different race.

The Pakhtoon is a really beautiful man, perhaps the tallest in the whole world, the strongest in the whole world, and lives longest in the whole world. You will not find a single Pakhtoon who is fat - they are so proportionate and so tall and so beautiful, as if sculptured by someone like Leonardo da Vinci. They don't want to mix with Pakistan, they would rather be together with Afghanistan.

These tribal people have a strange idea. I am reminded of it because I said that it is as if Buddha has left something behind, as if Mahavira has left something behind. Pakhtoons believe that when a man dies he should die with his body complete. No part should be missing because God will ask, "Where is your hand? - because when I sent you into the world you were whole." So they never allow any operation, any amputation. They would rather die than have their kidneys taken out, because they are simple people, primitive people, and their logic is simple: when God asks, "Where are your kidneys?..."

A beautiful story happened. In Lahore, a Pakhtoon, in the first world war, got shot in the hand. The situation was such that if his hand was not cut off, then his whole body would be poisoned. The decision had to be taken immediately, because even a few moments delay and it would be too late.

The Pakhtoon himself was unconscious, in a coma. His family was somewhere in Pakhtoonistan and difficult to find, because Pakhtoonistan still has no postal system, no telegraph, no telegrams, no telephones, no roads.

Only one road passes from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and even to pass through that road is very difficult because Pakhtoon children go on practicing shooting - shooting drivers, shooting passengers in the buses! They are very primitive and simple people. Where to learn? They don't think of making a target - and what is the point when there are so many targets?

When I was traveling in Pakhtoonistan, my driver said, "I won't allow you to drive here."

I said, "Why? It is such a beautiful country."

He said, "You don't know: drivers are just targets! I won't allow you. You sit in the other seat, the passenger's seat; I will have to drive. I have driven on this road so I know where the danger is and how to avoid it and what to do. They are continually shooting - just children. From the very childhood all that they want is a gun."

So where to find his family to get their consent to cut his hand off? And he is a Pakhtoon: when he comes back to consciousness and finds that his hand is missing, he is going to create trouble. But there was no other way. The doctor, who was an Englishman, said, "I take the responsibility. I know the man and I will convince him somehow. Cut off his hand."

When the man came back to consciousness he was really furious. The doctor listened to his anger then explained to him that the situation was this: "I have taken the whole responsibility, and look, I have preserved your hand." He had kept the hand in a big jar full of spirit. He said, "I have preserved it, so when you die we will put your hand with you."

They are simple people; he understood the logic. He said, "That's right. What else could you have done? That's perfectly good. So you keep it, because we Pakhtoons are continually traveling."

They used to travel all over India because from Pakhtoonistan they used to bring dry fruits - the best grow in Pakhtoonistan - and woolen clothes: blankets, sweaters. These two things they would carry from Pakhtoonistan to India to sell.

Really, since Pakistan has been divided you don't see Pakhtoons coming into India. You don't get that quality of dried fruits that they used to bring. It was the most superior you could get anywhere.

So he said, "I am continually traveling. Now, to carry this hand everywhere will look odd. Secondly, I may forget it. It may get dropped somewhere. It is in a glass thing - it may be broken. You keep it, and I will tell my family that when I die they should get the hand from you."

The doctor said, "That's perfectly okay."

But an accident happened: the hospital got burned, and with it, the hand of the Pakhtoon. But the doctor was not very worried about it because he was being retired and was going back to England, so far away from Pakhtoonistan that those people could not bother him in any possible way. Who was the doctor and where had he gone? Where were they going to find him? And they could not go to England, they were poor people.

But he was afraid that even in England, who knows? - those people are dangerous. They may find some way... so it is better to keep a hand ready, in case. But he forgot that he had cut off the left hand. He got a right hand from a hospital and kept it preserved in his bedroom so that if some time somebody came....

The story is that one night somebody knocked on the door. The doctor opened the door and the Pakhtoon was standing there, furious. The doctor could not believe his eyes. The Pakhtoon didn't say anything, he simply showed him his left arm and asked, "Where is my hand?" - not verbally; he just showed him his arm: "Give me my hand."

