Chapter 24: Learn the Art of Living
The bishop was in a difficulty. He could not say that men like Socrates, Gautam Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, will go into hell. No intelligent man can say that. Certainly they were not believers; they were very much seekers, searchers. They doubted everything, they were skeptical. Unless they came to some indubitable truth, they were not going to have faith of any kind. And when you realize some truth, the question of faith does not arise: you know it! Faith is only for the ignorant. You don’t believe in the sun, you don’t believe in the moon. You don’t believe in yourself - you know you are. You cannot deny that you are, because even your denial will only prove that you are; otherwise, who is denying?
Faith is a cover-up for ignorance.
The bishop was learned enough; he was a friend of Edmund Burke’s, and to say anything stupid to that man would create a great controversy. He said, “I would like seven days’ time to think it over. Nobody has asked this question. The question is significant.
“Virtuous people, good people who have never done any harm to anybody, will go to hell just because they don’t have faith in Jesus Christ. Then goodness, virtue, morality, are all meaningless. Then crime, rape, murder, theft, are perfectly good: just have faith in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
In seven days he could not figure it out. He could not sleep well; the question was continuously torturing him. The question was such that if he says that good people will enter paradise, then what about faith? Faith is not a necessity. If he says that evildoers will fall into hell even though they have faith, then faith is impotent, it cannot help, it cannot save. So what is the need of faith? Those who are good will go to paradise; those who are bad will go to hell. Faith becomes simply irrelevant.
The bishop was going crazy. And the next Sunday came - he went to church a little early, because he was not yet ready to answer Burke. He thought perhaps by praying to Jesus Christ, God the Father and the Holy Ghost, he may be able to answer the question.
It was dark when he reached the church. He prayed. But he had not slept for seven days; rather than praying, he fell into sleep, and he saw a dream. The dream was: he is at a railway station purchasing a ticket for paradise. The train is just about to leave. He rushes into the train, because he wants to see who the people are who have entered paradise - the faithful or the virtuous?
He was surprised when the train reached paradise. It looked so dull and so dusty and so dead, he could not believe it. He inquired of other passengers, “It looks like hell! This cannot be heaven.” But they all said, “This is heaven.”
He went into the streets, looked at people - no joy, no laughter, all serious faces. Saints are not supposed to laugh. He could not even find a restaurant.because he was wanting a cup of tea, but saints are not supposed to have such delicacies. No restaurant.and people were looking almost dead. He could not see anybody - Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, great painters, great artists, great musicians. Nobody was there, only retarded saints who had become even more retarded - sitting there the whole day, playing on the harp, “Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” That was the whole work they were doing.