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Chapter 3: The Abbot of Nansen

So the chief of the community said, “The old priest had been talking every day and he would say the same thing: ‘You mend your ways, otherwise you will go to hell!’”

The visitor was amazed. He said, “What are you saying? The sermon was the same this morning - this man was also saying that you will go to hell if you don’t mend your ways.”

The chief said, “Yes, he was. But the old one always acted as if he was glad that we will all go to hell. That is the difference, and that was too heavy.”

The brahmins are always glad that you will be in hell and they will be in heaven. The priests are always glad that you will be in the fires of hell.

I have heard that one preacher was talking to his congregation and he was saying, “You don’t know what is going to happen in hell - there will be fire, there will be cold, freezing days. Your body will shake and your teeth will chatter.”

One man raised a hand and he said, “But I have got no teeth.”

So the priest said, “Don’t worry, false teeth will be provided.”

They make every arrangement for you in hell. The ego, the brahmin, the head is always condemning everybody; everybody is ordinary, only you are extraordinary. Only you are going to be saved, nobody else. That’s why Christians go on preaching, “Come and follow Jesus. Only those who follow Jesus will be saved - everybody else is lost.” That’s what Mohammedans go on saying, and Hindus go on saying. There seems to be a very deep politics in existence: if you follow somebody and if you go to this church you will be saved; if you follow somebody else and go to another church you will be destroyed. And the same is the claim of the other church also. And God must be in a puzzle: what to do?

This whole condemnation comes from the head, the ego. A very subtle ego colors whatsoever you say and believe: your convictions, your philosophy, everything is colored by the ego. And Zen is a simple life.

And that is my teaching also: be simple and nobody. Don’t condemn anybody. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you can feel holier than thou - never. Just be ordinary. And when you are ordinary, all anxiety disappears. When you are ordinary, then your whole perception is totally different. Then the birds singing in the trees are a message from the divine. Then the breeze passing through the trees and a leaf dancing in the breeze is his hand, his indication. Then the sky, and the earth, everything is beautiful, and everything comes from him.