The doctor almost had a nervous breakdown. He just got hold of the flask and took it out. At that moment he realized the mistake, that it was the right hand! And the Pakhtoon seeing it, kicked the flask over, took the hand and threw it into the room. He said, "Tomorrow night I will come again. You find my hand!"

Perhaps the second part of the story is psychological. For the doctor this became a nightmare.

Every night.... The doctor gets into this insane idea that the Pakhtoon has died. Perhaps somebody from Lahore - a colleague, another doctor - has informed him that the Pakhtoon has died, and to be aware. Perhaps it is only his own imagination, but he thinks he sees the ghost of the Pakhtoon.

Whatever the case - I don't believe in ghosts, but you can imagine....

If you can imagine God, why not a ghost? - just a very small creature. If you can see Jesus and Krishna and Buddha, then there is no problem: you can hallucinate just a poor Pakhtoon. And there was cause enough - the doctor had broken his word.

Pakhtoons are very truthful. If they give a promise they will fulfill it whatsoever the cost. Even for a small thing they will risk their life; if they have promised, they will do it. So he was afraid perhaps because of that. The doctor had lived amongst Pakhtoons in Lahore and he knew what kind of people they are: even after death.... And particularly in England, ghosts appear more than anywhere else.

England is somehow very attractive to ghosts. There are proportionately more houses in England than in any country which are haunted by ghosts. Britain has a certain magnetism for ghosts.

Perhaps that is why British people look so serious, afraid.

Don't start a conversation with Proper Sagar unless you are properly introduced before. Perhaps there is also a fear of getting into conversation with a ghost: you don't know who he is. If somebody you know introduces you, then it is okay; otherwise who knows who is who? This doctor must have been a Proper Sagar.

The story is that he died because of this continual nightmare. One morning he was found dead.

He must have thought that the Pakhtoon had pressed on his neck and throat, but actually he was pressing on his own throat; and in the morning, when he was found, he had killed himself. But he must have thought, hallucinated, got into the idea and killed himself. He must have died thinking that the Pakhtoon was killing him! But the idea of the Pakhtoon, that you should be whole when you go back, is significant.

And Buddha has left something behind: he is still somehow saying to you that he is higher. He declares that he has attained the highest cosmic consciousness, which nobody had ever attained before.

Now, this is the same game, played more sophisticatedly. But what he is trying to do is the same as what Jesus is trying to do in saying that, "I am the only begotten son of God. Nobody was before, nobody is going to be afterwards; I am the only son." He is making his place superior forever. Buddha is doing the same; of course he says that he is coming from millions of lives.

In one life he was an elephant - but then too he was superior. He tells the story that when he was an elephant the jungle caught fire. The fire was spreading so fast, and the wind was so strong, that all the animals were running out of the jungle. He was also running, but finding a big shady tree he stood there just to rest a little in the coolness of the shadow.

As he was just going to move and had lifted up one of his feet, a small rabbit, running in just the same fear of the fire, also came under the shadow of the tree, and rested there just where the elephant was going to put his foot. Now, to put his foot down would kill the rabbit, but not to put his foot... how long could he stand on three feet? And you should understand: an elephant standing on three feet is a really heavy job, just the one foot up is enoughl But Buddha said, "I kept my foot up and saved the life of the rabbit, although because of balancing that great a load I tumbled and fell sideways and died. But because I had done that good deed, I was born as a man."

Now, even while he was an elephant he was a superior elephant, not an ordinary elephant; otherwise I don't think any elephant is going to be bothered by a rabbit. In the first place he won't even see if the rabbit is there. Elephants are big but their eyes are very small. Have you seen that strange combination? - such small eyes in such a big animal. Who is creating these designs? A little proportion is needed. Or do you think the elephant can see the rabbit who is just sitting underneath his feet? I think it will take long yoga practice for the elephant to look down; it is not easy for an elephant to look that far down.

Just draw a picture of an elephant - I have drawn one and I have tried in every possible way to imagine myself as the elephant, but I couldn't see the rabbit. The foot is there, and the rabbit is underneath the foot - but such small eyes in such a big body... it is just not possible.

Even in his elephant life Buddha was so non-violent, non-hurting, that he preferred his own death rather than killing a rabbit. He tells many stories of his past lives, and in every life he is superior.

That superiority continues even into this last life: now he is the suprememost enlightened man.

For you it will take millions of lives - you may not yet be at the stage of the elephant. Would you be ready to die to save a rabbit? You won't be even ready to save your wife - particularly your wife, because married life is such that people say to each other....

One lover was saying to his beloved, "Without you I will die, I can't breathe. Without you I can't see any meaning in life. Without seeing you, my whole day becomes dark and dismal, but on the days I see you I am so full of joy that I can see stars even in the daytime."

Women are more practical; they don't listen to all this garbage. She knew that he must have learned this dialogue that he was speaking from some film or somewhere. She said, "What about tomorrow?

Are you coming tomorrow?"

He said, "If it does not rain - because I don't have my umbrella repaired yet." Poetry is one thing, but when things come to reality then it is a totally different world.

Buddha is trying to prove himself not only higher than YOU.... He tells the story, "When I became enlightened all three Hindu gods...." Just like the Christian trinity, Hinduism has the trimurti, the three faces of God - one body but three faces. It looks almost more logical than the Christian trinity - God the Father, the Holy Ghost, and Jesus Christ the Son.

This trinity looks a very incomplete family: there is no mother, no brothers, no sisters. And the story is so old that it must have been a joint family. In those days such a nuclear family - only one son, and that too without a wife! Great birth control - even the wife is dropped. It doesn't seem that it can be real.

The Hindu God seems to have some logic behind it: one body, three faces. Brahma is the creative face who creates the world; Vishnu is the sustainer, who sustains the world; and Shiva is the destructive part, who destroys the world. This seems to be more logical, perhaps more scientific too.

It is a strange thing: science goes on dividing and dividing - molecules have been divided into atoms and atoms themselves have been divided - and the ultimate division science has arrived at is into three. One is positive, that can be the creative part; the other is neutral, that can be the sustainer part; the third is destructive, negative, that can be the third face of the Hindu God.

Sooner or later Hindus are going to brag that this is what their three faces mean - electron, neutron, proton - that this is the new way of saying the same thing; but it is one body, it is the same electricity, the same force. What does Buddha manage to do with this? He says, "When I became enlightened all three Hindu gods, Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh - all three came to touch my feet."

Now, this is even better than Jesus. Jesus after all is just a son. Buddha manages to have all the three Hindu gods touch his feet, because those three gods say, "The enlightened being is far higher than God. We also desire, in some life, to gain the same state of being."

In Hinduism, gods are not permanent beings. They have a certain period of time in heaven that they have earned through being good in the world, a certain bank balance of virtue. They will live in heaven till that bank balance is finished. Once it is finished they are thrown back into the world, again on the road - in the wheel of life and death. The enlightened being does not go to heaven, he goes to moksha.

Moksha is above heaven, from where no fall is possible, because it doesn't happen through virtue or good deeds, it happens through awareness, total awareness. And once you are totally aware, how can you fall? So Buddha uses a far more clever strategy to prove himself superior. Mahavira uses it in the same way. A tirthankara becomes a tirthankara through millions of lives of arduous austerities; and there are only twenty-four tirthankaras in one cycle of creation.

Only recently has Western physics become aware of such immense spans of time, but Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have been aware of them for a long time. In English you cannot find the equivalent to many numbers which are available in Indian languages. One cycle is not a small thing but of millions and millions of years. Creation does not begin like Christians say - which looks very childish - four thousand and four years before Jesus Christ.

Now, the Eastern people will laugh and say, "Whom are you kidding? Creation happened four thousand and four years before Christ?" China has been for at least ten thousand years. India has been, according to Indian scholars, for at least ninety thousand years.

If you don't believe them it is difficult to argue against their argument because in the RIG VEDA the Hindus have a description of stars in a certain combination which happened - according to scientific astronomers - ninety thousand years ago. If that particular combination of stars was known to the people who were writing the RIG VEDA, it is enough proof that the RIG VEDA is far older than ninety thousand years.

Even if the RIG VEDA was written later on, at least in the memory of the people that particular combination of stars was kept in mind - and the RIG VEDA says it happened exactly ninety thousand years ago. Their book is ninety thousand years old; your creation is only six thousand years old - from today. So it is very difficult to argue that it is not so. Hindus will laugh and say, "What are you talking about?"

Jainas are even more mathematical. In the RIG VEDA, their first tirthankara's name is mentioned.

That becomes even more complicated a problem because their first tirthankara, Rishabadeva, is mentioned by name with great respect.

It is very logical: to show so much respect to a person who is against your religion makes one thing certain - he can't be contemporary. These are simple, logical ways to think. In the first place, if somebody is your contemporary, you are full of contempt towards the man - perhaps that is the meaning of contemporary - you cannot believe in him.

That's why they could not believe in Jesus Christ. They couldn't believe in him. When Buddha was contemporary, Hindus did not recognize him. But five hundred years after he died they had to recognize him as one of the Hindu incarnations of God because his influence had grown so much.

Now to reject him meant to reject all the Buddhists. That would have been a great loss to the Hindu priesthood. It was better to absorb them, to keep them under the Hindu fold so that you could go on exploiting them; otherwise they would move apart.

So for five hundred years Hindus were continually criticizing Buddha, but after five hundred years they changed their tactics, their strategy. Up to that time they had only ten incarnations of God, and there was no room to allow for Buddha, but Buddhists wouldn't agree for any lesser position than that. So they had to increase the quota! Five hundred years after Buddha, the Hindus changed and started saying, "If we have twenty-four avataras... just as Jainas have twentyfour tirthankaras and Buddhists have twenty-four Buddhas, we also have twenty-four avataras."

Gautam Buddha was born in a Hindu family, obviously - just like Jesus was born in a Jewish family - so he was a Hindu, and he died as a Hindu. They reclaimed him and declared him one of the incarnations of the Hindu God. But for the contemporary Buddha there was nothing but contempt.

It is so common a practice all over the world - that you can respect a man who is dead, and the longer he is dead, the better. If he is outside the scope of your history then you can respect him very easily, then there is no problem at all. He is so distant from you, it does not hurt.

But somebody sitting by your side declaring himself the only begotten son of God! You cannot believe this guy - perspiring, stinking - is the only begotten son of God. You feel like kicking him!

The only son of God? You feel angry at him, at God, at everything that this man.... But after two thousand years have passed nobody is worried; nobody seems to be concerned whether Jesus was really the son of God.

Christians have accepted it but Jews don't talk about him. Mohammedans have accepted him because they have no problem about him. Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, have no trouble with Jesus.

You cannot convert a single Jaina to Christianity, or a single Buddhist to Christianity, because Christianity is a far more primitive religion. Those people are far superior in their arguments and their logic.

Many Christians have become Buddhists; not a single Buddhist becomes Christian. There is nothing in it to appeal to them. Do you think a Bud&ist will be impressed by the fact that Jesus is the son of the virgin, Mary? He will simply laugh; he will say, "You are joking!" What has Christianity got?

One Christian missionary went, with his BIBLE, to see a Zen Master. He started reading the Sermon on the Mount, of course; that is the best part. In fact that's all that Christianity is about. He had read only one or two sentences when the Zen monk said, "Stop. Whoever the guy was, he was a bodhisattva" - bodhisattva means in some future life he will become a buddha. "Be finished! These sentences are proof enough that in some future life this guy is going to become a buddha. But don't be bothered with him, he is not a buddha right now - only a bodhisattva."

Bodhisattva means essentially a buddha, but everybody is a bodhisattva essentially. You may take lives to make your essence actual; that depends on you, but you are a buddha. Not only you, the trees, the birds, even the dogs are essentially bodhisattvas. They may take a little longer, or maybe some intelligent dog rushes ahead and leaves you behind. It is happening: all intelligent dogs have come to Oregon. They have made a party - 1000 Friends of Oregon. They are known as watchdogs!

I was wondering why they are called watchdogs. Finally the revelation came to me that they are dogs, but very intelligent. Most of them are in the legal profession; they have changed themselves into watchdogs. Even dogs, even watchdogs of Oregon are bodhisattvas. So that Zen Master was not saying much, but that missionary was overjoyed. And the story was being told all over, in Christian churches that a Zen Master had accepted Jesus; but the missionary did not understand the meaning of bodhisattva.

Bodhisattva does not mean buddha. Sattva means essence, potentially; but potentiality may always remain a potentiality - there is no necessity for a seed to become a tree. A seed may remain just a seed forever - there are different types of seed. Some seed may choose to sit upon a rock. You can go on meditating sitting on a rock, but you are not going to become a buddha. On a rock a seed will remain a seed.

To become a tree the seed has to die into the earth, dissolve itself completely; on its death is the birth of the tree. Its death is absolutely essential. Here it dies, and on the other side the tree is born, a small sprout, but alive. The seed was almost dead. I say "almost" because it had the potential of life. But a seed can remain a seed - and millions of seeds do remain seeds.

So it was nothing much; that Zen Master really joked with the missionary. He said, "Stop, enough!

Those two lines are enough. Whosoever said it...." He did not even bother to ask who had said it.

He said, "Whosoever has said it, he is a bodhisattva. Close the book - now talk business."

I am not the first Rajneeshee or the last Rajneeshee.

I am not a Rajneeshee at all.

I am just an outsider.

You may be Rajneeshees, but don't drag me into your Big Muddy Ranch. You enjoy the Big Muddy Ranch - leave me outside.

I am just a guest, because in the first place I don't want to be crucified - no interest in it at all. I don't want to be deified - no interest in it at all.

Whatever I am is so fulfilling that I don't see any need to be something else. I don't see anybody superior to me, I don't see anybody inferior to me.

In fact both those things exist together. Anybody who thinks somebody is superior must think somebody else inferior, and vice versa: if you think somebody is inferior to you, you are bound to think of somebody as superior. It is the same mind; and those two dimensions are not two dimensions but two polarities of the same thing.

I am simply out of it. I am just not playing that game of being superior and inferior.

If you are really interested in what I am doing and saying and being, then never let "Rajneeshee"

become something like Christian, Hindu, Mohammedan, no. Never get serious about it. It is just a word to demarcate.

It is not a creed, a cult, a dogma that you have to fight for, that you have to go on a crusade for. No, - you need not become Don Quixotes - you are not to convert anybody.

Rajneeshee is simply a name.

Some name is needed, X, Y, Z, anything will do, just to give you a demarcation. You are not Hindus, you are not Mohammedans, you are not Christians. People are going to ask, "Then who are you?"

I have never voted. My name is not even on the census reports in India because whenever the census people came there was a clause which had to be filled out: To which religion do you belong?

I said, "This is difficult - I don't belong to any religion." But they insisted the form had to be filled out completely, only then was it acceptable. I said, "Forget about it. Don't accept it - I don't care about it. Your form is your business. Just get lostl I am not going to fill in that clause because that would be a lie: I don't belong to any religion."

But those poor people insisted, You must belong to something. If you are an atheist you can say, 'I am an atheist.'"

But I am not an atheist. I am not obsessed with the idea that there is no God, and I am not after Him. If there is no God why should I be after Him? And why should I call myself an atheist when there is no God?

Theism is belief in God.

Atheism is disbelief in God.

My God! - disbelief in God?

I told these people, "I don't believe, I don't disbelieve: I simply have nothing to do with God."

They said then, "But you must be doing some prayer."

I said, "Never. I have never done any prayer. Why should I do any prayer?" And they were almost angry at this. Once it happened that they had come to my house and went away very angry. Then they came to the university, but they did not recognize me because in the house I had been simply sitting with a lungi on, my body half-naked, and in the college I had on a robe. So they could not figure out that I was the same person: again they brought out the form.

I said, "Listen, if you show me this form again I am going to hit you really hard."

They said, "Again? but we have never met."

I said, "You have forgotten. That guy who was...." Then they looked again and they said, "Yes, that's true. Now we will be continually aware of beards. We may come across you again somewhere."

I was at that time really strong - one hundred and ninety pounds - and I was running eight miles every day, morning and evening, whenever I could find time. So that when I said to anybody, "I will hit you hard," they understood it would be hard.

I had enjoyed jumping, running, swimming so much that my family was always worried: "Will you do anything else in life or not? And you create such a nuisance for other people."

I said, "But I simply do my thing. I don't get in anybody's way." But they had something at hand - some report had arrived. So they said, "This is not true. This morning at four o'clock, what business did you have that you were running backwards? We know there are people who go running, but BACKWARDS?"

The place where I lived was in the most beautiful area - with big, tall trees and a long row of bamboos, so it was always shadowy near the bamboos. It was a full moon night, and I was just doing my exercises by the side of those bamboos. It is more joyous to run backwards because you are moving into the unknown; you can't see what might happen. And at four o'clock the street was almost empty. But there is an Indian belief that ghosts walk backwards....

There was a man who used to live at the corner of the road who had a small tea shop. He used to get very afraid, but only in the beginning. Then I went to him and told him, "You need not be afraid:

I am a man, I am not a ghost, and every morning you see me; so once and for all be settled about it and go on sleeping - don't get disturbed."

But what happened that day was that the milk man.... They come early in the morning because they bring milk from nearby villages with two big drums full of milk on a bicycle. The milkman was coming along the road when suddenly he saw me. He lost his balance and fell from the bicycle. Because the drums fell and made so much noise, I turned back wondering, What is the matter? I saw the bicycle, the drums and the milk all over the road. And the man running far away!

I simply forgot that it was not good to follow him. I just wanted to help him and tell him that I was not a ghost, so I followed him. And because I was always running he could not escape me. When he saw me coming behind him, he simply fell down, unconscious. And I was trying to tell him....

By that time the man who lived at the corner came and said, "Look, this is what used to happen to me. And if he fell from his bicycle, what business was it of yours to follow him?"

I said, "I was simply trying to help - so that he was sure that I am a man."

He said, "Now have you made sure? Now he has almost become a ghost!"

That report had reached my family and that was why they were saying: "This is not right. You should not get in people's way."

Those census officers said, "Sir" - because there they were respectful to a university professor. At my house I was in the garden, digging a hole. There they were very angry with me, thinking me a gardener or somebody who was just talking absurdities in saying that he could not fill in this line. In the university they said, "Sir, one thing please remember: if we come across you again, you remind us and we will simply leave. We will not say anything."

So my name does not exist on the Indian voters' list. I have not voted in my whole life because my name never appeared on the voters' list. It was not in the census list even, for the simple reason that I could not say what my religion was.

You are fortunate, you can say what your religion is. But it is not to be taken seriously.

You are not to fight for it.

You are not to die for it.

You have to live it, enjoy it, relish it.

And please, leave me out of it!

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Ibrahim Nafie Al-Ahram, Egypt, November 5

"Is it anti-semitism? Or is it a question of recognising
expansionist and aggressive policies?

Israel's oft-stated weapon of anti-semitism has become truly
exposed ...

Tel Aviv has been called upon to explore the reasons behind
the Middle East conflagration. It is these reasons that make
Israel a rogue state in the real sense of the word.
Enough of crying 'anti-semitism' to intimidate others."